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Thursday, 20 March 2014 18:41

ACA Update: Are Insurance Companies Ill-Equipped for ‘Obamacare’ Roll-Out?

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Since October 2013, Americans have been enrolling for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Healthcare.gov or through insurance agents and brokers. With only a few weeks to go before the March 31, 2014 ACA enrollment deadline, the US Department of Health and Human Services has reported that more than 5 million Americans have enrolled for health insurance through the state-based exchanges.

Enrollment in the ACA and in expanded Medicaid has been patchy because states were given too much leeway regarding what care would be available, how people should enroll, and how much money and effort would be invested into educating residents about enrollment. Some states (like California) have well-developed online insurance exchanges of their own, while other states (like Arizona) allowed the federal government to create their ACA exchange websites and did little to educate residents about health insurance enrollment.

During the final weeks, non-profit groups and volunteers in Arizona have been http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2014-03-14/health-issues/nonprofit-groups-volunteers-hustle-to-meet-aca-deadline/a38149-1#sthash.Kzltxq0c.dpuf" href="http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2014-03-14/health-issues/nonprofit-groups-volunteers-hustle-to-meet-aca-deadline/a38149-1" target="_blank" style="line-height: inherit; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-weight: inherit; margin: 0px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(142, 72, 26); text-decoration: none;">scrambling to enroll people, while the Arizona Republican Party is scrambling to spread misinformation to discourage enrollment– with multiple speaking engagements and mass distribution of an editorial entitled Obamacare: To Enroll Or Not To Enroll? That Is The Question by local doctor, Elizabeth Lee Vliet. And on the national level millions is being spent to dissuade Americans from enrolling, while Republicans in the House offer bait-and-switch alternatives to the ACA which would cost more and cover fewer people.

As both sides of the political spectrum work hard to sway the public, my question is: Are the insurance companies really up to the task of providing care for so many new enrollees? Although the mainstream media takes delight in reporting that fewer people than projected have enrolled through HealthCare.gov than projected, no one is reporting the number of new insurance enrollees who shopped the HealthCare.govwebsite but signed up for insurance through an agent or broker (as my employer did). Consequently, the true statement is that health insurance companies have recruited at least 5 million new customers since October, how can that be bad for business? Just look at the 27.6% increase in HealthNet’s stock price between November 8, 2013 and March 10, 2014 (graphic at the top). Big corporations are making big money on the ACA. Why are the Republicans fighting against it and campaigning against Obamacare as a wedge issue?

Poor Implementation of ACA by Insurance Companies

Were insurance companies betting that the Republicans could really repeal and replace Obamacare– if they threw enough money and media at it?

Nearly three months after enrollment, we are underwhelmed [being polite here] with the service that our employee group has gotten from HealthNet, our chosen insurance provider. What has transpired since my boss paid our first premium to HealthNet in December is an untold story. Today’s post is the rest of the story,

The slow service and multiple missteps by HealthNet have led me to believe that insurance companies were betting the Republicans could stop implementation of the ACA. Obviously, the GOP tried very hard to end insurance reform, with more than  50 repeal votes and many financial showdowns, like last fall’s government shutdown.

Individuals and employers who paid premiums on or before December 23, 2013 were supposed to have insurance coverage as of January 1, 2014. Since we had not received insurance cards by January 8, I contacted our insurance broker, who said:

Healthnet had an overwhelming amount of new groups for 1/1/2014 and they are running behind in installing new groups.They have recruited people from other departments to help in the process and are working diligently to enroll groups. Please pass this information on to the employees and please be in touch should you need to see a doctor in the next week or so. ID cards will be mailed ASAP once the group is enrolled.

Eight days into the plan year, we didn’t have the coverage we had paid for. Maybe HealthNet should have bulked up their staff to accommodate the new groups? They knew the deadlines and the expectations for months. Early in January, we also has not received our ACA authorization– which confirmed that my employer is in Arizona and does have employees who are eligible for insurance through the ACA exchanges. We received the authorization from the ACA on January 11 (long before we received insurance cards or a group number from HealthNet.)

Two weeks into the plan year, our broker said that HealthNet was beginning to catch-up, and she sent me a rate memo to sign for the medical benefits but not the vision and dental add-ons that everyone had purchased.

Three weeks after the premium was paid, we still didn’t have insurance cards or a group number. We were told that we could still go to the doctor and just tell them we had coverage [like that's gonna work], or we could pay for services and get a reimbursement [cuz getting money out of insurance companies is really easy... not].

Being a skeptical lot, none of us went to the doctor during January. As a group, we had just paid ~$2500 for one month of service we didn’t receive. At this point I submitted a constituent letter on Congressman Ron Barber’s website complaining about insurance company implementation of health insurance and suggesting he determine how many other Arizonans have paid premiums and not received services from HealthNet or other insurance companies. (Weeks later, I received a generic letter outlining Barber’s mostly Republican-leaning votes on the ACA; there was no indication that anyone had actually read– much less acted upon– my letter complaining about insurance company implementation of the ACA in Arizona.)

Paying for services we didn’t receive would really piss me off if HealthNet had ever sent us another bill. That’s right, we have not been billed for February or March. Ironically, Aetna, who we dumped and have not paid since early December, sent us all insurance cards and promos and continues to invoice my employer, despite the official cancellation letter we mailed to them. Obviously, neither HealthNet nor Aetna are keeping up with enrollments or cancellations. (The Republican bait-and-switchalternative would give health insurance companies more money and more powerbecause it would allow plans to cross state lines. Why should be give them more responsibility when they obviously can’t handle the flood of new enrollees, thanks to Obamacare and healthcare reform?)

One month after the initial payment, we finally got an email from the broker with our group number but were told that it could take 10-12 days before the number would be active in HealthNet’s system. In other words, if any of us had given the group number to a doctor at that point, the system may say the group didn’t exist.  To me, this nonsense smacks of incompetence or extreme understaffing or both. Again, insurance companies knew the deadlines, the expectations, and the potential impact in terms of new enrollees.

Still no cards but we had a group number, which helped employees feel confident enough to think about going to the doctor in the near future. That’s right. HealthNet’s snail speed caused all of us to delay care.

And then… excuse my French, but the real pisser came on January 28 when I found out that we really didn’t have dental or vision insurance– even though the employees had paid $20/person/plan/month for it. We were quoted the wrong price for the add-ons to the medical insurance plan. Great. The vision add-on ended up being much cheaper than the quoted price, but the dental plan was a HORRIBLE deal (~$50/person/month with a deductible, co-insurance, and a $1500 cap per year). Yuck.

Two months after enrollment, employees finally received these ultra-classy paper insurance “cards” on February 20. It’s a really good thing that none of us had a car accident or medical emergency while we were waiting for HealthNet to get its act together. A trip to the Target pharmacy with my new HealthNet card was an eye-opener at how screwed up the system is. My husband has two common prescriptions and has been enrolled in Target’s discount pharmacy program for a year. When I picked up his last prescription, I gave the pharmacy the HealthNet card and asked them what the cost would be with the health insurance. The HealthNet price was $20 for 30 pills. The Target discount price was $21 for 90 pills– one third the cost of the pills under the health insurance plan that I am paying ~$500 a month for!

Three months after enrollment, we still don’t have the vision and dental plans worked out, even though employees have been paying these premiums through payroll deduction. HealthNets’ incompetence will cause my employer to write checks to all employees to reimburse them for premiums paid. The latest wrinkle is that HealthNet said that our employees really are eligible for the cheaper vision plan because that’s only for new groups that sign up by January 1, 2014. Hello! We paid our premium on December 23, 2013, and all of the employees clearly checked the boxes for vision and dental coverage on the enrollment forms. How is that not enrollment by January 1?

Widespread Complaints by New HealthNet Enrollees

How many other Arizonans paid the first HealthNet premium and got no services? 100s? 1000s? A quick Internet search revealed that we are not the only consumers upset with HealthNet’s disorganization. Here are just a handful of scathing reviews of HealthNet service from the Consumer Affairs website. Almost 90% of the complaints on this website give HealthNet a one star rating. Note the recurring themes of poor customer service– waiting for hours on hold, misquotes on premiums, missing bills, switching doctors. How is waiting THREE hours on hold an acceptable level of service? HIRE some people; you obviously have the customers and the money. [Emphasis added.]

Irene from Green Valley, March 5, 2014
These are not ‘once in a while’ things. They are constant. Reaching claims department is an impossibility! I have been cut-off after holding for over 2 hours several times. I have NEVER YET been able to get through to the claims department to even ASK why they are denying claims. In the documents they tell me I only have to pay a $50 copay for an Urgent Care. So far the Urgent Care has charged me $70, and they are now asking for another $50. They say it is because HealthNet is not paying the claim. But of course, I can’t get through to HealthNet claims department to find out why. I have been on hold with customer service literally for hours and hours, but when you do finally get through, they can’t help you with anything – all they can do is transfer you to another department which is ALWAYS the wrong one!!!

Gerogina of California, March 10, 2014
I then contact Health Net on February 3rd to find out why I had not received a bill yet and they state that the bills were sent late and to just make the payment whenever I received the bill. I received the bill on Feb 5th with the wrong premium. I contact their office to find out why it was showing the wrong amount. I’m told that they never received the information from Covered CA and that they cannot contact them over the phone, nor could they take any paperwork from me that showed the correct premium. It had to come directly from Covered CA. Mind you I sat on hold for over 3 hours just to get someone on the phone.

I contact Covered CA and sit on hold for 3 hours and 22 minutes before someone answers and they state that the information is correct in their system and that it was already sent over to Health Net several times and what more did I expect him to do. I told him his job and to contact them by phone to get this handled… He refused and told me to just fax them my Summary page. I contacted Health Net again and sat on hold again for an hour and 56 minutes. The person tells me they cannot accept any faxes from me nor can they log into my Covered CA account to see my information as it has to come directly from Covered CA. They file a report with their ACA department and said I’d hear back from them.

As of today… 33 days later, I still have not heard back from them. I had to file a grievance with the California Department of Managed Health Care in order for Health Net to get in contact with Covered CA to fix my premium issue and I was finally able to make my February payment on March 6th. They still have not address my mailing address issue and now they’re saying Covered CA shows me as terminated for March and active for April. This doesn’t even make sense. Why would someone terminate coverage for one month? They wouldn’t. By the way, I never received notice of this.

Jaimie of California, March 14, 2014
The following letter is a re-telling of the ordeal that my wife has been through over the last several months as she has attempted to be seen by a doctor who is able to help her with the severe pain she has been experiencing in her right forearm.

In January we were rushed to sign up for a new health care plan because Health Net determined that we could not keep the PPO we had with them up to that point. Although it can be easy to blame the ACA for this need to change plans, it is clear to me that it was Health Net’s decision to not modify our plan to abide by the new laws even though it was within their means to do so. With no advice or ability to speak to an agent who could provide us with suggestions with regard to what plan was best for us (due to an overwhelming of the phone and online systems at that time), we opted into a Health Net HMO, the IFP Community care Silver plan. The cost of this plan was more than double what we were paying before.

Upon receiving the details of our selected plan, we noticed that the PCP that we had been assigned was very far away from our home. Subsequently we contacted Health Net directly to change our PCP to one that is closer to our home. On the first call (where we were waiting on hold for approximately 140 minutes) we were told that we did not have authorization to change the primary care doctor for our 3 children who are all under 6 years old. When we asked to speak to a supervisor to resolve this clearly inaccurate information we were told there was not one available and when we persisted we were disconnected from the call.

We called back again later on that same day and were successfully able to change our PCP to Dr. **. My wife was experiencing terrible pain in her right forearm so we contacted the PCP 4 full business days after we changed to this PCP and were told that we could not make an appointment because we did not yet have our new insurance cards. When I asked George the receptionist if he could contact the insurance company directly to confirm that we had switched to this new PCP, he said that he did not have the time and he hung up the phone.

Pete from Flagstaff, March 13, 2014
I purchased a $300 per month PPO plan through Health Net, which began at the beginning of March. Problems started immediately, as soon as I tried to update my insurance with my primary care Doc, (whom I have been well established with for years). I was very surprised when I was told that my primary does not accept Health Net.

I was simply told to get a list of doctors in their network, and see if they will accept new patients. Unfortunately there are no doctors close to my area that accept Health Net. I had also been scheduled to see a cardiologist, (who did accept Health Net), but the catch was they needed a referral from my primary, so I had to cancel. What is the point of having a PPO plan, I am canceling ASAP!!!

My conclusion? The health insurance is organized crime. The only problem with the ACA is its reliance on capitalism and the private health insurance industry for implementation. When will our government realize that Medicare for All is the best plan?

Link to original article from The Tucson Progressive

Read 7271 times Last modified on Thursday, 20 March 2014 18:47
Pamela Powers Hannley

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth--not just people who agree with me or look like me. I believe that people who promote religiosity but use violence, intimidation, and lies to force their ideas upon other people are not following the teachings of any religious leader.

I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio State University and a masters in public health from the University of Arizona. In addition to being a blogger, I am a published author, photographer, clay artist, mother, nana, and wife.

My Tucson Progressive blog and Facebook page feature large doses of liberal ideas, local, state, and national politics, and random bits of humor. I also blog at Blog for Arizona and the Huffington Post. I am a proud member of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA).

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    The Bible’s injunction that we shall be judged by how we have treated the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40) appears in different forms in virtually every religion or faith. And surely the measure of a country is how it treats the most vulnerable of its people — children in the dawn of life, the poor in the valley of life, the ailing in the shadows of life, the elderly in the dusk of life.

    Written on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 00:58 Read more...
  • NELP Applauds Senate Vote to Renew Emergency Jobless Aid
    NELP Applauds Senate Vote to Renew Emergency Jobless Aid

    Unemployed Ohio Navy Veteran Urges House Speaker Boehner to Hold Vote

    Statement of Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, on the U.S. Senate’s passage of the bipartisan five month renewal of federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation:

    Written on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 00:18 Read more...
  • Thoughts on a Bernie Sanders Run
    Thoughts on a Bernie Sanders Run

    ... if the candidate has a real mass base, is building a broad progressive front around a clear, transformational program, and sees the candidacy as one step in a multitiered process, then it might be worth going for it.

    Written on Sunday, 06 April 2014 00:27 Read more...
  • How Social Security Was Saved
    How Social Security Was Saved

    The release of the White House’s 2014 budget in April 2013 was a stomach-churning occasion for American seniors who depend on Social Security. In an effort to woo the austerity-now crowd, President Barack Obama included in his proposal a new formula to calculate Social Security cost-of-living adjustments: the chained consumer price index, or chained CPI. Presented as a harmless technocratic fix, chained CPI would have hit America’s retirees in the pocketbook by reducing their Social Security cost-of-living increases.

    Written on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 00:00 Read more...
  • 'Better Off' Budget Attacks Status Quo with Bold Progressive Vision
    'Better Off' Budget Attacks Status Quo with Bold Progressive Vision

    Economic blueprint by Congressional Progressive Caucus makes commanding argument for what's possible, but will it again be ignored by nation's powerful elite?

    Written on Thursday, 13 March 2014 22:09 Read more...
  • Why I Didn’t Make it to Gaza for International Women’s Day
    Why I Didn’t Make it to Gaza for International Women’s Day

    When I boarded the plane to Cairo, Egypt, to make sure everything was in place for the women’s delegation headed to Gaza, I had no reason to think I’d end up in a jail cell at the Cairo airport and then violently deported.

    Written on Thursday, 13 March 2014 18:51 Read more...
  • UDC Law School - Social Justice Law
    UDC Law School - Social Justice Law

    The public service-oriented UDC David A. Clarke School of Law (www.law.udc.edu) is the public law school of the nation’s capital. Unlike most other law schools in America, all UDC-DCSL students receive a high-quality, practical, hands-on program of legal study. In addition to the traditional law curriculum, each UDC-DCSL student, under the close supervision of attorney-professors, provides 700 hours of much-needed legal service to low-income Washington, DC residents in one of the School’s eight clinics.

    Written on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 19:20 Read more...
  • I was brutally attacked.
    I was brutally attacked.

    Just the other day I hopped on a plane to Egypt, eager to join the international delegation of 100 women headed to Gaza for International Women’s Day. Little did I know I would be stopped at the Cairo airport, detained, held overnight in a cell, then in the morning brutally assaulted by Egyptian authorities. 

    Written on Thursday, 06 March 2014 21:42 Read more...
  • Bernie Sanders: ‘I Am Prepared to Run for President of the United States’
    Bernie Sanders: ‘I Am Prepared to Run for President of the United States’

    Bernie Sanders says he is “prepared to run for president of the United States.” That’s not a formal announcement. A lot can change between now and 2016, and the populist senator from Vermont bristles at the whole notion of a permanent campaign.

    Written on Thursday, 06 March 2014 21:24 Read more...
  • 2 Million People Cut Off Unemployment Benefits
    2 Million People Cut Off Unemployment Benefits

    WASHINGTON – The number of people who have lost their unemployment benefits as a result of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program’s expiration has surpassed two million this week, according to a new analysis from Ways and Means Committee Democrats.

    Written on Wednesday, 05 March 2014 17:01 Read more...
  • Egyptian Police Detain, Assault, & Deport Peace Activist Medea Benjamin
    Egyptian Police Detain, Assault, & Deport Peace Activist Medea Benjamin

    On route to a women’s conference in Gaza, Code Pink founder and peace activist Medea Benjamin was detained by Egyptian police and held in an airport prison cell for several hours without being charged. During her detention, the petite Benjamin said she was “jumped on” by Egyptian police and “violently handcuffed” resulting in a  fractured my arm, dislocated my shoulder, torn ligaments.

    Written on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 21:20 Read more...
  • CODEPINK Co-founder Medea Benjamin Detained, Brutally Attacked and Deported from Egypt en route to Gaza with International Delegation of Women
    CODEPINK Co-founder Medea Benjamin Detained, Brutally Attacked and Deported from Egypt en route to Gaza with International Delegation of Women

    CODEPINK Co-founder Medea Benjamin Detained, Brutally Attacked and Deported from Egypt en route to Gaza with International Delegation of Women

    Written on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 16:45 Read more...
  • The Progressive Movement Continues to Mature and Grow
    The Progressive Movement Continues to Mature and Grow

    In case you hadn't noticed, the debt ceiling was raised several days ago, so quietly that it barely made a ripple in the press. No threats of shutting down the government or hostage-taking emanated from Senator Mitch McConnell -- or from his even more radical right-wing cronies in the House -- this recent go around.

    Written on Friday, 28 February 2014 02:55 Read more...
  • What a Victory: How a $40 Million Attack on the Middle Class Went Up in Smoke
    What a Victory: How a $40 Million Attack on the Middle Class Went Up in Smoke

    It’s debt ceiling time, and the United States economy is once again on the brink, held hostage by extremists hell-bent on forcing cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Oh, wait. That was last year. In 2014, for the first time in three years, the vote to extend the nation’s debt ceiling did not bring the United States to the brink of default in a high-stakes game of slash and burn.

    Written on Sunday, 23 February 2014 16:37 Read more...
  • The United States of Poverty and Inequality
    The United States of Poverty and Inequality

    New report shows that no matter which state you live in, the 1% are making even more gains as the rest fall back

    Over the last three decades the wealth of the nation's very richest 1% has grown ten times that of the average worker and over that time period that same tiny elite has captured more than half of the entire income increases, leaving the bottom 99% to divide the remaining gains.

    Written on Saturday, 22 February 2014 16:11 Read more...
  • Michael Sam stands tall
    Michael Sam stands tall

    “I’m a football player, and I’m gay.” With those words, Michael Sam, an All-American defensive end from the University of Missouri, demonstrated courage far beyond that demanded on the football field. And America may, for the first time, witness an openly gay man playing professional football.

    Written on Wednesday, 12 February 2014 03:20 Read more...
  • Preserve social programs that work
    Preserve social programs that work

    I started a chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America in Springfield a few years ago. Since then our chapter has grown to include the Greater Springfield Area. At an event last fall in front of U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin’s office we had 75 folks attend from various unions and organizations, many of them traveling from Normal, Bloomington, Peoria, Jacksonville, Morrisonville and Champaign.

    Written on Friday, 07 February 2014 03:25 Read more...
  • Conversations with Great Minds P1 - Rep Keith Ellison - My Country 'Tis of Thee
    Conversations with Great Minds P1 - Rep Keith Ellison - My Country 'Tis of Thee

    Congressman Keith Ellison(D-MN, 5th District) / Author of the new book, My Country 'Tis of Thee: My Faith, My Family, Our Future joins Thom Hartmann.

    Written on Thursday, 06 February 2014 22:36 Read more...
  • JESSE JACKSON: Response to President Obama's 2014 State of the Union Address
    JESSE JACKSON: Response to President Obama's 2014 State of the Union Address

    The country seems turned off and tuned out to the Congress, politics generally and the federal government in particular. The good news is the emerging grass-roots movement exemplified by The Dreamers and the burgeoning campaign among low income workers around the nation, offering a clear challenge to the political gridlock, the inaction and non-work by Congress. Seeking to respond to this grassroots energy and to combat the frustration many people are feeling around the country, President Obama presented an optimistic tone, an uplifting message and a new plan of action to move America forward.

    Written on Thursday, 30 January 2014 20:01 Read more...
  • State of the Union: Right on Wages, Wrong on Trade
    State of the Union: Right on Wages, Wrong on Trade

    President Obama wants 2014 to be a “year of action” in which the country finally begins to address a wealth gap that has made the term “income inequality” the catchphrase of the moment. And he framed the crisis well in his fifth State of the Union address:

    Written on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 17:32 Read more...
  • House passes $956B farm bill
    House passes $956B farm bill

    The House on Wednesday approved a mammoth, $956 billion farm bill in a bipartisan vote.

    Members approved the House-Senate agreement on farm policy in a 251-166 vote. A majority of Republicans backed the bill, with 63 GOP no votes. But a majority of Democrats opposed it, with 103 voting no.

    Written on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 16:45 Read more...
  • Pete Seeger: This Man Surrounded Hate and Forced it to Surrender
     Pete Seeger: This Man Surrounded Hate and Forced it to Surrender

    When some of the greatest musicians in the world gathered five years ago to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of the musician who inspired them all, Bruce Springsteen told Pete Seeger: “You outlasted the bastards, man.”

    And so he did.

    Written on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 16:30 Read more...
  • State of the Union: It doesn’t have to be this way
    State of the Union: It doesn’t have to be this way

    President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night will focus on inequality, on the reality that this economy does not work for working people. Given the obstruction of House and Senate Republicans, the president faces the reality that little of what he proposes can pass this Congress. He has vowed to use his “pen” and “phone” to act unilaterally where he can. But the real challenge is to explain to the American people what the reality is, what must be done and who is standing in the way.

    Written on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 15:56 Read more...
  • Ellison’s Steps to Income Equality: More Powerful Unions and Weaker Trade
    Ellison’s Steps to Income Equality: More Powerful Unions and Weaker Trade

    Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairman Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said that increasing the power of unions is key to addressing income inequality in America.

    “We need a comprehensive plan, but let’s start with increasing the right to collective bargaining,” Ellison said on MSNBC. “We’ve got to get workers on the job in a position to demand that the wealth that they create be shared by the company. That’s a key thing. If you look at how wages has stagnated in the United States and you look at how union did something that has gone down, the lines track right together. You got to get power in the hands of the workers. That’s key.”

    Written on Thursday, 23 January 2014 18:18 Read more...
  • Celebrating MLK: A drum major for justice
    Celebrating MLK: A drum major for justice

    As I went from event to event Monday celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King, I was struck by both the tribute and the distortion.

    The tribute is remarkable. Martin Luther King held no public office. He amassed no great fortune. He led no victorious armies

    Written on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 16:03 Read more...
  • Keith Ellison Blasts Inaction on Government-Backed Poverty: “The Most Remarkable Dodge I’ve Ever Seen”
    Keith Ellison Blasts Inaction on Government-Backed Poverty: “The Most Remarkable Dodge I’ve Ever Seen”

    One day after a top Obama administration official deflected a congressman’s call for executive action to raise labor standards for contractors, activists Wednesday announced the filing of a new Department of Labor complaint over alleged wage theft in a government building. The complaint alleges that dozens of workers in D.C.’s government-owned Union Station are owed over $3 million in back pay and damages for rampant failure to pay minimum wage or overtime.

    Written on Saturday, 18 January 2014 16:26 Read more...
  • King’s evolving Dream
    King’s evolving Dream

    It is that time to pause and think about the incredible life and contributions of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., oftentimes referred to as MLK. He was named Michael King Jr. after his father ­ who later changed both their names to Martin Luther, in honor of the religious reformer.

    Written on Saturday, 18 January 2014 15:37 Read more...
  • Moral Monday Movement Spreads Through the South
    Moral Monday Movement Spreads Through the South

    After drawing thousands of protesters to the state legislature and inspiring the arrests of more than 900 people for nonviolent civil disobedience, North Carolina's Moral Monday movement challenging the extreme conservative agenda of the state's Republican-controlled legislature and administration is gearing up for more actions in 2014.

    Written on Monday, 13 January 2014 13:30 Read more...
  • On 50th anniversary of 'War on Poverty' speech, Worcester Rep. Jim McGovern says cuts to SNAP are 'war on poor people'
    On 50th anniversary of 'War on Poverty' speech, Worcester Rep. Jim McGovern says cuts to SNAP are 'war on poor people'

    U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern says the "War on Poverty" has shifted from helping the poor to fighting them.

    McGovern, a Democrat who represents the 2nd district, spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday about hunger in America and potential cuts to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) in the proposed Farm Bill.

    Written on Saturday, 11 January 2014 15:37 Read more...
  • War on Poverty wages on
    War on Poverty wages on

    Fifty years ago this week, President Lyndon Johnson, lamenting that too many Americans “live on the outskirts of hope,” declared an “unconditional war on poverty in America.” This will not be “a short or easy struggle,” he stated in his State of the Union address to the Congress, “no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we will not rest until that war is won. The richest nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it.”

    Written on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 18:11 Read more...
  • Will New York City Lead the Way on Pre-K?
    Will New York City Lead the Way on Pre-K?

    At the Future of America Learning Center in the West Bronx, the pre-K curriculum is built around adult jobs—visiting real workplaces and then learning about the vocabulary and skills that grown-ups use every day.

    Written on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 01:24 Read more...
  • Advice for Young Women: Get a Union Job
    Advice for Young Women: Get a Union Job

    Back in the days before modern feminism, a young woman looking for work might typically be advised, politely, to “learn a trade,” with the implication that she wasn't bound for college or an elite career, but a humbler job as, say, a secretary or seamstress. Such a phrase might sound condescending today. Yet working in a trade might still be sound career goal for a woman, if she gets the right kind of job—in a union.

    Written on Tuesday, 24 December 2013 21:30 Read more...
  • Walmart Workers Will Make History on Friday As America Confronts Growing Inequality
    Walmart Workers Will Make History on Friday As America Confronts Growing Inequality

    This Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, tens of millions of Americans will travel to Walmart stores to look for holiday discounts on computers, toys, and cell phones as well as to buy groceries and basic household items.

    Written on Saturday, 30 November 2013 15:20 Read more...
  • McDonald's: Low-Paid Workers, High-Flying Execs
    McDonald's: Low-Paid Workers, High-Flying Execs

    He was CEO of the hamburger behemoth, McDonald's, pulling down a hefty $8.8 million in pay. Last year, though, Skinner retired, and, rather than getting a gold watch, he was given a load of gold — so large that even a Brink's armored truck would have been too small to haul it all away. His salary of $753,000 was the least of it.

    Written on Thursday, 21 November 2013 13:44 Read more...
  • Growing Movement: Expand Social Security or 'Pay a Price'
    Growing Movement: Expand Social Security or 'Pay a Price'

    Sen. Warren: 'Social Security is incredibly effective, it is incredibly popular, and the calls for strengthening it are growing louder every day.'

    With Social Security cuts once again on the table in closed-door congressional budget negotiations, a growing movement has taken the offensive, demanding that lawmakers strengthen, rather than stranglehold, our social safety net.

    Written on Thursday, 21 November 2013 13:36 Read more...
  • Paul Ryan Gets 700,000 ‘No’ Votes on Social Security Cuts
    Paul Ryan Gets 700,000 ‘No’ Votes on Social Security Cuts

    Ryan’s office on Wednesday received a petition signed by more than 700,000 people that said there should be “no grand bargain” in the budget negotiations being led by Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., “in exchange for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.”

    Written on Saturday, 16 November 2013 03:10 Read more...
  • House Dems Can Block GOP Food Stamp Cuts—By Killing the Farm Bill
    House Dems Can Block GOP Food Stamp Cuts—By Killing the Farm Bill

    The farm bill will almost inevitably include deep cuts to the food stamps program—unless House Democrats join with conservatives to kill the bill. The food stamps program—which helps feed one in seven Americans—is in peril. Republicans in the House have proposed a farm bill—the five-year bill that funds agriculture and nutrition programs—that would slash food stamps by $40 billion. But by taking advantage of House Republicans' desire to cut food stamps as much as possible, Democrats might be able to prevent cuts from happening at all.

    Written on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 15:28 Read more...
  • Food Stamps, Yes!
    Food Stamps, Yes!

    If you’re reading this column, you probably don’t participate in a government program such as SNAP, to help provide food for your family. If you can afford to have a newspaper delivered to your home, or if you have a computer and an internet connection so you can read online, you may have more than enough money for food.

    Written on Friday, 04 October 2013 01:50 Read more...

Does Your Legislator Support the Robin Hood Tax?

Join "Countdown to Coverage" Share TPP with your Daily Newspaper

CWA devised a simple plan for which they were uniquely suited: drag TPP out of the shadows and into the light - one city at a time - using a medium they understand intimately: Daily Newspapers!

Two CWA members - Dave Felice in Denver, CO and Madelyn Elder in Portland, OR have started the ball rolling. We just need to keep up the momentum leading up to a big day of petition deliveries.

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Hand Deliver a Letter to your Rep on Jobs

If your Representative is not currently a cosponsor of HR 1000 they may not completely understand how important full employment is to your community; click on your state at the bottom of this page to see all the cosponsors in your state. Nothing sends a stronger message to a Congressional member than a personal visit to a district office by a voter with a written request. Phone calls and emails are incredibly important but nothing gets attention like a personal visit. Our Educate Congress page has information and a sample letter. Print the letter, sign it, deliver it.

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Report on your TPP Contact

Please let us know your legislator's stance on Fast Track Authorization for the Trans Pacific Partnership as well as their stance on the TPP in General. Click here to report the response.

The Robin Hood Tax

Robin Hood Tax: John Nichols and Keith Ellison and Michael Lighty

Why The Robin Hood Tax

Rep. Jim McGovern on Protecting SNAP

Workers Speak Out on the TPP

PDA Labor Panel - Progressive Central III

Main Street NOT Wall Street

The Trans Pacific Partnership: Corporate Global Domination

Lori Wallach on the TPP from PDA Progressive Roundtable

Progressive Roundtable with Reps. Ellison and Pocan and Lori Wallach on TPP

Lori Wallach Leaked TPP Documents (Democracy NOW)

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of

Lori Wallach on Thom Hartmann (Great Minds) - The TPP

TPP Downloads

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June 29th TPP Powerpoint

CWA TPP Jobs Report

Endorse HR 1000

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