The Heath Care Reform Summit and the Future of Reform

February 26, 2010 2 COMMENTS

Days after President Barack Obama released his own health care reform proposal, he presided over a health care reform summit on Thursday that both Democrats and Republicans attended. The summit was supposed to help the parties find common ground on the issue of health care reform and allow them to discuss their views. Although the summit identified some areas of agreement, it mostly highlighted the significant gap between the two parties’ views.

Audio Conference: Health Care Reform Is Here: Impact and Answers for Employers offered April 22, May 6 and May 20

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What Obama’s New Health Care Reform Proposal Means for Employers

February 22, 2010 1 COMMENTS

This morning, President Barack Obama released a health care reform proposal that “bridges the gap between the House and Senate bills.” The President released his proposal in advance of the upcoming televised health care summit on Thursday, February 25, and White House officials have noted that the proposal will serve as the starting point for the bipartisan summit.

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Republicans Block Controversial NLRB Nominee Craig Becker

February 10, 2010 0 COMMENTS

On Tuesday, U.S. Senate Republicans (along with two Democrats) used a filibuster to block Craig Becker’s nomination to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In a 52-33 vote, the Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to end the Senate debate on Becker’s nomination and move to a final vote. Senators Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas) were the only Democrats to join the Republican filibuster.

In a public statement earlier in the week, Nelson announced that he would oppose Becker’s nomination and noted, “Mr. Becker’s previous statements strongly indicate that he would take an aggressive personal agenda to the NLRB, and that he would pursue a personal agenda there, rather than that of the Administration.”

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Obama Includes Another COBRA Subsidy Extension in Budget

February 03, 2010 0 COMMENTS

The Obama administration proposed another extension of COBRA premium subsidy benefits on Monday, according to Business Insurance. President Barack Obama included this latest extension in his proposed federal budget for the fiscal year 2011. The proposed extension would reportedly extend the 65 percent premium subsidy to individuals whose employment is terminated between March 1, 2010, and December 31, 2010, and those individuals would be eligible for the subsidy for up to 12 months.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which President Obama signed into law last February, created the original federal COBRA subsidy. Under the ARRA, the federal government paid 65 percent of COBRA premiums for up to nine months for employees who were involuntarily terminated between September 1, 2008, and December 31, 2009.

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Controversy Continues over NLRB Nominee

January 11, 2010 1 COMMENTS

According to the New York Times, President Barack Obama has reportedly decided to renominate Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Last summer, the President nominated Becker, Mark Pearce, and Brian Hayes to the U.S. Senate to be members of the NLRB. In December, Becker’s nomination was returned to the White House for reconsideration after Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) put a hold on it. (The Senate held over the nominations of Pearce and Hayes until its 2010 session.)

Becker has stirred up the most controversy out of the three nominees since the business community and Republicans are strongly opposed to his nomination. He currently serves as associate general counsel to both the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of the largest unions in the United States, and the American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), a voluntary federation of national and international labor unions.

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President Signs COBRA Subsidy Extension Legislation into Law

December 22, 2009 19 COMMENTS

President Barack Obama signed legislation into law today that would extend the original federal COBRA subsidy created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The legislation was part of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010 (H.R. 3326), a bill that appropriates funds for the Department of Defense. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a 395-34 vote and the U.S. Senate by an 88-10 vote last week. The legislation extends: read more…

Obama Outlines Health Care Reform Plan; Final Senate Bill Close to Completion

September 10, 2009 0 COMMENTS

Since Congress returned from its recess this week, all eyes and attention have returned to health care reform. A framework for a potential bipartisan health care reform bill was made public this week. And President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress, outlining his plan for health care reform, though Republicans generally remain wary of the potential costs and scope of government control.

Audio Conference: Health Care Reform Is Here: Impact and Answers for Employers offered April 22, May 6 and May 20

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Three NLRB Nominations Announced by Obama Administration

July 14, 2009 0 COMMENTS

Late Friday, July 9, the White House announced it had sent the nominations of Craig Becker, Mark Gaston Pearce, and Brian Hayes to be members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to the U.S. Senate. If confirmed, the NLRB would have a full, five-member board for the first time since December 2007. The current members are Chairman Wilma B. Liebman and Peter C. Schaumber.

Earlier, on April 24, President Obama had announced his intention to nominate labor law attorneys Becker and Pearce for the two vacant Democratic seats on the NLRB. Hayes’ nomination to fill the vacant Republican seat was announced on Friday shortly before the nominations were sent to the Senate. By tradition, three of the five Board seats are filled by individuals of the same political party as the President in office.

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Obama Extends Benefits to Same-Sex Partners of Federal Employees

June 18, 2009 0 COMMENTS

President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum on Federal Benefits and Non-Discrimination June 17 at an Oval Office event. The memorandum addresses the benefits to which same-sex partners of federal employees may be entitled and is a result of internal reviews conducted by the director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the secretary of state over the past several months. The reviews were performed to determine which benefits could be extended to same-sex partners of federal employees in the civil and foreign services under existing federal laws and statutes.

According to a fact sheet on the memorandum released by the White House, the reviews identified several benefits that could be extended to federal employees’ domestic partners. Same-sex partners of civil service employees can be added to the long-term care insurance program. Further, supervisors can be required to allow civil service employees to use their sick leave to take care of their same-sex partners and non-biological, non-adopted children.

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Health Care Outlook for Employers

May 13, 2009 1 COMMENTS

This week, President Barack Obama brought together Harry, Louise, and all the other major players in U.S. health care to begin focusing heavily on what can be done to reduce health care costs. So what can employers expect from the proposals and potential legislation? Check out the new free HR Hero White Paper, Health Care Outlook for Employers to get the big picture on the relevant laws and legislation affecting your health-benefit policies and a look at several of the different approaches being promoted in Congress.

This is the first time since in the early 1990s that major, sweeping health care reform has been proposed. The federal government issued several new regulations involving health plans during the Bush administration, from the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 to final regulations for the Newborns and Mothers Health Protection Act (NMHPA) to numerous new notices from the IRS.

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