News and Events from Nebraska Appleseed – November 2013

In this November edition of “Appleseed in Action”

  • Health care Marketplace now open
  • 2,000 Nebraskans march and rally for updated immigration laws
  • Nationwide SNAP cuts will harm Nebraska families
  • Federal child welfare news
  • Tax Modernization Committee finishes public hearings
  • Toward a Just Society: Poster prints benefiting Nebraska Appleseed

Open enrollment begins, provides affordable coverage for Nebraskans

The new Health Care Marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act opened on October 1. There have been well-publicized problems with the online portal HealthCare.gov, however there are signs access to the site is improving.

Twitter_Avatar54_1If you still have difficulty filling out an online application for coverage at HealthCare.gov, there are other options for you to apply.

  • Contact a Navigator, phone the call center, or fill out a paper application.
    • For a Navigator in Nebraska, call (402) 471-3714.
    • For the national call center, call 1-800-318-2596.
  • You may also print and fill out a paper application for individuals or for families.

As you examine your health insurance options, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Remember that the website address is healthcare.gov.  Some people have been trying to sign up mistakenly at healthcare.com.
  • If you need coverage to begin on January 1, 2014, be sure to sign up by December 15.
  • You can sign up any time prior to March 31, 2014. When you sign up will determine when your coverage starts. (For example, if you sign up by January 15, coverage will begin February 1.)
  • If you miss open enrollment, you’ll have to wait for the next open enrollment period, which is October 15 through December 7, unless there’s a qualifying event, like a birth, death, marriage, divorce, a move, or a loss of coverage.

The important thing to remember is the new Health Care Marketplace provides an unprecedented opportunity for all Nebraskans to find the coverage they need in an affordable way.  Plans sold through the Marketplace cover a wide range of essential health benefits, and most Nebraskans are able to receive tax credits to help afford the premiums.

For questions about applying for coverage through the Marketplace, speak to a Navigator through Community Action Partnership of Nebraska at (402) 471-3714 or click on this map to find a Navigator near your community.


2,000 Nebraskans march and rally for common-sense immigration laws

On Oct. 12, an estimated 2,000 Nebraskans marched and rallied in Omaha to urge Congress to pass common-sense immigration laws with a path to citizenship.

On October 12, an estimated 2,000 Nebraskans from across the state gathered in Omaha to urge Nebraska’s members of Congress to pass updated immigration laws in 2013 that strengthen families, businesses, communities, and the future of our state.

The “Families’ March and Rally for Dignity and Respect” was part of a nationwide push for immigration reform from Oct. 5-12 in which tens of thousands of people turned out to tell Congress now is the time to pass common-sense immigration laws with a clear and attainable path to citizenship for aspiring Americans.

See photos from the event

Watch a highlight video of the march and rally

Nebraska’s event included Nebraska families of all backgrounds together with leaders from a wide range of perspectives: faith, business, community, youth, labor, civil rights, children’s advocacy, and immigrant leaders.

We’ve marched with our feet, now it’s time to march with our fingers.  A common-sense immigration bill, H.R. 15, has been introduced in the House of Representatives.

Please call or write your congressman and ask him to support H.R. 15 to modernize our immigration system.  Let them know Nebraska families, businesses, and communities are counting on them to accomplish a common-sense immigration law with a clear and attainable process for citizenship!

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SNAP reductions will harm Nebraska families

Recently, thousands of Nebraska families who receive food assistance faced even more uncertainty because of a nationwide reduction in payments from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  This comes at a time when Congress is considering a massive reduction in SNAP funding in the next Farm Bill.

On November 1, a nationwide reduction in payments from SNAP, formerly called ‘food stamps’, went into effect when a temporary boost to the program provided by the federal stimulus expired.  SNAP helps about 180,000 Nebraskans – or 10 percent of our state’s population – put food on the table each year.

Household SNAP cutsThis small increase in SNAP funding from the stimulus – about 14 percent – had a hugely positive effect on fighting hunger in America.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture found the boost reduced the number of “very low security” households – defined as households where one or more people had to skip meals or eat less than they would otherwise because of lack of money – by about 500,000 households.  That means half a million more households in the U.S. got adequate meals because of the stimulus increase to SNAP.

The expiration of the boost will result in a total loss of $18 million to Nebraska SNAP recipients from November 2013 to September 2014.

And this reduction of funds comes even as Congress is proposing cuts to SNAP of between $4 billion and $40 billion as debate continues over a comprehensive Farm Bill.

With so many Nebraskans still struggling to get enough to eat, this is no time for severe cuts to the most effective tool we have to combat public hunger.

We urge you to contact Nebraska’s U.S. senators and House of Representatives members and ask them to protect SNAP funding by opposing a Farm Bill that contains drastic SNAP cuts that will hurt the Nebraska children and working families that rely on SNAP to get enough to eat.

U.S. Senators

House of Representatives Members

No Nebraska family should go hungry, but further reductions to SNAP will put more of our friends, co-workers, and neighbors in the vulnerable position of not knowing where their next meal may come from.


Federal and local child welfare news

While Nebraska Appleseed continues to work with state lawmakers and local stakeholders to improve our state’s child welfare system, we also have been following several efforts to address child welfare issues at the federal level.

CW briefingOn October 23, Appleseed Child Welfare Director Sarah Helvey attended a gathering of policy advocates in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative.  The Capitol Hill briefing was attended by more than 150 policymakers, child welfare experts, advocates, agency heads, judges and others interested in improving outcomes for children and families served by state and local child welfare systems.

At the briefing, a new report and proposal for federal financing reform and improved outcomes in child welfare was released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative.  The report and proposal, “When Child Welfare Works: A Proposal to Finance Best Practices,” is aimed at improving kinship and family foster care, and reducing the amount of time kids are in state care and federal spending on shelter and non-treatment group home care.  You can click here to read a summary of the report and recommendations.

Movement for federal foster care financing reform is welcome news to us at Nebraska Appleseed, as we have long supported the need for changes to Title IV-E (the primary source of federal child welfare funding), which is outdated and tied to old welfare (1996 AFDC) income standards.  Click here to read an article on Federal Foster Care Financing Issues in Nebraska (the article itself is slightly outdated, but explains the basics).

Also in federal foster care financing news: Nebraska recently received a Title IV-E waiver, which caps the amount of funding Nebraska receives for a period of five years in exchange for flexibility in the use of those dollars.  We will be closely monitoring Nebraska’s implementation of the waiver.


Legislature’s Tax Modernization Committee finishes public hearings

Rebuild Logo UpdatedIn October, the Legislature’s Tax Modernization Committee held the final two of five public hearings to hear from Nebraskans about the needs of our state’s tax system.

The Committee, comprised of 14 state senators,  will use the public input and testimony from tax experts heard at these hearings to form recommendations in December that will be presented to the Legislature for the coming session.

Appleseed Public Policy Director Jennifer Carter testified at the October 18 public hearing in Lincoln at the State Capitol. (Read a copy of Jennifer’s testimony)

Appleseed is closely following the discussion about Nebraska’s tax system because future tax policy in Nebraska will have a large impact on the future of our state as a whole — affecting the quality of education, roads and infrastructure, access to health care, and more areas that touch each Nebraska family.

To stay engaged in the discussion about Nebraska’s tax system, Appleseed has joined an effort called “Rebuild Nebraska.” Rebuild Nebraska is a collection of groups and stakeholders that believes our tax system should be stable, should be progressive, and should ensure that we have adequate revenue to meet the state’s obligations and protect the “Good Life” we have built in Nebraska.

Rebuild Nebraska believes Nebraska’s tax system should:

  • Allow us to invest in things Nebraska families rely on like top-notch neighborhood schools, safe communities, and well-kept streets and roads.
  • Encourage the creation of jobs and focus on investments that actually boost the economy.
  • Ensure a progressive structure that does not force middle-class and low-income families to pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than the wealthy.

We would encourage you to make your voice heard in this debate.  Consider writing a letter to the editors of your local newspapers to urge lawmakers to change the tax code in ways that support strong schools, healthy residents and safe communities.

If you would like assistance placing a Letter to the Editor of your local newspaper, please contact Appleseed Communications Director Jeff Sheldon at jsheldon@neappleseed.org or call (402) 438-8853.


Toward a Just Society: Poster prints benefiting Nebraska Appleseed

DSC_0099aToward a Just Society is a silkscreen poster exhibition envisioning what Nebraska could look like as we move toward a more just society.

We asked eight local graphic designers to create images based on that theme. The result: eight silkscreen poster designs inspiring people to take action to break down barriers to opportunity, clear pathways out of poverty, build more welcoming and inclusive communities, create a stronger future for Nebraska’s children, ensure access to affordable health care, and offer all Nebraskans a real chance at the American Dream.

Limited edition prints of all eight designs are available for purchase online

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Toward a Just Society features designs by: Miranda Bouck, Matt Carlson, Justin Kemerling, Ben Lueders, Nicholas Peterson, Carrie Ratcliff, Josh Schwieger, and Ellen Wilde.

All prints are 18”x24”. 100% of poster proceeds benefit Appleseed’s efforts fighting for justice and opportunity for all.

Purchase your print today!

Stay tuned for information about upcoming gallery showings!

Thank you to Justin Kemerling, Jason Davis, Screen Ink, and all of the designers who donated their time, talent, and vision.

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