NHDP Executive Director Mike Brunelle Delivers Letter to Senator Bradley

NHDP Executive Director Mike Brunelle Delivers Letter to Senator Bradley Calling on Him to Address His Record of Supporting the Insurance Industry at the
Expense of NH's Working Families

 
Concord - NHDP Executive Director Mike Brunelle delivered a letter to Senator Jeb Bradley today, calling on him to address his long record of supporting insurance industry profits at the expense of New Hampshire's working families. 
 
Senator Bradley has announced his intention to introduce an amendment to SB 505 tomorrow, which would stand in the way of immediately reducing taxes for small businesses, preventing insurance companies from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions, and covering over 140,000 of our state's citizens currently without health insurance.
 
Brunelle's letter asks Senator Bradley to address five key questions about his record on health care as a United States Congressman when he rises to introduce his amendment to SB 505.
 
The full letter is included below:
 
March 23, 2010
 
Senator Bradley,
 
When you rise tomorrow in the Senate chamber to introduce your reckless amendment to SB 505, I hope you also address your irresponsible record of supporting the insurance industry at the expense of New Hampshire's working families.
 
During your time in congress, you racked up an abysmal record of opposing efforts to reduce health care costs, rein in the most abusive insurance industry practices, and expand coverage. 
 
The people of the Granite State deserve an explanation as to why you are now introducing a politically motivated amendment that would stand in the way of immediately reducing taxes for small businesses, preventing insurance companies from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions, and covering over 140,000 of our state citizens without health insurance.
 
Specifically, I hope you address the following questions:
 

1.  Why have you opposed efforts to lower health care costs for small businesses?

 

a.  In 2005, you voted against a plan to lower health insurance costs for small businesses.  The plan allowed small employers access to state and federal low-cost health insurance plans that pool all health risks and provided subsidies to help small employers with low-wage workforces afford family coverage.  The Department of Labor would establish the Small Employer Health Benefits Plan (SEHB) giving similar benefits to those enjoyed by federal employees and members of Congress.  Under the plan, states could establish state small employer health pools while small businesses would be eligible for premium assistance, as would employees earning below 200 percent of the poverty level. The proposal had the potential of providing health insurance coverage to 33 million Americans who currently go without it today. ["Association Health Plans," Education & Workforce Committee, Minority Staff]  The plan was defeated 197-230. [HR 525, Vote #424, 7/26/05]

 

b.  In 2004, you voted against a Democratic substitute for the Association Health Plan bill that would have established an alternative expansion of health care for small businesses modeled after the coverage received by federal employees and Members of Congress.  In addition, the substitute would have given small businesses discounts on insurance premiums and would have preserved state mandates on care. [CQ Today, 5/13/04]The measure was defeated 193-224. [HR 4281, Vote #172, 5/13/04] 

2.  Why have you consistently voted to slash Medicaid and Medicare? 

 

a.  In 2006, you voted to cut Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by $6.9 billion, including harmful increases in cost-sharing and premiums that impose large burdens on poor children and families.   In addition, the bill cut $6.4 billion from Medicare in part by raising premiums for some Part B beneficiaries.  But the measure did not touch a $5 billion HMO slush fund established by the 2003 Medicare bill, and after intense lobbying from the health insurance industry, the budget saves HMOs $22 billion dollars by maintaining Medicare reimbursement formulas that favored the industry. [House Budget Committee Minority Staff, "Key Provisions in the Conference Report on the Republican Spending Reconciliation Bill." 12/19/05; CQ Today, 2/1/06; Washington Post, 2/1/06] 

b.  In 2005, you voted for final passage of a $49.9 billion budget cut package pushed by House conservatives under the guise of offsetting the costs associated with Hurricane Katrina. Some of the "savings" in the bill were found by cutting $11.4 billion from Medicaid over five years. The bulk of the cuts - nearly $8 billion - would fall directly on patients through higher co-pays, premiums and other provisions that cut benefits or delay access to Medicaid coverage. The measure would also allow states to eliminate preventative health care guarantees for children - a move that could eliminate comprehensive health coverage for 6 million children. [House Budget Committee Democrats, "Summary of House and Senate Reconciliation Bills," 11/22/05] 

c.  In 2005, you also voted for a conference agreement to cut mandatory spending programs by $39.7 billion over the next five years. The measure cut Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by $6.9 billion, including harmful increases in cost-sharing and premiums that impose large burdens on poor children and families. In addition, the bill cut $6.4 billion from Medicare in part by raising premiums for some Part B beneficiaries. It did not cut a $5.4 billion HMO slush fund established by the 2003 Medicare bill to entice insurance companies to offer coverage in certain areas. [House Budget Committee Minority Staff, "Key Provisions in the Conference Report on the Republican Spending Reconciliation Bill." 12/19/05] 

3.  Why have you consistently voted for legislation that is fiscally reckless and harmful for America's working families?

 

a.  In 2006, you voted for a $2.8 trillion budget that provided an insufficient level of funding for public health programs, shortchanging critical medical research, treatment, prevention and training programs.  Over five years (2007-2011), funding for public health falls short of the amount needed to keep pace with inflation by $20 billion. Programs that lost purchasing power included:18 of 19 institutes at the National Institutes of Health; prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control; graduate medical education for children's hospitals; rural health activities; and scores of other health programs that the President cut or eliminated. [House Budget Committee, Minority Staff Analysis of the FY 07 Budget] 
The bill passed 218-210.  [HCR376, Vote #158, 5/18/06]

 

b.  In 2005, you voted for the Labor, HHS & Education appropriations conference report that cut $1.5 billion from key domestic priorities. The measure cut efforts to address rural health needs like clinics, expanded dental and mental health services and telemedicine by 73 percent.   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were cut by $249 million, while the bill cut by 11 percent funds granted to state and local health departments to improve preparedness against bio-terrorist attacks and naturally occurring epidemics. [House Appropriations Committee Democratic Staff, "Summary of the Conference Agreement - HR 3010," 11/16/05] The bill failed 209-224.  [HR 3010, Vote #598, 11/17/05]

 

4.  Why have you also consistently opposed health care coverage protections for people with serious illnesses? 

 

a.  In 2005 you voted against a proposal that would have maintained state coverage protections for pregnancy, child care, breast and cervical cancer screening, mental illness and diabetes.  [CQ Vote Report #425, 2005] The proposal was defeated 198-230.  [HR 525, Vote #425, 7/26/05]
 
b.  In 2004, you also voted against a motion that would have required the Association Health Plan legislation to prohibit plans that allow reductions in breast cancer coverage.  The motion was defeated 196-218. [HR 4281, Vote #173, 5/13/04]
 
c.  In 2003, you voted for a bill that would allow small businesses to join together to form association health plans across state lines without having to adhere to state-mandated coverage requirements for certain diseases.  This weakens coverage for diseases such as autism, breast cancer, prostate cancer and mental illness.

 

5.  Why have you voted to save insurance industry profits at the expense of the people of the Granite state?

 

a.  In 2006, you voted for legislation that cut mandatory spending programs by $39.7 billion over the next five years. The measure did not touch a $5 billion HMO slush fund established by the 2003 Medicare bill, and after intense lobbying from the health insurance industry, the budget saved HMOs $22 billion dollars by maintaining Medicare reimbursement formulas that favored the industry. [House Budget Committee Minority Staff, "Key Provisions in the Conference Report on the Republican Spending Reconciliation Bill." 12/19/05; CQ Today, 2/1/06; Washington Post, 2/1/06] The bill passed 216-214.  [HRS653, Vote #4, 2/01/06]

 
I sincerely hope that you will address these serious issues.  Your reckless votes in congress have significantly hurt the people of New Hampshire that are struggling with skyrocketing costs and a lack of care.
 
Sincerely,
 
Mike Brunelle