February 2017

SEIU Healthcare Endorses Keith Ellison for Chair of Democratic National Committee

The following statement is by Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri Kansas:

EllisonOn behalf of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri Kansas, I give my unqualified and enthusiastic support for Keith Ellison as the next chair of the Democratic National Committee. SEIU HCII is the largest union in the Midwest—representing over 90,000 healthcare and childcare workers across four states—and our members have long been active on the grassroots level in movements to raise the minimum wage, to lift up the fact that Black Lives DO Matter, and to pass immigration reform.

These are issues that matter not just to our membership and not just to the Midwest, but to a majority of Americans.

Keith Ellison is the right leader at the right time to turn this tide and to reengage a majority of Americans in the issues that matter the most. He has a track record of not just reaching voters, but of winning elections through grassroots voter registration, education and mobilization—which is what we need now more than ever.

In Minnesota, Keith has an impressive history of working closely with the state party to boost turnout, helping to elect candidates from city council to the statehouse and the Governor’s mansion. His organizing work has reached far beyond Minnesota, and in the last election cycle, Keith traveled to nearly 30 states campaigning for candidates up and down the ballot including nine states for Secretary Hillary Clinton.

Keith’s electoral success is fueled by his deep relationships with national grassroots leaders and his demonstrated ability to speak to and excite the Democratic base across the country. Keith dramatically increased voter turnout in his own Fifth Congressional District from the lowest level in Minnesota when he was elected in 2006 to the highest level in the state today. In fact, his district was the only Congressional District in the state in which voter turnout actually grew between 2010 and 2014. His organizing has helped to keep Minnesota blue—with Republicans not winning a statewide race since 2006.

Keith’s ability to engage voters on the issues that matter to them—including increasing the minimum wage and fighting for racial and immigration justice—and turn that engagement into voter turnout makes him not just the ideal choice, but the only choice, for DNC chair given our recent losses and the fights we face ahead. His ability to maintain and increase voter turnout would have made the difference in Milwaukee, Detroit and Philadelphia in this last election, and have resulted in Hillary Clinton as President.

This next election cycle, members of SEIU HCII, and working families across the country need Keith Ellison as the chair of the DNC.

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Greg Kelley Testifies on the Affordable Care Act Before Cook County and City of Chicago

Our Executive VP, Greg Kelley, spoke to a joint committee of the Chicago City Council and the Cook County Board on the harm of repealing the Affordable Care Act today. Below are his remarks.

 

DSC_0343Good morning. To Commissioner Gainer, Alderman O’Connor, Alderman Pawar and other distinguished guests, I am honored to speak to you about the devastating impact that repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will have on our healthcare delivery services and residents of Cook County.

Our union, SEIU Healthcare Illinois, represents tens of thousands of workers in healthcare field. We witness on a daily basis the benefits that the ACA has brought to our communities and the impact of improving healthcare options for residents.

Prior to the ACA, tens of thousands of residents had no option for healthcare other than a nearby emergency room, a costly option for the patient and taxpayers alike. The ACA has allowed emergency rooms to be utilized more for real emergencies rather than caring for patients who had to use the ER as their primary care option.

Prior to the ACA, people with pre-existing diseases had no hope for care. Many adult children living with their parents went uninsured. Now they can be on their parent’s plan through age 26.

What a blessing.

Here are some more facts from very reliable sources that should give us pause:

Repeal of the ACA will cause 1.1 million Illinois residents to lose insurance coverage. Where will they go? Many of them will go right back to those emergency rooms for primary care.  Our members are at the forefront of access to care in this county. Story after story of a patient coming to get care after decades of no care due to no insurance. They are seeing people at the beginning of a illness instead of a deathbed. Instead of issuing bills and payment notices our members are enrolling patients in county care and ObamaCare. 

Greg_1Repeal of the ACA will cost Illinois healthcare providers $2.7 billion in income in 2019 and hit safety-net providers especially hard. Large corporate hospitals have not been opening clinics to service underserved communities like they should. Safety net hospitals like St Bernard, Roseland and Loretto and Mt. Sinai, where many of our Members work and which already operate on shoe string budgets, ARE servicing those communities.

To make matters worse, loss of Medicaid expansion revenue coupled with the elimination of Medicaid supplemental payments that subsidize hospitals that care for a disproportionate share of Medicaid and uninsured patients will cause some safety-net hospitals to reduce services or close altogether. This would dramatically reduce access to care in vulnerable communities and may cause needless suffering and death.

The Republican plan to repeal the ACA will cost Illinois $33.4 billion in federal funding and $2 billion in state and local tax revenue between 2019 and 2023. 

Let me take a moment for a side note since I mentioned revenue. I would hope that today when Gov. Rauner gives his budget address, that he will not only finally put forth a sensible budget that funds vital services, but that he will also speak loudly against those Republicans in Congress who want to destroy the ACA – a program that brings in billions of dollars to our struggling state economy.

There is so much more I could say regarding the senseless attacks on the ACA by Republicans, but I’ll end with this: It is estimated that repeal of the ACA will cause 24,000 additional deaths nationwide annually. It’s great if we want to work to improve on what we have in the ACA, but it makes no sense to unravel a healthcare program that is saving lives.

The question I ask to Republicans in Congress and Governor Rauner is, where are your priorities?

Thank you to Commissioner Gainer, Alderman Pawar, and others for the opportunity to testify before you all today. We look forward to working with you all to protect the healthcare we have fought so hard for.

Greg3

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Governor Rauner Has Failed to Fulfill His Duty – Statement from SEIU Healthcare Illinois

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 19: Illinois governor Bruce Rauner waits for the arrival of President Barack Obama at the Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy on February 19, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama used the event to designate Chicago's historic Pullman district a national monument. Dating back to the 1880s, the Pullman district, on the city's Far South Side, is one of the country's first company towns. The "town" was founded by George Pullman to house workers at his now-defunct Pullman Palace Car Co., which made luxurious rail cars. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The following statement was released by SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher in response to Governor Bruce Rauner’s Illinois Budget Address on February 15, 2017:

“As our state sinks deeper into an abyss of financial purgatory, Governor Rauner once again has failed to fulfill a governor’s primary duty – to show leadership.

“That duty of leadership requires the Governor to present a balanced budget once a year for consideration by state legislators. We are entering an unprecedented third fiscal year without a budget and the third year in which Rauner has failed to perform his duty.

“While he casts blame at everyone but himself, the State of Illinois has become the laughing stock of the nation. Meanwhile, the Governor uses his wealth to hold the budget and members of his own party hostage.

“Rauner’s ‘Turnaround Agenda’ has put social services out of business, closed child care facilities, put parents out of work, and forced colleges to lay off professors and downsize their student population, with the result that some colleges have come close to having to close their doors.

“Rauner says he wants to work with legislators to craft a budget. That process begins with the Governor presenting one that is balanced.

“The people of Illinois have had enough. Governor: Do your job.”

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BREAKING: JCAR Delays Vote on Rauner OT Cuts until March

JCAR Presser James and othersSPRINGFIELD- Following is the joint statement of Access Living, the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living, and SEIU Healthcare Illinois in response to the breaking news that the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) will delay a vote on the Rauner administration’s overtime rules for the DHS Home Services Program until March:

“We applaud the members of JCAR for their decision to once again delay their vote on the adoption of Bruce Rauner’s misguided overtime policy that would cap hours for personal assistants who provide home care services to people with disabilities through the DHS Home Services Program.

“If approved, this policy will have devastating repercussions for individuals with disabilities, specifically those who require a high number of hours of service per week and those who live in less populated communities where caregivers are hard to find.

“Beyond undermining consumer control and circumventing federal overtime laws, the minor cost-savings projected from this policy will be completely negated if only 182 individuals with disabilities are forced into more costly nursing home care – stripping consumers of their dignity and independence and leaving Illinois taxpayers to foot the bill.

“Hundreds of phone calls, emails, and personal letters have been submitted to JCAR highlighting the problems with this policy, and we are encouraged that lawmakers are taking additional time to examine the rules before voting on them.

“Our coalition vows to continue the fight against this terrible policy and our commitment to reaching a fair agreement that will protect the health and safety of people with disabilities remains. We call on Governor Rauner to abandon this dangerous policy and instead meet with stakeholders to come to an agreement that will protect people with disabilities, their caregivers, and Illinois taxpayers.”

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Healthcare Workers Slam Governor’s Signature of Anti-Worker Law Written by ALEC Corporate Front Group

St. Louis University Hospital worker: “This law will drive down wages and benefits even further in Missouri.”

Caprice Nevils, SEIU Healthcare Missouri Executive Board Member and Care Partner at St. Louis University Hospital, released the following statement today regarding Gov. Eric Greitens’ decision to sign so-called right to work legislation:

“It’s a sad day for Missouri’s working families. Governor Greitens claims to be committed to growing our state’s economy, but this law will drive down wages and benefits even further in Missouri. It’s wrong. We should be working together to build an economy that works for everyone, but this only helps a small group of special interest donors.”

SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri Kansas is the fastest-growing union of healthcare, child care, home care and nursing home workers in the Midwest. Uniting more than 90,000 workers who provide vital services to our states’ children, seniors, patients and people with disabilities, we are committed to quality care for those we serve and quality jobs for caregivers and healthcare professionals.

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Missouri Healthcare Workers Condemn Legislature’s Vote to Send So-Called “Right-to-Work” to Governor’s Desk

SAINT LOUIS — Home care, nursing home, and hospital workers, members of SEIU Healthcare Missouri, condemned the Missouri General Assembly today for sending so-called ‘right to work’ legislation to the Governor’s desk despite bipartisan opposition.

“If Governor Greitens signs this bill, workers across the state will have a harder time making ends meet for their families,” said Earlene Davis, a nursing home worker. “Extreme politicians pushed these anti-worker attacks for their CEO and special-interest friends who were looking to drive down wages. It’s just plain wrong.”

“Missouri workers deserve fair wages and a safe place to go to work. Unions help make that happen and bad bills like this threaten workers everywhere,”said said Caprice Nevils, SEIU Healthcare Missouri Executive Board Member and Care Partner at St. Louis University Hospital. “Missouri workers know that “right to work” is wrong for Missouri, but politicians in Jefferson City put political attacks over people.”

 

SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri Kansas is the fastest-growing union of healthcare, child care, home care and nursing home workers in the Midwest. Uniting more than 90,000 workers who provide vital services to our states’ children, seniors, patients and people with disabilities, we are committed to quality care for those we serve and quality jobs for caregivers and healthcare professionals. 

 

 

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McClatchyDC: Why did this great-grandma from Missouri get arrested on Capitol Hill?

Alice Allen of Missouri, 67, who is semi-retired, is arrested in the Hart Senate Building during a protest against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. A group made up of health care workers, people with pre-existing conditions and faith leaders let themselves be arrested on Capitol Hill to register dissent to Republicans' plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. About 50 people from 20 states were arrested for breaking the law against protesting in a Senate office building. Aude Guerrucci McClatchy

Alice Allen of Missouri, 67, who is semi-retired, is arrested in the Hart Senate Building during a protest against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. A group made up of health care workers, people with pre-existing conditions and faith leaders let themselves be arrested on Capitol Hill to register dissent to Republicans’ plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. About 50 people from 20 states were arrested for breaking the law against protesting in a Senate office building. Aude Guerrucci McClatchy

BY LINDSAY WISE

Read more here.

WASHINGTON – Alice Allen couldn’t suppress the smile that crept onto her face Tuesday as Capitol Hill Police officers led her out of a Senate office building, her hands cuffed behind her back.

The great-grandmother and home health aide from St. Louis had just been arrested for unlawful protest in a congressional building.

It was her first act of civil disobedience, Allen said. But she thought the drastic step was necessary in the fight to save the Affordable Care Act.

“I’m a little nervous about it, but it’s all for a great cause,” Allen said, “so it’s an honor and a blessing to be here, and to get arrested.”

Allen, a 61-year-old service union member, was in Washington as part of a group of about 100 health care workers, faith leaders and people with pre-existing conditions from 20 states who’d come to Capitol Hill on Tuesday. They came with the organization Save My Care to register dissent to Republicans’ plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Republicans have been promising for years to repeal the 7-year-old law. Congress took the first procedural steps last month but are is difficulty figuring out how to replace it.

The protesters targeted only GOP senators, but it’s likely they won’t move many Republicans. After peacefully visiting lawmakers’ offices, 47 people from the group marched through the lobby of the Hart Senate Office Building, chanting and singing.

They sat down in front of the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, a panel that will play a key role in repealing or replacing Obamacare. They kept singing and chanting. And they refused to leave.

Hatch later said he was unaware that anyone had been arrested outside his office.

“They’d have to be pretty wild to get arrested, seems to me,” he said. “I stop and talk to everybody if I can, but you don’t want to spend time with people who are just there to cause trouble.”

Capitol Police warned the protesters that they were demonstrating in an unlawful manner in an unauthorized area. Then they cuffed the protesters one by one, and escorted them from the building. No one resisted.

Earlier in the day, Allen had sought out her own senator, Missouri Republican Roy Blunt, who chairs a subcommittee responsible for funding health care. She and others from Save My Care spoke with an aide in Blunt’s office, who took a package of letters from others in the state who opposed the repeal of Obamacare.

Allen asked the aide whether Blunt has insurance through his employer, Congress. The aide didn’t answer.

“Lead by example. Lead by example,” the others chanted.

Pastor Carl White, 67, a heart transplant candidate from Chicago, rolled his wheelchair to the front of the group to say a prayer.

“We pray, Father God, that you will touch the hearts of these senators, congressmen, anyone involved who makes these decisions,” White said, as those around him bowed their heads.

“Amen,” the group murmured. And they filed out.

Blunt, who was not in his office at the time, said he was glad to have people peacefully protest.

“That’s absolutely their right,” he said.

He said he wasn’t aware of any arrests.

“Well, that really is up to the law enforcement officials to decide, not up to us to decide,” he said.

Blunt’s office confirmed that he and his son get insurance through the Affordable Care Act, as do all his staffers. The government, as their employer, offers to offset the cost of their premiums. The senator contributes the amount of the federal contribution to charity.

Allen had traveled from Missouri to Washington once before to stress the importance of the Affordable Care Act to Blunt and Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. That was a few months ago, before the election. She met with staff members in the senators’ offices and told them her concerns.

Now, though, things are different, Allen said.

“Oh, yes, oh, yes, oh, yes. The cause is much greater now,” Allen said.

Allen said she was doing it for her brother, who has cancer, which would qualify as a pre-existing condition. She’s doing it for her patients, who she fears could lose the services of home health aides like her.

Her family was worried about her, Allen said, but they were proud:

“My 18-year-old granddaughter said to me, ‘Make it back home.’ That’s all she said.”

Allen’s friend from St. Louis, Elinor Simmons, 67, said her message for Blunt was simple: “Help keep the affordable Care Act in existence. Remember that we are human beings, and we deserve health care. Without it, a lot of us would die. And I am one of them.”

Simmons was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in 2013. Before Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, Simmons said, she’d been uninsured.

She’s now in remission, but she’s worried that she will lose her coverage if Republicans repeal Obamacare, since her cancer would count as a pre-existing condition.

“I have to see a doctor every six months,” she said. “If I don’t continue getting that care, I could have a relapse and I would die.”

Scott Fines, a 31-year-old software engineer from Columbia, Missouri, said he’d come to Washington after failing to get responses to letters and calls to Blunt’s office.

His 2-year-old son was born with a congenital birth defect that caused his mouth not to be connected to his stomach.

“Without considerable surgical intervention he would have starved to death,” Fines said. “He was able to do so because he had insurance. But he is a walking pre-existing condition.”

Medical expenses for Fines’ son, Ryan, totaled $750,000 in the first five months of his life alone, Fines said. The toddler is doing well now, but he needs follow-up treatments, including annual trips to Boston to see specialists.

“If my son doesn’t get follow-up, we could miss cancer and then he could die,” Fines said. “Can you give up? As long as there’s breath in my body, I’m going to fight.”

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