Hassan: Dems need to be part of healthcare talks
By Hadley Barndollar firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted Jul 24, 2017 at 12:45 PM
Updated Jul 24, 2017 at 5:47 PM
EXETER — Sen. Maggie Hassan told constituents at Exeter Hospital Monday morning that she and all Democrats have been completely left out of crafting the new healthcare bill, calling the process “entirely partisan with very little public input.”
Senate Republicans hope to vote this week on a new health bill after multiple failed attempts. When President Donald Trump took office in January, he promised he would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
“We continue to debate the future of our nation’s healthcare system,” Hassan said. Calling the impacts of “Trumpcare” dangerous to American health care, Hassan said the bills introduced by Senate Republicans “don’t work for people.”
Hassan said prior to the passing of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, more than 100 hearings were held. To date, she said, not a single hearing for the Republican plans has taken place. Hassan noted every bill in New Hampshire gets a hearing, and that she often reminds her colleagues in Washington of that.
“The various versions (of Republican health bills) would lead to higher costs and worse coverage,” she said. The Congressional Budget Office has also said the nation could see higher deductibles as a result.
“It would decimate the Medicaid program and our bipartisan Medicaid expansion,” Hassan said.
Hassan said between 22 million and 32 million Americans would lose coverage from the different Republican plans.
“So I think it’s time for a new approach,” she said. “Republicans and Democrats need to come together in order to build (on) and improve the ACA. The American people want Congress to come together. I’m ready to come to the table and work with any of my colleagues who are serious about that goal.”
Brendan Williams of the New Hampshire Healthcare Association said, “This has been a terrifying moment for those I represent.” The New Hampshire Healthcare Association represents 90 long-term care facilities around the state with 7,000 residents.
Williams said Medicaid serves nearly 63 percent of their residents in New Hampshire. “It’s absolutely unsustainable that we should bear such cuts,” he said. “This is immoral, it’s absolutely immoral to attack the residents that we care for and the caregivers that we employ, to devastate their dreams and hopes for dignity in their later years.”
MS Society Government Relations Committee member Dennis Murphy shared his story from a patient perspective, being diagnosed with the autoimmune disease in 1995. After 20-plus years on an injectable medication, he switched to a daily oral medication in 2016. That injectable medication, Murphy said, is now $91,600 for a year’s supply.
“This is an MS example, but this applies to all chronic illnesses,” he said. Murphy said sometimes patients are forced to make decisions, “To take the medication, eat or pay bills.”
Kevin Callahan, chief executive officer of Exeter Health Resources, thanked Hassan for speaking at the hospital and offered some insight from a lengthy career in healthcare.
“How did we get here?” Callahan said. “I was reflecting on the fact that when we are a compassionate society, we are our most powerful.”
In the past, Callahan said, the United States has not let vulnerable people “sink under the waves.”
“Here we are in 2017, a group of individuals are deciding behind closed doors with very little public fanfare and little public interaction, to decide we are going to restructure so much of what America is.”
Callahan noted that health professionals recognize the deficits in the ACA, “an incredibly complex law.” However, Callahan said, legislation is a building process.
“We have a situation of deep polarity and yet I don’t believe that the majority of this country are at the poles,” he said. “They are at the center, and we are a compassionate country.”
Hassan urged attendees to speak up about their healthcare situations to legislators and healthcare providers.
“My grandmother always said, ‘If you have your health, you have everything,’” Hassan said. “She was right.”