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Congress in Your Inbox From Congresswoman Niki Tsongas


Location: Unknown

Dear Friend,

The Presidential race heated up last week and, in doing so, brought several important issues to the forefront of the national political discussion.

On the top of the list was health care, specifically the future of Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people ages 65 and older.

In 2010, I supported President Obama's Affordable Care Act, which extended the life of Medicare by eight years by eliminating overspending to insurance companies, all while never reducing benefits. The bill also closes the gap, or "doughnut hole," in coverage for prescription drugs, which has already saved beneficiaries hundreds of millions of dollars.

Thanks to health care reform, senior citizens are receiving free Medicare coverage for key preventive services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, as well as a free Annual Wellness Visit. Over 32.5 million Americans on Medicare used one or more free preventive services in 2011.

The appointment of Rep. Paul Ryan as the Republican Vice Presidential nominee last week once again highlighted concerns about his budget plan that would fundamentally change Medicare as we now know it for Americans 55 and younger. The Ryan budget would turn Medicare into a voucher system that seniors would use to purchase health care coverage from private insurers. These vouchers would not keep pace with rising health care costs, forcing the individual to make up the difference. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that under this plan, the average senior will end up spending nearly twice as much of their income on health care than under the current Medicare system.

I had an opportunity last week to visit local senior citizen centers in Haverhill, Methuen and Marlborough, where I discussed this important issue with residents.

Also last week, I was honored to be a part of yet another step toward investing in our renewable economy. On Wednesday, August 15, I spoke at the ribbon-cutting for a new solar array on the rooftop of the historic Everett Mill in Lawrence. By utilizing this new technology, the building will provide safe, clean and affordable energy to businesses located in the mill. The solar array was installed by Soltas, a leading provider of solar energy. Soltas used power converters made locally in Lawrence by Solectria Renewables, putting people to work with fabrication and installation. During the planning stages, my office played an integral role in clearing lines of communication to ensure the project continued without major delay.

With 39 sites, Lawrence is among the top 20 municipalities in Massachusetts that are taking advantage of the benefits of solar power.

My congratulations go out to Beyond Soccer of Lawrence, who was just awarded an $8,000 grant in the Field of Dreams contest from the U.S. soccer Foundation. They will now begin developing a field-building plan for the City of Lawrence!

This past Sunday marked the 92nd anniversary of women receiving the right to vote. August 26th was designated Women's Equality Day in 1971 to signify the signing of this momentous amendment and to recognize the thousands of activists who worked tirelessly to achieve voting rights for women. As the first woman to serve in Congress from Massachusetts in 25 years, I am indebted to those pioneers who came before me and I am committed to furthering the tolerance and equality realized because of their sacrifice.

As always, I hope that you continue to provide me with your thoughts, feedback, and opinions on these or any other subjects via my website or on Facebook and Twitter.


Niki Tsongas

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