Instead of making the 1% – the rich and big corporations – pay their fair share, House Republicans voted to make unprecedented and devastating cuts to essential services at a time when 99% of families can least afford it.
These service cuts would hurt millions of people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. At the same time, some in Congress want to give the richest 1% and big corporations more than $4 trillion in tax cuts.
Money from the federal government is by far the single largest source of revenue for state and local governments. So what Congress does matters a lot.
Direct support professional, Cantave Pamphile, tells Congress to get its priorities straight
My name is Cantave Pamphile. I started this work because of the experience I had with my nephew. He has Down Syndrome and I saw what my sister was doing to take care of him. I wanted to be able to provide that assistance to others who need it. I see that if these individuals are given a hand, they can really be able to live the independent lives that they want to.
The best part of the job for me is just working with the individuals and spending time with them. We can see how much our work means to them and contributes to their well-being.
We’re often staffed just enough to maintain the proper level of care for our individuals, and there are so many more things that we could do with the individuals if we had the resources.
If funding for the individuals that we serve were cut, it would affect them a lot. There are eight individuals in the house that I work in, but we only have three staff at a time. The people that I work with need a lot of assistance, so if we were to lose just one staff person, the result would be dramatic. The whole system could fall apart.
Every one of the individuals that I work with has become a part of my family, and I feel like I’ve become a part of theirs. We spend so much time with them, making sure that they have the support they need, that it’s just natural to be close with them and their families. I can’t imagine not being a part of their lives.
Members of Congress need to hear about the individuals that I work with and how much they depend on the services that we deliver. They need to know how the work we do allows individuals to live as independently as possible, and without our work they would be left hanging.
Late Monday afternoon, the congressional Super-Committee announced their failure to put forward a proposal to cut $1.2 trillion from the U.S. budget over the next 10 years.
Time and time again, the Super-Committee proved unable to reach an agreement on long-term deficit reduction for one reason and one reason only:
Republicans refused to make the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.
Despite an overwhelming majority of Americans wanting the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share, Republicans refused to budge from their stance that Bush tax cuts be preserved while cutting programs that the middle class, seniors, and most Americans depend on.
Democrats on the Super-Committee stood their ground that the rich pay their fair share or no deal. They insisted that everyone in America pay their fair share and prevented devastating cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and other programs that millions of Americans rely on for their healthcare and livelihoods.
By rejecting the Republican proposals that came out of the Super-Committee, Democrats were expressing the views of the vast majority of Americans and standing behind them. While these efforts were able to prevent a bad deal from coming out of the Super-Committee, this fight is far from over.
“Now, it’s up to both chambers to focus on putting Americans back to work. That is the best way to reduce our deficit,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry in a statement following the announcement by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. “A cuts-only approach will not work and will end up shifting responsibility to already stretched state budgets and cost millions of jobs.”
In a White House press briefing Monday evening, President Obama took Republicans to task for not proposing any serious deficit reduction proposals that would required shared sacrifice:
“There’s still too many Republicans in Congress who have refused to listen to the voices of reason and compromise that are coming from outside of Washington. They continue to insist on protecting $100 billion worth of tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans at any cost […]”
More details from the New York Times on the failure of the Super-Committee to propose a plan to identify $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions in time for the November 23rd deadline.
As the Congressional supercommittee looks for places to trim the federal budget, early reports forecast that Medicaid is on the chopping block for either direct cuts or massive cost shifting to already financially-strapped states.
What’s missing from these negotiations is the recognition of the positive value Medicaid has on the economy of every state.
REALITY: Medicaid benefits are not actually a major driver of the deficit. In fact, quite the opposite is true.
When it comes to job creation, investment in healthcare through Medicaid is one of the most effective and efficient forms of economic stimulus. Every dollar spent on Medicaid–whether from state or from federal sources–provides vital healthcare services to seniors, children and people with disabilities while bringing additional economic benefits and new jobs to everyone in that state.
Cutting federal spending on Medicaid, then, means cutting jobs.
In the name of reducing our federal deficit, some members of the Congressional supercommittee would rather risk jobs and the lifesaving healthcare services millions of seniors, people with disabilities and children rely on than raise taxes on the richest individuals and corporations in this country.
We do not ‘need’ to cut Medicaid in order to put Americans back to work. If the proposed cuts Congress is considering become a reality, they will have the exact opposite of the desired effect – resulting in the loss of not just healthcare services but also millions of good-paying jobs.
We’ve created a chart using the Families USA “Jobs At Risk” data to provide you with a clearer picture of how cuts to Medicaid would impact jobs and state economies.
More useful resources and facts after the break on why Medicaid matters for putting Americans back to work.
The Straight Facts:
Much more on how investments in Medicaid create jobs and stimulate the economy on our new campaign page: www.seiu.org/healthcare-jobs.
SEIU Local 509 had a very successful week working in partnership with families, the trade association, advocacy organizations, legislators, and consumers. There was major news coverage of our call to action to improve safety measures in the state’s mental health system. Most notably was an op-ed in the Boston Globe, written in collaboration between the Presidents of both the SEIU Local 509 and the Behavioral Health Association, calling attention to the necessity that the state implement all of the Safety Task Force recommendations.
Both our organizations and our members understand the critical importance of staff and consumer safety at DMH-funded programs. Safety is an essential condition for the success of these services in helping individuals achieve recovery. Direct care workers, providers, consumers, DMH and the Legislature need to work together to for the benefit of both consumers and staff in passage of comprehensive legislation based on the recommendations of the DMH Task Force on Staff and Client Safety.
Press coverage also included a six minute radio interview on WBUR with SEIU 509, NAMI-Mass, and the family of Stephanie Moulton, a human service worker allegedly killed by a mentally ill client. There were also two news articles on a rally spear-headed by the Moulton Family, SEIU Local 509, and The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health.
Here are some links to those articles:
Family of Slain Caseworker to Testify on Beacon Hill for ‘Stephanie’s Law’
Service Workers, Family of Slain Peabody Woman Rally for Statewide Safety Reform
Local 509 also testified in favor of “Stephanie’s Law” at State House, as a part of an overall safety reform campaign in the mental health system.
This bill, named after Stephanie Moulton, would require all DMH facilities to be equipped with panic buttons. Local 509 is proud to garner support for this bill and will keep working with all stakeholders to improve all areas of safety for human service workers.
Today marks an important step in the political process that could give people with disabilities more control over their lives and and allow the workforce providing these services to join together in a union to improve their jobs and the program. AB 1244 (Chesbro) is up for a vote in the Senate Committee on Human Services today. We need to make sure the committee stands with people with disabilities and workers who want self-determination and votes yes on the bill.
Under the Self-Determination program:
The Senate Committee on Human Services is holding a vote on the bill today. We need to make sure the committee does the right thing for people with disabilities and votes yes on this important bill.
SEIU members across the country have been calling and emailing their Senators to reject the radical Ryan budget plan passed by the House of Representatives last month. The plan included massive cuts to Medicaid services for 8 million Americans with disabilities in order to pay for tax cuts to corporations and millionaires. In a stunning rebuke of the radical proposals of Representative Ryan, the Senate voted down the Ryan Budget Plan yesterday. SEIU President Mary Kay Henry released this statement last night:
“Voters across America have been telling Congressional Republicans to focus on creating good jobs and to keep their hands off their healthcare and retirement security. Today’s vote is another indication that any budget that guts Medicare and Medicaid while extending tax giveaways to millionaires and corporations is unacceptable to the American people.
“We cannot simply cut our way to a budget solution. We need to create revenue by making corporations pay their fair share and by putting people back to work. Members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, need to listen to Main Street and do their jobs. That should start by working to create good jobs for the more than 13 million Americans who need them.”
Our work is not done. We still need a budget that protects vital human services, like Medicaid, for the Americans with disabilities who depend on them to live independent lives as part of their community. Around the country SEIU members are working with disability advocates and community partners to call for a budget that reflects the reflects our values on Main Street, not a corporations bottom line on Wall Street. Sign-up here to stay involved in our fight to preserve Medicaid funding.
During SEIUs 2008 Convention, our union members passed a resolution committing the resources and leadership of the union to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities in good union jobs with benefits. The following is an example shared by SEIU Local 721 member David Mulvey about how SEIU Local 1021 in California has worked to implement this resolution and part of an upcoming series of blog posts on this topic.
Derrick is a young man with autism, a developmental disability, who worked at a local hospital though his high school ROP program. Upon graduation he continued to volunteer at the hospital, but there was not an opportunity to become a paid employee. He then applied for and was accepted into Children’s Hospital Oakland’s Project SEARCH program operated by East Bay Innovations.
Having earlier built a relationship with SEIU Local 1021 (the local that represented their staff) and knowing about the resolution. They contacted Don Evans, worksite organizer for Local 1021. Don in turn put them in touch with Bernie DeArman, worksite organizer for the hospital from SEIU UHW. EBI staff shared Derrick’s story and a copy of the resolution with Bernie who agreed to meet with the union leadership at the hospital and hospital management. Bernie was able to craft an agreement that created a new special job slot set aside for a worker with a developmental disability.
The hospital had made a commitment that this position would not replace any existing workers. And the union agreed to exempt this position from normal seniority layoff rules. Derek is now a proud union member. He earns $14.50/hr has vacation and health care benefits at his dream job at the local hospital. He has lots of friends there. His fellow employees agree he does a great job and makes his hospital a much better place to work.
There is much more work to do to create not only jobs, but jobs with good wages benefits and advancement opportunities for people with disabilities. We will continue to share our successes here on the blog. If you would like to connect with an SEIU local about how to expand employment opportunities, please contact us here through the website.