Op-Eds

06.17.10

Climbing Out of the Doughnut Hole

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

This week marked the beginning of the end for the dreaded Medicare Part D "doughnut hole," which hurts an estimated 15,100 Rhode Islanders each year by stripping them of much needed prescription drug coverage. Starting on Thursday, the federal government began distributing checks for $250 to anyone currently in the doughnut hole and lacking prescription drug coverage. And, thanks to this year's health care reform legislation, the doughnut hole will be closed entirely by the year 2020. This is g… Continue Reading


05.18.10

Restore a historical safeguard

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

As the Senate completes debate on historic Wall Street reform legislation, it needs to address a problem that has caused severe stress for so many American families: runaway interest rates on credit cards. Credit card companies now charge rates that, until recently, would have been illegal in most states. Rates of up to 30 percent are not uncommon. Yet states are powerless to stop the practice. Currently pending before the Senate is a bipartisan amendment to the Wall Street reform bill that wo… Continue Reading


05.11.10

Closing the "doughnut hole"

by Sheldon Whitehouse

When I ran for the United States Senate in 2006 and during my travels around Rhode Island since then, I met countless seniors who are frustrated and confused by Medicare's prescription drug program, called "Medicare Part D." Specifically, Rhode Islanders are too often blindsided by the Part D coverage gap, or "doughnut hole," which exposes seniors to the full cost of prescription drugs after yearly drug expenses exceed $2,830. Drug coverage doesn't resume until they spend $6,440 for the year -… Continue Reading


05.10.10

We need to act on cybersecurity

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

There is an important debate unfolding across government and the private sector over a critical national security issue: how to secure America's information networks from cybersabotage, espionage and attacks. Cyberassault, from criminal organizations of unprecedented scale and sophistication, and from powerful nations and their proxies, is relentless against American strategic and commercial interests. As an example of the scale of the threat, one American company had 38 terabytes of sensitive … Continue Reading


05.09.10

Protecting Consumers from Unchecked Interest Rates

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

As we continue to fight in the Senate to reform Wall Street regulation and establish an independent consumer protection agency, I hope to also address a problem that has caused considerable pain for so many American families: runaway credit card interest rates. Credit card companies charge interest rates that until recently would have been illegal in most states, but states are now powerless to stop it. It was not always this way: For the first 202 years of our Republic, each state had the abil… Continue Reading


04.22.10

Celebrating 40 Years of Earth Day

by Sheldon Whitehouse

It's been 40 years since Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin created Earth Day to focus America on the responsibility we share to care for our planet. Since then, we've made great strides to meet that responsibility, but we still have a long way to go. The year of the first Earth Day also marked the birth of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and launched an era of commitment by America to better protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land we call home. Many landmark e… Continue Reading


04.01.10

What health-care reform means for R.I.

by Sheldon Whitehouse

For more than a century, progressive leaders from Theodore Roosevelt to Edward Kennedy have fought against powerful interests to ensure that every American has access to affordable, secure health insurance. On March 23, when President Obama signed landmark health-reform legislation into law, that fight was finally won. The real winners will be the countless Rhode Islanders I've heard from in the last year for whom the status quo was not working. So what does health-care reform mean for you? St… Continue Reading


03.10.10

Corporate justice at our expense

by Sheldon Whitehouse

The Supreme Court's recent slim majority decision in Citizens United has opened floodgates that long prevented corporate cash from drowning out the voices of American citizens in election campaigns. Those who care about the integrity of the American political process view this decision with concern and astonishment. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing about this misguided decision Wednesday. The ruling continues an increasingly clear pattern of the court's activist conservative b… Continue Reading


01.08.10

Closing the Medicare 'Doughnut Hole'

by Sheldon Whitehouse

During my travels throughout Rhode Island, I have met countless seniors who are frustrated and confused by Medicare's prescription drug program - Medicare Part D. Specifically, Rhode Islanders are too often blindsided by the Part D coverage gap, or "doughnut hole," which exposes seniors to the full cost of prescription drugs after yearly drug expenses exceed $2,700. Drug coverage doesn't resume until they spend $6,154 for the year - an extraordinarily high threshold. This sudden rise in prescri… Continue Reading


12.17.09

Rx for those bankrupted by medical crisis

by Sheldon Whitehouse and Elizabeth Edwards

When 3-year-old Finnegan Burns fell ill with complications from cystic fibrosis, his parents did what any loving parents would do. Kerry and Patrick Burns put their lives on hold to see their son through his medical travails. Surgery after surgery, hospital after hospital, they remained by their child's side as he fought to recover. This past March, at age 4½, Finnegan lost his battle with this terrible disease. Following the indescribable anguish that comes with the death of a child, … Continue Reading


12.13.09

Time for health insurers to compete

by Patrick Leahy and Sheldon Whitehouse

As the Senate considers historic reforms to health care and the health insurance industry, it should repeal the health and medical malpractice insurance industries' exemption from federal antitrust laws. The exemption, enacted nearly 65 years ago, has served the financial interests of the insurance industry at the expense of consumers for far too long. Meaningful reforms to our health-care system must protect consumers and promote competition. Just as we believe that a strong public option will… Continue Reading


08.31.09

Official Torture

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

The prosecutor is often first presented with a case as a "corpus delicti" - a bullet-riddled body in the street, for instance. That ordinarily is enough to justify investigation. Through investigation, the evidence may prove that there was not in fact a crime (it was a suicide or an accident) or that the fatal acts were privileged or enjoy a legal defense (self-defense or justifiable shooting by an officer of the law). But one begins by investigation. The judicial branch (which, under Marbury v… Continue Reading


07.28.09

Why a Public Option Matters in Health Care Reform

by Sheldon Whitehouse

WASHINGTON FEW THINGS are as important in every family's life as good health care. Knowing that when you get sick, you can see a doctor; that when your child needs a checkup, she or he can too; that if something goes wrong, you'll have the very best care; and that the bills won't force you into bankruptcy or out of your home. All of this is vital, not only to physical health, but to peace of mind. Many in America have this kind of health care. But too many don't. Rhode Islanders have s… Continue Reading


07.02.09

Health Reform That Works for Every American

by Sheldon Whitehouse and Sherrod Brown

This morning, millions of people all over this country woke up hoping today isn't the day they get sick. Millions of Americans went to work wondering whether today would be the last day they get paid in a while. And millions sat up late last night at the kitchen table, to try to balance the family budget as health care bills piled higher and higher. Access to secure, affordable health care is one of the brightest lines dividing our country. When the system works, it's at worst inconvenient. Whe… Continue Reading


05.04.09

Don't Rule Out Prosecutions

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

In the wake of President Obama's praiseworthy decision to make public the Bush administration's Office of Legal Counsel torture memos, some commentators have taken the view that the Obama administration should rule out the possibility of torture prosecutions. Not so fast. The president established a Special Task Force that is reviewing interrogation and rendition policies. The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating the shoddy lawyering behind the tor… Continue Reading


03.16.09

‘Peace will be made the day after an agreement is signed’

by Sheldon Whitehouse

A FEW WEEKS ago, I had the opportunity to visit Israel for the first time as part of a Congressional delegation led by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). As we walked through the Old City, stood in the silence at Yad Vashem, wended our way through the tunnels along the Western Wall, saw the Garden Tomb near the Damascus Gate, I could feel the mix of hope and worry shared by Israelis and Palestinians alike as they navigate towards two independent states sheltered by a durable peace. We arrived in Jerusal… Continue Reading


10.28.08

Whitehouse & Gingrich: Next president must put health in health care

by Sheldon Whitehouse and Newt Gingrich

In the race for president, Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have put the issue of health care back in the spotlight. This may seem off message, given the turmoil in the financial markets, but they are right to return to it. Lest we forget, health care is one-sixth of our economy - more than $2 trillion every year - and it is badly broken. Like millions of our fellow Americans, we are deeply frustrated with our health care system. We remain alarmed watching it consume 16 percent of our GDP an… Continue Reading


10.09.08

Honoring 'end of life' wishes

by Sheldon Whitehouse

Discussing end-of-life care makes many people uncomfortable - understandably so - but anyone who has been there through the death of a loved one knows how important it can be. That's why I chaired a hearing in the Senate's Special Committee on Aging on Sept. 24 to look into how we can best honor Americans' wishes at the end of life. Currently, too few Americans have completed some type of advance directive. Even among terminally ill patients, fewer than half have an advance directive included i… Continue Reading


07.24.08

Leveling the Playing Field for Rhode Island Families

by Sheldon Whitehouse

All their lives, Billy and Aida Ojopi have worked hard to provide for their family. He is a pastor. Three of their children are in college. By most standards, they are an American success story. But when I met them at the Urban League of Rhode Island earlier this week, they were struggling. Without warning, the interest payments on their home mortgage had gone through the roof. They began using their credit cards to make ends meet, but then those rates jumped, too. It's an all too familia… Continue Reading


03.19.08

How Justice Erred on Waterboarding

by Sheldon Whitehosue

FOR THE FIRST TIME, the Department of Justice has announced it is investigating one of the most astounding failures of legal scholarship in its history: how waterboarding, historically recognized as among the worst forms of torture, came to be deemed legal and authorized for use in Central Intelligence Agency interrogations by DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). President Bush's recent veto of a ban on torture, a measure I co-sponsored and fought for, makes this inquiry all the more… Continue Reading

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