August 2012

Monterey County Weekly: TAKE COVERAGE

County lags in implementing bridge plan for low-income residents under Obamacare.

Mario Torres, ULTCW Executive Board member and leader with St Mary’s COPA core team, was interviewed for this article. Read below about the healthcare challenges low-income residents face in Monterey County.

Democrats deployed simple arithmetic to maneuver healthcare reform through Washington: More preventive care up front equals lower total healthcare costs down the road. 

But as Monterey County officials crunch the numbers, they’re looking at big implementation costs up front – and they’ve been relatively slow to get one major, federally authorized program up and running. 

In California, 50 of 58 counties have already launched optional “bridge” programs to cover more than 400,000 of the state’s previously uninsured, with temporary insurance plans that will roll over into more lasting programs on January 1, 2014, when the Affordable Care Act takes effect. 

Monterey County’s anticipated Sept. 1 launch date is getting pushed back even after waiting out the U.S. Supreme Court decision and the proposed merger of county hospital Natividad Medical Center with Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital. 

At least half a dozen county departments have to sign off on the county’s low-income health program, ViaCare, before it goes to the Board of Supervisors for approval. 

“Even if everything was a yes internally, it’s still a few months away,” Natividad CEO Harry Weis says.

Weis, along with the county Health Department, is leading the charge in launching ViaCare, an insurance plan that will cover 1,000 county residents who earn up to 100 percent of the federal poverty line, or $23,050 for a family of four. Enrollment will be first-come, first-serve, and if ViaCare goes well, it could expand to 1,500 people. 

It’s a temporary fix until 2014, when Obamacare kicks in and an estimated 25,000 Monterey County residents will get health coverage under an expanded Medi-Cal pool. 

Until then, the feds are reimbursing counties for just 50 percent of their bridge programs, leaving Natividad on the hook for an estimated $6.5 million a year. 

Weis worries fronting an additional $6.5 million could create a cash-flow problem. “We have to make sure this program doesn’t mortally injure Natividad as a safety-net organization,” he says. 

As a safety-net hospital, Natividad already provides care to the uninsured – but ViaCare would resemble commercial health plans, and it’s difficult to project how much an enrollee will end up costing the county. 

Weis is particularly worried about a provision that requires ViaCare members to be covered even while traveling. “It’s not like a Kaiser health plan where you’re supposed to only go to a Kaiser facility,” he says. “They have a lot of choice where they go, and the risk lands back with us.”

That risk, in theory, is cheaper in the long run than sporadic emergency room trips. 

Consider Mario Torres, who cares for his 83-year-old mother in their Salinas home, where he cleans, does laundry and shuttles her to doctor appointments. Torres is compensated 46 hours a month for his work through the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program – not enough to qualify for an IHSS health plan. 

Torres quit construction work to become his parents’ caretaker, and until his father died a year and a half ago, he worked 155 hours a month – enough to qualify for coverage, which Torres, who’s a Type II diabetic, used for regular doctor visits. 

“I need to get looked at every six months to make sure [the diabetes] is controlled, and to have the medicine I need to stay healthy,” he says. 

Since his insurance lapsed, Torres hasn’t had a check-up, but he’s been to the E.R. twice (for a rash and food poisoning, which he worried was liver failure related to diabetes).

“We believe there’s great savings to be achieved by keeping people out of these acute situations,” Monterey County Health Director Ray Bullick says. 

Call or Email the Monterey County Board of Supervisors TODAY and tell them to fully implement VIACARE health insurance now.
Phone: (831)755-5066 Email:

Read the whole article at:

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ULTCW Members Attend Community Events Over The Weekend

This past weekend, many of our ULTCW members were out at community events that focused on getting families ready for back-to-school and gearing up for the November elections.

On Saturday, August 25th, members helped thousands get ready for the school year by passing out back-packs and more at the 14th Annual Back to School Health & Family Festival held by Mothers In Action in Downtown LA. Others helped out at the South LA Summer Power Festival in King park.

ULTCW members also attended two conferences on Saturday that focused on winning a better future for our communities in the General Election in November. Members attended and shared their stories at the SEIU AFRAM Western Region Voter Leadership Conference and the APALA Women’s Leadership Institute.

Sunday, August 26th was another busy day for members as they helped more families get ready for back-to-school alongside the Special Needs Network’s 7th Annual Back to School Event and

And lastly, member participated in the 2-day 2012 COFEM Council where they discussed and addressed the most significant issues impacting and changing the Latino community.

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1 percent Fairfield tax measure heads to ballot

After our own member, Joanne Mathis, testified in front of the Fairfield Mayor and City Council in support of the council adopting Resolution 2108-122, also known as the “1% Tax Measure”, the Council approves the resolution and adds it to the ballot. The Daily Republic reports in more depth, below:

FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield City Council agreed Thursday to place a 1 percent tax measure on the November ballot after an outpouring of support from those who spoke during a packed council session.

Nearly two hours of public comment from a crowd of business owners, community groups and residents led to the unanimous council vote to put the tax before voters. The tax is estimated to raise between $12 million to $13 million per year, saving the city from laying off police officers and firefighters as well as preserving services for seniors and students, according to staff.

“Our job is to listen to you. You spoke loud and you spoke clear,” Councilwoman Pam Bertani told the crowd before the vote. “What really matters is what happens on Nov. 6th. This is not a dress rehearsal. This is the main event.”

Fairfield is facing a deficit of $7.75 million this year and has been studying the idea of raising revenue for six months. The city has cut $37 million from the budget over the last five years and among other moves has cut employee salaries by 10 percent.

The 1 percent tax is set for five years and will have citizen oversight and audits if approved. Fairfield currently has a sales tax of 7.375 percent.

Read more at:

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Fairfield Member Testifies at City Council

On Thursday, July 26th, SEIU ULTCW member, Joanne Mathis, read on behalf of President, Laphonza Butler:

Dear Mayor and City Council,

Recently members of SEIU ULTCW came together and unanimously voted to support the City of Fairfield moving forward with placing a local revenue measure on the November 2012 ballot to protect local programs and services including senior programs, youth programs, and public safety.

SEIU ULTCW represents 180,000 Home Care workers in California, including Solano County and the City of Fairfield. Our members care for the elderly and disabled in their homes allowing consumers to live independent healthy lives at home.

We know that as Fairfield has lost more than $44 million dollars in the last three years to State takeaways, which has taken a toll on Fairfield and the services our members depend on in the City including Senior Center programs and hours.

The City has already cut $37 million from its budget and eliminated 150 staff positions. The City cannot make further budget cuts without having additional significant impacts on the quality of life in Fairfield and the character of the community that our members value deeply.

Fairfield needs a protected, reliable source of local revenue that stays in Fairfield for the services residents want and need, that cannot be taken by Sacramento. We want to urge the Fairfield City Council to vote to adopt Resolution 2108-122 to place this local revenue measure on the November ballot, allowing Fairfield voters to protect the services they want in their community.

Thank you,

Laphonza Butler

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This November is about winning for better jobs, quality healthcare, improved working conditions and valuing workers. Below are the positions of SEIU ULTCW on key ballot initiatives that will impact our members and our communities.

Proposition 30: The Schools and Safety Protection Act of 2012

PROP 30 will put California’s finances on a firm footing, end the cuts to education, protect public safety, and ensure that the reforms we have just won will stay in place. Prop. 30 is critical step toward getting California back on track and investing in our common future. It asks families making over $500,000 a year to pay a little more to get California back on track. PROP 30 will prevent $6 billion in devastating cuts to our schools this year and provides billions in new funding for our schools starting this year – money schools need for smaller class sizes, up-to-date textbooks and rehiring teachers. All the funding under PROP 30 is temporary and the initiative can’t be modified without voter approval.

Yes on 30 Website: (English only)

Proposition 32: Stop the Special Exemptions Act

PROP 32 is a trick. It was designed to appear balanced but really creates special exemptions allowing corporate special interests and Super PACs to spend with NO LIMITS in politics, while eliminating the voice of workers. It’s unbalanced, unfair and does nothing to address the broken system in Sacramento. It simply gives corporate CEO’s even more power to write their own rules at the expense of everyone else. PROP 32 is the first of a “one-two” punch. The anti-union backers are trying to fool voters into passing this measure now so they can come back with measures later that strip away our rights like collective bargaining, (think Wisconsin), priorities like job security, funding for our programs and other vital services and even the right to have a union at all. Vote NO on PROP 32.

No on 32 Web site:  (English and Spanish)

Other Important Propositions

Proposition 31: California Government Performance and Accountability Act

Proposition 33: Insurance Persistency Discounts Act

Proposition 38: Molly Munger’s State Income Tax Increase to Support Education Initiative
ULTCW is supporting Prop. 30 for education and public safety.

Proposition 40: Referendum on the State Senate Redistricting Plan

NOTE: Propositions not mentioned on this guide indicates that ULTCW has not taken a position.

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How Prop 32 Will Affect You.

Every year, ULTCW members use our political voice. We speak out, organize, and advocate for the things we care about. Like healthcare, in-home care, education, and public safety. These are the things that matter the most to working families in California.

But Proposition 32 wants to take away our political voice, and make it impossible for us to be heard. The initiative has been cleverly written as a way to “clean up politics” – but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

Proposition 32 was written by wealthy right-wing backers in a way that creates special exemptions and loopholes that would allow corporations, billionaires, and SuperPACs to spend unlimited money on politics. It was intentionally written to advance corporate special interests and silence working people. This would leave their agenda unchallenged in Sacramento. It’s an agenda that does not include people like us, our families, neighbors, or our communities.

Watch and share this video with your friends, family and colleagues:

And then remember to vote NO on Prop 32 on November 6th.

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No on 32 Tele Town Hall

On Tuesday, September 25th, 2012, ULTCW will host an No on 32 Tele Town Hall at 6:30pm to talk about the importance of voting NO on Proposition 32 in order to protect our wins and protect our political voice from being silenced.  During this conversation, we will also be joined by our SEIU International President, Mary Kay Henry. If you would like to contribute a comment or a question for the Teletown hall in advance, you can do so below.

Your participation in our Teletown hall is important.  Please note that we only have the capability to call you once. To be connected to the call and learn about what YOU can do to protect YOUR political voice from being silenced, simply pick up the phone at 6:30pm on Tuesday, September 25th.


Submit your questions now to be answered live during the tele-town hall

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