From Behind Closed Doors - GOP Unveils Another Terrible “Health Care” Bill
Sep 25, 2017
the Monday Report
From Behind Closed Doors - GOP Unveils Another Terrible “Health Care” Bill
The latest Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) would eliminate Medicaid by 2027, including help for millions of special needs children and seniors in nursing homes and home care programs.
Up to 21 million people would probably lose their health insurance under the latest attempt by President Trump and Republican leaders to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) regardless of the consequences. Basically, their bill mixes every mean, costly, unworkable idea they’ve ever had into something even worse. Concocted behind closed doors with a plan to try and rush it through Congress this week, the GOP “Graham-Cassidy” measure would turn the health care system into a 50-state crazy quilt of different plans with catastrophic results nationwide.
Specifically, many Medicaid services that support working families, elderly nursing home residents, students with special needs, and rural hospitals would be cut or eliminated by 2027. States could obtain special wavers, allowing insurance companies to price seniors, the sick, the disabled, and those with preexisting conditions out of the insurance market. High-deductible, fly-by-night insurance plans that don’t cover much of anything would abound.
Senator John McCain got it right on Friday when he announced his opposition to the plan, explaining, “I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and (we) have not yet really tried." As I’ve said many times before, it’s time to scrap these Republican plans to smash the health care system apart and leave it in shambles. We need to fix what needs fixing in the Affordable Care Act, get costs under control, and get health care right for the American people.
We will keep you posted as events proceed. Meanwhile, I want to hear your thoughts. Feel free to contact any of our offices listed below or send me an email.
A Warm Welcome for the President of Finland
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and I greeted one another before Friday afternoon’s ceremonies welcoming him to Minnesota as part of the 100th anniversary celebration of Finland’s independence.
As co-chair of our Congressional Friends of Finland Caucus, it was a real honor for me to welcome Finnish President Sauli Niinistö to Minnesota and the United States on Friday at a special event in Minneapolis. President Niinistö's visit marks the 100th anniversary of his nation’s independence, along with the kick-off to FinnFest, America’s annual festival celebrating Finnish heritage and culture.
It said with a touch of humor that Minnesota has almost as many people of Finnish descent (some 66,000) as Finland. Here in Minnesota’s 8th District, Finnish Americans founded our cities of Hibbing, Mountain Iron, Tower, Eveleth, and Virginia - just to name a few. In fact, the President was surprised to learn what we both represent Finland. Finland, Minnesota, population 195, is located in my district near the North Shore of Lake Superior. And, of course, President Niinistö represents the great nation of Finland with some 5.5 million people. The President and the Finnish ambassador observed that both “Finlands” are in good hands.
As I pointed out in my welcome, Finland’s remarkable achievements in universal health care have made their system one of the best in the world - a comment that brought loud cheers from the crowd. Finland’s similar achievements in education, technology and environmental protection are simply unparalleled. And in a study by the World Audit organization, Finland has been named the most purely democratic nation in the world for the strength and endurance of a representative democracy that encourages everyone to participate and vote.
Click on the screen above to hear my comments about Finland’s universal health care system, and the applause that followed.
Climate Change Threatens to Put FEMA Under Water
As climate changes helps to drive hurricanes, forest fires and other extremely expensive natural disasters, FEMA - the Federal Emergency Management Agency - will need more and more funding and resources to keep it from going under water.
If left unchecked, climate change could literally bankrupt our Nation. As we continue our work on the bipartisan Congressional Climate Solutions Caucus, that hard cold fact is becoming crystal clear.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency – FEMA – is woefully underfunded and unprepared for the challenging and expensive years ahead. And we cannot wait any longer to provide the funds, resources and planning necessary to save future generations from the consequences.
In September, Congress provided $15.25 billion in emergency relief for people and communities ravaged by Hurricane Harvey – just to keep FEMA and other rebuilding programs from running out of money all together. And that’s just a drop in the bucket. Early and very conservative estimates are that combined damage from hurricanes Harvey and Irma will exceed $300 billion.
Meanwhile, the Federal Flood Insurance program is $25 billion in debt. And the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has predicted that hurricane damage will increase by $120 billion EVERY YEAR between now and 2075 – with climate change accounting for $80 billion of that amount year in and year out.
Americans understand that we are one Nation, and the effects of these natural disasters aren’t limited to coastal states. In a 2015 New York Times poll, 83% of those responding said climate change poses an imminent and dangerous threat to our national economy and our national security.
Make no mistake about climate change - the ripple effects of lost jobs and commerce affect every state, including Minnesota, and the Minnesotans and Minnesota companies with interests that spread nationwide and worldwide. Future generations will hold us accountable if we fail to address climate change with all of the resources, energy and political will we possess.
Trump’s Threats Aside, Iran Nuclear Deal Has Made the World Safer
America’s top objective in the Iran nuclear deal was to prevent that nation from developing a nuclear bomb. That objective was achieved, and so far, the deal is holding.
Because of the Iran nuclear agreement, Iran currently has no nuclear weapons or nuclear capacity, and the world is safer for it. President Trump’s threat last week to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal is a mistake. If the deal were to collapse, Iran would most likely reintroduce its nuclear program and, like North Korea, become a growing threat to world peace and security.
Moreover, the president’s threat ignores the most important fact of all about this multi-national agreement: America’s top objective must be to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Prior to the Iran deal, Iran possessed the capacity to build a bomb in a matter of weeks. Now that timeframe has been greatly extended by removing two thirds of Iran’s centrifuges for processing uranium, along with 98% of its uranium stockpile.
As I have pointed out many times before, this agreement is not based on trust, but instead on what many experts term the toughest and most verifiable nuclear verification and inspection process ever negotiated in the international community. And if Iran does violate the agreement, our option to use military force is still on the table. In short, the Iran nuclear deal remains a victory for diplomacy, and our world is safer for it.
For Now - Diplomacy and Sanctions Remain Chief U.S. Tools in Standoff with North Korea
Prompted by United Nations-imposed sanctions, Taiwan has suspended all exports of oil, clothing and textiles to North Korea. North Korea depends on imports to keep its economy afloat, and increased sanctions are intended to ratchet up pressure to curb its nuclear testing and military threats to its neighbors.
While President Trump is busy beating the war drums, cooler heads thankfully appear to be prevailing as the Administration continues to pursue diplomacy over military action in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear threat. That’s encouraging. War should always be a last resort – not a first resort – and tough diplomacy and economic sanctions have helped keep the peace on the Korean Peninsula since the end of the Korean conflict in 1953.
In cooperation with Japan and South Korea, new U.S. sanctions will boost the Treasury Department’s authority to penalize individuals and businesses that do business with North Korea, along with measures to disrupt that nation’s trade and shipping networks. Meanwhile, the Chinese have agreed to measures to limit North Korea’s transactions with China’s central bank. These are all good signs in efforts to make the world a safer and less dangerous place.
Nolan Champions $100 Billion Investment to Improve America’s Deteriorating Public Schools
Throughout Minnesota and the Nation, rural schools like this one are in urgent need of repair, replacement, and 21st Century high speed broadband to help ensure that students can compete and succeed.
The trillion dollar infrastructure plan the president and congressional leaders are calling for should include $100 billion for public schools and public education. Public schools are a vital and important part of our Nation’s infrastructure, and America’s 50 million public school students need and deserve to get their education in a healthy, safe, up-to-date facility with modern 21st Century technology. But the fact is that millions of students and teachers are still stuck in schools that haven’t been modernized since the early days of the 20th Century.
We need to do better. That’s why I’m championing the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, a measure to invest $100 billion, and create more than 1.9 million good paying jobs bringing thousands of public schools – especially in rural communities – up to the highest standards.
Specifically our measure would create a $70 billion grant program and a $30 billion tax credit bond program targeted at high poverty school facilities that pose health and safety risks to students and staff. Moreover, the bill would expand access to high speed rural broadband and require development of a comprehensive national database to track the condition of our public schools so money can be targeted exactly where it’s needed most.
Nolan Receives AARP’s Congressional Award
Last week in Duluth,I was so honored to receive the Congressional Award from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) for my work to successfully reauthorize the Older America’s Act. The award also recognized our efforts to protect Social Security and Medicare from risky privatization schemes that would cut benefits that Americans have earned over a lifetime of hard work.
Our Week in Duluth
Speaking at the annual meeting of the Great Lakes Commission, I pointed out that the Great Lakes are the very foundation of a $5 trillion dollar economy here in our 8-state, 2-province region. According to a University of Michigan study, the Great Lakes support 1.5 million good paying jobs and $62 billion dollars in wages every year - and a maritime transportation system that connects more than 100 American and Canadian ports – including the Port of Duluth – to the rest of the world.
We officially cut the ribbon for the brand new Duluth Intermodal facility, which connects the Port of Duluth with a national network of rail lines. The Port already supports some 12,000 good paying jobs, $545 million a year in wages and $1.5 billion in annual business revenue, and this new facility will drive even more expansion and opportunities for our entire region. Joining me in cutting the ribbon are Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, Port Authority Executive Director Vanta Coda, Canadian National (CN) Railway VP Keith Reardon and Jonathan Lamb, President of Lake Superior Warehousing.
The auditorium was packed as I welcomed participants to AARP’s annual Scam Jam. The event is designed to help seniors and their families avoid losing their hard earned money to phony schemes by unscrupulous scammers.
At a press conference on the balcony of the Pier B Resort overlooking Lake Superior, I thanked members of the Great Lakes Commission for endorsing our legislation to authorize funds to build a new lock at the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The Department of Homeland Security has determined that the project, which could cost up to $1 billion, is essential for our economy and our national security. A catastrophic failure at the current, 50 year old facility would virtually shut down the U.S. steel industry, cost 11 million jobs and cause a Great Depression with a $1.1 trillion loss in GNP.
Our Week in Cloquet
Sappi Paper’s Cloquet, Minnesota mill received the state’s Foreign Direct Investment Award last week, and I was honored to speak at the event. The award recognizes Minnesota companies that have attracted foreign investment by the quality of their workforce and their products. CEO, Mark Gardner, is on the right in this picture. Archie Chelseth, the company’s public relations representative, is on the left. The Cloquet operation employs some 730 workers in our region.
Our Week in Hermantown
Northern Minnesota manufacturers of wood stoves and other wood-based heating devices met with me for a roundtable discussion of new EPA clean air rules. I’m cosponsoring legislation to extend the time for compliance from 2020 to 2023 to give these entrepreneurs more time to ensure that their products meet the new higher standards.
Our Week at MSP Airport
Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen and other Senate and Congressional staff toured MSP Airport and we were given a preview of the six new security aisles recently added to the South Security Checkpoint. This improvement will speed up wait lines for people being screened, and improve security for the 37.5 million passengers who use the airport every year along with the employees who work there.
Coming Up in Washington
The proposed Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) could well dominate the week in Washington. (See my letter above)
Raising Money for Lung Cancer Research at the Breath of Hope Walk-Run in Duluth
My wife, Mary, and the entire Nolan clan joined our youngest daughter, Katherine, on Saturday morning in Duluth participating in the annual A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation Walk-Run to raise funds for medical research to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure lung cancer. Hats off to all of the survivors, families and friends who joined in supporting this great cause!