A bill that Senator Burr introduced with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is finally getting a vote in the House today. The ABLE Act is a bipartisan effort that would allow families with a severely disabled child the opportunity to save their own money in a tax-favored account, much like the 529 college savings account, to use toward covering their child’s long-term expenses. Last week, USA Today called it “the first major piece of legislation affecting Americans with disabilities in nearly 25 years.” At last count the ABLE Act has 381 cosponsors in the House and 75 cosponsors in the Senate. More info about ABLE Act can be found here.
Today, Politico Pro had the following story on ABLE:
SLEEPER HIT OF LAME DUCK COULD BE BILL TO HELP CHILDREN WITH
DISABILITIES: The House plans to
take up a long-stalled bill Wednesday that aims to help families of children
with disabilities save money for their children, making it possible that the
bill will pass this Congress.
The bill, called the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, would amend the Internal Revenue Code sofamilies could create tax-free savings accounts that help pay for education, medical bills and other expenses. The ABLE Act was first introduced in 2009 by Sen. Bob Casey and Sen. Richard Burr but has stalled for years in the House and Senate, despite having a bevvy of supporters in each chamber, on both sides of the aisle.
But with few opponents standing in the way of the ABLE Act, it’s possible the bill will finally clear both chambers.
Earlier this year Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell both signed on as cosponsors — there are currently 74 in the Senate — and conversation about moving the ABLE Act in the Senate by the end of the year is still alive.
“We’re very much planning on the Senate moving this year,” one Senate aide said.
— Maggie Severns
Newt Gingrich also released a thoughtful piece on ABLE earlier in the week.
The ABLE Act is supported by the National Down Syndrome Society, Autism Speaks, The Arc, Collaborations to Promote Self Determination, the National Disability Institute and the National Fragile X Foundation.
ABLE Act will provide a sense of relief for families in North Carolina and across our nation. During a Senate committee hearing in July of this year, Senator Burr was able to speak to a Charlotte father, Mr. Robert D’Amelio, whose two sons will be directly impacted by ABLE. You can watch their exchange here.
Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Bob Casey (D-PA) discussed U.S. medical and public health and preparedness and response at a Politico Pro event at the Newseum Monday afternoon, highlighting the recent Ebola response efforts in West Africa and here at home as a case study. Senators Burr and Casey discussed the future of public health preparedness and response, funding for vaccine and medical countermeasure research, and the importance of continuing to spur innovation.
You can watch the press conference in full here.
Highlights from their conversation --
“It is innovation that’s going to help us overcome those 14 threats…We have to continue to be the country that innovates, and innovation means, one, that you’ve got to make sure that the math works, two, you have to make sure that intellectual property is protected, and, three, make sure there’s a market to sell to.” – Senator Burr
“The truth is for the current threat… We’ve got to stay focused on how we get a vaccine, how we get a countermeasure.” – Senator Burr
“This isn’t about a czar. This was about somebody in change. This was about a person that made the pieces move and communicated what was going to happen… and I think if there’s one person whose responsibility is to communicate and to administrate the whole organizational basket, you don’t have those inconsistencies.” – Senator Burr
“We thought we handled the communication problem when we designated who was in charge, statutorily. It’s the [ASPR] at HHS. That person has not been the point person of Ebola.” – Senator Burr
On Public-Private Partnerships:
“BARDA was a public capital venture. It was there to be a financial partner to promising discoveries. To get them through what I call ‘the valley of death’, the period where they needed external funding. You would have basic research that went through a certain level at NIH. When it got to a certain level, then it was the responsibility of BARDA to come in and say promise, invest in it, get it across the goal line.” – Senator Burr
“It’s absolutely crucial we learn from this. We have to stay on the research side because this could be Marburg next year, it could be something the year after, and the private sector could never invest the amount of money it takes to bring something to market. We have to be a partner in it.” – Senator Burr
Senator Burr is the author of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), a bipartisan piece of legislation that is the framework for how our nation prepares for and responds to a wide range of medical and public health emergencies. PAHPA, which was signed into law in 2006 and reauthorized in 2013, created the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the position of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at HHS – read more about it here.
Senator Burr has also been an advocate of research funding, arguing earlier this year that more emphasis should be made on prioritizing U.S. response capabilities to protect the American people, including Ebola preparedness.
Yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held a joint hearing with the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations on the current Ebola virus outbreak, which has been ravaging West Africa. As a committee, we heard testimony from:
You can read each of the witnesses’ opening statements and watch the full committee hearing here.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is unprecedented – the world has never before seen an Ebola outbreak take such a toll in terms of the number of infected cases and deaths, or the human devastation sweeping across West Africa. The United States has no choice but to lead the global response effort to swiftly extinguish this epidemic and the threat it presents. It is in our nation’s best interest to work with our international partners to deploy all tools at our disposal to stop the spread of this horrible virus and speed the development of medicines to prevent and treat it. I am committed to making sure we do what it takes to defeat this deadly epidemic.
You can watch my questioning of Panel One, which includes questions about the fundamentals of the disease and what tools are needed to combat the outbreak, here and Panel Two here, where I ask questions of the American doctor who contracted and survived Ebola and a Program Manager from one of West Africa’s worst hit areas, Sierra Leone.
Thirteen years ago our nation suffered an unthinkable tragedy that redefined many of our lives. Hundreds of millions of people across the world watched as a small group of extremists tried to tear down our way of life. But instead of caving under our loss, we met their senseless violence with the strength of our resolve, our capacity to care, and commitment to each other.
We responded, and thousands of our men and women in uniform deployed to the ends of the globe and put our nation before their own safety. We continue to owe them a debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice.
On September 11, 2012, our diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya came under attack and we lost four brave Americans to a group of extremists.
I urge every American to take time today for somber remembrance, reflection, and prayer. While we must not forget the tragedies that have taken place, we should also try to remember the sense of unity and patriotism that was so prevalent in the weeks after 9/11. Let us put aside our differences and once again focus on those things that bind us, for we are all Americans, and we will forever be one nation under God.
On June 6, 1944, tens of thousands of Americans and allied soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy and fought the battles that liberated France. The sacrifices that those men and women made on D-Day and in the campaign that followed changed the course of history.
I recently had the chance to visit the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. The day was bright and the beauty of the hallowed grounds belied the chaos and struggle that took place on Normandy's wild beaches and bluffs. Despite the seemingly insurmountable odds, freedom prevailed.
Today, on the 70th anniversary, we remember those whose lives were lost during that invasion and we honor all those who served Please take a minute to thank a veteran that you know for his or her service to our country. They willingly and unselfishly put their lives on the line to protect our country and our freedom.
The legacy of the Greatest Generation has inspired and sustained the young men and women currently serving our country abroad. Today we also remember we still have work to do on behalf of all of our veterans who return home from the battlefield. We must remain unwavering in our commitment to provide for those who were fortunate enough to come home and who now face their own challenges as they continue to contribute to the success of this great nation.
Yesterday was not a day of celebration, but a day marked by broken promises, numerous delays, and special exemptions. Sunday marked the four year anniversary of Obamacare becoming law.
Before and after Obamacare was enacted, the President promised that "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” This statement was repeated by the President’s allies in Congress, defended by his allies in the media, and for which he was awarded “Lie of the Year” by Politifact in 2013. He also promised that under Obamacare, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor.” Unfortunately for the American people this was simply not true. The President’s health care law has left millions of Americans with cancelled health plans – at least 4.7 million according to the Associated Press.
President Obama also promised affordable health care, claiming that Obamacare would bring down premiums for families by $2,500. Instead, Americans have watched their premiums increase by an average of 41% in the individual market with reports of more double digit increases on the way.
The President's $2.6 trillion budget-busting law took over $700 billion from Medicare to fund new entitlements and expanded Medicaid—an unsustainable and broken health care program in which some 40% of physicians on average will not even see Medicaid patients.
To help control and keep costs down, the President’s healthcare law established an unelected, unaccountable board of bureaucrats—the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB)—with the power to make arbitrary cuts to Medicare. Such arbitrary cuts by unaccountable Washington bureaucrats will threaten seniors’ access to care.
It seems like every day another employer reduces hours or stops offering insurance in response to Obamacare's mandates. Last week I posted a story from WTVD in North Carolina describing how “employers are trying to get their arms around what the new health care law will mean, both for their bottom line and their workers, specifically their part-time workers.” The President only continues to create further uncertainty for businesses and employees with each new delay for his unworkable law.
Obamacare’s costly mandates are resulting in lost jobs, including an estimated 43,000 jobs lost in the medical device industry alone due to the medical device tax.
This week the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the Hobby Lobby case, reminding the American people how Obamacare—in addition to its government mandates driving up the cost of health care and hurting our nation’s economy—also violates our nation’s long-standing principles of religious freedom and conscious protections.
Senate Democrats clearly see Obamacare as a problem for them, and have already begun holding hearings about follow-on healthcare reforms. Rather than absorbing the lessons of the last four years, Senate Democrats appear eager to double down on the Obamacare experiment by getting the government even more involved in healthcare. The American people have a vested interest in the direction our nation's health care system is headed, and reform legislation must be focused on empowering them and their doctors—not the government.
Today Brooke and I would like to wish the Reverend Billy Graham a happy 95th birthday. Rev. Graham has reached billions of people worldwide and has certainly touched the state of North Carolina with his kindness, wisdom and love. We are a more compassionate nation because of Rev. Graham’s life’s work and it is my hope his teachings continue to resonate and have an impact for years to come.