Skip to Content

Federal Legislative Update October 2009

October 23, 2009
October 16, 2009

October 9, 2009
October 2, 2009

 

News from Capitol Hill. . .

10/23/2009

Health Insurance Reform: Latest News


After months of debating, the entire House and Senate are set to consider the final plans for health reform. It's time for them to deliver on real reform that:
  • Gives us the choice of a public health insurance option
  • Makes health insurance truly affordable for everyone
  • Does not tax health benefits

Take Action:

  • Call Congress today at 1-877-264-HCAN to make sure every Member stands with us!
  • Or, enter your contact information at http://tools.advomatic.com/8/reform to receive a call back and be connected to your Members of Congress.
  • E-mail Congress to tell them to include a public option and oppose taxation of benefits in health insurance reform legislation

Learn more about NEA’s position on health care
Read more about health insurance reform myths vs. facts.

Early Childhood Education Gets A Boost


We have reported in past weeks about the higher education provisions in the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), passed by the House of Representatives last month. This bill also includes significant investments in early childhood education -- so students can arrive at school with the skills they need to learn and succeed.

SAFRA (H.R. 3221) would invest $1 billion each year—over the next eight years—to build what lawmakers call “comprehensive, high quality, early learning systems” for children from birth to age five. The bill would establish the Early Learning Challenge Fund to award grants to states that improve early education standards and practices, build an effective early childhood workforce, and improve the school readiness outcomes of young children. Specifically, it would:

  • Build an effective, qualified, and well-compensated early childhood workforce by supporting providers with degrees in early education and providing ongoing professional development.
  • Promote parent and family involvement by developing effective outreach strategies.

“Early childhood education programs provide our children with the tools they need in order to succeed later in life,” said Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH). “I am pleased that the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act provides funding for these important programs.”

“Investments in early childhood education are critical to the success of our youngest students in New Mexico,” said Rep. Harry Teague (D-NM). “The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act makes historic investments in early childhood education that will give more children access to kindergarten and help them learn the tools they need to succeed in school.”

“Today’s students will be the foundation of tomorrow’s economy; we need to make sure they have the necessary tools--and that starts with early childhood education,” said Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD).

You can view how your representative voted here.

Take Action: Contact your Senators and urge them to support a bill like the House-passed Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.

For more information on this legislation, visit the NEA website.

News from Capitol Hill. . .

10/16/2009

Health Insurance Reform: The TRAIN IS MOVING, KEEP UP THE PRESSURE


This week, the Senate Finance Committee approved a health insurance reform bill, setting the stage for action in the coming weeks in both the House and Senate. The Finance bill will be merged with a bill passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee earlier this year, while in the House, bills passed by the three committees with jurisdiction will also be merged.

Make sure your voice is heard as the House and Senate craft their bills!


FOUR things CONGRESS needs to ENSURE IN THE FINAL HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM BILL to make health care affordable

  1. Make health care affordable at work: Require all but the smallest employers to help pay for their employees’ health coverage.
  2. Make health care affordable for those not at work: Be sure that people who don’t get health coverage at work can afford their premiums and have reasonable out-of-pocket costs.
  3. Give us the choice of a public health insurance option: We need a public health insurance option to compete with private health insurance and force them to lower their premiums. We oppose proposals like a "consumer co-op" that would create anything less than a full public health insurance option available everywhere and ready on day one.
  4. Don’t tax our health coverage: There’s a better way to pay for health care reform than taxing health care benefits, either directly or through an excise tax. Such taxes will reduce benefits, raise premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and lower wages.

Take Action: Call your Members of Congress at 1-877-264-HCAN and say:

“Do the 4 things we need for affordable health care”

YOU DID IT: House Passes Women’s History Museum Bill


Thank you cyber lobbyists for responding to last week’s call to action on the National Women’s History Museum. Congress heard you! This week, the House passed a bill (H.R. 1700) that would
give the museum a permanent home on the National Mall. The museum is a non-partisan, non-profit educational institution dedicated to fostering a greater appreciation of how women have shaped our culture. We will now continue the fight to pass a similar bill in the Senate. Stay tuned!

YOU DID IT AGAIN: Economic Recovery Package Saves Education Jobs!


Earlier this year, NEA cyber lobbyists were instrumental in securing passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included an unprecedented increase in education investments designed to save jobs and infuse money into struggling communities. This week, an Associated Press article reported that “based on preliminary information obtained by The Associated Press from a handful of states, teachers appear to have benefited most from early spending. That's because the stimulus sent billions of dollars to help stabilize state budgets, sparing what officials said were tens of thousands of teacher layoffs.”

Examples cited in the article include California (where the stimulus was credited with saving or creating 62,000 jobs in public schools and state universities); Utah (reported saving about 2,600 teaching jobs); Missouri (reporting that more than 8,500 school jobs were saved); Minnesota (more than 5,900 education jobs saved); and Michigan (19,500 jobs have been saved or created, three out of four of which were in education).

These numbers reflect the hard work each of you did in ensuring passage of the stimulus package with the education funding intact. The result of that work is now evident in the saving of tens of thousands of education jobs.

News from Capitol Hill. . .

10/9/2009

Health Insurance Reform:


4 things the Senate needs to do to make health care affordable

  1. Make health care affordable at work: Require all but the smallest employers to help pay for their employees’ health coverage.
  • The Senate should adopt the HELP Committee’s requirements that employers who have 25 or more employees pay for a reasonable share of their employee’s health coverage.
  • The Senate Finance bill lets employers off the hook and shifts the cost to workers and taxpayers.
    1. Make health care affordable for those not at work: Be sure that people who don’t get health coverage at work can afford their premiums and have reasonable out-of-pocket costs.
  • The Senate should adopt the affordability credits and benefits package in the HELP bill.
  • The Senate Finance bill will cost the typical family $3,900 a year in higher health care costs, much more than families can afford.
    1. Give us the choice of a public health insurance option: We need a public health insurance option to compete with private health insurance and force them to lower their premiums.
  • The Senate HELP bill gives people the choice of a public option, so we are not left at the mercy of the high prices and bad practices of private insurance companies.
  • The Senate Finance bill forces us to buy coverage from private insurance companies.
    1. Don’t tax our health coverage: There’s a better way to pay for health care reform than taxing health care benefits. Taxing benefits will raise premiums and out-of-pocket costs and lower wages.
  • The Senate should reject the Finance Committee’s proposals to tax higher cost health benefits. It will raise costs and cut benefits and wages for middle-class families.
  • The Senate should raise the money needed for health reform by raising revenues on those who earn more than $250,000.

  • Take Action: Call your Senator at 1-877-264-HCAN and say:

    “Do the 4 things we need for affordable health care”

    Tell Congress: Support Permanent Home for Women’s History Museum


    The National Women’s History Museum is a non-partisan, non-profit educational institution dedicated to fostering a greater appreciation of how women have shaped our culture. The Museum has not had a permanent home since its founding in 1996. Last month, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure passed a bill (H.R. 1700) introduced by Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) that would give the museum a permanent home on the National Mall. Now, the bill needs to move to the House floor for debate and passage.

    Contact your Representatives in Congress. Tell Congress to support legislation to give the National Women’s History Museum a permanent home.

    Tell Congress: Support National Classified School Employees of the Year Awards


    Representatives Titus (D-NV) and Woolsey (D-CA) in the U.S. House of Representatives have introduced a bill (H.R. 2377) to create National Classified School Employees of the Year awards. These awards would recognize the essential services that education support professionals – including paraeducators, clerical assistants, school bus drivers, custodians, food service workers, technicians, custodians, school nurses, and security professionals – provide to America’s public schools and institutions of higher education.

    Contact your Representatives in Congress. Tell Congress to support national classified school employees of the year awards.

     

    News from Capitol Hill. . .

    10/2/2009

    October 2, 2009

    Urge Senate to Support Public Option and Oppose Taxation in Health Insurance Reform


    This week the Senate Finance Committee rejected amendments that would add a public option to the health insurance reform proposal under consideration in that committee.  The proposal continues to include provisions that would tax insurance companies for plans over a certain value.  Once the Finance Committee completes work on its bill, that proposal will be melded with one passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee earlier this year, which includes a public option and no taxation of benefits. 

    NEA believes that health reform should guarantee a choice of plans and providers through a private health insurance plan, including one that an employee may currently have through his or her employer, and a public health insurance plan option.  The public health insurance option will compete with the private insurance industry in terms of cost and quality.  This choice is a fundamental feature of an American solution for health reform and another critical piece of cost control. 

    NEA opposes any tax on health benefits, including a tax on insurance companies, which would be passed off to consumers in the form of higher premiums.  Many public education employees have traded salary increases for the long-term security of a comprehensive health plan.  Telling them benefits will be cut or that they will pay more taxes would unfairly penalize them. 
    In addition, such a tax would place the burden more heavily on some workers than others.  Coverage is more expensive for employers whose workforces are older or female-dominated such as education. 

    • Take Action: Tell the Senate to Include a Public Option and Oppose Taxation of Benefits in Health Insurance Reform Legislation.

    Learn more about NEA’s position on health care.
    Read more about health insurance reform myths vs. facts.

    Ask Senate to Support Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Bill


    Last month, the House of Representatives passed the NEA-supported Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (H.R. 3221).  This landmark bill provides something for education at every level, including significant investments for higher education (including student aid, grants to community colleges, and money for facilities), early childhood education, and school construction for K-12 schools.  Now, the Senate needs to act.
    • Take Action: Contact your Senators today and urge them to support a bill like the House-passed Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act. 

    For more information on this legislation, visit the NEA website.

    Tell Congress: Help Students Pursue Higher Education


    Each year, thousands of undocumented students who have lived in the United States for at least five years graduate from U.S. high schools.  Among these students, with whom NEA members work every day, are class valedictorians, straight-A students, and idealistic youth committed to bettering their communities.  Yet, because of enormous barriers created by their lack of legal status, many such students are unable to pursue higher education.  The loss to these students, and to society as a whole, is significant.

    The bipartisan DREAM Act (H.R. 1751/S. 729) will provide a path to legal status for individuals brought to the U.S. as undocumented children years ago.  The Act is narrowly tailored.  It would apply only to individuals brought to the U.S. at least five years ago as children, who have grown up here, and who have remained in school and out of trouble.  Such students could adjust their status to that of a conditional permanent resident and could then have the conditional status lifted if they complete at least two years of college or serve in the military.  

    For more information on this legislation, visit the NEA website.