Juicy Couture, that hip, L.A.-centric, high-end clothing and apparel chain, is engaging in what can only be described as tragically unhip corporate behavior. It is, workers say, replacing its full-time workforce with part-timers in order to duck its obligations to provide paid leave and health care for the workers.
Over the past week, we’ve had a big and welcome surprise. Two of the loudest opponents to ensuring more people get health care coverage through Medicaid have been Virginia’s Gov. Bob McDonnell and Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott. Now, both have moved—grudgingly—in the direction of accepting the Medicaid funds allocated to states.
Health care experts have long said that a public health insurance option not only would provide lower-cost health insurance for those who choose it but would also force private insurers to lower their premiums. A public option was a key element of the 2009 House-passed version of health care reform, but it did not make it to the final bill.
Now, as lawmakers focus on deficit reduction, with many Republicans calling for cuts in health care benefits and shifting even more costs to working families, the creation of a public option as a deficit-reducing tool—along with its other benefits—is back on the table.
Although Election Day is behind us, Medicare remains on working people's minds. Medicare ranked third to the economy and federal deficit as an issue of extreme importance in deciding how people voted. For months now, pundits, candidates and policymakers have wrestled one another about Medicare's future. Taking place at town hall meetings and on editorial pages, these battles were mostly waged in fiscal terms. Medicare's sustainability, the fiscal slope and the cost of insuring the Baby Boomers are hot topics for debate. Attention will now turn from the candidates' promises to their actual proposals.
Next time you’re sitting down at your favorite restaurant, you may be getting an unordered side of germs with that cheeseburger or maybe unexpected exposure to the latest flu virus with that healthy garden salad. Why? Because, as this new video from the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United illustrates, 90% of all restaurant workers have no paid sick days.
Here’s a look at a number of other key working-family races and ballot issues from yesterday’s elections.
In several U.S. Senate races where Republican, corporate and super PAC cash looked like it would make the difference, union members’ get-out-the-vote activism and votes helped push working-family candidates to victory. Democrats now have 55 senate seats. Elizabeth Warren defeated Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts. Tim Kaine beat George Allen in Virginia. Rep. Tammy Baldwin overcame Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, Sen. Jon Tester defeated challenger Rep. Denny Rehberg in Montana and Sen. Sherrod Brown won over Josh Mandel in Ohio. Other Senate wins include Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).
Arm yourself with these eight facts on health care, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act:
1. We have a health care cost problem, not a Medicare or Medicaid problem. Health care costs overall, including through employment-based plans, individual coverage and Medicare and Medicaid, have been growing faster than the whole economy—2.4% greater on average since 1970. Between 2000 and 2010, workers’ contributions to premiums for health insurance at work jumped 147%, compared to just a 36% increase in workers’ earnings. See "Medicare, Medicaid and the Deficit Debate," a report from the Urban Institute.
Right-wing economic policies have failed working families. New U.S. Census Bureau figures show the share of income going to middle- and lower-middle-income households fell, while the share of income going to the top 5 percent went up 4.9 percent. The census report confirms the trend that the Economic Policy Institute shows in The State of Working America, 2012—falling incomes and growing inequality. Instead of coddling the richest 1%, America needs to return to the principles of “prosperity economics” that have historically enabled economic security for all and a growing middle class.
When Travis Turner was 12 months old, he was so sick he almost died. Just three months into his treatment for hepatoblastoma, a rare form of liver cancer, his family's health insurance company kicked him off because the cost of his care had reached $1 million. Since then, Turner, whose father Craig is a member of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7248, was covered by Medicaid while his parents continued to fight for health insurance coverage. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which Mitt Romney plans to repeal if elected president, 7-year-old Travis is now able to get back on his father's health insurance. Watch the USW YouTube video—Affordable Care Act: Hope Delivered for USW Families.