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August 22, 2017 - 9:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, chris collins, news.

Press release:

“I applaud President Trump for standing by the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women, and sharing with the American people his commitment for meeting key objectives in Afghanistan. His candor that we are not building a nation, but are stopping terrorists before they can ever darken our door again here at home is appreciated.

“It is time for other allies like Pakistan to contribute to victory. It is also time for us to engage the enemy on our terms with the guidance of our best military minds, and not under time constraints and quotas established by politicians.

“Tonight, Donald Trump demonstrated one of the reasons why America elected him to be President. That is to confront and defeat America’s enemies making our nation and its citizens safe in the world.”

August 11, 2017 - 11:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, opioids, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today reacted to President Trump’s announcement that he will declare a national emergency on opioid abuse:

“I stand with President Trump in recognizing the extreme severity of the opioid crisis in America and applaud the steps being taken to find solutions to this devastating problem. Far too many lives have been lost and we have seen firsthand the tragedy that so many families in Western New York and across America face.”

Congressman Collins is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee that crafted the 21st Century Cures Act, which provided $1 billion in grants to address the crisis. Of those funds, $25.3 million were awarded to New York state. In May 2016, Collins voted in favor of 18 bills that address addiction among our veterans, to babies infected with this disease, to current pain management best practices.

“I applaud Governor Christie and his team for their diligent work in finding solutions for treatment and prevention. Opioid addiction can impact anyone, and we will continue to combat this crisis as a team because more needs to be done."

As a member of the Health and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees, Collins has participated in six subcommittee hearings discussing the government and states responses to the crisis, fentanyl, and professional and academic perspectives.

For more information on the work of the Energy and Commerce Committee on opioids, click here.

August 3, 2017 - 2:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, healthcare, news, notify.

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President Trump at a meeting with Chris Collins, right, and other members of Congress.
Photo: Getty Images. Copyright 2017. Published with permission.

The future of health care coverage for some Americans has become uncertain. If your employer provides health coverage through an HMO or PPO, you're probably OK. If you're on Medicare or Medicaid, you're probably OK. But if you're one of the 51 million of U.S. residents who must buy your own coverage, you might be watching the news coming out of Washington with concern.

After seven years of promising to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the Republicans in Congress have been unable to do either. Now, President Trump is threatening to defund the CSRs (cost sharing reductions) that help insurance companies contain coverage costs. He may not be able to do that, at least in New York, but there are other actions Trump can take to hamper the health care exchanges. The funding reductions and uncertainty are creating turmoil for insurers and consumers alike.

There are a reported 5,074 Genesee County residents who purchased their health insurance through the New York exchange for 2017.

A month ago, The Batavian spoke with Rep. Chris Collins at length about his views on health care, with a follow-up interview last week, and learned that Collins doesn't think anybody needs worry about their coverage. When the House repeal and replace bill, the American Health Care Act was still alive (at the time of our first talk), he was confident that bill would be better for New Yorkers. Last week, when the so-called "skinny repeal" was still on the table (it since failed in the Senate), he thought whether it passed or not, New Yorkers would still have no trouble getting the coverage and care they needed.

The Congressional Budget Office has issued reports saying from 15 million to 25 million Americans could lose health benefits if either of those bills passed, but when pressed, Collins maintained there remained viable ways for anybody who needed coverage to get coverage.

Collins believes we have the best health care in the world, that Medicaid should be the same in all 50 states, that Republicans will never support universal health care, and he plans to continue the push to shift the cost of Medicaid from county taxpayers to the state.

"My buddy just had two grandchildren that were born twins two and a half pounds each," Collins said. "They finally just came home at six pounds. In days gone by the outlook for those kids would not have been good. The advances are tremendous in this country. I think we stand alone in this country with many of those and there's a cost that goes with it. We can get better everywhere. We have to go step by step but we've got to get rid of Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act). That's imploded."

That implosion, Collins said, is not because of anything the Republicans did -- eliminating support for risk corridors, creating uncertainty about the future of funding for individual market insurance, blocking the expansion of Medicaid, and not working on amendments to the original language of the act; rather, Collins said, it is because the ACA was doomed to fail.

"It was a house of cards that was never realistic," Collins said. "I called it out for what it was on day one."

On risk corridors, that was a flawed plan from the beginning, he said.

"I'm saying they (insurance companies) gamed the system," Collins said. "They priced the product low when they knew they would be reimbursed by the government. That all turned to mask how bad Obamacare was. It was masked for three years through this risk corridor reimbursement. Well, now the emperor's got no clothes and we see him standing there naked. That's what ended up happening when we stopped (the risk corridors). Now they have three years of actuarial data to know where it's got to be priced and sure enough, Blue Cross Blue Shield just announced a 47-percent price increase."

There are reports that the insurance companies are owed an more than $5.8 billion. Collins said they are owed nothing.

"They got their money," Collins said. "They got their money and now they have three years of actuarial data. They should be on their own."

Provisions in the Affordable Care Act such as risk corridors were meant, according to groups such as the Kaiser Foundation, to provide safe guards for insurance companies against taking on a wave of people with pre-existing conditions.

Remember, before the ACA, those $51 million Americans in the individual pool could be denied coverage if they didn't already have insurance or changed insurance -- such as going from an employer-based plan to an individual plan -- if they had a pre-existing condition, or that condition might not be covered. The ACA, which became law in 2009 and took effect in 2014, made that practice illegal. Risk corridors were intended to recognize a period of instability while insurance companies took on millions of people who had been denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions all in a short period of time.

The risk corridors were not directly funded by the Federal government. It was expected that some insurers would under estimate and some would over estimate their costs. The risk corridors set a range of acceptable variance and then used profits from above that range to reimburse insurers who fell below that range.

Collins contends no insurance companies were profitable in the first three years of the ACA, or profitable enough to fund the risk corridors. 

"The young and healthy did not sign up," Collins said. "They are not signing up. Therefore the people in these plans are sicker. Those are the ones who flocked to them. There was never any money on the surplus side to give to the companies who all, in a race for the most patience, I would say negligently, priced their products knowing their losses would be covered by the federal government for a period of time. That was the house of cards. Set to fail. And it has failed. It was not anything the Republicans did."

According to a study by Common Wealth Fund, some insurers lost their shirts under the ACA while others raked in record premiums. Then, in the first quarter of this year, health insurance providers had their most profitable quarter ever. The volatility over the past three years in the health care exchanges is exactly what you would expect to find in a newly created market, according to a paper co-authored by conservative economist Craig Garthwaite.

The loss of risk corridor protection isn't the only shoal in the storm weathered by the Affordable Care Act.

There were more than 100 lawsuits filed against the ACA, some of them backed by Republicans. The fact that some of those challenges prevailed is evidence, Collins suggested, that the health care insurance law was bound to fail.

"This was a fundamentally flawed plan trying to get universal health care," Collins said. "The biggest issue was the Supreme Court struck down the exchanges being mandated across the country. That was the beginning of the end. That was not the Republicans. That was the Supreme Court ruling on an unconstitutional aspect of Obamacare. This thing was bound to fail."

The Affordable Care Act was meant to help lower the cost of health insurance for the approximately 51 million Americans (in a nation of 302 million adults, or 17 percent of the population) who are not covered by employer-provided health insurance or already receiving Medicaid or Medicare. Most of these Americans, prior to the ACA, did not have health coverage.  Since passage of the ACA, an additional 20 million people in the United States now have health insurance.

The ACA expanded Medicaid (though some states rejected the expansion) to include low-income workers (that's about six million of the 20 million mentioned above). There are also more people covered under their parents' plans because the law extended required coverage for children up to age 26.

A key provision of the ACA -- and one most reviled by conservatives -- is the individual mandate. The mandate was intended to push healthy young people toward signing up for insurance so their premiums (because on average they wouldn't require care resulting in claims) would help keep costs down for people with more health concerns.  People in the individual market who don't buy insurance can be assessed a tax penalty. 

The bill also required companies with more than 50 employees to provide insurance. Like the individual mandate, this provision has been unpopular and one report said as many as 22 percent of small businesses are hiring few workers as a result.

One thing Collins believes about the ACA is that the bill was really a trick to institute universal health care in the United States.

"The Democrats want universal health care," Collins said. "No if ands, or buts. Hillary Clinton wanted that. Barack Obama wanted that. They never could get there and that's when we ended up with the abomination that I call Obamacare."

At the time the ACA passed, the Democrats controlled the House and the Senate, with enough votes in the Senate (58 Democrats and two Democrat-leaning independents) for Obama to get through just about any legislation he wanted, including single-payer, Medicare-for-all, or any other universal system.

The ACA seems to be largely based on proposals first put forward by the conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation. That that is not an indisputable fact. Stuart Butler, a Heritage director, says it's not true but there are documents out there that show Heritage and Butler pushing coverage for all Americans with an individual mandate.

At the time Butler was offering any kind of proposal for health care, Bill Clinton was president and Hillary Clinton was heading a commission aimed and creating universal health care for the nation. To counter the Clinton plan, Republicans were proposing alternatives, including the Heritage plan.

Republicans remain steadfastly opposed to universal health care, Collins said, even though Trump has seemingly promised just that during his campaign for president.

“We’re going to have insurance for everybody,” Trump said on Jan. 11. “We’re going to have a healthcare that is far less expensive and far better.” 

In an interview with 60 Minutes in September 2015, he said, “I am going to take care of everybody. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”

Collins deflected questions about Trump's promises.

"I don't speak for the president," Collins said. "I would say on the campaign trail he talked about a lot of different topics."

And in response to a follow-up question, Collins said, "The life I live is here now, and Republicans will never support universal health."

Interestingly, not all conservatives agree. The American Conservative has recently published two columns suggesting that within five years Republicans will embrace universal health care and that universal catastrophic coverage is what is best for the nation.

Collins is opposed to universal health care, he said, because he believes it's inferior to what we have now.

"(I) would point to the situation in Europe certainly the situation in Canada where we have Canadians pouring over the border to get health care that's just not available within their universal health care system," Collins said. "You look to Europe; the elderly are denied health care. The ROI is not there, whether it's a new hip for it or something else -- how old are you? What's your life expectancy? Some of the life-saving cancer drugs are not available in Europe from a cost perspective because those nations budget health care." 

According to this op-ed in the Denver Post from 2009, the idea that Canadians come here for routine coverage is a myth, through when Canadians do come to the U.S. for care, for whatever reason, their universal healthcare plan covers their medical expenses. (Colby Cosh, a journalist in Canada, read the Denver Post piece after I sent him a link on Twitter and he said, "Some of its plain nonsense, like 'no waits for urgent care', obviously."

There does seem to be some issue with the elderly being denied care in Great Britain (care rationing), but apparently, that is not how their care should be handled since they can sue if denied care.  

While there is a report in England recently of patients being denied expensive treatment, those same treatments are available elsewhere in Europe, and American pharmaceuticals tend to be substantially less expensive in Europe than the United States.

The idea, however, that drugs make health care more expensive for Americans, is a myth, Collins said.

"There's so much misinformation out there," Collins said. "For instance, if you surveyed the average American they will tell you the biggest cost driver and the biggest problem we have are prescription drugs. That's what they say. But that's not the reality. As I understand that prescription drug coverage is nine percent of health care cost. Ninety-one percent is everything else. So if all these, and they are expensive drugs, and as I just illustrated through my ill-venture down in Australia, nine out of 10 drugs are going to try and fail, there's a huge cost. It's got to be recovered one way or the other but you're simply not going to have new R&D and new drugs to cure the next disease."

Pharmaceutical research, however, is not a totally free-market system. While drug companies fund about $60 billion of the $100 billion spent on R&D each here, about 1/3 of that tab is paid for by taxpayers (with the rest covered by charitable contributions). Many drugs are formulated based on publicly financed research and some drugs are developed through a public-private partnership.

Even so, Collins expressed no interest, when asked, about reforming the current patent law system that gives drug makers monopoly pricing on drugs, though he did say he supports making it easier for patent-expired drugs to enter the generic market.

"None of us would ever suggest that anything's perfect," Collins said.

He said he's especially interested in reducing the approval process around what is called "biosimilar" drugs. Biosimilars are the same in every respect to FDA approved drugs, except for some inactive ingredients. The process for biosimilars was supposed to be reformed under the ACA.

While not addressing the patent issue, he said he would like to see new drugs get to market faster.

"It begins with things that we've done, that I helped with, with the FDA and the 21st Century Cures Act, to get drugs to the market quicker," Collins said. "I sat down with the administrator of the FDA and asked her about her personnel needs and the skill set she needs to get drugs to market quicker, to save lives, to treat illnesses, to treat debilitating diseases because the quicker they get to market the cheaper they'll be. There's a cost. Whatever it does and it takes you eight years to get it to market, and we can get it down to five years, we can save the net cost, and I believe it will be substantially reduced."

Whether the Republicans the Republicans let the ACA die, repeal it outright, repeal and replace it, Collins doesn't believe that people are going to die for lack of health insurance.

The poor, he said, will continue to be covered by Medicaid. As for people not eligible for Medicaid, nobody will face bankruptcy because they can't afford health care.

"We, Republicans, and everything we've said are they don't have to go bankrupt," Collins said. "That's was the old system. The old system said, because it was no safety net whatsoever, you have to go on Medicaid. The only way to get on the Medicaid was to go bankrupt. Well, that's not where we are today. Where we are today -- we don't know where it's going to end but certainly, American Health Care Act said very simply, you can get insurance."

It might be expensive insurance because if you were without insurance when you developed what carriers would consider a pre-existing condition, the insurers could charge you premiums that are 30 percent higher for 12 months.

"You are perhaps in that uncomfortable slice of working poor and your numbers didn't work and you did not have coverage through your employer and you made the decision to not carry that insurance," Collins said. "There were other things that took priority in your life. We're not going to now force you into bankruptcy, which was the old way. What we said is there would be a 30 percent added cost for 12 months then you would go back into the community rate. Personally, I think that is a pretty fair compromise."

The AHCA seems to be dead, at least for now, and Collins defended it at length during our conversation. You can read his comments in the transcript (links to the full interviews below).

Even with the AHCA seemingly consigned to legislative history, Collins said the proposal he backed to provide mandate relief for cash-strapped counties hit with the high costs of supporting Medicaid isn't dead. He will continue to pursue that legislation, he said.

"John Fasso and I are going to continue to pursue our Medicaid language and find something else to attach it to because we have some other must pass stuff," Collins said. "We've got S chip that's got to pass. We've got some extenders that need to pass, so let's just say John Fasso and I are not giving up on the Medicaid piece regardless."

Many economists have raised concerns about the lack of free market mechanisms in health care, a key factor in driving up costs. Employer-provided health insurance distorts the market, creates what economists call the principle-agent problem (the ultimate consumer isn't making the key buying decisions) and information asymmetry (buyers have less information than sellers). Liberal economist Dean Baker has been especially vocal about the American Medical Association, which he labels a "cartel."   The "cartel" he contends, is able to artificially reduce the number of hospitals and doctors in the United States. to constrict supply and drive up costs.

The United States has only 3.3 hospital beds per 1,000 people, compared to 3.7 in Canada and 4.2 in the United Kingdom. At 2.2 physicians per 1,000 people, the United States ranks 52nd in the world, though a tad higher than Canada or the United Kingdom. The United States spends more, much more, per capita on health care than any other nation on earth, yet ranks 43rd in life expectancy.

We asked Collins about the underlying causes of high health care costs in the United States and he didn't answer the question directly.

"Well there's one big issue and it's lifestyle," Collins said. "Two-thirds of our country is obese. Through that, all kinds of things happen whether it's diabetes, whether it's joints, whether it's heart, or whether it's cardiovascular. If you want to look up and down in health in the U.S., it's we got a weight problem. So what can we do? We got to talk about it. We've got to remind people of it. Health insurance companies now have fitness plans. Government plays a role and then people play a role. I'm just a firm believer in personal accountability. We make decisions good and bad. Certainly, our health decisions are more under our control, not to say that bad things genetically don't happen but there's an awful lot of the health care world that we do control individually. We're not doing a very good job."

PDF transcripts for full interviews:

August 2, 2017 - 4:35pm
posted by Maria Pericozzi in County Airport, news, batavia, chris collins, NY-27.

img_2291.jpg

Congressman Chris Collins, center, discusses the grant funding and runway reconstruction with Tim Hens, the county highway superintendent.

Genesee County Officials gave Congressman Chris Collins a tour of the Genesee County Airport on Wednesday, showing Collins what the recently secured Department of Transportation funds will be going toward.

On July 20, Collins announced that $2,926,222 in federal funding had been secured for the airport, located in Batavia, to resurface the center portion of the runway. The runway has not been resurfaced since 1978, according to Tim Hens, the county highway superintendent.

Collins said everyone was working together successfully to secure the grant.

“Without the federal government, you wouldn’t have it,” Collins said. “There’s no way Genesee County has the money. There is a role for the federal government.”

A lot of people wonder why the federal government gives money to small airports, Hens said.

“The reality of it is, you want to get some of the small plane traffic away from Buffalo and Rochester,” Hens said. “So, when you’re landing [large planes,] they’re not having to deal with small planes.”

Hens said they received the grant money Tuesday, but the runway reconstruction will start next spring.

“We gave the contractor the option of going this fall,” Hens said. “They said they want to start in the spring.”

There will only be a period of two weeks where the runway will be completely closed down during the day. The construction will be phased in and there will be a lot of nighttime work, Hens said.

Medium-sized business jets will be able to land once the runway is complete. Hens said the runway is limited to jets under 47,000 pounds, but once the restoration is complete, planes up to 65,000 pounds will be able to land.

The Genesee County Airport is perfect for a lot of businesses and Darien Lake Theme Park talent, Hens said.

“We need to make it convenient for corporate executives to get into Genesee County,” Collins said. “This is a big win. It is federal money and the county is not having to borrow money.”

Collins said the reconstruction will impact the county in the long run.

“The message here is, this is a county that gets it, is business-friendly and knows how to take care of infrastructure,” Collins said. “Whether it's sewers, roads, water or electricity, that’s what’s important to business."

For previous coverage of the grant funding, click here.

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August 1, 2017 - 2:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) cosponsored legislation that enhances  law enforcement at our borders and provides resources to improve security at ports of entry.

The Border Security for America Act authorizes $5 billion over four years to carry out staffing increases and infrastructure improvements. Additionally, the bill directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement biometric exit-entry systems at all points of entry, exempting U.S. and Canadian citizens from screening.

“Our northern border is an economic asset to Western New York and we need to make sure we move people and products across safely and effectively,” Collins said.

“I am fully supportive of increased national security measures, like those included in this bill, but worked with my colleagues to make sure we avoid disruptions to both American and Canadian citizens that might result from new protocols.”

In February, Collins corresponded with former DHS Secretary John Kelly and CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan expressing a deep concern regarding the department’s proposed expedited implementation of the biometric exit-entry system.

Collins cited impacts to Western New York related to trade and tourism and pointed out the differences between the northern and southern borders when it comes to security. As a result, DHS exempted American and Canadian citizens from their initiative.

Now, this new House legislation proposed by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (TX-10) carries the same exemption while providing expanded resources for border security.

“Our northern and southern borders face different needs when it comes to security,” Collins said. “Chairman McCaul took the needs of Western New York into careful consideration when drafting this language and I thank him for his efforts.”

The Border Security for America Act:

·         Authorizes a Border Wall — Requires the deployment and construction of tactical infrastructure and technology to achieve full operational control and situational awareness. This deployment includes wall, fencing, technology, and other barriers.

·         Secure and Fast Ports of Entry — Authorizes necessary resource investments to improve and enhance our ports of entry. Targets illegal immigration and drug trafficking at our ports of entry, while increasing lawful trade and travel.

·         More Boots on the Ground — Adds 5,000 Border Patrol Agents and 5,000 CBP Officers and streamlines the way that veterans and existing local law enforcement officers can be hired.

·         More Air and Marine Flight Hours – Increases the number of annual flight hours of CBP’s Air and Marine Operations and prioritizes requests for support from the Chief of the Border Patrol to secure the border.

·         Forward Operating Bases – Directs DHS to upgrade existing forward operating bases to a minimum standard.

·         Use of the National Guard – Authorizes use of the National Guard along the Southern Border to help with aviation and intelligence support and allows the reimbursement for states that call out the National Guard to help secure the border.

·         Targets Visa Overstays — Identify visa overstays through full deployment of the Biometric Entry-Exit System at all ports of entry while exempting American and Canadian citizens 

·         Border Patrol Access to Federal Lands — Prohibits Federal agencies from impeding, prohibiting, or restricting CBP activities on federal land located within 100 miles of the Southern Border to execute search and rescue operations, and to prevent all unlawful entries into the United States.

·         Support Local Law Enforcement — Authorizes the Stonegarden grant program at $110 million for state and local law enforcement to aggressively fight drug trafficking, smuggling, and other crimes on the Southern Border.

To read the text of H.R. 3548, Border Security for America Act, click here.     

August 1, 2017 - 1:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, Second Amendment.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) has proposed new measures for protecting Second Amendment rights by introducing legislation to limit states authority when it comes to regulating rifles and shotguns, commonly used by sportsmen and sportswomen.

The Second Amendment Guarantee Act (SAGA) would prevent states from implementing any regulations on these weapons that are more restrictive than what is required by federal law. Upon passage of this bill, most of the language included in New York State’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act of 2013 signed into law by Governor Cuomo would be void.

“This legislation would protect the Second Amendment rights of New Yorkers that were unjustly taken away by Andrew Cuomo,” Collins said. “I am a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment and have fought against all efforts to condemn these rights. I stand with the law-abiding citizens of this state that have been outraged by the SAFE Act and voice my commitment to roll back these regulations.”

Governor Cuomo’s SAFE Act violates federal regulation and the following provisions would be void under the proposed legislation:

-          Cuomo’s SAFE Act expanded rifle and shotgun bans to include semi-automatic guns with detachable magazines that possess certain features.

-          The Cuomo SAFE Act banned the capacity of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. It further limited magazines to seven rounds at any time.

In the Collins’ bill, States or local governments would not be able to regulate, prohibit, or require registration and licensing (that are any more restrictive under Federal law) for the sale, manufacturing, importation, transfer, possession, or marketing of a rifle or shotgun. Additionally, “rifle or shotgun” includes any part of the weapon including any detachable magazine or ammunition feeding devise and any type of pistol grip or stock design.

Under this legislation, any current or future laws enacted by a state or political subdivision that exceeds federal law for rifles and shotguns would be void. Should a state violate this law, and a plaintiff goes to court, the court will award the prevailing plaintiff a reasonable attorney’s fee in addition to any other damages.

Congressman Collins was joined today by local, county, and state elected officials and citizen supporters of the Second Amendment during events to unveil his bill in Erie and Monroe counties.

Hamburg Rod and Gun Club:

Assemblyman David DiPietro

Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw

Erie County Legislator Ted Morton

Representatives from SCOPE

Rochester Brooks Gun Club:

Senator Rich Funke

Senator Rob Ortt

Assemblyman Peter Lawrence

Monroe County Legislator Karla Boyce

Representatives from SCOPE

 

To read the text of H.R. 3576, the Second Amendment Guarantee Act, click here.

July 14, 2017 - 5:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today proudly voted in support of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY18.

“Today’s strong bipartisan effort provides our servicemen and women with the resources and funding they need to defend our nation here at home and abroad,” Congressman Collins said.

“The NDAA for fiscal year 2018 will enhance our missile defense research efforts, rebuild our military, and deliver a well-deserved pay raise for military members and their families. This bill ensures we’re taking care of our armed forces and also sends a strong message to the world — we’ll do whatever is necessary to keep America safe.”

The NDAA for FY18 funds a number of the national defense priorities outlined in President Trump’s FY18 Budget request, including:

  • Authorizes $621.5 billion for base national defense spending;
  • Increases missile defense funding by $2.5 billion;
  • Provides a 2.4-percent pay increase for military members;
  • Includes an additional $10 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding;
  • Answers the Army, Air Force, and Navy’s request for thousands of additional personnel;
  • Ends the defense sequester.

For more information on H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act of FY18, click here.

June 28, 2017 - 1:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, batavia, news, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today announced $236,072 in federal funding for the City of Batavia Fire Department. The grant was awarded through the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program, which is designed to help first responders improve their capability to respond to fires and emergencies of all types.

“The AFG program helps community fire departments access federal funding to protect their members and keep the communities they serve safe,” Congressman Chris Collins said. “This is an excellent and prudent use of federal money and it provides a tremendous service to communities here in New York’s 27th Congressional District.

"I was proud to work with the City of Batavia Fire Department to secure this $236,072 in AFG funding and thank them for the selfless service they provide.”

The City of Batavia Fire Department will use this $236,072 federal grant to purchase 25 Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) air packs. This will provide the City of Batavia Fire Department with breathable air when responding to an emergency situation.

“This important grant funding will help us purchase equipment that will keep our firefighters safe and allow them to better protect the City of Batavia and surrounding communities,” said Stefano Napolitano, chief of the City of Batavia Fire Department.

“We appreciate Congressman Collins efforts on behalf of our local first responders and look forward to continuing to work with him to secure important grant funding for our department in the future.”

The AFG Grant Program provides direct funding assistance to fire departments, State Fire Training Academies, and non-affiliated EMS organizations to enhance their response capabilities and to more effectively protect the health and safety of both the public and emergency response personnel with respect to fire and all other hazards.

June 28, 2017 - 1:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, agriculture, business.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins and local Farm Bureau presidents applauded the Trump Administration’s decision to either rescind or revise the Waters of The United States (WOTUS) rule imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Obama administration.

“This rule was an example of reckless government overreach, that brought undue burdens to farmers in Western New York,” Collins said. “I was proud to lead the bipartisan effort in Congress to scrap the WOTUS rule and applaud President Trump and Administrator Pruitt for taking this common sense step to support our nation’s agriculture industry.”

Both Congressman Collins and Farm Bureaus located within New York’s 27th Congressional District have been vocal in their opposition to the WOTUS rule. In May 2014, Congressman Collins led a bipartisan letter signed by more than 200 members of Congress to former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Department of the Army Secretary John McHugh outlining concerns related to this rule. Congressman Collins believed the WOTUS rule was “built on incomplete scientific study and a flawed economic analysis” and formally requested the rule be returned to their respective agencies.

“Farmers are simply trying to provide for their family, community, and the nation, so it is unfortunate the federal government imposed this type of rule in the first place,” said Jeffrey Simons, president of the Erie County Farm Bureau. “Plain and simple, more federal regulations will make it harder for farmers to do their job. Today’s decision is a tremendous victory for Niagara County farmers, and I want to thank Congressman Collins for fighting on our behalf since the beginning.”

“The WOTUS rule was an overreach since it was first proposed and we’ve seen the negative impact it has had and would continue to have on our local agriculture industry,” said Christian Yunker, president of the Genesee County Farm Bureau. “In the end, common sense prevailed and everyone’s hard work has paid off. I appreciate all of Congressman Collins efforts—this is fantastic news for all of agriculture, not just here in Genesee County.”

“Today’s announcement is great news for Ontario County agriculture and will help to protect the future of our region’s family farms,” said Lisa Grefrath, president of the Ontario County Farm Bureau. “We commend Congressman Collins for his efforts to repeal this burdensome mandate and look forward to continuing to work with him on the issues impacting local family farms.”

“For the last three years, we have worked with Congressman Collins to end this unfair federal overreach and protect local farms. Today’s announcement is exciting news for local farm families,” said Joe Swyers, president of the Livingston County Farm Bureau. “We will continue to work with Rep. Collins regarding protecting the future of family farms in Livingston County and appreciate his efforts to end WOTUS. No one cares about more about our environment than local farmers that make their living on our land and we will continue to be the best stewards possible.”

“Today’s announcement is a win for New York’s agricultural community. Wyoming County is a top agricultural producer in New York State and the repeal of WOTUS will help ensure the future of farming in Western New York,” said Jeremy Northup, president of the Wyoming County Farm Bureau. “We commend Congressman Collins for his aggressive efforts to repeal WOTUS and will continue to work with him on the issues important to Wyoming County family farms.”

“When the WOTUS rule was first proposed, we knew this was a blatant overreach by the EPA,” said Jim Bittner, president of the Niagara County Farm Bureau. “This rule would have had negative effects on practically every piece of farmland here in Niagara County. Congressman Collins understood this from the beginning, because requiring farmers to get either the EPA or Army Corps’ approval before farming would have been a nightmare. We’re very glad to hear this rule will be rescinded."

June 24, 2017 - 2:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in healthcare, Medicaid, chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today hailed the inclusion of his amendment to the House passed American Health Care Act into the Senate version of the bill. The amendment, introduced with Congressman John Faso (NY-19), would require New York State to take over the county portion of Medicaid by 2020 and would provide the largest property tax reduction ever to Western New York.
 
“This was a long fought battle against the injustice in Albany and is a big victory for taxpayers,” Congressman Collins said.
 
Federal law now permits states to share some of their costs with local governments, but New York is the only state that has imposed this level of burden on property taxpayers. Counties currently have no say in how local revenues are spent on Medicaid; they’re simply required to foot part of Albany’s bill. Local state leaders agreed that the inclusion of the amendment is important and welcome news for Western New York residents.
 
"Mandate relief has been talked about in Albany for as long as anyone can remember - it certainly wasn't new when I was talking about it as mayor. It's not a headline-grabbing or attractive issue, so meaningful proposals on mandate relief are generally swept aside. But I can tell you that it's real. It's real for the local governments who deal with tight budgets and it's real for taxpayers who pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation. I applaud Congressman Collins for bringing this issue to the forefront. Ideally, this would have been a serious discussion at the state level, but having failed that, I'm pleased that we could possibly address the crippling burden placed on our local governments as part of larger, federal health care discussions,” said State Senator Ortt.
 
“As a long-time supporter of curbing the costs of Medicaid, which would take a heavy burden off of local governments, I am proud to support Congressman Collins’ amendment. The impact on my assembly district and local taxpayers will be tremendous with estimated tax reductions of 49 percent in Orleans County and 35 percent in Genesee County. It is clear that New York’s outrageous Medicaid spending is one of the driving forces behind property and school tax increases and it is time for government to take that burden off our residents’ backs,” said Assemblyman Steve Hawley.
 
"Western New Yorkers pay some of the highest property taxes in the state. Rep. Collins' amendment fixes this problem and protects upstate taxpayers from Albany’s unfunded mandates. Removing the unfunded county Medicaid mandate is key to reducing local property taxes and growing our economy,” said Assemblyman Ray Walter. 
 
"This amendment is a blessing for upstate families, small businesses, and farms that’ve been crushed by the high taxes and unfunded mandates coming from Albany. The inclusion of this amendment is a win for our towns and villages and I appreciate Rep. Collins efforts to stand up for our taxpayers,” said Assemblyman Joseph Errigo.   
 
"I'm pleased that the Senate has included Rep. Collins's amendment in the healthcare reform bill. This promises real relief for property taxpayers in communities like Niagara County, and holds state government accountable to fund their mandates instead of passing on costs to the local level. Americans deserve access to the best healthcare possible, but it shouldn't fall to just homeowners to fund the system,” said Niagara County Legislature Chairman Wm. Keith McNall.
 
"Congressman Collins' Medicaid proposal will provide historic “real” property tax relief for hardworking local taxpayers. Currently over 30 perfect of the Ontario County property tax levy currently goes towards paying for New York's unfunded Medicaid mandate. I look forward to working with Rep. Collins and the members of the Board of Supervisors as we continue our efforts to reduce the burden on hardworking taxpayers in our community," said Jack Marren, Chairman of the Ontario County Board of Supervisors. 
 
"This is an important step forward in our fight to reduce unfunded mandates and protect local taxpayers. This measure will reduce local property taxes and help ensure that our seniors can afford to stay in their homes," said Bob Green, Vice Chairman of the Ontario County Board of Supervisors.
 
“We as a board supported a resolution in support of this measure because protecting property taxpayers is one of our prime concerns. This legislation will reduce an unfunded state mandate and help us deliver real tax relief to local homeowners,” said Eric Gott, Chairman, Livingston County Board of Supervisors.  
 
“We appreciate Rep. Collins efforts to relieve the counties of this extraordinary unfunded mandate. This will be a tremendous relief to local county property taxpayers and will allow us to invest in our infrastructure and other county services,” said Raymond Cianfrini, Chairman, Genesee County Legislature.  
 
“For years counties in New York have decried the use of property taxes to fund New York State’s expansive Medicaid program. We are optimistic that changes at the federal level can result in real, substantive, positive changes to the bottom line for county property taxpayers,” said David B. Callard, Chairman, Orleans County Legislature.
 
The Senate is expected to vote next week on their version of the Obamacare repeal bill.
June 14, 2017 - 1:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement in response to today’s shooting in Alexandria, Va.:

“Today’s attack on Whip Steve Scalise, Members of Congress, the Capitol Police, and congressional aides is absolutely devastating. For those injured, we all send our prayers for a speedy recovery. If it weren’t for the brave men and women of the Capitol Police, this attack would have resulted in an even greater tragedy and I, along with my colleagues, are thankful for their service.

“While it is apparent that the shooter was a zealot with an intention to cause harm, it is important that we all be cognizant that our words have strong meaning. It’s time for all of us, including myself, to tone down our rhetoric and recognize that we are all of one country and all proud Americans.”

June 7, 2017 - 7:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, healthcare.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today reacted to news of anticipated steep increases in the price of BlueCross BlueShield plans available to New Yorker’s through the New York State Insurance marketplace.

“Not only has Obamacare been a failure for most of America, it is now failing the people of Western New York by making basic healthcare completely unaffordable and inaccessible,” said Congressman Collins.  “I am absolutely appalled a BlueCross BlueShield plan in Western New York would increase by almost fifty percent in the marketplace.”

BlueCross BlueShield pointed to the failed Obamacare policies that have cost insurance companies millions of dollars, driving up costs for Americans.  Regulations put in place under Obamacare have made the insurance marketplace less competitive, thus increasing costs for consumers.

While President Obama promised that premiums under his plan would decrease during these last few years, a May 23, 2017 report from the Department of Health and Human Services showed that Obamacare increased premiums across the country by 105% between 2013 and 2017.

“Obamacare’s chief cheerleader in our state, Governor Andrew Cuomo, owes our community an apology,” added Congressman Collins.  “Cuomo is part and parcel to Obama’s promises that ‘you can keep your plan’ and premiums will be lower.  Those have turned out to be lies.”

Collins said there was help on the way.  The American Health Care Act (AHCA), which passed the House of Representatives on May 4, 2017, repeals and replaces Obamacare and removes more than $800 billion in onerous taxes and fees that have been stifling the economy and eliminating job growth.

“I am working with my colleagues in Congress to implement policies that allow the people of Western New York the opportunity to make their own choice when it comes to healthcare and provide lower premiums.  Americans deserve to be able to pick which plan works best for their family, and I’m urging the senate to take up the American Health Care Act so we can get ourselves out of this mess.”

The American Health Care Act:

·         Eliminates the individual and employer mandate, which forced millions of workers, families, and job creators into government mandated plans that did not work for their needs.

·         For Western New Yorkers, the bill also includes the largest property tax reduction ever to be enacted. The legislation includes an amendment Congressman Collins introduced that would bar federal reimbursements for New York State Medicaid funds raised from local governments.

·         Guarantees protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions by prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition, banning insurers from rescinding coverage based on a pre-existing condition, and preventing insurers from raising premiums on individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage. Additionally, New York state law fully protects individuals with pre-existing conditions.

·         Modernizes and strengthens Medicaid by implementing a “per capita allotment” which provides more flexibility for states and results in the largest entitlement reform in decades.

·         Provides Americans access to affordable care that works for their needs by delivering monthly tax credits of $2,000-$14,000 a year, which individuals and families can use to purchase private insurance of their choice.

·         A provision within the American Health Care Act (AHCA), The Patient and State Stability Fund, would provide solutions to help lower costs and repair insurance markets damaged by Obamacare. CBO estimates this would significantly reduce premiums in the nongroup market and encourage participation by insurers.

The American Health Care Act is with the Senate where it will need to be approved before heading to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.

 

May 23, 2017 - 7:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

The Turn 27 Blue coalition is pleased to report that the coalition's process for identifying and assisting candidates who would like to run for Congress in 2018 against Chris Collins in New York's 27th district is exceeding expectations -- 10 candidates so far have submitted cover letters describing their intentions and resumes; it is anticipated more candidates will follow.

Democratic county chairs in the district along with several grassroots leaders held a meeting with seven of those candidates last Thursday in Batavia; a second session will be offered for candidates who were unable able to attend the first meeting. Each prospective nominee gave a brief presentation and answered questions from members of the coalition.

"This was a really exciting event for us," said Judith Hunter, Livingston County Democratic chair and Turn 27 Blue coordinator. "We heard from several people who weren't just plausible candidates but plausible members of Congress.

"Every single one of them was motivated by the desire to serve the district and its constituents, rather than by a desire to promote themselves or a party or an ideology."

"What a refreshing contrast to Representative Chris Collins, who is too busy running to cable televisions studios, fending off an ethics investigation for insider trading, and fundraising from pharmaceutical industry lobbyists to be bothered with actually meeting with his constituents to hear their concerns," said Michelle Johnston Schoeneman of Citizens Against Collins. "These candidates who met with us truly seemed to aspire to the ideal of public service."

Jeremy Zellner, Erie County Democratic chair, noted, "We're laying the groundwork here for success in November of 2018. Each of these prospective nominees has his or her own timeline for announcing, so we're going to respect that and keep their names confidential at this point. But they're serious people who are putting in the work, and we want to help them however we can." 

In addition to the ongoing advice the leaders are providing, they have also set up a NY-27 2018 nominee fund on ActBlue.com as a vehicle for those want to contribute today to defeating Chris Collins next year.

"There's just so much energy out there right now to accomplish this, and we're making sure ordinary voters in the district can do something constructive right now," said Cynthia Appleton, the Wyoming County Democratic chair.

Although the Turn 27 Blue leaders want to emphasize that they are open to hearing from more possible candidates, they would like to stress that getting started as soon as possible increases a campaign's chance of ultimate success. Those who are interested should email a cover letter and resume to Judith Hunter at [email protected].

Judith Hunter, Livingston County Democratic chair
Jeremy Zellner, Erie County Democratic chair
Nick Forster, Niagara County Democratic chair
Jeanne Crane, Orleans County Democratic chair
Michael Plitt, Genesee County Democratic chair
Cynthia Appleton, Wyoming County Democratic chair
Jamie Romeo, Monroe County Democratic chair
John Hurley, Ontario County Democratic chair
Michelle Johnston Shoeneman, Citizens Against Collins
Amber Hainey, GLOW Progressives
Dan Beagley, Indivisible NY 27
Tom White, Sister District of Western New York

May 17, 2017 - 3:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement to recognize National Police Week and to highlight his intention to vote in favor of six legislative items throughout the week in support of U.S. law enforcement.

The legislative items will include the Thin Blue Line Act (H.R. 115), the Honoring Hometown Heroes Act (H.R. 1892), the American Law Enforcement Heroes Act (H.R. 1428), the Probation Officer Protection Act (H.R. 1039), the Rapid DNA Act of 2017 (H.R. 510), and the Strengthening State and Local Cyber Crime Fighting Act (H.R. 1616).

“National Police Week is an opportunity for our country to come together to honor our men and women in blue for the service they provide to our communities,” Congressman Collins said. “On behalf of the towns, cities, and villages throughout New York’s 27th Congressional District, I want to thank our law enforcement officers for consistently putting their lives on the line to keep us safe.”

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy declared May 15th as Peace Officers’ Memorial Day. This week, the United States will honor our courageous law enforcement officers during National Police Week. Every year since 1982, members of the U.S. law enforcement community, their families and friends have gathered on Peace Officer’s Memorial Day in Washington, D.C., to mourn the fallen and remember their heroic acts.

“Our first responders are willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice to uphold law and order within the communities they serve, but too often their heroic acts are repaid with undue criticism,” Congressman Collins said. “They deserve the full support of the federal government. I am confident the six pieces of legislation that will be voted on this week will provide U.S. law enforcement with the federal resources and support they need to continue keeping us safe.”

Thin Blue Line Act (H.R. 115)

  • Makes killing, or attempting to kill, a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or other first responder, an aggravating factor in death penalty determinations.

Honoring Hometown Heroes Act (H.R. 1892)

  • Authorizes the governor of a state to proclaim the American flag be flown at half-staff to honor a first responder who died in the line of duty.

American Law Enforcement Heroes Act of 2017 (H.R. 1428)

  • Authorizes COPS grantees to prioritize funds to hire veterans as law enforcement officers.

Probation Officer Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 1039)

  • Authorizes probation officers to arrest a person if there is probable cause to believe the person forcibly assaulted or obstructed a probation officer while they were conducting official duties.

Rapid DNA Act of 2017 (H.R. 510)

  • Establishes a system for integration of Rapid DNA instruments for use by law enforcement to combat violent crime and reduce the current DNA analysis backlog.

Strengthening State and Local Cyber Crime Fighting Act of 2017 (H.R. 1616)

  • Authorizes the National Computer Forensics Institute to disseminate homeland security information related to the investigation and prevention of cyber and electronic crime and related threats, and educate, train, and equip state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges.
May 13, 2017 - 3:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Announcements, climate change, NY-27, climate lobby.

Press release:

The newly established NY-27 Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) is offering a Climate Advocate Training workshop from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 27, at Richmond Memorial Library, 19 Ross St., Batavia.

The session is free and open to all residents of NY’s 27th congressional district. It will teach citizens of NY-27 the nuts and bolts of building political (impetus) for a livable climate.

The workshop will mark the beginning of the first CCL chapter in NY’s 27th congressional district, which includes all of Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties, and parts of Erie, Monroe, Niagara, and Ontario counties.

James Hansen, Ph.D, former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, says: "Most impressive is the work of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a relatively new, fast growing, nonpartisan, nonprofit group… If you want to join the fight to save the planet, to save creation for your grandchildren, there is no more effective step you could take than becoming an active member of this group.”

According to Nicholas Kristof in his April 13, 2017 OpEd in The New York Times: “Citizens’ Climate Lobby [has had] an [outsized] influence on policy."

Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) is completely nonpartisan and achieves change by building respectful relationships with lawmakers and focusing on specific market-based, consumer-friendly solutions that have received support from conservatives and progressives alike.

The May 27th workshop will include a mini-training on lobbying congress. Citizens’ Climate Lobby has an active and growing Conservative Caucus. We are interested in welcoming new conservative members who want to support the growth of clean energy infrastructure, and protect families and communities from the risks of the extreme manifestations of climate change.

“I’ve heard from many Citizens’ Climate Lobby members that joining the organization has made them into truly empowered citizens, and that they can see the results of their work on climate policy,” says Paige Dedrick, of East Aurora, who is taking on the role of group leader for the NY-27 Chapter.

“I am deeply concerned about climate change, and I’ve found CCL to be a great way to impact policy and work with strong, engaged citizens toward a healthy climate and economy. We are hoping to find other members of our community looking for that same kind of opportunity.”

In addition to meeting with our members of Congress, CCL offers many varied roles for volunteers. All are welcome to attend the workshop to learn more. Refreshments will be served at the May 27th meeting; please RSVP to Paige Dedrick, 716-863-3373.

May 5, 2017 - 6:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, Health Care.

Yesterday, Rep. Chris Collins was quick to tout his support for legislation to change the nation's health care laws, but today, Collins was among a handful of Republican congressmen under fire after admitting they didn't read all of the language of the legislation before the rollcall vote.

"I will fully admit, Wolf, I did not," Collins told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "But I can also assure you my staff did. We have to rely on our staff."  

According to CNN, Collins said he had several meetings with staff to discuss the plan, known as the "repeal and replace" answer to the Affordable Care Act that could change health insurance coverage for millions of Americans. He said he is "very comfortable that we have a solution to the disaster called 'Obamacare.' "

Collins reportedly went on to say, "You know, I have to rely on my staff, and I could probably tell you that I read every word, and I wouldn't be telling you the truth, nor would any other member. We rely on our staff, and we rely on our committees, and I'm comfortable that I understand this bill in its entirety, Wolf, without poring through every word."

Thousands of residents of the 27th Congressional District receive subsidized health insurance under the ACA, including more than 5,000 in Genesee County.

The legislation passed by the House yesterday, known as the American Health Care Act, would replace the subsidies, currently paid directly to health insurance companies, with tax credits that some critics say will not provide the same level of financial assistance for ever-more-expensive health insurance.

Jerry Zremski, bureau chief for the Buffalo News, picked up on the remarks by Collins and asked him about one specific provision of the bill, an amendment that would cost the State of New York $3 billion by ending a provision called "The Essential Plan," an optional program under the ACA offered only to New York and Minnesota. It provides low-cost health insurance to low- and middle-income residents who don't qualify for Medicaid. 

According to Zremski's report, Collins was unaware of the bill's elimination of the funding. He quotes Collins as saying, "No. But it doesn't surprise me for you to tell me that there were two states in the nation that were taking advantage of some other waiver program and New York was one of the two states."

Collins was traveling today and couldn't be reached for comment, but his local staff provided the following statement drafted by Micheal McAdams, press secretary in the D.C. office of the congressman:

“Once again the Buffalo News is twisting a Republican’s words to fit its out of touch, liberal narrative. Congressman Collins has been intimately involved in the creation of this legislation from its inception. Over the past four years, he has participated in hundreds of hours of health care hearings, spent many hours marking up this legislation including a 26 hour mark-up in March, and spent hundreds of hours hearing from countless organizations that have a stake in the the health care debate. As a member of the Health Subcommittee, he participated in writing the text of the American Health Care Act.

“Just like Congressman Elijah Cummings who also said he didn’t read every word of this legislation, Congressman Collins has a complete understanding of this bill. He understands the impact it would have on Western New Yorkers. To infer Congressman Collins doesn’t understand the disastrous impact Obamacare has had on our region and our nation is absolutely shameful. The bottom line is the American Health Care Act provides the health care solutions Western New Yorkers need to increase choice and lower costs, as well as providing real property tax relief to every taxpayer in his district. 

"Congressman Collins is proud to have played a substantial role in the legislation’s creation and passage.”

The dustup over reading the bill is just the latest bit of negative publicity Collins has gotten from the national media. He's also been scrutinized for a financial investment that gives the appearance of an overlap with his legislative activity.

From The Daily Beast:

The Republican congressman purchased $2.2 million worth of stock in Innate Immunotherapeutics as part of its initial public offering in late 2013, according to a previously unreported document Collins filed with Australia’s securities authority. The IPO prospectus said Innate would seek FDA approval of its drug to treat multiple sclerosis. More than a year later, Collins wrote into a bill language to expedite the FDA’s approval process for such drugs. Four months before the bill was signed into law, Collins again purchased stock in Innate, this time as much as $1 million, according to congressional financial disclosure records.

According to the story, Collins, who owns $22 million of the stock, has been criticized by ethics experts for the transactions.

We also sought comments from Collins on the controversy and received the following statement drafted by McAdams:

“Despite the continued partisan attacks insinuating otherwise, Congressman Collins has followed all ethical guidelines related to his personal finances during his time in the House and will continue to do so.
 
“Congressman Collins’ relationship with Innate Immunotherapeutics dates back more than 15 years. Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis is one of the most debilitating diseases in the world and Congressman Collins saw its deadly impact first hand as it affected a close family member. As of now, it has no cure and no relief of symptoms. He is very proud of the progress the company has made over the years and hopeful it will develop a potentially life-saving treatment for the millions of individuals suffering from Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.”

May 4, 2017 - 2:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, healthcare, news.

Press release:

U.S. Representative Chris Collins (NY-27) today voted to repeal Obamacare and replace it with the American Health Care Act, which will improve access, reduce costs, and provide Americans with the health care system they deserve.

“This puts us even closer to ending the Obamacare nightmare that has plagued Americans for the last seven years,” Congressman Collins said. “The legislation passed today increases competition and gives people the power to make their own choices with their own health care. The American Health Care Act is a drastic improvement over the failing health care system Obamacare has left us with.”

For Western New Yorkers, the bill also includes the largest property tax reduction ever to be enacted. The legislation includes an amendment Congressman Collins introduced that would bar federal reimbursements for New York State Medicaid funds raised from local governments.

“My commonsense proposal will fix the finances of counties across New York for decades to come and most importantly keep money in the pockets of hardworking Western New Yorkers,” Congressman Collins said. “This puts a stop to this massive unfunded mandate coming out of Albany once and for all.”

For residents in New York’s 27th Congressional District, it would result in more than $470 million in property tax savings. The proposal would only apply to the $2.3 billion being raised from counties outside of New York City to pay for the state’s Medicaid share. New York State currently raises $7 billion from its local governments to fund its $27 billion Medicaid liability, which is the largest such mandate in the nation.

Beyond the property tax savings for New Yorkers, the legislation improves access and affordability, and removes more than $800 billion in onerous taxes and fees that have been stifling the economy and eliminating job growth.

Congressman Collins indicated these improvements are absolutely necessary because the current health care system has completely failed. In 2017, 33 percent of counties nationwide only have one insurer on their exchange, and many counties are being left without any insurance providers.

He also noted that Obamacare has unsustainably raised insurance premiums by nearly 40 percent in the last three years. Recently, thousands of New Yorkers experienced the pain of Obamacare when they were kicked off their insurance plans because their provider, Health Republic, collapsed.

The American Health Care Act:

  • Eliminates the individual and employer mandate, which forced millions of workers, families, and job creators into government-mandated plans that did not work for their needs;
  • Guarantees protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions by prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition, banning insurers from rescinding coverage based on a pre-existing condition, and preventing insurers from raising premiums on individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage. Additionally, New York state law fully protects individuals with pre-existing conditions;
  • Modernizes and strengthens Medicaid by implementing a “per capita allotment,” which provides more flexibility for states and results in the largest entitlement reform in decades;
  • Provides Americans access to affordable care that works for their needs by delivering monthly tax credits of $2,000-$14,000 a year, which individuals and families can use to purchase private insurance of their choice.

The American Health Care Act now heads to the Senate where it will need to be approved before heading to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.

May 3, 2017 - 11:54am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins has received the “Award for Conservative Achievement” from the American Conservative Union Foundation. Congressman Collins was given the highest rating of any member in the New York Delegation for the 114th Congress.

“I am honored to receive this recognition from the American Conservative Union Foundation,” Congressman Collins said. “When I first ran for Congress I promised to bring a commonsense, conservative voice to Washington, and this award is recognition of my commitment to those principles. I share the ACUF’s philosophy of smaller government and personal responsibility and will continue to support policies that achieve that vision.”

“The 2016 ACUF Award for Conservative Achievement is given to those Members of Congress who receive an 80 percent or above score in our annual ACU Ratings,” said ACUF Chairman Matt Schlapp. “We applaud Congressman Collins for his continued support of conservative values, and working to achieve commonsense conservative solutions for the people of New York.”

The “Award for Conservative Achievement” is based on 25 key votes that demonstrate an adherence to conservative principles. More information on the award is available here.

May 2, 2017 - 10:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, batavia, news.

Press release:

U.S. Representatives Chris Collins (NY-27) and Eric Swalwell (CA-15) kicked off Small Business Week today by reintroducing the Main Street Revival Act of 2017. This legislation will expedite local small business development in underserved areas.

“For America to achieve a high rate of economic growth, government must do a better job creating an atmosphere for small businesses to thrive,” Congressman Collins said. “Small businesses are the engines that drive our economy, and here in Western New York we must do everything we can to ensure they have the tools to succeed. I am glad to partner with my colleague, Congressman Swalwell, as we work to generate tangible economic development and job growth in our communities.”

“Small businesses are at the heart of our communities and economy – we must do what we can to help them grow and succeed,” Congressman Swalwell said. “The Main Street Revival Act helps new small business owners build a strong foundation for future success. Encouraging entrepreneurship nationwide, especially in struggling areas, will help create an economy that can work for everyone, everywhere.”

The Main Street Revival Act allows qualifying small businesses to elect to defer paying payroll taxes during their first year in operation. The deferred taxes would then be paid in installments over the subsequent four years. The option is limited to businesses expecting to hire no more than 25 people in their first year, and that are located in Historically Underutilized Business Zones, known as HUBZones.

The areas in NY-27 that would be eligible for this benefit include: Tonawanda Reservation, along with portions of Batavia, Lockport, Medina, and York. The HUBZone map can be seen here.

Full text of the legislation can be read here.

April 26, 2017 - 2:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, dairy, NY-27, business.

Press release:

Representative Chris Collins (NY-27) today led a bipartisan letter sent to President Trump applauding the president’s acknowledgements of Canada’s protectionist trade policies related to dairy products and advocating for swift action to ensure Canada upholds its trade agreements.

“President Trump campaigned on putting America first, and protecting American jobs,” Collins said. “Today’s letter highlights how vital the U.S. dairy industry is to Western New York and dairy producing regions across the country. The U.S. dairy industry supports billions of dollars in exports and hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs.

"Unfortunately, due to unfair competitive practices by Canada, we must take action to ensure our dairy products will be able to compete on a level playing field. I am glad President Trump has recognized how important this issue is to hundreds of thousands of hardworking Americans, and I will continue working with my colleagues to protect the U.S. dairy industry.”

The letter which 68 lawmakers signed on to was also co-led by Representatives Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Ron Kind (WI-03), Sean Duffy (WI-07), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), and Peter Welch (VT-AL).

The letter details Canadian trade practices that “may violate Canada’s existing trade commitments to the United States by effectively discouraging U.S. dairy exports to Canada.” It also reinforces that “our districts and states rely on the jobs the dairy industry provides and cannot afford further protectionist policies from our northern neighbor.”

Full text of the letter along with signatories can be seen here and full text can be read below.

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