Open Enrollment Starts !


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It’s that time of the year again! Open enrollment starts tomorrow and consumers can once again shop for health care coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Using the call center, in-person assistance, or the improved HealthCare.gov site, consumers are also able to renew or make changes to existing plans. As open enrollment begins, here are a few key facts on how the Affordable Care Act is doing:

  • 7.1 million people enrolled in the marketplace: During open enrollment last year, more than 7 million people purchased insurance through the exchange.
  • The number of uninsured Americans fell by 25 percent this year: An estimated 10.3 million fewer people are uninsured this year, reducing the amount of Americans without health coverage by 25 percent.
  • On average, tax credits reduced the cost of premiums by 76 percent: Last year, the average person who received financial assistance for coverage paid a monthly premium of $82, which is 76 percent less than the average price before credits.
  • More insurers are offering plans for 2015: 25 percent more health insurers are expected to offer plans this year, creating competition that drives down prices for consumers.
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With an increasing amount of data to prove the Affordable Care Act is working, a few million more people are expected to enroll in the exchange this year. Here are a few important things to know going into open enrollment:

  • Open enrollment dates: Open enrollment starts on November 15th and lasts until February 15th. For coverage that starts January 1st, the deadline to enroll is December 15th.
  • People with existing plans should shop around: People who already have insurance will need to renew their plans during open enrollment by December 15. But with the addition of more insurers in the marketplace, those with current plans should shop around on HealthCare.gov to make sure their current plan is still the best fit for them. Customers who don’t renew their coverage will likely be automatically enrolled again, but they could miss out on savings.
  • Financial assistance is available: An estimated 8.7 million people could qualify for tax credits to help pay for their insurance. Last year, 85 percent of people who enrolled in insurance on the marketplace qualified for federal subsidies.
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BOTTOM LINE: The Affordable Care Act is working — it has largely succeeded in bringing affordable, quality healthcare to millions while significantly shrinking the number of uninsured Americans. During open enrollment, consumers can shop for a health coverage plan that works for them, and financial assistance is available. The millions more expected to enroll this year, as well as the millions who have already taken advantage of the law, stand to benefit greatly from this open enrollment period. But it only lasts for three months, and if you want coverage that starts January 1, the deadline is December 15th. So get shopping!

Patrick Murphy and Americans for Financial Reform


Defend Military Families Against Predatory Loans

 

One in ten troops take out high-interest loans in order to make ends meet. As an Army veteran and former congressman, I know how important it is to protect servicemembers against predatory lending practices.

That was the idea behind the Military Lending Act of 2007, which, among other important things, set a 36 percent limit on interest and fees for consumer loans to military personnel and their dependents.

But the task of translating that law into practical do’s and don’ts fell to the Defense Department, which settled on a body of rules that left plenty of room for evasion. The result? Abusive lenders went right on targeting military families with loans at 300 percent interest and up.

Stop swindling our soldiers! No more triple-digit interest loans to servicemembers and their families!

Now the DOD is moving to update its rules in order to truly carry out the law’s mandate. This time, its proposals are strong enough to make the 36 percent rate cap stick. But the rulemakers — and the military and consumer advocates who led the fight for this crackdown — are bracing for another campaign of intense resistance by a politically as well as economically powerful industry.

Join us in urging the Defense Department to stand by its proposed rules and stop high-cost lenders from preying on the military.

Our men and women in uniform have plenty on their minds. In service to their country, they willingly go on long deployments, leaving friends and family behind. Lenders should not be allowed to take advantage; loans with triple-digit interest rates and onerous repayment terms shouldn’t hang over their heads.

Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Patrick Murphy

This is for anyone who uses the internet


Organizing for Action

What President Obama did is a big deal for anyone who uses the internet. (Hi!)

He’s urging the Federal Communications Commission to protect net neutrality — the principle that all web traffic should be treated the same, and not controlled by providers.

If you think a free and open internet is a good thing, sign our petition to tell the FCC you stand with President Obama’s plan to protect net neutrality.

The concept of a free and open internet has been part of the whole deal from the beginning.

It’s common sense: Your cable or phone company shouldn’t get to be a gatekeeper to the internet. They shouldn’t get to slow down or block access to sites you love, or be able to charge you extra if you use a service like Facebook or Netflix.

Consumers like that about the internet — and our economy depends on it. Net neutrality encourages innovation, and puts entrepreneurs on a level playing field.

But if some internet service providers get their way, that could all change forever. They want to have a say in how you use the internet, or how fast your favorite sites load.

The FCC will get to decide which way this goes — that’s why it’s so important that President Obama spoke up yesterday, calling for the “strongest possible rules” to protect net neutrality.

His plan is simple: No blocking websites, no slowing down content, no “fast lane” deals, and more transparency.

That’s something worth fighting for — especially in the face of an absurdly well-funded opposition. The groups trying hard to end net neutrality have plenty of allies in Washington. One of them, Senator Ted Cruz, wasted no time yesterday criticizing the President’s plan, calling it “Obamacare for the internet”… which, as far as I can tell, makes sense to exactly no one.

The President is out there, fighting for net neutrality, because none of us can afford to take it for granted.

Add your name to tell the FCC you support a free and open internet:

http://my.barackobama.com/Defend-Net-Neutrality

Thanks,

Toby

Toby Fallsgraff
Digital Director
Organizing for Action

Condé Nast Settles With 7,500 Underpaid Interns for $5.8 Million


Condé Nast Settles With 7,500 Underpaid Interns for $5.8 Million

Last year, two former interns at magazines owned by Condé Nast filed a class-action lawsuit against the company for underpaying them and thousands of other interns, in violation of labor law. According to recent court filings reported by Reuters, Condé intends to retroactively compensate the pair and over 7,000 other former interns in order to settle the legal dispute. The price tag: $5.8 million.

Former interns dating back as far as June 2007 are expected to receive payments ranging from $700 to $1,900, according to the settlement. Condé Nast Chief Executive Officer Chuck Townsend, in an internal email to staff about the settlement, said he still believed the company’s magazine internships “were among the best in the media business.”

Condé initially reacted to the suit by revamping its internship program in order to meet legal requirements. This was complicated by the fact that the company had recently stopped paying current interns any kind of stipend. (Up until last spring, interns were paid $550 per semester—not a lot, but more than zero.) Eventually the publisher decided to cancel its 2014 internship program altogether.

Condé’s settlement comes less than a month after NBCUniversal agreed to pay thousands of unpaid Saturday Night Live interns between $500 and $10,000 each, for a total cost of $6.4 million. Similar lawsuits against other media and entertainment companies—including Fox Searchlight and Gawker Media—remain pending.

Photo via Condé Nast

internship programs … a change needed in 2014?


        by McKenna Grant, USA TODAY
  11:13 a.m. EDT October 23, 2013

The magazine publisher will no longer offer students an internship program starting in 2014.

Internship programs have proven to be a touchy subject for magazine publishing giant Condé Nast in the last few years, but that will not be the case beginning next year.

Condé Nast – one of the nation’s largest magazine publishers and home to Vogue, Vanity Fair and Glamour – is stripping its internship program all together starting in 2014, according to Women’s Wear Daily.

The discontinuation comes after two lawsuits, filed by former interns, who claimed the media company failed to pay them minimum wage at their internships in 2009 and 2010.

The former interns — Lauren Ballinger (W ) and Matthew Leib (The New Yorker) — claimed in their suit they were paid less than $1 an hour. The case is still pending.

Other media companies, such as Hearst Corporation, have faced similar scrutiny regarding internship programs — long hours and insufficient payment.

In Feb. 2012, a former Harper’s Bazaar intern, Xuedan Wang, sued Hearst saying the company breached overtime and minimum wage laws.

Gawker and Fox Searchlight have also been sued for similar reasons.

All current Conde Nast interns will remain with the company through to their prearranged terms, according to WWD.

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Do you have an internship story to share ?

In 2013, I saw an article asking if unpaid internships were possibly illegal. Well, I will say that the internship of today has gone from work in the industry you were interested in to work on the cheap by college students then work on the cheap with college credit only or maybe some pay. The fact is, some businesses use interns instead of paying an adult out of college a living wage and while I have know idea how long this has been going on, it is happening more frequently than parents probably are aware of. The idea that companies are choosing to add to our jobless by sidestepping possible living wages to folks who want to work not just cost effective for them it is not hard to understand and sad.

On October 30, 2013 I posted the following …

I spent some time looking for the old story in Conde Nast about ending internships and why on their website, but found nothing. I have/had a subscription to subsidiaries of the magazine and still deciding if it is time to move on … not that ending my free access will make an impact. This intern story is not new and while it is old news, the rules keep changing. I have experience as an intern and as someone who had a few interns work for me. In my opinion, it is possible the whole idea of what an intern does, why and salary requirement needs a major makeover.  In the old days, interns actually were assigned to positions that gave them a taste of what their field or degree of choice was like and when those options dried up the disbursement of internships became tied to money, 19 credit hours and or what the department or company needed. I believe internships are important. The fact is, and unfortunately, they have definitely become a way of getting part-time or fulltime work wages for what seemingly looks like on the cheap and students are very lucky if it is tied into your degrees. I know that some of our interns were ok with filing, data entry and answering phones because they had plenty of exams, a lot of reading while others were going into the service industry on some level. The lack of training or experience in their specific area of choice was not a big deal while getting credit; it also was a break from 20credit qtrs. or more and with lunch …well, when they actually allowed themselves to eat lunch and do some homework

I also feel getting students to work on the cheap, allowing them to believe they would not only be performing duties in their field of choice then find out something different when they get to the office is unacceptable. It is not only a problem for their credit hours, but most students are unable to opt out easily to go work somewhere else, top that off with the possibility of long work hours and little or no pay, it’s just wrong.

… PointCounterPoint

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