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House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after President Obama announced "administrative" changes to his health care law:
President Obama’s announcement is nothing more than a political gimmick that will do little to provide Americans the relief they need from his fatally flawed health care law. Instead of administrative tricks and excuses, the president should support the bipartisan Keep Your Health Plan Act. This important legislation will help families keep the coverage they like – just like the president promised.
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Since former Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously declared we had to pass the president’s health care plan to learn what was in it, we continue to discover disturbing details. We’ve learned health care costs are going up, not down. Politico reports “consumers are suffering from sticker shock” and the Associated Press revealed people are being told to switch to more expensive policies.
Sue Klinkhamer is one of those individuals. A Democrat from Kane County, Illinois, Sue asked, “Someone please tell me why my premium in January will be $356 more than in December?” A constituent from Plainview, Minnesota recently shared with me that her health care plan is increasing more than $200 a month, and her family’s deductible will jump by nearly $1,300. A couple from Chanhassen lamented a monthly increase of $140, money that could have helped pay for their daughters’ college education. The president promised insurance premiums would drop $2,500 for the average family, yet for Sue and many others this is one of many broken promises.
We’ve learned full-time jobs are being destroyed. A recent resolution endorsed by one of the nation’s largest trade associations warned that employers will try to avoid the law’s punitive mandates by cutting hours and pay, creating an “underclass of less-than-30-hour workers.” This statement wasn’t issued by a “Big Business” advocacy organization – it’s a resolution endorsed by the leadership and membership of the AFL-CIO. Other leaders in the labor community share this fear.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, UFCW, and UNITE-HERE wrote the law will “destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.” Secretary Sebelius dismissed similar concerns as “speculation,” but I think we can all agree with these union leaders that the law is leading to fewer full-time jobs.
Finally, we’ve learned millions of Americans will lose the health care plan they like. Kaiser Health News recently broke the story of hundreds of thousands of individuals receiving cancellation notices from their insurance companies; their policies no longer meet the dictates established under the law. And we’ve discovered the Obama administration has known for years this was going to happen.
For families, this isn’t just the loss of an insurance policy; it means losing access to their trusted family doctor and pediatrician, all because Washington bureaucrats think they know best. The president promised time and again if people liked their health care plan they could keep it. But millions of Americans are realizing they can keep their health care plan only if the president likes it.
Higher health care costs, fewer full-time jobs, and loss of current coverage – that’s the difficult reality unfolding in the lives of Americans across the country. The question we want to discuss today is whether the law is imposing similar hardships on America’s classrooms. The government takeover of health care transformed one-sixth of our economy. Are schools and campuses immune from the consequences of the law? Recent headlines prove that’s not the case:
Over the last several years we've talked a great deal about the budgetary challenges facing states, school districts, and institutions of higher education. We’ve discussed how Washington can at times make these fiscal problems worse. Much of the debate has focused on the costs of federal rules, regulations, and mandates that directly intervene in classrooms.
Under the leadership of this committee, the House has taken action to reduce the federal footprint in K-12 education by passing the Student Success Act, and I hope we achieve similar results through reform of the Higher Education Act – both of which will help ensure taxpayers spend less on bureaucracy and more on students’ education.However, we must be mindful that federal policies unrelated to education can still burden classrooms. The health care law is a prime example. At a time when we need to recruit the best teachers, train today’s workers for the jobs of the future, and school leaders are trying to do more with less, imposing a fundamentally flawed and costly law on our schools is not in the best interests of teachers, parents, taxpayers, or students.
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House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after the Obama administration announced enrollment figures for the health care exchanges:
The dismal enrollment figures released by the administration are further proof the president’s health care law is a train wreck. The administration has failed to meet its own deliberately low expectations. In any classroom this kind of poor performance would receive an F and in most private businesses someone would be shown the door. Millions of Americans are set to lose their current health coverage, and all the president has offered them is a broken website. I urge my Democrat colleagues to support the Keep Your Health Plan Act as we continue the fight to dismantle this fatally flawed law.
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In preparation for the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the committee has held nearly a dozen hearings to explore the challenges and opportunities facing our nation’s colleges and universities.
We’ve discussed the value of transparency and data in helping prospective students choose the postsecondary institution that best meets their unique needs. We have examined factors that contribute to rising college costs and reviewed the consequences of burdensome federal regulations and paperwork requirements. And we’ve highlighted the critical importance of promoting innovation and academic freedom in our nation’s higher education system.
Without question, ensuring more students have access to an affordable, quality postsecondary education is a top priority for everyone in this room. But despite the best of intentions, federal efforts to expand aid programs over the past 50 years have resulted in an overly complex system that is difficult to navigate.
Today, with the help of our witnesses, we will explore opportunities to streamline the federal aid system, making it easier for students to evaluate federal aid options and make smart investments in postsecondary education.
I’d like to take a moment to share with you the process students and families must go through when trying to access federal aid. First, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which includes more than a hundred detailed questions on a range of topics including earnings and savings, parental education attainment, receipt of government benefits, and assets.
After completing the lengthy FAFSA application, students must try to understand the available aid options while also deciphering the differences between loans and grants. To make an informed decision about financial aid, students and their families need to grasp what makes each program unique, including the terms and conditions, eligibility requirements, and aid amounts awarded by individual institutions.
And finally, when a student chooses an aid package, he or she must also begin thinking about how to eventually repay the loans. As we saw with the recent student loan interest rate debate, far too many students don’t fully understand their loan obligations until after they graduate. And students often miss opportunities to take advantage of federal repayment initiatives simply because they don’t know such programs exist.
During the 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, Congress took an important first step toward improving the federal aid system by simplifying the FAFSA – but the still-cumbersome application proves there’s more work to be done. Fortunately, the higher education, business, and policy communities, in coordination with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery initiative, have put forth a number of interesting ideas to restructure the system.
One proposal suggests further streamlining the FAFSA by dramatically simplifying the need analysis formula used to determine student eligibility. Instead of calculating a student’s expected family contribution through detailed questions, a modernized formula would only use a family’s size and adjusted gross income to determine eligibility. Additionally, the new formula would build on past efforts to rein in the FAFSA through partnerships with the IRS, allowing applicants to retrieve financial information more easily.
To reduce confusion and complexity in the federal aid system, another proposal calls for the consolidation of all existing federal postsecondary aid programs into a ‘one loan and one grant’ structure. In this scenario, students would have access to a single loan with a market-based interest rate and one universal repayment plan. Other proposals focus on helping students access more transparent information about their federal aid options, which has been a longstanding Republican priority.
Before I yield to the distinguished ranking member, George Miller, I’d like to note that I am proud of the work we did earlier this year to revamp federal student loans. Though it was a difficult battle, eventually we came together on a bipartisan solution that has resulted in lower interest rates for millions of loan borrowers. We now have the opportunity to build on this success and find the common ground necessary to the reauthorize the Higher Education Act. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to strengthen the law and ensure more students can realize the dream of a college degree.
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House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement on newly introduced House and Senate proposals to create a universal Pre-K program:
We can all agree on the importance of ensuring children have the foundation necessary to succeed in school and in life. However, before investing in new federal early childhood initiatives, we should first examine opportunities to improve existing programs designed to help our nation’s most vulnerable children, such as Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
Recognizing an opportunity to come together and strengthen these and other initiatives, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Committee will convene a hearing in the coming weeks to discuss the challenges facing early childhood care and education in America. I look forward to a productive discussion with my colleagues on ways to help get the youngest Americans on the path to a brighter future.
BACKGROUND: According to a 2012 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, the federal government dedicates at least $13.3 billion each year to operate 45 programs that provide or support early childhood care and education. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce has jurisdiction over seven of these programs, which received $11.4 billion in federal funding in fiscal year 2012. The programs include:
Additionally, 40 states have developed and/or implemented their own early childhood systems.
* Estimate based on ESEA, Title I school-wide program data.
** Total funding available for Education for Homeless Children and Youth program.
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On Thursday, November 14th at 10:00 a.m., the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), will hold a hearing entitled, “The Effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Schools, Colleges, and Universities.” The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
Reports continue to highlight how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is affecting schools, universities, and colleges across the country. For example, the law’s punitive mandates are leading K-12 schools to reduce the work hours of substitute teachers, teacher aides, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and other part-time employees. Higher education institutions must also make difficult decisions, such as restricting work hours and reducing the number of adjunct professors. Students, families, and taxpayers will ultimately experience the consequences of these changes through higher costs and reduced access to important educational opportunities.
At a time when states and schools already struggle with budgetary challenges and costly federal mandates, Thursday’s hearing will provide members an opportunity to examine how PPACA is affecting the nation’s education system. To learn more about this hearing, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
Gregory L. Needles
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
Dr. Mark D. Benigni
Meriden Public Schools
Dr. Thomas Jandris
Dean, College of Graduate and Innovative Programs
Concordia University Chicago
River Forest, IL
Additional witnesses will be posted here.
The Obama administration may have an early Christmas gift for their Big Labor friends.
In recent months union leaders have repeatedly voiced their concerns with President Obama’s health care law. At a September convention in Los Angeles, members of the AFL-CIO approved a resolution describing the health care law as “highly disruptive” to multiemployer health care plans. The Obama administration flatly rejected union demands to extend premium tax credits to individuals in multiemployer health plans, but reports surfaced that the administration could be considering other ways to address union complaints.
The House Education and the Workforce Committee is conducting oversight of the Obama administration’s rumored plans to address Big Labor’s concerns. However, to date the administration has failed to respond to the committee’s inquiry – and now the Washington Post reports the president may soon propose a special union bailout:
Weeks after denying labor’s request to give union members access to health law subsidies, the Obama administration is signaling it intends to exempt some union plans from one of the law’s substantial taxes.
Buried in rules issued last week is the disclosure that the administration will propose exempting “certain self-insured, self-administered plans” from the law’s temporary reinsurance fee in 2015 and 2016.
That’s a description that applies to many Taft-Hartley union plans acting as their own insurance company and claims processor, said Edward Fensholt, a senior vice president at Lockton Cos., a large insurance broker.
Insurance companies and self-insured employers that hire outside claims administrators would still be liable for the fee, which starts at $63 per insurance plan member next year and is projected to raise $25 billion over three years.
Unions, a key Obama ally, have increasingly criticized the Affordable Care Act as threatening the generous medical plans held by many members.
Eliminating the reinsurance fee was one of several resolutions adopted at the AFL-CIO’s September convention, along with giving union plans access to ACA tax credits for lower-income members.
In September the White House said the law disallowed health law tax credits for union members on top of their company insurance. Now the administration seems to be moving toward part — but not all — of what labor wants on the reinsurance fee.
While it intends to waive the fee for 2015 and 2016, unions also wanted it scrapped for 2014, when it will be the greatest. Taft-Hartley plans are collectively bargained and run jointly by unions and employers to allow workers to move from job to job without losing coverage.
The AFL-CIO did not respond to a request for comment.
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Each day we learn more about the devastating effects of the presidents health care law. From website glitches and privacy concerns to cancelled health plans and higher premiums, the laws fatal flaws are exceedingly obvious. And the problems in the law arent just hurting families, businesses, and workers theyre also having a detrimental impact on our nations education system.
News reports from across the country detail ObamaCares unintended consequences for schools, colleges, and universities:
Utah: ObamaCare dropping full-timers at schools, local governments (Fox News)
Between 1,000 and 1,200 of teacher aides, substitute teachers, administrators, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and security officers and other workers in the Granite School District outside Salt Lake City, Utah, will see their part-time hours reduced due to the costs of health reform.
Virginia: New ACA regs force some college adjunct pay cuts(Washington Times)
The changes in store for about a quarter of Virginias 9,100 adjunct faculty members have less to do with health insurance a benefit they dont receive anyway than with the opportunity to teach enough class hours to pay the billsAdjunct instructors teach at least two-thirds of the classes for the statewide enrollment of nearly 289,000 students.
New York: ObamaCare impacting how hudson valley schools deal with substitute teachers (Hudson Valley Reporter)
To avoid budget-busting penalties, school districts must keep a close watch on substitutes hours and whether they becomeeligible for benefits. Who is really being punished is the students, he [Christopher Prill] said. We might have one sub that is most qualified or fit for a certain subject, but may not be called because they have too many hours on the books.The travesty is we are making a decision not to put the best teacher in front of the class.
New Hampshire: Adjunct professors protest limit on work related to health care law (Concord Monitor)
The number of courses adjunct professors at the Community College System of New Hampshire can teach will be limited next semester, capping potential earnings at about $10,000 for some who use the jobs as their main source of income. We all applauded when the news came in that (the law) passedI didnt think it would go this way, he [Craig Lange] said.
Indiana: Health care law poses challenges for districts (Education Week)
The Vigo County School Corporation, a 15,500-student district in Indiana, shaved the hours of about 40 percent of its 1,400 support-staff employeesInsuring them would have cost the district, which has a total budget of about $150 million, an additional $6 million a year.
Maryland: Community colleges cut adjunct hours to avoid ObamaCare (The Baltimore Sun)
Cash-strapped community colleges in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Howard and Prince George's counties, among other places, have pre-emptively limited adjuncts' hours, starting this year. Expanding health coverage to such instructors would cost schools across the state $17 million, officials at the Maryland Association of Community Colleges estimated.
Imposing a fundamentally flawed and costly law on our schools is clearly not in the best interests of teachers, parents, taxpayers, and students. Next week the House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing to learn more about how the health care law is affecting our nations education system. More details on the hearing will be posted here.
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House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) today asked the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide information concerning the role of worker centers in implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The request is part of an ongoing effort examining the activities of worker centers.
“Every day we learn more disturbing facts about the train wreck that is the president’s health care law,” said Reps. Kline and Roe. “A fundamentally flawed law and its botched implementation has led to glitches, dropped coverage, and loss of work. Now we’re learning a broken website could put individuals’ sensitive information in jeopardy – and this isn’t the only risk to personal privacy. Right now navigators with strong ties to labor unions are collecting sensitive information with questionable safeguards. Congress has a responsibility to ensure individuals’ privacy is protected and contact with an ObamaCare navigator doesn’t lead to a phone call from union organizers.”
BACKGROUND: To facilitate enrollment in health benefit exchanges, PPACA provides taxpayer-funded grants to navigators. The law defines navigators as entities with a relationship or that could readily establish a relationship with employers, employees, and self-employed individuals. In a rush to implement the law, the Obama administration cut in half the training of navigators, raising concerns about individuals’ personal privacy.
A recent press report revealed two worker centers received navigator grants. Worker centers are generally community-based organizations that advocate on behalf of workers, and some have taken direct action to alter conditions of employment and organize employees. In July the committee began examining worker centers to ensure they are properly following federal labor laws. Due to the close association of worker centers with labor unions, the committee wants to ensure personal information collected by worker centers is protected and not used for future labor organizing efforts.
Among other items, the members ask HHS to provide:
Reps. Kline and Roe request a response by November 18, 2013.
To read the letter, click here.
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President Obama has intoned "if you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan" hundreds if not thousands of times. Sometimes he has even added that "no one will take it away, no matter what" or "nothing will change, period."
But now that reality is repudiating the President's unequivocal promise, Democrats want you to know that there was always a secret footnote: If you're losing a health plan you liked, the President didn't mean your plan.
Liberals now argue that Mr. Obama was mostly correct but his claim should have been caveated with a clause that people could keep their plans as long as they met ObamaCare regulations. This asterisk somehow wasn't mentioned until millions of policies started to be terminated as ObamaCare-noncompliant.
Questioned about this on Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said "Well, let's just be clear," which is how he and his boss announce they're about to turn on the fog machine. "What the President said and what everybody said all along is that there are going to be changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act that create minimum standards of coverage."
On Tuesday Mr. Carney elaborated that allowing people on the individual market to continue their current coverage "would undermine that basic premise of providing the minimum benefits for the American people." That line has also been picked up by Steny Hoyer, the number two House Democrat. Mr. Obama was merely trying "to allay the fears of somebody that had insurance—group insurance, for the most part—that do meet the criteria," he said Tuesday.
The prize for ex post facto rationalization goes to the consultant James Carville, who on Tuesday spun Fox News's Bill O'Reilly like a pro: "Well, I think he could have said—I think the more accurate statement would have been that you will keep your coverage unless you are in an individual market and have a so-called insurance policy that doesn't meet the basic requirements. You know just calling something health insurance doesn't make it health insurance."
Leave it to an old Bill Clinton hand to say it all depends on the meaning of "insurance."
This new liberal candor was absent during the health debate, no doubt because honesty would have made the law even harder to pass. Yet Mr. Obama continued to make a claim he knew to be false.
At least ordinary Americans are now learning that their coverage isn't safe by design, and that those "minimum" ObamaCare standards are really maximal. As Democrats now admit, they knew what they were doing, and the goal is to reduce choice and raise prices in the individual insurance market to drive as many people as possible into the government exchanges.
Perhaps that's why at Wednesday's big Kathleen Sebelius hearing, Democrat Henry Waxman saw nothing amiss. "The Affordable Care Act is working," he said. "This January, the worst abuses of the insurance industry will be halted" and "that is why allowing insurers to continue offering deficient plans next year is such a bad policy."
In a world in which offering plans that consumers want is an abuse and Democrats are openly instructing adults that they don't know what's best for their own good, here is an opportunity for Republicans. They've mostly flogged ObamaCare's failures, which are real, but now that the law is no longer an abstraction they can start to build a case for a reform alternative.
The reasons for opposing benefit mandates, command-and-control regulation and the rest are now being demonstrated in the real world. The people who feel betrayed by Mr. Obama will be open to better ideas that would allow them to choose—and keep—health plans they like.
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House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) released the following joint statement urging the Senate to reject the nomination of Richard Griffin as general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board:
The Senate should unanimously reject the nomination of Richard Griffin for general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. For months Griffin performed the duties of a board member despite a federal appeals court ruling his appointment unconstitutional. His stunning disregard of the court’s decision added to the cloud of uncertainty that continues to hang over workers and job creators. No one with his track record should be allowed to serve as the agency’s top attorney. I urge our Senate colleagues to help restore the integrity of the NLRB by rejecting this misguided nomination.
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Today the House of Representatives is considering the Retail Investor Protection Act (H.R. 2374), bipartisan legislation to help protect the retirement security of hardworking Americans.
Federal law has long provided clear guidance to determine whether someone who provides retirement services is held to a fiduciary standard of care. However, since 2010 the Department of Labor has tried to significantly expand the legal definition of "fiduciary" with potentially devastating consequences for workers and retirees.
Moments ago House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) described the negative effects of the department's proposal and highlighted how the Retail Investor Protection Act will help rein in this misguided effort:
While we support looking for ways to modernize current fiduciary regulations, the department's recent proposal threatens to drive up costs, restrict investment opportunities, and harm efforts to education workers about responsible retirement planning H.R. 2374 will force the Department of Labor to abandon this misguided effort and help ensure any future attempt to redefine fiduciary promotes the retirement security of Americas workers.
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The topic of this hearing personally affects many in our audience, men and women who have spent a lifetime in the workplace and hope to enjoy retirement with the financial security they were promised. Unfortunately, that security is now in jeopardy for a number of different reasons.
For example, the recent recession and a sluggish economy continue to threaten the multiemployer pension system and the retirement savings of many Americans. Flawed government policies have also had a hand in the current crisis we face, making it difficult for the trustees of these pension plans to prepare during the good times for the difficult times we are now in.
I expect our witnesses will describe in greater detail the challenges facing the multiemployer pension system and how we have ended up with nearly $400 billion in unfunded benefit liabilities, a Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation on the brink of insolvency, employers stretched thin by current pension obligations, and both workers and retirees fearful they will lose what they worked so hard to achieve.
For more than a year the subcommittee has been closely examining this difficult issue. During that time two things have become abundantly clear.
First, the pain inflicted on workers and retirees will be far greater if we fail to act in the coming months. A number of multiemployer plans are regaining their financial health. We certainly welcome that progress and hope it continues. However, we cannot lose sight of the sizeable number of large plans that remain in financial trouble.
Pension plans that include hundreds of thousands of workers will become insolvent unless they receive the tools necessary to change course. If they don’t, it is impossible to predict with any certainty how far the consequences will spread. We’ve discussed in previous hearings a domino effect that would undermine not just the strength of the individual pension plans, but the pension system as a whole. PBGC will become overwhelmed and unable to provide the federal backstop it has delivered for nearly 40 years, which means some retirees will be left with nothing.
We must also be mindful that employers will be harmed under this nightmare scenario as well. Improving the multiemployer pension system is not only about retirement security; it’s about saving jobs and protecting the competitiveness of America’s workplaces. As elected policymakers, we have a responsibility to take action and help prevent the worst from happening.
It has also become clear that there are no easy answers, despite what some may suggest. Our goal is to strengthen multiemployer pensions. Part of that effort must include finding ways to encourage new employers to join the system. Raising contributions and premiums to punitive levels will undermine this important goal. In fact, I fear it will destroy jobs and drive even more employers out of the system, exacerbating the problems that already exist.
We need to find a better way forward. While we face significant challenges, I am hopeful we can enact meaningful solutions before it’s too late. Members from the labor and management communities have united behind a comprehensive proposal to reform the multiemployer pension system. Their work has been vital to this debate and encouraged members on both sides of the aisle.
I’ve also had a number of positive conversations with the senior Democratic member of the subcommittee, Representative Rob Andrews. We share a commitment to working together and making the tough choices that are necessary. America’s workers, employers, and retirees deserve no less.
I know this is extremely difficult for every man and woman involved. Promises were made and lives were planned believing those promises would be kept. I cannot fathom the anxiety and frustration you must feel, but I hope you will work with us – not against us – as we try to preserve the multiemployer pensions you and millions of Americans rely upon. I will now recognize my colleague Mr. Andrews for his opening remarks.
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"If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period." President Barack Obama
“Millions of Americans are getting their health insurance cancelled under the Affordable Care Act and the Obama administration has known for about three years that this would happen.” USA Today
“More than two million Americans have been told they cannot renew their current insurance policies -- more than triple the number of people said to be buying insurance under the new Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.” CBS News
“The rollout of Obamacare is leading to the cancellation of hundreds of thousands of health insurance plans nationwide, contradicting President Barack Obama’s repeated pledge that people who like their coverage can keep it.” Bloomberg
“More than 300,000 cancellation notices have been sent out in Florida, according to Kaiser Health News, and another 180,000 in California. In New Jersey, the number of cancellations tops 800,000, the Star-Ledger reports.” Yahoo! News“Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC NEWS that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a ‘cancellation’ letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent.” NBC News
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On Tuesday, October 29 at 10:00 a.m., the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), will hold a hearing entitled, “Strengthening the Multiemployer Pension System: How Will Proposed Reforms Affect Employers, Workers, and Retirees?" The latest in a series of hearings on multiemployer pension reform, the hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
Multiemployer defined benefit pension plans are created by collective bargaining agreements. The plans are administered jointly by a board of trustees equally representing employers and union officials. Since 2011 the House Education and the Workforce Committee has been examining the challenges facing the multiemployer pension system, including changing demographics, unfunded benefit liabilities, and the projected insolvency of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. The National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP) has released a comprehensive proposal to reform the multiemployer pension system that includes new plan designs and additional tools for plans in deep financial distress.
Tuesday's hearing will provide members an opportunity to discuss how NCCMP’s proposed reforms might affect workers, employers, and retirees. To learn more about Tuesday’s hearing, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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Mr. David Certner
Legislative Counsel and Legislative Policy Director
Ms. Carol Duncan
General Sheet Metal Works
Mr. Sean McGarvey
Building and Construction Trades Department
Mr. Thomas C. Nyhan
Central States Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund
President Obama attempted yesterday to address the “outrageous” rollout of his signature health care law, but his speech missed the mark. Ron Fournier of National Journal told MSNBC viewers the president “diminish[ed] the significance of what’s been happening” and ”doesn’t really take full responsibility.” The Wall Street Journal said of the president’s remarks: “Too bad this infomercial lacked tangible information.”
Perhaps the reason this latest sales pitch fell flat is Americans know firsthand the critical flaws embedded in the president's health care law. For weeks individuals trying to navigate the ObamaCare exchanges have encountered glitches, error messages, and sticker shock.
This is not exactly what the Obama administration promised. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told lawmakers her team was “on track” to have the exchanges operating by October 1. In fact, Secretary Sebelius told Education and the Workforce committee members: “I am very excited about… fully implementing this law.”
As recent press reports suggest, there isn’t a whole lot to be excited about when it comes to the ObamaCare train wreck:
Faced with a broken health care law, is Secretary Sebelius still excited?
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With broad bipartisan support, the House of Representatives today passed legislation to help keep children safe from sexual predators and other violent adults in their schools.
The Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act (H.R. 2083) creates consistency across states in criminal history background check policy. It requires public schools to conduct comprehensive background checks for any employee or applicant for employment with unsupervised access to children, using state criminal and child abuse registries and the FBI’s fingerprint database, as well as to periodically update these checks. It would also prohibit school districts from hiring or retaining anyone who has been convicted of certain violent crimes, including crimes against children, crimes involving rape or sexual assault, and child pornography.
“We owe it to students and their parents to help ensure schools are a safe place to learn,” said Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “Overwhelmingly school employees are good, hardworking individuals looking out for the best interests of students. However, too often we hear shocking stories about students falling victim to violent and sexual predators. The tools to protect kids from predators are available and should be deployed in every school. A comprehensive background check of a school employee can advance the safety of countless children. This legislation will help close the gap in policies that allow child predators to go undetected. I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their strong support of this commonsense legislation.”
“When parents send their children to school each morning, they expect them to be safe from harm. Day in and day out, millions of teachers, staff, and administrators do their utmost – sometimes in downright heroic ways – to put their students’ safety first. But, despite these efforts, there remains a steady stream of stories from across the country involving students who have been abused by someone in a position of trust in their schools,” said Rep. George Miller (D-CA), senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee and author of the bill, on the House floor. “Schools must be places where faculty and students can focus on teaching, learning and treatment without fear of emotional or physical harm. The criminal background checks required in H.R. 2083 are essential to ensuring that schools and school districts are doing everything they possibly can to protect children. “At the request of Rep. Miller, in 2010 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) uncovered a wide range of cases of convicted sex offenders, who had previously targeted children, working in schools alongside children. The GAO found that inconsistent state laws and regulations regarding the use of comprehensive background checks led to some school districts unknowingly hiring offenders. In other cases, GAO found that districts knowingly passed a potential predator to another school district, instead of reporting the offender to the proper authorities. The significant differences in the ways prospective school employees are screened lead to gaps in student protection. The House has passed similar legislation on a number of occasions, the most recent occurring in July, to require state and local officials to conduct comprehensive background checks.
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A report released by the Government Accountability Office in December 2010 examined 15 cases where individuals with histories of sexual misconduct were hired or retained as teachers, support staff, volunteers and contractors. In 11 of these 15 cases, those individuals had previously targeted children.
Despite the fact that states have varying policies intended to protect children from sexual predators in schools, the GAO determined the policies were largely inconsistent and insufficient. According to the report, states don’t consistently perform pre-employment background checks, and when they do conduct background checks, they are not always fingerprint-based or connected to the national criminal database.
There is widespread agreement on both sides of the aisle that more must be done to protect students. We have worked with our colleagues to advance legislation that will ensure every school employee – from cafeteria workers, administrators, and janitors to teachers, principals, and librarians – is subject to a complete background check that includes the FBI fingerprint identification system and the National Sex Offender Registry.
Today we have an opportunity to finish the fight by sending the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act to the Senate.
H.R. 2083 will require states that receive funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to have policies and practices in place that ensure each school employee is subject to a complete national criminal background check. A similar provision offered by my colleagues from Pennsylvania, Mr. Fitzpatrick and Mr. Meehan, was included in the House-passed Student Success Act.The Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act is commonsense legislation that will help ensure students in schools across the country are safe from sexual criminals. I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 2083, and I reserve the balance of my time.
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