Anna's Weekly Report

September 30, 2022
E-Newsletter

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Weekly Report
September 30, 2022
 

Dear Friends,

I'm awestruck by the courage and bravery of Iranian women protesting the tragic death of Mahsa Amini and by my Iranian American constituents who are speaking out in solidarity. Mahsa Amini was visiting her family in Tehran when she was arrested by Iran’s Morality Police on September 13th for wearing her hijab ‘improperly.’ She died three days later after being severely beaten in police custody.

Ms. Amini’s brutal and tragic death has brought thousands of brave Iranians to the streets in more than 85 cities across the country to protest government-sanctioned violence against women, as well as political and religious repression, financial mismanagement, and government corruption. As I write to you, Iranians have been protesting continuously for two weeks.

In an attempt to stifle the protests, security forces have carried out mass arrests of civilians and journalists and brutally cracked down on protesters, killing at least 75 civilians. The Iranian government has also restricted internet access and blocked social media, including WhatsApp and Instagram, to prevent organized protests and the spread of video footage of the violence.

To help Iranians circumvent government censorship, the Biden Administration updated existing sanctions to allow U.S. companies to provide communications services, including satellite internet to the Iranian people. The Administration also imposed sanctions on Iran’s Morality Police and seven senior leaders of Iran’s security apparatus for the killing of Ms. Amini and the crackdown on protesters. Women in Iran are putting their lives on the line to demand basic human rights, and it’s important that the U.S. supports them in their fight for a better, more equal future.

This is what the ugly face of anarchy looks like and why protecting and defending our democracy and advancing democratic ideals around the world is so important.

Covid-19 Booster & Flu Shot

Beginning September 1st there’s a new Covid-19 bivalent vaccine available that targets the highly contagious Omicron variant of Covid-19, as well as the original strain of Covid-19. Those 12 years and older who received their most recent Covid-19 booster at least two months ago are eligible for the new bivalent booster. Additionally, if it’s been at least three months since an infection with Covid-19, you are eligible for the new bivalent booster. You can sign up immediately for a free appointment at your county’s website below, and it’s very easy to do.

San Mateo County                 Santa Cruz County                Santa Clara County

Flu season is upon us! The flu and Covid-19 vaccines are safe to receive together, and most vaccination centers will have both available. Learn where you can get your flu vaccine here: www.vaccines.gov/find-vaccines

Major Votes in the House This Week

Funding the Government and the Food and Drug Administration

This week, Congress passed legislation to fund the government until December 16th. The legislation also includes $12.4 billion to help Ukraine defend itself against the ongoing invasion by Russia, as well as new resources to help states hit by natural disasters, as well as addressing the water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi. The legislation included my bill which authorizes the FDA to collect user fees from biopharmaceutical and medical device companies to fund the review of products for five years. This provision allows the FDA to fulfill its vital mission of ensuring the safety, efficacy, and quality of America’s drugs and medical devices.

Mental Health Matters Act

I voted for and the House passed comprehensive legislation to provide more mental health support to students, families, and educators. The legislation provides $100 million over ten years to support new mental health programs in Head Start. It also increases the number of mental health professionals in elementary and secondary schools in high-need areas and ensures that students whose disabilities were documented in elementary and secondary school receive accommodations that will enable them to succeed in college. The bill also creates a grant program to increase students’ access to evidence-based trauma support. Finally, the bill strengthens the enforcement of the legal requirement that private health insurers treat mental health conditions the same as physical health conditions are treated.

Weekly Highlight

Last weekend I joined Caltrain as they unveiled their new fleet of electric trains. The Bay Area is the high-tech capital of the world and it deserves a transportation system that reflects that. The tracks that were laid during the time of the steam engine will soon carry these modern, electric trains along the Peninsula, perfectly symbolizing our spirit of innovation and dynamic change.

Electrification will allow Caltrain to triple its daily ridership to 180,000 passengers and carry the equivalent of 5.5 freeway lanes of traffic every hour by 2040. The new Caltrain will improve air quality by reducing 110 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions every day. The trains will also improve the passenger experience with onboard displays with digital trip information, increased storage space, power outlets at all seats, and baby changing tables in the bathrooms!

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Strengthening Medicare and Lowering Health Care Costs

This week the President announced that for the first time in over a decade, Medicare Part B premiums will decrease next year by over $60 per beneficiary annually. This will bring down the out-of-pocket costs for health care for millions of seniors and those living with disabilities. The new lower Part B premium is in addition to the provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act that became law this summer that will allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and cap Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs.

I’m very proud to have championed Medicare from the day I entered Congress. I’ve seen first-hand what Medicare provided for my mother and father and the peace of mind they had with that card in their wallets.

As a reminder, Medicare Open Enrollment begins October 15th and runs until December 7th. This is the annual time to review your Medicare coverage and make changes to meet your needs. If you are considering a change of plan for 2023, here are some important considerations:

  • Make sure your medications are on the plan’s formulary;
     
  • If you are choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan, in addition to checking the plan’s formulary, check the physician and hospital network to be sure there are providers you wish to use;
     
  • You can research your coverage choices on Medicare.gov; and
     
  • If you need help understanding your Medicare benefits and options for free unbiased counseling you can contact California’s State Health insurance assistance program- HICAP at 1-800-434-0222.

In the Words of My Constituents

Every week hundreds of constituents call and write to me to express their concerns, share their passions, and ask questions regarding legislation and policies. Over 107,340 constituents have contacted me this year. I actually read every communication and every constituent receives a personal response to their specific questions and comments from me. This week, 4,569 constituents contacted me about issues including:

  • 60 messages in support of the Afghan Adjustment Act

  • 58 messages in support of the Women’s Health Protection Act

  • 58 messages in support of suspending U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan

Anna’s Work in the News

Recommended Reading

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I close with this thought. Always know how deeply grateful I am for the trust you’ve placed in me to represent you. I work daily to live up to it.

Most gratefully,
 
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Anna G. Eshoo
Member of Congress