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Former President Barack Obama Releases Video Encouraging Enrollment at HealthCare.Gov

“8 in 10 People Can Find Plans for $75 a Month or Less…cheaper than a lot of cell phone plans”

Former President Obama has a message, Get Covered. Earlier this morning, the former President released a video encouraging Americans to enroll at HealthCare.gov which opened for business today.

According to a new Health and Human Services report, people can find even more affordable plans this year than in years past.

This year many Americans can find a plan for under $75 each month because of the financial assistance that is available that lowers someone’s monthly premiums. That’s right, People will pay less for coverage this year than ever before. (HHS report page 37)
5 Vital Facts About Signing Up For Coverage at HealthCare.gov:

#1: Sign up by December 15. Open Enrollment starts on November 1 but you must take action by December 15, no matter if this is your first time getting covered or if you are returning to shop and save. Beat the rush and sign up early.

#2: Coverage could be cheaper than you think. Last year, 8 in 10 people qualified for financial help to make their monthly premiums more affordable. In fact, most people found plans available between $50 to $100 per month.

#3: Shop and save. If you had coverage through HealthCare.gov for 2017, you should come back to update your information and compare your options for 2018. Every year, plans and prices change, you could save money by switching to a new plan that still meets your needs.

#4: Those who choose to go without health insurance may have to pay a penalty. There is a minimum penalty of $695 for not having health insurance.

#5: Free help is available. If you have questions about signing up or want to talk through your options with a trained professional, free help is just a call or quick away. Call 1-800-318-2596, visitlocalhelp.healthcare.gov or make a one-on-one appointment now.

Get America Covered is a nationwide campaign focused on cutting through the confusion to make sure people get the information they need to get covered and stay covered. Get America Covered will help people looking to enroll in health coverage, as well as those who are helping other people sign-up; paying special attention to those states that rely on HealthCare.gov to sign people up for coverage.

Open Enrollment for the Individual Health Insurance Market Begins Today

NH Insurance Department Offers Guidance for Consumers

Concord, NH – Open enrollment for the individual health insurance market begins November 1st.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department offers guidance for the 53,000 Granite Staters who will be selecting or renewing a health plan through HealthCare.gov, through an agent, or directly from an insurance company. (Another 43,000 residents will get insurance through the state’s Premium Assistance Program, using the state’s NHEasy.nh.gov portal.)

“As open enrollment begins, people should research their options to determine the best plan for themselves and their families,” said New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “If you don’t shop around, you may end up paying more for coverage than you need to or end up with a plan that does not include your doctors or prescription drugs. Free help is available from agents and Navigators.”

1.      The Enrollment Window Is Shorter:

Open enrollment is the only time to apply for individual health insurance for the upcoming year, unless you experience a qualifying life event, such as losing coverage from a job, getting married, or having a baby. This year, open enrollment begins on November 1 and ends December 15 (in previous years, consumers had through the end of January to select a plan). To ensure coverage begins on January 1, you must pay your first premium by the insurance company’s deadline, which in most cases is December 31.

2.      Some People Will See Steep Rate Increases:

The roughly 29,000 New Hampshire residents who receive federal subsidies through HealthCare.gov likely won’t experience much change in what they pay in monthly premiums. However, the 24,000 residents who don’t qualify for a federal subsidy or who buy a plan outside HealthCare.gov will see an average increase of 52 percent. If you have a policy now, you will get a renewal letter from your insurance company – but the letter’s estimate of what you will pay in monthly premium might be not accurate if you receive a subsidy. This is because precise subsidy information was not available at the time these letters were prepared. Use the plan preview tool on HealthCare.gov to estimate what your subsidy, and your premium, might be. More information on rates can be found on the Insurance Department website.

3.      Everyone Should Shop Around:

Even if you like your 2017 plan, you should shop and compare your options for 2018. The HealthCare.gov 2018 plan preview tool is available and consumers can start researching now. The options available are changing for 2018, meaning some 2017 plans may not be available. Plans may also change their networks and prescription drug coverage from year to year. If you don’t do anything, HealthCare.gov will automatically enroll you in a plan that is considered “similar” to your current plan; but that plan may not have a similar premium, and your doctors and prescription drugs may not be in network.

4.      Free Help Is Available:

Insurance agents and brokers can help you enroll in a plan on HealthCare.gov or directly from an insurance company – they can help you review your options and recommend which plan might be best for you. Federal Navigators and Certified Application Counselors can help you apply and enroll in health insurance on HealthCare.gov only, and while they can educate you about health insurance and your options, they aren’t allowed to recommend a specific plan. Find local help on HealthCare.gov or the Insurance Department website.

5.      You May Have to Pay Unpaid 2017 Premiums:

Beginning with 2018 open enrollment, insurance companies may be permitted to collect unpaid 2017 premiums before providing coverage in 2018. If you believe you are being charged past-due premium amounts in error, please contact the Insurance Department’s Consumer Services unit by phone at 1-800-852-3416 or email consumerservices@ins.nh.gov.

6.      Some Plans/Networks Are Not Available in 2018:

All Minuteman Health plans on the individual exchange will terminate on December 31, 2017. If you are currently enrolled in a Minuteman Health plan and don’t enroll in a new plan by December 15, HealthCare.gov will auto-enroll you into a 2018 plan considered comparable to your Minuteman plan. New Hampshire Health Protection Program members with Minuteman Health coverage will receive information from the NH Department of Health and Human Services about moving to a new plan.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care will not offer its New Hampshire Network plans on HealthCare.gov for 2018, but it will offer its ElevateHealth Network. If you have the Harvard Pilgrim New Hampshire Network, review your provider needs and select a plan accordingly.

7.      The Individual Mandate Is Still in Effect:

The individual mandate requires all Americans to have Minimum Essential Coverage for the year or qualify for an exemption. For more information on individual mandate fine amounts, check here.

8.      Low-Income Residents Can Enroll in the NH Health Protection Program:

Low-income NH residents may be eligible for low- or no-cost health coverage through the NHHPP. If you are already enrolled in the NHHPP, you will receive information from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services about how to pick a plan for 2018.

If you do not have NHHPP coverage but think you may be eligible, you can call the Medicaid Service Center at 1-888-901-4999 Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-4 p.m. You can also apply online at NH Easy from 6 a.m.-midnight, seven days a week; visit a DHHS district office or download an application; or visit your local ServiceLink center for help with the application. If you apply for a plan on HealthCare.gov, you may be referred to the NHHPP if you appear to qualify for the program based on income.

The NH Insurance Department Can Help:

For more information from the NH Insurance Department on open enrollment, visit our website. If you have questions about or issues with using the Marketplace and obtaining coverage, please call the federal government at (800) 318-2596. Once you have coverage, please contact the Insurance Department with questions or concerns at 1-800-852-3416 or (603) 271-2261, or by email at consumerservices@ins.nh.gov.

NH Insurance Department to Hold Public Hearing on Health Insurance Premiums

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Insurance Department will host its annual public hearing on health insurance premiums and medical care cost drivers from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Friday, November 3, 2017, at the University of New Hampshire School of Law in Concord.

According to state law, the Insurance Commissioner “shall hold an annual public hearing concerning premium rates in the health insurance market and the factors, including health care costs and cost trends, that have contributed to rate increases during the prior year.” This year’s public hearing is based on data and information available in 2016.

“The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s annual hearing is an important tool to increase transparency and foster dialogue on health care costs in New Hampshire,” said New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “Each year, we convene health insurance companies, members of state government, and New Hampshire residents to examine what’s behind higher health care costs in the state and what can be done about it. I encourage anyone who is interested to attend, either in person or remotely.”

This year’s hearing will include a report on the 2016 data submitted by health insurance companies in New Hampshire. Two separate insurer panel discussions will focus on managing covered populations, benefit design, and provider payment reform. The hearing will include a public comment period.

The hearing is open to the public, although seating is limited. Live streaming of the event is planned.

Reserve a seat to attend the event in person.

Register for the livestream option.

For more information on the event, including the full agenda: https://www.nh.gov/insurance/media/events/annual-hearing.htm

Concerns About Workplace Safety Needs To Be Addressed At Amazon Warehouses

Two Deaths in September at Amazon Warehouses Show Need for Accountability as Company Chases Incentives for New HQ  

SAN DIEGO and WASHINGTON, DC – Two recent deaths within a single week at Amazon.com. warehouses in Pennsylvania and Indiana show the need for strict accountability in exchange for public subsidies, say workplace safety and economic development experts.

  1. Devan Michael Shoemaker, age 28, was killed on September 19th, when he was run over by a truck at an Amazon warehouse in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
  2. Phillip Terry, 59, was killed on September 24th, when his head was crushed by a forklift at an Amazon warehouse in Plainfield, Indiana.

Amazon is currently chasing a mammoth taxpayer-funded incentive package for its proposed “HQ2,” or second headquarters building, with an October 19th deadline for proposals from metro areas.

Including the recent deaths of Shoemaker and Terry, six workers have died in Amazon warehouses since 2013. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited the company and temporary agencies it uses to staff its facilities on multiple occasions for safety violations.

“Getting consumer goods dropped right on your doorstep is nice, but who is paying the price?” asked Jessica Martinez, co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH). “There is a disturbing pattern of preventable deaths at Amazon. Two workers have been crushed to death by forklifts, one dragged into a conveyor belt, another crushed by a pallet loader and one run over by a truck. The company monitors every move of both permanent and temporary employees to meet intense demands for high-speed delivery. But is it paying enough attention to workplace safety?”

“Taxpayers should not subsidize low-road employers with dangerous working conditions, high turnover and poverty wages,” said Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First. “Governments considering whether to bid for white-collar jobs at Amazon should first look at how the company and its temp agency subcontractors treat blue-collar workers.”

Amazon CEO and 17 percent owner Jeff Bezos is ranked the third richest person on earth, with a fortune worth over $80 billion. According to an analysis by Good Jobs First, the company has received a minimum of $1.1 billion in subsidies from U.S. taxpayers to build its warehouses and data centers since 2000. The actual figure is certainly higher, since more than a dozen cities and states have not disclosed the amount of taxpayer subsidies provided to Amazon.

There is little or no net job creation associated with these facilities. Amazon captures sales and revenue from retail competitors, resulting in large-scale layoffs from existing businesses. The Institute for Local Self Reliance estimates that as of 2015, Amazon’s operations have caused net loss of some 149,000 U.S. jobs.

Amazon’s projection of 50,000 jobs at its new second headquarters has set off an intense bidding war, with the state of New Jersey considering a $5 billion incentive package. The current largest corporate subsidy on record is an $8.7 billion giveaway to Boeing by the state of Washington in 2013, intended to secure aircraft production jobs. After receiving the tax breaks, however, Boeing reduced employment in the state by 12,000 jobs.

“Taxpayers need to watch their wallets,” said LeRoy. “Any tax giveaway must be measured against the increased costs – in transportation, housing, schools and other services – that will be induced by an influx of thousands of new workers.”

“When Amazon lobbies for lucrative tax breaks, it is asking the public to become partners in its business – to the tune of billions of dollars,” said Martinez. “If we’re partners, we have a right to demand the highest standards for workplace safety.”

In addition to the recent deaths of Devan Michael Shoemaker and Phillip Terry, other workers who have lost their lives while working at Amazon include:

  • Jeff Lockhart, 29, a temporary employee, found collapsed and dead from a cardiac event after an overnight shift at an Amazon warehouse in Chester, VA on January 19th, 2013.
  • Ronald Smith, 57, a temporary employee, killed after being dragged and crushed by a conveyor belt at an Amazon warehouse in Avenel, New Jersey on December 4th, 2013.
  • Jody Rhoads, 52, crushed and pinned to death by a pallet loader at an Amazon warehouse in Carlisle, Pennsylvania on June 1st, 2014. (This is the same facility where Shoemaker was killed in September).
  • Name unknown, crushed to death by a forklift at an Amazon warehouse in Fernley, NV on November 4th, 2014.

National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org. Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.

NATIONAL COSH Has Concerns Over New Nominee To Lead OSHA

National COSH on Nomination of Scott Mugno to Lead OSHA: Congress and Agency Must Focus on Terrible Toll of Workplace Deaths, Injuries and Illness 

Advocates identify key questions for nominee on silica, safe clean up and workplace violence prevention

SAN DIEGO: With the nomination of Scott Mugno, a vice president of FedEx, to head the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Congress and the agency must focus on the terrible toll of preventable injuries, illnesses and deaths that take place every year in U.S. workplaces, say leaders of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH).

“More than 4,500 workers die on the job every year and millions more are injured or become ill,” said Jessica Martinez, co-executive director of National COSH. “It’s clear that nearly all of these painful events can be prevented by getting workers involved in identifying and preventing safety hazards, stopping retaliation against workers who come forward with safety complaints and rigorous enforcement against employers who ignore our safety laws and put workers at risk.”

“Senate review of this nomination must be rigorous and thorough, because so much is at stake for American workers and families,” said National COSH co-executive director Marcy Goldstein-Gelb. “The work of OSHA is about people. It’s about workers’ lives and limbs. It’s about reducing risks and hazards so everyone can go home safely at the end of his or her shift.”

National COSH identified several critical issues that deserve thorough review during the nomination process, including:

  • Industry groups have urged Congress to block a new OSHA standard limiting exposure to silica, a deadly dust that is present in workplaces with millions of American workers. The standard was issued after years of careful research, with thousands of pages of testimony from scientists and labor and industry stakeholders and is expected to save up to 700 lives a year. What is Mr. Mugno’s view of this life-saving regulation?
  • After disasters such as the World Trade Center in 2001 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, tens of thousands of workers were killed, became sick or were injured as a result of exposure to hazardous conditions and/or toxic substances during clean up efforts. What are Mr. Mugno’s ideas on how OSHA can prevent these safety failures from being repeated during ongoing recovery efforts from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria?
  • In January, OSHA began a rulemaking process to create a standard for workplace violence prevention for health care and social service workers. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that workplace violence for these workers increased by 64 percent between 2004 and 2015. What are Mr. Mugno’s plans for supporting this critical effort to assist health care and social service workers and employers in making their workplaces safer?

“We look forward to hearing from Mr. Mugno about how he will listen to workers’ concerns, enforce the law, and make our workplaces safer,” said Goldstein-Gelb.

Shea-Porter Co-Introduces Legislation Requiring Drug Companies to Negotiate Lower Drug Prices for Seniors

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today co-introduced legislation to require the federal government to leverage its bulk purchasing power to negotiate lower Medicare drug prices for seniors.

“During the ten years I have been advocating for Medicare to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs, prices have skyrocketed while pharmaceutical companies have kept raking in astounding profits and left seniors and other taxpayers holding the bill,” said Shea-Porter. “It’s past time for Congress to stand up to Big Pharma and clamp down on these out-of-control drug prices.”

Current law, passed by a Republican majority, prohibits the Secretary of Health and Human Services from negotiating directly with pharmaceutical companies for lower Medicare drug prices. As a result, Medicare pays, on average, 73 percent more than Medicaid and 80 percent more than the Veterans Administration (VA) for brand-name drugs. If Medicare paid the same price for drugs as Medicaid and the VA, the federal government could save between $15.2 billion and $16 billion a year.

Photo by ccPix.com CC via Flickr

This bill is endorsed by the Alliance for Retired Americans, American Federation of Teachers, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, CREDO, Doctors for America, the Economic Policy Institute Policy Center, Families USA, Knowledge Ecology International, Medicare Rights Center, MoveOn, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Patients for Affordable Drugs, Prescription Justice, Public Citizen, Social Security Works, and The Senior Citizens League.

For a copy of the legislation, click here.

For a fact sheet, click here.

NH Insurance Commissioner: Some Residents Will See Steep Rate Increases in 2018

24,000 Granite Staters who don’t receive federal subsidy through HealthCare.gov will be affected

CONCORD, NH — As open enrollment for individual health insurance plans approaches, the New Hampshire Insurance Department cautions residents that some will experience steep rate increases for 2018. The Department offers resources to help people understand their options and select the best plan for their budget and health care needs.

“It’s important to note that not everyone who buys an individual health insurance plan will be affected: The roughly 29,000 New Hampshire residents who receive federal subsidies through HealthCare.gov likely won’t experience much change in what they actually pay in monthly premiums,” said New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny.“However, the 24,000 residents who don’t qualify for a federal subsidy or who buy a plan outside HealthCare.gov will see an average increase of 52 percent. We realize what a difficult situation those people will face and want to make sure they have all the information and resources available in order to help them make decisions.”

People who currently have a policy will receive a renewal letter from their insurance company. To find a more accurate estimate of what they will pay in monthly premium, consumers should use the plan preview tool on HealthCare.gov. Residents can enter basic information about their household, and the tool will provide premium estimates and 2018 plan information. Consumers will need to return to the website during the open enrollment period to enroll in a plan. The Insurance Department advises all policyholders to shop around for 2018 – even those who like their current plan. There may be a 2018 plan that is a better fit, in terms of cost or benefits.

Those who purchase insurance through HealthCare.gov should update their applications on the site when open enrollment begins on November 1 and update their 2018 “tax household” and estimated income. If people meet the income qualifications for the state’s expanded Medicaid, or Premium Assistance Program, they will be directed to apply for a health insurance plan through the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. If people qualify for Advance Premium Tax Credits through HealthCare.gov, they are not likely to see large increases in their premium cost — what they pay in 2018 is likely to remain similar to what they are paying this year.

People will be notified if they are qualified to receive Cost Sharing Reduction assistance after submitting their application on HealthCare.gov. CSRs reduce out-of-pocket expenses on silver “metal-level” plans only. Although the federal government recently announced that it would end cost-sharing reduction payments to companies operating on HealthCare.gov, companies will continue to provide this benefit to consumers, at least through the end of 2018.

If consumers do not qualify for federal financial assistance, they should consider looking at individual plans both on HealthCare.gov and sold directly through an insurance company or through an agent or broker to find the most affordable option. The Insurance Department website features links to insurance agents who can assist people:  https://www.nh.gov/insurance/consumers/mp_plans.htm, and HealthCare.gov offers a similar feature:  https://localhelp.healthcare.gov.

Health Savings Accounts are available for “high deductible health plans” to help consumers set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. Consumers can learn more about HSAs by talking to an insurance agent or broker.

People who do not qualify for APTCs and who are unable to afford premiums may qualify for an exemption from the tax penalty if the lowest-cost bronze plan available on HealthCare.gov is more than 8.16% of their household income. This would not provide the consumer with coverage, but it would allow for an exemption from the individual mandate fine.

“Rates in 2018 saw such a dramatic increase because of rising medical and pharmaceutical costs, instability in Washington, and the federal government’s decision to eliminate key funding to insurance companies,” said Commissioner Sevigny. “My staff and I saw the potential for this scenario and worked with insurance companies, Governor Sununu, and the New Hampshire Legislature to explore options for addressing it. Unfortunately, none of those options were viable for the coming year. We continue to work to address high rates in 2019 and to keep this market viable so that it serves the needs of consumers.”

To compare 2018 individual plans available through HealthCare.gov: https://www.healthcare.gov/see-plans/ or https://www.nh.gov/insurance/lah/documents/nhid_plan_compare_2018.pdf

To see which NH hospitals are available through which networks in 2018: https://www.nh.gov/insurance/lah/documents/py2018_nh_ hospnw.pdf

More information for New Hampshire residents about open enrollment may be found on the Insurance Department’s website: https://www.nh.gov/insurance/media/pr/2017/documents/10-18-17-nhid-2018-open-enrollment-information-1.pdf

About The New Hampshire Insurance Department:  The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit http://www.nh.gov/insurance.

Joyce Craig releases plan for ‘Emphasizing Education and Preparing our Students for the Future’

Manchester, N.H. – Manchester mayoral candidate Joyce Craig has released her “Emphasizing Education and Preparing our Students for the Future” plan, detailing the approach she would take as mayor to improve schools in the Queen City.

The quality of Manchester schools have declined significantly under Ted Gatsas.  In the 2009-10 NH Dept. of Education assessment, 64% of Manchester 3rd graders were reading at grade level. By 2016-17, only 28% of Manchester 3rd graders were reading at grade level.

Math comprehension rates have seen a similar decline under Gatsas. In 2009-10, 65% of Manchester 5th graders met grade-level standards in math. In 2016-17, that number had dropped to 22%. This problem is magnified by the fact that some Manchester students don’t have the textbooks or workbooks that teachers say they need to succeed in math.

Manchester students today have some of the lowest reading and math comprehension rates in the state, and these figures have become worse while Ted Gatsas has been mayor. This problem is compounded since Mayor Gatsas caused surrounding towns to leave the Manchester school district, costing the city approximately $15 million in revenue.

Joyce Craig’s approach involves working with parents, administrators, and teachers to emphasize literacy in early education, ensuring students’ safety, and starting a conversation about bringing students back to the Manchester school district.

Joyce Craig issued the following statement:

“The facts are clear that the education that the city of Manchester offers its students has declined over the past eight years. In the latest New Hampshire Department of Education assessment, only 28% of our 3rd graders are reading at grade level. These numbers are among the lowest of any school district in the state. This has to change.

“I believe in Manchester public schools and in our hardworking teachers. My plan focuses on improving outcomes for all students. I will engage our community in a discussion about how to put our children back on the right track and fully prepare them for the future. Ensuring a good school district is pivotal for attracting businesses and residents, driving economic development, and building a stronger Manchester.”

Emphasizing Education and Preparing our Students for the Future

Strong schools are critical for a thriving community and a growing economy. A good school district helps to attract and retain businesses and residents, drives economic development, provides opportunities for our children, and helps prevent crime and delinquency. There has never been a more pivotal moment to impact the direction of Manchester’s public schools than right now.

As Mayor, I will:

  • Ensure students and teachers have access to basic tools such as books, workbooks, online resources, and technology.
  • Provide Manchester teachers with on-going professional development opportunities to improve outcomes for students.
  • Modernize curriculum and course offerings in our schools to prepare students for the 21st century economy and the innovative industries and jobs in Manchester – establish process for evaluation of existing curriculum on regular basis.
  • Establish a Mayor’s Youth Employment Initiative to provide young people with career experience, training, internships, and opportunities in new careers.
  • Fight to ensure Manchester is receiving our fair share of state and federal funding – advocate for special education, adequacy funding and against downshifting from the state.
  • Update strategic plan and develop measurable goals and benchmarks for the district focused on improving student achievement.
  • Support and grow workforce ready educational opportunities at MST, Central, Memorial and West.
  • Repair broken relationships with the former sending towns, Hooksett, Auburn and Candia, and seek new relationships to bring students to Manchester. The city has lost over $15 million in revenue from sending towns since these students left the school district, which has increased the tax-burden for Manchester residents.
  • Work with our parents, administrators and teachers to emphasize literacy in early education to start foundation for success. Currently, only 28% of third graders in Manchester Public Schools are reading at grade level.
  • Engage in honest and open communication with parents about safety concerns in our schools and work to immediately implement solutions when problems are identified.
  • Foster trust and collaboration between the School Board and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
  • Work with city businesses, local colleges, non-profits, and community leaders to develop public/private partnerships and utilize all available resources to improve outcomes for students.
  • Reinstitute Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board and encourage student representation on the School Board.
  • Bring back the Gifted and Talented Program – educate parents about online resources/VLACs opportunities.
  • Ensure that students who utilize special education services are offered every opportunity to succeed. The Manchester School District has been repeatedly criticized by the NH Department of Education for failing to serve this population and the school district has settled well over $1 million in lawsuits brought against the district in the past two years alone.
  • Work with parents, educators and the school board to evaluate and implement policies to reduce class sizes.

Joyce Craig has now released comprehensive plans on all her priorities for Manchester: education, economic growth, city management, safety and the opioid crisis, and transparency. All of Joyce’s plans can be found at joycecraig.org/plans.

###

AFL-CIO pledges to fight VA privatization, support workers

Largest labor organization approves AFGE-backed resolutions in support of VA staff

WASHINGTON – The AFL-CIO is pledging to work with the American Federation of Government Employees to fight efforts to privatize veterans’ health care and to restore due process rights for VA workers.

On Tuesday, delegates to AFL-CIO’s quadrennial convention in St. Louis adopted two resolutions submitted by AFGE in support of workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The AFL-CIO resolved to oppose the privatization of veterans’ health care services and to help AFGE restore due process rights for VA employees that have been weakened by Congress.

“Ever since the waitlist scandal at the Phoenix VA, it’s been open season on VA employees,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said in introducing the privatization resolution for adoption.

“Very few people know that the scandal was brought to light by AFGE bargaining unit employees – whistleblowers – who knew that their bosses were manipulating the data in order to qualify for big bonuses,” Cox said. “Yet that scandal has been used by politicians of both parties to justify not only privatization, but also the weakening of our civil service protections and collective bargaining rights.”

The AFL-CIO’s vote came the same day that the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing to consider legislation opposed by AFGE that would make the private-sector Choice program permanent, which would further starve the VA of needed resources and lead to more privatization of veterans’ health care services.

“This is a deliberate strategy: Establish the basics of a privatization plan – they call it Choice – and they keep throwing more and more money at it and encourage veterans to use it instead of the VA,” Cox said in his AFL-CIO address. “At the same time, they starve the VA of staff and other resources in order to make it fail. And of course, when the VA fails, the VA workers’ union disappears as well. It’s a story we all know too well.

“Then they have what they want: A broken system that has lost public support, a system with lots of valuable real estate they can sell off, and a privatization infrastructure that sends all the patients whose treatment is profitable to the private sector, with a skeletal VA left to care for the sickest that the private sector doesn’t want.

“Brothers and sisters, we need your help in the fight to retain our beloved VA health care system.”

AFGE is an affiliate with the AFL-CIO, the umbrella labor federation representing 12.5 million working people nationwide. AFGE represents 250,000 employees across the VA.

#####

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

3 NH Counties See Child Poverty Grow To Over 20%

New Data Finds Regional Disparities in Median Household Income, Child Poverty Rates Exceed 20 Percent in Three New Hampshire Counties

Concord, NH – New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau measuring median household income and poverty rates for the state’s ten counties and municipalities with more than 20,000 residents finds regional income disparities across the state. These new data point estimates for 2016 show median household incomes remaining highest in the more urban counties, while the state’s rural regions continue to experience lower household incomes and higher child poverty rates.

“While New Hampshire has the lowest overall poverty rate among states, this new data shows troubling trends in certain regions of the state,” said John Shea, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “Child poverty rates of above 20 percent in Belknap, Carroll and Coos counties make clear that there is much work to be done to ensure economic stability for New Hampshire’s children and their families.”

On a county level, Granite Staters see widely different median household incomes from statewide median of $70,936. The state’s two most populous counties, Hillsborough and Rockingham, help boost the statewide median income, but the least populous county, Coos, has a substantially lower estimate of $47,092. The state’s other predominantly rural counties — Sullivan, Grafton, Carroll, and Belknap — have estimated median household incomes lower than the cluster of more urban counties — Strafford, Merrimack, Hillsborough, and Rockingham.

New Hampshire boasts the lowest statewide poverty rate in the country, at 7.3 percent. Despite these low statewide numbers, the percentage of people living in poverty varies widely by county. The four northernmost counties in the state all have estimated poverty rates of 11 percent or higher, while Rockingham County’s overall poverty rate is 3.6 percent. Manchester had a poverty rate of 14.1 percent, and Nashua’s poverty rate was 9.1 percent.

Relative to the 2015 estimates, Coos and Strafford counties saw statistically significant decreases in their poverty rates, while Belknap County had a statistically significant increase. Belknap County was the only county to have a statistically significant increase in child poverty, while it dropped in Cheshire, Rockingham, Strafford, and Sullivan counties.

NHFPI’s analysis of the October 19 Census Bureau data release is available here.


The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org.

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