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It Works! New Data on Health Insurance and the New Health Care Law

Posted by Karen Davenport, Director of Health Policy | Posted on: April 17, 2014 at 10:04 am

If you had any doubt that the new health care law is helping women and their families get health insurance – and given the Chicken Little-level hysteria that seems to still affect critics of the new law, you can be forgiven for harboring a few doubts – a new survey released yesterday should calm those fears. According to Gallup, the uninsured rate for adults in states that have implemented both major coverage components of the Affordable Care Act has fallen, on average, 2.5 percentage points in the first three months of full implementation. These 21 states and the District of Columbia, which expanded coverage through Medicaid and established their own health insurance marketplaces (including those running “partnership” marketplaces), have widened the gap in average rates of uninsurance between themselves and states that have not taken both of these steps.

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Governor of Maine Denies Healthcare for 70,000 Mainers

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: April 16, 2014 at 03:23 pm

Last week, Governor LePage blocked health coverage to hardworking Maine residents by vetoing a bill that would have provided Medicaid to 70,000 people.

Maine is one of 24 states that have not taken federal funding to cover more people in Medicaid. Under the health care law, women and their families in every state are eligible for tax credits to help them afford health insurance, depending on their family income. In states that accept federal money to expand coverage through Medicaid, people with lower incomes will also have affordable coverage. But in states that turn down the money, people with lower incomes (and those who do not meet other strict eligibility criteria) will not get any financial help for health insurance costs. That’s the “coverage gap” too many women and families are facing right now.

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Rhode Island's Working to Ensure Fairness for Pregnant Workers. First Stop, Central Falls!

Posted by Lauren Khouri, Fellow | Posted on: April 16, 2014 at 10:35 am

Add Central Falls, Rhode Island to the list of cities with strong protections for pregnant workers!

On Monday, Central Falls City Council voted 5-to-1 to pass the Gender Equity in the Workplace Ordinance, which requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees who have limitations in their ability to work arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Central Falls joins New York City, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and West Virginia—all jurisdictions that have recently strengthened protections for pregnant workers, and done so with unanimous or near unanimous support. As a result, employers will be clearly required to provide pregnant workers with the same types of accommodations they already provide to workers with disabilities, and fewer women will be forced off the job at the moment they can least afford it.

While many women can work through pregnancy without any changes in their daily work, some women need small modifications in job policies or duties in order to continue working safely through their pregnancies. Yet, all too often when a pregnant woman requests a temporary change in workplace duties or policies, she is pushed out of work or forced onto unpaid leave by her employer. This leaves pregnant women across the country with a decision no one should have to make—a paycheck or a healthy pregnancy.

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A New Twist on Tax Day

Posted by Amy Qualliotine, Outreach Manager | Posted on: April 15, 2014 at 09:14 am

Happy Taxpayer Pride Day! Yes - you read that right, and no - I haven’t lost my mind.

For many, April 15 brings feelings of doom and gloom. It’s the day you might have to hand over some of your hard earned money to Uncle Sam (and if you’ve waited until the last minute, it’s the day you’ll have to stand in a long line at the Post Office with your fellow procrastinators). But we, inspired by our brilliant friends at NETWORK, will be celebrating April 15 as a day of joy and gratitude.

Why?

When you think about it, the world around you is fueled by tax revenue. Without taxes, we’d be less safe, less educated, and all around less content. Safety first: our tax dollars support police officers, fire fighters, the uniformed military, traffic lights, stop signs, street lamps, crossing guards, guardrails, airport security. I could keep going but I think you get the picture. Taxes support our elementary, middle, and high schools, state colleges and universities, cutting edge research that can both change and save lives, health care for the over-65 crowd (that’ll be you someday!) and the poor.

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Senate Schedules Confirmation Vote on Michelle Friedland for April 28

Posted by Amy K. Matsui, Senior Counsel and Director of Women and the Courts | Posted on: April 11, 2014 at 04:09 pm

After voting to move forward on her nomination yesterday morning, the Senate scheduled an up-or-down vote on the nomination of Michelle T. Friedland to be a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals – for April 28. That is, two weeks from Monday, after the Senate returns from its two-week recess. 

This two-week delay came about because Senate Republicans refused to allow the vote to take place before Senators left town, even though the bipartisan procedural vote leaves little doubt that this outstanding nominee will imminently be confirmed to this important court.

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Taking the Fight for Equal Pay to the States

Posted by Emily Werth, Fellow | Posted on: April 11, 2014 at 01:03 pm

As news coverage this week made clear, enacting measures to achieve equal pay is a high priority for many in Congress. But it is also a high priority for lots of states. For example, recently enacted and pending state legislation would: end retaliation against workers for discussing their pay; strengthen state equal pay laws; and ensure that workers have sufficient time to bring pay discrimination cases.

Combating Punitive Pay Secrecy – A woman can go years being paid less than her male coworker across the hall for doing the same work and never even know it. This is no accident – many employers keep employees in the dark about what others are making through punitive pay secrecy policies that threaten punishment for discussing pay. Some states are combating this problem by prohibiting employers from preventing employee discussions about pay and retaliating against employees that do engage in such discussions. Last year alone, Louisiana (for state employees), New Jersey and Vermont joined the ranks of states offering this sort of protection to workers. And this year there are bills pending in the District of Columbia, Indiana, Louisiana (for all employees), Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania to do the same.

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Low-Wage Jobs, High-Cost Child Care, and Stay-at-Home Moms

The percentage of mothers who stayed at home increased from a low of 23 percent in 1999 to 29 percent in 2012, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center [PDF]. This represents a turn-around from the trend in previous decades, when the percentage of mothers who stayed at home steadily declined from 47 percent in 1970.

There are many possible explanations for the recent increase in the number of mothers staying at home—but economic factors clearly play a major part.

Women deciding to enter today’s labor force face daunting prospects—unemployment rates remain well above pre-recession levels and jobs are hard to come by. In fact, Pew reports that the share of women who stay home with their children because they cannot find a job has risen by five percentage points since 2000. And when jobs can be found, they are very low-wage. NWLC analysis shows that over one-third of women’s job gains [PDF] since 2009 have been in the 10 largest low-wage occupations, which typically pay $10.10 or less per hour. 

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During Equal Pay Week, Minnesota House of Representatives Takes Bipartisan Action to Promote Women's Economic Security

Posted by Emily Werth, Fellow | Posted on: April 10, 2014 at 03:46 pm

Yesterday, in a bipartisan vote of 106-24, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the Women’s Economic Security Act. This comprehensive bill includes a range of important reforms to promote workplace equality for the state’s women, and enhance economic security for them and their families, such as:

  • Enabling women to learn if they are experiencing pay discrimination without fear of retaliation;
  • Ensuring that businesses that contract with the state government comply with equal pay standards;
  • Promoting women’s access to high-wage, high-demand jobs and the development of women-owned businesses;
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