Monthly Archives: January 2009

Unemployment Benefits for Alaskans Can't Cover COBRA Premiums

WASHINGTON - AUGUST 22:  Ann Vogel and Ricky G...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

This month, Families USA has released a report detailing the plight of recently unemployed American workers trying to continue their health care coverage after losing their jobs. The report, “Squeezed: Caught Between Unemployment Benefits and Health Care Costs,” shows that the COBRA program (from the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985) designed to help workers continue seeing the same doctors and keep the same insurance coverage, while transitioning to new work, simply costs too much.

The numbers are escpecially grim for Alaskans. Among the key finding, research shows that a newly unemployed worker in the state would need to spend, on average, more than 49.2 percent of their unemployment insurance income on COBRA premiums. The average premium for family coverage under COBRA would equal 131.7 percent of their unemployment insurance income. The costs of COBRA premiums for Alaskans are some of the highest in the nation. Read the rest of this entry

Darfur Genocide Legislation Filed

Darfur refugee camp in Chad
Image via Wikipedia

On January 9th, 2009, Democratic Legislators renewed their efforts to stop Alaska investments in foreign companies complicit in the 5-year old Darfur genocide. It is expected that the legislation will have bi-partisan support this year, after it became an issue in the national presidential election. “We don’t need to make money off genocide in this state. Congress has banned American companies from doing business in Sudan, and we can find better investments than in the few foreign companies still doing business there,” said newly elected Rep. Pete Petersen (D-Anch).

Reps. Les Gara, Berta Gardner, Beth Kerttula and Petersen have filed the legislation, which requires the state, and the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, to stop investing in companies the international community has identified as complicit in the Darfur Genocide. Roughly 30 other states have already joined the Darfur Divestment movement. Since 2003 the Sudanese government and paramilitary groups have killed over 200,000 of their own citizens, and jeopardized the lives of 2 million others through displacement.

Read the rest of this entry

Restore Retirement Security – A Public Forum on Sat., Jan 10

This public forum is your chance to learn more about the issue and to tell your legislatures why Alaska needs to return to a safe and secure retirement system in order to attract and retain qualified firefighters, police officers, teachers, and other public employees.


Saturday, January 10                    10am-12noon

Dena’ina Center, Tyonek Room, 600 W. 7th, Anchorage

Three years ago, the Alaska legislature dismantled the public employee retirement system.  Overnight, Alaska went from a retirement system that helped build our state to one that is no longer competitive for quality public employees.

Even before recent stock market problems, quality employees were going elsewhere.  Alaska has high turnover and too many job vacancies – 40% in public safety alone.  Without retirement security, how will we recruit police officers, firefighters, correctional officers, teachers, and other public employees to provide vital services to Alaskans?

Most public employees in Alaska do not receive Social Security.  Under the current state system, most newly hired employees will have only a risky stock market account when they retire and no affordable health care.

Alaska needs to return to a safe and secure retirement system to stay competitive.  Join us to find out how you can help get Alaska back on the right track and protect our critical public services. Read the rest of this entry