Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Sunday is the Last Day to Sign Up For Health Insurance

January 29, 2016
Enewsletters

Dear Friend,

Sunday is the last day to sign up for health insurance through the HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace. See below for more information. This week, I attended the 2016 House of Representatives Democratic Caucus Issues Conference in Baltimore to discuss the upcoming year in Congress and received a 100+ legislative scorecard rating from the Humane Society. Keep reading to learn more about my week or follow me on Twitter and Facebook to see these updates as they happen.

Attending the House of Representatives Democratic Caucus Issues Conference
Remembering John Jay Hooker
Fighting for Animal Rights
The IRS Urges Public to Stay Alert for Scam Phone Calls
Helping Memphians Get Health Insurance
Ensuring Memphians Get the Tax Refunds They Deserve

Attending the House of Representatives Democratic Caucus Issues Conference

This week, I attended the 2016 House of Representatives Democratic Caucus “United for Opportunity” Issues Conference in Baltimore to discuss the upcoming year in Congress. My colleagues and I were joined by President Obama and Vice President Biden to discuss how we can best strengthen the middle class, create jobs, fight for equal rights for all Americans, improve our education system, and ensure women receive the healthcare they need, among other issues. President Obama thanked the caucus for all of our hard work throughout his presidency. He took a more reflective and emotional tone and highlighted the successes that he and the Democratic Party have achieved over the last several years, including the Affordable Care Act, the Iran nuclear deal, the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform bill, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Paris climate agreement, the economic stimulus package, the reopening of diplomatic relations with Cuba, LGBT rights, and job creation. I also had the opportunity to personally encourage President Obama during his final year in office to reschedule cannabis from a Schedule I drug, something I have asked of him since his presidency began 7 years ago, so the effects of cannabis can be more easily studied. I also asked the President to appoint a new U.S. Pardon Attorney as quickly as possible so he can issue more commutations for non-violent drug offenders who have already served prison sentences that would have been completed under today’s law. I will continue to encourage the President on these issues, as I have done since he was elected.

 

I was particularly impressed with Vice President Biden who spoke to us on the middle class, education, and healthcare. Vice President Biden has been selected to head up the President’s cancer cure task force and he addressed the Caucus about the technology needed to make this dream a reality. It’s not just about developing game-changing treatments; we also must be able to deliver it to those that need it.

We also heard from Tom Steyer, a philanthropist and environmentalist, about the urgent need to address climate change, as well as methods to move towards energy independence and its impact on job creation and national security. Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, spoke to us on the importance of a livable wage, equal pay for women, LGBT rights, and opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Finally, the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah spoke to us on the international community’s perspective on America.    

Remembering John Jay Hooker

On Sunday, Tennessee lost John Jay Hooker, one of the state’s largest political figures for half a century. John Jay thought big and he acted on those thoughts and beliefs. I met him when I was Mr. Commodore in 1969, and he flew me and others to Ann Arbor, Michigan to cheer for the 'Dores. I became a fan of John Jay and worked on his gubernatorial campaign in 1970 and voiced my support for him again in 2014. You knew John Jay was right on the issues as he was lifetime progressive. We joined together in opposing the 2014 Constitutional referendum on judicial appointments. He was brilliant, bodacious, and brash. He was John Jay!

Fighting for Animal Rights

Earlier this week, I received a perfect 100+ score from the Humane Society of the United States on its legislative scorecard for 2015 for my work to protect animals from abuse. Our treatment of animals is a reflection of how we treat each other, and we should each do all we can to do better on both fronts. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of H.R. 3268, the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act. This legislation would crack down on cruel horse training practices in which trainers purposefully and deliberately inflict pain on the hooves and legs of horses to exaggerate their performance at horse shows. As a State Senator, I sponsored Tennessee’s T-Bo Law, named in honor of my beloved dog, who was killed by a neighbor’s larger dog. The T-Bo Law was the nation’s first-ever law allowing for victims to recoup damages beyond property valuation stemming from cases of intentional or negligent acts resulting in the death of a companion dog or cat. I will continue my efforts in Congress to ensure that animals are protected and treated humanely.  

The IRS Urges Public to Stay Alert for Scam Phone Calls

The IRS continues to warn consumers to guard against scam phone calls from thieves intent on stealing their money or their identity. Criminals pose as the IRS to trick victims out of their money or personal information. Click here for several tips to help you avoid being a victim of these scams and what to do if believe you have been contacted by a scammer.

Helping Memphians Get Health Insurance

Sunday is the last day to sign up for health insurance through the HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace. You can visit https://bit.ly/hcSavings to see if you qualify for tax credits that will be applied as discounts on your monthly insurance premium. If you already have insurance coverage through the HealthCare.gov marketplace, your plan has automatically been renewed for 2016 but you should still visit HealthCare.gov to update your information, ensure you receive the full tax credit to which you are entitled, and review new options as cheaper insurance plans that better fit your needs may now be available.

Healthcare navigator SEEDCO will have enrollment assistance at the Benjamin Hooks Library at 3030 Poplar Ave. 38111 on January 31, 2016 from 1:00pm-5:00 pm. Consumers can call (901) 405-7890 if they need any additional information.

If you are on Medicare or your employer offers qualified health insurance in which you are enrolled, you're already covered and won't need to enter the Marketplace for your health coverage. If you aren't sure whether or not you should use the Marketplace to get insurance, you can call the Marketplace Hotline at (800) 318-2596 or visit HealthCare.gov. You can also call my office at (901) 544-4131 or the Marketplace Hotline to find out if TennCare (Tennessee's Medicaid program) is a coverage option for you.

Ensuring Memphians Get the Tax Refunds They Deserve

In December, I voted to permanently extend the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which is indexed for future increases, for low and middle income individuals and families. This provision ultimately became law.

April 15th – the deadline to file your 2015 federal tax return – is only a few months away. As you prepare your return, I hope you won’t overlook the EITC if you are eligible for it. It is an important credit that can give families a financial boost and is too important for people to overlook. Sadly, eligible taxpayers in Memphis and Shelby County have not taken full advantage of the program. I want to encourage everyone who is eligible to consider claiming it when filing their taxes.

Memphians shouldn’t pay more than they owe, and they should receive every penny they deserve in refunds. In 2014, I helped open one of 15 new Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites that operate throughout Shelby County.  The VITA sites are available to provide tax return guidance and advice free of charge to ensure that Memphians take full advantage of programs like the EITC and get the tax refund to which they are entitled. More information including a list of all VITA locations and their hours is available at the Shelby County Trustee’s website, and I encourage you to find one near you to help ensure you get every penny you are owed.

 

As always, I remain. 
Most sincerely,

Steve Cohen
Member of Congress