Monday, November 30, 2009

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: November 30, 2009

Federal

Reproductive Rights National Day of Action - December 2

Are you outraged over the Stupak-Pitts Amendment? Do you want to help fight this attack on women's reproductive rights?

Please join the Raising Women’s Voices of Southeastern PA Coalition as we travel to Washington, DC for the reproductive justice community’s National Day of Action on December 2nd. Help raise a collective voice to lobby Congress for health care reform that ensures access to the full-range of reproductive services for all women, which includes access to abortion services!

Busses will depart from Love Park (16th and JFK Streets) in Center City, Philadelphia at 6:00 am and return between roughly between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm.

The bus is FREE. You will receive breakfast on the bus in the morning and snacks on the ride back to Philly. There will be a restroom on the bus.

Click here to register. Please do so by 3:00 today.

If you plan to travel down to DC separately, let Rebecca Foley know that are attending so you can join the Philadelphia region lobby efforts in DC! Please be sure to provide your full mailing address and your cell phone number in the email.

If you are unable to attend, but would like to help pay for food and materials for this mobilization, please click to give via our online donation form. Please write in "Send Someone to Day of Action" in the In Honor Of field.

Agenda for the National Day of Action (Subject to Change):

9:30 am - 10:30 am: Orientation and Lobby Training
10:30 am - 12:00 pm: Lobby visits
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm: Rally and Press Conference
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm: Lobby visits


Raising Women’s Voices of Southeastern PA is a coalition working to ensure women’s voices are heard during the health care reform debate. We are advocating for policies that support the full-range of comprehensive reproductive health care services for all women, and ensuring that women’s reproductive rights are not jeopardized during the health care reform process.

If you have questions or would like to find out more about this new coalition effort, please contact Rebecca Foley.


Be an Advocate for Incarcerated and At-Risk Girls – Tell your Senator to Stop the Practice of Putting Runaways in Jail

The percentage of girls in the juvenile justice system has been on the rise for 20 years. The vast majority of incarcerated girls have committed nonviolent offenses, and studies have found that up to 78 percent are victims of prior sexual or physical abuse. Many are jailed for the noncriminal offense of running away from home. Some judges lock up girls to keep them "safe" from the streets, but juvenile facilities are often mentally and physically unsafe places for girls.

The Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) was first passed to separate youth from adult offenders for safety and keep noncriminal offenders (runaways, truants, curfew violators) out of jail altogether, in addition to providing funding to states. This year, the JJDPA is set to expire, and must be re-authorized with improvements to correct erosions in these vital protections. This bill would:
  • Prohibit the incarceration of "status offenders" (runaways, curfew violators [who are disproportionately girls]);
  • Remove pre-trial youth from adult jails even if they are being prosecuted as adults;
  • Require states to address racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system; and
  • Improve safety in juvenile detention and corrections facilities.
In December, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to take action on major legislation to improve conditions for all youth and potentially divert thousands of girls from incarceration. Please urge your Senator to support this bill.

To read more about the growing number of runaways, please read, The New York Times series Running in the Shadows.


Contact Your Member of Congress to Support the National Housing Trust Fund

Help ensure the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) receives its funding before Congress adjourns for the holidays.

Please call your Representative and Senators on December 1 or 2. Ask them to fund the NHTF to at least $1 billion before they adjourn later in December. Urge them to support any bill moving through the House or Senate that contains money for the NHTF.

Let them know that providing money for the NHTF will create needed jobs. Every $1 billion investment in the NHTF, at $100,000 per unit of housing, will create 15,100 construction jobs and 3,800 jobs in ongoing operations. Also, the NHTF will support local economies as low income families will be able to afford to spend more money on goods and services when they are not spending half or more of their income on housing.

The goal is to create an early December blizzard of phone calls from all over the country in a compressed period of time to demonstrate strong and urgent support for an initial infusion of money for the NHTF.

If you have any questions, contact the Outreach Team at (202) 662-1530 or at outreach@nlihc.org.


State

Urge PA Lawmakers to Oppose Bill Taxing Charities

On December 7, 2009, PA Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) and PA Representative Tim Solobay (D- Washington) plan to introduce legislation in both the State Senate and State House to impose partial property taxes on Pennsylvania's charities.

The bill would allow municipalities to impose "Essential Services Fees" on real estate owned by charities. The tax would be based on the square footage of the property (most likely a fee of up to $100 per 1,000 square feet of tax-exempt property, with the first 5,000 square feet exempt.) Municipalities that choose not to exercise their "local option" may still impose "voluntary" agreements on charities for payments in-lieu of taxes.

This bill poses a major problem for thousands of nonprofit organizations in Pennsylvania that own property or will acquire property to further their charitable mission. Many nonprofits are already contributing to their local municipalities through "voluntary" payments in lieu of taxes or fair share agreements.

Taxing charities diverts precious charitable resources at a time when the need is greatest. It also fails to consider the value of nonprofit services to the communities they serve.

Please contact your State Representative and State Senator. Ask them to send a strong message of support for charities by not co-sponsoring the bill and opposing it when it comes up for a vote.


Information/Events

Take Action on Earned Sick Time

48 percent of workers in the United States (46 percent of workers in Pennsylvania) have no access to earned sick time, which means that if they are sick (or if their family members are sick) they must choose between working sick or losing their pay (or their jobs). If you are one of the 48 percent who have no earned sick time - or one of the 52 percent who do - please take our survey and tell us more!

There are bills at the federal, state, and local level to support earned sick time for everyone - here is what you can do:
  • Support the Federal Healthy Families Act! Under The Healthy Families Act, workers would have the opportunity to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 7 days of sick time per year. This time could be used to care for workers or their families, or could be used as "safe days" in cases of domestic violence. Tell your legislators that we need paid sick days now!
  • Support the paid sick days campaign in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia! Become our friend! Show your support for earned sick time by visiting Facebook. You can support earned sick time in Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia. Support both!
  • If you don't live in Pennsylvania, you can still support earned sick time. Visit The National Partnership for Women and Families website to learn more about campaigns in your area.
  • Tell us your story! Are you a parent who lost their job to stay home with a sick child? Are you a business owner who provides/supports paid sick days? Email your story to us at policy@pathwayspa.org.
  • Call your Representatives! If you live in Philadelphia, call your City Councilperson and urge them to support "Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces," which guarantees earned sick time for all working Philadelphians. Not sure who your City Councilperson is? Click on this link and type in your home address to find out which district you live in: http://www.phila.gov/citycouncil/districtform/districtform.html.
  • If you live in Pennsylvania (but outside of Philadelphia), call your state Representative. Tell him/her you support earned sick time for workers. Not sure who your Representative is? Simply type your address here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/find.cfm.

Webinar: Hunger in American at Record Numbers

One in six Americans is in a struggle against hunger. In just one year, the number of people in households that sometimes lacked the money for enough nutritious food rose from 36 million to 49 million - the highest number on record. Among them were 17 million children - 4 million more in 2008 than in 2007. This is called food insecurity and the recession is making it worse.

The Coalition on Human Needs is holding a webinar on Tuesday, December 8th, from 2:00-3:00 EST.

Learn more:
  • What the USDA food security survey means
  • How to use the data compellingly, simply, and accurately
  • Research showing how food insecurity hurts children
  • What policy choices can halt this very disturbing trend
Presenters:
  • James D. Weill, President, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)
  • Dr. Deborah Frank, Founder and Principal Investigator, Children's HealthWatch; Professor of Pediatrics at Boston U. School of Medicine and Director of the Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center
  • Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs
  • Moderator: George A. Braley, Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy, Feeding America
To register for the webinar, click here. You will receive information about connecting to the webinar (by computer and phone) after you register.


Nonprofits and the 2010 Census: Effective Messaging and Mobilization Strategies

Join Nonprofits Count on Thursday, December 3rd at 2:00pm Eastern for a special webinar.

As we move closer to the start of Census 2010, nonprofits should be planning activities to promote participation among hard-to-count populations. Successful outreach campaigns will depend, in part, on effective messaging and strategies to provide assistance at appropriate points in the census process. This webinar will summarize key research findings about effective census messages for different population groups and highlight census operations and milestones around which nonprofits can organize their outreach activities.

Click here to sign up for the webinar.


Do You Need Help Paying for Post-Secondary Education?

PathWays PA offers Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), a matched savings program that offers financial education while helping you save for school. Through the program, your savings can be matched at a rate of three-to-one. If you save $500, we will give you an additional $1500 to go towards your school expenses.

Applicants must meet program income guidelines, be working (full or part time), and be enrolled or accepted into an accredited institution.

If you are interested or have any questions, please e-mail Kelly Binder at kbinder@pathwayspa.org.


Need Assistance With Public Benefits Applications?

PathWays PA provides assistance to those who need help applying for food stamps or other benefits. For further information, you can contact our office in Philadelphia 215-387-1470 or Delaware County 610-543-5022.

For more information about the services provided by PathWays PA please visit our website.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Let’s Talk Turkey….and Health Care Reform

Not sure how you will survive Thanksgiving? Whether gathering with family or friends, it isn’t always an easy time (especially for the turkey). Once politics enters the conversation, it can turn into a minefield. Luckily, Families USA has a helpful survival guide for dealing with your favorite relatives, including talking to your:

Grandma on Medicare
Aunt with a pre-existing condition
Cousin, new to the job market
Sister who owns a small business

NWLC is also offering a short Thanksgiving Survival Guide that doubles as an e-card – a great way to wish friends and family a Happy Turkey Day while reminding them of the need for healthcare.

If your family is lucky enough to be in good health and securely employed (with access to healthcare) you all have a great deal to be thankful for this holiday season. Around the dinner table, please remember that health care reform can help so many others who are less fortunate.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Combining Pumpkin Pie and Healthcare Reform Into a Tasty Treat

Looking for a good pumpkin pie recipe?

Interested in healthcare reform?

NWLC can meet your needs in their new ecard, which can turn your pie into a pie chart - or just a chance to think about how healthcare affects women in a new way.

Enjoy, and share with your friends!

Help Spread Joy to a Low-income Family This Holiday Season!

Each year PathWays PA provides residential and social services to over 6,000 low-income women, children and families in the Greater Philadelphia region. While these services provide opportunities for our clients to move along the path to self-sufficiency, the holiday season can still be a very trying time. With this in mind and the holidays just around the corner, PathWays PA is gearing up for our annual Adopt-a-Family giving program.

Adopt-a-Family is designed to help needy families by matching them with donors, both individual and corporate, who are eager to provide gifts and other living essentials to their adopted family. Matches are based on a client family’s size and the age of their children. After being paired up with a client family, a wish list is sent to the donors with the receiving family's genders, ages, clothing sizes and their holiday wishes. The donor family is free to purchase any or all of the items on the clients' list, or substitute items that they feel the client may enjoy. We also encourage the gifting of non-perishable food baskets, toiletries and other types of housewares..

Tamika Rahatt, a single mother of six and grandmother of one was thrilled to participate in the 2008 Adopt-a-Family program. Tamika, a Philadelphia resident, sought help from PathWays PA so she could get her GED; her involvement in the holiday giving program was an added bonus. “We really got a lot of nice stuff, things we needed,” says Tamika. Among the items received were a vacuum cleaner, comforters, toys for all of her children and her grandchild and a DVD player. “We can watch movies as a family now,” Tamika remarks happily.

Clients are not the only ones who benefit from the Adopt-a-Family program. Ellen Rosen, one of the many donors who participated last year, used the Adopt-a-Family program as a teambuilding exercise with her co-workers at the Bancorp Bank. “When I heard in December that charitable giving was down, I thought it would be better if we took the money we spent on holiday gifts for each other and used it instead to help a family in need,” Ellen says. “It was a fun way to give back to the community and we definitely will participate again!”

The road to self-sufficiency is difficult, but thanks to the generous contributions of local donors, the holiday season is no longer a burden for low-income moms and their families. Instead, our clients are afforded the opportunity to bask in holiday cheer and create special memories that they can share with their loved ones for years to come.

Click here to Adopt-a-Family or call Pam Przybylski, Adopt-a-Family Coordinator, at 610-534-5022 x234.

New Guidelines for Breast Cancer Screenings and Their Potential Effects on African Americans

Last week the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force announced new guidelines for breast cancer screenings that are a drastic change from prior guidelines. The new guidelines suggest that only women 50-74 should get regular mammograms occurring every two years. They also recommend that doctors do not urge women to do monthly self-exams.

There are numerous reasons behind the changed guidelines. According to findings from the Task Force, there is no statistically significant evidence that screening women ages 40-49 reduces breast cancer mortality. There is also an issue of false-positive results, which may lead to unnecessary tests, procedures and stress on the patient.

Since the release of the new recommendations, organizations and individuals have been divided over their implications. Some breast cancer survivors, along with their friends and family, feel like these guidelines will hurt women. Others believe that if the test does not help, it should not be performed.

Secretary of Health and Human Service, Kathleen Sebelius, has stated that breast cancer screenings will continue under Medicare according to the old guidelines. However, it remains unclear how insurance companies will react to this new standard.

If mammograms are cut back according to these guidelines, one group that may be disproportionately affected is African-American women. As The Women’s Law Project and others mentioned today, African-American women have a high breast cancer death rate and an increased risk of developing the disease at a younger age. African-American women are also more prone to have an extremely aggressive form of breast cancer that progresses quickly and is more resistant to treatment.

Monday, November 23, 2009

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: November 23, 2009

Federal

Reproductive Rights National Day of Action - December 2

Are you outraged over the Stupak-Pitts Amendment? Do you want to help fight this attack on women's reproductive rights?

Please join the reproductive justice community in Washington DC on December 2nd as we raise a collective voice to lobby Congress for health care reform that ensures access to the full-range of reproductive services for all women, which includes access to abortion services!

Book your seat on the bus to D.C. here.

If you are unable to attend, but would like to help someone else afford the opportunity to attend, please click here to give via our online donation form. Please write in "Send Someone to Day of Action" in the In Honor Of field.

For more information about this event and the Raising Women's Voices of Southeastern PA Coalition, please contact Rebecca Foley.


Take Action on Earned Sick Time

48 percent of workers in the United States have no access to earned sick time, which means that if they are sick (or if their family members are sick) they must choose between working sick or losing their pay (or their jobs). If you are one of the 48 percent who have no earned sick time - or one of the 52 percent who do - please take our survey and tell us more!

There are bills at the federal, state, and local level to support earned sick time for everyone - here is what you can do:
  • Support the Federal Healthy Families Act! Under The Healthy Families Act, workers would have the opportunity to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 7 days of sick time per year. This time could be used to care for workers or their families, or could be used as "safe days" in cases of domestic violence. Tell your legislators that we need paid sick days now!
  • Support the paid sick days campaign in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia! Become our friend! Show your support for earned sick time by visiting Facebook. You can support earned sick time in Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia. Support both!
  • If you don't live in Pennsylvania, you can still support earned sick time. Visit The National Partnership for Women and Families website to learn more about campaigns in your area.
  • Tell us your story! Are you a parent who lost their job to stay home with a sick child? Are you a business owner who provides/supports paid sick days? Email your story to us at policy@pathwayspa.org.
  • Call your Representatives! If you live in Philadelphia, call your City Councilperson and urge them to support "Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces," which guarantees earned sick time for all working Philadelphians. Not sure who your City Councilperson is? Click on this link and type in your home address to find out which district you live in: http://www.phila.gov/citycouncil/districtform/districtform.html.
  • If you live in Pennsylvania (but outside of Philadelphia), call your state Representative. Tell him/her you support earned sick time for workers. Not sure who your Representative is? Simply type your address here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/find.cfm.

Urge Your Senator to Support Working Women and Families

According to an eight-year, 190-country study released this week, the U.S. lags far behind other economically successful nations in terms of adopting policies that support working women and their families. The study finds that
  • 177 nations guarantee paid lead for new mothers while the U.S. does not.
  • 74 nations guarantee paid leave for new fathers while the U.S. does not.
  • 13 of the 15 most competitive countries in the world provide paid leave for new mothers while the U.S. does not.
The Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act (FEPPLA) will provide federal workers with up to four weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child. FEPPLA will help our federal government recruit and retain dedicated and talented workers, enable working parents to care for and bond with newborns and newly-adopted children, and show that the federal government truly values families.

The House has passed this important piece of legislation but the Senate still needs to act. Please write or call your Senator to tell them to take action on paid parental leave for federal employees.

It is time for the US to lead the way in creating successful workplaces!


Please Thank Your Legislator for Participating in the 2009 NCTC Day of Action

The National Community Tax Coalition (NCTC) held a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Day of Action on October 21, 2009.

VITA, or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, is a program sponsored by the IRS to help low- and middle-income people file their income tax returns. Through the program, community partners engage and train volunteers and set up sites where clients can come to have their basic returns completed. VITA was created especially to promote the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable credit that means big returns for the low and middle-income filers.

Staff from two Pennsylvania legislators’ offices participated in a briefing that day, Representative Dahlkemper (who was represented at the briefing by Steven Soltesz) and Representative Carney (who was represented at the briefing by Amanda Smith). If either are your representative please contact them and thank them for participating and learning more about this vital program.


Women & Workforce Investment for Nontraditional Jobs Act Needs Co-Sponsors

Members of the House of Representatives circulated a letter to colleagues on Thursday asking them to co-sponsor the Women & Workforce Investment for Nontraditional Jobs (Women WIN Jobs) Act.

Women WIN Jobs authorizes $100 million for competitive grants in every state to recruit, educate, train, place and retain low-income women into high-wage, high-demand occupations in which women currently are fewer than 25% of the workforce. Local grants would go to multi-sector partnerships, including non-profits, community colleges, employers and labor unions. The bill authorizes public education and policy development activities at both the state and national levels.

Please urge your Representative to co-sponsor the bill.


Help Make Children a Priority

The Children's Leadership Council, a coalition of child advocates representing over 50 leading national policy and advocacy organizations, is putting together a report (through NACCRRA, Voices for America's Children, the National Women's Law Center, and Every Child Matters) which would contain illustrative budget cuts in every state that affect children. They are asking for your help today to provide any examples you might have of such cuts.

The idea is to have 5 or 6 short bullets per state that show budget cuts affecting children and their impact. These bullets should represent cuts in any program affecting children, from child care to child protective services.

For example:
  • In x state, child care was cut by $___, which means that ___ fewer children will receive child care assistance
-OR-
  • In x state, child protective services funds were cut by $____, which means that about ___ children could live in dangerous situations where their health and well-being are in jeopardy

Even if you don't know the specific impact (but you know the budget cut of a program affecting children) please send your bullets today! Please include the name of the program or category of spending, the dollar amount, as well as your name, position, agency, and state in your response. They will not attribute individuals, but need to be able to sort budget cuts by state.

The deadline for assistance on this project is close of business on Tuesday, November 24th. Please send responses to Grace.Reef@naccrra.org.

The children's budget report will be used to provide a framework to show state budget decisions affecting children, demonstrate the need for additional federal assistance to help states during this poor economy, and help provide a visual for the need for additional resources for children's programs.


Information/Events

Do You Need Help Paying for Post-Secondary Education?

PathWays PA offers Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), a matched savings program that offers financial education while helping you save for school. Through the program, your savings can be matched at a rate of three-to-one. If you save $500, we will give you an additional $1500 to go towards your school expenses.

Applicants must meet program income guidelines, be working (full or part time), and be enrolled or accepted into an accredited institution.

If you are interested or have any questions, please e-mail Kelly Binder at kbinder@pathwayspa.org.


Need Assistance With Public Benefits Applications?

PathWays PA provides assistance to those who need help applying for food stamps or other benefits. For further information, you can contact our office in Philadelphia 215-387-1470 or Delaware County 610-543-5022.

For more information about the services provided by PathWays PA please visit our website.

Taking Action on Earned Sick Time

48 percent of workers in the United States have no access to earned sick time, which means that if they are sick (or if their family members are sick) they must choose between working sick or losing their pay (or their jobs). If you are one of the 48 percent who have no earned sick time - or one of the 52 percent who do - please take our survey and tell us more!

There are bills at the federal, state, and local level to support earned sick time for everyone - here is what you can do:

  • Support the Federal Healthy Families Act! Under The Healthy Families Act, workers would have the opportunity to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 7 days of sick time per year. This time could be used to care for workers or their families, or could be used as "safe days" in cases of domestic violence. Tell your legislators that we need paid sick days now!
  • Support the paid sick days campaign in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia! Become our friend! Show your support for earned sick time by visiting Facebook. You can support earned sick time in Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia. Support both!
  • Tell us your story! Are you a parent who lost their job to stay home with a sick child? Are you a business owner who provides/supports paid sick days? Email your story to us at policy@pathwayspa.org.
  • Call your Representatives! If you live in Philadelphia, call your City Councilperson and urge them to support "Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces," which guarantees earned sick time for all working Philadelphians. Not sure who your City Councilperson is? Click on this link and type in your home address to find out which district you live in: http://www.phila.gov/citycouncil/districtform/districtform.html.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Recognizing the Needs of Elders in the Health Care Bill

When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was released by the Senate on Wednesday night, interested parties quickly began to go through the bill and make comparisons to the House version (PathWays PA's comparison is up on our blog). While it didn't draw much attention, one piece of the bill that remained from the House version is the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act.

In the United States today, 10 million Americans need long-term care services and supports, yet the cost of this care can double or even triple the expenses elders face in their retirement years. Under CLASS, older adults and the disabled would be better able to access care in their homes through the creation of national long-term care insurance by providing a minimum benefit of $50 per day to purchase non-medical long-term care services and supports. As the Elder Economic Security Standard for Pennsylvania shows, home and community-based long-term care services cost between $6,514 to $35,261 per year depending on the level of care required, or between $17.84 to $96.61 per day.

To provide this minimum benefit of at least $50 per day, the CLASS Act would create a voluntary payroll deduction for workers - employees would be automatically enrolled until they choose to opt out. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the program would save $59 billion in spending over the first ten years, including $2.5 billion in Medicaid spending (after which time it might need to be adjusted).

As you continue to talk to your legislators about the importance of health care legislation, please ask them to support keeping the CLASS Act in the final version of health care reform. Saving for long-term care now may be the tool that allows your parents (or you) to stay in your home with dignity in retirement.

Senate Unveils Health Care Bill

Earlier this week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unveiled the Senate’s health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This is an $848 billion health-care overhaul package that extends coverage to 31 million Americans and reforms insurance practices. The Congressional Budget Office has determined that the Senate bill would cut federal deficits by $130 billion over the next decade, which is the largest cost saving so far from a health care proposal (the House bill would cost $1.05 trillion to extend coverage to about 36 million Americans and reduce deficits by about $109 billion by 2019). The effective date of the Senate bill was pushed back a year from 2013 to 2014, as compared to the House bill.

It is expected that the procedural vote required to start the debate on the bill will occur on Friday or Saturday of this week.

Below is a side-by-side comparison of provisions in the House and Senate health care bills:


House Bill
Senate Bill
Exchange/Subsidies:
The bill would set up new insurance marketplaces, called exchanges, where people without access to affordable coverage through an employer could purchase comprehensive plans. Subsidies would be available to households earning up to 400 percent of the poverty level ($88,200 for a family of four).
The bill would set up new insurance marketplaces, called exchanges, where people without access to affordable coverage through an employer could purchase comprehensive plans. Tax credits would be available on a sliding scale for individuals and families who earn up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($88,200 for a family of four).
Public Option:
A public plan would be created and made available through the insurance exchanges would be set up and run by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, who would negotiate rates with providers.
A public insurance option would be made available, but states that do not want to participate can opt out. The federal government would negotiate payment rates with medical providers.
Mandates:
Individuals must purchase insurance or pay a penalty of 2.5 percent of income.
Individuals must purchase insurance or pay a fine starting at $95 in 2014 and rising to $750 by 2016.
Employers must pay 65% of family premiums or pay a penalty based on their payroll. Small businesses with less than $500,000 on payroll are exempt and payrolls up to $750,000 would have a reduced contribution.
Employers are not required to offer health insurance, however, if even one employee receives a subsidy through the new exchanges, firms with more than 50 employees would have to pay a fine equal to $750 for every person on their payroll.
Abortion:
Abortion may not be covered in the public option or in private health insurance plans for women receiving public subsidies. There is an exception if a woman's life is in danger or in cases of rape or incest.
Federal funds cannot be used for abortion, however, the bill requires that at least one plan in the exchange offers abortion and at least one plan does not.
Revenue:
Includes a surcharge on taxpayers who earn more than $500,000 a year, or $1 million a year for families.
Includes a tax on high-cost insurance plans and would raise Medicare payroll taxes for the wealthiest Americans. The bill also levies a 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery.
Insurance Reforms:
Includes bans on:
· lifetime limits
· premium disparity based on health status and sex
· coverage denials based on preexisting conditions.
The bill also would end a federal antitrust exemption that has protected firms from federal investigations.
Includes bans on:
· lifetime limits
· premium disparity based on health status and sex
· coverage denials based on preexisting conditions.
Medicaid Expansion:
Medicaid would expand to provide free health care to all Americans with incomes below 150 percent of the federal poverty level ($33,070 for a family of four).
Medicaid would expand to cover everyone earning under 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($29,327 for a family of four).


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Change in Location for Delaware County H1N1 Vaccine This Weekend

The Delaware County location for the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s H1N1 Vaccine Clinic has been moved to:

Penn State Brandywine Campus
Commons/Athletic Building
25 Yearsley Mill Road (Off Rte 352, also known as, Middletown Road)
Media, Pa 19063
(Use Campus Drive entrance)

The scheduled times remain the same; however, if you are interested, make sure that you make an appointment ahead of time at www.H1N1inPA.com under the area of the website that lists “What’s Hot”. Those without Internet access can call 1-877-PA HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to make an appointment.

The vaccine is free and will be given to those at highest risk.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Of the World's 15 Most Competitive Countries, 14 Provide Paid Sick Leave - Can You Guess the Country That Doesn't?

If you guessed the United States, you're right!

In the newly released study, Raising the Global Floor: Dismantling the Myth That We Can't Afford Good Working Conditions for Everyone, authors Jody Heymann and Alison Earle explore the working conditions faced by men and women in countries around the world, and compare those conditions to economic competitiveness. The result?
Of the world’s 15 most competitive countries, 14 provide paid sick leave, 14 provide paid annual leave, 13 guarantee a weekly day of rest, 13 provide paid leave for new mothers and 12 for new fathers.

Similarly, the majority of the 13 countries with consistently low unemployment rates provide paid annual leave (12), a weekly day of rest (12), paid leave for new mothers (12), paid sick leave (11), and paid leave for new fathers (9)....

As the research shows, both economic competition and low unemployment survive in countries that provide a minimum standard of paid leave for illness and for new parents.

On the same day this data was released, Senator Chris Dodd and Representative Rosa DeLauro introduced a bill offering up to seven days of paid sick leave for workers with H1N1. The Healthy Families Act, introduced earlier this year, would provide a similar amount of paid sick days for all workers who are ill.

If businesses in other countries can continue operating while giving their workers earned sick time, why can't ours? Please ask your legislators to support continued efforts to provide earned sick time to the 48 percent of workers nationally (and the 46 percent of workers in Pennsylvania) who lack paid sick time to care for themselves and their families.

Which are the Poorest Counties in America and PA (Based on the Federal Poverty Level)?

Blank US MapDespite the many flaws in the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), a new article and interactive map from the New York Times showing poverty in the United States by county is worth a look. According to the article, Ziebach County, South Dakota, holds the dubious honor of being the poorest county in the country, with 54.4 percent of residents living below the FPL.

Here in Pennsylvania, the county with the highest level of poverty is Forest County (in northwest PA) with 24.2 percent of residents living below the FPL, followed by Philadelphia with 23.8 percent and Fayette County with 20.8 percent.

While Forest County has the highest number of residents living below the poverty level, the most children living below the FPL are in Fayette County, where 33.9 percent of residents under age 18 live in poverty.

As always when looking at the FPL, it is important to remember that here are also families who are being overlooked that are in need. In general, the FPL underestimates the number of those earning less than what they need, which in turn undermines the ability to locate and serve families in crisis. For instance, in Pennsylvania in 2007, about 9% of households fell below the FPL, but 21% of households actually earned less than what they need at a minimum to support their families.

To learn more about the needs of families in every county in PA, please read our Self-Sufficiency Standard for Pennsylvania and Overlooked and Undercounted: Struggling to Make Ends Meet in Pennsylvania (and let us know what you think in the comments!).

Sign on to Ask Congress to Extend ARRA State Fiscal Relief

As long as the budget season was this year in Pennsylvania, and as painful as many of the budget cuts were, the results for Pennsylvanians could have been much worse. The 2009-2010 state budget contained $2.6 billion from the federal stimulus bill, which helped prevent drastic cuts in healthcare and education spending for the state.

While the state had access to federal stimulus dollars this year, the funding is due to run out in December 2010. Meanwhile, state revenues continue to fall, and the need for state services continues to rise along - along with the unemployment rate and the number of children relying on CHIP and Medicaid for health insurance.

PA Partnerships for Children and PCCY are coordinating a sign-on letter to the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation asking them to continue providing federal support during these difficult economic times. Please sign on by 12 PM on November 20, and pass it on to your colleagues at other organizations.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Where’s My Tax Refund?

Attention tax payers! Do you think you may be missing an IRS income tax refund from a previous tax return? If so, then you may need to update your address information. The IRS currently has 107,831 refund checks to distribute which have been returned due to mailing address errors. Refund checks average $1,148 per check, totaling more than $123.5 million owed to tax payers nationwide.

Taxpayers who may be missing a refund can use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on the IRS website to track their refund. By using this tool, the taxpayer may update their address information if necessary, and learn how to resolve outstanding issues with refund delivery. This may also be done by calling 1-800-829-1954, which connects callers with a telephone version of “Where’s My Refund?”

Taxpayers should be aware that the average refund may potentially be even higher this year as a result of several new or modified tax credits that filers may be eligible for. As always, taxpayers are strongly encouraged to use electronic filing and to choose direct deposit for their refunds. Use of these methods helps to avoid the potential lost or damaged paper return and/or lost, stolen, or undeliverable paper check. During the tax season, PathWays PA will again have VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) sites throughout Delaware County and Philadelphia. We will be posting information on tax sites and how to volunteer starting in the next few weeks.

--Rachel Ludman

Kids Get Sick Too

Children from 5 to 17 years old on average miss more than three days of school per year for health reasons. Younger children not only need supervision, but also may need someone to administer medicine and take them to medical appointments. Yet more than 2 million working people in Pennsylvania do not have a single paid sick day to use to care for a sick child. Many parents without sick days have no choice but to send sick children to school or child care, putting the health of other children, teachers and child-care providers are put at risk.

When parents are able to stay home and care for their children when sick, it not only keeps other children and individuals from becoming sick, but also shortens the child’s recovery time when cared for by their parents. The presence of parents has been found to shorten a child’s hospital stay by 31 percent, therefore also reducing health care costs.

Without access to paid time off, parents don’t have the option of staying home or taking their children to the doctor. Working parents with paid sick time or paid vacation days are five times more likely to stay home to care for their sick children than those without paid time off. With paid sick days, parents are able not only able to care for their children when they are sick but they also can take the time to take their children for check ups and for immunizations, which may prevent serious illnesses.

Please sign this petition to tell your legislators we all need paid sick days! You can also contact your state legislators and ask them to co-sponsor HB 1830, the Healthy Families, Healthy Workplaces Act.

Department of Health Conducting Statewide H1N1 Vaccine Clinics

(h/t Pennsylvania Build Initiative/ Build ECE News)

Between November 20 and November 22, the Pennsylvania Department of Health will offer free H1N1 vaccines. They ask that only members of the following recommended targeted groups attend:
  • Individuals between the ages of six months and 24 years;
  • Household contacts and caregivers for children younger than six months;
  • Pregnant women;
  • Healthcare providers and emergency medical services personnel; and
  • Individuals under 65 years of age with underlying health conditions, including asthma, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, heart disease, kidney disease, and neurocognitive and neuromuscular disorders.
Appointments must be scheduled in advance, and consent forms must be completed - preferably before the appointment. Information about vaccine risks, allergies, and adverse effects are also available on the website.

Individuals without internet access can call 1-877-PA HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Lines are limited.

Monday, November 16, 2009

More Than 1 in 10 Households in PA Are "Food Insecure"

As families continue to deal with the impact of the recession, a new report from the Department of Agriculture showed that in 2008, 49 million Americans were "food insecure" in the United States, the highest number since tracking began 14 years ago. 13 million more people joined the ranks of the food insecure in the previous year. In Pennsylvania, 4.9 million households were food insecure on average between 2006 and 2008, or about 11.2 percent of all households. These numbers represent an increase of 1.3 percentage points from the average between 2003-2005 (and is statistically significant with 90 confidence, for those of you who care about that information).

Many startling numbers come from this report, including some that are below. But of those numbers, one is critical for those who are food insecure: 30.5 percent of food insecure households earned below 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (which is the income eligibility level for food stamps (SNAP)) but did not receive SNAP benefits in the past 12 months.

Even if you work, receive unemployment benefits, own a car, or are single, you may still qualify for food stamps, depending on how much you earn and the size of your household. There are many ways you can see if you qualify:
Below are more statistics from the new report:
  • While 2/3rds of "food insecure" families nationally "have enough to eat" through reliance on food stamps, food pantries, and soup kitchens, 1/3rd skip meals or eat smaller portions in order to get by (those with "very low food security").
  • Of the households with very low food security, 506,000 contain children, an increase of 183,000 households in the past year.
  • In Pennsylvania, 4.2 percent of households had very low food security.

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: November 16, 2009

Federal

Help Stop Restrictions on Women’s Reproductive Rights in Health Care Reform

Last weekend the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Affordable Health Care for America Act, which was a huge step forward for health care reform. However, this Act includes an amendment that puts devastating new restrictions on women's access to abortion, limiting a woman's ability to choose, especially those who are low-income. The purpose of health care reform is to expand access to health care for all, not to shrink it.

The Stupak/Pitts Amendment takes away a woman’s ability to purchase coverage for abortion care with their own money in the health insurance exchanges and public plan that the House legislation created. Health care reform should include the full-range of reproductive health services for all women, which includes access to abortion services.

The House bill does include some positive provisions, such as making health insurance more affordable, prohibiting insurers from charging women more than men and from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions like breast cancer, pregnancy and domestic violence, and by expanding Medicaid eligibility for people whose incomes are less than 150 percent of poverty. While these advances are great, the Act falls short on reproductive health services.

Take Action: The U.S. Senate is now combining two health care bills. Please contact your U.S. Senators to urge them to oppose efforts that would restrict abortion coverage for millions of women! Tell them that reproductive health care is a basic need for women, and should be treated like any other type of health care.

Contact Information for PA U.S. Senators:
Email Senator Specter or call (202) 224-4254
Email Senator Casey or call (202) 224-6324


Ask Your Senators to Improve the Child and Adult Care Food Program

The Access to Nutritious Meals for Young Children Act of 2009 (S. 2749) would improve young children’s access to nutritious meals in child care centers, family child care homes, and Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

Please urge your Senators to improve the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
The bill, which would strengthen the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), calls for:
  • Increasing reimbursement rates for child care centers and family child care homes.
  • Adding a third meal or snack option for children in child care, helping to cover the costs of food for children who are in care for longer hours.
  • Expanding CACFP family child care home area eligibility to make more family child care providers eligible for higher levels of reimbursement.
  • Increasing the administrative reimbursement rate for CACFP-sponsoring organizations.
  • Streamlining and simplifying program and paperwork requirements for states, sponsoring organizations, child care providers, and parents.
Your help is needed to gain support for this bill so that even more children can be reached!


Information/Events

Generocity: Take 5, Give 5

Generocity is a nonprofit organization that is building Greater Philadelphia's first online publication dedicated to telling the stories about individuals, schools, charities, nonprofits and businesses in the region working to make a positive difference in their communities.
The site will also be offering unique set of online tools and resources that will make it easier for nonprofits to harness the fundraising potential of the Internet, and for businesses and individuals to find and support these causes and groups.

While building the site, Generocity wants your input, stories, and ideas. Right now, you can help by completing this brief questionnaire. Spend five minutes telling what you think, and they will give $5 in your name to any charitable organization in the region you choose (please show your support for PathWays PA when you are completing the survey!).

You’ll need to hurry! This offer will only be available to the first 4,000 people who participate.


Do You Need Help Paying for Post-Secondary Education?

PathWays PA offers Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), a matched savings program that offers financial education while helping you save for school. Through the program, your savings can be matched at a rate of three-to-one. If you save $500, we will give you an additional $1500 to go towards your school expenses.

Applicants must meet program income guidelines, be working (full or part time), and be enrolled or accepted into an accredited institution.

If you are interested or have any questions, please e-mail Greg Potestio at gpotestio@pathwayspa.org.


Need Assistance With Public Benefits Applications?

PathWays PA provides assistance to those who need help applying for food stamps or other benefits. For further information, you can contact our office in Philadelphia 215-387-1470 or Delaware County 610-543-5022.

For more information about the services provided by PathWays PA please visit our website.


Support Earned Sick Days in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia!

Become our friend! Show your support for earned sick time by visiting Facebook. Visit this link to support earned sick time in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. Support both!

Tell us your story! Are you a parent who lost their job to stay home with a sick child? Are you a business owner who provides/supports paid sick days? Email your story to us at policy@pathwayspa.org.

Call your Representatives! If you live in Philadelphia, call your City Councilperson and urge them to support "Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces," which guarantees earned sick time for all working Philadelphians. Not sure who your City Councilperson is? Click on this link and type in your home address to find out which district you live in: http://www.phila.gov/citycouncil/districtform/districtform.html.

If you live in Pennsylvania (but outside of Philadelphia), call your state Representative. Tell him/her you support earned sick time for workers. Not sure who your Representative is? Simply type your address here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/find.cfm.

Health Care Reform Needs to Include Full Reproductive Rights

Reform is necessary in order to make health care more affordable, particularly for women, who are often charged higher premiums than men. Holding other factors constant, a 22-year-old woman can be charged one and a half times the premium rate of a 22-year-old man.

The health care debate should focus on how we can support women's health and well-being by expanding access to health care and eliminating the double standard that treats a woman differently than a man when it comes to coverage. No woman should be worse off as a result of health care reform.

Unfortunately, the Stupak amendment in the House Bill threatens to do just that. This amendment reaches much further than the Hyde Amendment (which has prohibited public funding of abortion in most instances since 1977) by banning abortion in the new public option. Even enrollees in the public plan who pay premiums with their own money would be blocked from getting abortion care as part of their benefits package.

This amendment bans abortions in private health insurance plans for women receiving public subsidies. The Stupak amendment could cause millions of women who have abortion coverage to lose it, effectively ending coverage for abortion services. Women who could afford to could pay extra for a "rider" policy to cover such services, but the very nature of unplanned pregnancies makes this an illogical and impractical notion.

The Senate is currently working on and will need to vote on their health care bill. Please contact your Senators and tell them to support full reproductive rights for women.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Healthcare Reform: Let Legislators Know How You Feel About Their Vote

Over the weekend, the House passed a version of healthcare reform that will soon be moving to the Senate. According to Community Catalyst, this vote marks the first time in 100 years of "episodic" work on health care reform that a bill has emerged from one chamber of the legislature. Below is some information on how legislators voted in Pennsylvania, courtesy of PHAN:

Below is the roll call on the legislation (HR 3962) for Pennsylvania's U.S. House members:

Yes Votes:

Rep. Robert Brady, PA-1 [D]
Rep. Chaka Fattah, PA-2 [D]
Rep. Kathleen Dahlkemper, PA-3 [D]
Rep. Joe Sestak, PA-7 [D]
Rep. Patrick Murphy, PA-8 [D]
Rep. Christopher Carney, PA-10 [D]
Rep. Paul Kanjorski, PA-11 [D]
Rep. John Murtha, PA-12 [D]
Rep. Allyson Schwartz, PA-13 [D]
Rep. Michael Doyle, PA-14 [D]

No Votes:

Rep. Jason Altmire, PA-4 [D]
Rep. Glenn Thompson, PA-5 [R]
Rep. Jim Gerlach, PA-6 [R]
Rep. William Shuster, PA-9 [R]
Rep. Charles Dent, PA-15 [R]
Rep. Joseph Pitts, PA-16 [R]
Rep. Tim Holden, PA-17 [D]
Rep. Tim Murphy, PA-18 [R]
Rep. Todd Platts, PA-19 [R]

Please let your legislators know that you appreciate their vote for quality health insurance for all Americans. If you don't approve of how your legislator voted, please let him/her know that as well. Community Catalyst has some ideas on ways to thank your legislators.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gender Gap Not Just For Workers

On Tuesday, The Pennsylvania Policy Blog published a great recap of the latest news in Pennsylvania around the gender gap (and there has been a lot lately). The gender gap in question refers to the difference in what women earn on average compared to men, and is an issue we have explored at various times on this blog.

The impact of the gender gap does not end when women stop working, however. Since income during your career affects income in retirement, the gender gap follows women beyond their years in the workforce. In Pennsylvania, for instance, the typical single male over 65 in retirement has $3,011 more per year then he needs if he is renting, according to the Pennsylvania Elder Economic Security Initiative. However, the typical single female in the same situation has $5,065 less than what she needs in order to live in her home with dignity. These numbers translate into a $8,076 gap in income between typical Pennsylvania men and women in retirement.

There are many reasons for this pay gap, and they do include issues such as the amount of time spent in the workforce and education level. But not all of the gap can be explained by these issues - at least part of it boils down to unequal pay between men and women.

The US took a step in addressing unequal pay earlier this year with the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which clarified that every discriminatory paycheck or action restarts the clock for filing a pay discrimination complaint. But to go further, we also need passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would strengthen the protections available under the Equal Pay Act and close the gaps that have led to a narrow, constrained reading of the law’s protections. Please take a moment to learn more about Paycheck Fairness and take action. Also, you can learn more about unequal pay in retirement from the short presentation below or from reading the Pennsylvania Elder Economic Security Index.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

PathWays PA Job Postings - 11/11/09

Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivable Clerk

Busy Delco non-profit seeks FT A/P, A/R clerk. Experience required. Friendly, flexible atmosphere. Fax resumes to: 610-328-2807, attention: JR/LD

Truancy Case Manager

Maturity and ability to handle pressure, flexibility, detail-oriented, good organizational skills, and familiarity working with at risk families. Provide own transportation and hold flexible hours. Bachelor Degree in Social Work or related field and Valid Driver’s license required. Fax resume to MT/LD 610-328-2807.

Part-Time Financial Educator

Part-Time Innovative program that promotes economic well-being in low-income families seeks a BS/BA level Financial Educator. You must be comfortable with people, computers and TANF system and have the ability to discuss basic financial planning and budgeting. Must be able to work some evenings and Saturday mornings. Independent transportation required; bilingual a plus. 4 year degree required - no exceptions - prefer BSW, background in education, or related field. Counseling experience also preferred. This position will split time between Delaware County and Philadelphia. Fax resumes to LD/LK 610-328-2807.

Full-Time Financial Educator

Innovative program that promotes economic well-being in low-income families seeks a BS/BA level Financial Educator. You must be comfortable with people, computers and TANF system and have the ability to discuss basic financial planning and budgeting. Must be able to work some evenings and Saturday mornings. Independent transportation required; bilingual a plus. 4 year degree required - no exceptions - prefer BSW, background in education, or related field. Counseling experience also preferred. This position will be located in Delaware County. Fax resumes to LD/LK 610-328-2807.

Trauma-informed Therapists

PathWays PA is seeking quality therapists to provide trauma-informed therapeutic services to women, teen mothers and teen girls in their homes. Must be trained-in trauma-informed services and be familiar with the S.E.L.F. model; must also be comfortable addressing sexual abuse and domestic violence issues. Flexible hours required. LSW and credentialed/eligible to be credentialed to provide services to CBH members required. Philadelphia and some DELCO area. Full time and Part time position available. Fax resumes to: BD/LD 610-328-2807

PathWays PA is an Equal Opportunity Employer

More on H1N1

Freakonomics had a good post yesterday showing the prevalence of H1N1 based on Washington, DC flu data:

It’s instantly apparent that this year is unprecedented in recent history. Long before the typical spike season we are already seeing more cases than we’ve ever seen — and presumably the worst is yet to come.

As the post goes on to note, some of the increased reports may come from "media hype" about swine flu - you can go to the post and judge the chart for yourself.

What are your thoughts on the relationship between H1N1, our health, and earned sick time? Let us know in the comments.

Senate Hearing on H1N1 and Paid Sick Days

Yesterday, Senator Chris Dodd and others gathered to hold a hearing on H1N1 and paid sick days. You can view the entire hearing on the committee website (FYI, the video starts as soon as you open the link), and read the submitted testimony there as well. During the hearing, Senator Dodd proposed introducing legislation that would ensure people with the flu had paid sick days.

MomsRising member Desiree Rosado was one of the speakers at the hearing. As MomsRising reports:

“We are trying to pay down debts and make our family financially stable, but it’s a hard road,” Rosado told the Subcommittee in her testimony. “And it’s made a lot harder because whenever we get sick or our children get sick, we have to decide whether to stay home without pay, or to disregard doctor’s orders and risk getting sicker and infecting other by going to work or school.”

Do you have a story to tell about paid sick days? Please post it in the comments!

Also, if you are on Facebook, you can become a fan of our causes, Earned Sick Time Pennsylvania and Earned Sick Time Philadelphia!

As an FYI, posts will be shorter this week while we are in DC attending a conference. If there is a topic you would like us to discuss when we return, please post it in the comments.