Health care bill: ‘Mean’: Tell your senators not to take away health care from millions of working people

NALC Legislative Dept

Vote likely coming later this week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced the Better Care Reconciliation Act last 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 health care bill 4and would not pass.

The Senate’s legislation, which is different from what the House passed in May, is expected to be voted on in the Senate in the coming days, 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.

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.

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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.

 

Craig Schadewald of New Bern Elected President of the North Carolina State Association of Letter Carriers at 107th State Convention

The 107th North Carolina State Association of Letter Carriers’ state convention wrapped up in Charlotte this past weekend with the election of Craig Schadewald of New Bern as its new president and Timothy Rorie of Charlotte as its new vice president.
In addition to the election of officers, the state’s delegates also voted to dis-affiliate with the North Carolina State AFL-CIO, while encouraging the state’s local branches to affiliate with it.
Below is the list of officers elected for 2017-2019 followed by a breakdown of the votes for each and their challenger(s).
NC State Convention_Officers_2017-2019_2From left to right: Richard Koritz, Danny Straub, Craig Schadewald, Tim Rorie, Christina Davidson, Debbie Stone. In the background: Jeff Siciunas, Region 9 RAA.
President: Craig Schadewald
Vice President: Timothy Rorie
Treasurer: Deborah Stone
Secretary: Lorna Wooding
Delegate-at-Large: Annie Woods
Delegate-at-Large: Christina Davidson
Director of Education: Francisco Pecunia-Vega
Director of Retirees: Wayne White
Area 1 Representative: Bill Heidt
Area 2 Representative: Natalie Davis
Area 3 Representative: Bob Wahoff
Area 4 Representative: Richard Koritz
Area 5 Representative: Donna Butler
Area 6 Representative: Khaled Khalafalla

Vote tallies per candidate
President: Craig Schadewald, 405; Bill Wray, 137
Vice President: Tim Rorie, 353; Reggie Gentle, 194
Treasurer: Debbie Stone, 432; Jennifer Braden, 111
Director of Education: Francisco Pecunia-Vega, 276; Jamaal Mattocks, 271
Delegate-at-Large: Annie Woods, 282; Christina Davidson, 268; Tim Greene, 220; John Cowan, 187; Wayne Eller, 56
All other offices were un-contested

Locations for seminars and the 2019 state convention
Spring Seminar, March 2018: Fayetteville
Fall Seminar, October 2018: Charlotte
Spring Seminar, March 2019: Wilmington
State Convention, June 2019: Charlotte

The Executive Board contact information reflecting the 2017 elections will be available on the website soon.


Photos of the election of officers being sworn in provided by Tim Rorie.

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.

House Committee Advances Two Postal Reform Bills

NALC Legislative Update

On March 16, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved the Postal Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 756) and the Postal Service Financial Improvement Act of 2017 (H.R. 760).

In a joint statement, bill sponsors—including Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz Postal reform 2(R-UT), Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC), Government Operations Subcommittee Ranking Member Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL)—expressed optimism regarding ongoing efforts to reach consensus on the committee.

“After more than nine years and many stalled efforts,” they said, “leaders in Congress have come to a bipartisan framework for postal reform that will put the Postal Service on a sustainable path. Rather than dismantle the Postal Service, our bill will give it the authority and flexibility to thrive in the 21st century.”

“It is not perfect,” Meadows said. “It is as perfect as we can get it in this environment to make it something that will pass the House and the Senate.”

During the hearing, a substitute amendment to H.R. 756 was adopted, offering some technical changes to the underlying bill. Notably, former committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) offered four failed amendments related to delivery, including one that would require residential customers to opt out of a door delivery conversion within 30 days, in writing. Issa offered two additional amendments that called for eliminating a day of mail delivery and for forcing conversions from residential door delivery when the Postal Service does not achieve 2 percent in net sales. Both amendments were immediately withdrawn.

In a last-ditch effort, Issa sought to tie door delivery conversion to USPS’ ability to make a profit of at least .001 percent in a given year.

Committee members from both parties voiced objections over Issa’s efforts to derail H.R. 756 and the work done so far on it.

“I cannot support this amendment and I cannot support this amendment for two reasons,” Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) said in response to Issa’s efforts to derail the bill. “One, holding it to a standard of 2 percent in net sales profit suggests that we’re asking the Postal Service to do better than what the federal government has done over the last eight years in the 1.5 percent growth in GDP. That to me, in and of itself, is setting it up for failure.

“The second reason, and as much as I hate to do it,” Ross said, “is that I have to agree here with my friend from Virginia, Mr. Connolly. We don’t want all the effort that we put into this bill over the last six years to suddenly just get tanked because of one amendment. We’ve come way too far. But what we need to do is hold ourselves accountable to an institution that has been around longer than the United States government. And that’s the United States Postal Service. Let’s do what the American public wants us to do and show that we’ve come together on a bipartisan fashion to save an institution the American people rely on, want to continue to have and the service of, and then we can move onto other issues that seem to be at the forefront of us.”

“I don’t think I have ever agreed to something that says we’ll have 40 percent of people agreeing to that…would have people going through the process of opting out all the time,” Oversight Committee freshman Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-KY) said. “It doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of what I believe in. I would oppose the amendment and will ride the vote on this one with the ranking member.”

The committee also voted favorably on H.R. 760 after adopting minor modifications to the bill.

Both measures now will be referred to the House committees on Ways and Means and on Energy and Commerce because of Medicare-related language in them.

(photo credit: savethepostoffice.com)

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)