Monday, November 21, 2011

PathWays PA E-Alert: November 21, 2011

Federal Updates

LIHEAP / SNAP JOINT VENTURE ON SUPER COMMITTEE TABLE OF CUTS
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(News has come out this weekend suggesting that the Super Committee may have hit an impasse. However, until such news is definite, we must continue to reach out to them in support of programs that families rely on to stay secure throughout the year.

The Super Committee is coming close to their deadline. Many proposals are being floated, including one that would limit states’ ability to coordinate the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and SNAP benefits (food stamps). This “Heat and Eat” program allows many states, including Pennsylvania, to coordinate SNAP and LIHEAP in recognition of the fact that too many struggling Americans face an impossible choice between paying for food or paying for energy.

But Heat and Eat programs are under the threat of a $4 billion cut – meaning that many households will be left making tough choices in the coming winter months. As the Super Committee considers areas of the federal budget to cut, the Food Research and Action Center is getting the word out on the benefits of the Heat and Eat program.

For more information on Heat and Eat, click here.

In addition, many other federal programs face drastic cut as the deadline tonight looms. Contact Senator Pat Toomey, who sits on the Super Committee, and tell him that programs like SNAP, LIHEAP, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security are an integral part of the well being of households nationwide.

TELL THE PRESIDENT – REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH IS WOMEN’S HEALTH

Earlier this year, Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a comprehensive guideline for women’s health that included no co-pays for contraception. It was a big win for women’s health.

However, the White House is being asked to include “religious employer” exemptions that would allow work places affiliated with a religious institution (including hospitals, social service agencies, primary / secondary schools and universities) to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees. This would mean many women would be denied coverage for birth control and other forms of contraception, and thus face steep out of pocket fees for reproductive health.

Please take a moment to call the President at 202-559-1164 and tell him ALL women need coverage for contraception. 

Below are some suggested talking points:
·         Contraception is a proven and essential preventive health service for women. Experts from the Institute of Medicine recognize this, and HHS made the right decision in ordering insurance companies and employers to start covering contraception without co-pays next year.
·         Letting some employers deny this new coverage to employees and their families has no basis in the law and is bad policy.  There are compelling reasons why public policy must ensure all women have contraceptive coverage.
·         The contraceptive coverage requirement will help to make the promise of health reform real for millions of women. The President should be focused on keeping that promise and not allow it to be stripped away from some women.



Pennsylvania Updates

FRACKING EXTRACTION FEE DEBATE CONTINUES

While many across the state hoped that a meaningful natural gas extraction fee would come out of the statehouse, other bills under consideration have created lower fees, often to the detriment of communities affected.

Right now, the Pennsylvania House and Senate are reconciling their two bills. According to NPR, that is something being worked on in negotiations, as well as how the fee is collected and the amount applied locally (the House version says 75% while the Senate version says 55%.)

To make your voice heard during negotiations, contact your Representative through this form.


PROTECT SNAP FOR ASSET CONSIDERATION

Currently, Gov. Tom Corbett is considering asset testing as a condition for SNAP benefits. While normally, those seeking help through the SNAP program only have current income as a consideration, asset testing would also bring into consideration savings accounts and other financial assets – making it harder for struggling families to both build resources and put food on the table.

The Greater Philadelphia Coalition against hunger is looking for organizations to co-sign on to their letter. To sign on, email Sadia Hussain . For more information on SNAP, click here.

Information / Events

UNITED WAY SURVEY OF HOW BUDGETS HAVE AFFECTED NON-PROFITS

The United Way of Pennsylvania has once again created a survey to document the impact of budget cuts on agencies and the people they serve.

The economic recession and recent state budget cuts have created funding issues for many social service organizations throughout Pennsylvania. The survey is designed to help document these hardships on agencies and the people they serve. Results will be used to inform policy makers about the effects of budget cuts on nonprofit organizations and the people in the region during the state budget process.

The survey only takes a few minutes to complete, and will be available online until Friday, December 2nd.
JOB CORPS PROVIDES TRAINING FOR MANY OCCUPATIONS

For many people, the matter of finding a new job in this tough environment boils down to training. Where someone might not know how to get the skills necessary to succeed, the Job Corps is available to help.

By providing training to many low income people from all walks of life, the Job Corps is able to get people on the path to success. It also couples the training with educational help, including working on a GED and high school diploma.

For more information, visit jobcorps.gov. To contact the Philadelphia area office, click here.

HALF IN TEN RELEASES NEW TOOLS IN FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY

Half in Ten, a Coalition seeking to cut poverty in half over the next ten years, has just release a new report, Restoring Shared Prosperity: Strategies to Cut Poverty and Expand Economic Growth, that will track progress toward their goals on a variety of indicators to help advance policies that create good jobs, strengthen families, and promote economic security. Along with the report they released a series of resources and action steps organizers and those with a stake in the fight against poverty can use to help the cause.
Resources:
·        Check out Half in Ten’s new action toolkit to learn how to use the data in the report in action alerts, letters to the editor, social media posts, op-eds, and in other advocacy mediums.
·        Curious about the “Restoring Shared Prosperity” report? Read the top 10 findings from the report or read the full report here.
·        Want to see how your state fares on indicators like poverty, hunger, unemployment, and more? Explore our new interactive website and download a fact sheet with your state’s data here.
Action steps:
·        Despite the important role unemployment benefits play in the lives of millions of jobless Americans and in the nation’s economic health, unemployment benefits are set to expire at the end of this year. Stand up for families in need and our fragile economic recovery this holiday season and ask your members of Congress to continue jobless benefits for another year.
·        They need your help! Join the movement to cut poverty in half in 10 years. Sign a pledge affirming the Half in Ten goal as an individual, organization, or elected official today.

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