09.25.09

The Leahy Letter - September 25,2009

Senator Patrick Leahy's Update from the Nation's Capital

Leahy Answers Your Questions
On Health Care Reform

Last month, Senator Leahy posted an expanded webpage on health care reform in order to offer Vermonters up-to-date information on the reform plans currently before Congress and to hear concerns, questions, and personal experiences from Vermonters. Since this webpage was first launched, Senator Leahy has heard from hundreds of Vermonters. You can find updated information about the latest news from the Senate Finance Committee, as well as specific information on how reform will affect small businesses, seniors, and families. In his most recent video, Senator Leahy answers a question from Peter in Chittenden about whether Congress should slow down the reform process, or start over entirely.

Visit the Vermont Voices on Health Care Reform page for answers to many of your questions and explanations of several health reform myths.

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Leahy Introduces Legislation To Repeal Antitrust Exemption For Health
And Medical Malpractice Insureers

On September 17, Senator Leahy introduced legislation to eliminate a federal antitrust exemption for health insurance and medical malpractice insurance companies. The Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act would repeal the federal antitrust exemption for health insurance and medical malpractice insurance companies for flagrant antitrust violations, including price-fixing, bid-rigging and market allocations, and it would extend coverage to these insurers under the same good-competition laws that apply to virtually every other company doing business in the United States. Leahy has introduced similar legislation to repeal the McCarran-Ferguson Act in previous Congresses.

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Leahy Bill Will Help Free Clinics
Provide More Care

On August 5th, Senator Leahy introduced a bill to help free clinics, which provide essential care to thousands of uninsured Vermonters, including seven clinics throughout Vermont. Senator Leahy introduced the legislation after hearing from representatives of Vermont's free health care clinics who described the burden these extra costs place on free clinics. The bill would save clinics money by closing a loophole that requires malpractice insurance for support and volunteer staff, though medical staff at the clinics are already exempt. Senator Leahy is hopeful this bill will lessen the financial burden on free healthcare clinics so that they can continue to help the uninsured people who need it most. Click here for more information.

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Senate Judiciary Committee Continues Progress on Reporter Shield Bill

The Senate Judiciary Committee continued work on federal media shield legislation at an executive business meeting on September 24. Senator Leahy has been working since April to move the legislation through the Committee. The bipartisan Free Flow of Information Act carefully balances the need to protect reporters' confidential source information with the need to protect law enforcement and national security interests. Under Senator Leahy's chairmanship, the Judiciary Committee for the first time reported legislation to establish a qualified privilege for journalists during the 110th Congress.

Leahy Brings Senate Panel To St. Albans
To Examine Competition And Consolidation
Of Northeast Dairy Farms

Senator Leahy led a panel to discuss the dairy crisis in St. Albans on September 19th.  Leahy is pictured here with Senator Sanders who also attended the hearing.

On September 19th, Senator Leahy, joined by Senator Sanders, chaired a Judiciary Committee field hearing in St. Albans to discuss the dairy crisis and competition issues within the dairy industry. Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust at the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Chief Economist testified on the antitrust and competition issues involved in dairy pricing and the current crisis. Senator Leahy heard directly from three Vermont dairy farmers about their struggles to make ends meet as corporate processors rake in an increasing percentage of the profit from milk sales. Senator Leahy said Vermont farmers need both short- and long-term solutions to help farms thrive and ensure the sustainability of Vermont farming.

Click here to read more about Senator Leahy's work for Vermont's dairy industry.

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Register Today!

Online sign-up is now available for the 13th Annual Women's Economic Opportunity Conference, set for Saturday, October 17th, at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center.

This year's Conference offers workshops to help women address the new and sometimes adverse situations that their families are facing. From resume-writing and public speaking workshops, to new business ventures and business marketing workshops, the Conference will focus on adaptability and helping women view themselves in many different career capacities.

Senator Leahy welcomes Lilly Ledbetter as the keynote speaker this year. Lilly Ledbetter is the inspiration for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, enacted this January, which will help workers facing pay discrimination.

Join the conference for spirited discussions and learn valuable skills in business, life management, technology, and stress reduction. For information about how to register, or to sign up for free day care for your children, go to Senaor Leahy's website or The Vermont Small Business Development Center.

If you or someone you know is having a problem with a federal program or needs help resolving a pending case with a federal agency, please call Senator Leahy's Burlington of