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A weekly review of progress on the Quality Public Schools Agenda and other legislation that impacts our students, classrooms, and public education.November 19, 2003
NEA Praises Senate Rejection of Vouchers!
NEA praised Senate leaders for sending a strong message to the House of Representatives that voucher schemes do nothing to improve education opportunities. Senate leaders struck a proposed school voucher program from the Senate bill funding District of Columbia public schools and other operations. The House bill that includes a voucher program passed the House with a one-vote margin. NEA remains committed to a final funding package that rejects unproven voucher schemes. [http://capwiz.com/nea/issues/alert/?alertid=4204501]
The rush to adjourn by week's end can force action on key bills affecting millions of Americans.Call your U.S. Representative and Senators - through the Capitol switchboard [202-224-3121] or at their local offices - without delay.
- Medicare, Prescription Drugs and Early Retirement Health CoverageTell Congress: Vote 'NO' on the ill-conceived Medicare/prescription drug conference agreement.
NEA opposes the Medicare conference agreement that worsens, rather than fixes, the current health care crisis.Current retiree health benefits undercutMore than 4 million older Americans with drug coverage today will see it reduced or eliminated.
Public sector employers are denied the same favorable tax treatment given to private employers, creating pressure on public employers to drop retiree prescription drug coverage.
The Republican Leadership's stripping Sec. 631 from the conference bill makes it more difficult for employers to offer health coverage to those who retire before age 65. [NEA-supported Sec. 631 clarifies that employer-provided pre-Medicare health coverage coordinated with Medicare or a state plan does not violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.]Cost shifting, not cost containment
The tax-free Health Savings Accounts simply shift costs to the individual prescription drug consumer, while doing little to contain costs.Traditional Medicare program undercutInsurance companies, HMOs and other private providers get generous subsidies and can design plans to attract young and healthy seniors, leaving Medicare the oldest, sickest and most expensive people.
Provisions favorable to privatization drive up costs for the traditional Medicare program and make it less competitive.
- Social Security Offsets - H.R. 743 and the One-Day Rule
This pension reform bill includes NEA-opposed language that makes harsher the impact of Social Security offsets:Sec. 418 changes the eligibility requirement for full spousal benefits from working one day to working five years in a Social Security district.
Sec. 210 tightens enforcement of Social Security offsets through coordination of employer, IRS, and Social Security Administration data.Your calls and messages put H.R. 743 on hold and won efforts to fix the
bill's Social Security offset provisions. But H.R. 743 may move in the rush to adjourn.Tell Congress: H.R. 743 must not pass with Sec. 210 and Sec. 418.
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