ICYMI: Sununu doubles down on Trumpcare support, dodging Qs on massive Medicaid cuts, end of MedEx

Concord, N.H. – Yesterday, Governor Sununu, HHS Secretary Tom Price, and Trump administration Councilor Kellyanne Conway kicked reporters out of two events and praised a Trumpcare bill that would cut Medicaid by $880 billion & end New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion program. Price refused to deny a 95% cut to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a possible major blow to combatting the opioid crisis. Sununu doubled down on his call for the power to opt out of covering substance abuse and mental health treatment.

New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion program offers tens of thousands of Granite Staters coverage for substance abuse treatment. The $880 billion in cuts to Medicaid will pay for $883 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. The Trumpcare bill Sununu continues to praise also gives states a chance to opt out of providing coverage for essential health benefits and allows insurance companies to charge an unlimited amount in monthly premiums to those with preexisting conditions. A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis shows that a 60 years old making $20,000 in New Hampshire would see their premiums rise 607%.

NHDP Chair Ray Buckley issued the following statement:

“Governor Sununu continues to voice strong support for Trumpcare, remaining characteristically light on details. He and Secretary Price dodged questions about steep Medicaid cuts despite program funding being a main concern for Granite Staters. We won’t tolerate Republicans ducking, dodging, and equivocating in support of a bill we know will hurt so many Americans. We deserve better from Governor Sununu.”

See a roundup of coverage from HHS Secretary Price’s closed-door visit to New Hampshire:

AP: “Their roundtable Wednesday…was closed to the press. But people inside said the importance of substance abuse coverage under Medicaid expansion was a frequent topic…”

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu largely sidestepped responding to concerns that a Republican-backed health care overhaul will jeopardize access to substance abuse treatment that’s now required to be covered…

Prior to the event, Democrats slammed the Republican health care proposal that’s now in the U.S. Senate. The plan would cut funding for Medicaid expansion, which has provided substance abuse treatment to roughly 11,000 New Hampshire people.

“I know firsthand how important Medicaid is to people in New Hampshire,” said Valene Colby, who is now in recovery after receiving treatment. “It would be cruel, insensitive and out of touch for Congress to pass a bill that would do such damage to the program…”

[F]ew concrete actions have been taken. The administration is considering slashing money for the Office of National Drug Control Policy…

Union Leader: HHS secretary gets Granite State view of opioid crisis, and an earful on proposed funding cuts

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price got an earful about New Hampshire’s opioid crisis at a “listening session” in the State House on Wednesday that was also attended by presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway and hosted by Gov. Chris Sununu.

Afterward, Price tried to deflect concerns about proposed cuts in the Office of National Drug Policy and the impact of the Republican health care plan on efforts to combat addiction…

Sununu expressed his support for the health care plan approved by the House and now working its way through the Senate…

When asked about significant cuts in federal support for Medicaid contained in the health care plan working its way through Congress, Sununu endorsed the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare…

The media was barred from observing the listening session…

NH1: Sununu… says House passage of health care repeal a ‘huge win’

Price also side stepped questions about criticism that the changes to Medicaid expansion proposed in the Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would jeopardize federal funding that states like New Hampshire rely on to offer treatment for those suffering from drug addiction.

[T]op Democrats in New Hampshire question whether the President has broken his promise. They point to his support of the congressional GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare , which makes major changes to the Medicaid expansion program that Democrats argue will weaken the funding for federal programs the Granite State uses to battle the drug epidemic.

[Governor Sununu] praised the Trump White House, saying “I think this administration has been tremendous…I give the administration and the House a lot of credit in moving that ball forward.”

New Hampshire Democrats are also extremely critical of the White House proposal announced last Friday to slash by 95% the budget of the office of the ‘drug czar,’ officially known as the Office of National Drug Control Policy…

Reporters and other media were only allowed to observe the first five minutes of the listening session before they were asked to leave. They were allowed back in after the session was over, to attend the news conference…

After their stop in Concord, Price and Conway held an event with Sununu at a downtown Manchester fire station that takes part in the Safe Station program, which allows people addicted to drugs to show up at firehouses in order to get directed to treatment programs….

Reporters were asked to leave the taxpayer funded fire station. They were later let back into the event.

Concord Monitor: Protesters greet US DHHS Secretary Tom Price as he denies cuts in drug fight money

Speaking to reporters Wednesday after the closed-door listening session, Price did not deny reports of a 95 percent cut being proposed to the United States Office of National Drug Control Policy. The office coordinates drug policy efforts across the federal government and administers grants to help law enforcement and prevention programs in states including New Hampshire…

The meeting between the Trump administration officials and New Hampshire leaders was off-limits to the public…

On Wednesday, Price questioned whether the Medicaid program was the best option for low-income individuals or if there was a better way to provide services…

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu commended the bill’s passage in the House…

New Hampshire Democratic legislators also held a press conference outlining their opposition to the health care bill as written, saying that gutting Medicaid and essential health benefits would be devastating.

One of the speakers was Valene Colby, a person in long-term recovery who was able to access drug treatment through expanded Medicaid.

“This Trumpcare bill is going to strip funding for Medicaid and prevent new people from enrolling, regardless of how desperate their need is,” Colby said. “We are one nation under God, and our health care system should reflect our decency as human beings and our responsibility to care for one another. It shouldn’t be to cut taxes or make a profit.”

NHPR: In NH, Price Says Trump Is ‘All In’ On Solving The Opioid Epidemic

For his part, Governor Chris Sununu spoke with some optimism about what lawmakers in Washington may craft…

Sununu didn’t provide details on his reservations. But for Democrats, the message they wanted to make clear to Secretary Price was that repealing Medicaid expansion in the midst of an opioid epidemic would be a mistake. Representative Annie Kuster says she and treatment providers repeatedly brought this up during the private listening session.

“Our community is at risk, and we need to make it very clear to Secretary Price and others in this administration that we need access to treatment and recovery through the Medicaid expansion,” said Kuster.

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