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Sens. Moran, Manchin Call for Bipartisan Legislative Solution to Protect Free and Open Internet, Promote Rural Broadband Access
Dec 18 2017
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security – and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today issued the following statement:
“As senators who have been working to close the digital divide, we believe federal policy must continue to promote the expansion of broadband access across rural America. Consumers and innovators deserve clear rules of the road that will continue to ensure the internet remains an open marketplace, will drive our online economy and will support investment throughout our internet ecosystem.
“To that end, we agree with the calls of Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman Thune and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle that we must find bipartisan consensus that codifies strong net neutrality protections and conclusively resolves this debate. Consumers want an internet that is free of content-based discrimination and supports the deployment of reliable, affordable broadband access throughout the country. Congress enshrining net neutrality protections based on clear and certain rules into law is necessary to guarantee the internet remains free and open.”
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Mr. President, thank you very much for the recognition and I come to the floor today to speak about business that is important to Kansas and important to the country. But especially important to the providers of healthcare for children and the children and their families who receive that coverage and care.
And that’s the Medicaid CHIP program.
It was established back in 1997 and I want to call to the attention of my colleagues the importance of us acting here in the next several days in regard to reauthorization extension of that CHIP program. It has helped to provide coverage to children of low income families in my state and those are individuals who would otherwise be left without any insurance, and most likely in every case, the funds necessary to cover health care costs for the well-being of those young men and women.
This program is funded through a multi-year authorization that requires Congress to take action each time the program reaches the end of that authorization and that end of that authorization occurred on September 30th, now several months ago.
While I have been assured in my state that there is sufficient funds to get us through the end of the year, I get concerned; in fact, the belief is that we may have enough funds to pay for our insurance program to March. That certainly is probably not the case across the states and we need to respond, we need to act, within a few short days.
Certainly, I hope this is an issue that is addressed as the continuing resolution that funds the federal government expires on December the 22nd. As we respond to that circumstance, we ought to respond to the expiration of the CHIP program that occurred on September the 30th. Waiting to reauthorize that program already has created, but if we waited any longer, it would create even more unnecessary burden for families of more than nine million children that are currently receiving healthcare through that program.
Temporary funding measures have kept the program solvent since the program expired, but again, now is the time to act to provide some certainty and to make sure that the funds continue to be available. In Kansas, in the absence of that, that would be leaving about 79,000 children without coverage or other good options.
Many of our nation's best children's hospitals serve a great deal of patients through that CHIP program. We are fortunate in our area to have Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, and again, those hospitals and other providers rely upon that CHIP program to pay their bills as well. With all the costs associated with healthcare and with the inability of people to pay, the burden then falls upon hospitals and others to figure out how they survive.
I will tell you that in Kansas almost every hospital, 127 of them in our state, continue to hang on by a thread and some may not survive. This is another opportunity for us to strengthen and provide certainty that a mechanism will be in place that when they provide care to children of Medicaid families that they will be reimbursed. That benefits all of us in our healthcare delivery system and provides more stability and more certainty in these challenging times for healthcare providers across Kansas.
The House of Representatives, and I’m happy that this occurred, has passed reauthorization. They did their bill. It is now time for the Senate to act. Our committee, the Finance Committee, has taken its actions but this bill is still pending on the floor of the United States Senate.
This Christmas season, this holiday time, parents should not have to wonder what they will do in the absence of this insurance program that allows their children to receive routine care, but in many instances, life-saving care. Continuing to delay action on this bill is not in the best interest of the American people. It would be nice, it would be appreciated by Americans, to see the United States Senate work on a program that has broad bipartisan support but still, for some reason, can’t get across the finish line. That finish line I suppose was September the 30th but I say that finish line is now, the end of the year, and specifically December the 22nd with the CR expiring, at that point in time, it's time for congress to take action in that regard.
My plea on the Senate floor this morning is for congress—the United States Senate—to take legislative action, reauthorize this program, provide certainty, and care for our country’s children—who are without this program in very significant jeopardy of having absence of healthcare.
Mr. President, I appreciate the opportunity to address the United States Senate and I yield back after noting the absence of a quorum.
Landmark Legislation Will Reduce Wasteful IT Spending, Strengthen Cybersecurity
Dec 12 2017
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran’s (R-Kan.) Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act was signed into law by President Trump as part of the conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2018. In September, Sen. Moran successfully included the MGT Act as an amendment to the NDAA for FY2018. This bipartisan legislation – introduced along with U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) – will encourage federal agencies to cut wasteful spending and modernize government information technology (IT) and security. Sen. Moran released the following statement after the president signed the legislation into law:
“Today, the president signed into law landmark legislation to reduce wasteful government IT spending and strengthen our nation’s cybersecurity. I applaud the administration and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their tireless work to get this legislation signed into law and to bring our inefficient, outdated federal IT system into the 21st century. The improved efficiencies from the MGT Act will empower agencies to modernize their legacy IT systems, better protect our data from cyber-attacks and ultimately save billions in taxpayer dollars by reducing long-term spending.”
Items to Note:
- In September, the MGT Act cleared the Senate after Sen. Moran introduced the legislation as an amendment to the NDAA for FY2018. In November, the MGT Act was included in the final conference report for NDAA and was sent to the president’s desk for signature.
- In April, Sen. Moran and Sen. Udall – both members of the Senate Commerce and Appropriations Committees – introduced the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act (S. 990/H.R. 2227) with the support of their colleagues Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). U.S. Representatives Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) – chairman and member, respectively, of the House Subcommittee on Information Technology – introduced the House companion legislation.
- The bill is supported by a number of IT industry stakeholders and trade associations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the IT Alliance for the Public Sector (ITAPS), Professional Services Council (PSC), TechNet, Amazon Web Service, Cisco, Adobe, BMC, Brocade, Intel, Microsoft, Business Roundtable, CA Technologies, Compuware, CSRA, Level 3, Unisys and others (full list attached).
The Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act:
- The MGT Act will establish IT working capital funds at 24 federal government agencies and allow them to use savings obtained through streamlining IT systems, replacing legacy products and transitioning to cloud computing for up to three years for further modernization efforts.
- Note: Nearly 75 percent of the $80 billion we are spending annually on federal IT systems is going toward maintaining and operating legacy IT rather than making lasting improvements.
- The bill also sets up a separate centralized modernization fund within the Department of the Treasury for the head of the General Services Administration (GSA) to administer across the federal government in consultation with an expert federal IT board.
WASHINGTON—A bipartisan group of U.S. senators, including U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), are calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct a nationwide review of its providers after a USA Today investigation found multiple providers hired by the Department had at least one state medical license revoked due to malpractice.
In a letter to VA Secretary David Shulkin, the senators presented a series of questions.
“For years, states have experienced provider shortages across many different medical specialties, and like the private sector healthcare industry, the VA has faced similar provider shortages,” the senators wrote to Shulkin. “As such, we request information about the VA’s oversight of provider hiring guidelines to ensure that the pressure to fill shortages has not led to insufficient health care quality controls.”
In addition to Moran, the letter was signed by Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Barrasso (R-WY), Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Full text of the letter can be found here and below:
December 8, 2017
The Honorable David Shulkin
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Ave NW
Washington, DC 20420-0001
Dear Secretary Shulkin:
We write to express our serious concerns regarding recent media reports suggesting that the Department of Veterans Affairs offers employment to medical practitioners with a known history of licensure revocation by a state medical licensing board. The national reporting also highlighted cases of the VA hiring providers with known conduct and performance deficiencies that resulted in sanctions and criminal charges of the individuals.
For years, states have experienced provider shortages across many different medical specialties, and like the private sector healthcare industry, the VA has faced similar provider shortages. For states, such as Arkansas, in which many veterans eligible for VA care are rural, the provider shortage is even more pronounced. As such, we request information about the VA’s oversight of provider hiring guidelines to ensure that the pressure to fill shortages has not led to insufficient health care quality controls.
We request that the Department of Veterans Affairs conduct a nationwide review to identify all providers by state and specialty, who were known to have had adverse actions taken against their clinical privileges, to include the revocation of state medical licensure, and were subsequently hired by the Department. Of the individuals identified by the aforementioned report, what is the employment status of each individual identified? What additional oversight measures are required for providers identified through this review who remain employed by and practicing within the VA?
In addition to a review to determine the current status of providers within the VA, we would also like information relevant to oversight of VA policies regarding hiring of individuals who have disciplinary or performance deficiencies that resulted in sanctions, claims, or charges. At what level is a final personnel decision approved? Does the VA have regular reporting and review of any providers hired under these circumstances? How is the performance and conduct of such individuals tracked, including the healthcare outcomes they deliver for veterans? When the VA intends to hire a provider with known medical malpractice claims, what additional scrutiny or consideration are such applicants subjected to?
Does the VA have authority to hire a provider whose license has been revoked? When the VA considers hiring these providers, at what level does the VA approve a final offer of employment? Are such hiring decisions subject to reporting requirements to the Department? If so, to what level? Following the employment of such a provider, does the VA require any probationary periods of review or mandatory consultation prior to authorizing the direct provision of care to patients? Do these positions include any responsibility for the direct provision of medical care?
Please confirm the status of this request and provide a timeline for completion of the requested review. We ask that you please keep our offices updated on this issue. Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Banking Committee Advances Moran-Supported Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act
Dec 07 2017
WASHINGTON – This week, the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs marked up and voted out of committee S. 2155, the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act.” Co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) this overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation right-sizes regulation for smaller financial institutions and includes important consumer protections for veterans, senior citizens and victims of fraud. It will also improve our nation’s financial regulatory framework, encouraging economic growth in communities across Kansas.
“I have been proud to work with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to strike a sensible agreement on ways to improve local financial services, and to strengthen protections for veterans, senior citizens and victims of fraud,” said Sen. Moran. “By rolling back unnecessary and cumbersome regulations, this bill encourages economic growth in rural and local communities and helps Kansans access and protect their credit.”
Widespread support for S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act:
Bipartisan Policy Center:
“As U.S. politics descends ever further into partisanship, there are still signs that old-fashioned legislating is not dead. This week, the Senate Banking Committee will mark up one of the first significant pieces of financial regulatory legislation in years with real bipartisan support. These are not major changes. Yet taken together, they are constructive and should provide greater incentives to extend credit, particularly to Main Street small businesses, without undermining the progress made since the crisis in making the financial system safer.” – John Soroushian and Justin Schardin, Bipartisan Policy Center
Independent Community Bankers of America:
“The markup of S. 2155 is a rare opening for real, impactful relief that will strengthen economic growth, job creation, and consumer protection. It is the culmination of years of collaborative effort to achieve consensus among members of Congress across the spectrum and community bankers in their home states and districts. Community bankers urge all members of the Senate Banking Committee to vote YES on S. 2155.” – Camden Fine, ICBA President and CEO
Credit Union National Association:
“This bill includes credit union-specific provisions that provide meaningful regulatory relief, a sign that policymakers are paying close attention to the needs of credit union members. We thank Sen. Crapo and his colleagues for working across party lines to advance regulatory relief legislation that benefits community financial institutions, and look forward to continuing to work closely with them as the bill moves through the legislative process.” – Jim Nussle, CUNA President and CEO
Consumer Bankers Association:
“We appreciate the Senate’s bipartisan effort to enact regulatory reform which helps banks better serve American consumers and small businesses. The agreement makes some meaningful regulatory changes, including providing the Federal Reserve flexibility to make a more complete assessment when designating certain institutions systematically important. This is a significant first step and we urge Congress to continue working toward policies which consider risk rather than arbitrary asset thresholds.” -Richard Hunt, CBA President and CEO
Insured Retirement Institute:
“This bill containing the Senior$afe Act of 2017 will help our member companies and financial advisers combat financial abuse of older Americans. It would increase protections for older investors, help prevent financial exploitation, and preserve senior’s hard-earned retirement savings. The legislation will foster better communications between advisors and their firms with appropriate governmental and law enforcement agencies when they suspect financial exploitation of a client. It will also encourage more firms to offer important employee training in this area.” – Catherine Weatherford, President and CEO, Insured Retirement Institute
American Bankers Association:
“ABA welcomes today’s announcement of a bipartisan Senate agreement on legislation that would reform our nation’s financial regulatory rules. The deal reached today by Chairman Crapo and Senators Tester, Heitkamp, Donnelly and Warner shows that lawmakers of good faith from both parties can agree on commonsense changes to allow banks to better serve their customers and communities. We thank them for their leadership, and look forward to working with senators to move this legislation forward, and to improve it where possible.” - Rob Nichols, ABA President and CEO
National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions:
"NAFCU thanks Chairman Crapo and his Democratic partners in the Senate for including provisions in this package that would lead to regulatory relief for credit unions. We look forward to working with members of the Senate Banking Committee, their staff and other senators as this package moves through the legislative process. This bill is a step in the right direction, and we will continue to push for more relief for the industry and its 110 million member-owners." - Dan Berger, NAFCU President and CEO
Financial Services Roundtable:
“This bipartisan effort is directionally positive as it seeks to modernize regulations while protecting consumers and driving economic growth. Today’s announcement shows Chairman Crapo and his bipartisan co-sponsors are working hard to improve the financial experience of consumers.” – Tim Pawlenty, FSR CEO
Mortgage Bankers Association:
"I want to commend Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) for reaching a bipartisan compromise on regulatory relief legislation designed to lessen some burdens on lenders, allowing them to better serve their customers and consumers. In particular, MBA is glad to see the inclusion of language amending the SAFE Act to provide increased job mobility for loan originators, as well as language to address concerns with PACE lending, HMDA, and the TILA/RESPA integrated disclosure. We look forward to continuing to work with the committee on other provisions in the bill, such as expanding the language regarding Qualified Mortgages held in portfolio." – David H. Stevens, President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association
U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports S. 2155, the ‘Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act,’ which would provide long-overdue relief to Main Street businesses and consumers . . . The Chamber strongly supports tailored regulations—sophisticated rules that are properly calibrated to the risk profile of an activity or institution. S. 2155 is a first step in the right direction.” – Neal L. Bradley, Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
National Association of Home Builders:
“On behalf of the more than 140,000 members of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), I am writing in strong support for your efforts in S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act to address the challenging credit conditions that home builders and home buyers continue to experience as a result of the regulatory response to the recent financial crisis.” – James W. Tobin III, Executive Vice President and Chief Lobbyist, National Association of Home Builders
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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) met with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross regarding the ongoing negotiations with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and NAFTA’s vital importance to farmers, ranchers and manufacturers in Kansas. Sen. Moran, who requested today’s meeting through the Senate Commerce Committee in a letter to Commerce Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), was joined by several of his colleagues from the committee.
“Our economy in Kansas is dependent on the ability of our farmers, ranchers and manufacturers to trade their products,” said Sen. Moran. “In 2016, Kansas exported more than $4.5 billion worth of agricultural products, which supported more than 36,000 jobs and generated more than $5.7 billion in economic activity. I encouraged Secretary Ross to be extremely mindful of the role agricultural trade plays in Kansas’ economy and the consequences of NAFTA withdrawal to our farmers and ranchers. To illustrate this point, I showed Secretary Ross a picture of grain piles waiting on the ground in Kensington, Kansas as a direct example of why NAFTA is needed in our state to sell goods and feed the world. I appreciate the Secretary’s willingness to engage in this issue and hear our concerns. Secretary Ross understands I will continue to follow the negotiation process closely and I will not hesitate to bring up further concerns as I hear from farmers and ranchers on this issue.”
Items to Note:
- Sen. Moran last month sent a letter to Commerce Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) to request the committee continue to engage with Secretary Ross on trade and the direction of NAFTA negotiations, prompting today’s meeting.
- Sen. Moran recently signed a bipartisan letter to Secretary Ross asking the administration to conduct a robust economic analysis to evaluate how any changes to NAFTA would affect changes to the nation’s crop and livestock sectors.
- Sen. Moran also sent an open letter to farmers and ranchers regarding the threat of NAFTA withdrawal and urged them to advocate for sound trade policy. The letter was first published in Agri-Pulse and encourages the agriculture community to share their concerns with the administration about the importance of trade and their ability to sell what they produce around the world.
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WASHINGTON – Tomorrow, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) will meet with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross – along with several members of the Senate Commerce Committee – regarding the importance of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to farmers, ranchers and manufactures in Kansas and across the country.
Last month, Sen. Moran sent a letter to Commerce Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) to request the committee continue to engage with Secretary Ross on trade and the direction of NAFTA negotiations.
“With the threat of issuing a notice of withdrawal from NAFTA being openly discussed as a negotiating tactic, it would benefit members of the committee to hear directly from Secretary Ross about his views on the ongoing negotiations and the role of U.S. agriculture in those discussions,” Sen. Moran stated in the letter.
In addition, Sen. Moran recently signed a bipartisan letter to Secretary Ross asking the administration to conduct a robust economic analysis to evaluate how any changes to NAFTA would affect changes to the nation’s crop and livestock sectors.
“It is imperative that before any changes are made to NAFTA, or any other free trade agreement, that economic analysis that illustrates the impact on the full supply chain of the industries involved be shared. As such, we request an economic analysis that examines and evaluates the impacts to crop and livestock sectors as a result of any change to NAFTA,” the senators wrote.
To read the full letter, click here.
Last month, Sen. Moran sent an open letter to farmers and ranchers regarding the threat of NAFTA withdrawal and urged them to advocate for sound trade policy. The letter was first published in Agri-Pulse and encourages the agriculture community to share their concerns with the administration about the importance of trade and their ability to sell what they produce around the world.
“While tax reform dominates the discussion in Washington, D.C., U.S. agriculture must not allow its focus to be diverted from the equally important issue of agricultural trade. Reforming our nation’s tax code is critical to growing the economy and can benefit all Americans,” Sen. Moran wrote. “However, there will be little to no benefit of tax reform to farmers and ranchers if their ability to sell what they produce around the world is diminished.”
To read the full letter, click here.
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Sens. Moran, Heitkamp Lead Bipartisan Call for Delayed Implementation of Electronic Logging Devices for Livestock and Insect Transporters
Dec 05 2017
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) today led a bipartisan group of colleagues in calling for delayed implementation of electronic logging devices (ELDs) for commercial motor vehicles transporting livestock or insects. The senators’ letter to Senate leadership supports a provision in the U.S. House-passed Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill delaying implementation of ELDs and providing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) time to make the necessary adjustments to hours of service rules to address animal welfare concerns.
“Livestock production is a key contributor to the economies of our states, and jobs in rural communities depend on the ability to transport livestock across large expanses of the country,” the senators wrote. “For example, it is common for cattle in Western and Southeastern states to be purchased by producers and feedlots in the Midwest and Great Plains. These animals must be transported hundreds and even thousands of miles to their final destinations in a safe and humane manner. Long distance transportation is often the most stressful event in a livestock animal’s life and it is impractical and inhumane to stop, offload multiples times, or significantly delay delivery of these animals…. Livestock haulers are charged with the challenging task of ensuring motorist safety while protecting the welfare of the animals being transported. While some commercial operators without live cargo may have the ability to more easily transition from paper logbooks to ELDs, the pending mandate will have negative consequences on livestock haulers and hinder the ability of this unique subset of the industry to humanely deliver healthy livestock.”
The letter was also signed by U.S. Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.).
Full text of the letter is below and available here.
December 5, 2017
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Democratic Leader Schumer:
We write to express our support for the provision in the House-passed Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill to delay implementation of electronic logging devices (ELD) for commercial motor vehicles transporting livestock or insects. The delay will give the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) time to make necessary adjustments to hours of service rules to address animal welfare concerns.
Livestock production is a key contributor to the economies of our states, and jobs in rural communities depend on the ability to transport livestock across large expanses of the country. For example, it is common for cattle in Western and Southeastern states to be purchased by producers and feedlots in the Midwest and Great Plains. These animals must be transported hundreds and even thousands of miles to their final destinations in a safe and humane manner. Long distance transportation is often the most stressful event in a livestock animal’s life and it is impractical and inhumane to stop, offload multiples times, or significantly delay delivery of these animals. This issue is even more prevalent in areas where extreme weather can cause severe traffic delays that limit the time it can take to transport these animals to their destination.
On November 20th, the FMCSA announced a 90-day waiver from compliance for vehicles transporting agricultural commodities to consider a petition submitted by the industry and to provide additional guidance on the 150-air mile radius agricultural exemption. The announcement indicates a recognition by FMCSA of the challenges faced by livestock haulers in meeting the mandate, but it does not provide any assurances of relief beyond the 90-day period. Thus, we believe it is necessary to include Sec. 132 of the House THUD bill in the final FY2018 appropriations bill to further delay compliance and allow sufficient time to address the concerns.
Livestock haulers are charged with the challenging task of ensuring motorist safety while protecting the welfare of the animals being transported. While some commercial operators without live cargo may have the ability to more easily transition from paper logbooks to ELDs, the pending mandate will have negative consequences on livestock haulers and hinder the ability of this unique subset of the industry to humanely deliver healthy livestock.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
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Dec 04 2017
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, have introduced the Veterans Community Care and Access Act of 2017, legislation that would transform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) into a modern, efficient and easy-to-use system that will increase veterans’ access to quality care. This legislation, S. 2184, would better integrate VA services and existing VA community care programs, such as the Veterans Choice Program, into an efficient and high-performing healthcare system.
“In the wake of the scandal in care at VA hospitals in Phoenix and around the country, we vowed to guarantee our veterans timely access to quality treatment,” said Sen. McCain. “The Veterans Choice Program was the first step in delivering on that promise, but much more needs to be done to provide all veterans a choice in when and where they receive care. Our bill would strengthen and improve the core elements of Choice by consolidating and streamlining the VA’s community care program. Moreover, the bill would deliver long overdue, critical reforms to the VA, including commonsense reporting standards that ensure cost-efficient care to our nation’s veterans. It’s time we transform the VA into a 21st century health care system, one that respects the dignity of our men and women in uniform and provides all veterans the quality health care they deserve.”
“Since the creation of the Veterans Choice Program, Congress has repeatedly pushed the VA to make much-needed changes to its healthcare system,” said Sen. Moran. “Far too many Kansas veterans have experienced unnecessary difficulties accessing the care they’ve earned from the VA, and I appreciate that they have shared their stories and empowered us to work on their behalf. Demand has demonstrated that veterans want and need healthcare options in their communities, but there must be reform at the VA to create a system that works for them. I’m proud to be introducing this transformative legislation with Senator McCain, whose advocacy for our veterans is unparalleled. This joint effort to reform the VA will offer veterans an integrated healthcare system within their community that reduces red tape, enhances their quality of life and provides care that is worthy of their service and sacrifice.”
This legislation would ensure that veterans are the primary decision-makers concerning when and where they receive care. In addition, the bill would require the VA to use objective data on healthcare demand to set standards for access and quality, and to identify and bridge gaps in veterans’ care – whether in VA or community facilities. Importantly, the bill would ensure the VA promptly pays community providers, offers access to walk-in clinics, offers telemedicine, increases graduate medical education and residency positions for employees, and improves its collaboration with community providers and other federal agencies.
This legislation is supported by the American Legion, AMVETS and Concerned Veterans for America.
“On behalf of the 2 million members of The American Legion, I write to support your bill titled, Veterans Community Care and Access Act of 2017,” said American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan. “The bill, as currently written, would modify the already existing Choice program, providing veterans with the 21st Century medical system they rightfully deserve.” The American Legion’s full letter in support of the legislation is available here.
“AMVETS is pleased to support the Veterans Community Care and Access Act of 2017. Veterans need health care, both inside and outside of the VA system of care,” said AMVETS National Executive Director Joe Chenelly. “This measure addresses funding, implements ongoing patient surveying in conjunction with community care teams, and devises re-evaluation of both VA and private sector care. Both need oversight. All veterans have a right to receive the quality health care they have earned, and we applaud the hard work and insight that has taken place for this type of measure to be created. We urge its swift passage and will assist however we can.”
“Despite tens of billions of dollars in budget increases for the VA over the past three years, there are still far too many veterans waiting long periods of time for critical appointments and still too frequent reports of veterans suffering as the result of substandard care at the VA,” said Concerned Veterans for America Executive Director Dan Caldwell. “The Veterans Community Care and Access Act of 2017 would change that by reforming how the VA delivers health care to our veterans. The legislation would give veterans more options in their healthcare and change how it is delivered. Additionally, the legislation creates a plan to combine multiple outside care programs at the VA that will reduce bureaucracy and streamline reimbursements to community providers… Concerned Veterans for America strongly supports this legislation and we thank you for leading on this important issue.” Concerned Veterans for America’s full letter in support of the legislation is available here.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) released the following statement after voting in favor of the Senate’s tax reform bill:
“It’s been more than three decades since Congress has reformed our tax code and Americans can no longer afford the status quo of an outdated, complicated tax system. Today I supported a fiscally-responsible, pro-growth tax reform bill that benefits middle-class families and enables businesses to compete in a 21st century economy.
“Our economy is poised for growth and tax reform will put us on the path to even greater economic success. This plan will incentivize companies to stay in America and will encourage local businesses to grow and create good-paying jobs, better jobs and more secure jobs. Further, our tax code should work for Kansas families, not against them. The expansion of the Child Tax Credit, the nearly-doubled standard deduction and the creation of the employer credit for paid family and medical leave will increase personal income, reduce the cost of living and provide flexibility to save for the future. I’m pleased this tax bill creates a simpler and fairer tax code that protects taxpayers and works for Kansas families.”
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:
- Lowers individual tax rates for low- and middle-income Americans by effectively expanding the zero tax bracket and maintaining a 10 percent bracket allowing hardworking taxpayers to keep more of their money and save for retirement.
- Nearly doubles the standard deduction to reduce or eliminate the federal income tax burden for tens of millions of American families.
- Standard deduction will go from $6,350 to $12,000 for individuals, from $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples, and from $9,350 to $18,000 for single parents.
- Expands the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 and allows more parents to claim the credit by substantially lifting existing caps. In addition, it preserves the adoption tax credit to help families with the high costs of adopting children.
- Preserves the earned income tax credit to provide relief to low-income American workers.
- Preserves the additional important elements of the existing individual tax system, including:
- Deduction for medical expenses;
- Enhanced standard deduction for the blind and elderly; and
- Education relief for graduate students.
- Restores the state and local property tax deduction up to $10,000.
*Provided by the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance
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