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CONCORD—Carol Shea-Porter emerged the clear winner at tonight’s NH1 debate, discussing the work she is doing to create jobs around the District, including the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and offering solutions for middle class families that left Frank Guinta fumbling to defend his extreme Tea Party record.

“While Carol highlighted her work for New Hampshire’s middle class, Frank Guinta refused to explain his anti-middle-class budgets that would hurt seniors, came out in opposition to our state’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion, and wouldn’t tell voters why he voted against Planned Parenthood and why he opposes abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother,” said Shea-Porter spokeswoman Marjorie Connolly. “First District voters have a clear choice on November 4th between Tea Partier Frank Guinta and Carol Shea-Porter, who’s working for the ‘Rest of Us.’”

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley released the following statement after tonight’s New Hampshire 1st Congressional debate:

“Tonight’s debate featured Tea Party former congressman Frank Guinta reiterate his extreme Koch Brothers agenda that includes cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans and big oil companies at the expense of middle-class families, cutting Social Security and privatizing Medicare, and opposing a woman’s right to choose even to save the life of the mother.”

“Granite State voters will reject Frank Guinta’s out-of-touch Tea Party views and his mystery-money scandals, and continue to support Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter’s proven record of standing up for middle-class priorities and supporting economic growth here in New Hampshire.”

The post Shea-Porter Cleans Up at NH1 Debate; Guinta Runs From Extreme Record appeared first on NH Labor News.



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Company Makes Accusations Without Evidence Leaders Say

Augusta, ME—Union leaders responded to FairPoint’s public statement suggesting that some unnamed individuals are engaged in “phone jamming activity,” saying that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America are absolutely unaware of any persons or organizations intentionally jamming FairPoint call center lines through automated means. Union leaders have asked FairPoint to provide any specific information or evidence regarding these allegations so that they may investigate the Company’s claims.

As to the allegations regarding the unions’ picketing activities, the company has similarly failed to provide any information or evidence as to when and where any union member has engaged in any unlawful conduct. The law provides that unions may lawfully and peacefully picket at company facilities and any other work site where union work is being performed. The goal of such picketing is to send a message regarding the company’s unfair labor practices to the managers and out-of-state replacement workers who have come into our communities to take local workers’ jobs. The unions deeply regret any inconvenience this picketing activity may cause to FairPoint customers. The suggestion that the unions would seek to intimidate our neighbors and friends in the communities where we live and work is outrageous and unfounded.

Prior to the strike action, the unions carefully trained our members about their federally-protected rights to engage in peaceful picketing activity. We will continue to work hard to ensure that our labor action is safe and respectful to our neighbors and friends throughout Northern New England, but we will not let FairPoint use these spurious and unfounded allegations to take the spotlight off of the company’s unfair practices and unwillingness to provide appropriate working conditions for the hard-working men and women who have served these communities for many years.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/1taVo9S.

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As a former foster parent I was thrilled that when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in March 2010 it contained a provision to expand Medicaid coverage to former foster children up to age 26. Here’s what the law states:

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) Section 2004:
Medicaid Coverage for Former Foster Care Children

Beginning in 2014, states must provide Medicaid coverage for individuals under age 26 who were in foster care at age 18 and receiving Medicaid. Consistent with this rule, youth are eligible for Medicaid if they:

  • Are under age 26;
  • Are not eligible for and enrolled in mandatory Medicaid coverage; and
  • Were in foster care under the state’s or tribe’s responsibility and also enrolled in Medicaid under the state’s Medicaid state plan or 1115 demonstration (or at state option were in foster care and Medicaid in any state rather than “the” state where the individual is now residing and applying for Medicaid) at age 18 or older if the state’s federal foster care assistance under title IV-E continued beyond that age.

First Focus released a new SPARC brief last week Former Foster Youth: An Update on the State Option and State Efforts to Ensure Coverage for All Young People Irrespective of Where They Aged Out of Care. This policy brief provides an overview of the new mandatory Medicaid coverage for former foster youth under the ACA, highlighting relevant Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulatory activity to date and additional concerns regarding the “state option,” summarizes state progress in taking up this option to provide coverage for former foster youth, irrespective of where they aged out of care, and makes recommendations for what more should be done to ensure access to coverage for every young person aging out of care.

Here are a few excerpts from that brief.

Why Health Coverage Matters

The expansion of Medicaid to cover youth previously in foster care to age 26 is a significant victory for this population because it provides access to critical health coverage for an especially vulnerable group of young adults. Children who have been abused or neglected often experience a range of physical and mental health needs, physical disabilities and developmental delays, far greater than other high-risk populations. For example, foster children are more likely than other children who receive health coverage through Medicaid to experience emotional and psychological disorders and have more chronic medical problems. Research suggests that nearly 60 percent of children in foster care experience a chronic medical condition, and one-quarter suffer from three or more chronic health conditions. Roughly 35 percent have significant oral health problems. In addition, nearly 70 percent of children in foster care exhibit moderate to severe mental health problems, and 40 to 60 percent are diagnosed with at least one psychiatric disorder.

Not surprisingly, youth aging out of foster care continue to experience poor health outcomes into adulthood, including high rates of drug and alcohol use, unplanned pregnancies and poor mental health outcomes. More than half of former foster youth report being uninsured, and more than one-fifth report unmet needs for medical care. Findings from the Midwest Study highlight that one-third of youth aging out reported two or more emergency room visits in past year, 22 percent were hospitalized at least once, 43 percent were uninsured, fewer than half had dental insurance, three-quarters of young women had been pregnant, and 19 percent received mental or behavioral health care in the past year.

Given that former foster youth have well-documented and often significant health care needs, these young people should be eligible for Medicaid coverage in any state, and once enrolled, should be able to retain their coverage irrespective of changes in residency.

Regulatory Guidance to Date on the ACA Provision for Former Foster Youth

In early 2013, CMS issued a number of documents to clarify how states should implement the new provision. On January 22, 2013, CMS issued a proposed rule in the Federal Register, which clarified CMS’s interpretation that a youth is only eligible for Medicaid coverage in the same state in which he or she was in foster care at age 18 and enrolled in Medicaid. While CMS gave states the option to cover youth under this group who were in foster care and Medicaid in any state at the relevant point in time, it did not require that they do so.

On July 15, 2013 CMS published the final rule, clarifying several outstanding issues, including that the new eligibility category of former foster youth are eligible for full Medicaid benefits including Early, Periodic, Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) up to age 21. On December 31, 2013, CMS issued a FAQ that clarified that it would approve state plan amendments8 to cover youth who were in foster care and receiving Medicaid when they turned 18 or aged out of foster care in another state – meaning that states could receive federal reimbursement for out-of-state foster youth if they choose to enroll them in Medicaid.

More recently, on August 24, 2014, CMS posted a State Highlights feature on Medicaid.gov focusing on the provision to enable former foster youth to keep their Medicaid coverage, and highlighting efforts in Idaho and Georgia to reach out to and enroll young people who have aged out of care.  It is noteworthy that CMS chose to highlight this provision and demonstrates that it is tracking implementation progress in states.

To date, only 12 states have taken up the option to extend coverage to youth who aged out in another state:

  • California
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Wisconsin
  • Virginia (pending state plan amendment)

Unfortunately, with a majority of states opting to not cover youth aging out in other states, many young people will be left without essential medical coverage.

The expansion of Medicaid to cover youth previously in foster care to age 26 is a significant victory for this population. One of the most popular parts of health reform is coverage for kids up to age 26 on their parents’ insurance plan. This new mandatory coverage for former foster youth has the potential to provide equal treatment in cases where the state steps in to care for children removed from the home as a result of abuse or neglect. It is critical that we remove any barriers to coverage for young people aging out of care, and that includes removing the eligibility restriction tied to residency.

While we hope that both Congress and CMS will consider taking steps to resolve this concern, it is also critical that state advocates, policymakers and other stakeholders continue to work to push states to take up the option to cover all former foster youth residing in their state.

GROWING UP GRANITE

Last week the Census Bureau released the Supplemental Poverty Measure for 2013.  The SPM extends the official poverty measure by taking account of many of the government programs designed to assist low-income families and individuals that are not included in the current official poverty measure.

Our friends at the NH Fiscal Policy Institute delve into the Census Bureau release in their new Common Cents blogpost and find that the New Hampshire poverty rate increases with the Supplemental Measure:

Ask any scientist or researcher and they’ll tell you: measurement matters. While one might commonly think of a biologist or an astronomer calibrating instruments to arrive at more accurate observations, that truth extends to the social sciences as well, where better, more robust measures can yield new insights into economic conditions.

For instance, a more comprehensive measure of poverty – known as the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) – demonstrates that New Hampshire’s poverty rate is much higher than typically thought. New SPM data released last week by the US Census Bureau indicate that New Hampshire’s poverty rate for the 2011-2013 period was 10.5 percent, 2.2 percentage points higher than the rate under the traditional, official poverty measure for that time frame. It also suggests that approximately 138,000 Granite Staters lived in poverty during that period, an increase of roughly 29,000 people or nearly 27 percent over the number living in poverty under the traditional measure.

Economists and other experts have long understood that that official measure of poverty suffers from significant shortcomings. It both fails to account properly for all of the costs people face and neglects the fact that certain parts of the country can be far pricier than others. The SPM attempts to address these fundamental flaws and to assess more precisely the resources available within families to meet basic needs, counting not just income, but the cash value of benefits like nutrition assistance or housing subsidies.

These adjustments have a distinct impact in New Hampshire, which was one of just 13 states where the poverty rate was higher under the SPM than under the official measure. In contrast, some 26 states enjoyed lower poverty rates under the SPM, while, in the remaining 11, there was no statistically meaningful difference between the two measures. The reasons for the differences among the states are uncertain, given the data available from the Census Bureau, but the agency’s analysis of national level data reveal that out-of-pocket medical expenditures as well as work expenses can drive up poverty rates under the SPM. It may also be telling that many of the 13 states with heightened rates are concentrated in the Northeast, which tends to have a higher overall cost of living.

The latest Supplemental Poverty Measure data, when combined with traditionally measured poverty rates that are still higher than pre-recession levels in New Hampshire, suggests that much remains to be done to ensure greater economic security for all Granite Staters.

The post Granite State Rumblings: Medicaid Expansion Helps Former Foster Kids Receive Healthcare Till Age 26 appeared first on NH Labor News.



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Concord, NH – Last night during a live NH1 debate, Tea Party candidate Marilinda Garcia doubled-down on her opposition to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), calling it “only a catchy title” and “not smart spending”.

“For 20 years, the Violence Against Women Act has enjoyed strong bipartisan support from both Republicans and Democrats alike, and it has helped our community make huge strides in the fight to eradicate domestic violence, provide necessary support to victims, and put perpetrators behind bars,” said Kuster campaign spokeswoman Rosie Hilmer. “The fact that Marilinda Garcia would actually say that ‘just because this law has a catchy title, doesn’t make it a great law’ is incredibly insulting to the thousands of Granite Staters this law has helped over the past 20 years, and her assertion that providing support for victims of domestic violence is ‘not smart spending’ is truly egregious. This shows that Garcia will stop at nothing to enact her extreme, Tea Party agenda – to the detriment of our Granite State families.”

Congresswoman Annie Kuster is an advocate for New Hampshire women and their families, and she’s proud to join both her Republican and Democratic colleagues in the House in supporting the Violence Against Women Act.

The post Garcia Says the Violence Against Women Act is “Only a Catchy Title” and “Not Smart Spending” appeared first on NH Labor News.



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CDC-logo-4inch

Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new Ebola guidance for U.S. healthcare workers.  AFT and National Nurses United have been pushing for more restrictive guidance to protect the millions of healthcare providers in the US.

After the news broke AFT President Randi Weingarten released the following statement:

“At hospitals throughout our nation, nurses and healthcare professionals are doing everything they can to be ready to care for whoever comes through their doors. The CDC’s new guidance for healthcare workers and the positive actions taken by the Obama administration fall directly in line with what our members called for last week: infection-control protocols and worker-preparedness plans; dedicated, specially trained teams of willing staff; and the proper equipment for nurses and healthcare professionals working in America’s hospitals.

As the second-largest nurses union in the United States, the AFT is working to keep our communities safe and healthy. That is why we are calling on the CDC to issue additional Ebola guidance for non-hospital healthcare settings and expanded guidance to guarantee wages and benefits for quarantined healthcare workers—so workers won’t have to choose between safety and living expenses. And we renew our call for hospitals to incorporate the voices of nurses and healthcare workers in the development and implementation of Ebola protocols.

We look forward to being a partner with the CDC to expand and improve guidance on Ebola or any other health issues facing America.”

The National Nurses United released the following:

National Nurses United today welcomed the call in the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for “rigorous and repeated training” for nurses and other health workers responding to the Ebola virus as NNU has been urging for two months, but said some substantial questions and concerns remain.

“It is clear from the abrupt change in position of the CDC in some areas that the registered nurses have moved the country and the CDC as the nurses champion protection for their patients and articulate the vulnerabilities for themselves. Nevertheless, the optimal standards should be in place tomorrow and, regrettably, they will not be,” said NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro.

With still significant questions regarding the most effective personal protective equipment, and the ongoing lack of any mandate on the hospitals to comply with the highest standards and protocols, “it is clear that nurses are going to have to continue to fight every step of the way to demand that every patient, every nurse, every frontline healthcare worker has the protection they need,” DeMoro said.

“The governing theme must be the precautionary principle, the highest safety standards in the face of this virulent disease, so that no nurses, other frontline health workers, or patients have to put their lives in jeopardy,” DeMoro said.

DeMoro noted that the call for continuous training, especially in group sessions with everyone practicing putting on and taking off the protective equipment, echoes a key demand of nurses.

“Most hospitals continue to fall far short of that standard,” she said. A national NNU survey, which now has nearly 3,000 responses from nurses in over 1,000 facilities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia found that 84 percent of nurses say their hospital has not provided education on Ebola with the ability for nurses to interact and ask questions.

Second, DeMoro called the guideline that any protective equipment leave ‘no skin exposed,’ a “direct testament to the courage of Briana Aguirre,”  the Texas Presbyterian Hospital RN who “made the incredibly brave decision” to publicly disclose that the suits at her Dallas hospital left exposed the necks and other skin of nurses who cared for Ebola-infected patients.

“Briana will be remembered as the Karen Silkwood of our time,” DeMoro said.  The gap in the suits was also revealed in a statement from Aguirre and other Dallas RNs released by NNU last week.

However, the CDC guidelines remain unclear on the most effective protective equipment, and, significantly, have their own gaping hole in the option offered to hospitals to select which protective equipment to use “based on availability” and other factors.

DeMoro called that loophole “an open invitation for hospitals to choose the cheapest protective equipment that will continue to put nurses and other health workers at considerable risk. Years of experience with our private hospital industry have demonstrated that far too many hospitals routinely put their budget goals and profit margins ahead of public safety, including in access to protective equipment.”

“We are contacting the CDC for specifics on the proper protective equipment and whether it meets the precautionary principle and the highest standard, in particular, full body coverage that prevents any blood or viral penetration,” DeMoro said.

Finally, she noted, “CDC readily admits it is not a regulatory agency. It has no authority to compel hospitals to comply with any guidelines.

“That is why we will continue to insist that Congress and the White House should mandate all hospitals meet the optimal uniform, national standards and protocols in order to safely protect patients, all healthcare workers and the public,” DeMoro said.

The public is invited to join that call by signing an NNU petition online at:

http://bit.ly/1s4wPpI

The post AFT and National Nurses United Praise New CDC Ebola Guidelines For Healthcare Workers appeared first on NH Labor News.



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Strikers fear replacement workers can’t handle complications of looming storm

Manchester, NH—Tuesday marks the fifth day of a strike against FairPoint Communications by nearly 2,000 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Communications Workers of America (CWA). The strike began last Friday after FairPoint walked out of negotiations and unilaterally imposed contract terms that cut retiree health care, froze pensions, and increased health care costs.

Hundreds of FairPoint employees continue to picket 12 hours a day at dozens of sites across Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. They have been joined by supporters from other unions in the region and by elected leaders, including New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan.

With the arrival of the season’s first nor’easter this week, experienced technicians are expressing concern that FairPoint’s replacement workers will be unable to handle the challenges that come with high winds and heavy rain.

Steve Soule, a Manchester, New Hampshire, service technician who has been on the job for 17 years, explains, “Normally, with a storm like this, me and my fellow techs would be preparing generators and staging our materials to respond to weather-related outages. We would be preparing for possible flooding which can knock out systems that provide 911 and other essential communications. I’m concerned that FairPoint doesn’t have enough staff with the expertise to deal with a widespread service interruption.”

Soule went on to talk about the local knowledge that’s vital to keeping people connected and the public safe. “Because many of us have been working in these communities for decades, we know where the vulnerabilities are. We know where back-up batteries might be weak and where phone and DSL lines are most likely to go down,” said Soule. “Some inexperienced replacement worker from out-of-state couldn’t possibly anticipate those problems. I worry that if this storm is as bad as some of the nor’easters we’ve experienced in the recent past, our communities could see lengthy service interruptions made longer because of this replacement workforce. It’s not just about convenience, it’s about public safety.”

Workers on the picket lines stress that they are on the same side as their customers. They want Northern New England to have the best possible phone and Internet service. To provide 21st-century technology to businesses, schools, and families requires well-trained, experienced, local workers who know the system.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/1taVo9S.

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24Th Of May 1933.Wisconsin. American Farmers Strike

In an attempt to raise the price of milk, Wisconsin dairy farmers begin the third major milk strike of the year in the state. During the Great Depression, farmers who produced milk for bottling were able to remain solvent, but those who produced milk for cheese, butter, and other uses were driven into poverty.

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Screen shot 2014-10-21 at 6.48.34 AMNH Reformer Addresses Rivier University About Poverty And Democracy After Visiting 30 States By Greyhound Bus On $16/Day

Daniel Weeks’ Atlantic and UNH publications based on poverty-line research across USA

NASHUA, NH – To understand poverty and its complex relationship to American democracy, New Hampshire political reformer Daniel Weeks traveled some 10,000 miles through 30 states by Greyhound bus interviewing citizens in poverty and maintaining a poverty-line budget of $16 per day. On Tuesday, Oct. 21 at 4pm, Weeks will present his findings at Rivier University’s Benoit Educational Center in a public lecture (details here).

Weeks completed his research as a fellow of the Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and with support from the Carsey School of Public Policy at UNH. His research was published as a 2014 series for The Atlantic, in Business NH Magazine, and featured on NHPR’s “The Exchange” and other programs.

The “Poor (in) Democracy” project explores the complex relationship between institutional poverty and political power, including how economic inequalities enter the political sphere and undermine political equality; how political arrangements deepen and entrench poverty; and what it means in real life to be poor and (seek to) participate in democratic life. The work concludes with a menu of cross-partisan governmental reforms aimed at combatting poverty by strengthening American democracy.

In an effort to deepen his experience of American poverty, Weeks maintained a poverty-line budget, eating a restricted diet and spending nights in public parks and homeless shelters, on buses or bus stations, and in home-stays over his six weeks on the road. From benches on Capitol Hill to the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, from the desert colonias of New Mexico to Skid Row in L.A., Weeks’ profiles and careful analysis help put a human face on poverty and political inequality in the age of Obama.

Since completing his travels, Weeks now serves as Executive Director of Open Democracy, a nonpartisan nonprofit working to reduce the influence of private money in politics and expand political voice and participation for under-represented people in New Hampshire.

For more information, please visit: http://bit.ly/1w1GGEj.

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