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  • Archive for January, 2009

    State Healthcare Coverage May Aid in Creating a National Plan

    Friday, January 30th, 2009

    A feeling of excitement was felt on Capitol Hill in one of the first hearings, conducted after the inauguration of President Barack Obama. On Thursday January 22, 2009, the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee held a hearing to examine measures states are enacting to keep their citizens healthy.

    According to Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the chairman of the committee, 38% of deaths related to chronic illness among Americans arise from alcohol use, smoking, physical inactivity and poor diet. In addition, 75% of health care costs associated with chronic disease are preventable. State Senator of Iowa, Jack Hatch, stressed the importance of preventative healthcare measures. He mentioned that Iowa should lead prevention and wellness initiatives by enabling doctors to use efficient practices and administer proper protocols necessary to treat chronic illnesses. Health care costs are continuing to rise making it necessary for people to receive proper health education, so they can make better lifestyle choices to improve health and contain costs. The state of Iowa has enacted preventative healthcare measures as a means of reform. Some include: 1. By 2011, the state is expected to provide healthcare coverage for all eligible children 2. Iowa has strengthened its public health and prevention programs by launching the healthy communities initiative, enabling small businesses to receive a qualified wellness tax credit.

    Mr. Emmet spoke about our country’s failure to treat mental illness. He revealed mental illness is a major cause of disability, yet many insurance services do not provide coverage for mental health visits.

    Dr. Dobson stressed the need for community healthcare services. He revealed quality of healthcare can be enhanced and the cost of healthcare can be reduced by providing people with primary care, creating local networks to gather resources and providing state funding for healthcare related programs. State healthcare systems need to be sustained in order to enable one to have access to care and be treated efficiently.

    Dr. Bigby spoke about the importance of prevention. She mentioned the 2006 Massachusetts health care reform bill designed to provide the citizens of the commonwealth with universal coverage. 97.4% of Massachusetts residents contain healthcare coverage, 99% of kids contain coverage and 90% of residents have regular healthcare providers and thus receive preventative care. In addition, Dr. Bigby spoke about “Mass in Motion,” a program designed to promote healthy eating and exercise through grants to cities and towns in hopes of making wellness a priority. She also addressed the need to remedy the racial and ethic disparity prevalent in who receives healthcare coverage.

    The experts at this hearing were in agreement that access to and quality of healthcare needs to be augmented. In order for people to live healthier lives, they say diet and exercise programs, as well as preventative and routine healthcare services need to be provided to the people of our nation.

    Free Social Security Webinar

    Friday, January 23rd, 2009

    Social Security is hosting its first national webinar on January 29, 2009. Retire Online, It’s So Easy! will offer a demonstration of the new Social Security online application as well as a discussion of its key features. If you’re interested in finding out more about the SSA online application, join SSA online at 2pm EST next Thursday. To RSVP, visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov/survey/retireonlinersvp.htm.

    Lilly Ledbetter Passes in the Senate!

    Friday, January 23rd, 2009

    (Interview of Lilly Ledbetter following the Senate passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: from the National Womens Law Center, http://www.nwlc.org/)

    The Senate passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act yesturday with a vote of 61 to 36. This will be the first piece of legislation Congress sends to newly elected President Obama for his approval. It’s a fitting first bill for the President, who incorporated Ms. Ledbetter’s story into his campaign ads and entered DC on his inaugural whistlestop tour in the company of Ms. Ledbetter herself.

    So what does it all mean? Will the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act close the wage gap once and for all? Not quite. This is an important step towards pay equity, a step which will allow women to fight back against unfair wages by making each unfair paycheck count as a new act of discrimination. Now, no matter when a woman finds out that she’s been discriminated against, she can still take action. But there is still more to be done to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal labor.

    One of the next steps for pay equity may be the Paycheck Fairness Act. This companion piece to the Fair Pay Act was passed by the House but so far has not made it to the Senate. According to Ledbetter “One bill fixes a past mistake, and the other makes sure that such a mistake won’t happen again.” 46 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act (EPA), women are still earning 78 cents to a man’s dollar. The Fair Pay Act would update the EPA and close the loopholes that have hindered its success.

    [The Paycheck Fairness Act is Essential to Combatting Pay Discrimination Against Women in the Workplace] National Partnership for Women and Families
    [The Fair Pay Campaign] NWLC
    [From the Desk of Lilly Ledbetter] AAUW

    WISER

    About Us

    WISER is a nonprofit organization that works to help women, educators and policymakers understand the important issues surrounding women's retirement income. WISER creates a variety of consumer publications including fact sheets, booklets and a quarterly newsletter that explain in easy-to-understand language the complex issues surrounding Social Security, divorce, pay equity, pensions, savings and investments, banking, home-ownership, long-term care and disability insurance.

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