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Showing posts from December, 2009

Staying Healthy in Troubled Times: Recession Healthcare Toolkit

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The PhillyHealthInfo.org Recession Healthcare Toolkit, created by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, provides valuable information that can help you stay healthy in these hard times. Whether skipping meals or delaying a trip to the doctor, the current recession is affecting the health of many, while the stress of doing more with less affects us all. Families have stopped their gym membership, cut back on healthy but more expensive foods, and even lost their jobs and/or health insurance.

For information on issues from insurance to dealing with stress, this website provides tips on how to cope with a wide range of issues and problems.

Below is an example of tips on Shopping and Eating Smart:Deciding which foods to serve your family each week can be hard, especially if you are on a tight budget. Creating a healthier food plan depends on what foods are in season, what foods your family likes, and what foods you have at home already. You can also plan around sale items. Not only wi…

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: December 28, 2009

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State Budget Update

While the announcement of next year’s budget is almost a month away, the state legislature is still working to complete the table games legislation that plays a key part of the FY 2009-2010 budget. With that portion of the $27.8 billion state budget still unfinished, the state ledger sheet is short $250 million of being legally balanced. Gov. Ed Rendell wants a table games bill on his desk by the second week of January.

Table game legislation stalled after the House and Senate each amended and approved a bill. The Senate bill was referred back to the House on December 16th, which is in recess until January. The remaining major disagreement surrounds permitting an additional casino license in the state.

The Governor has stated that if a table games bill is not approved by January 8, 1,000 state employees will have to be laid off.

While the debate over table games continues, legislation has been signed that will allow funds to start flowing to universities, museum…

PathWays PA in the News in December

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Planning on Healthier Living in the New Year? Help Everyone be Healthy With Earned Sick Time!

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(This letter to the editor was sent to the McKeesport Daily Newsearlier today by PathWays PA.)

New Year’s marks the time when we pledge ourselves to new diets and healthier living. This year, let’s add a pledge towards creating public health by ensuring that all workers have the opportunity to earn paid sick time. At PathWays PA, a nonprofit organization serving women and families, we have seen firsthand what happens when working families do not have earned sick days.

In Pennsylvania, 46 percent of all workers lack access to earned sick time. Nationally, 48 percent of private sector workers have no paid sick days, including 79 percent of childcare workers and 78 percent of food-service workers. Workers in this situation lose their pay or their jobs when they stay home sick. Not surprisingly, many choose to work sick, putting themselves, their coworkers, and the populations they serve at risk of contracting illness.

Unlike many countries, the United States has no federal laws esta…

PathWays PA E-Newsletter - December 21, 2009

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Snow Update

While PathWays PA and many other local offices are closed today due to snow, we wanted to send out information about events that will still be happening. Please stay safe and warm, and look for policy updates throughout the week on our blog and Twitter!

Homeless Memorial Day

On the first day of winter and the longest night of the year, we come together to remember homeless and formerly homeless Philadelphians who have passed away in 2009, honor those still living on our streets and in shelters, and call for a renewed commitment to end homelessness.

WHEN: Monday, December 21, 4:30 to 5:30 PM
WHERE: City Hall

For more information about the event contact Kendra Johnson at 215-232-7272 or kendrajohnson@projecthome.org or click here.

To help someone who is homeless: Call the Philadelphia Homeless Outreach Hotline at 215-232-1984

Let's Raise Our Voices in Philadelphia

Health Care For America Now (HCAN) will be hosting a press conference calling for real health care reform. Rai…

State Data Systems and Community Colleges

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A new policy brief from The Working Poor Families Project (WPFP), "Building and Strengthening State Data Systems to Measure Community College and Workforce Outcomes," shows the benefits and challenges to creating a state data system that follows students through their K-12 education into post-secondary degrees, certificates, other adult education, and into the work world. Using this data, states can determine the programs that best meet the needs of both employers and potential employees. Yet, as the report shows, many states have not incorporated data systems into their educational programs.

The report cites four common reasons for the lack of state data systems:
Leadership and management: Creating a strong system requires leadership and commitment from throughout agencies and educational institutionsPrivacy laws and data-sharing agreements: Institutions must clearly show that their work will "improve instruction" in order to fit under federal law regarding stud…

Fewer Receiving LIHEAP This Season

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As temperatures and employment figures continue to fall in Pennsylvania, more families may be looking to the LIHEAP program for assistance in paying heating bills. Yet according to the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) and Peco, far fewer of their customers have received the grants this year than in past years.

An article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer notes that 11,523 PGW customers have received LIHEAP grants this year, only 1/3rd the amount of customers with grants in 2008. Peco reports "that 4,000 of its customers had received grants by Dec. 1, down from 19,000 a year ago."

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission reported that 18.5 percent more households (for a total of 17,037 households) would begin the winter with their heating utilities cut off. Even more may find themselves losing their utilities during the heating season or after April 1, when regulated utility companies can shut heating off (they cannot do so during the winter). Those who may lose …

Sign a Petition to Protect Women's Health Rights

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Last month 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.

The Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition has joined with Representative Karen Boback to urge Congress not to apply the new guideline in health care reform legislation. Instead they are calling on Congress to use the American Cancer Society guidelines, which state that women start mammograms at age 40 and continue with yearly mammograms starting at age 50.

Please click here to sign a petition asking Congress to uphold the American Cancer Society’s guidelines.


Image courtesy of http://www.cb2blogger.wordpress.com/.../09/pink-ribbon3.jpg

Children "Most Often Missed" in Decennial Census - And May Be Harder to Count in 2010

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A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation discusses an issue that we brought up earlier on this blog regarding the Census - children are among those most likely to be undercounted when the Decennial Census is held every ten years.

According to the report, young children are missed at a higher rate than any other group. 1 million children were undercounted in the 2000 Census. Minority children are most likely to be undercounted, with black males under 5 undercounted at a rate of 5.3 percent and black females under 5 undercounted at a rate of 5.4 percent (compared to a 3.3 percent undercount of non-black males and a 3.8 percent undercount of non-black females).

The report also states that young children may be even harder to count in 2010. One reason for this change is that minority children have higher rates of being undercounted, and the share of young children that are from a minority population has increased by 6 percentage points since 2000. More children are also living in…

All I Want This Holiday Season is Health Care Reform

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When you are sending out your holiday cards this season please remember to send one to your member of Congress.

Georgeanne Kohler has devoted herself to working tirelessly for health care reform. She has her own personal story to share: her brother lost his job and his health insurance, and, because of a serious heart condition, he lost his life. (Watch a short video of Georgeanne telling her brother's story.)

Her holiday message to Congress reads: “Dear President Obama, if on Dec. 15th, 2007 we had had healthcare reform with a public option, our family wouldn't have an empty chair at our Christmas dinner this year. Thank you for loving Americans so much.”

To share your own holiday message please click here. These wishes will be gathered and personally delivered to our member of Congress by Georgeanne before the holiday recess on Thursday, December 17th, so please share your story or message today.

Image courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/karent/ / CC BY 2.0

Let’s Raise Our Voices in Philadelphia

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Health Care For America Now (HCAN) will be hosting a press conference calling for real health care reform. Raising Women's Voices of Southeastern PA, a recently formed coalition that is working to ensure women’s voices are heard during the health reform debate, will be joining this important effort to urge Congress to protect women's reproductive rights during the health care reform process.

WHEN: Monday, December 21 at 2:00

WHERE: Philadelphia City Hall, Caucus Room 401

Last week, the U.S. Senate defeated the anti-choice Nelson-Hatch Amendment to the health care reform bill. This amendment mirrored the language of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment that passed in the House health care reform bill, which puts dangerous and devastating new restrictions on women's access to abortion. This victory is a step in the right direction, but there is still much more work to be done to ensure that the Stupak-Pitts Amendment is not included in the final bill, which is why we need a strong presen…

PathWays PA Job Postings

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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 t…

More on Caregiving from the New York Times

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One of many highlights from the New York Times article:

The most recent report on care-giving in the United States provides rich details on the type of care that most of us both expect to give and hope to get: About 19 percent of United States residents provide some care to those 50 or older, averaging about 19 hours a week.

If we paid for these services, the total price tag would exceed total Medicaid expenditures — or, if you prefer a private-sector comparison, total sales of Wal-Mart. Please read the full article, as well as PathWays PA's recent blog post, and let us know what you think in the comments!

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: December 14, 2009

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State BudgetUpdate

While the announcement of next year’s budget is less than 60 days away, the state legislature is still working to complete the table games legislation that plays a key part of the FY 2009-2010 budget. The legislation, and the $200 million it is supposed to raise, must be approved before authorizing payments to the universities, hospitals, and museums.

There is speculation that further delay in table games legislation may lead to more layoffs and potentially second semester tuition increases at universities.

A vote on the bill is anticipated this week



Federal

Send a Holiday Health Care Message to Your Legislator

The Pennsylvania Health Access Network is working with Georgeanne Koehler to collect health care stories or messages of support for health care reform. Georgeanne has devoted herself to working tirelessly for health care reform. She has a her own personal message to share: her brother lost his job and his health insurance, and, because of a serious heart condi…

PathWays PA on Facebook

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PathWays PA is thankful for the support of its Fans on Facebook! Because of them, we reached a milestone of 25 Fans on our Facebook Page, making us eligible to create a more user-friendly URL address.

From now on, you can find us easily on Facebook by typing www.facebook.com/PathWaysPA into your search bar or web browser! Our new URL makes accessing our Facebook page easier than ever before and we encourage all of our supporters to share the link with friends and family. Please join us on Facebook today!

(photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LG_L194WT-SF_LCD_monitor.jpg// http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ )

Table Games and Other Updates

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Lawmakers took to the House floor last Wednesday evening to move on long-awaited table games legislation, but substantive debate on the measure was bogged down for much of the night as legislators debated parliamentary maneuvers. Before wading into lengthy debate over procedure, the House also rejected five motions to consider non-preferred university appropriations, one for each school. Democrats argued the legislative body needed to approve table games legislation, and the $200 million it is supposed to raise, before authorizing payments to the universities, such as Penn State. Debate will continue in the hope to bring final passage soon.

Governor Ed Rendell stated similar points to House Democrats about funding for non-preferred universities during an afternoon press conference, where he also officially announced the resignation Estelle Richman, Secretary of Public Welfare. Secretary Richman will join the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development as Secretary Shaun Don…

Caregiving in the United States Today

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A new report from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP reveals the demographics and characteristics of adults providing care for other adults over 50 in the United States. This report, Caregiving in the U.S.: A Focused Look at Those Caring for Someone Age 50 or Older, examines the changes in caregivers and care recipients since 2004.

Among the numbers, one set that stands out shows the number of caregivers who needed work accommodations to provide care. 68 percent of caregivers reported needing some accommodation, an increase of 5 percentage points from 2004. Most caregivers (64 percent) reported a need to go to work late, leave early, or take time off to provide care, an increase of 6 percentage points since 2004. Almost 75 percent of caregivers work.

The need for caregiving is only going to grow as the US population continues to age. In the next 25 years, the number of Americans over age 65 is expected to double. In 2012, little more than two years away, half of the l…

Under 30 in PA? You Might Be Able to Get Insurance Through Your Parents

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Until this week, Pennsylvania families in many cases could only keep children on a parent's health insurance until they reached age 19. However, a law passed in May has now gone into effect, allowing parents to cover their children under 30 as long as they:

Are single
Have no dependents
Have no health insurance
Live in Pennsylvania or are a full-time college student

According to the Insurance Department, family members with insurance should work with their benefits administrator to determine if their children can be covered.

How will this help you? Let us know in the comments!

(photo: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/cwLk1OFOwPdbjA3iqIWwfQ http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/)

Unemployment Across the Country

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For those of you who like pictorial representations of different statistics, we thought this map of unemployment nationwide might be interesting. (PS - The Keystone Research Center has been creating terrific "heat maps" showing how unemployment numbers have increased statewide throughout this recession as well.)

As unemployment continues, a key provision helping families who are unemployed is set to expire on December 31. Without reauthorization, one million people will lose their unemployment benefits in January 2010, and 3.2 million are expected to have lost benefits by March 2010. Please ask Congress now to extend this important program.

We Need a Consumer Financial Protection Agency

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The Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) would be a single federal agency whose mission would be to protect consumers from dangerous financial products and practices. This would include credit cards, mortgages, debit cards, all consumer loans, payment systems, bank accounts, and more. For years, consumers have dealt with toxic mortgages, outrageous interest rates, and unreasonable bank fees, all in a largely unregulated market.

After months of hard work, debate, and consideration the House is going to vote on financial reform and the creation of the CFPA this week. This is our last chance to tell our Representatives that we need reform!

Ask Your Representative to:
Support H.R. 4173: The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009. Vote against any amendments that would weaken this legislation. We need protection from abusive lending practices and outrageous bank fees. Create a CFPA that serves as a regulatory floor, not a ceiling. The new agency should not preem…

This Holiday Season Even Santa is Scared of the Swine Flu

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If you take your children to see Santa for the holidays this year, he may first inquire about your health. As Santa Claus works in malls and shops to spread the holiday spirit, he and his helpers are taking extra precautions this year to ensure they do not contract or spread H1N1.

Thousands of children line up every day to tell Santa what they want for the holidays, bringing him into contact with more children than virtually any other profession during this season. Unfortunately, for some Santas, getting the H1N1 vaccine is difficult. It is in limited supply and Santa is not officially in the high-risk group as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Other precautions in place this year include Santa being asked not to wear his white gloves, so that he can better use hand sanitizer. Many Santas are encouraging children to sanitize their hands before meeting Santa as well. Santa is also having his suit cleaned more frequently than in most years. Finally, if pa…

Letters to the Editor on Earned Sick Time Published

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The Pocono Recordand the Lancaster Sunday News have published PathWays PA's letters to the editor on earned sick time. Please take a moment to comment on their websites!

Also, if you are interested in learning more on earned sick time, please join us on Facebook or take our survey!

Introduction of Stupak-Like Amendment in Senate

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Yesterday, Senator Nelson introduced an amendment based on the language of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which passed at the last minute as part of the House’s health care bill.

Debate on the amendment has begun on the Senate floor and a vote may occur soon. This amendment goes much further than the Hyde Amendment, which currently does not allow the use of public funds for abortions. This and the Stupak Amendment instead say that no plan receiving federal subsidies, nor the public option, may provide abortion coverage. Effectively, women who purchase coverage with their own money through a federally subsidized plan or a private plan that includes individuals receiving federal subsidies will be banned from purchasing abortion coverage.

Please contact your Senator today and tell them that health care reform should not come at the expense of women’s reproductive rights.

Things You Didn't Know Were In the Senate Health Bill

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While a lot of the conversation around the Senate health care overhaul bill has been around the public option and reproductive rights, the bill is full of interesting but little publicized provisions. Below is a list of other pieces to the health care puzzle put together by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Breaks for Nursing Mothers: Employers would be required to provide an unpaid "reasonable break time for nursing mothers" in the first year after giving birth. Women would be provided a private place, other than a bathroom, to use a breast pump. The provision exempts companies with fewer than 50 workers if the requirement would impose "an undue hardship," a determination left to the employer to make.

Learning To Be An Adult: Being a teenager is tough. The Senate wants to help with a provision allocating $400 million from 2010 to 2015 to help teens make the transition to adulthood. The money goes to states primarily to set up sex education programs and can also be used…

Has Your Legislator Cosponsored the Healthy Families Act Yet?

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We just got word that Senator Specter has become a cosponsor of the Healthy Families Act, joining Senator Casey and 22 other senators! Is your senator one of the cosponsors?

Over 57 million workers nationwide have no access to earned sick time. Under the Healthy Families Act, workers would be guaranteed the opportunity to earn up to seven paid sick days per year to recover from their own illness or care for a sick family member. It would also give victims of domestic violence the opportunity to use that time as "safe days" in which they can receive medical or psychological attention, look for housing, or otherwise address their needs.

In Pennsylvania in addition to Senators Specter and Casey, the following Representatives have cosponsored the bill:
Representative Robert BradyRepresentative Michael DoyleRepresentative Chaka FattahRepresentative Allyson SchwartzRepresentative Joe SestakPlease take some time today to thank our senators for cosponsoring the Healthy Families Ac…

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: December 7, 2009

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Federal

Urge Your Senator to Support Full Reproductive Rights

Millions of women are on the verge of losing access to private health insurance coverage for abortion. Members of the Senate are going to vote on an amendment to the health care reform bill modeled after the Stupak amendment that passed in the House. If this amendment becomes law, it will be the most serious restriction of abortion coverage in a generation.

A vote on this amendment is expected today. Senate leadership may be calling for a vote to table this amendment. This action will require 50 votes.

Please contact your Senators today and ask them table this amendment. Health care reform is meant to allow individuals more access to coverage, not to make more limitations on the care one can received.


CHIP and Health Care Reform

Right now, there is an important debate happening in the U.S. Senate about health coverage, and we must make sure that all kids are represented.

Last week, an amendment to the Senate Health Bil…

More Information on SNAP

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Food stamps (SNAP) has been a focal point in recent weeks following the publication of a report showing that half of all children in the US will use the program at some point before they turn 21. Courtesy of Foodlinks, here are some more facts on SNAP:


More than one in eight Americans now receives benefits from SNAP, with 20,000 more joining their ranks every day.At least a quarter of the population receives food stamps in 239 US countiesAt least one in three children use food stamps in 800 US countiesNationally, only about one out of every three people eligible for food stamps actually received them in 2007In Pennsylvania, 72 percent of eligible people participated in the food stamp program, ranking the state 11th in the country.
If you, your family, or anyone you know is struggling to pay for food, please contact PathWays PA for a prescreening over the phone to see if you qualify for food stamps. We can be reached at 610-543-5022 if you live in Delaware County, or 215-387-1470 in Ph…

Families Benefit When Low-Income Parents Save for a Rainy Day

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As Pew's Economic Mobility Project points out, the concept of the American Dream, where anyone can rise above their background with hard work, is not as strong as many would like it to be. While 2/3rds of Americans have higher incomes than their parents, many children still end up in the same economic category as the one they were born in. 42 percent of children born in the bottom income quintile and 39 percent born in the top income quintile stay there throughout their lives. Yet as a recent study from the Project shows, high parental and personal savings can improve the likelihood of a child's economic mobility.

According to the report, "A Penny Saved is Mobility Earned,"50 percent of Americans born to low-saving parents in the bottom income bracket remained there as adults. But if their low-income parents were "high savers," only 29 percent remained in the lowest income bracket. Since 25 percent are estimated to remain in the bottom bracket even wit…