Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Disability


Senators Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Expand ABLE Accounts
Senator Richard Burr - (R - NC)
April 4, 2017

Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced a package of bills aimed at enhancing the ABLE Act. The ABLE to Work Act builds on the success of the ABLE Act by making it possible for disabled people who work to save a portion of their income in an ABLE account without risking loss of benefits. These bills will also allow rollovers from 529 college savings plans as well as raise the age for eligibility from 26 to 46. Representatives Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), Pete Sessions (R-TX), and Tony Cardenas (D-CA), introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
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Veterans


HVAC Subcommittee Ranking Member Brownley Angry GOP Bill Puts Veterans Healthcare at Risk

Brooks, Frankel, and the Bipartisan Women’s Caucus Discuss VA Services for Women Veterans with VA Secretary David Shulkin

Shaheen Statement on Extension of the Veterans Choice Program
Senator Jeanne Shaheen - (D - NH)
APRIL 20, 2017

“Our veterans deserve nothing less than convenient, quality, accessible health care, yet in New Hampshire, too many veterans are burdened with long travel and even longer wait times,” said Senator Shaheen. “I supported the Veterans Choice Improvement Act to extend the Veterans Choice program while the VA makes urgently needed improvements to ensure our veterans receive the care they need. In New Hampshire, the Choice Card program needs to be streamlined to improve access for veterans seeking appointments and provider reimbursements, which is why I introduced legislation last year to help address the persistent payment delays. I will continue my work in the Senate to improve the Veterans Choice program so that New Hampshire’s veterans can receive quality, timely care closer to home.”
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Moran Introduces Bill to Provide Additional Paid Leave to Disabled Veteran Employees
Senator Jerry Moran- (R - KS)
April 21, 2017

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) joined Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) in recently introducing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veteran Transition Improvement Act (S. 899). The legislation would ensure veterans with a disability rating of 30 percent or higher who are hired by the VA in critical medical positions can access additional paid sick leave during their first year on the job to receive medical care related to their service-connected condition.
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Hoeven-Cosponsored Legislation to Extend Veterans Choice Program Signed Into Law
Senator John Hoeven - (R - ND)
April 19, 2017

The legislation allows the Choice Program to continue until its original funding is fully expended, ensuring veterans can benefit from the $950 million in appropriated funding for the program that would have otherwise gone unused. Further, the bill allows the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to serve as the primary payer under the Choice Program, alleviating the difficulties providers have faced in receiving payment for services, and improves the sharing of medical records between the VA and community providers, which will reduce wait times for appointments and strengthen care coordination.
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President Signs Heitkamp Bill to Extend, Reform VA Choice Program
Senator Heidi Heitkamp - (D - ND)
April 19, 2017

Heitkamp helped introduce the bill with U.S. Senator Jon Tester of Montana as a compromise to extend the program and address some of the concerns with the program through provisions to improve care coordination and to make VA the primary payer. The bill reduces out-of-pocket costs and confusion for veterans, and improves medical record sharing. The Choice Program was set to expire on August 7.
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Hirono, Moran, Tester Introduce Bill to Provide Disabled Veteran Employees at VA Additional Paid Leave
Senator Mazie K. Hirono - (D - HI)
April 18, 2017

Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced S. 899, the bipartisan Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veteran Transition Improvement Act, to ensure veterans with a disability rating of 30% or higher who are hired by the VA in critical medical positions can access additional paid sick leave during their first year on the job for the purposes of receiving medical care related to their service-connected condition.
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Flake to Introduce Bill Expanding Veteran Access to Treatment Courts
Senator Jeff Flake - (R - AZ)
April 5, 2017

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) announced the introduction of the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act, a bill to require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to hire additional Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) specialists in order to ensure veterans have greater access to effective and tailored treatment. Flake made the announcement during a visit to the Mesa Municipal Court with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich to observe the court’s veterans docket. During the visit, Flake and Brnovich met with several dedicated VJO specialists who are responsible for connecting veterans to available veterans treatment court services under the VJO program.
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Brown Introduces Legislation to Secure Education Benefits for Veterans, Servicemembers, and Their Families
Senator Sherrod Brown- (D - OH)
April 5, 2017

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) outlined bipartisan legislation today to ensure that veterans, servicemembers, and surviving spouses and children of servicemembers who have died in the line of duty can take full advantage of their education benefits. Brown was joined on the call by Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel to discuss the importance of securing these benefits for veterans.
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Predatory Lending


Protecting Homeowner from Predatory Lending Programs
Senator John Boozman - (R - AR)
April 5, 2017

U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Protecting Americans from Credit Exploitation (PACE) Act, legislation that would require disclosure for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans that target low-income and elderly Americans with predatory home loans. This bill would require Truth in Lending Act (TILA) disclosure for anyone attempting to sell PACE loans.
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Environmental Protection Agency


Following Proposed Cuts, King Pushes for Full Funding of EPA Brownfields Program to Support Rural Maine Economic Development Initiatives
Senator Angus S. King Jr. - (I - ME)
April 19, 2017

In the wake of the Trump Administration's proposal to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) this week signed a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging them to fully fund the EPA’s Brownfields Program in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget. The EPA's Brownfields Program assists states and local communities as they assess, safely clean up, and reuse Brownfield sites – properties that contain a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant, which hinders the potential to reuse or redevelop the site – for economic development projects.
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Gillibrand, With 24 Senate Colleagues, Urges Appropriations Committee To Designate $154 Million To EPA Brownfields Program In Fiscal Year 2018
Senator Kirsten E.Gillibrand - (D - NY)
April 19, 2017

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, with 24 Senate colleagues, urged federal appropriators to include $154 million in federal funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields Program in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget. The EPA’s Brownfields Program is a federal program that provides funding and technical assistance to assess and clean up contaminated property sites for redevelopment, and help promote local economic development in communities across the United States. This program allows communities to convert liabilities that otherwise might never be developed into productive local assets. Brownfield funds have laid the groundwork for manufacturing plants, commercial spaces, housing, community recreation facilities, and parks.
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Booker, Pallone & NJ Advocates Stand in Solidarity Against Trump Anti-Environment Agenda
Senator Cory A. Booker (D-NJ)
April 3, 2017

“It’s simply shameful that President Trump continues to put the interests of corporate polluters ahead of the health and safety of New Jersey families,” said Sen. Booker. “The Administration’s repeated denial of clear science and proposed gutting of the EPA not only jeopardizes the welfare of all Americans, but it recklessly puts New Jersey’s shore communities at greater risk of catastrophic storms like Sandy and threatens our nation’s economic growth. Under no circumstance should we allow the fundamental right of each and every American to live in a safe and healthy environment be undermined by such destructive ad irresponsible policies.”
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China


Trump reverses stances on China as currency manipulator, Ex-Im Bank
Politico
April 12, 2017

During his presidential campaign, Trump said he would designate China as a currency manipulator on the first day of his presidency to “force China to the negotiating table.” And he criticized Yellen last year precisely because she kept interest rates low, accusing her of keeping rates “artificially low” to boost the economy and help President Barack Obama.
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Casey: President Trump’s Summit with China’s President Was “All Talk, No Action” on China’s Trade Cheating
Senator Robert P.Casey, Jr. - (D - PA)
April 8, 2017

“During his summit with President Xi, President Trump failed to hold China accountable for its cheating on trade. Earlier this week, I led a letter with several Senators to President Trump identifying specific areas where China is cheating on trade and asking him to finally hold China accountable. Unfortunately, this summit was all talk and no action when it comes to China’s cheating on trade."
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U.S. SENATOR TAMMY BALDWIN CALLS ON PRESIDENT TRUMP TO HOLD CHINA ACCOUNTABLE ON TRADE DURING UPCOMING SUMMIT
Senator Tammy Baldwin - (D - WI)
April 5, 2017

“Since joining the World Trade Organization in 2001, China has consistently failed to comply with its international trade obligations. And workers across the U.S., including workers in our home states, have paid the price. You pledged to support American workers and go after trade cheaters, and we hope you take this opportunity with your first one-on-one meeting with Chinese President Xi to keep this promise to American workers and strongly affirm these priorities.”
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Current Labels

Health Care


Rep. Brat Statement on Keeping the Promise to Lower Health Care Costs
Dave Brat (R-VA, 7th)
May 4, 2017

“There is no debate that Obamacare is failing under its own weight. Too many Virginia families on Obamacare have seen double-digit premium increases year after year. Just this week Virginia saw another health insurance provider exit the marketplace due to skyrocketing prices, reducing the choices available to Virginia families."
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Congressman Brady condemns House passage of Trumpcare
Robert Brady (D-PA, 1st)
May 5, 2017

“This afternoon, the House GOP voted to make America sick again. And, I was proud to vote against this bill that takes away the basic right of our people to healthcare. It’s a sad day.
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Congressman Jim Bridenstine Votes for The American Health Care Act

Brooks Supports Health Care Bill Passage, Protects Those with Pre-Existing Conditions

New Medicare Recommendations Could Improve the Health of Chronically Ill Patients
Bipartisan Policy Center
April 25, 2017

A new report by the Bipartisan Policy Center offers recommendations to Congress and the administration on ways to help health plans and providers improve care for people with chronic illnesses. Critical evidence suggests that these patients could greatly benefit from interventions such as in-home meal delivery, home modifications, targeted care management services, and non-emergency transportation to medical appointments. However, current Medicare payment rules and regulations prevent plans and providers from funding these types of social supports and integrating them into care models, despite promising results shown in other programs.
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FDA User Fees are Critical to Bringing Safe, Effective Cures to Patients
Bipartisan Policy Center
April 26, 2017

Provisions in draft legislation reauthorizing the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) user fee programs will play a critical role in accelerating the development and delivery of safe and effective treatments and cures to patients. That’s the message of a new Bipartisan Policy Center report released today to help inform Congress as they consider updating and reauthorizing fee agreements the FDA collects from industry for prescription drugs, medical devices, and biosimilars. The fees make up a significant part of the agency’s budget and are set to expire on September 30, 2017, risking staff layoffs and timely approvals of new treatments and cures.
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Tell Congress to pass bill to defund Planned Parenthood
American Family Association
APRIL 26, 2017

Planned Parenthood is America's largest abortion provider and it carries out over 300,000 abortions each year. In recent years the gruesome practice of abortion by Planned Parenthood was highlighted through undercover videos. These videos showed Planned Parenthood employees discussing the barbaric sale of baby body parts. Not only is this inhumane, it is likely a felony. Such an organization should not receive taxpayer dollars.
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Grassley Continues Oversight of Medicare Advantage Payments, Seeks Updates, Answers from New Administration
Senator Chuck Grassley - (R - IA)
April 19, 2017

Sen. Chuck Grassley continues his oversight of whether the taxpayers are overpaying insurers in Medicare Advantage, seeking updates and answers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on what the agency is doing to prevent insurance company risk score gaming to get higher payments.
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Ernst-Black Legislation to Restore States’ Ability to Make Funding Decisions for Title X Providers Signed by President
Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA)
April 13, 2017

“I am pleased that President Trump signed our legislation into law, and I’m grateful to have worked with Congressman Black to ensure that states are not forced to provide entities like Planned Parenthood - the nation’s single largest provider of abortions - with federal Title X dollars."
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Alexander: Timely FDA User Fee Reauthorization is “Integral to Helping Patients, Delivering on the Promise of 21st Century Cures”
Senator Lamar Alexander - (R - TN)
April 4, 2017

“After reviewing the recommendations from industry and the FDA, I believe these are good agreements for patients,” Alexander said. “I look forward to working with Senator Murray and our other members to approve these agreements here in committee and move them to the floor in a timely manner, so patients and the agency and the industry have some certainty.”
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Fish And Wildlife


Carper Joins Bipartisan Bill to Protect Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Thomas R. Carper - (D - DE)
April 6, 2017

U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, joined 39 of his colleagues in introducing legislation to designate the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness and protect the land from future development. The Coastal Plain represents roughly 1.5 million acres of the 19.6 million-acre wildlife refuge. This week marked the two-year anniversary of President Obama transmitting the revised Arctic Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan to Congress, which for the first time in history recommended the Coastal Plain of the Refuge for designation as wilderness.
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President Trump Signs Resolution Overturning U.S. Fish and Wildlife Regulation
Don Young (R-Alaska)
April 4, 2017

The Alaska Congressional Delegation today applauded President Trump’s signing of H.J. Res. 69, a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to overturn an August 5, 2016 rule by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that seized authority away from the State of Alaska to manage fish and wildlife on federal refuge lands in Alaska:
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