Showing posts from October, 2009

One Step Closer to Health Care Reform: The House of Representatives Announces a Bill

Yesterday, the House announced they have combined the three bills passed by the House Committees. The almost 2,000 page bill includes the public health insurance option and is estimated to cost $894 billion over ten years while extending insurance coverage to 36 million Americans.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, this bill will guarantee that 96 percent of Americans have health insurance (20 percent of individuals under age 65 were without health insurance in 2008).

In addition to the public option, the bill:
subsidizes insurance for poorer Americans, creates health insurance exchanges to make it easier for small groups and individuals to purchase coverage, caps annual out-of-pocket expenses, and prevents insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.Through tax surcharges on wealthy Americans and spending constraints in Medicare and Medicaid, the bill is expected to cut the federal deficit by roughly $30 billion over the next decade. Specifically…

Global Gender Gap Index: United States’ Ranking Slips

On Tuesday, the World Economic Forum released its annual Global Gender Gap Index. This Index is a comprehensive ranking of gender gaps in 134 countries across the world.

While some countries are closing the gender gap, the United States ranking fell from No. 27 to No. 31 on the list. This latest drop was unfortunately not something new, as the United States was No. 23 in 2006.

Countries were measured by looking at women's health, education, economic participation and political empowerment. Historically, the Index has shown that the United States performs well on measures of education and economic participation, but has mediocre scores in women’s health and political achievement.

The 2009 report found that 67 percent of countries are improving their gender equality, while 33 percent are getting worse. The United States is not the only developed nation to slip down the list, the United Kingdom is currently at No. 15 (down two spots) and Germany is at No. 12 (down one spot). Globall…

Support Young Women, Support the Breast Cancer EARLY Act

In the U.S., about 10 percent of all breast cancer occurs in women under age 45. When breast cancer is detected early, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent. But when it is not detected early, as is the case for many young women, the survival rate is much lower. For women under 45, who are diagnosed at later stages with more aggressive breast cancer, there is a lack of awareness about the risks of breast cancer and therefore there is a lack of screening and detection.

The Breast Cancer Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young (EARLY) Act – just introduced in the Senate – is a chance to change that. The EARLY Act will address the unique concerns facing young women with breast cancer by:
Initiating an evidence-based public education campaign about breast cancer in women under age 45 - with an emphasis on women at higher risk due to their race, ethnicity or genetic heritage. Educating health care professionals about the risk factors, opportunities for genetic counseling and …

PathWays PA Special Budget Alert - October 28, 2009

Unfortunately, eventhough a budget was passed and signed weeks ago, funding for state-related universities, museums, and hospitals will not be released until the state passes the table games legislation. However, this will be the last budget alert until something new occurs.

In an effort to improve future alerts, we have created a brief survey. Please take a few minutes and let us know what you thought of our Budget Alerts and how we may be able to improve them. Also, please stay turned, as next year’s budget is already right around the corner.

More Work to Be Done: Legalization of Table Games

After the Governor signed the $27.8 billion budget on Oct. 9, lawmakers had yet to vote on a proposal to allow table games at slots parlors. Revenue from table games is projected to reach $200 million this fiscal year, which is needed to help balance the state budget.

Universities, museums, and hospitals have been allotted $730 million in the budget, but that money has been held up while legi…

Health Care? Take a Number

Women pay up to 48% more than men for the same insurance policies, and are denied coverage with "pre-existing conditions" like pregnancies and c-sections. Be counted for gender equity in health care, visit the SEIU site and take a ticket.

The ticket is for health insurance reform, which would end discrimination against women by health insurers. We are all waiting for Congress to pass health care legislation that outlaws insurance company practices like "gender rating" and "pre-existing conditions."

The virtual "line" is rapidly growing. I am 7213th against discrimination by health insurers. Women deserve equal coverage for equal premiums. Take a ticket and join the line

A Guide to Understanding the Health-Care Debate

(h/t Time)
As the health care debate continues there appears to be more terms whose meaning and importance are unclear. Time put together a list of these terms discussing what and why they matters in the debate. Below are just a few:

Bending the Curve

What it is: Slowing the growth in health-care spending, which at its current rate would exceed 20% of the U.S. gross domestic product by 2018.

Why it matters: Both sides of the political aisle agree that health-care spending is growing at an unsustainable rate. A central goal of reform proposals is to "bend the curve" of spending — i.e., for citizens, insurance companies and the government to spend less money overall on medical care. One example of a reform proposal that could bend the curve is providing and funding more preventive care, which is cheaper than treating chronic diseases that develop when people don't get regular checkups.
Health-Insurance Exchange

What it is: A government-administered marketplace or portal (v…

Postsecondary Education in Pennsylvania

In late September, the PA WIB's Task Force on Adult Learning released a report making recommendations on degree and certificate completion. The report focused on a number of issues critical to ongoing student success.

The report covered the following topics: preparedness, affordability, articulation, and cultural barriers, and also made recommendations on how Pennsylvania could move past the barriers it faces. Below are some of the highlights under each topic - please read the report in full to learn more:

Preparedness: When students enter postsecondary education or training, they often do so without the requisite skills to be successful: 59 percent of students entering community colleges need remedial courses, and only 3-4 of every ten students who begin remediation actually finish it.Affordability: Pennsylvania's public colleges and universities are the sixth most expensive nationally. (PathWays PA has also written a report on community college affordability, which you can fi…

Health Care Reform Update – Opt Out Proposal

Yesterday, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he will include a government-backed insurance plan in the Senate’s health care reform legislation. This legislation would allow states to opt out of the government plan.

While no individual would be forced to buy the public option if their state participated, some legislators have cited that they would be more willing to support a public option with this opt-out provision. As of yet, there are few details as to how the opt-out mechanism would work.

While there is broad based public support for such a plan, it is unclear whether there is enough support in the Senate to pass this proposed legislation.

Birth Certificate Clinic - Tuesday, October 27

(Thanks to Project H.O.M.E. for this information)

Students from the Villanova Pro Bono Society will be at in the Project H.O.M.E. Backspace Tuesday, October 27, to assist our residents and other community members who need help with getting their birth certificate, FREE OF CHARGE. Vote for Homes members and others are welcome to participate.

11:00 AM TO 2:00 PM

Project H.O.M.E.
1515 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

Questions? Call 201-306-8501

Hosted by Villanova University School of Law Pro Bono Society

More Materials for the Census

The Census Bureau has released some new materials that may be helpful for client outreach around the Census. All of the toolkits are on their website. They include toolkits to reach out to various racial and ethnic groups, immigrants, businesses, college students, and many more.

For those looking for state-specific resources, Nonprofits Count has a webpage devoted to listing Census-related information about each state.

SNAP Update

According to a recent article from the Philadelphia Inquirer, the number of Philadelphians receiving SNAP benefits, formally known as food stamps, has increased by 3% over the last two years. In addition, experts, including Rachel Meeks from the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, anticipate that this number is likely to continue rising over the upcoming year.

Fortunately, on August 3, 2009, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the eligibility standards and deductions for the new 2010 fiscal year (see the table below for more information). Because of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as the Stimulus Package, SNAP benefits this year are significantly greater than they would be otherwise. As a result, the eligibility levels for qualifying families have increased.

This means that more families needing assistance will be able to receive SNAP benefits. Even individuals who already have jobs may be able to qualify.

PathWays PA encou…

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: October 26, 2009

PA Budget

Even though the budget was signed weeks ago, funding for state related universities, museums, and hospitals is being held up until the gaming bill is complete.

House and Senate negotiators are still working on the tax rates for table games and the one-time license fees that casino operators would be required to pay.

Please continue to see our PathWays PA Policy Blog for updates on the budget and other important policy issues.

In an effort to improve future alerts, we have created a brief survey about PathWays PA Special Budget Alerts. Please take a few minutes and let us know what you thought of our Budget Alerts and how we may be able to improve them. Also, please stay tuned, as next year’s budget is already right around the corner.


Urge Your Senator to Extend Unemployment Benefits

Currently, 5.4 million Americans have been out of a job for six months or more. Approximately 7,000 workers run out of unemployment insurance each day. Hopes of getting a new job are slim as…

Upcoming Webchat on Cosleeping

If you do an internet search on cosleeping (the practice of a child, often an infant, sleeping in the same bed as a parent), people both for and against the practice show up immediately in the search results. WHYY will host a webchat on cosleeping on Tuesday, October 27, to discuss both sides of the story.

Those against cosleeping point to statistics showing that SIDS as well as accidental suffocation and strangulation are heightened when parents and children sleep together, while those for cosleeping believe it improves parent-child bonding and encourages breast-feeding.

Here at PathWays PA, we continue to work with parents to warn them of the dangers of cosleeping, since many parents feel they are aware (even when asleep) of their child's location in the bed, or think that accidents will not happen to them. Unfortunately, parents are not always aware, while their beds hold many hazards for children, such as space where a child could become wedged or too-soft bedding.

We're in…

It's Time To Read The Bill!

Today, Monday, October 26th, from 5:00 am until 10:00 pm, health care reform supporters will be on lawn by the Liberty Bell (5th and Market) to read America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (HR 3200). PathWays PA took part in reading the bill this morning. There will also be a rally and press conference at noon and a candle light vigil at 6:30.

While the Senate Finance Committee recently passed their own bill, HR 3200 has a strong public option plan and more regulations on insurance companies. Health reform is crucial to the well-being of all Americans so please stop by to show your support.

CDC: 1 in 5 Children Had Flu-Like Symptoms in Early October

Findings from a survey done by the CDC in early October 2009 show that 1 in 5 children whose families were polled had a flu-like symptom in the past week. One CDC official said there have been as many flu-related hospitalizations in the past month as there usually are in an entire flu season.

While many of the cases have been mild, the CDC and many others recommend that those who are sick stay home until they are fever-free - one county has even told workers to stay home or risk being fired.

For many workers in the US, though, the opposite is true - working sick may be all that keeps them from being fired. In fact, one in six workers reports that they or a family member have been disciplined, fired, or threatened with termination for taking sick time for themselves or a relative. 48% of private workers have no paid sick time to care for themselves when they are ill. 94 million people do not have paid sick time to use to care for their children.

What can you do?

Ask your legislators to…

Resources for Women Looking for Green Jobs

Below are some additional resources on women and green jobs:
The Green Economy Post, 10 Active Networking Groups for Women Pursuing Sustainable Energy and Environmental Careers - Networking is considered one of the most valuable strategies for ensuring career success and often, the most effective ways to network is through professionals groups. See the link above for a list of active networking groups for women pursuing sustainable energy and environmental careers. Women’s Economic Security Campaign – Creating Opportunity for Low-Income Women in the Green Economy - The first in a series of publications focusing on job creation, training and supports for low-income women.The Pathways Advancing Career Training Act (HR 2074) provides grants to states with approved plans for programs that provide preparatory and supportive services, information on career and technical education, training, pre-apprenticeship assistance, and related services, including tuition assistance, to single parents…

Women and Green Jobs Presentation Given at SBN Meeting Today

PathWays PA was given the opportunity to speak today on the subject of women and green jobs at an event held by the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia. Along with the Women's Bureau, green employers, and women working in green jobs, PathWays PA was able to share important information on how green jobs affect women. Our presentation is below.

Latest PathWays PA Job Postings

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

Tax and Benefits Specialist
This is a year round position providing tax preparation, benefits support, outreach and advocacy, financial education, special projects and other responsibilities as necessary. Prefer candidate with experience as a Tax Site Coordinator. Must have a Bachelor’s Degree. Familiarity and commitment to helping low-income/TANF recipients preferred. Anticipated start date: late November, 2009. Fax resumes to: 610-328-2807, attention: LK/LD/SS

EITC Coordinator
This position will be to coordinate and provide data management and support in preparation for, during, and after the 2009/2010 tax season. Must have experience with VITA, Site Coordinator experience. This position also trains tax season staff and volunteers. Bachelor’s Degree required. Familiarity and commitment…

Personal Story: Husband Joins Army to Ensure his Wife will have Health Care to Treat her Cancer

During this recession people are not only loosing their jobs, they are also losing their health insurance at a rate of nearly 14,000 Americans daily.

Bill Caudle is just one person who lost his health care when he was laid off from his job. Without insurance, his family was in an especially precarious position, because Bill’s wife, Michelle, was an ovarian cancer patient. After months of unsuccessfully looking for other employment, at 39 years old Bill did the only thing he could do to get his wife the care she needed, he joined the army.

For four years he will have to leave his wife, while she battles cancer, and their three children in order to solve the family’s health coverage problem. While Bill has always wanted to do something for his country, the main reason that he decided to enlist was for the insurance.

While Bill’s decision is a courageous one, it is something that the need for health care should not have forced him to make. Health care reform is necessary to ensure that i…

H1N1 Flu Continues to Spread, Precautions Are Urged

Pennsylvania is among the 41 states reporting widespread flu activity this fall, and the H1N1 flu is the most commonly reported strain.

According to some officials, the power to slow the spread of H1N1 is in your hands by taking precautions such as covering coughs and sneezes as well as frequent hand washing. However, for some workers, the ability to stay home when sick is in the hands of local, state, and national legislators who have the power to pass legislation that ensures everyone can have earned sick days.

Congress is considering the Healthy Families Act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation that would guarantee workers up to seven paid sick days per year to recover from short-term illness, to care for a sick family member, for routine medical care, or to seek assistance related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

A basic workplace standard of paid sick days would help prevent workers from being forced to choose between their own health or the health of their fam…

PathWays PA Special Budget Alert - October 21, 2009

We are continuing this budget alert for the time being to keep readers updated on the ongoing debate on the table games legislation, which affects the final budget, as well as information on the disbursement of public funds.

PathWays PA would especially like to thank all of our readers for their support and feedback on our alerts. We are particularly grateful for everyone’s efforts to urge legislators to pass a fair, responsible budget.

In an effort to improve future alerts, we have created a brief survey. Please take a few minutes and let us know what you thought of our Budget Alerts and how we may be able to improve them. Also, please stay turned, as next year’s budget is already right around the corner.

Budget Payments

Now that we finally have a state budget, many service providers, school, organizations, and others are wondering when they will start to receive payments for services provided during the impasse (and for some, services provided since April).

Earlier this week Gove…

PathWays PA Celebrates its 31st Anniversary Next Week!

For the past 31 years, PathWays PA has offered residential programs and social services to vulnerable women and their children. Now, more than ever, the economic climate and rising unemployment rate emphasize the need for agencies like PathWays PA. We could never do the work we do and lend support to our 6,000 low-income clients without daily generosity from our corporate and individual donors. This year, at our PathWays to the Stars 31st Anniversary Celebration, we’d like to pay tribute to those who assist us as we strive to help those in need.

The event, presented by Endo Pharmaceuticals, will take place on Thursday, October 29, from 6:30-9PM at the Valley Forge Radisson, located at 1160 First Ave. in King of Prussia. United States Senators Arlen Specter and Robert Casey, Jr. will co-chair this exciting evening of commemoration and fun!

We’re quickly garnering support for our 31st Celebration. To date, major sponsors include: DNB First Bank; Michael & Jennifer Hrischuk; Kimberly-C…

Personal Story: After a C-Section, Mother told to be Sterilized if She Wanted to Keep Her Health Insurance

(h/t SEIU)

It is difficult to find someone who does not have a story about insurance premiums being too high, their coverage being denied, or they inability to find health insurance they can afford.

Peggy Robertson is a mother of two young boys. After she had a doctor-ordered C-section, her insurance company told her to get sterilized if she wanted to keep her coverage.

To hear more about her story please watch the video below:

Health care reform is crucial to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, quality health care. Please share any stories you may have in the comment section below or email us.

Being a Woman is Not a Pre-Existing Condition

In a new report, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) found that many women still have nowhere to turn for their health care.

The report found that women continue to face unfair and discriminatory practices when obtaining health insurance either in the individual or group health insurance market.

Practices include gender rating, or the practice of charging same-aged women and men different premiums for identical health coverage; exclusions of coverage that only women need, like maternity care; and rejecting applicants for insurance coverage for reasons that include status as a survivor of domestic violence.

To learn more please click here or see the video below:

Health Care Reform National Day of Action – Where We Are and What You Can Do

Where We Are:

On this day of action, it is important to understand the status of the health care reform legislative process so we can see how to move forward. Below is a brief summary of the process (for more details, please see the Health Care for American Now website).

In a historic first, all Committees in Congress with jurisdiction over health care reform have each passed a bill. These Committees include three in the House (Ways & Means, Education & Labor, and Energy & Commerce) and two in the Senate (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) and the Finance Committee). All of the bills have some differences, which will now be merged in each chamber. Following a vote in the House and the Senate, a compromise will then have to be reached through a Conference Committee.

In the House, there are substantial differences between the bills passed by the Energy & Commerce Committee and the bill coming out of both Ways & Means and the Education & Labor Commi…

Valuing Families at Work: Reasons to Support Earned Sick Time

Family Values at Work: A Multi-State Consortium and the National Partnership for Women and Families have just released an agenda that has been cosigned by over 40 other organizations throughout the country. Valuing Families at Work looks at the need for earned sick time, paid family and medical leave, and flexible scheduling.

There will be an audio conference later today to discuss this release.

WHO: Debra Ness, National Partnership for Women & Families; Ellen Bravo, Family
Values @ Work Consortium; and Avis Jones-DeWeever, National Council of Negro

WHAT: Release of Valuing Families Agenda

WHEN: Tuesday, October 20, 12:30 p.m. EDT

How: Toll-Free Number: 888-455-2265 - Pass Code: Agenda

To reserve a spot, please call Nancy Bennett, (800) 834-1110

Media wanting a list of workers who can speak from personal experience about
needing paid sick days, affordable family leave or flexible schedules can contact Ellen
Bravo at Media participating in the audio conference can ask

Update: Insurance Companies Denying Coverage to Survivors of Domestic Violence

As discussed in a recent blog post, it at one time was legal in nine states and the District of Columbia for insurers to count surviving domestic violence as a pre-existing condition. The good news is that one of those states, Arkansas, has banned this practice and passed legislation ensuring that domestic violence survivors cannot be denied coverage based on that status. The bad new is that eight states and DC continue to discriminate against applicants who are survivors of domestic violence.

Health care reform is necessary to ensure that everyone has access to and the ability to purchase quality health care. For individuals who have survived domestic violence in those states and areas that permit insurers to discriminate against them, people are either going without necessary care or paying too much for coverage. People should not be penalized for seeking care, which is exactly what happens when insurance companies are able to deny coverage or charge more for pre-existing conditi…

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: October 19, 2009

PA Budget

Even though the budget was signed, lawmakers still have work to do on a gaming bill that would allow table games in casinos. House and Senate negotiators are still working on the tax rates for the games and the one-time license fees that casino operators would be required to pay. Funding for state related universities, museums, and hospitals is being held up until the gaming bill is complete.

In an effort to improve future alerts, we have created a brief survey about PathWays PA Special Budget Alerts. Please take a few minutes and let us know what you thought of our Budget Alerts and how we may be able to improve them. Also, please stay turned, as next year’s budget is already right around the corner.

Please continue to see our PathWays PA Policy Blog for updates on the budget and other important policy issues.


Healthy Families Act

The Healthy Families Act is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that would guarantee workers up to seven paid sick days per year to reco…

New Law Protects Students from Losing Health Care Coverage

A federal law which came into effect Friday will help protect full-time college students from losing their health insurance in the event of a serious medical issue.

Whether students remain on their parents' plans, which are typically employer-subsidized, or transfer to an institutional plan (one provided through the college), Michelle's Law permits students to retain coverage for twelve months if a serious illness forces them to take a reduced schedule or a leave of absence.

The law was named after Michelle Morse, a New Hampshire college student diagnosed with cancer who maintained a full college course load so she could remain on her parent’s health insurance, despite her doctor's recommendation to leave school while undergoing chemotherapy. Michelle lost her battle with cancer shortly after graduation.

This law will be a relief for many students unable to afford insurance in the individual market, especially when many could be denied coverage because they have a serious i…

How Will Climate Change Affect Pennsylvania?

(This post is one of many linked to this year's Blog Action Day topic, climate change. To read more, visit the Blog Action Day Website, or look for #bad09 on Twitter.)

Generally when I think of the impact of climate change, Pennsylvania is not the first place that comes to mind. After polar bears, penguins, and the impact climate change will have on poverty throughout the world, I might start wondering about the changes that will come to my daily life.

But even here in Pennsylvania, the changes will be big. The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report last year noting that through climate change:
Air quality in PA is likely to decrease, thereby increasing the prevalence of asthma, allergies, and other respiratory ailments.Yields of certain crops and dairy products will decrease.Certain species of hardwood trees and birdlife may disappear.Under best-case scenarios, Western PA will have a climate similar to today's climate in West Virginia and Ohio within 30 years. In 60 …

The Role of VITA in the Community

October is not a month that we often associate with tax returns. With refunds long since spent and months to go until this year’s W-2s start arriving, we would forgive VITA programs across the country if they wanted to use October to take a break. Nonetheless, the National Community Tax Coalition (NCTC) has chosen to make October a time of action for these VITA programs. The NCTC has encouraged VITA programs and other organizations that support VITA to make October 21st, 2009 a national Day of Action.

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 working LMI filers. According to a 2007 study by the Brookings Institute, …