CHOWCHILLA, CA (March 27, 2010) On Saturday, members of SEIU-ULTCW caught up with the March For California’s Future as marchers made their way to a welcome event being held at Veterans Park in downtown Chowchilla.
The March, created to draw awareness of, and support to stop, the Governor’s proposed cuts to vital programs like in-home care and education, is a 48-day march that originated in Bakersfield on March 5th and will end in the steps of the State Capitol on April 21st.
“I’m marching today for the elderly disabled lady I provide daily care to so that she may live safely in her home, along with the hundreds of thousands of other seniors and disabled Californians whose pleas to save in-home care must be heard,” said Mike Garcia, an in-home caregiver from Madera and member of ULTCW’s sister union – the California United Homecare Workers union.
If the Governor’s threats to eliminate the State’s in-home care program (known as In-Home Supportive Services – IHSS) were to happen, 465,000 low-income seniors and disabled residents would lose the only care they receive that allows them to live safely at home. Additionally, 350,000 in-home caregivers would lose their jobs – placing the State’s unemployment rate at over 14 percent. Such cuts would also end up costing taxpayers money – not saving money – as alternative options to in-home care cost on average five times more.
Saturday’s festivities in Veterans Park included a Chowchilla style BBQ, music, and the shared personal stories of marchers as to why this March is so essential to our State’s future. Being that Chowchilla marks the halfway point of the March, marchers were also presented with new sneakers that were autographed by those in attendance to symbolize the countless Californians who are marching with them in spirit.
In 2008 SEIU members worked hard, dedicating countless hours and resources to elect a U.S. President who would make healthcare reform a priority for our nation. And we succeeded! Within months of being elected into office, President Obama introduced plans to ensure that healthcare would no longer be \a privilege, but rather a right for all Americans. On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – an historic bill that made healthcare reform no longer a dream, but rather a reality. But what does healthcare reform mean to you and your family?
Below are the answers to common questions that you may have regarding healthcare reform and how it impacts you as a long term caregiver. As more details come in and further questions are answered, we’ll be sure to update this document.
Healthcare Reform in a Nut Shell:
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide healthcare coverage or face paying a penalty. It also requires individuals who are not employed or may not receive coverage through their employer to secure their own healthcare coverage or pay a penalty. For people in this category who are unemployed or have low incomes, there are subsidies and other options to make the coverage available at no or very low cost. The bill also protects you from losing healthcare due to pre-existing conditions, it puts an end to lifetime limits on coverage, extends dependent coverage, and expands the Medicaid program.
When will healthcare reform take effect?
Portions of the new law will take place within the first six months of the bill being signed. Other portions will be phased in between now and 2014. Below is a chart that shows the specific reform and when it will go into effect.
|No lifetime limits on coverage||6 months after signing|
|Restricted annual limits, defined by HHS Secretary||6 months after signing|
|No rescissions (cancellation after you have coverage)||6 months after signing|
|Coverage of preventive services||6 months after signing|
|Extension of dependent coverage||6 months after signing|
|No discrimination based on salary||6 months after signing|
|No pre-existing condition exclusions||6 months after signing for children, 2014 for adults|
|Medical loss rations – 80% individual and small group market, 85% large group market, with rebates (means that at least 80% or 85 % of the insurance premium has to go to actual health care, not administrative overhead)||2011|
|Summary of coverage provided to applicants and enrollees||24 months after signing|
|No annual limits||2014|
|No rating based on health or gender, 3:1 age rating||2014|
|No discrimination based on health status||2014|
|Coverage of essential health benefits||2014|
|Limits on cost-sharing||2014|
What if I don’t have insurance?
By 2014, all U.S. citizens and legal residents will have to have “qualifying health coverage” or face a penalty of $695 per year. However, there are exemptions for specific circumstances such as financial hardship, and income-based subsidies to help offset the cost of coverage.
Does this change how we qualify for insurance? Will all IHSS caregivers and nursing home workers now qualify for insurance regardless of the hours we work?
Right now we’re still going through the details and some parts of the bill will be left for states to decide. Stay tuned as we update this Q&A.
Does this change the insurance I have as an IHSS caregiver?
No. If you already have coverage through your IHSS work, we don’t expect changes anytime soon. But over time, like when contracts expire and coverage gets renewed, we expect improvements like the ones described above. Since coverage varies by county and health plan, you should use the chart above as a general guide. But as an example, we expect that if your coverage includes a lifetime limit on the amount of benefits, which can be devastating for someone who gets a serious illness, that will change as the limits are eliminated.
What if I don’t get health insurance at work?
By 2014, you will be required to have insurance – whether it be through your employer or purchased on your own. There will be programs available based on income to ensure that everyone has access to affordable healthcare.
How are my children impacted?
Children and dependents will now be able to remain on their parent/guardian’s insurance to the age of 26.
Will my employer insurance (IHSS/nursing home) cover my children too? If not, what programs are available to them?
When employer contracts are renewed, it’s possible the new coverage will include dependents but we don’t know that right now. Medi-Cal and the Healthy Families Program continue to be options, depending on income.
What about pre-existing conditions?
Within six months of the bill being signed, no child can be turned away from healthcare coverage due to a pre-existing condition. This will also apply to adults by 2014.
I understand I could have to pay a penalty if I don’t have insurance, is that correct?
Everyone will be required to have healthcare by 2014 or be penalized. However, there will be programs available that take into account income to ensure that any out-of-pocket costs are minimal.
How does this impact the cost of medication that I’m currently on?
If you receive Medicare, the only immediate change on prescription drug costs is a phased-in elimination of the “donut hole” which is a gap in coverage that forces people with high prescription drug needs to pay a lot of money. This will be eliminated over time but starting this year people who face the donut hole will qualify for a $250 rebate.
What else does Healthcare Reform do?
In addition to offering healthcare coverage to all, the Healthcare Reform bill puts an end to common insurance practices. For example, there will no longer be lifetime limits to your coverage, no one can be discriminated against based on their health status, and any pre-existing illness you may have can no longer be excluded from your coverage.
Last night the U.S. House gaveled in the first of three votes on health insurance reform. The vote was 219 to 212. That vote was one of the most important achievements by the U.S. Congress in a generation. And you made it happen.
Click here to see how your representative voted, and write to them. If your representative supported health insurance reform, send them a thank-you note. If they sided with insurers and voted against reform, express your disappointment.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, moments before the vote, reminded Congress that “we will be joining with those who established Social Security, Medicare, and tonight health care for all Americans.” She continued, “This is an American proposal that honors the traditions of our country.”
Thousands of activists like you made calls this week – and it paid off. Rep. Boccieri (D-OH) was an undecided vote until this week, when he received thousands of phone calls from SEIU members and other health care activists. Boccieri is just one example of how your phone calls, emails, petitions and in-person meetings made a difference.
What’s next? The House bill heads to the President’s desk for signature, while the Senate will seek improvements to the bill with a package of amendments. In other words, we’re not finished on health care reform – but we’re getting close. And you made it all possible.
On the heels of the the wildly successful 2008 “Walk a Day in My Shoes” initiative, in which then-presidential candidate Barack Obama spent a day working alongside SEIU-ULTCW member Pauline Beck, SEIU-ULTCW continued the program in 2010 by inviting current candidates for California Attorney General and the state legislure to ‘walk a day’ in the shoes of ULTCW members.
The initiative aims to give aspiring office-holders a deeper understanding of the day-in, day-out realities of members’ working lives. Below are pictures of each candidate walking a day in the shoes of an SEIU-ULTCW long-term care worker.
Attorney General Candidate: Assemblymember Alberto Torrico
ULTCW Member: Angelina Olivares
Care recipients: Rosendo and Josefina (Los Angeles)
Thousands of working Californians in eleven video- linked sites took part in an unprecedented “Rebuild California Town Hall” meeting on Saturday where candidates running for statewide offices made their case for how they plan to Rebuild California. Saturday’s town hall enabled 700,000 workers represented by Service Employee International Union (SEIU) California to hear firsthand how candidates plan to lead the state out of a deep recession and invest in our future.
“Who we support is critical to whether our state can recover and rebuild,” said Maria Martha Chavez, an in-home caregiver from Oxnard, who recently led Attorney General candidate Pedro Nava through one of her days as part of SEIU’s “Walk A Day In My Shoes” program. “Hearing directly from candidates is important so we can determine who will make recovering California by investing in jobs and vital services their top priority.”
More than 2000 members of the SEIU California’s local unions participated in the first-of-its-kind town hall from 11 locations across California. Janitors, social workers, security officers, home care workers, school and university employees, healthcare workers, and city, county and state employees posed tough questions to candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and Insurance Commissioner. Following each question, candidates had the opportunity to respond to SEIU members as well as their opponents.
In the coming weeks, SEIU will announce its official endorsements. For more details, click here
SEIU Hears Candidates, Before Making Endorsements | KTVU
More than 2000 union members gathered in meeting rooms all connected by video conferencing equipment — for a virtual town hall meeting — and all looking to hear from the candidates first hand — to decide who to endorse. http://www.ktvu.com/news/22899599/detail.html
Jerry Brown takes on populist tone | Sacramento Bee
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown unveiled a new, populist line of attack Saturday by portraying himself as the defender of working Californians against Wall Street business titans profiting off the woes of ordinary people. http://www.sacbee.com/2010/03/21/2622522/jerry-brown-takes-on-populist.html
Democrats vie for union endorsements | Los Angeles Times
At SEIU video-conference forums across the state, candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general criticize state employee furloughs and tout their pro-labor backgrounds.
Democratic candidates for statewide office vied for a key labor endorsement Saturday, trying to outdo one another in their criticism of state employee furloughs and other budget cuts that have affected union workers. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-candidates21-2010mar21,0,411640.story
Behind in poll, Brown turns up heat on Whitman | San Francisco Chronicle
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown ramped up his attacks on former eBay CEO Meg Whitman on Saturday, saying she has proposed policies to put California “in the loving embrace of Wall Street” while trying to “scapegoat” immigrants and silence working people with what he called an unprecedented effort to “buy the election.” http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/03/21/BA5Q1CJ2LC.DTL#ixzz0ip6Ws2xw
SEIU irá con Brown, Hahn y De la Torre: Sindicalistas hacen foros para analizar a los candidatos | La Opinion
Al iniciar este sábado un proceso de análisis de los diferentes candidatos para ocupar puestos estatales en la próxima elección, el Sindicato Internacional de Empleados de Servicio (SEIU) adelantó algunos de los respaldos que estará brindando. http://www.impre.com/laopinion/noticias/2010/3/21/seiu-ira-con-brown-hahn-y-de-l-179062-1.html
TOWN HALL REPLAY
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On Thursday, March 18, SEIU-ULTCW members attended and testified before the Senate Budget Subcommittee #3 as it reviewed the Governor’s proposed full elimination of the state’s in-home care program (known as In-Home Supportive Services) if the federal government doesn’t provide California with an additional $6.9 billion in aid.
As a result of our members testifying along side other in-home caregivers and care recipients, the subcommittee chairman Mark Leno declared “100 percent rejection” of reducing the state’s in-home care program.
“Today’s budget hearing was yet another step in the right direction as we continue to fight the Governor’s cuts to the in-home care program,” said Laphonza Butler, President of SEIU ULTCW. “We applaud Senator Leno and the other committee members for taking such a strong stand for this vital program and our ULTCW members who will not rest until homecare is protected.”
Update: February 2011 — Even though this report was made in response to last year’s proposed budget, its findings about the impacts of cuts to programs like in-home care, still stand.
The UC Berkeley Labor Center just released this report which finds that Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget would result in a loss of 330,000 full-time-equivalent jobs, boosting the state’s already high unemployment rate by another 1.8 percentage points.
“When it comes to jobs and the economy, not all solutions to the state’s budget shortfall are equal,“ said author Ken Jacobs, chair of the Labor Center. “Cuts to CalWORKs, In-Home Supportive Services and health services for low-income populations hurt the economy more than the equivalent amount of revenue increases. That’s because these cuts would result in the loss of billions of dollars in federal matching funds and take dollars out of the pockets of low-income residents, who are most likely to put them back into the economy immediately.”
LONG BEACH (3/12/2010) – As part of the SEIU Walk A Day program, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal (AD 54) spent Friday afternoon ‘walking in the shoes’ of in-home caregiver and ULTCW member Herbert Tammons.
Herbert, 57, has been caring for his wife Christine, who suffers from mental and physical ailments, since 2004.
“It’s apparent how loving and nurturing Herbert is to Christine,” said Assemblywoman Lowenthal. “I can’t imagine how Christine would survive without him. I think every legislator should participate in the walk-a-day program.”
On March 9, 2010 SEIU-ULTCW’s officer election results were ratified by the Department of Labor. The newly elected 74-member Executive Board, which will be formally installed in late March, is comprised of Laphonza Butler as President, Ana Duarte as Secretary Treasurer, twelve regional vice presidents and sixty delegates who represent the diversity and geographic reach of the membership.
Click here for the article: SEIU-ULTCW Exec Board Election Results