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Sunbury News Staff



Senator Worked to Remove Social Security Numbers from Medicare Cards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will issue new Medicare cards to seniors without Social Security numbers to help protect seniors from fraud and identity theft.

Brown led efforts starting in 2008 to remove this sensitive information from Medicare cards. CMS will being mailing new cards in April 2018, and will replace all cards by April 2019. Currently, seniors’ Social Security numbers double as Medicare ID numbers – putting this information at risk.

“Seniors are advised to carry their Medicare cards wherever they go – this puts them at risk of having this card and their Social Security number land in the wrong hands,” said Brown. “We must do everything we can to protect Ohio seniors and this is a simple way we can do it.”

In April 2015, the Senate passed the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, which included Brown’s provision to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards. Brown first introduced bipartisan legislation to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards in 2008 with his Republican colleague, former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).

The Social Security Administration (SSA) reminds citizens on its website not to “routinely carry your Social Security card or other documents that display your number” in order to prevent identity theft. However, the federal government itself has ignored this warning by issuing millions of Medicare cards that display Social Security number-based Health Insurance Claim Numbers (HICN) on the front of cards. These numbers contain the beneficiary’s Social Security number followed by a letter. On the back of these cards, beneficiaries are advised to carry their cards wherever they go—advice in direct opposition to SSA guidance.

Senator’s Legislation Would Support Ohio Families Buying Ohio-Grown Food

WASHINGTON, D.C. —U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced legislation, The Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act, which will help farmers sell their products directly to consumers, create rural jobs, and invest in local and regional food economies.

“When we make it easier to connect farmers to their communities, we don’t just help individual farms – we invest in entire local economies,” said Brown. “Why should Ohioans buy raspberries from California, when they could buy them from a farm in Knox County? Why should we buy apples from Washington when we could get them from the Hirsch Fruit Farm in Chillicothe? We can help farmers from around the state grow their bottom lines and sell more product at home in Ohio.”

The Local FARMS Act funds and modifies three existing grant programs, which help farmers and others connect their products with local consumers:

The Value Added Producer Grant, which provides important resources for farmers to expand into new markets, create new products, and market their existing business.

The Local Food Promotion Program, which invests in farmers working to establish or expand local food businesses.

The Farmers Market Promotion Program, which works to create and grow farmers market programs to help farmers sell their products directly to local consumers.

The bill also expands the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which helps seniors access fresh foods at farmers markets and qualifying organizations. Under Brown’s bill, the program could assist low-income military veterans as well.

Brown was joined on a news conference call today by Daniel Trudel from Ann’s Raspberry Farm in Fredericktown. In 2014, Ann’s Raspberry Farm was awarded a Value Added Producer Grant, which helped them grow their business and enter into new markets around Ohio.

“As a recipient of the Value-Added Producer Grant, the resources and funding provided by this program have been instrumental in serving as a key growth vehicle to our farm business. Programs like the Value-Added Producer Grant have paid dividends for us and will undoubtedly offer new opportunities for other farmers in the future,” said Mr. Trudel.

Brown’s legislation would help more farmers sell their products directly to consumers and create jobs by assisting farmers engaged in local and regional agriculture by addressing production, aggregation, processing, marketing, and distribution needs. It would also ensure that consumers have better access to nutritious, locally-grown food and protect long-term funding for local food programs.

U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE-1), and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12) will introduce companion legislation in the House.

“The Local FARMS Act is dedicated to protecting the future of family farm agriculture in America,” said Wes King, Policy Specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. “This bill will connect farmers and ranchers with new markets and economic opportunities, and also increase access to healthy, local food for families across the country. We applaud Senator Brown and Representatives Pingree, Fortenberry, and Maloney for introducing this much-needed legislation.”

In 2014, Brown was part of the Senate Farm Bill Conference Committee that successfully negotiated a five-year farm bill. Brown is currently participating in hearings being held in the Senate Agriculture Committee on the 2018 Farm Bill. Brown is the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 50 years

New Bill Invests in Health of Farmers and Communities

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced the Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act (HR 3941). This legislation directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue positive investments in local food systems, community economic development, and public health.

Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association (OEFFA) Policy Coordinator Amalie Lipstreu, released the following statement:

“The bill introduced by Senator Brown makes important investments that will allow farmers to reach new markets; increase community access to fresh, healthy, local food; and support the food infrastructure that connects producers to buyers. With commodity prices falling, farmers are increasingly looking for new opportunities and for some that means investments close to home where markets for locally and regionally produced food continue to rise.

Even with the growing demand for food produced in Ohio, some farmers struggle because they don’t have access to the infrastructure they need. It could be storage, transportation, or processing that limits the growth of markets that enrich farmers and local communities. Ohio is home to many thriving cities, rural communities, and farmland. By connecting the dots we can create wealth and health and move toward greater sustainability.”

OEFFA has been working to build healthy food systems that bring prosperity to family farmers, meet the growing consumer demand for local food, create economic opportunities for our rural communities, and safeguard the environment since 1979. Learn more at www.oeffa.org.

Senator Calls for House Passage of Bill to Support Jobs, Rebuild Wastewater Systems

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan water infrastructure bill introduced by U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) passed in the U.S. Senate last week.

Brown introduced the bipartisan Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act in March, legislation that would provide local communities with increased flexibility when complying with Clean Water Act requirements for updates to sewer systems. The bill would also encourage cost-saving green infrastructure and give communities more autonomy as they prioritize and plan for wastewater and storm water investments. The bill will need to be voted on in the U.S. House before being signed into law.

“Red tape shouldn’t force communities to spread their resources thin just to meet an arbitrary timeline set by a Washington bureaucrat,” said Brown. “Let’s work with communities so they can make sewer system updates and investments at their own pace. This will help support jobs and protect local drinking water.”

Many state and local governments face difficulties meeting Clean Water Act requirements for storm water and wastewater updates. The U.S. Conference of Mayors found, on average, municipalities spend between 6 to 7 cents of every tax dollar on water and sewer systems. This makes water infrastructure the third-largest expense for cities, after education and emergency personnel.

The Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act would:

· Provide communities with flexibility to prioritize investments in wastewater and storm water projects needed for CWA compliance.

· Establish an Office of Municipal Ombudsman at EPA to assist cities in complying with federal environmental laws.

· Compel the EPA to promote “green infrastructure,” which uses or mimics natural processes to infiltrate or reuse storm water runoff beneficially on-site where it is generated.

· Require the EPA to update this guidance and expand the criteria for determining affordability and revise its guidance for affordability measures.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities have endorsed the legislation.

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Sunbury News Staff