Marsha Blackburn

Marsha Blackburn

TENNESSEE's 7th DISTRICT

Fellow Americans, lend me your ear!

2017/06/20

I am the original co-sponsor of a bill in the House of Representatives called the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act. In short, for those suffering from minor hearing loss, the bill would make hearing aids more affordable and easier to get.

For some, this bill may seem irrelevant. But for the roughly 48 million Americans suffering from hearing loss, this bill could change lives. The facts are clear:



So, I decided it was a good idea to support a bill that allows more people to get the help they need. Recently, however, this commonsense bill has fallen under attack by an ugly foe: plain, unfounded partisan rhetoric. You may have seen the ads railing against it, and many of you have called to express your concerns with this ad.

The claims made in this ad are false and misleading.


Click here to read my op-ed explaining this bill and debunking these erroneous claims.


Click here to see the myths and facts about this bill.


The bottom line is, this is a fiscally conservative policy that increases choice and lowers costs through competition…for all who suffer.


Click here for a summary of the bill.


But don’t take my word for it, read what others have said about this commonsense bill:


       
         
    "Opening the market to OTC hearing aids would force the industry to cut prices and compete head-to-head against newer technologies. For a bill that is virtually an archetype for market-based health care reform, continued conservative opposition communicates a distressing case of partisanship over principle."     
     Samuel Hammond
Poverty and Welfare Analyst at the Niskanen Center
   
         
   

"AARP believes your bill will improve consumers’ access to affordable hearing technologies that can improve their daily living.”

   
   

Joyce Rogers
Senior Vice President for Government Affairs, AARP

   
         
     “This would seem to be a no-brainer. It would drive down prices for all hearing devices by increasing choice and competition.”    
     The Washington Times, 6/11/2017    
         
     “The approval of over-the-counter hearing aids will also cut through the red tape and confusing federal, state and local regulations that currently make purchasing a hearing aid intimidating even for those who can afford them. As hearing aids become more affordable and easier to purchase, HLAA believes that far more Americans will take advantage of them.”    
     Barbara Kelley
Executive Director, Hearing Loss Association of America
   
         
     “We feel this legislation will allow us to create innovative solutions to provide greater access and lower cost for millions of Americans.”    
     Mark Gorder
President & CEO, IntriCon
   
         
     “The best part of this over-the-counter scenario: Instead of spending an average of $1,500 to $2,000 per device (and nearly everyone needs two), you’ll find that the price has plummeted. You might pay $300 per ear, maybe even less.”    
     The New York Times, 6/12/2017    
         
     “This would help with the out-of-pocket costs many seniors face due to gaps in Medicare coverage for hearing, vision and dental care.”    
     The Leadership Council of Aging Organizations    
         
     “This may be the first and last time I’ve ever been on the side of Elizabeth Warren!”    
     Stephen Moore
noted conservative writer, economist, and hearing-loss-sufferer
   
         
     “[This bill] will expand access to quality hearing health products and services, reduce duplicative costs, and remove unnecessary, nonbeneficial barriers to care.”    
     Academy of Doctors of Audiology    
         
         


Some of the supporters of this bill include:


At the end of the day, this bill addresses a problem that does not discriminate and does not subscribe to one political party or another. At older ages, hearing loss becomes almost universal, affecting more than 60 percent of those in their 70s and nearly 80 percent of those over 80. While we may disagree politically, we shouldn’t let good policy perish because we can’t hear past hyper-partisan rhetoric.

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Blackburn-sponsored bill making hearing aids affordable, accessible advances

2017/06/07

WASHINGTON – Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) on Wednesday applauded the bipartisan passage of their Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act in the House Energy & Commerce Committee. The legislation would make certain types of hearing aids available over-the-counter to Americans with mild to moderate hearing loss.

"This legislation is the first step to ensuring that millions of Americans can finally have access to affordable hearing aids," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn. “Just as someone can correct minor sight loss by purchasing reading glasses from their local pharmacy, so too should they be able to correct minor hearing loss with an affordable and accessible hearing aid. This is a bipartisan, commonsense solution the people want and need.”

 

"Access to hearing aids shouldn't be limited by cost and a lack of competition. Recent innovation in hearing aid technology and over-the-counter sales will ensure millions of Americans are able to obtain hearing aids that improve their ability to communicate with their families, at their jobs and everywhere in between. With today’s bipartisan passage, we have moved closer to bringing relief to millions of our neighbors. I look forward to continued bipartisan efforts to move this bill through the full House and Senate," said Rep. Joe Kennedy III.

In addition to greater accessibility, the proposed legislation would require the FDA to write regulations ensuring that this new category of OTC hearing aids meets the same high standards for safety, consumer labeling and manufacturing protections as medical devices, providing consumers the option of an FDA-regulated device at lower cost.

The provisions of the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act implement major recommendations from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. The legislation has received endorsements from AARP, the Gerontological Society of America, the Academy of Doctors of Audiology, and the Hearing Loss Association of America.

Nearly 30 million Americans experience age-related hearing loss, including over half of adults between the ages of 70 to 79. Yet only a small share of Americans with hearing loss - around 14 percent - use hearing aids, primarily due to their high cost. Hearing aids are not covered by Medicare or most private insurance plans, and out-of-pocket costs for a single hearing aid average $2,400 - far out of reach for many consumers.

The bill text is available here. A fact sheet about the bill is available here.

 

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President Signs Legislation Naming New Nashville Federal Courthouse in Honor of Fred Thompson

2017/06/06

WASHINGTON– U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) along with U.S. Representatives Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-Tenn.), Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) and Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) today released the following statements after President Trump signed into law bipartisan legislation naming the new Nashville federal courthouse in honor of former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson.

Senator Alexander said: “Tennesseans and our country were fortunate that public service attracted Fred Thompson. His personality had a streak of magic – he was authentic, purposeful and principled – and he worked hard. The entire Tennessee delegation agrees it’s very appropriate that the new Nashville courthouse be named for Senator Thompson, and I’m grateful the president signed legislation today to do so. It has given me a great deal of pride to be able to ask that this be done.”

Senator Corker said: “Fred Thompson was one of a kind. He served the people of Tennessee and our country with great distinction, and through his many different roles in public life, Fred never forgot where he came from. I was proud to call him a friend and am pleased the president has signed this legislation into law.”

Representative Blackburn said: “Fred Thompson was a neighbor and friend who made a lasting impression on the state of Tennessee. He loved our state and her people. With the President’s signature on this bill, Fred Thompson’s legacy of service, leadership, and care will be celebrated and stamped in time.”

Representative Black said: “Fred Thompson was a statesman who led with conviction, and he was a visionary who helped turn our state into the conservative success story that it is today. Tennessee shines brighter because of Fred Thompson’s service. This courthouse will serve as a worthy tribute to his enduring legacy.”

Representative Cooper said: “I am thankful that the 20-year process of getting a new federal courthouse for Nashville is finally nearing completion. Sens. Alexander and Corker deserve great credit, as does our House appropriator, Rep. Fleischmann. The Thompson Courthouse should be a place where every American can get equal justice under law.”

Representative Cohen: “It was an honor to be a cosponsor of the bipartisan bill in the House to honor my friend Fred Thompson. Fred served the United States Senate and the state of Tennessee with distinction for 8 years. He was a proud graduate of the University of Memphis and the only U of M grad to ever serve in the Senate. I was present when the National Conference of State Legislatures awarded him the Restoring the Balance Award for his dedication to federalism. For Fred, it was not a political or campaign issue, it was his philosophy. Fred was always encouraging to me and I valued our friendship. He led an eclectic life from his time as an outstanding congressional staffer during the Watergate hearings and as a fine attorney, actor, and public servant. It is most appropriate that we name the federal courthouse in Nashville after this great American.”

Representative DesJarlais said: 
“From working as a young attorney highlighting corruption in the White House and Tennessee’s governor’s mansion, to being a familiar face on movies and television, to serving our state as a United States Senator, Fred Thompson will always be known as a favorite son of Tennessee.  His service will be a part of the rich history of our state, and I am happy to join my colleagues in supporting this initiative.”

Representative Duncan said: “This is a fitting tribute to Senator Fred Thompson who was a strong, independent voice for Tennessee and somebody for whom I had great admiration and respect.  Even though he achieved great national prominence, he never forgot his Tennessee roots.”

Representative Fleischmann said: “Senator Fred Thompson gave many years of dedicated service to Tennessee and this great nation. I am very pleased the Senate passed the legislation naming a Federal Courthouse after him, and I’m glad President Trump signed the bill into law.”

Representative Kustoff said: “Fred Thompson was an accomplished lawyer, a talented actor and a true statesman. Most importantly, he was a dedicated public servant and a proud Tennessean. I am pleased President Trump signed this legislation to name the Nashville courthouse in his honor. I was glad to know him and could not think of a more perfect way to pay tribute to his remarkable life and legacy.”

Representative Roe said: “I’m proud President Trump signed this bill to honor Senator Fred Thompson into law. Fred was a dedicated public servant and a dear friend to me and so many others, and it is fitting the Nashville Federal Courthouse will bear the name and memory of a great statesman and Tennessean.”

Full funding for construction of the new Nashville federal courthouse was provided by Congress in the fiscal year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which was approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate in December of 2015. The new courthouse will be constructed by the General Services Administration and will be located at 719 Church Street.

Fred Thompson was first elected to the United States Senate in 1994 and served as a Senator from the State of Tennessee until 2003. Sen. Thompson graduated from Memphis State University in 1964 and Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1967. He also served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the State of Tennessee before serving as minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973. Sen. Thompson passed away on Nov. 1, 2015.

On Jan. 9, members of the Tennessee delegation introduced a bipartisan bill to name the new Nashville federal courthouse in honor of Fred Thompson. On March 7, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved the legislation, and the Senate passed the legislation on May 24.

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Blackburn Statement on Withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement

2017/06/01

WASHINGTON—Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) issued the following statement on President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement:

“I applaud President Trump for his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. Simply put, it is a bad deal that placed political goals above the American people. Americans, American energy, American jobs, and the American economy must come first, and President Trump is staying true to his word to always act in the best interest of the American people and the country.”

Blackburn represents Tennessee’s Seventh Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

 

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Blackburn introduces bill to protect online privacy

2017/05/19

WASHINGTON—Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on Thursday introduced the Balancing the Rights of Web Surfers Equally and Responsibly (BROWSER) Act of 2017 to protect the online privacy of Americans. She was joined by Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Bill Flores (R-Texas).

Several weeks ago, Blackburn led an effort to repeal the FCC’s privacy rulemaking. “The FCC’s privacy rulemaking had two distinct problems,” Blackburn said. “First, it created confusion by establishing two privacy regulators. The FCC unilaterally swiped jurisdiction from the FTC in a blatant power grab. Second, the FCC focused on only one part of the Internet eco-system and ignored edge provider services that collect as much, if not more data, than ISPs. The government should not pick winners and losers when it comes to the privacy of Americans. This bill creates a level and fair privacy playing field by bringing all entities that collect and sell the personal data of individuals under the same rules. We look forward to working with our Democratic colleagues on this important initiative.”

"As a Member of the House Homeland Security Committee's Cybersecurity Subcommittee, internet privacy and security must be a top priority. Step one in that process was to override any regulation that creates more confusion by giving jurisdiction to multiple agencies, only to have them regulate only one-half of the digital world. Step two in that process is to introduce comprehensive internet privacy legislation that will more fully protect online users in their use of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), search engines and social media,” said Fitzpatrick. “The BROWSER Act does just that. We must offer American citizens real internet privacy protection, not mere lip service which gives internet users false expectations about their level of online security. I encourage all House members who are serious about protecting our constituents' online privacy to join me in advancing this bill."

The legislation designates the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as the nation’s sole online privacy enforcer and brings internet service providers (ISPs) and edge providers under a regime similar to that previously adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

To read the text of the bill, click here.

Rep. Blackburn represents Tennessee’s Seventh Congressional District in the U.S. House of representatives.

Rep. Fitzpatrick represents Pennsylvania’s Eighth Congressional District and serves on the House Foreign Affairs, Small Business, and Homeland Security Committees.

Rep. Flores represents Texas’ Seventeenth Congressional District and serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.


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Blessed are the Peacemakers

2017/05/16

Law enforcement officers from coast to coast wake up each day, put on their uniform, and put themselves in harm’s way in order to ensure our friends, neighbors, and communities remain safe and peaceful. They volunteer for this service, because those they protect and serve are their friends and neighbors as well. Theirs is a service of duty and sacrifice.

May 14 – 20, 2017 marks National Police Week. National Police Week began in 1962 as a way to honor those law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice. Today and every day, we remember those whose didn’t come home and their families who are left with a void.
 

 
Since 2016, nine of these selfless heroes have fallen in the line of duty. This week we honor their memory. Blessed are the peacemakers

Dep. Sheriff Jimmy Tennyson
Maury County Sheriff's Department
Sergeant Sean Lewis Allred
Livingston Police Department
Officer Eric Wayne Mumaw
Metro Nashville Police Department
Deputy Sheriff Zachary Tyler Larnerd
Jackson County Sheriff's Office
Officer Kenneth Ray Moats
Maryville Police Department
Sergeant Verdell Smith, Sr
Memphis Police Department
Special Agent De'Greaun Reshun Frazier
TN Bureau of Investigation
K9 Vigor
Monroe County Sheriff's Office
Dep. Sheriff Martin Tase Sturgill, II
Humphreys County Sheriff's Office
   

 
National Police Week is also a time for us to show our appreciation for those who patrol our streets day in and day out, keeping our neighborhoods safe. In the House of Representatives this week we are passing a number of bills aimed at providing law enforcement the tools they need to keep our communities safe. These include:

·   The Rapid DNA Act of 2017 (H.R. 510). This bill helps identify the guilty and free the innocent by allowing Rapid DNA analysis machines to be used at local police stations. Rapid DNA technology expedites DNA analysis for suspect identification purposes and allows local law enforcement to accurately identify a suspect within hours, as opposed to weeks when evidence is shipped off to a lab.

·   The Honoring Hometown Heroes Act (H.R. 1892). This legislation honors law enforcement by permitting the American flag to be flown at half-staff when a police officer, firefighter, or first responder is killed in the line of duty.

·   The Strengthening State and Local Cyber Crime Fighting Act of 2017 (H.R. 1616). This bill authorizes a program that has been run by the U.S. Secret Service for a number of years that trains state and local law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges regarding cyber and electronic crimes.

·   The American Law Enforcement Heroes Act of 2017 (H.R. 1428). This legislation prioritizes the hiring of veterans by awardees of grants under the COPS hiring program.

·   The Probation Officer Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 1039). This bill protects public safety by giving probation officers the authority, while in the performance of their official duties, to arrest a person if there is probable cause to believe that the person has forcibly assaulted, resisted, opposed, impeded, intimidated, or interfered with the probation officer, or a fellow probation officer, in the performance of his or her duties.

·   The Thin Blue Line Act (H.R. 115). This legislation adds the murder of a state or local police officer as an aggravating factor for a jury to consider in deciding whether to impose the death penalty in federal capital cases. The murder of a federal law enforcement officer is already an aggravating factor under current law. The legislation sends a simple message that the stalking and killing of law enforcement officers must not and will not be tolerated.

With a simple “thank you” we can recognize the sacrifices of these selfless servants. They do not take their work for granted, though we often may. They face the dangers of the world, they see the despair in society, and they deal with the vulnerabilities of our neighborhoods. They do so not for recognition or glory. They do so for us.

To all who have served, those serving today, and those who will serve:

 

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A Legacy of Learning

2017/05/05

A Legacy of Learning
by Congressman Marsha Blackburn (TN-7)

The excitement I felt each time I put on my green and white uniform, attached my four-leaf clover patch, and grabbed an armful of project books has not escaped me to this day. Many of you reading this may be able to relate to this feeling. Maybe you too filled out your record book, logging the work you put in completing project after project as a proud member of 4-H.

My grandmother was a member of “The Tomato Club,” a club formed in 1902 which is considered the birth of 4-H in the United States. My mother was a National Leadership winner and worked out of the Cooperative Extension office in Sebring, Florida while my father was stationed there during World War II. With the legacy that preceded me, there was never a question of whether or not I would be a member of 4-H, but rather what I would do when I became a 4-H member.

At fairs and in 4-H competitions, alongside my home-grown tomatoes and beans or the apron or skirt I made by hand, were those project books, dutifully filled out detailing my work on each project. Through projects like these I learned valuable, lifelong lessons of accomplishment, self-reliance, and the value of hard work. I learned how to speak in public, how to give back to my community, and how to be a good neighbor and friend.

4-H also meant opportunity. My senior year in high school I entered my food preservation record in the state competition and won. From there, my work went on to compete at the national level where the winner would receive a 4-H scholarship. That scholarship provided my first payment towards my college education.

My involvement in 4-H and the lessons I took from it continue to play a large part in my life. It was 4-H, in fact, that led to my first trip to Washington, D.C.; and I can say the organization taught me lessons and gave me the opportunities that allowed me to return to Washington to represent you in Congress. Today, 4-H is the largest youth development organization in the nation, teaching the same valuable lessons and offering even more opportunities.

Today, over 6 million 4-H’ers in every corner of the country are taking advantage of the same opportunities I did. A dedicated team of over 500,000 volunteers and around 3,500 4-H professionals work to build our sons and daughters into tomorrow’s leaders, teaching health, science, agriculture, and citizenship through hands-on projects and mentorship. In Tennessee alone, we have over 176,000 4-H’ers and roughly 8,000 volunteer leaders.

We must do all we can to make sure 4-H can continue reaching more young people in even more areas across the country. At an event in Washington, D.C. recently, I was named a founding member of the 4-H Luminaries alumni group. I am honored to be a part of this group to help raise awareness of the life-changing impact 4-H can have and to generate support for bringing 4 H to more youth. I do not take this charge lightly and look forward to doing what I can to continue 4-H’s rich legacy of growing tomorrow’s leaders in community, industry, and life.

Congressman Blackburn represents Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives

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A Health Care Update from Congressman Blackburn

2017/05/04

Earlier today, my colleagues and I voted in favor of the American Health Care Act, which will finally repeal the burdensome Affordable Care Act. Many of you have expressed your concerns about the rising costs that have ensued after 8 years of impractical legislation. That’s why we’ve taken action to get rid of Obamacare.
 

Here's more on the American Health Care Act and why we passed it:

It will dismantle the Obamacare taxes. These taxes have hurt job creators, increased premium costs, and limited options for patients and health care providers—including taxes on prescription drugs, over-the counter medications, health-insurance premiums, and medical devices.

It eliminates the individual and employer mandate penalties. These penalties have forced millions of workers, families, and job creators into expensive, Obamacare plans that they don’t want and cannot afford. Health care cannot be forced as a one-size fits all model. We must allow more flexibility to states and better patient options by providing health coverage that is truly affordable and meets each individual’s unique needs.

It helps young adults access health insurance and stabilize the marketplace. The AHCA allows dependents to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until they are 26. And, the MacArthur amendment ensures that states cannot waive this provision.

It guarantees coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions and bans health insurers from charging a patient with pre-existing conditions higher premiums as long as they maintain continuous coverage, or sign up for new coverage within 63 days of exiting a previous insurance plan. And no matter what, insurance companies cannot deny you coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

This bill contains numerous protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The MacArthur amendment gives flexibility to states to tackle premium prices. There will be a very strict process in place to obtain the waiver and it will only be given to states with high-risk pools and other protections in place. For states seeking a waiver, the Upton amendment provides an additional $8 billion to allow people with pre-existing conditions who haven’t maintained continuous coverage to acquire affordable care. States may not waive guarantee issue, gender discrimination, the age 26 provision, or annual and lifetime limits.

It establishes a Patient and State Stability Fund and Federal Invisible Risk Sharing Program. This will provide states with $130 billion to design programs with will meet the unique needs of their patient populations, help low-income Americans afford health care, and provide a backstop safety net for Americans with pre-existing conditions. This includes $15 billion specifically toward mental health and substance abuse and newborn care.

It modernizes and strengthens Medicaid. The AHCA will transition Medicaid back to the states so that they can better serve the patients most in need. It prohibits states from expanding into the current broken Medicaid system. It maximizes state flexibility. It gives states the choice between a per capita allotment or a traditional block grant and provides the option for states to implement work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

It protects current Medicaid beneficiaries. Anyone receiving health care under the expansion will continue to receive the enhanced state match. It ensures the rug isn’t pulled from underneath any able-bodied patient as he or she transitions to other coverage, like a plan purchased with refundable tax credits. The focus is re-directing able-bodied patients to private health care so that Medicaid can be refocused on helping the most vulnerable.

It empowers individuals and families. The AHCA will empower people to spend health care dollars the way they want and need by enhancing and expanding Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s), which are tax-free health care savings accounts for Americans with high-deductible plans. Americans will be able to contribute nearly double to their HSA and utilize the savings for more situations. HSA’s have to become a focal point of health care reform as they are critical for helping Americans save and spend their health care dollars more wisely.

It helps Americans access affordable, quality health care. Americans will have access to a monthly tax credit—between $2,000- $14,000 a year—for low- and middle-income individuals and families who don’t receive insurance through work or a government program. Americans can use this tax credit to purchase private, quality coverage of their choice. This credit cannot be used to purchase insurance plans that cover elective abortion.

It equalizes the tax treatment of health care regardless of where you buy it and helps create a vibrant individual market. These credits are longstanding conservative policy goals.

It restores pro-life principles and expands women’s access to health services. Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the country, will be defunded for one year by blocking more than $500 million of federal dollars. The AHCA will redirect Planned Parenthood dollars to community health centers, which vastly outnumber Planned Parenthood. Pro-life organizations supporting the American Health Care Act include: National Right to Life, Susan B. Anthony List, Family Research Council, and Concerned Women for America.

It does not give Congress special privileges. Under the McSally Amendment, Members of Congress and congressional staff are not exempt from the State waiver provisions of the American Health Care Act. We follow the same procedures for obtaining, paying for, and utilizing our health care as you.

It ensures everyone has access to affordable, quality health care, without forcing people to buy insurance. Rumors have flowed that 24 million people will be kicked off health care. That is simply not true. That estimate failed to take into account other planned legislative and administrative actions, which will help bring down costs and expand coverage.
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The First 100 Days

2017/05/02

The First 100 Days

If you are trying to find a year when we have had a more productive first 100 days in the House of Representatives, you have to go back to 1949. No other Congress has gotten more bills signed into law. We have taken steps to remove burdensome regulations, promote economic growth and job creation, help our nation’s veterans, and protect life. And we are continuing our work to bring real reforms to the tax code, overhaul a broken health care system, and strengthen our borders.

In the first 100 days working with the Trump Administration, the House of Representatives has passed 214 legislative measures. Of those, 29 have and been signed into law, many aimed at reversing or removing the burdensome regulations that flowed from the regulatory ambush of the last eight years.

Using the Congressional Review Act, a tool Congress has to check uncontrolled executive branch spending and regulation, we reversed the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) “Stream Buffer Rule.” This resolution, which I was glad to be an original co-sponsor of, protects tens of thousands of mining jobs and keeps the DOI from placing up to 64 percent of our coal reserves off limits. We also passed a CRA resolution to empower states to stop funding big abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood. This resolution, which I was also pleased to be an original co-sponsor of, overturned an Obama-era rule that forced states to send hard-earned taxpayer dollars to organizations which do not share the values of their residents.

From returning control of education to state and local leaders to protecting Second Amendment rights to curbing federal control over large swaths of land, Congress has worked to advance the people’s priorities and remove big government from their lives. These efforts are estimated to save families and small businesses over $67 billion dollars in regulatory costs and more than 56 million hours of regulatory paperwork and compliance!

In the House, we have passed a host of other measures and are working with our counterparts in the Senate to get those to the President’s desk as quickly as possible. Last month we passed the VA Accountability Act, a bill to force the removal of bad actors, giving our veterans the leadership they deserve at VA medical centers. We have passed bills to encourage STEM careers and education for women, roll back financial regulations that stifle investment by our community banks, let our small business contractors compete fairly for government contracts, and much more.

We have also made great progress in our work to repeal and replace the failing Obamacare law, bring much-needed reforms to a bloated and overly-complicated tax code, and keep American families safe and secure at home by strengthening our borders. We are close to the finish line on some issues and further on others; but I look forward to passing our conservative, pro-growth solutions in the coming weeks and months.

Additionally, two of my pieces of legislation that impact Tennesseans were passed. The House passed legislation to honor the beloved Senator, Fred Thompson by naming the new Federal courthouse in Nashville in his memory. The historical legacy of the Shiloh National Military Park has also been preserved by expanding the park boundaries to include the Fallen Timbers, Russell House, and Davis Bridge Battlefields. It also brings the Parker’s Crossroad Battlefield into the National Park System. Under this bill, more than 2,100 additional acres of land historical sites will be protected.

Despite partisan rhetoric to the contrary, House Republicans have been hard at work to turn the people’s priorities into realities. My conservative colleagues and I realized that we have an obligation to our constituents to address the issues that affect them each and every day. We will not stop working to keep our promises to the American people.
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A Health Care Update from Congressman Blackburn

2017/03/15

Tonight, I’ll be welcoming President Donald Trump to Nashville as he talks with Tennesseans on the serious issues facing this nation. We know that everyone is concerned about national security, jobs, the economy and of course, healthcare. We expect the President to touch base on each of these issues tonight.

Over the past three years, I have heard from countless constituents how they and their families have been negatively affected by the Affordable Care Act and last week, Congress took its first step in repealing this flawed law. You might have watched some of our marathon committee markup on C-SPAN or heard the news reports of how we worked for over twenty-seven hours on making the process and policy more reflective for the needs of the American people. Believe me, we have heard your stories of higher premiums, narrowed networks, and denial of services for insurance that is too expensive to even utilize. Based on your concerns, we need to repeal the Affordable Care Act and put the needed reforms in place that have been neglected for over a decade.

With that, I would like to continue the discussion with you in order to expand upon the process and substance of the bill. Today, I’d like to walk you through the process of budget reconciliation, what the American Health Care Act repeals, replaces, and reforms; and the concerns we are still working through in order to address the American people’s health care needs.

Last Wednesday, the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a public forum called a legislative markup on the American Health Care Act (AHCA). This bill, The AHCA, is made up of two separate sections with jurisdiction in my committee, the Committee on Energy and Commerce and dual jurisdiction within the Committee on Ways and Means. The first section of the bill, with oversight of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, addresses the Medicaid and Affordable Care Act provisions of the law. The second section of the bill, which funnels through the Committee on Ways and Means, addresses the tax provisions of the law. The Energy and Commerce’s jurisdiction focuses on the provisions of Medicaid and the non-tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The Committee on Ways and Means Committee’s jurisdiction covers the tax related provisions of the law.

With that, the Subcommittee on Health spent over twenty-seven hours discussing our portions of this bill with our Republican and Democrat colleagues. Throughout the night, over 70 amendments were offered and filed by members of the committee. Members and staff spent countless hours reviewing every amendment until the final gavel was offered on Thursday afternoon. Both committees spent multiple hours offering healthy debate and we believe this measure was not rushed through because both parties were able to voice concerns, offer solutions – and our committee spent almost thirty hours debating each idea prior to members voting to advance the bill in Congress.

Here is what the AHCA does:
    
Major repeals:
         - The Individual and Employer Mandates
         - Obamacare subsidies beginning in 2020
         - Sunsets Medicaid expansion beginning in 2020
         - Postpones the “Cadillac Tax” on expensive employer-sponsored plans until 2025
         - Eliminates all of Obamacare’s taxes, effective after 2017
         - Limits payments to insurers for cost-sharing reductions by 2020

Replaces – Ways and Means Committee:
Advanced and refundable tax credits based on one's age
         - Under 30: $2,000
         - Between 30 and 39: $2,500
         - Between 40 and 49: $3,000
         - Between 50 and 59: $3,500
         - Over 60: $4,000

The credits are available in full to individuals making up to $75,000 and families making up to $150,000. For every $1,000 in income higher than those thresholds, the credits decrease by $100

- Expanded health savings accounts
        - AHCA increases maximum contributions to health savings accounts, or medical savings accounts, to $6,550 for individuals and $13,100 for families beginning in 2018

  • Protections for consumers with pre-existing conditions
  • Continuous coverage requirement for our most vulnerable populations
  • Flexibility on age-based ratios – allowing better consumer choice and opening narrow networks
  • Per-capita caps for Medicaid, based on each state’s number of enrollees, beginning in 2020
  • Funds for states to set up high-risk pools, reduce out-of-pocket costs, or stabilize health insurance markets
  • One-year freeze on government funding to elective-abortion providers
  • Letting adults remain on parents’ plans until age 26
  • Tax exclusion for employer-sponsored coverage

Budget reconciliation:
The budget reconciliation process is an optional procedure under the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 that operates as an adjunct to the annual budget resolution process. The chief purpose of the reconciliation process is to enhance Congress's ability to change current law in order to bring revenue and spending levels into conformity with the policies of the budget resolution. Accordingly, reconciliation may be the most potent budget enforcement tool available to Congress for a large portion of the budget.

Reconciliation is a two-stage process in which reconciliation instructions are included in the budget resolution directing the appropriate committees to develop legislation achieving the desired budgetary outcomes, and the resultant legislation (usually incorporated into an omnibus bill) is considered under expedited procedures in the House and Senate.

Concerns:
Within Medicaid expansion, Congressman Barton and I are working with our committee to address the Obamacare Medicaid expansion portion that is still set in place for three years after the policy is enacted. We are seeking to offer solutions to alter the worsening of the federal and state budgets by not incentivizing states to maintain expansion or to initiate new expansions and leaving the federal government picking up the majority of the bill.

For the tax credits portion of the bill, we want to be surefor future Congresses to come that we remain financially responsible and reduce the enhanced payments to states for expansion. While these creditsallow more choices for individuals, and is more patient-centered, it is fundamentally grounded on the idea that the federal government should fund insurance purchases. We want to ensure that we are not creating a large entitlement that the federal government simply cannot afford.

Most importantly, we want to ensure proper protection for the sanctity of life. While the current policy seeks to address pro-life safeguards on credit use, the language is ambiguous and it is unclear if such protections can survive Senate Byrd requirements as drafted.

Conclusion:
While there is still much work to do on health reform – this bill is not the final step. This measure is only the first step for beginning the discussion of federal health reform. For over six years, I have listened to my constituents and their requests to repeal this law and Congress took the initial step to repeal and replacing the Affordable Care Act.This battle is far from over. We have more work to accomplish for the betterment of the American people.

 

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Contact Information

217 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-2811
Fax 202-225-3004
blackburn.house.gov

Growing up, Marsha Blackburn learned that the promise of our nation depends on each generation of Americans working hard to leave the country a better place than they found it. As a small business woman, author, mother, grandmother, and Member of Congress, Marsha Blackburn has dedicated her service to the sacred obligation all citizens have to their communities: making Tennessee and America a better, more prosperous, and freer place.

Congressman Blackburn began her elected service career in 1998 as a Tennessee State Senator. Blackburn’s Senate career was marked by her commitment to fiscal common sense and government accountability. She became known to her constituents for holding “budget school” in her district and across the state; identifying waste and offering solutions for a state in a budget crunch.

While serving in the Tennessee Senate, Blackburn led a statewide grassroots campaign to defeat a proposed state income tax. She earned the reputation as a champion of anti-tax and government reform issues, frequently appearing on local talk radio and even earning the attention of national publications like the Wall Street Journal and conservative groups such as Americans for Tax Reform.

Blackburn’s reputation for focusing on individual freedom and free enterprise boosted her from the Tennessee Senate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Blackburn was first elected to represent Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District in 2002, quickly becoming a leader in Congress and a leading voice advocating for a small, efficient federal government that is accountable to its citizens. She is regularly praised by good government groups like the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Farm Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council and the American Conservative Union. She has been named a Taxpayer Hero by Americans for Tax Reform each year she has served in Congress. In 2007 Blackburn received the Conservative Leadership Award from the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.

Congressman Blackburn is often selected by her colleagues to lead the charge for common sense reform. In February 2010 she was selected to represent conservative views on health care reform at the President’s Blair House Summit. She has served on the majority and minority whip teams since her election in 2002, and holds a seat on the vital Energy and Commerce Committee which has jurisdiction over health care, energy regulation, and telecommunications issues. In 2006 the Independent Electrical Contractors recognized her as their Lawmaker of the Year.

Marsha has earned a special reputation as a bi-partisan leader and policy expert on telecommunications issues and intellectual property rights. She has strong ties with Tennessee’s recording industry and the songwriters and performers who make it great. In 2003 Blackburn founded and serves as Chairman of the Congressional Songwriters Caucus to give the nation’s creative community a voice on Capitol Hill. In 2007, she was awarded the Congressional Grammy by the Recording Academy; the White Hat award from the Nashville Songwriters Association and in 2008 received the Platinum Award from the RIAA.

In 2012, Health IT Now presented her with the HITN Innovation Award for her work in support of innovative solutions to our most pressing healthcare problems. Marsha has also been honored by the Family Research Council and the Susan B. Anthony list for her pro-life, pro-family work. And recognized by the Association of Children’s Hospitals and the American College of Radiology for her leadership on healthcare issues. In April 2013 at the “Women Run The World” Half Marathon in New York City, More Magazine recognized Blackburn for her service in government by honoring her as one of 10 women who are making a difference in the world.

Blackburn was selected to serve as Vice Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee for the 113th Congress where she will continue to serve on four critical Subcommittees: Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade (CMT); Oversight; Health; and Communications and Technology. She serves on the House Budget Committee and is a founding member of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee. Blackburn is also a member of the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board.

Marsha and her husband Chuck live in Williamson County, Tennessee. They have two children, Mary Morgan Ketchel and Chad Blackburn; and two grandsons. Blackburn is a native of Laurel, Mississippi and graduate of Mississippi State University.

 


Serving With

Phil Roe

TENNESSEE's 1st DISTRICT

John Duncan

TENNESSEE's 2nd DISTRICT

Chuck Fleischmann

TENNESSEE's 3rd DISTRICT

Scott DesJarlais

TENNESSEE's 4th DISTRICT

Diane Black

TENNESSEE's 6th DISTRICT

David Kustoff

TENNESSEE's 8th DISTRICT

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