The Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) today held a hearing to explore the consequences of the president’s health care law on the five year anniversary of its enactment.
“Health care reform should have been an opportunity to preserve and build on what works with commonsense, market-based reforms that would expand access to more affordable coverage,” remarked Rep. Roe. “Instead, a costly government takeover of health care was imposed on the American people, and five years later the law continues wreaking havoc on families, businesses, and even schools. It’s hard to recall a time when supporters of a law promised so much and delivered so little.”
During the hearing, witnesses expressed continued concern with the negative impact of the law on the nation’s workplaces, including:
- Reduced Hours for Workers - [ObamaCare’s] definition of full-time employee is having an adverse impact on both employers and employees … According to [the Society for Human Resource Management] SHRM’s March research survey, 20 percent of SHRM members’ organizations have already reduced part-time hours to below 30 per week or are planning to do so in the following year to comply with the ACA. - Sally Roberts, Director of Human Resources, Morris Communications Company
- Uncertainty for Employers - For the past several years we have operated in a constant state of unknown … It seems as soon as we have some clarity on an issue, we come to realize that it was only a temporary extension or that we were guided in the wrong direction to begin with … [We] have no idea what to plan for because we don’t know what changes to legislation or regulations will bring next year or beyond. – Skip Paal, Society of American Florists
- Increased Health Care Costs - Although the [law] purports to lower health care costs for Americans, costs continue to rise for employers and employees alike. According to a recent survey, 77 percent of respondents said that their health care coverage costs increased from 2014 to 2015 … the [law’s] current coverage requirements are increasing costs and restricting employer flexibility to offer a benefits package that best meets the needs of employees. – Sally Roberts, Director of Human Resources, Morris Communications Company
- Loss of Existing Health Care Coverage - We are facing a troubling cycle in the world of employer sponsored care … Some employers will exit the system, but we believe that more will look to make serious changes in approach. These employer based changes typically include more cost-sharing components … the cost sharing then impacts the affordability of health care for employees, who will become unsatisfied with their employer sponsored care and look to Washington for answers. – Tevi Troy, President, American Health Policy Institute
“When it’s all said and done – after all the broken promises, fewer jobs, lost wages, website glitches, and cancelled health care plans – 35 million individuals will still be without health insurance,” concluded Rep. Roe. “The American people can no longer afford this costly mistake. It is time to move the country away from this government-run health care scheme and toward a more patient-centered health care system.”
To learn more about today’s hearing, read witness testimony, or to watch an archived webcast, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), House Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN), and Senate Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-GA) today introduced legislation that will preserve long-standing union election procedures by safeguarding the right of workers to make informed decisions about union representation, ensuring the ability of employers to communicate with their employees, and protecting the privacy of workers and their families.
“Starting today, an ambush union election scheme will begin wreaking havoc on our nation’s workplaces,” said Chairman Kline. “Through his labor board, the president has endorsed new rules that will stifle employer free speech, cripple worker free choice, and jeopardize the privacy and safety of workers and their families. We promised that the fight against ambush elections wasn’t over. That is why today I am pleased to join my House and Senate colleagues in introducing legislation that will rein in the board's unprecedented overreach, protect the rights of workers and employers, and preserve a fair union election process.”
“The NLRB’s ambush election rule forces a union election in a little as 11 days—before an employer and many employees even have a chance to figure out what is going on,” said Sen. Alexander, chairman of the Senate labor committee. “Congress must act to stop this damaging rule, which sacrifices every employer’s right to free speech and every worker’s right to privacy—all for the sake of boosting organized labor.”
“Unions and employers deserve a chance to make their case on unionizing,” said Rep. Roe, “and employees deserve adequate time to consider the consequences of their decisions, but the ambush election rule unfairly rushes the decision-making process. The safeguards we are seeking to restore with these bills give employees the freedom to make an informed decision. It is unacceptable that the NLRB would force employers to disclose personal information, potentially opening the door for workers to be intimidated, threatened or coerced. Now, more than ever, we should be protecting the rights of workers, and my bill does just that by returning decision-making power to the employee and their families."
“The National Labor Relations Board continues to skew the playing field between management and labor,” said Sen. Isakson. “I have been fighting against these unfair rulings by the NLRB since President Obama took office. This bill protects free speech and ensures that workers are afforded the opportunity to make informed decisions about their right to organize, while safeguarding their personal information and privacy. At a time when our economy and our middle class are trying to recover from a recession, the NLRB’s ambush election policy is absolutely the wrong thing to do and I urge Congress to pass the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act to restore a level playing field.”
BACKGROUND: The NLRB’s rule – which goes into full effect today, April 14 – shortens the length of time in which a labor union certification election is held to as little as 11 days. In 2014, more than 95 percent of union certification elections occurred within 56 days. Furthermore, the median number of days from petition to election was 38 days. These numbers surpass the performance goals set by the NLRB itself. The rule gives employers essentially no time to communicate with their employees before a union election and undermines the ability of workers to make an informed decision. In addition, it forces employers to provide employees’ personal information to union organizers without employees’ consent.
The legislative response proposed by Reps. Kline and Roe and Sens. Alexander and Isakson would:
- Ensure workers have enough time to make an informed decision in a union election by prohibiting any election from taking place in less than 35 days.
- Provide employers at least 14 days to prepare their case to present before a NLRB election officer and protect the right to raise additional concerns throughout the pre-election hearing.
- Reassert the board’s responsibility to address critical issues before certifying a union, including voter eligibility and the appropriate unit of employees that will form the union.
- Empower workers to control their personal information by allowing each employee to determine the personal contact information that is provided to union organizers.
To learn more about the legislation introduced in the House, click here.
To learn more about the legislation introduced in the Senate, click here.
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Roe Statement: Hearing on “Five Years of Broken Promises: How the President’s Health Care Law is Affecting America’s Workplaces”
As a practicing physician for more than 30 years, I experienced first-hand the marvels of the U.S. health care system and how it has helped improve the lives of countless individuals. But I also saw the challenges of our health care system, one that is too bureaucratic, too costly, and leaves too many Americans without the coverage they need to care for themselves and their loved ones.
Health care reform should have been an opportunity to preserve and build on what works with commonsense, market-based reforms that would expand access to more affordable coverage. Instead, a costly government takeover of health care was imposed on the American people, and five years later the law continues wreaking havoc on families, businesses, and even schools. It’s hard to recall a time when supporters of a law promised so much and delivered so little.
The American people were promised that if they liked their health care plan they could keep it. Not true. Millions of Americans have received letters notifying them that their health insurance is being cancelled because it doesn’t comply with the dictates of the health care law. Patients have learned in horror that their trusted doctors are no longer in their health insurance networks. And it will only get worse. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects seven million people will lose their employer-sponsored coverage over the next 10 years.
The American people were promised health care costs would go down. In fact, the president promised to lower premiums for the average family by $2,500. Not true. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, health care costs for the average family increased by 26 percent during the last five years. The average employee with an employer-sponsored insurance plan experienced a seven percent increase in their share of health care costs.
Finally, the American people were told the health care law would boost the economy. Again, not true. More than 450 employers have publicly stated they are cutting hours or making other staffing changes to avoid the law’s punitive mandates, including the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, Trig’s Supermarkets and Coach’s Fast Food in Wisconsin, Shari’s restaurants in Oregon, and the Henrico County School District – as well as other school districts – across the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the law will result in two million fewer full-time workers.
Many of these difficult changes are taking place in the service industry, which means lower-wage workers are bearing the brunt of the ObamaCare burden. Schools are also cutting hours, undermining the quality of education America’s students deserve. We’ve heard time and again from the administration that these are mere anecdotes or, in the words of then-Secretary Sebelius, “speculation.” Yet even those who supported the health care law have no choice but to recognize its harmful consequences.
Members of the AFL-CIO endorsed a resolution that warned of an “underclass of less than 30-hour-workers” as employers seek to avoid paying penalties under the health care law. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters and other union leaders said the law will “shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle-class.” Finally, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers lamented that the law “imposes increased benefit costs, fees, and new taxes on our [multiemployer health care] plans.”
Unfortunately, more pain is right around the corner. In just a few short years, nearly half of all large employers will be hit by the so-called “Cadillac tax.” It’s estimated the federal government will collect more than $85 billion through this tax over the next decade. That’s money that could be used to raise wages or create new jobs; instead it will go into the coffers of the federal government. And don’t forget, that right now, the Supreme Court is deciding a case that may result in millions of Americans being stuck with government-run health insurance they cannot afford.
Remarkably, when it’s all said and done – after all the broken promises, fewer jobs, lost wages, website glitches, and cancelled health care plans – 35 million individuals will still be without health insurance. The American people can no longer afford this costly mistake. It is time to move the country away from this government-run health care scheme and toward a more patient-centered health care system.
A key part of that effort is oversight hearings like the one we are holding today. Congress must shine a light on the president’s fatally flawed law. We have a very distinguished panel of witnesses to help us do just that. I would note for my colleagues that today’s panel includes three employers to share their perspectives on how the law is impacting their workplaces. I look forward to a robust discussion.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) have requested information about how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) responds to reports of neglect and abuse at Head Start centers.
In a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell, Kline and Rokita expressed their “deep concern” for the health and safety of children enrolled in the Head Start program. They write:
This concern stems from apparent discrepancies in how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decides when to suspend or terminate the contracts of Head Start and Early Head Start grantees and whether those decisions are made in the best interest of the children being served.
Despite recent reports of “significant health and safety problems” and “immediate danger” at the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (NYC ACS), including unsanitary facilities, physical and sexual abuse by a teacher, and exposure to poison and toxic substances, HHS has allowed NYC ACS to continue operating 196 Head Start centers rather than suspending or revoking their $130 million annual federal grant and appointing an interim grantee to prevent disruptions in services.
The letter continues, “The decision to allow NYC ACS to continue operating its grant appears to represent a divergent path from other decisions regarding safety concerns at centers.”
After sending the letter to Secretary Burwell, Kline and Rokita remarked:
Quality early childhood education plays an important role in helping children succeed in life. Congress has a responsibility to ensure our investment in early childhood education provides a safe and secure learning environment for the nation’s most vulnerable children. Health and safety must be leading priorities. The secretary needs to explain how these decisions promote the well-being of students and serve their best interests.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The need for even tougher security at the nation’s airports became an issue Tuesday when the head of the FAA appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee.
The top Democrat on the committee, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), pressed the head of the Federal Aviation Administration, Michael Huerta, about funding to help airports screen employees who have access to secure areas.
Chabot Testifies in Support of Small Business Contracting Reforms
WASHINGTON – Today, House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) testified before the House Armed Services Committee to support the inclusion of small business contracting reform legislation to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016.
Chabot spoke in favor of H.R. 1481, the Small Contractors Increase Competition Act, legislation the Committee passed in March. This bill would require the Small Business Administration (SBA) to place a greater emphasis on small business subcontracting and participation rates. The bill would also make it easier for small businesses to embark on joint ventures as well as crack down on contracting abuses.
“Our nation demands a vital small business industrial base: it is fundamental to the health of our nation as a whole,” said Chabot. “I look forward to working with the House Armed Services Committee to ensure that small businesses continue to provide the Department of Defense and the federal government with innovative and competitive solutions to support critical programs.”
In addition to Chabot, fellow Small Business Committee Members Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-NV) also testified before the Committee in support of these small business contracting reform provisions.
Chabot’s complete statement for the record can be found here.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold hearings this week on the five year anniversary of President Obama’s health care law and various child nutrition programs in preparation for reauthorization of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act.
On Tuesday, the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions will hold a hearing entitled, “Five Years of Broken Promises: How the President’s Health Care Law is Affecting America’s Workplaces.” The hearing will examine the consequences of the health care law, including higher costs, reduction in hours and jobs, and loss of existing health insurance coverage. More information about the hearing, including location, webcast, witness list, and testimony can be found here as they become available.
On Wednesday, the full committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Serving Students and Families through Child Nutrition Programs.” Federal child nutrition programs, such as the federal lunch and breakfast programs, deliver vital support to low-income students and families. In 2010, Congress expanded these programs resulting in a series of costly regulations. Schools have experienced a more than $1 billion cost increase in the lunch and breakfast programs, while the number of students and families served has decreased by 1.4 million. Wednesday’s hearing provides members an opportunity to hear from school nutrition experts about the current state of federal child nutrition programs and the role they play in the lives of students and families. More information about the hearing, including location, webcast, witness list, and testimony can be found here as they become available.
For more information on hearings, visit edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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Next Week at Small Business: Tax Reform
Ensuring that Main Street Isn't Left Behind
WASHINGTON -- The Small Business Committee will hold the following hearing next week:
Full Committee Hearing
Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH)
Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 11:00 A.M.
2360 Rayburn House Office Building
Tax Reform: Ensuring that Main Street Isn't Left Behind
On Wednesday, April 15, 2015, at 11:00 A.M., the Committee on Small Business will hold a hearing titled, "Tax Reform: Ensuring that Main Street Isn't Left Behind.” The hearing will be held in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The purpose of the hearing is to examine the need for and potential economic benefits of comprehensive tax reform. The hearing will be webstreamed live HERE.
· Mr. Scott Lipps, Owner, Sleep Tite Mattress Factory, Franklin, OH (Testifying on behalf of the National Federation of Independent Business)
· Mr. Pete Sepp, President, National Taxpayers Union, Alexandria, VA
· Mr. Dan McGregor, Chairman of the Board, McGregor Metalworking Companies, Springfield, OH (Testifying on behalf of the S Corporation Association of America)
· Eric Toder, Ph.D., Institute Fellow, Urban Institute, Co-Director, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, Washington, DC
*Members of the press interested in covering this hearing should contact Communications Director Kelley McNabb at Kelley.McNabb@mail.house.gov.*
The availability of capital is crucial for any small business to get off the ground, weather tough times and grow to the next level. But what most women business owners today know about this key issue is very different from what our daughters or granddaughters will know when they set out to launch businesses of their own. Before H.R. 5050, the Women’s Business Ownership Act that NAWBO played a role in helping to pass more than 25 years ago, women didn’t have direct access. In fact, if they wanted to get a business loan, they needed a male co-signer—a husband, father or even son.
While discriminatory lending practices like this might be a thing of the past, access to capital consistently ranks as one of the biggest challenges for women entrepreneurs seeking to start or expand their business—one that NAWBO consistently speaks out on in the state capitals where our chapters reside as well as in our nation’s capitol where NAWBO was founded. Still, the statistics speak loud and clear: Women are starting businesses at one and a half times the national average according to the American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Business Report. Yet female founders receive just 25 percent of angel investments in the U.S., and companies with a woman CEO get just 3 percent of venture capital backing, says a Babson College study on bridging the gender gap in venture capital. Additionally, an Experian report shows that most women entrepreneurs rely on personal credit when applying for a business loan to keep their businesses strong or expand their operations.
Moreover, in July 2014, then-Senate Small Business Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) released a report entitled “21st Century Barriers to Women’s Entrepreneurship.” The report took a wide-ranging look at some of the challenges that women face in starting a business. In particular, the report found that just “$1 of every $23 in conventional small business loans goes to a woman-owned business.”
Since building financial capability and improving access to credit is not just essential to the success of our current and future NAWBO members, but to the continued growth of the U.S. economy, we decided to dedicate an entire issue of NAWBO ONE to accessing capital. In this month’s issue, you’ll hear advice from one of our past National Board Chairs, whose company provides CFO advice, support and even interim or part-time CFOs, about the must-have financial tools for women entrepreneurs to successfully run their businesses. You’ll also hear from a banking partner about why it’s so important to have a history with your business lender, as well as read spotlights on women-owned businesses who have gained access their way.
Additionally, we’re excited to share with you details of a new partnership between NAWBO and Portfolia, a network designed to bring together trending private companies with emerging yet sophisticated investors, as well as experienced angels and angel networks for women entrepreneurs. The partnership will result in NAWBO-Portfolia Investment Circles, beginning in six NAWBO chapters.
We hope you enjoy this issue of NAWBO ONE and gain some valuable insight to help you launch something new, get through a business challenge, expand your products or services or step into a new market.
—Darla Beggs, NAWBO National Board Chair
Jane Hilboldt, CEO of Hilboldt Curtainwall in St. Louis, MO, was awarded the Mobius Legacy Achievement Award at the WCOE Gala dinner held at the National Press Club during the 2015 Leadership Conference held in Washington DC on March 30. Jane has served on the National Board of Directors for many years.
Other awards presented at the event included Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congressman Marsha Blackburn, Mobius Advocates of the Year, Nancy Novak of Balfour Beatty and Karen A. Sweeney of Turner Construction, Mobius Influential Women in Business and Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Deputy Secretary, the Department of Energy was awarded the Mobius Influential Woman in Government. The Mobius Influential Woman in Government Award was also presented posthumously to Tracey Pinson and was accepted by her husband, Darryl Dennis.
Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall Awarded the Mobius Award for Influential Woman in Government
The WCOE National Leadership Conference was held in Washington DC March 29 to 31. One of the highlights of the conference was the Gala held at the National Press Club on Monday, March 30, where The WCOE Mobius Awards were presented.
Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall was presented with the Mobius Award for Influential Woman in Government. Deputy Secretary Sherwood-Randall thanked the members of WCOE for being strong role models for women and encouraged attendees to inspire and motivate the next generation of girls entering a male-dominated industry.
Speaking about the role of the Department of Energy as the nation’s technology powerhouse to meet the challenges of energy security, nuclear security and climate change. The innovations developed by the Department provide new energy sources, decrease greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to the nation’s economy.
The Agency is the second largest procurement agency in the Federal government and operates 17 national laboratories and production facilities throughout the nation where many of the innovations are developed.
Finally, the Deputy Secretary encouraged attendees to get involved with mentoring programs and to reach out to girls in their communities to promote STEM programs and education.