National Grange President’s August Message

Happy August everybody! We’re inching ever closer to the 148th Annual National Grange Convention in Sandusky, Ohio and if you wan’t to be recognized as a Distinguished Grange while at the event, the deadline to apply is August 15th! In addition, watch the video to hear about our great news and find out the types of events that make excellent Grange activities.

National Grange and 332 Patient Groups Join Together to Ask HHS Secretary Burwell to Reduce Barriers to Care in Qualified Health Plans

Urge Administration to Address Limited Benefits, High Cost-sharing, and Lack of Plan Transparency 

Washington, DC (July 30, 2014) – The National Grange, along with three-hundred-and-thirty-two patient groups from around the country, has signed onto a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Sylvia Mathews Burwell calling for immediate measures to reduce barriers to care for patients who have purchased policies through the Health Insurance Marketplace (the “exchanges”). The letter comes as some patients with chronic conditions have faced difficulty accessing crucial medications and other health services they need in some Qualified Health Plans, and as HHS is reviewing plans for 2015.

In the letter, the 333 signatories state, “We, the undersigned patient and community organizations representing millions of patients and their families, have been and continue to be committed to the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)…. We are encouraged by high enrollment numbers in the new Health Insurance Marketplace, and by early data showing low-income people who were previously uninsured are taking advantage of premium and cost-sharing assistance.” However, they add, “At the same time, we are increasingly aware of evidence that new enrollees, especially those with chronic health conditions, are still facing barriers to care.”

Today’s letter to Secretary Burwell builds on the “I Am Essential” campaign that brought together hundreds of patient groups in a coalition that pressed for comprehensive coverage in the Essential Health Benefits. The coalition has been re-launched under the name “I Am (Still) Essential” to address ACA implementation issues and, as stated in its letter, to work with Secretary Burwell on efforts to revise the Essential Health Benefits for future plan years.

“The National Grange believes that all Americans should have equal access to quality healthcare,” National Grange President Edward Luttrell said on Wednesday. “If we can fix some of these core issues, more Americans will be able to achieve a higher quality of living.”

The coalition highlights three areas of concern with the Qualified Health Plans: limited benefits, high cost-sharing, and a lack of transparency and uniformity.

“Patients are grateful that the Affordable Care Act means they cannot be turned away from health coverage because of their medical conditions,” said Carl Schmid, Deputy Executive Director of The AIDS Institute. “But limited benefit coverage, cost-sharing for medications that can reach as high as 50%, and a lack of transparency in several plans mean many patients, particularly those with chronic or complex conditions, are not receiving the care and medications they need.”

In addition to the National Grange, signatories of the “I Am (Still) Essential” letter include such leading national groups as The AIDS Institute, American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, American Lung Association, Easter Seals, Epilepsy Foundation, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lupus Foundation of America, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Kidney Foundation, Parkinson’s Action Network, and United Cerebral Palsy, as well as many other national patient organizations and state-based groups and chapters.

In the letter to HHS Secretary Burwell, the coalition asks HHS to enforce the ACA’s non-discrimination provisions, prohibit restrictive formularies and inadequate provider networks, address high cost-sharing, including inappropriate use of coinsurance, and improve plan transparency so that consumers can make informed decisions.

“The ACA was intended to provide quality, affordable health care to patients, but in the first year of implementation, many patients are still facing difficulties gaining access to medications and the specialists that they need,” said Angela Ostrom, Chief Operating Officer & Vice President Public Policy at the Epilepsy Foundation. “By joining together, we hope HHS will hear the patient community’s unified voice and address the need for reforms that ensure meaningful access to care.”

“When vulnerable patients, such as those with mental illness, are denied access to drug coverage, the consequences can be dire,” said Andrew Sperling, Director of Federal Legislative Advocacy at the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “We have outlined some necessary steps that will assure that all enrollees can obtain access to the medications, providers, and services they need to improve and maintain their quality of life, as intended by health reform, so the ACA can deliver on its promises for people with chronic health conditions.”

The full text of the letter to HHS Secretary Burwell along with the signatories can be found at:

National Grange Supports the SAVE Medicare Home Health Act

Medicare reforms needed to protect rural access to home health for vulnerable seniors

177006807WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Grange expressed support today for the Securing Access Via Excellence (SAVE) Medicare Home Health Act introduced last week by Congressmen Greg Walden (R-OR) and Tom Price (R-GA) to restore funding for skilled home health services that are vital to American seniors, particularly those living in rural parts of the country.

The SAVE Medicare Home Health Act halts the 3.5 percent annual across-the-board payment cut inflicted on the Medicare home health benefit on January 1 beginning in 2015 and replaces it with reforms that include measures to keep patients in their homes. The legislation establishes a program to reduce hospital readmissions and strengthen care quality, which will achieve the same Medicare savings as the arbitrary “rebasing” cut, while also safeguarding patients and their healthcare providers.

“We thank Congressmen Greg Walden and Tom Price for taking an important legislative step to protect access to a vital Medicare service that so many seniors and disabled people in our country rely on for healthcare,” National Grange President Ed Luttrell said Tuesday. “We are especially aware of the unique needs of America’s rural communities and are encouraged by reforms like the SAVE Medicare Home Health Act that ensure healthcare is available to every person who needs it, no matter where they reside.”

Unless corrected, the funding cuts to home healthcare put seniors, caregivers and their families at serious risk for losing access to care. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates that because of this cut, “approximately 40 percent” of home health agencies will be operating at a net loss by 2017, risking the care of 1.3 million seniors and nearly 500,000 healthcare workers.

Analyses by Avalere health demonstrate that Medicare beneficiaries are older, poorer, sicker and more likely to be from an ethnic or racial minority than the Medicare population as a whole. Additionally, many of these home health beneficiaries reside in rural communities, where the nearest medical facility is miles or hours away from their home.

For many of these seniors with chronic and acute conditions, travelling long distances for care is impractical. If they lose access to skilled home healthcare due to arbitrary funding cuts, many will be forced into costly intuitional care or worse, forego needed medical care altogether.

Established in 1867, The National Grange, a nonpartisan, nonprofit fraternal organization, is the oldest agricultural and rural community service organization. With more than 2,100 local chapters, the Grange has evolved into the nation’s leading rural advocacy organization and a major benefactor to local communities. There are more than 160,000 members across the United States.

Chartered California State Grange reorganized, officers installed


Officers of the newly reorganized chartered California State Grange sit in front of the group of more than 30 members who were at Orangevale Grange Hall on Saturday for the reorganizational meeting.

ORANGEVALE, Calif. (July 12, 2014) – On Saturday, more than 30 members from 10 of the 24 eligible Granges in California came together at the Orangevale Grange Hall to complete the process of reorganization and witness the installation of officers for the chartered California State Grange.

National Grange President Ed Luttrell was the presiding officer, installing the new chartered California State Grange President Ed Komski, of Fallbrook, Calif., as well as several other officers.

“We are so happy to have the members of these Granges fully integrated with our national organization again,” Luttrell said after the day’s activities were complete.

Komski said the members gathered for the reorganizational meeting cannot wait to get back to work, serving their hometowns in true Grange fashion.

“These folks are Grangers, have always been Grangers, and just want to work within the bonds of fraternal fellowship to meet the needs of their communities, educate one another and advocate at the local and state level important issues of the day,” Komski said.

The new State Grange was reorganized several months after leaders of the former California State Grange notified the National Grange Executive Board that they had voted to disaffiliate from the national organization. This disaffiliation has caused great confusion on the part of many of our members in local Granges in California and the general public.

“So it was decided a new, officially-chartered State Grange in California needed to be organized to take the former Grange’s place,” Komski said.

“Every Grange member and every Grange from the State of California is welcome to join this  newly reorganized California State Grange,” Luttrell said.

National Grange President’s July Message

July is upon us and we have a lot to be thankful for as Americans. As the Grange, we should celebrate America and its birthday! We are also closing in on our 150th anniversary. It’s amazing what we have accomplished as an organization during this time. Try and think of some ways that your Grange can add to our legacy.

“For the Common Good: Some Achievements of Subordinate Granges in the National Grange Community Service Contest” e-book now exclusively available to Amazon Kindle Store

ForTheCommonGoodImageWASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday, June 30, the National Grange released its newest e-book, “For the Common Good: Some Achievements of Subordinate Granges in the National Grange Community Service Contest,” as a Kindle download available through Amazon’s Kindle Store.

“The Grange was built around improving and bettering one’s community, “ National Grange President Ed Luttrell said upon the release of For the Common Good. “The community service projects that many of our past Granges accomplished should give our current members a great sense of pride and motivate them to do more for the places they call home.”

The National Grange has signed a 90-day exclusivity deal for ““For the Common Good: Some Achievements of Subordinate Granges in the National Grange Community Service Contest” with Amazon and the Amazon Kindle Store. The e-book will be added to the Barnes and Noble Nook Store after the exclusivity deal expires.

This is the fourteenth e-book the National Grange has released. Previous releases include “Mentor in the Grange,” “Semi-Centennial History of the Patrons of Husbandry,” “Origin and Progress of the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry in the United States,” “Agriculture and Progress: The Farmers Great Awakening,” “The Granger Movement in New England,” “Friend of the Farmer,” “Legal and Economic Influence of the Grange,” “Notes and Quotes,” “Proud Heritage,” “First Century of Service,” “People, Pride and Progress,” “The Early Granges of New York State: The First 10 Years” and the “2014 National Grange Digest of Laws.”

“These books tell a very interesting history of the American people, spirit and culture,” Luttrell said.

“For the Common Good: Some Achievements of Subordinate Granges in the National Grange Community Service Contest” is available as an e-book for $0.99. BUY IT NOW.

Established in 1867, The National Grange, a nonpartisan, nonprofit fraternal organization, is the oldest agricultural and rural community service organization. With more than 2,100 local chapters, the Grange has evolved into the nation’s leading rural advocacy organization and a major benefactor to local communities. There are more than 160,000 members across the United States.

National Grange presents Maryland woman with National Ag Advocate of the Year Award

hoto: Huber (right) presents award to Wilcom with George Mayo (left), Maryland Ag in the Classroom Executive Director

Photo: Huber (right) presents award to Wilcom with George Mayo (left), Maryland Ag in the Classroom Executive Director

HERSHEY, Pa. (June 25, 2014) – During the National Agriculture in the Classroom conference this morning at the Hershey Lodge, National Grange Board of Directors Chairwoman Betsy Huber presented the annual National Ag Advocate of the Year Award to Evelyn Wilcom of Frederick, Md.

Wilcom, who was not raised in a rural environment, became a champion of agriculture and ag education after marrying and moving to a dairy farm where she and her husband, Mike, raised their three sons.

Wilcom is a retired nurse and has spent countless hours volunteering for organizations that introduce the general public and students to agriculture at shopping centers, fairs, festivals and in schools.

 She worked to get children’s books about agriculture into Maryland schools, created and fundraised for Frederick’s “City Streets, Country Roads” fair, and assisted with teacher training for agriculture in the classroom. She is past chair of both the Frederick County and Maryland Farm Bureau Women’s Committees, past board member of the Frederick County Farm Bureau, and current chair of its Education Committee. She also serves as chair of the Elementary Education Committee for the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation. She was also recently recognized for her work with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Maryland Farm Bureau.

Huber, during her remarks at a breakfast honoring Wilcom, said education is a key priority of the Grange.

PhotoL Evelyn Wilcom

PhotoL Evelyn Wilcom

“Think of rural America in the 1860s. Farm families were spread over the wide open spaces, with little or no opportunity for educational advancement or even social interaction,” Huber said. “The Grange founders recognized this need and created the Grange to serve as the social center of rural communities and source of information about happenings in the outside world. The Grange also was a forum for discussions and learning about scientific advancements and new farming methods.”

Huber said this focus on education remains a cornerstone of the organization, introducing those who do not come from farms to agriculture in many ways. The National Ag Advocate Award, she said, allows the Grange to recognized individuals like Wilcom, who inspire children and adults alike and bring to them information and awareness about agriculture.

Huber said she was especially proud to present the award to a fellow Grange member. Wilcom is a member of New Market Grange #362, New Market, Md.

“She is a model for our members who have dedicated themselves to our educational principles,” Huber said after she learned Wilcom would be the award recipient. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to present her with this very fitting tribute.”

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Established in 1867, The National Grange, a nonpartisan, nonprofit fraternal organization, is the oldest agricultural and rural community service organization. With more than 2,100 local chapters, the Grange has evolved into the nation’s leading rural advocacy organization and a major benefactor to local communities. There are more than 160,000 members across the United States. For more information on the National Grange, visit our website at

National Grange President’s June Message

National Grange President Ed Luttrell welcomes you to the month of June! Did you know that June is National Dairy Month? No? Well it is. It’s also a great time for your Grange to get ready for the new membership year in July. We want to see YOUR GRANGE on the Grange honor roll!

First artifacts of ‘Justi Collection’ donated, to be digitized

Mary and Ed1WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 13 was a special day at the National Grange office when daughter of first Grange Youth Director, Wib Justi, met with National President Ed Luttrell to present just a portion her father’s collection of artifacts for the National Grange.

Mary Justi Sheppard, of Chesapeake Bay, Va., delivered framed photos, scrapbooks, audio recordings, pins and other memorabilia along with boxes of Wib’s personal collection to the headquarters.

“These are things that he had begun marking and told my mother [June Justi] were specifically to come to National Grange,” Sheppard said Friday as she opened a box to show Luttrell.

EdpointsMarylooks1Luttrell said the addition of the Justi materials were incredible.

“These boxes tell an amazing story of the organization and the things our youth were able to accomplish,” Luttrell said. “And they’re just the start of what Mary expects to find as part of her father’s well-kept collection.”

Luttrell said much of the materials would be digitized in the coming months and years and would be stored as the Justi Collection at the National Grange building.

“Historians will look through this material and get a much better sense of the great things Grangers took part in and initiated thanks to Wib’s dedication to preserving this history,” Luttrell said.

As materials are digitized and released, Luttrell and Sheppard said they hoped those who supported continuation of youth programs in the Grange would take time to review materials and donate to the Youth Fund through the National Grange Foundation, a 501(c)3, tax-deductible charity, that supports things like leadership training and youth officer participation at National Session.

pgfromwesticreations“He would just be over the moon with knowing his collection could help today’s Grange Youth,” Sheppard said. “He’d be delighted.”

National Grange files brief supporting Samsung in recent litigation with Apple, Inc.

AppleSamsungGavelWASHINGTON, D.C. – On May 30th, the National Grange filed an amicus brief opposing the recent settlement of $399 million awarded to Apple, Inc. in regards to recent intellectual property infringement litigation with Samsung Electronics Company. The National Grange respectfully urged the U.S. District Court to reverse the jury’s excessive award for design patent infringement in order to protect access to smartphone technology for residents of the nation’s rural and remote areas.

In the brief, the National Grange argues that the Northern District Court of California’s massive jury awarded settlement for design patent infringement has potentially harmful repercussions for America’s rural communities. Because of the importance of smartphones to consumers, and in particular to the rural and agricultural community, the National Grange says that the Court should give careful consideration to the potential harm that may come from an excessive design patent damages award in this case and other cases involving smartphones.

The National Grange is dedicated to ensure that the rural residents of America have the resources they need to compete in both global and local economies, as well as have the same access to quality goods and services that those residents in urban areas come to expect. Smartphones, like the Samsung products subject to appeal, provide a key role in providing internet access to America’s rural communities, a goal the National Grange is firmly behind.

Although broadband internet is growing through advances in infrastructure, home access to broadband in rural areas lags far behind that of urban communities. With limited wired options for internet access, many rural residents rely on their smartphones’ wireless broadband capabilities as their primary source of internet access. The National Grange believes that the cost of permitting burdensome judicial remedies for design patent infringement, as in the current case, would likely be passed on to the consumer, rural and urban alike, in the form of increased prices and reduced access to essential mobile wireless functionality.