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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 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

U.S. Sens. Smith, Brown, Cortez Masto, Casey Introduce Bill to Expand Affordable Health Coverage for Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. [06/20/19]—Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-N.V.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) introduced the Family Coverage Act, which would ensure all spouses and children are able to get covered by fixing a glitch in the health care system that currently prevents families from getting tax credits needed to purchase affordable insurance on the exchanges.  Right now, if a mother or father has health insurance through their employer, but their employer does not offer affordable coverage for the spouse and/or kids, these family members can be kept from getting these credits. The Family Coverage Act

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith Lauds Change to Early Harvesting Rules for Cover Crops

WASHINGTON, D.C. [06/20/19]—Today, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) lauded the USDA’s decision to move haying and grazing dates on prevented plant acres from November 1 to September 1. The change comes after Sen. Smith’s bipartisan letter with Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), which requested that USDA modify early harvesting dates.   “Last week, I spoke with Minnesotan farm leaders and this issue dominated the conversation,” said Sen. Smith. “The farming economy is in a significant crisis, and I knew action needed to be taken to stop yet another roadblock for our farmers and ranchers.”   “I’m extremely pleased to see the

U.S. Senator Tina Smith, U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar Introduce No Shame at School Act

WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) introduced the No Shame at School Act,  to prohibit public schools from shaming students who are unable to pay for school meals or who have outstanding debt. Additionally, the  measure requires schools to certify a child’s unpaid meal fees and authorizes the federal government to reimburse the meals for up to 90 days. “Everyone knows you can’t learn or perform well when you are hungry. We need to support students in Minnesota and across the country by ensuring that kids are not humiliated because of an inability to

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