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Klobuchar, Smith Push for Improved Veteran Emergency Care

Washington, D.C.— Senators Amy Klobuchar, Tina Smith (both D-MN) and the entire Minnesota delegation sent a bicameral, bipartisan letter to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough urging the agency to improve veterans’ ability to receive emergency care. Specifically, the letter asks VA Secretary McDonough to revise existing rules to treat all emergency transport reimbursements the same way, regardless of a veteran’s service-connected disability rating. “By processing emergency transportation services as beneficiary travel, the VA leaves a large group of veterans with unpaid emergency transportation bills,” wrote the lawmakers. “This places an unjust burden on a population already facing rising medical costs across the board. From 2017 to 2020 alone, the cost to cover charges for emergency transportation services has risen at a rate of almost 18 percent.” “In light of the sacrifices our veterans have made, we must fulfill our obligation to provide those who have served this country with a high standard of care,” they continued. “While the VHA has played a critical role in providing necessary benefits for veterans, we call on the Administration to amend [these] regulations to provide the coverage of emergency transportation services that was intended under the VA Mission Act.” Under the 2018 VA Mission Act, emergency transportation and treatment at in-network, non-VA facilities became eligible for reimbursement. However, the VA is currently processing emergency land or air ambulance service claims as beneficiary travel, which restricts coverage to veterans with a disability rating (that is, the designation given to the severity of a

Klobuchar and Smith Announce Significant Federal Funding to Help Minnesotans with Heating and Energy Costs this Winter

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that Congress  approved more than $18 million in federal funding to help Minnesotan families afford their heating costs and utility bills this winter.  “As Minnesota prepares for winter, families shouldn’t have to choose between heating their homes or buying other necessities,” said Klobuchar. “This federal funding will be critical to helping families and seniors across our state pay their energy bills and keep their homes warm. I’ll keep working to ensure Minnesotans have the support they need to stay safe this winter.” “As global energy markets respond to the pandemic and Putin’s war in Ukraine, we need to make sure Minnesotans have the support they need to heat their homes this winter,” said Smith. “For low-income families, high energy prices can force an impossible choice between heating their homes and other essentials like rent, food, or medicine. I’m proud of our work to secure this funding, which will help families in Minnesota afford their heating costs and utility bills in the coming months.” These resources will support the Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides families with payment assistance to support their home energy needs. More than 127,000  households in Minnesotans received assistance with heating and cooling costs through LIHEAP  last winter, with households receiving an average assistance benefit of $1,615.  More information can be found by calling Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program at 1-800-657-3710 or by visiting the website energyhelp.us.

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Secures Bipartisan Support for Her Legislation to Ensure Millions of Americans with Diabetes Aren’t Forced Into Dangerous Practice of Rationing Insulin

WASHINGTON, D.C. [06/25/19]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith’s (D-Minn.) legislation to hold insulin manufacturers accountable for excessive increases in the price of life-sustaining insulin—announced last week in Minneapolis and set to be introduced later this week in remembrance of Minnesotan Alec Smith—secured bipartisan support thanks to Senator Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) cosponsoring the Emergency Access to Insulin Act. “Thank you to my colleague and neighbor Senator Cramer for supporting my legislation to provide Minnesotans and Americans with the insulin they need to survive, and to put us on a path to bring down the cost of insulin,” said Sen. Smith, a member

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Pushes Education Secretary DeVos to End Delays in Loan Forgiveness for Students who Attended Now-Defunct For-Profit Colleges

 WASHINGTON, D.C. [06/19/19]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) is calling on U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to quickly process the claims of thousands of defrauded students in Minnesota and across the country seeking to get their federal student loans discharged.  Thousands of pending discharge applications from students who attended now-defunct colleges – including more than 2,700 from Minnesota – have languished at the U.S. Department of Education for an average of 882 days.     Sen. Smith — along with Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), and 19 of their Democratic colleagues — wrote Wednesday to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Continues Fight to Secure Health Committee Hearing on Negative Consequences of Family Separation on Children

WASHINGTON, D.C. [06/24/2019]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) is again calling on leaders of the Senate Health Committee—on which she serves—to hold a hearing in order to better understand the negative health effects of the Trump Administration’s disastrous family separation policy and the health and safety conditions for children.  Last year, Sen. Smith first pressed for a similar hearing shortly after allegations that at least one facility where children were being housed had forcibly injected already-traumatized children with powerful sedatives. Sen. Smith visited family detention centers herself and renewed her call this spring after reports found that thousands more children had

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Announces Bold Legislation to Bring Down Price of Insulin, Hold Manufacturers Accountable

MINNEAPOLIS, M.N. [06/21/19]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.)—joined by Minnesotan Nicole Smith-Holt who tragically lost her son, Alec, when the high price of insulin forced him to ration his supply—announced plans to introduce legislation to hold insulin manufacturers accountable for excessive increases in the price of life-sustaining insulin. Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Health Committee, made her announcement at a Minneapolis community health center, where she met with Minnesotans struggling to afford skyrocketing insulin prices, including advocates Lija Greenseid and Quinn Nystrom. Sen. Smith said her new bill will be introduced next week in remembrance of the anniversary

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