Edwards Proposal To Expand Paid Family Leave

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Presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) on Tuesday at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., announced a proposal to expand paid family leave for employees who care for sick relatives or newborns, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports. The proposal would seek to provide all workers with eight weeks of paid family leave by 2014.

Underthe proposal, states would receive $2 billion annually to help developprograms that offer employees at least eight weeks of paid familyleave. In addition, the proposal would expand the federal Family andMedical Leave Act, which provides 12 weeks of unpaid family leave, tocover 13 million additional employees. The proposal would requireemployers to provide workers with at least seven sick days annually.Edwards said that the proposal "works in combination with universalhealth care ... and a whole series of things that are essentially aimedat making sure we strengthen and grow the middle class in this countryand provide some level of financial security that does not exist today"(Ramer, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 11/13).

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Meanwhile, Edwards on Tuesday in Iowa launched a new televisionadvertisement focused on his call to end health insurance for lawmakersin the event that they do not approve legislation to expand healthinsurance to all U.S. residents within six months after the nextpresident takes office, according to a Washington Postad watch report. In the ad, Edwards says, "When I'm president, I'mgoing to say to members of Congress and members of my administration,including my Cabinet," that "if you don't pass universal health care byJuly of 2009, in six months, I'm going to use my power as president totake your health care away from you," adding, "There's no excuse forpoliticians in Washington having health care when you don't have healthcare."

However, "Edwards is making a promise he can't keep"because the president has "absolutely no power to rescind federalhealth insurance for members of Congress," the Post reports (Kurtz, Washington Post,11/14). In a phone interview on Tuesday, Edwards acknowledged that hewould not have the authority to revoke health insurance for lawmakers,adding that he would use the "power of the bully pulpit" to force thepassage of legislation to revoke their coverage (Leys, Des Moines Register, 11/14). According to the Post,Congress likely would not pass such legislation, which could violate aclause in the 27th Amendment of the Constitution that bans "varying thecompensation" of lawmakers without without an intervening election (Washington Post, 11/14).

Related Broadcast Coverage

NPR's "All Things Considered" on Tuesday reported on the role of presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney(R) in the enactment of the recently implemented state law thatrequires all residents to obtain health insurance. Romney asMassachusetts governor sought opinions from a number of experts in thedevelopment of his health care proposal -- the "same kind of thoughtfulanalysis that made him a multi-millionaire" through his businessinvestments -- but, "once Romney had made his decision on health care,he seemed to have little interest in the political horse-trading neededto get that plan through the state's Democratic legislature," accordingto NPR.

After the state Legislature approved the measure,Romney vetoed a provision to require employers that do not offeremployees health insurance to pay fees, a move that marked the start ofhis efforts to "distance himself from the very health care plan he'dpioneered," NPR reports. However, the state Legislature later overrodethe veto of the provision. The segment includes comments from JonGruber, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technologywho advised Romney on the development of law; Tim Murphy, state healthand human services secretary under Romney; state House SpeakerSalvatore DiMasi (D); and Romney (Horsley, "All Things Considered,"NPR, 11/13).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily HealthPolicy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The HenryJ. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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