Equal Pay for Equal Work
I hope you all had a great weekend. I spent last week successfully fighting to protect Medicare against cuts that would have hurt our seniors, advocating for a woman’s right to equal pay, and supporting the needs of New Hampshire’s agricultural community.
In these difficult economic times, we must ensure that our seniors have access to the affordable Medicare services they need to stay healthy. Furthermore, smaller paychecks for women make it harder for families to afford health care, send their kids to college, and save for retirement. I am committed to continuing to work to eliminate the pay gap and establish gender equality in the workplace.
Advocating for Equal Rights for Women
Last Tuesday, I visited the White House to celebrate Equal Pay Day and hear President Obama give two executive orders that will help support fair pay for women and narrow the wage gap between genders. During Tuesday’s Equal Pay Day celebration at the White House, the President announced the new executive orders which I had encouraged him to support in a letter I sent last year. The first order will prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against employees who choose to discuss their compensation, so employees have a potential avenue to discover violations of equal pay and seek appropriate action. The second order will instruct the Secretary of Labor to establish new regulations requiring federal contractors to submit to the Department of Labor data on compensation paid to their employees, including by sex and race. This will allow more targeted enforcement of equal pay laws.
I was so pleased the President took my letter into consideration and announced these executive orders, which will help prevent pay discrimination against women. I am a proud cosponsor of the federal Paycheck Fairness Act, which would increase the effectiveness of remedies available to victims of pay discrimination on the basis of gender. It is outrageous that even in the 21st Century, women in New Hampshire and across the nation continue to make only 77 cents to the dollars of their male counterparts. We must do more to eliminate the wage gap between genders, and this is a great step forward in the right direction. I urge my colleagues in the House to swiftly pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would provide women with necessary avenues to report and remedy instances of pay discrimination.
Fighting to Preserve Medicare
On Wednesday, the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) announced that it will raise payments to Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, which will help protect important health benefits for New Hampshire seniors. Previously, CMS had estimated a reduction in payments to Medicare Advantage plans due to a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I recently wrote a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urging the Administration to reconsider this scheduled cut, which could have adversely affected 12,542 Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in New Hampshire by causing increases in their premiums and copays, and affecting their plan and benefit options. The recent announcement takes into consideration my advice, and no cuts will take place for 2015.
I’m extremely relieved that CMS took my advice and reversed its previous scheduled plan to reduce payments to Medicare Advantage. I have long said the Affordable Care Act was far from perfect, and I was deeply concerned that these specific reductions proposed by the ACA were not cost-effective and could have negatively impacted many Granite Staters who depend on these plans. I’m thrilled that the Administration has done the responsible thing and will continue to support the Medicare Advantage plans that provide high quality, affordable health care to many of our seniors.
New Hampshire’s Cherry Blossom Princess: Danielle Duchesne
On Wednesday evening, I had the pleasure of escorting Nashua native Danielle Duchesne to this year’s Congressional Cherry Blossom Reception. Danielle is representing New Hampshire in the 2014 Cherry Blossom Princess Festival, and is being sponsored by the New Hampshire State Society. Wednesday’s reception was part of the annual Cherry Blossom Princess program, a weeklong series for young women who have been elected to serve as their state’s representative, or “princess.” During the week, Cherry Blossom princesses participate in a variety of leadership, educational, and service activities, and they are introduced to leaders and female role models in government, cultural, military, and business organizations who work in the Washington, D.C. area.
Danielle’s extensive leadership activities and commitment to New Hampshire make her an excellent role model for young women back at home. I was thrilled to escort her to this year’s Cherry Blossom Congressional Reception, and I know I speak on behalf of all Granite Staters in saying we are proud to have her as our representative in this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival. I wish her the best of luck moving forward!
Protecting NH Farmers
On Wednesday, I joined U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte and Representative Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack raising serious concerns with a proposal to close Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices in New Hampshire. FSA offices provide New Hampshire farmers and ranchers with a range of supportive services, including loans, financial planning, and disaster assistance.
President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget plan proposed consolidating or closing over 200 FSA offices across the nation in an effort to modernize the program and reduce spending. However, the New Hampshire FSA has already consolidated or co-located many of its offices in an effort to improve efficiency. Additional closures are unnecessary and could prove to be devastating for New Hampshire farmers who rely on these services to succeed.
Hearing From Alzheimer’s Activists
On Wednesday, I met with representatives from the New Hampshire chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to discuss their efforts to combat the disease. Five million Americans have Alzheimer's disease today. In ten years, that number is expected to grow to fifteen million. In New Hampshire, twenty thousand people have Alzheimer's, which touches the lives of families all across our state. Most people have someone in their lives -- a spouse, a parent, a friend -- who is experiencing memory loss or who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Helping Granite Staters
Recently, my office was contacted by a consituent concerning her health insurance coverage. Susan Glasheen had been trying for months to get a coverage confirmation and her identification card for her new health plan from Anthem. At the beginning of April, my staff was able to work with Ms. Glasheen and Anthem to retrieve the necessary information and materials. If my office may ever be of assistance with a problem you are facing, please contact my staff at 603-226-1002 so we may help you resolve your problem or get you the information you need.
Have a wonderful week and thanks for everything you do to make New Hampshire such a great place to live!