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Sen. Shaheen emphasizes importance of ACA

By ADAM URQUHART - Staff Writer | Apr 24, 2020

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., arrives for a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, March 20, 2020, to work on an economic package to deal with the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

On Thursday, the United States Congress passed legislation that includes nearly $500 billion in funding for programs that support small businesses, hospitals and coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing.

This legislation was approved by the Senate on Tuesday, and boosts the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) by $310 billion, provides $50 billion for Small Business Administration (SBA) emergency disaster lending and $10 billion in SBA emergency disaster grants.

Also included in the legislation is $75 billion for grants for healthcare providers, physicians and hospitals struggling with lost revenue, as has been seen at New Hampshire hospitals recently with hundreds of staff placed on a furlough status.

The legislation also includes $25 billion for a nationwide effort to boost COVID-19 testing capacity. In order to reopen the economy, more testing is needed, and with this new legislation, millions will be brought into New Hampshire to do just that.

On Thursday, the New Hampshire delegation announced that the state will receive at least $17 million for COVID-19 testing.

During a Tele-Town Hall with Thursday, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen joined Protect Our Care and various state organizations where she emphasized the importance of protecting the Affordable Care Act and (ACA) and making sure more testing is available as officials think about how to reopen. During the call she heard stories and took questions from providers.

“We need a federal coordination effort that has not happened to this point,” Shaheen said.

Part of the reasoning behind making sure the ACA does not get overturned is because part of what is in the ACA is the expansion of Medicaid. Shaheen believes if it gets overturned, there is a question as to whether the expansion of Medicaid gets overturned.

“I think that’s a very real concern and another reason why I think we need to urge this administration to stop trying to overturn the Affordable Care Act,” Shaheen said.

“I think once we get through this immediate crisis as we’re thinking about the investments that we need to make in the future, one of the things that we’re looking at is what are we going to need to do to better improve not just our response to substance use disorders, but also to mental health,” Shaheen said.

As it is, many people affected by the pandemic find themselves depressed or anxious, and the senator said that is not going to end when the economy does reopen and people are able to go back to their normal activities.

As legislators continue working to provide federal aide, Shaheen cited the importance of providing help not only to providers, but to those people who are newly uninsured because they have lost their job.

“As we all know, this is an unprecedented challenge,” Shaheen said. “It’s not like anything I’ve ever experienced in my life time, and it sort of reminds me of my parents and grandparents talking about the depression and World War 2 because while it’s unprecedented, it’s also something that we’re going through together as a nation.”

A variety of providers joined the senator on Thursday’s call that discussed the importance of Medicaid, the ACA and access to quality care during this pandemic. Shaheen is hopeful that this next package will pass in the House on Thursday.

Adam Urquhart may be contacted at 594-1206, or at aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.

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