Small Employer Health Plan Proposal Ripe for Fraud, Groups Say

by Madison Alder

03.09.18   The Labor Department's proposed expansion of health plans for employer groups would invite scammers back into the insurance market, several groups said in comment letters. Employment lawyers, former DOL officials, insurers, and advocacy groups are among those to voice concerns about past fraud and insolvency problems with similar multiple employer health plans. The groups said consumers will be at risk for the same type of abuse if protections like giving states oversight of the plans and requi… Continue Reading

Scott: DeVos Dropped the Ball on ESSA Guidance

by Caitlin Emma

03.06.18   Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' agency has done little to help states understand the Every Student Succeeds Act and their responsibilities under the law, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) said this morning. That's despite her concerns over what she said on Monday is a lack of ambition in state plans developed under the law, Scott, the top Democrat on the House education committee, noted. States "haven't been given adequate guidance from the Education Department," Scott told the National Association of… Continue Reading

Education Inspector General Raises Concerns Over GOP Higher Ed Plan

by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel

03.06.18   The U.S. Department of Education's inspector general is cautioning Congress against provisions in the House Republican higher education bill that would repeal regulations holding colleges and universities accountable for the use of federal student aid. "Eliminating various accountability provisions without a proven substitute would increase the risks to students and taxpayers," the inspector general said, in a report released Monday. It "could result in higher costs to offer credit through loan… Continue Reading

Safety Researchers Won’t Enter Fray Over Beryllium Abrasives

by Sam Pearson

03.05.18   Federal researchers are unlikely to step in to resolve a dispute over the beryllium content of glass and coal slag abrasives, a top official with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health said. Abrasives are used by shipbuilders and other manufacturers to prepare surfaces for painting or applying coatings, among other functions. Those derived from coal slag contain beryllium, a toxic metal regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to limit airborne exposure t… Continue Reading

Special-Education Rule Issued by Obama Administration Is Delayed

by Michelle Hackman

02.27.18   WASHINGTON-The Trump administration is delaying the implementation of an Obama-era rule that seeks to address the high proportion of black and Hispanic children in special-education programs. The rule, which the Education Department is reviewing as part of a larger rollback of Obama administration social policy, was set to take effect on July 1. It was designed to ensure that states use a uniform approach to identify school districts with disproportionately high numbers of minority students enr… Continue Reading

School Shooting Leads House Chair to Call for Grant Funding

by Emily Wilkins

02.27.18   The top Republican on the House education committee plans to ask appropriators to fund a federal grant program to bolster school safety, although the Education Department has proposed eliminating the program. The grant, known as Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, was created under the 2015 K-12 education law (Pub. L. 114-95) to allow schools to cover a wide range of expenses, including costs for improving school conditions. While the program is authorized for up to $1.6 billion ann… Continue Reading

NLRB Throws Out Ruling in Conflict-of-Interest Controversy

by Josh Eidelson

02.26.18   The National Labor Relations Board threw out its most important ruling of 2017-a 3-2 victory for major U.S. corporations-following an internal agency report that found that a potential conflict-of-interest had tainted the vote. The December ruling, called Hy-Brand, had reversed a controversial Obama-era "joint employer" decision empowering workers to pursue claims against, or seek collective bargaining with, major corporations that don't sign their paychecks, such as franchisors or clients of c… Continue Reading

Shelley Cadamy: Taking Away Health Coverage is No Way to Strengthen Oklahoma’s Workforce

by Shelley Cadamy

02.25.18   The Trump administration recently announced it would allow states to impose work requirements on adults who get their health care through Medicaid. Work requirements can seem like a good idea on the surface - a handful of Oklahoma lawmakers have already filed legislation to put them in motion. However, work requirements for SoonerCare are too simplistic to address the very complicated problem of getting every able Oklahoman into the workforce. I'm a workforce development director, and when … Continue Reading

Conflict Cited in NLRB Joint-Employer Case Draws Hearing Request

by Josh Eidelson

02.23.18   A top House Democrat wants Congress to review whether a Trump labor-board appointee should have recused himself before casting the deciding vote to overturn a hot-button ruling making it easier for employees of contractors and franchises to pursue claims against big corporations. In a report issued Feb. 9 and shared with members of Congress Feb. 15, the National Labor Relations Board's Inspector General David Berry flagged what he called "a serious and flagrant problem and/or deficiency" in the… Continue Reading

Rep. Rochester: It's Time for Congress to Act on School Shootings

by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester

02.22.18   "We're children. You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role," Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Senior David Hogg told CNN in an interview about the school shooting he had just survived. Those words have been replaying in my head over and over. A high school senior sharing his story of children trying to get an education and prepare for their future, instead of desperately trying to avoid being hit by bullets flying through classrooms, is telling lawmakers that it… Continue Reading

Black Lung Disease Comes Storming Back in Coal Country

by Nadja Popovich

02.22.18   Federal investigators this month identified the largest cluster of advanced black lung cases ever officially recorded. More than 400 coal miners frequenting three clinics in southwestern Virginia between 2013 and 2017 were found to have complicated black lung disease, an extreme form characterized by dense masses of scar tissue in the lungs. The cluster, identified following an investigation by National Public Radio, adds to a growing body of evidence that a new black lung epidemic is emerging… Continue Reading

Labor Dept. Tip-Pooling Response Doesn’t Satisfy Top Democrat

by Ben Penn

02.21.18   The Labor Department responded to a House Democrat's oversight request on the tip pooling proposal by firmly defending the rulemaking in the face of criticism, according to a letter provided to Bloomberg Law. The letter was deemed inadequate by its recipient, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.). "The Department failed to even address reports that this information was withheld, an action, that if true, compromises the integrity of the rulemaking process," Scott said in a statement provided to Bloomberg La… Continue Reading

Short-Term Health Plans Skirting ACA-Required Benefits and Protections to be Expanded

by Amy Goldstein

02.20.18   The Trump administration is proposing to significantly broaden Americans' ability to rely on short-term health plans that do not comply with the Affordable Care Act's benefits requirements and consumer protections. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Tuesday morning that a rewrite of federal rules would extend the time consumers can hold such health plans from three months to 12 months. The plans were intended until now to be a brief gap-filler for people between jobs or fo… Continue Reading

Trump Health Plan Gets Mixed Reviews in CT

by Ana Radelat

02.19.18   Washington - Connecticut officials have joined a pushback against a Trump administration plan to allow unrelated employers to band together so they can provide their employees affordable - but perhaps limited - health care, while others in the state are celebrating the move. The plan, proposed by President Donald Trump in October, is being implemented by Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who is in the process of issuing a rule that would allow employers to join together to form an association … Continue Reading

Behind The Minimum Wage Fight, A Sweeping Failure to Enforce the Law

by Marianne LeVine

02.18.18   As Democrats make raising the minimum wage a centerpiece of their 2018 campaigns, and Republicans call for states to handle the issue, both are missing an important problem: Wage laws are poorly enforced, with workers often unable to recover back pay even after the government rules in their favor. That's the conclusion of a nine-month investigation by POLITICO, which found that workers are so lightly protected that six states have no investigators to handle minimum-wage violations, while 26 add… Continue Reading

DeVos and Democrats Urge Congress to Hold Hearings on School Shootings

by Erica L. Green

02.17.18   A chorus of Democratic lawmakers have joined the education secretary, Betsy DeVos, in calling for Congress to act after a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Fla. In a letter on Friday, all 17 Democrats on the House Education Committee urged Representative Virginia Foxx, the committee's chairwoman, to convene hearings on school shootings, describing them as a "public health epidemic." The panel has not addressed the issue since February 2013 - two months after a shooting at Sa… Continue Reading

Betsy DeVos and Democrats Call for Congressional Hearings in Wake of Florida School Shooting

by Moriah Balingit

02.16.18   Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Democratic members of Congress are calling on congressional leaders to hold hearings on school shootings following a massacre at a Florida high school that left 17 dead and scores more wounded Wednesday. The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, allegedly carried out by a student who had been expelled, is the deadliest high school shooting in the nation's history and marked another spate of violence at a time when gun violence in schoo… Continue Reading

Federal Appeals Court Rules Gardendale Can't Form School System, Finds Racial Motives

by Kent Faulk

02.13.18   A federal appeals court ruled today that Gardendale can't form its own school system and agreed with a judge's finding that racial motives were involved in the attempt to split from the Jefferson County system. The three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that U.S. District Court Judge Madeline Haikala rescind the part of her order from last year that allowed Gardendale to secede over a three-year period from Jefferson County schools and form its own system. Circuit Judge… Continue Reading

Douglas County Schools Must Pay the Private Education Costs of Student Who Has Autism, Judge Rules

by John Aguilar

02.12.18   A federal judge on Monday ruled that the Douglas County School District did not provide an adequate education to a student who has autism and must reimburse his family for the cost of sending him to a private school for students with disabilities. The ruling from U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock represents the latest, and possibly final, chapter in a long-running legal battle between the family of a student known in court records as Endrew F. and the 68,000-student school district that went al… Continue Reading

As Black Lung Cases Rise, Will Clinic Funding Follow?

by Sam Pearson

02.09.18   A rise in incidences of black lung disease among coal miners is prompting some lawmakers to try to send more money to cash-strapped rural health centers that could hold the key to piecing together missing data. An extra $2.7 million is little in the context of the broader federal budget, but proponents say this amount, that includes funding for the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, is crucial if health workers are to respond effectively to recent findings by the National Institute of Occup… Continue Reading

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