Leahy rips GOP over fast-track plan to repeal Obamacare

first_imgVermont Business Magazine On the Senate Floor this afternoon, Senator Patrick Leahy addressed the Senate on the pending Republican-authored legislation to enable and facilitate repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare.  The vehicle being used by Republican leaders for this is a budget resolution, S.Con.Res.3, “To Instruct Committees To Draft Legislation To Repeal The ACA.”Floor Remarks Of Senator Patrick LeahyOn The Budget Resolution, S. Con. Res. 3 (To Instruct Committees To Draft Legislation To Repeal The ACA)Senate FloorTuesday, January 10, 2017The 115th Congress convened just last week, and instead of beginning the year with a renewed sense of cooperation, Republicans in Congress have chosen a different path.  The very first thing on the agenda is to press forward with a sham budget – the only purpose of which is to set up a process to repeal the Affordable Care Act with a simple majority vote.Why?  Because they know such a repeal would never pass otherwise.  Instead of working to finalize appropriations bills for this year – already more than three months in – or to invest in our nation’s critical infrastructure, or to truly bolster our nation’s cybersecurity, or to improve the Affordable Care Act to ensure more people can receive affordable coverage, Republicans are recklessly rushing forward solely to fulfill an ill-considered campaign promise.  They are pushing American families over the cliff with the vague ‘promise’ that eventually they will come up with a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.  Jump first, plan later is anything but a responsible formula for sound decisions, and all the more so when the health insurance of tens of millions of American families is at stake.The Majority Leader and others have said that a repeal of the Affordable Care Act is “only the first step.”  They say that a full repeal is necessary to pave the way for a replacement.  “Let’s leave Obamacare in the past,” they argue.  When you strip away the rhetoric, the only alternative being offered to the American people by advocates of a repeal is: Don’t get sick.The American people have the right to know what a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act really means.  A repeal of this law would not just take away the rights and care of millions of patients and their families; it would eliminate insurance coverage for millions more, from the aging and elderly, to men and women with preexisting conditions, to the most vulnerable children. A repeal of the Affordable Care Act would turn back the clock to a time when, once again, women would have to pay more for health insurance than men, insurance companies could rescind a health insurance policy because someone gets sick, and coverage could forever be denied to someone born with a disease or ailment.In Vermont, the Affordable Care Act has reduced the number of Vermonters without insurance by 53 percent.  Tens of thousands have gained coverage under the expansion of Medicaid.  And because the Affordable Care Act closed the prescription drug “donut hole,” more than 10,000 Vermont seniors saved $12 million on drugs in 2015 alone.I have heard stories from many Vermonters about how vital this law is to them and their families.  I have heard from family doctors, like one in Bennington who remembers when his patients couldn’t afford treatment because of lifetime and annual limits on health care coverage.  Or a woman from Westminster whose family hit hard times and moved from job to job but could afford to keep continuous health coverage because of the plans offered through the Affordable Care Act.  Other young Vermonters are able to pursue careers in public service or the arts because they can stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26.  Countless others have underscored that because of previous health issues such as diabetes or cancer, health coverage would be unaffordable without the guarantees and subsidies provided by the Affordable Care Act.Opponents of the Affordable Care Act have gone to new lengths to repeat and prolong this political battle.  And that’s all this is.  They have had six years to propose a better alternative but have failed to do that.  Instead, Congressional Republicans and the President-elect have decided to put the cart before the horse and dismantle our health care system before figuring out how to fix it.  The American people rightly expect us to work together to make progress on so many challenges that we face today.  Instead, we are engaged in dangerous political gamesmanship.   I will not support a return to less protection, less coverage, less fairness, and higher costs.  That’s what repeal means.  The Affordable Care Act extended health insurance to millions of families in Vermont and across the country.  Those who represent the American people in Congress should stand ready to get to work for their constituents.  I will not support an effort to reverse the many reforms and achievements we made through the Affordable Care Act, and instead cobble back together a broken system that for too long burdened most American households with health coverage uncertainty and crippling costs.Source: Leahy 1.10.2017last_img read more

Phoenix Indian School legacy project funded

first_img“Native American Connections and Phoenix Indian Center are great partners to have in this project,” said Councilwoman Laura Pastor, whose district includes the site. “They will be able to tell the story of the buildings while creating a renewed space for our community to gather.”Initial funding for this project came from LISC Phoenix as well as a matching grant of $250,000 from The Caterpillar Foundation for the commercial kitchen equipment. JP Morgan Chase Bank also provided early funding for the preliminary design by ART, the Architectural Resource Team.Construction is expected to take eight to ten months with the center opening Spring of 2017. “Phoenix Indian School played an important role in the history of our city, our state and our nation, so we must do all we can to preserve that legacy,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “Restoring the music building will ensure that the story of Phoenix Indian School and its students will continue to resonate with new generations while providing a valuable community asset at one of our busiest city parks.”Prior to becoming Steele Indian School Park, the land was the home to the Phoenix Indian School which was established in 1891. For nearly 100 years the government run boarding school housed and educated thousands of Native American children. The U.S. government operated dozens of these types of schools across the country. When Phoenix Indian School closed in 1990, the majority of the land was transferred to the COP. Three buildings were saved and placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the music building is one of them.“This is a one of a kind project in the county,” says Diana Yazzie Devine, CEO of Native American Connections. “By restoring the elementary school we are going to be able to bring the public back into the space and educate and enlighten the community about the Native American boarding school experience and how it impacted Phoenix, as well as the state of Arizona.”The building is approximately 6,000 sq. ft. and was built in 1931.Architectural plans include a gallery to share the history of the Phoenix Indian School, a conference room which will seat 120 people and a commercial kitchen and classroom to be used for indigenous foods preparation as well as health and nutrition courses. A board room and a business center are also included in the plans. Construction to restore the former elementary school and music building at Steele Indian School Park, on the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Indian School Road, is set to begin immediately. The City of Phoenix (COP), which owns the building, is funding the project and has a signed Letter of Understanding with the partners, Native American Connections (NAC) and the Phoenix Indian Center (PIC) who led this effort and will operate the new site.last_img read more

Ag secretary questions Corps on Missouri flooding

first_imgAgriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has taken the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to task for its handling of the Missouri River in a letter questioning its decision not to release more water from dams earlier in the spring to prevent prolonged flooding this summer.The river is near historic flood levels along the more than 800 miles it stretches from the Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota to its confluence with the Mississippi River. More than 560,000 acres in seven states have flooded, including nearly 447,000 acres of farmland, Vilsack spokesman Justin DeJong said. The flooding followed unexpected spring rains and the melting of a deep snowpack in the Rocky Mountains.advertisementadvertisement Vilsack outlined his concerns in a three-page letter sent to Major Gen. Meredith W.B. Temple, the acting commander of the Corps, and obtained by The Associated Press. Although Vilsack said he wasn’t in a position to judge how the Corps handled its dams, he asked pointed questions about the agency’s decision not to release more water earlier and criticized it for not providing farmers and ranchers with more up-to-date information.His comments add to a growing chorus of officials questioning the Corps’ handling of the situation. U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., announced Friday that a bipartisan group of 14 senators from Missouri River states has requested a Senate hearing on the Corps’ management of the river, and the AP obtained a letter earlier this week in which Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad expressed frustration with the Corps even before the latest flooding and urged the governors of Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska to join him in discussing the formation of a new group of downstream states.Vilsack noted the Corps said in a March 3 report in the Omaha World-Herald that there was no need for early releases from the Gavins Point Dam and there would be little flooding unless the region received a lot of rain.”Agriculture producers point to this report and others in justifying their concerns, and they need answers as to why releases were not made to allow for more storage in the dam system,” Vilsack wrote in the letter dated June 28. “They point to forecasts related to snowpack and snowmelt and ask why there wasn’t more planning or more public conversations about the implications of operating the river under such conditions.” PD—AP newswire reportadvertisementlast_img read more