Senate Health Bill Would Increase Uninsured By 23 Million and Cripple Medicaid

NALC Legislative Dept

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced the Better Care Reconciliation Act this week, following seven years of promising the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare) and after weeks of negotiations following the House of Representatives’ passage of the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628), a bill that the Senate said it could not and would not pass.

The Senate’s legislation, which is different from what the House passed in May, is expected to be voted on in tMitch McConnell 2he Senate next week before senators depart Washington, DC, for the July 4 recess. Following that vote, the Senate and House bills will need to be reconciled before a single bill heads to President Donald Trump’s desk for a signature. Both measures are projected to increase the number of Americans who are uninsured by about 23 million.

With Senate floor action expected next week, all letter carriers should contact their senators and urge them to oppose this attack on middle-class workers and their families.

Among the defining characteristics of the legislation are provisions to deregulate insurance companies, which would allow them to charge older and sicker Americans more for health insurance, and to eliminate the individual mandate to buy health insurance and the mandate for larger companies (with 50 or more employees) to provide employer-sponsored health coverage.

Ending the individual mandate would undermine the individual insurance market and the Obamacare health care exchanges, while ending the employer mandate would help non-union companies drop coverage to gain an advantage over unionized firms.

Over time, the bill would cripple Medicaid by cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from the federal-state program that covers tens of millions of disabled Americans, poor children and the elderly in nursing homes, a program that was expanded by the ACA to cover more of the working poor. Such a move would force states to deny coverage to millions of low-income Americans.

In addition, the bill would reduce tax credits for health premiums purchased on health care exchanges and repeal virtually all of the taxes on high-income Americans and health insurance companies, all of which helped to fund Obamacare’s expansion of health insurance to more than 20 million American families.

The bill also would give all 50 states the opportunity to drop benefits required by the ACA, such as maternity care, emergency services and mental health treatment. While it retains protections for patients with pre-existing conditions (insurers must accept everyone and charge the same rates), the legislation would allow states to waive insurance requirements. This waiver includes rules governing which benefits must be covered, thereby allowing states to drop coverage on troublesome, expensive conditions. Reducing coverage requirements is a convenient way for lawmakers to promise continued pre-existing conditions protection without actually having to deliver it—insurance companies could simply choose not to cover chronic ailments that afflict millions of Americans.

Enactment of this legislation would result in a massive tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. The only Obamacare tax preserved is the so-called “Cadillac-tax,” an excise tax on health benefits above a certain value that is expected to raise insurance premiums for letter carriers and other middle class workers.

With Senate floor action expected next week, all letter carriers should contact their senators and urge them to oppose this attack on middle-class workers and their families. The number for the Senate switchboard is 202-224-3121.

(photo:ABC Columbia)

Call Burr and Tillis and Demand Them to Oppose Bill That Would Leave 1 Million North Carolinians Without Insurance

From Action NC:

Moments ago, Senate Republicans released the details of their plan to destroy the Affordable Care Act and take health coverage from millions of Americans. It’s just as bad as we thought it would be.

If this feels like déjà vu, you’re not far off.    Call Congress 2

Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr have been working with Republican leadership to draft a bill that would cut spending on health care to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy. Republicans in Congress plan to hold zero public hearings before they hold a final vote on their repeal bill, which we expect next week!

But we cannot let Senators Tillis and Burr fast-track a bill that could make more than 1 million North Carolinians uninsured. We need you to reach out to Senator Thom Tillis and Senator Richard Burr now to demand that they drop their secret bill to cut health care to pay for tax breaks.

Just take two minutes of your day, dial 1-866-426-2631, and use the script below to hold Tillis and Burr accountable.

What you can say when someone answers the phone:

Dear Senator,

Senate Republicans are drafting a secret bill to slash Medicaid and repeal the Affordable Care Act, and they will not share it with the public before they vote. As your constituent, I find this lack of transparency unacceptable. Share your secret bill with your constituents so we can evaluate it.

While we do not know details of your hidden bill, we ask you to do the following:

  • Oppose any bill that caps or cuts Medicaid funding — over one million children and many seniors and people with disabilities in our state rely on it.
  • Oppose any bill that would increase the number of uninsured in our state.

Instead of repealing the ACA, I want you to work to improve the current system.

Having trouble getting through?  Here’s Senator Burr’s office number: 202-224-3154. And this is Senator Tillis’s number: 202-224-6342.

 

Tell Congress to Reject the White House’s FY 2018 Budget Proposals

NALC Legislative Dept.

June 16, 2017

It’s time to hit the phones.

Budget talks for Fiscal Year 2018 are happening on Capitol Hill and they began with the White House calling for inexcusable hits to federal employees’ retirement benefits and to The White House Fiscal Year 2018 budget is placed on tables by House staff members in Washingtoncuts to the Postal Service, including:

  • Increased pension contributions for all federal employees (1 percent a year for six years— $3,600 pay cut for letter carriers).
  • Eliminating COLAs for current and future annuitants under FERS and reducing COLAs for those under CSRS.
  • Reductions in pension benefits by basing annuities on high-5 instead of high-3.
  • $46 billion in cuts to the Postal Service (through service and delivery cuts).

This is just the tip of the iceberg of unacceptable proposals laid out by the White House in its budget request. NALC opposes such attacks on earned benefits, attacks that serve only to hurt working-class families.

Call your House and Senate representatives and let them know that we oppose such measures—and that they should, too. Tell them that we have given enough—that they need to keep federal and postal employee retirement benefits off-limits and to reject service and delivery cuts at the Postal Service.

Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to tell your House representative and both of your senators to oppose such measures.

‘Official Time’ Bills Introduced in House, Cleared in Committee

NALC Legislative Update

Earlier this month, two pieces of legislation regarding the use of official time were introduced and passed by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The first bill (H.R. 1293), which was introduced by Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) would require that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) submit an annual report to Congress Capitol 1outlining the use of official time by federal employees. H.R. 1293 would require each agency to provide OPM with an annual report that includes: total amount of official time granted to employees; average amount of official time expended per bargaining unit employee; specific types of activities or purposes for which official time was granted; the impact of granting official time had on agency operations; the total number of employees whom official time was granted, total amount of benefits and compensation for those granted official time and a description of designated spaced used for official time activities.

The second measure, the Official Time Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 1364) was introduced by Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), which would limit the use of official time by federal employees. Unlike previous versions of this legislation or official time amendments offered in the past, H.R. 1364 goes one step further by stripping employees on official time from receiving credible service under Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS). During the markup, an amendment was also offered by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-VA) and accepted by the committee which would limit bonuses for those employees using official time.

Official time, which has been in place since the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 has proven to be an invaluable tool for both labor and management to address workplace safety and working conditions, discrimination, training, efficiency and operational improvements and other union representational activity. The markup of both bills extended over a three-day period due to the contentious manner which the bills were being negotiated setting an unharmonious tone for future committee business.

“[H.R. 1364] would set a terrible precedent,” said Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) citing that it would “to strip the pensions of one group of employees they do not like: union members.”

While NALC’s review of both pieces of legislation indicates that neither would cover the Postal Service, NALC is adamantly opposed to bills that seek to undermine the rights of employees in the workplace.

Together, One Powerful Voice

By Craig Schadewald, Vice-President, North Carolina State Association of Letter Carriers

As I write this article, it is the month of February. Since 1976 every President has officially designated February as Black History Month. One notable African American is Rosa Parks, civil rights activist widely known for her arrest in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Parks’ challenge of authority international-civil-rights-museum-1to assert her rights as an American and human being became an important moment in the American Civil Rights movement.

Another notable Civil Rights moment occurred in our own state in Greensboro, North Carolina. On February 1, 1960 four freshmen (Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair Jr. and David Richmond) attending NC A&T University sat down at the “whites only” lunch counter at F. W. Woolworth protesting racial segregation. This act of courage fueled the sit-in movements and led to positive results for human and civil rights.

The Woolworth building is now the home of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum where you can see the lunch counter and stools where the four students sat. Greensboro is the site of our Region 9 Rap Session this August. I would encourage attendees to visit the museum. We union members could learn something from those who stood (or sat) together in an attempt to achieve their goals during the Civil Rights movement.

The actions of Rosa Parks and the “Greensboro Four” were courageous to say the least. However, without the actions of the thousands of people who joined in support of the movement, there likely would not have been positive changes enacted.

We have similar thinking in our union movement with the motto, “in unity lies our strength.” Like those mentioned above, our NALC leaders can be the spark to our actions on our legislative issues, but we need our members to take action individually. When I hear, members say I’m just one call, my Congressmen won’t do anything, I follow with, how do you know if you don’t try? Your call may be the one that helps persuade your Representative to side with our position.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced,” James Baldwin-African American novelist, playwright, poet wrote.

We all need to at least make an attempt.  Most people know you can’t hit the ball if you don’t swing the bat! Although we are acting individually, you are not the lone voice; together our voices are many forming one powerful voice as we pursue positive change for the USPS, our livelihoods and our customers.

There are pieces of legislation being introduced in the new Congress that if enacted could be good for us being postal employees, federal employees and union members, but unfortunately on the flip-side, there are many that would have extremely harmful effects on us, our employer and union.

If you’re not an e-Activist, sign up now. Contribute to the Letter Carrier Political Fund. Attend Branch meetings. We need everyone to stay alert and act when called upon. Our strength is in our collective efforts. Imagine what we can accomplish.

I’ll end with this quote, “At the time of my arrest I had no idea it would turn into this. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of people joined in.” – Rosa Parks.

(Photo credit: Visit North Carolina)

North Carolina: Call Senator Thom Tillis and Tell Him to Oppose Confirmation of Betsy DeVos As Secretary of Education

From the NALC e-Activist Network:

Our brothers and sisters in education, represented by the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association, need our help.

The U.S. Senate soon will consider the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, and the vote looks to be split 50-50—which would result in the vice president casting the deciding vote. Only one more “no” will prevent confirmation of this nomination. Sen. Thom Tillis may be on the fence on this issue and he needs to hear from call-congress-2you in order to make his decision.

DeVos didn’t attend public schools or send her children to them. Instead, she has lobbied for vouchers, which take away public school funding and funnels it to private school funding. During her confirmation hearing, it was clear that she lacks the history and experience to lead the Department of Education. Her nomination is a direct threat to teachers, schools and children in the public education system. She also opposes teachers’ right to collective bargaining and her family has helped to fund paycheck deception and so-called “right to work” bills across the country.

Please join our brothers and sisters and tell your senators that we need an experienced, qualified Secretary of Education who actually wants to strengthen and improve all public schools.

Call (855) 882-6229 now and urge Sen. Thom Tillis to oppose Betsy DeVos.

Also: 5 Reasons to Oppose Betsy DeVos

I Never Cared Much About Politics. Then Trump Nominated Betsy DeVos to His Cabinet

Letter Carriers and Other Activists: Tell Your Representative to Oppose the PAGE Act

NALC Legislative Update

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) is preparing to introduce the Promote Accountability and Government Efficiency (PAGE) Act, a proposal that calls for taking away newly hired federal employees’ union representation and grant political appointees overseeing federal federal-employees_californialongtermcareagencies the power to terminate, demote and discipline workers’ for “good reason, bad reason, or no reason.”

The measure specifically calls for:

  • Making new federal employees “at will” workers.
  • Allowing agency heads to immediately suspend an employee without pay or appeal.
  • Subjecting pay raises to an arbitrary new formula that is still being developed.
  • Denying retirement benefits to anyone under investigation for a felony (including retirees).
  • Allowing agency heads to demote career executives and reduce their pay without cause.
  • Preventing union representation on the worksite.

Before Rokita formally introduces the measure, he is seeking other members of Congress to add their names as co-sponsor of the bill. NALC is urging letter carriers to contact their House members and urge them to oppose the PAGE Act.

Please call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, ask for your representative, and ask him or her to reject the PAGE Act.

(Illustration page credit: californialongtermcare.com)

Also of interest: Anti-fed bill introduced; mark-up scheduled.

State action on anti-labor state proposals.