A Reformed Peddler of Cigarettes Coughs Up $5 Million to Make the Next Gen Tobacco Free – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence

Last year, CVS made a landmark commitment to end sales of cigarette and other tobacco products at its more than 7,800 retail stores. CVS was the first national pharmacy chain to do so, so that was a big deal.

Apparently, though, the company feels guilty for all the years that it did sell cigarettes. After all, what the heck was a pharmacy doing selling products that can kill people?

via A Reformed Peddler of Cigarettes Coughs Up $5 Million to Make the Next Gen Tobacco Free – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

Whitehouse and Cornyn Meet with Obama on Criminal Justice

From the Whitehouse Press office:

Washington, DC – Today President Obama and Vice President Biden convened a meeting at the White House to discuss criminal justice reform efforts with key members of Congress, including U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Whitehouse, a lead sponsor of the CORRECTIONS Act along with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), released the statement below regarding the meeting:

“Both Republican and Democratic leaders agree we can pass meaningful criminal justice reform measures this year, and I was grateful for the opportunity to discuss how to best move forward. Senator Cornyn and I have already built a strong bipartisan consensus around our legislation to better prepare inmates for re-entering society and reduce the risk that they’ll commit future crimes, and I strongly support the effort led by other Senators to reform our sentencing laws. I’m hopeful that we will be able to achieve both prison and sentencing reform this year, and I thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership on this important issue.”

According to the White House, other Senators attending today’s meeting included Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Mike Lee (R-UT).

The CORRECTIONS Act would improve public safety and save taxpayer money by requiring prisoners to participate in recidivism reduction programs and allowing certain eligible prisoners to earn up to 25 percent of their sentence in prerelease custody for successful completion of these programs. The programs, which can include things like vocational training and substance abuse treatment, have been proven to help former prisoners successfully re-acclimate to society upon release and to reduce the risk that they will commit future crimes.

This Funder is Supporting the Data to Make Big Juvenile Justice Policy Changes – Inside Philanthropy

Youth advocates and their funders are hoping that 2015 is going to be a very good year for juvenile justice reform. The year is starting with bipartisan legislation submitted to congress by senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) which would overhaul outdated juvenile justice laws nationally, with a particular focus on ending imprisonment for status offenses, such as children who are truant, runaway, or violate curfew, alcohol, and tobacco laws. The new law also provides clear direction to state and local governments on how to stop racial profiling and reduce levels of imprisonment for young people of color.

via This Funder is Supporting the Data to Make Big Juvenile Justice Policy Changes – Children | Youth | Grants – Inside Philanthropy.

Bipartisan Prison Reform Bill Introduced, Based on RI and Texas

From the Whitehouse Press Office:

Sens. Whitehouse, Cornyn Introduce Prison Reform Legislation

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and John Cornyn (R-TX) today announced their plans to introduce the Corrections Oversight, Recidivism Reduction, and Eliminating Costs for Taxpayers in Our National System (CORRECTIONS) Act.

The bill, which would improve public safety and save taxpayer money by requiring lower-risk prisoners to participate in recidivism reduction programs to earn up to 25 percent of their sentence in prerelease custody, is based off reform efforts in both Texas and Rhode Island. A similar version of the bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with a 15-2 vote last Congress.

“Texas has been a national leader for prison reform, finding ways to partner with faith-based and community organizations to ensure prisoners can change their lives instead of becoming career criminals,” Sen. Cornyn said. “We can improve our criminal justice system, save money, and make our communities safer all at the same time. I am hopeful Congress will follow our state’s lead in this important area.”

“As a former state and federal prosecutor, I recognize that there are no easy solutions to overflowing prison populations and skyrocketing corrections spending,” said Whitehouse, a former U.S. Attorney and Attorney General for Rhode Island. “But states like Rhode Island have shown that it is possible to cut prison costs while making the public safer. Our bill is built on the simple premise that when inmates are better prepared to re-enter communities, they are less likely to commit crimes after they are released – and that is in all of our interests.”

The federal prison population has expanded rapidly in recent decades, growing from around 24,000 inmates in 1980 to over 210,000 today. Spending on the federal Bureau of Prisons has risen dramatically, rising from $3.1 billion in 1998 to a requested $6.9 billion in fiscal year 2013.

Recidivism has also been proven to be a significant problem, with one study estimating that 68 percent of prisoners from 30 states surveyed were arrested once again within three years of being released.

Background on the Whitehouse-Cornyn Legislation:

– Requires all eligible offenders to undergo regular risk assessments to determine whether an offender has a low, medium, or high-risk of re-offending.

– Excludes all sex offenders, terrorism offenders, violent offenders, repeat offenders, major organized crime offenders, and major fraud offenders from earning credits under the program.

– Encourages participation in recidivism reduction programs and productive activities, like prison jobs.

– Contains no new authorized spending, and requires the Bureau of Prisons to partner with faith-based groups and non-profits.

– Allows earned time credits for low-risk prisoners of up to 10 days for every 30 days that the prisoner is successfully completing a reoffender reduction program or productive activity.

– Allows medium risk prisoners to earn a 5 day for 30 day time credit while successfully completing recidivism reduction programs and productive activities. These offenders would only be able to use these credits if they demonstrate a substantial reduction in their probability of reoffending as a result of participation in programs.

– Does not allow high risk offenders to use any time credits unless they reduce their risk levels to a lower tier.

– Would allow certain low risk offenders who demonstrate exemplary behavior to spend the final portion of their earned credit time on community supervision.

Whitehouse and Cornyn Announce Bipartisan Prison Reform Legislation

From the Whitehouse Press Office:

Washington, DC – Tomorrow at 11:00 a.m., U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) will hold a press conference to announce their plans to introduce bipartisan legislation to reform our nation’s prison system. The legislation would build on reforms that have proven successful at the state level to reduce prison spending and overcrowding, and to help inmates become productive members of society upon re-entry.

Prison reform has been reported to be among the top areas for bipartisan legislative action in this Congress, with Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) recently listing it as one of his top three priorities. Both Cornyn and Whitehouse serve on the committee.

EVENT: Sens. Cornyn and Whitehouse Announce Bipartisan Prison Legislation

WHEN: Tuesday, February 10, 2014
11:00 a.m.

WHERE: Senate Radio-TV Gallery
U.S. Capitol

RI Hospital employees and community allies speak out

More than 500 people crowded into the meeting room of Our Lady of the Rosary Church on Benefit St in Providence for the Worker & Community Speakout for Good Jobs and Quality Care on January 17.  At issue was the contract negotiation between Lifespan/Rhode Island Hospital and General Teamsters Local 251 representing some 2,500 hospital employees.

According to Local 251, “As a non-profit entity, Lifespan and RI Hospital are supposed to put the healthcare needs of the community first. Unfortunately, management has taken cost cutting measures, causing shortages in equipment and staff that undermine patient care.”

via RI Hospital employees and community allies speak out.

Whitehouse to Prez: Dude, You’re Copying My Ideas! Keep it Up!

From the Whitehouse Press office:

New Obama Administration Goals for Medicare Mirror Sen. Whitehouse Recommendations

Senator Whitehouse has Been Urging Administration for Years to Set Clear Goals to Improve Care and Reduce Costs

Goals Resemble the Whitehouse-Steinberg Compact in Rhode Island

Washington, DC – Today the Obama Administration announced that it is setting clear goals and a specific timeline for reforming the way doctors and hospitals are reimbursed when treating Medicare patients. The goals announced today come after U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has been urging the Administration for years to set clear targets for health care delivery system reforms, arguing as early as 2011 that, “we can and must have a clear challenge to strive toward.”

In 2013 Whitehouse co-authored an opinion piece urging President Obama to set specific goals for reforming payment systems, noting that “at least 75 percent of Medicare payments should be assessed in some way other than fee-for-service” by 2020. Whitehouse also released a report in 2012 chronicling the Administration’s progress in implementing the delivery system reform provisions within the Affordable Care Act, and identifying payment reform as one of five key areas for reform.

“As we continue working to improve the delivery of care and lower costs in our health care system, it’s vital that we set clear, accountable goals,” Whitehouse said today. “Vague calls to ‘bend the cost curve’ will never galvanize our nation’s health care providers and insurers in the same way that specific goals with a number and date will. Today’s announcement by the Obama Administration reinforces the reforms already taking place under the Affordable Care Act and could accelerate the shift to a system that works better for everyone.”

More specifically, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today set a goal of tying 30 percent of traditional fee-for-service Medicare payments to alternative payment models by the end of 2016, and tying 50 percent of payments to these models by the end of 2018. HHS also set a goal of tying 85 percent of all traditional Medicare payments to quality or value by 2016 and 90 percent by 2018. Whitehouse was briefed by HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell in advance of today’s announcement.

Since 2011, Senator Whitehouse has been calling on the Administration to set a specific cost-savings target to drive health care delivery system reform efforts, and has identified payment reforms as one of the key areas in any such effort. More recently, he and Rhode Island Foundation President Neil Steinberg brought together a coalition of Rhode Island health care leaders to develop recommendations on how the state can improve care and lower costs. Among the recommendations they agreed to was to establish specific payment reform goals this year.

Senator Whitehouse has long been a leading voice for health care delivery system reforms. He founded the Rhode Island Quality Institute during his time as the state’s Attorney General, helped secure new investments in Health Information Technology in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and was a strong advocate for the inclusion of delivery system reforms in the Affordable Care Act.