Health care coverage for millions of U.S. children hangs in the balance

There are currently 48 million Americans without health insurance, a large number of whom are children. The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), enacted a decade ago - intended to help kids whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but who have neither employer-paid insurance nor private health care policies - is now up for renewal.

This very successful program has broad bi-partisan support, but President Bush has threatened to veto, apparently, because SCHIP might work better than private insurance. "My concern is that when you expand eligibility...you're really beginning to open up an avenue for people to switch from private insurance to the government," Bush told the Washington Post Monday.

The House legislation, the Children's Health and Medicare Protection or CHAMP Act, was passed along party lines Aug. 6 with a vote of 225-204. It authorizes an additional $50 billion in health care coverage over five years, benefiting 6 million children currently covered by SCHIP and an additional 5 million additional low-income children who are eligible but not receiving care due to funding shortfalls.

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Democratic presidential candidates answer questions at ACORN forum today

ACORN, the nation's largest grassroots community organization representing low-income families, is holding a Democratic Presidential Candidates Forum at Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia today, starting at 1 p.m., focusing issues of particular concern to low and moderate-income people.

The event is being simulcast at www.acorn.org/candidatesforum

Sen. Hillary R. Clinton, former Sen. John Edwards and Rep. Dennis Kucinich will answer questions from ACORN leaders about the following issues:

  • Broadening eligible participation in government services
  • Protecting against predatory lending practices
  • Developing comprehensive immigration reforms
  • Increasing investment in cities
  • Creating affordable housing
  • Supporting better public education
  • Improving income, wages and working conditions
  • Protecting the right to vote
  • Rebuilding New Orleans

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John Edwards' advocacy for the poor defended

A June 22 New York Times story insinuated that John Edwards' Center for Promise and Opportunity, "a nonprofit organization with the stated mission of fighting poverty," was merely a vehicle to finance his presidential campaign.

The writer, Leslie Wayne, asserts "the organization became a big part of a shadow political apparatus for Mr. Edwards after his defeat as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004 and before the start of his presidential bid this time around."

Despite that Edwards has talked about income inequality and "two Americas" from the beginning of his political career, the editorial calls the poverty center a "shadow political apparatus." ACORN's Wade Rathke writes this in his Chief Organizer blog about the Times story and Edwards' motivations...

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ACORN members meet with Federal Reserve Leaders to discuss home foreclosures

Thirty-five ACORN members met yesterday with Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke and Fed. Gov. Randall Kroszner at the agency's headquarters in Washington DC to discuss the possibility of regulating predatory lending to slow the rate of home foreclosures.

The Federal Reserve Board has the authority to address mortgage problems, but had not done so, while an estimated 2.2 million U.S. home loans are predicted to foreclose as a result of subprime lending during the past decade.

Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke agreed to meet with ACORN representatives after the community organization held more than a dozen protests June 6 in front of Federal Reserve offices.

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ACORN to meet with Federal Reserve chair today on predatory lending

ACORN members called on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to ban predatory lending practices, and held press conferences and rallies two weeks ago in more than a dozen U.S. cities. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke quickly agreed to meet with ACORN representatives today to discuss regulating the lending industry to help forestall the torrent of home foreclosures.

The Federal Reserve Board has the authority to address mortgage problems, but had not done so, while an estimated 2.2 million U.S. home loans are predicted to foreclose as a result of subprime lending during the past decade.

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Give me your tired, your poor and a $5,000 fine

Democratic and Republican senators reached a compromise on immigration Friday, but the result was a bill that satisfied no one.

The current bill offers legal status to 12 million immigrants already living in the United States - which some critics call "amnesty." Illegal workers already in the United States could receive a temporary Z visa, but to become U.S. citizens, they would have to pay steep fines, periodically return to their home countries, wait at least eight years - and pay their own health insurance.

United States' immigration policy has always been geared to uniting families, but this bill gives immigrants limited means of petitioning for relatives.

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N.Y. state childcare workers get right to organize

Pundits consistently extol the importance of safeguarding children, yet child care continues to get short shrift. There are currently 12 million children under 5 year enrolled in child care in the United States today, yet the people who care for them are among the nation's lowest paid workers.

A 1998 study conducted by the Center for the Child Care Workforce found that childcare workers' hourly pay averaged just $6 - less than parking lot attendants. In New York City, where the cost of living is one of the highest in the nation, daycare providers now earn about $19,000 per year.

But that might soon change. N.Y. Gov. Eliot Spitzer signed an executive order last week, giving 60,000 home-based child care providers the right to unionize.

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El Paso smelter opposed due to air quality concerns

An Arizona copper mining company is attempting to resume operations after having been shut down since 1999 when worldwide copper prices fell. But local residents, environmentalists and the El Paso City Council are opposing its permit approval due to concerns for public health.

The plant is located less than a mile from the New Mexico border where state officials said emissions had created arsenic and lead soil contamination, The Associated Press reported.

In October 2005, administrative judges ruled that Asarco's permit should not be renewed because the company had been unable to prove it would not contribute to air pollution.

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ACORN acting to stop home foreclosure epidemic

According to the Center for Responsible Lending, 2.4 million U.S. homes are projected to foreclose as a result of recent subprime lending. ACORN offices have been taking action to inform homeowners at risk of losing their homes of the options available to them to avert foreclosure. They are also putting pressure on lenders and legislators to place a one-year moratorium on seizures.

A new study released March 26 by Policy Matters Ohio, a nonprofit research group, showed Ohio to be the worst in the nation with regard to home foreclosures. The state's foreclosures were up 25 percent since last year with more than 79,000 homes at risk.

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Connecticut legislature working toward passage of mandatory sick days

It seems only logical that if we as a nation value public health that restaurant and hospitality industry workers should not come to work sick. Yet, 85 percent of food-service workers do not get paid time off when they are ill. To make matters worse, those workers, who usually get hourly pay that is lower than the minimum wage, cannot afford to take time off for illness. So, they come to work sick.

It does not take a policy expert to figure out this poses not only a public health concern, but concern for the children of workers' without paid sick pay.

Connecticut took a step forward this past Friday when paid sick days legislation (SB 601) cleared the judiciary committee with a vote of 19-13. Forty percent of Connecticut workers are currently without paid sick days. The bill still needs to pass the Senate.

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