- Setting the Stage for Another Healthcare Debate
- A New Jersey Voice for Veterans
- Sussex VA Clinic Open for Business!
- A World War II prisoner’s words live on
- New Tankers for Existing Mission at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst
- House Votes to INSPIRE Women
- Salute: Brigadier General Alfred Abramson, Picatinny’s New Leader!
- Salute: Leanna Brown
- Salute: Morris County’s Art in the Atrium
Setting the Stage for Another Healthcare Debate
The state of America’s healthcare system is very much in the headlines these days. This week, the Congress approved the procedural steps that will allow House and the Senate to consider enacting a new patient-centered system that gives every American access to quality, affordable health care.
Make no mistake: this afternoon’s vote was not a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The so-called “reconciliation” legislation we passed simply lays out the timing and procedural steps necessary for a repeal and a replacement of Obamacare.
Let’s face it: the status quo is unacceptable. Obamacare is failing. Beyond the havoc it’s wreaked in the job market, especially for small businesses, we have seen skyrocketing premiums, soaring deductibles, and fewer choices for patients and their families.
Here’s the reality:
Higher premiums. President Obama promised premiums would decline by $2,500 per family. Instead, average annual family premiums in the employer-sponsored market have jumped by about $4,300 and now total more than $18,000 annually.
Even higher deductibles. Deductibles for individual plans in the employer-sponsored market are up an average of 60 percent since 2010 – from $917 to $1,478 in 2016. For many families, these higher deductibles are like having no coverage at all.
An even bigger bill for taxpayers. Because premiums have skyrocketed, so have the federal subsidies needed to prop up Obamacare. According to one independent study, taxpayers will pay nearly $10 billion more for subsidies in 2017.
Even fewer choices. For 2016, only 2 percent of eligible customers had one insurer to choose from. For next year, that number has jumped to 17 percent. In 2016, New Jersey has five insurance Obamacare providers. This year, New Jersey has TWO!
All of these trends are heading in the wrong direction. That is why there is a real urgency to end this failed experiment before it causes much more damage.
Frankly, the worst is yet to come because where there is little competition, costs skyrocket and the market collapses. That is the catalyst for what some experts call the Obamacare “death spiral.” Insurers are warning that their losses from Obamacare are “unsustainable” and they are dropping out of the marketplace at a rapid pace.
Of course, I recognize that 22 million people are now depending on Obamacare for their coverage. Speaker Paul Ryan has promised that they will not be left in the lurch: "Once Obamacare is repealed, we will make sure there is a stable transition period so that people don’t have the rug pulled out from under them.”
That is why the first order of the new Congress is to repeal Obamacare and quickly transition from government-controlled healthcare to a 21st Century health system that’s personalized and patient-centered.
But that debate was not the debate we conducted today in the House. But that debate will certainly arrive in coming weeks and I look forward to it.
A New Jersey Voice for Veterans
Much more work needs to be done to fix the widespread problems at the Veterans Adminstration. Every day we must focus on needs of men and women veterans and improve the department’s ability to provide our veterans the care and benefits they have earned.
This week, the incoming Trump Administration indicated it was serious about VA reform with its selection of Dr. David Shulkin as the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
David Shulkin knows healthcare, he knows veterans and he knows New Jersey, having served as the President of Morristown Medical Center. I am confident that he will deliver!
Shulkin was appointed Undersecretary for Health by President Obama in March of 2015 as the VA grappled with several scandals involving long wait times for veterans at VA hospitals, reports of a cover-up and skyrocketing construction costs at VA hospitals.
In a very tangible way, Dr. Shulkin has already helped New Jersey veterans. I met with him at this time last year to seek his support for the establishment of a Community-Based Outpatient Clinic in Sussex County. His assistance, coupled with our persistence, led to the opening of that clinic in Newton this week.
Sussex VA Clinic Open for Business!
The Sussex County Veterans Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) opened its doors on Monday, marking the beginning of the next chapter of veterans’ health care in Sussex County!
But the job does not end today. The challenge of local elected officials and veterans leaders in the months ahead is to make sure all veterans know that the facility is there for them and that the services match our veterans’ needs. It’s all about access, but it’s also all about providing enhanced care for our deserving veterans - men and women alike.
The Sussex Clinic is located at 222 High Street in Newton and will be open on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Read David Danzis’ article in the Tuesday New Jersey Herald here.
Worth a Read: “A World War II prisoner’s words live on, thanks to a buddy” in Monday’s Washington Post.
New Tankers for Existing Mission at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst
The Air Force announced this week that it will field 24 new KC-46 tankers in New Jersey at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst – an endorsement of JBMDL as one of the nation’s premier air mobility installations. Clearly, the strong work that aircraft and crews at McGuire have done over the years to maintain the critically important ‘air bridge’ from the continental U.S. to the Middle East, Europe, Africa and beyond put this base in a strong position.
As immediate past Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, I have for years advocated for basing the KC-46 tanker at JBMDL with senior Air Force leaders, including Secretary Deborah Lee James, and various Chiefs of Staff of the Air Force. My message over the years has been simple: McGuire has the location, the facilities, the experience and the workforce to ensure that the Air Force maintains its ‘global reach.’ Nothing is more important for the warfighter!
I can’t think of a better base to host the new tanker. This is a good day for the nation, our military, New Jersey, the Joint Base and the 40,000 people who work there.
JBMDL had been competing with many bases for the next Main Operating Base 4 (MOB 4) for the KC-46A, including bases Dover, Del., Abilene, Texas; Spokane, Wash., Grand Forks, N.D., Charleston, S.C.; Tacoma, Wash. Little Rock, Ark., Tampa, Fla. and Mascoutah, Ill..
The first new tankers are expected to arrive at JBMDL no later than the Spring of 2021.
House Votes to INSPIRE Women
This week the House passed the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act (H.R. 321). This legislation complements my ongoing efforts to encourage young women (and young men) to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) fields.
As the name implies, this bill is specifically targeted to encourage women to advance America’s space exploration efforts.
As I visit schools across my Congressional District, I am encouraged to see girls and young women deciding at an early age to pursue STEM careers. These skills are the backbone of our 21st Century workforce. Yet studies show women are falling behind their male counterparts in attaining these in-demand skills. As a nation, we need to encourage more women to pursue careers in STEM fields, where they can bring their creativity, expertise, and problem-solving skills to the table.
Learn more about the INSPIRE Act here.
Picatinny Arsenal continues to be very active on STEM. Twelve students from the Pre-Engineering Academy at Central High School in Newark, New Jersey, visited Picatinny last month to learn about STEM career opportunities.
During the visit, the students toured Picatinny's 3D printing lab, checked out military vehicles, learned about remote weapons and discussed Explosive Ordnance Disposal technology. EOD operators diffuse bombs and other explosive devices.
The tour was coordinated by the Picatinny STEM office, the Morris County Chamber of Commerce, the AT&T Pioneers and the Secretary of the Army's office. For the complete story, click here.
Salute: Brigadier General Alfred Abramson, the new Commanding General at Picatinny Arsenal. I was honored to meet BGEN Abramson this morning in my Washington office. Welcome!
Salute:A final farewell to former State Senator, Assemblywoman, Councilwoman Leanna Brown. Read William Westhoven’s article in the Morris County Daily Record here.
Salute: Congratulations to Art in the Atriumwhich this year is celebrating its 25th anniversary of its efforts to develop an appreciation of fine art, especially African American art, across northern New Jersey. ACA’s commitment to art education enriches Morris County and is one element that makes our community one of the finest places to live, work and raise a family.