Catching Up with Annie
Committed to serving you
Washington, DC, September 25, 2017
Last week, I had the chance to travel around New Hampshire discussing issues critical to Granite State families, such as healthcare, workforce development, and the opioid epidemic. I’m committed to expanding economic opportunity, improving care for our veterans, ensuring everyone has access to quality and affordable healthcare, combating the opioid epidemic and supporting those who have been impacted by this crisis, and fighting for the rights of sexual assault survivors. Hearing from you is so important to influencing my work in Congress and I cannot thank you enough for coming out to share your thoughts, experiences, and concerns.
I started the week in Pembroke, where I convened a field hearing assessing quality of care issues for veterans at the Manchester, VA Medical Center. Alongside my colleagues, Jack Bergman (R-MI) and Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), I questioned leaders from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Manchester VA Medical Center, whistleblowers at the Manchester VA, and the New Hampshire State Veterans Advisory Council on how we may improve veterans’ services and ensure that they receive nothing less than excellent care.
The testimony we heard highlights the serious problems that exist in the Manchester facility and in facilities across the country, but I was encouraged by some of the steps the VA has taken in addressing these challenges, including recruitment of qualified VA staff and programs to better coordinate care for veterans. I intend to hold the VA accountable for following through on these changes, and I’ll continue to work to enhance protections for whistleblowers and improve quality of care for our veterans.
My colleagues and me at the Pembroke VA Hearing
You can read more about the field hearing here: http://www.concordmonitor.com/
On Wednesday, I had the chance to lead a roundtable discussion in Salem on youth opioid education and prevention. I was joined by the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem, law enforcement, and educators. Together, we focused on the need for community involvement to tackle this crisis. We know the impacts of the opioid crisis go beyond those suffering from substance use disorder; it extends to children and family members as well. We all have a role to play in tackling this crisis and I was pleased to have the opportunity to discuss programs aimed at protecting our youth with leadership at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem, law enforcement, and educators. I will continue working in Congress to strengthen education, prevention, treatment and recovery services for Granite Staters of all ages.
Reading to Children at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem
Read more in the Eagle Tribune about my visit: http://www.eagletribune.com/
On Wednesday I visited the Salem, NH 9/11 Never Forget Exhibit. The exhibit is an incredibly powerful tribute to those killed on September 11th, the first responders who put the lives of others ahead of their own, and our men and women in uniform who so bravely defend and sacrifice for our freedoms. I was humbled to receive a Flag of Honor with the names of those lost on 9/11 emblazoned. Thank you to everyone who made this possible!
At the Salem, NH 9/11 Never Forget Exhibit
On Thursday, I went to Claremont to discuss a recent bill I introduced: the Workforce Development Investment Act of 2017. This bill encourages companies and educators to train workers in the various skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy. These programs will benefit not only the employees who are attaining the skills, but also their employers and the New Hampshire economy by keeping competitive jobs in our local communities. It’s a win-win-win.
At Sugar River Valley Regional Technical Center
Read more in the Eagle Times: https://www.eagletimes.com/
On Thursday, I hosted a town hall in Hanover with my colleague, Peter Welch (D-VT), to hear the thoughts, concerns, and questions of folks in the Upper Valley. We had a great conversation on issues ranging from healthcare to the upcoming Five Year Farm Bill and how we can better support small family farmers. I want to extend a big thank you to everyone who came to share their thoughts. Hearing from people in New Hampshire is a fundamental part of my role in Congress. If you weren’t able to make it to the town hall I encourage you to call my office at (603) 226-1002 or visit my website, kuster.house.gov to share your thoughts.
Town Hall in Hanover with Congressman Welch
Read more about the town hall in the Valley News: http://www.vnews.com/Welch-
On Friday I had a great visit with Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Senator Maggie Hassan at Southern New Hampshire Services Early Head Start program to discuss my support of Spark NH's work to combat substance misuse and promote early education on substance use disorder in the Granite State. Early childhood education plays such a critical role in best preparing our children for the future, and I can't think of a more important topic to teach children about than staying healthy.
Watch coverage of the visit on WMUR: http://www.wmur.com/article/
I am appalled the Department of Education has decided to rescind critical protections for survivors of sexual violence as it reviews Title IX guidance for college and university campuses. This announcement came after I led abipartisan group of members this week in calling on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to continue protections for survivors and maintain the preponderance of evidence as the appropriate standard for campus disciplinary proceedings.
The new guidance contains gaping holes that create uncertainty for students, their families, and college and university officials. Make no mistake: this tilts the scales against survivors, endangers students, protects predators, and make campuses less safe. I will continue to push back against these misguided efforts and work with my colleagues in Washington to change the culture around sexual violence in our nation.
I’m also continuing to fight for affordable, quality health care for everyone. The Graham-Cassidy health care bill that is currently before the Senate would be a disaster for hardworking families in New Hampshire and across the country. It would slash $410 million in health care funding for New Hampshire by 2026 and threaten access to care for people with preexisting conditions. The Senate Republican’s bill would allow states to eliminate essential benefits, jeopardizing access to mental health and substance misuse services at a time when we’re just beginning to make headway against the opioid epidemic. In short, I agree with Governor Chris Sununu and elected leaders on both sides of the aisle; this bill is wrong for New Hampshire and it’s wrong for the country.
I know our health care system is far from perfect. I am committed to working with Republicans and Democrats who want to work -- in a bipartisan way -- to make improvements to the Affordable Care Act, to expand access to care and lower costs.