Showing posts from June, 2012

Elimination of General Assistance Delayed Until August 1

via PA Cares for All


Coalition to Save General Assistance

Elimination of General Assistance Delayed Until August 1

The PA Cares for All Coalition to Save General Assistance today announced that the elimination of the General Assistance program has been delayed one month, until August 1. Until today, all signs had pointed to its elimination on July 1, the first day of the new fiscal year. House Bill 1261, the Welfare Code bill that will be enacted over the weekend to implement the state’s 2012-13 budget, was amended today to eliminate the General Assistance program effective August 1. General Assistance is a safety net program of last resort for over 68,000 Pennsylvanians who are unable to work, providing them access to critical medical care and a small cash grant ($205 a month in most counties) with rigid restrictions.

"On behalf of the hundreds of General Assistance recipients we represent every year, we are heartbroken at the loss of th…

What the ACA Means for You

Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act we thought we would remind you of the benefits of this bill. Below is a timeline of when aspects of the bill have or will go into effect:

Already in effect:
Individuals who were not been able to find coverage because of a pre-existing condition are eligible for subsidized coverage through a high-risk insurance program Many insurance plans are prohibited from placing lifetime limits on medical coverage Insurance companies can no longer cancel policies of people who become ill Children with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage Dependent children can remain on their parents' health insurance plans until age 26 Senior citizens receive more help paying for drugs in Medicare There is more oversight of premium increases  In 2014:
State insurance marketplaces called “exchanges" will be createdIndividuals with pre-existing conditions will no longer be denied insuranceState Medicaid programs will be expandedAll l…

Health Care Round Up

Below are some articles we found interesting about the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act.
New York Time: What the Health Care Ruling Means for YouWashington Post: Health Care Decision: What Happens Now?SCOTUSblog: Today’s Health-Care Decision: In Plain English NPR: High Court Health Care Ruling Shifts Action To StatesWashington Post: Health-Care Ruling Reactions from the Supreme Court Steps USA Today: How Health Care Law Survived, and What's Next  To read all 193 pages of the opinion click here:

Save General Assistance!

From our friends at PA Cares for All and The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania:
Rep. Murt (R-Montgomery Co) has filed Amendment 12224 to the budget bill
(SB 1466 PN 2261). This amendment will partially restore General
Assistance, a last-resort program that provides a critical bridge to
stability and self-sufficiency for 70,000 Pennsylvanians.
Under the amendment, the General Assistance program will be reformed,
saving Pennsylvania over $108 million per year by eliminating
eligibility for Pennsylvanians whose disabilities are projected to last
less than 12 months. It will preserve General Assistance for
* domestic violence survivors (for 9 months in one's lifetime)
* children being cared for by non-relatives
* people with more serious disabilities and illnesses who are waiting
for a decision on their SSI or SSDI application from the Social Security
* people who are actively enrolled in drug & alcohol treatment
programs (for 9 months in one's lif…

Supreme Court Upholds the Affordable Care Act!

Today the Supreme Court Announced their decision on the Affordable Care Act. The main issues being looked at included the individual mandate and the expansion of the eligibility for Medicaid. For a full explanation of the arguments, click here.

Just moments ago the Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 to uphold the Affordable Care Act. 
On the individual mandate the Court ruled that it was constitutional under the government's power to tax. The opinion declared:
"Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it." As for the expansion of the eligibility of Medicaid, the Court held that it is constitutional but that the government cannot withhold Medicaid funds for non-compliance with the expansion requirements. Basically, the Constitution requires that states have a choice about whether to participate in the exp…

After the Supreme Court Decides, It's Our Turn

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule tomorrow on the high profile legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act. After the court speaks, it will be our turn.
This Thursday and Friday supporters of the health reform law will gather at events across Pennsylvania to say that no matter what the court decides Pennsylvanians want and deserve strong consumer protections and reforms to our health care.

In Pennsylvania, the Affordable Care Act has allowed 91,000 young adults to remain on their parents’ health plans, saved seniors an average of $662 per person on prescription drug costs, and provided free preventive care to 1.5 million seniors on Medicare and to hundreds of thousands of people with private insurance.

The law protects millions of Pennsylvanians from the worst insurance company abuses. Insurers can no longer deny you coverage for a necessary treatment, pull your coverage when you need it most, or put lifetime or annual limits on your benefits.

Have your own story to tell about…

Budget Numbers Hot Off The Presses

The latest state budget numbers were released earlier this afternoon.  This budget includes a spend number of $27.656 million, about $500,000 more than the Governor's budget earlier this year.  This budget may not be the final budget, but it gives some insight into where funding will go.

The biggest news is the removal of the Human Services Block Grant, which had been under heavy scrutiny since its proposal by the Governor.  In February, Governor Corbett contended that creating a block grant would diminish the red tape counties face and provide them with savings as justification for his decision to cut 20% of the funding from the programs included.

While the block grant has been removed, possibly in place of some new language around executive compensation, at least some of the budget cuts associated with the grant remain.  Several of the items covered under the grant, such as Mental Health Services and Homeless Assistance, have lower budgets than last year. Under the budget releas…

Last Stand for General Assistance

June 28, 2012 Update - Representative Murt has introduced an amendment that could save part of GA. If you support this amendment please call your state legislator immediately.  To learn more, visit

Our friends at PA Cares for All are taking a last stand (or several last stands) against ending General Assistance, a program of last-resort that provides a bridge to stability and self-sufficiency for over 68,000 Pennsylvanians without children who are sick or disabled; domestic violence survivors fleeing abuse; and individuals who are in alcohol and other drug programs. If you are interested in keeping GA in Pennsylvania, please consider one of the following actions:
Sign On to A Letter Against Cutting General Assistance:  Michael Froehlich at Community Legal Services is collecting signatures for the letter below, which will then be sent to Governor Corbett.  If you would like to sign on, please email him. The letter is below:Dear Governor Corbett:
We are writing you to…

Do You Oppose Automatic Federal Budget Cuts?

From our friends at CHN

To date, nearly 2,000 organizations have signed CHN's letter against automatic human services cuts in the federal budget. In order to accommodate more groups, the deadline has been extended until COB June 29, 2012.If your organization has not done so already, CHN encourages you to sign - and forward to your colleagues - this letter urging Congress to avoid sequestration’s across-the-board cuts by passing a “balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts to nondefense discretionary programs.”

Here is some background information:

The jargon: the domestic and international programs subject to these cuts are known as “non-defense discretionary (NDD)” programs. “Sequestration” (aka “the sequester”) is the federal budget term for the automatic cuts scheduled to begin in January. To learn more, click here. In response to these potentially destructive cuts, a unique group of organizations has come together to protect the funding for these …

Office of Financial Empowerment

From our friends at CHN

On Monday, June 25 at 3pm, ET, you are invited to join Director Richard Cordray and senior staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for a special briefing call to officially launch CFPB’s new Office of Financial Empowerment.

The Office of Financial Empowerment will promote access to products and services that will help low-income and other economically vulnerable consumers achieve financial stability.

To register, please RSVP with your name and organization affiliation by e-mailing


• Richard Cordray, Director, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau;
• Gail Hillebrand, Associate Director for Consumer Education and Engagement; and
• Clifford Rosenthal, Assistant Director for the Office of Financial Empowerment

This call is off the record and not for press purposes.

FMLA Webinar

On June 27 at 2 PM, the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division will host a free webinar to help workers and employers understand the Family and Medical Leave Act.  The webinar will give workers and employers a chance to submit questions that will be answered by an FMLA expert from the department. Workers and employers who wish to participate can register at

As part of the department's continuing effort to make the FMLA more accessible, the department has published "Need Time? The Employee's Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act." The booklet is designed to answer questions such as who can take qualifying leave and what protections the law provides, and is available at

Special Budget Alert: June 22, 2012

By now, many of you have heard that a spending number has been set in Harrisburg for the 2012-2013 budget.  What remains to be seen is how the $27.66 billion will be spent.  Here is what we've been hearing:
Rumors are that public schools and state universities will be funded at the same level as they were last year. The Educational Improvement Tax Credit may double from $75 million to $150 million.Erik Arneson, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, said the budget will return some spending to K-12 and higher education, accountability block grant funding and county human services programs, as well as some additional funding for distressed school districts.As of now, General Assistance remains zeroed out in the state budget.  At this point, it is likely that if the program is not funded, most recipients will not learn of the funding cut until they get a letter in the mail in place of their July check.The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center also as a piece exam…

Shopping for Handbags, Jewelry or Tea?

Anyone planning on doing some shopping for handbags, tea, or jewelry before June 30? If so, check out the following generous vendors who are donating a portion of their profits to PathWays PA!

You can purchase online or request a catalog from Fran at If you buy online, please be sure to reference our representative (listed below) and PathWays PA!

Touchstone Crystal Jewelry
Representative: Kimmie Fetters

Gigi Hill Bags
Representative: Ave Marie Volinsky

Take Time for Tea
Representative: Ave Marie Volinsky

Free Children's Dental Care June 20th


Do You Use Pinterest?

Do you pin? Because starting today, we do! Please follow us on Pinterest and let us follow you!

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: June 18, 2012

Federal Policy Updates

Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the 2013 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill. This bill includes the funding for most child welfare and related programs.
The Senate bill includes small but important funding increases for a number of programs critical to vulnerable children and families.
$70 million increase for Head Start $160 million increase for the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) designed to both improve quality and expand access $51 million increase for the Race to the Top program with an accompanying focus on early childhood care and education $20 million increase for Promise Neighborhoods, a program designed to support local efforts to fight poverty and improve educational outcomes for children in high-risk neighborhoods $5 million in additional IV-B training funds to prevent domestic child sex trafficking and improv e services for victims of traffick…

PathWays PA Job Postings

Learning Center Group Supervisor
Experience in preschool setting and knowledge of early childhood development required. Develop and implement individualized educational goals for children. Requires a minimum Associates Degree from an Accredited College or University, including 30 credit hours in early childhood education, child development, special education, elementary education, or the Human Services field and three years of experience with children. BSW preferred. E-mail or Fax resumes to: LD/CFF/LC at 610-328-2807.

Residential Advisor – Delaware County
PathWays PA needs a caring and motivated individual to provide support and supervision for our Delaware County group home serving women and children; HS/GED, Associates Degree and experience preferred. 4pm to 12am and alternate weekends. Second position available on a part time basis.
E-mail or fax resumes to: LD/CFF at 610-328-2807.

Residential Advisor/Part-Time Weekends - Philadelphia
PathWays PA needs a caring and motivate…

Too Pregnant for Health Insurance?

From our friends at PHAN
At the age of 22 Stephanie Perez had completed college, was onto graduate school, healthy and excited to be bringing a new baby girl into this world.
This was 4 years ago - before the Affordable Care Act - so it was perfectly legal when her grandfather, legal guardian, received a letter saying Stephanie would be kicked off his health insurance on her 23rd birthday - the same month her baby was due.
When Stephanie tried to purchase insurance in the private marketplace, she was either denied or companies refused to cover her pre-existing condition: pregnancy.
If the Affordable Care Act were law and all its provisions had been implemented when Stephanie was 23 here is what would be different: Stephanie would not be denied health insurance coverage due to pregnancy, or any other pre-existing condition. Stephanie would be able to buy affordable health insurance in the state insurance marketplace, which would have guaranteed maternity and newborn care coverage i…

Support Funding for Earned Income Tax Credit Outreach!

EITC outreach initiatives throughout the state, including our work at PathWays PA, are at risk of losing their funding from DPW in the upcoming fiscal year. Over 2000 families filed returns just with PathWays PA this year, giving them access to free, IRS-certified tax services, financial literacy tools, and quick refunds without paying high interest fees.

Please take a moment to write to Secretary Alexander and to your legislators about the need for Earned Income Tax Outreach funding.

Repeal of the Cohen Wage Tax Rebate

From our friends at the Fair Share Coalition
On Thursday, June 14, at Noon, in Room 400, City Hall, City Council's Committee of the Whole will vote on Bill 120174, the repeal of the Cohen wage tax rebate law.  Since 2004, Philadelphia has had wage tax relief for low and moderate income workers, similar to the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and state Tax Back/Tax Forgiveness programs. But, the start date of the law has continuously been postponed, so that it is not scheduled to begin until 2016.

Under the law, for example, a two-parent, two-child family with a household income up to $34,250 would be eligible to receive some of their wage taxes back. So would a one-parent, three-child family with an income up to $37,250. The law, championed by the late Councilman David Cohen, is the first and still only progressive wage tax legislation ever passed in Philadelphia. If you support the tax credit, you can do the following:

call your District Councilperson and all At-Large Councilp…

Mini-Budget Update - Industry Partnerships

In this proposed Commonwealth Budget for FY 2012-2013, Governor Corbett recommended state funding for the Industry Partnership program at $1.4 million. (This is approximately the same amount that is funding the program this year.) However, "Rapid Response" funding last year also provided additional money to the program.  This year, the "Rapid Response" money is not available for this pool of workers, and there is concern that this funding will not be enough to fully continue the nationally recognized Industry Partnerships program.

With increased revenue, the Governor has expressed support for increased funding.  You can use the following customized letter or email to talk to your legislators about increasing the funding as well.

Where Should $1.65 Billion in PA Budget Money Go: To Human Services or a Shell Oil Plant?

From Better Choices for Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is poised to give away an unprecedented cash grant to the second largest company on the planet. The Governor's proposed deal would give Shell Oil up to $1.65 billion over 25 years to build and operate an ethylene cracker plant in Pennsylvania. This giveaway comes as the state prepares to eliminate General Assistance completely and make deep cuts to schools, human services, adult literacy and domestic violence programs.

If you do not approve of this choice, add your name and organization to a sign-on letter to lawmakers voicing concern about the Shell tax break and calling for legislative hearings. This debate is moving quickly--please sign on by 5 PM today.

Sign the letter

Legislators from both parties are raising questions about the deal. But they are under pressure to get the budget done, so it will take a steady drumbeat of questions and criticism from constituents to stop it.

Weigh in to preserve decades of funding that should …

Payday Lending Update

Last week, the House approved 300% interest rate debt to come flooding into the state. The House passed a bill to legalize predatory payday loans by a slim margin. (See how your representative voted here.) Now, the decision now rests in the hands of your Senator. Call today to share your feelings on payday loans.

Payday loans are small-dollar, extremely high-interest loans, which typically carry triple-digit interest rates of 300% annually or higher. They are called payday loans because they generally must be paid back in full, with all interest and fees, on the borrower’s next payday.

While payday lenders market these loans as “short-term” or “emergency” loans, they really are just a debt trap. Because the loans are so expensive, secured by access to the borrower’s checking account, and due in full just two short weeks later, most people who take out a payday loan are unable to pay it back and still have enough money to pay for their regular expenses.…

Mini-Budget Update-Supporting the American Community Survey

(via The Census Project)
Next Tuesday, June 19 is an important date to mark on your calendar. The Congressional Joint Economic Committee is holding a public hearing on the economic impact of eliminating the American Community Survey (ACS) at 2:30 p.m., in Room 210 of the Canon House Office Building. Witnesses that will be speaking in opposition to the move to eliminate the ACS are Vincent Barabba, former director of the Census Bureau in two GOP administrations and Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Association of General Contractors and also representing the National Association of Business Economists. It is very important that we pack the congressional hearing room! If you cannot come, please urge your colleages to come. If you represent a non-DC organization contact your friends in Washington and urge them to attend.

Also on Tuesday of next week some of our congressional supporters will be holding a noon press conference in the so-called House Triangle right outside the Capitol,…

PathWays PA E-Newsletter: June 11, 2012

Federal Policy Updates

This week, the Senate is expected to begin consideration of the Farm Bill (S. 3240). The proposal includes a $4.5 billion cut to SNAP over 10 years by reducing the ability of states to take part in the “Heat and Eat” program. The cut would mean that an estimated 500,000 households a year would lose $90 per month in SNAP benefits.
But there is hope. There is an amendment circulating in the Senate that would restore, over 10 years, the $4.5 billion cut to SNAP and invests $500 million in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack program. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has a "Dear Colleague Letter" in the Senate asking for cosponsors for this amendment.
If you support this amendment, please contact your Senators (202-224-3121 Senate Switchboard) and urge them to demonstrate their support for SNAP by co-sponsoring the Gillibrand SNAP amendment. Offices should contact Kathryn Tanner in Sen. Gillibrand's …

House and Senate Republicans Agree to Budget, Negotiating now with Governor Corbett (via The Advocates Agenda)

Thanks to The Advocates Agenda for letting us repost.

Corbett Administration and County Commissioners Association Going to the Mat for Human Services Block Grant
PA House tweaks the Senate passed budget bill to spend more on early childhood care and education, domestic violence, rape crisis centers and public libraries
June 5th – Tuesday brought stepped up debate and political posturing about Pennsylvania’s budget.

The morning started with Pennsylvania Lt. Governor Jim Cawley putting forth a united front with the County Commissioners Association of PA (CCAP) touting the benefits of “a new way of doing business” that will result from block granting certain state funding.

Department of Public Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander said the “landmark block grant” would deliver real “innovation, control and flexibility” at the local level. Cawley stressed the Corbett Administration is committed to transforming “the relationship between the state and local governments.” Berks County and Repub…