February 2017

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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