Steps Forward on Retirement Security – Emerging Consensus to Act

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by Leticia Miranda, Senior Policy Advisor, Economic Security Policy

There was big news in the retirement security arena this week.  After years of no action, both Congress and the White House are proposing new ways to provide a more secure retirement for millions of Americans.  In addition to Social Security, the main way Americans save for retirement is through workplace payroll deductions into retirement plans.  Half of all American workers—and two-thirds of Latinos—are employed by companies that do not offer any type of retirement plan.  These tend to be smaller private companies that cannot afford to manage a 401(k) plan.  Since most Latinos lack access to a workplace retirement plan, they depend more on Social Security as their sole source of income in retirement than any other racial or ethnic group, yet Social Security benefits are typically inadequate to cover all living expenses.  That is why Latinos have so much at stake when it comes to finding solutions to stop the growing retirement crisis.

This week, President Obama signed an executive order establishing a voluntary pilot program called MyRA, an individual retirement account (IRA) that first-time savers may use as a way to save for retirement.  That announcement was quickly followed by more promising news—Senator Collins (R–ME) and Senator Nelson (D–FL) worked across party lines to create the “Retirement Security Act of 2014” to make it easier and cheaper for companies to band together to offer retirement savings plans to their employees.  To close out the week, Senator Tom Harkin (D–IA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, introduced the “Universal, Secure, and Adaptable (USA) Retirement Funds Act of 2014,” legislation that would give 75 million workers the ability to earn a safe and secure pension benefit for the first time.

We are pleased to see our nation’s leaders offering solutions that can help generations of Americans have greater economic security in old age.  Although the MyRA plan put forward by President Obama is a good first step, his plan is limited because it is an executive order.  Congress must also act to pass legislation.  The bills by Senators Collins, Nelson, and Harkin address a key barrier in the system by making it easier for companies to band together to pool resources and risks and lower costs.

All of these proposals represent positive steps forward to ensure that 75 million American workers—including 16 million Latinos—who lack access to a workplace retirement plan are able to save for retirement in a safe and secure manner.  These proposals would also make our retirement system more inclusive by ensuring that workers who earn lower incomes and work for small companies are part of the new system.  As one of the fastest-growing segments of the workforce, Latinos will play an important role in the future of this nation.  We must ensure that we create a better framework that helps all workers save today in order to have a more secure retirement tomorrow.  Lastly, we must ensure that Social Security, the foundation of our retirement system, remains strong for future generations.

La Union Hace La Fuerza at Creating Change: Wrap-up

Today, the Creating Change conference kicked off in Houston with day-long institutes on a variety of issues, including one dedicated to LGBT Latinos, La Union Hace La Fuerza. We’ve put together highlights of the 2nd annual event for you!

What is a Pap test?

By: Marcela Vargas, Project Coordinator, Institute for Hispanic Health, NCLR

Lamina 17 - patient and clinicianLast week, as part of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, we posted a blog “Three things to know about cervical cancer”. One of the best ways to prevent cervical cancer is getting regular Pap tests.  Pap tests help find abnormal cervix cells when treatment is still fairly simple.  This week, we are going to talk about what exactly happens when you get a Pap test.

Before the Pap test

There are a few things to consider when you schedule your Pap test. First, you should schedule your appointment for a day in which you will not have your period. Second, avoid using creams, gels, or other vaginal medication for two days before the test.  Finally, avoid sexual activity for two days before the test.  Following these guidelines increases the chance of accurate Pap test results.

When you arrive at the doctor’s office, a health care provider will ask you some questions about your health history.  He or she will ask questions about your general health, period, and your sexual activity. This will help them decide what kind of care is right for you.  Feel free to be as honest as you can when answering these questions; anything shared is kept between you and them.

During the Pap test

The provider will leave the room for a moment, to let you change into an examination gown.  Once you have changed, they will ask you to lie on an exam table, with a sheet covering your legs and stomach. The health care provider will use a speculum to keep the vaginal walls open. This is done so they can see the cervix. They will use a small brush to get sample cells from the cervix. When this is happening, you may feel a small scrape.  You may feel a bit uncomfortable, but this should not be painful. The sample is then placed in a tube and sent to a lab for testing. This test determines if the cells are normal or not. The whole process only takes a few minutes.

After the Pap test

A few weeks after the test, the clinic will contact you by phone or mail with your results.  If you do not receive the results and it has been three weeks since your test, call the clinic and ask for the results.  If your results are normal, you should continue getting your regular Pap tests.  You can ask your health care provider how often they recommend you get tested.  If the results are abnormal, you will be asked to return to the clinic for another test.  The clinic will explain what happens next and inform you if the second test has abnormal results.

Once you know exactly what happens during a Pap test, it is much easier to go through the process. Remember, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, Pap tests are covered by insurance companies at no cost to you.  If you still do not have insurance, the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program provides access to cervical cancer screening services.  Although this is the last week of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, you can get your Pap test at any time.  Your life is precious.  Get yourself tested!  Continue reading

NCLR Joins 2nd Annual Latino Institute at Creating Change

This week, NCLR is in Houston for the annual National Lesbian and Gay Task Force Annual Conference, Creating Change.

The 2013 Latino Institute

The 2013 Latino Institute. Photo courtesy of Union Fuerza facebook page.

The annual gathering brings together thousands of activists from around the country who are committed to achieving equality for all people, regardless of sexual orientation. It’s an inspiring gathering of individuals who have put social justice at the forefront of their work.

The Task Force, long committed to working with other civil rights groups, will also play host to a day-long pre-conference event, La Union Hace La Fuerza: Latino Insitute. This second annual institute is designed to help queer Latinos build the necessary and crucial bridges across the social landscape. La Union Hace La Fuerza is also a bilngual institute that will provide skills trainings and spaces to foster strategic relationships to collectively advance equality for LGBT and Latino communities.

“As the demographic shift continues to underscore the opportunities and strengths that U.S. Latinos bring to national policy and action, it is important to ensure that Latino LGBT communities are included and this gathering at Creating Change is part of the process,” said David M. Perez, President of the Latino GLBT History Project and one of the co-organizers of the Institute. “Latino LGBT communities have much to share and contribute as they always have since the beginning of U.S. LGBT liberation movements and we have to make sure that those contributions are recognized, developed and documented in the halls of history.”

Throughout the day today and throughout the rest of Creating Change, NCLR will be covering the conference on our social media channels. You can follow along on Twitter for the Latino Institute at #LGBTLatino and for the Creating Change conference at #CC14. Follow along and join the conversation!

What Do You Want President Obama to Address at the State of the Union?

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The State of the Union is today at 9 PM EST. What issues are you hoping President Obama addresses in his speech? We posed that question to our Mobile Action Network, and below are a sampling of the responses we received.

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Immigration and mental helth for seniors.

11 million undocumented immigrants. Stop separating families.

El presidente debe hablar de la reforma migratoria como de la educacion y el futuro del pais economicamente.

Vanessa from Oregon: More low cost housing.

GAY RIGHTS

Guadalupe from California: Bring back the middle class!

Carlos from New York: Economia, migracion, salud.

Cynthia from California: Pathway to citizenship, income inequality, women’s rights.

Concrete steps that the president can and will take independent of Congress to move along his stated goals as it pertains to employment opportunities.

Suppressed wages, unemployment assistance, food stamps, wealth inequality, education, immigration and other critical issues facing people on Main Street.

Alejandro from Arkansas: Consumer protections for non-citizens and limited English proficient individuals.

Veterans health care, benefits, jobs, & business development.

Please push hard against inequality, call the Republicans by name everyone should have a chance at a better life also push against against voter ID.

Betiana from New Jersey: Early childhood education, immigration.

Maria from Georgia: I want president to talk about what he is gonna do to pass immigration reform and stop deportations.

Lea from Arizona: Dear President Obama- Please address the challenge our small businesses face in getting bank loans in this slow recovering economy.

I’d like the President to discuss minimum wage and veterans’ services taking so long to receive.

Oscar from Texas: What will ur next move be on the immigration overhaul? What details can you offer on keeping the rapidly rising cost of tuition/education down?

Abdin from Oklahoma: DREAM Act

If he will address Puerto Rico statehood.

Raising the minimum wage.

Gun control. Please.

Income disparity and Women’s Rights.

Karen from Nevada: Education, immigration, integrity as members of a global community, veterans and racism are all issues close to my heart as a black-immigrant-educator.

El recorte de todo tipo de ayuda para las personas de bajo recurso sobre todo para los mayores de 50 anos.

Celia from Michigan: Expand support for community college trade programs.

GMO & GE Foods & what is his stance on it.

I’d like to see the president address more on immigration reform. Helping our loved ones keep their jobs and allow them to study!

I need the Pres. to address Social Security. We who lost our Pensions & 401Ks in the crash of 2007-2008 only have SS to live on and it’s barely enough.

Anzorena from California: Unemployment benefits for those who are struggling to find a job.

Stephen from New York: Minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour. Labor union rights.

Improving Race Relations.

WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE DREAM ACT?

Ofelia from Illinois: Affordable Housing

Lucreda from Virginia: Poverty reduction in the US and job creation.

I think POTUS should discuss successes of ACA, bipartisan successes for example budget, stabilization and growth in the economy and achievements.

Vince from California: Gun violence.

Wanda from Illinois: Student loan forgiveness.

Manuel from Florida: I want to hear him saying. I will stop deportations.

Brandi from New York: Student debt.

GMO & GE Foods & what is his stance on it.

Federico from Virginia: Strengthen our democracy and stop the madness with election reform!

Responsible parenting and breaking negative cycles within older models of family dynamics to further and promote education.

Lisa from Texas: I want to hear the importance that we Latinos are to the US. From Education, workforce, equal rights for all, etc. I hope he mentions our influence in the country and we can’t be ignored. Fix immigration. Do it.

Where is the jobs bill?! Our young people need hope for a future that pays a living wage and offers opportunity for growth. Many have given up hope…. and entered into chronic depression.Many are wallowing in despair and constant rejection when prospective employers don’t bother to even respond to their applications for employment. Discouraging to say the least.

Initiatives to help mom & pop business that are struggling these days.

Mara from California: Immigration reform to include and fast track our youth towards citizenship.

Elvira from Illinois: Despite the bailout banks (Chase) still not helping people refinance or get mortgages. My son & daughter-in-law have an excellent rating and want to build a home. We gave the the land to build on. They have saved for years. Chase which is our family bank does not offer loans to build. What a shame!!! we want them to stay in Chicago – but obstacles continue.

As many Mexican Americans, I have been unemployed for far too long; we need jobs now!

Mario from Texas: Need to address immigration reform and update on health care stats..I was able to register my 25 year old son at work…These number will not show up as registered on the new health care web site but it is happening with current employers making family coverage available.

Jerry from Georgia: Compromise with GOP house of reps for immigration reform this year.

Glover from Montana: Renewables go to head of class. Coal oil & natural gas has to be safer for the public.

Carolina from Massachusetts: Education and converting to a federal teaching licensing system.

Martha from California: Solve immigration issues. We need an expedient pathway for citizenship for families that have been here undocumented for more than 10-15years!

Bonnie from California: Minimum wage and extended unemployment.

Carol from Kentucky: I want President to address raising taxes on the wealthy/elimination of tax loopholes/ending tax breaks to companies who pollute our water and air and who send jobs out of the country!!

Kali from Minnesota: Immigration Reform… More specifically how reform will give relief to the 4.1 million households of USC and UDP mixed status families.

CREATE NATIONAL JOBS PROGRAM a la WPA to rebuild infrastructure and hire new graduates & long term unemployed.

I would like him to address issues and questions regarding the new health care act. And for those that have not yet purchased their health plan. The cost and penalties. Penalties that I think the people should not be forced to pay.

Walter from Virginia: CIR, with a path to earned legalization – no piece meal approach; transportation infrastructure with transit emphasis; ACA and the Latino community; income inequality; and voting rights act enforcement.

Kristiana from Colorado: Immigration reform for ALL immigrants (not only Dreamers)and the growing gap between the extremely-rich and the widening/deepening pool of poverty that is swallowing more families daily.

Reinstate unemployment benefits to long time unemployed…reinstate food stamps to th poor…reinstate meals to the senior citizens financially needing this assistance.

The views above do not necessarily represent those of NCLR, its staff, Board, or Affiliates.