Health & Home

Oklahoma Considers Extreme Pro-Discrimination ‘Religious Liberty’ Bill

by Zack Ford – The conservative state fell behind on anti-LGBT legislation in 2016 and is trying to catch up. In 2016, Oklahoma set a record for the most anti-LGBT bills introduced in one session, worsting Texas from the year before. Fortunately, legislative deadlines kept them from advancing, but now one lawmaker is back with what appears to be one of the most extreme “religious liberty” proposals any state has considered. Behind the measure is Sen. Joseph Silk (R), who has an extensive record of particularly anti-LGBT legislation and statements. He calls his new bill, SB 197, the “Oklahoma Right of Conscience Act,” but it explicitly enables discrimination against LGBT people — and possibly just about anyone else! SB 197 ensures that no one ever has to provide any services used in or to promote “a marriage ceremony or celebration of a specific lifestyle or behavior.” Additionally, such denials will be immune to any...

Read More...


Trump Nominee Admits Personally Directing Suspicious Stock Purchases (VIDEOS)

by Laurel Raymond – “That was a decision I made, yes,” Price said regarding bio industry purchases, though he denied wrongdoing. Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price, is under fire for allegations of potential insider trading. Several recent reports suggest Price traded medical stock while making decisions about legislation in Congress that directly impacted the medical industry. And at his hearing before the Senate HELP committee on Wednesday, questions about whether Price made unethical and possibly illegal stock trades got even murkier. Price told Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) that he is personally involved in making some decisions about his stocks in the biotech field, and said he made a decision about purchasing stock in a company after talking to another member of Congress who sits on that company’s board. His comments seem to contradict a defense the Trump transition team has offered to brush aside...

Read More...


Congressional Budget Office says Obamacare Repeal Would be a Catastrophe

by Ian Millhiser – On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its estimate of how many people will become uninsured if Republicans move forward with their likely plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and the numbers are brutal. Thirty-two million people would lose their health insurance by 2026, and premiums would double in the same time frame. Americans would also see a sharp and immediate drop in insurance rates. According to the CBO, “the number of people who are uninsured would increase by 18 million in the first new plan year following enactment of the bill.” The CBO examined a bill pushed by Republicans in the previous Congress, the “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015,” which would phase out provisions of the Affordable Care Act that help make health insurance affordable — including subsidies for plans purchased on Obamacare exchanges and the law’s Medicaid expansion. It would also immediately...

Read More...


Trump Nominee, Tom Price, Faces Multiple Allegations of Insider Trading

by Zack Ford – Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) bought stock, then introduced legislation that boosted its value. This week, the Senate will hold confirmation hearings for Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Monday evening, CNN reported that Price may have used his position in Congress for profit in what appears to be insider trading, a new allegation among many that are now clouding his nomination. Last March, Price bought as much as $15,000 in stock in a company called Zimmer Biomet, one the world’s largest manufacturers of knee and hip implants. Within a week of that transaction, he introduced the HIP Act, a bill that would have saved Zimmer Biomet a significant amount of money by delaying implementation of a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) payment model for hip and knee replacements. After Price introduced the bill, Zimmer Biomet’s political action committee...

Read More...


Huge Scientific Study Refutes the Federal Government’s Stance on Marijuana

by Laurel Raymond – It just reinforces what our policy makers should already know.” In the federal drug classification scheme, marijuana is classed at the very top. It is considered to be a Schedule I substance — a category reserved for drugs with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. For years, however, scientists have done study after study showing that this classification is misguided. On Thursday, the National Academy of Sciences put one more nail in the coffin with one of the most thorough reviews of the research to date: a massive, 396-page report on 10,000 research studies on marijuana, assessing therapeutic benefits and risk factors. The review, conducted by a panel of experts led by Harvard public health researcher Marie McCormack, is broken out into 100 different conclusions — many of which are just assessments of the current state of the research. It is particularly significant, however, that the review states...

Read More...


How Republican Budget Cuts Would Make the Opioid Epidemic Even Worse

by Eliza Schultz and Katherine Gallagher Robbins – In 2015, opioid-involved overdoses claimed more than 33,000 lives—a fourfold increase from 1999. Opioid overdoses caused nearly as many deaths in the United States as traffic accidents and twice as many as homicides. The toll of the epidemic is tremendous for those who struggle with addiction, as well as families, communities, and the economy. But while some Republican officials have promised to address addiction and support at-risk populations—President-elect Donald J. Trump pledged in October to provide every individual with addiction “access to the care and the help that he or she needs”—the House Republican agenda will hardly abate the opioid crisis. Instead, it is poised to do immense damage. Indeed, new analysis shows that repeal of the Affordable Care Act alone would strip 222,000 people with an opioid addiction of some or all of their health insurance coverage—and that is not the...

Read More...


We’re Suing to Keep Kentucky Politicians Out of the Exam Room

by Andrew Beck, Reproductive Freedom Project – The Kentucky legislature had hardly been gaveled into session on January 3 when lawmakers rushed to pass the latest offensive abortion restriction into law. HB 2 forces doctors to describe an ultrasound to a women seeking an abortion in detail, even if she objects, even if the doctor believes that forcing the description on the woman would be harmful, and—most absurdly—even if the woman is covering her eyes and ears. Lawmakers then took the extraordinary step of attaching an emergency clause to have the law take effect immediately. Just days after this insulting bill was introduced, Gov. Matt Bevin signed it into law. That very day, the ACLU filed a lawsuit to block it from taking effect. The law unconstitutionally comes between a woman and her doctor by requiring that a doctor recite a state-mandated speech while providing an ultrasound — even...

Read More...


5 Major takeaways from Ben Carson’s Tearing to Become HUD Secretary (VIDEO)

by Casey Quinlan and Carimah Townes – Trump’s nominee seemed unsure if providing housing is key to fighting poverty. Former neurosurgeon and author Ben Carson is likely to become President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). On Thursday, he sailed through his confirmation hearing before the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee with little opposition. Carson has no government experience, and reportedly turned down a nomination to become President-elect Donald Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). But his testimony before the committee provided a glimpse of the types of policies he’ll pursue if confirmed to lead HUD. Here are five takeaways: 1. Carson wants a “holistic” approach to affordable housing, but doesn’t seem convinced that having a house is key Carson repeatedly said he wants to use a “holistic” approach to dealing with issues of poverty, and that he wants to work with the...

Read More...


Your Complete Republican-to-English Guide to Understanding the GOP’s Health Care Rhetoric

by Ian Millhiser – We translate their language so you don’t have to. Republicans thought they could come to power and quickly deal Obamacare a mortal wound. Instead, they are in for a long, hard fight with an uncertain outcome. Monday evening, five Republican senators introduced an amendment that effectively extends the GOP’s self-imposed deadline for passing legislation to kill the law. This amendment follows a number of statements by other Republicans questioning what was, until recently, the leading GOP proposal for killing Obamacare. Yet, even as Republican leaders gear up for a long, slow slog to end a law that extends health coverage to 20 million Americans, they have even more ambitious plans for the remainder of America’s health care safety net. Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to privatize Medicare would increase health care costs for seniors by about 40 percent. He hopes to cut Medicaid, the primary program providing health...

Read More...


Thousands of Women will go on Strike to Protest Trump’s Inauguration

by Bryce Covert – “Women have the power to disrupt systems, outside the home and inside the home.” The election made Ann want to do something big and bold. As a working mother who is also a first-generation Muslim immigrant — and who declined to give her full name for fear of President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to create a Muslim registry — she has much to be concerned about. “The recent election and just all the negative commentary and hateful remarks around immigration, immigrants, and Muslims and people of color really has impacted me,” she said. “All the rhetoric around taking away women’s reproductive freedoms, even such basic freedoms as access to contraception, the thought of not having that is frightening.” “Even the thought of the Muslim registry…the thought of registering my child, it gives me goosebumps even just saying it,” she added. So on January 20 and 21, inauguration weekend, she will not just be...

Read More...


Rand Paul May Disrupt the GOP’s Terrible Plan to Repeal and Delay Obamacare

by Peter Suderman – The Kentucky senator says he doesn’t support a rollback of the health law without a replacement in place. When the year began, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s number one priority was to quickly move forward with a plan to repeal Obamacare—but in a way that delayed the repeal while the GOP settled on some sort of replacement plan. That plan came with many potential pitfalls, and now it looks as if it may not work out after all—thanks in large part to opposition from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). McConnell’s intention was to use the reconciliation process, which allows the Senate to pass certain types of bills that are directly relevant to the budget with a simple majority, to strip out certain key components of the law, including its individual mandate, taxes, and insurance subsidies. Those changes, however, would not go into effect for somewhere between two and...

Read More...


The GOP’s Obamacare Repeal Effort is in Serious Trouble

by Tara Culp-Ressler – Republicans may not actually have the votes. Republicans in Congress are hoping to make a big political statement this month by rushing to repeal Obamacare. Considering that Republicans are about to control the White House and two chambers of Congress, that legislative goal may seem like it’s firmly within reach. But the GOP’s repeal effort is actually in serious trouble. Republicans’ Obamacare strategy — known as “repeal and delay” — is losing support from several moderate lawmakers who don’t want to move forward with repeal before the party has landed on a replacement plan. If they hold out, there’s no way Obamacare repeal can move forward. On Monday evening, five GOP senators introduced a measure that would essentially slow down the repeal effort working its way through Congress. Republican leaders are trying to repeal Obamacare by passing a budget bill that includes provisions to dismantle key parts of the health care law....

Read More...


Under Jeff Sessions, Drug Legalization and Sentencing Reforms will go up in Smoke

by Alice Miranda Ollstein – Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General is one of Washington’s most anti-marijuana lawmakers. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and hundreds of thousands of people are arrested every year for smoking, growing, or selling the drug. But over the past eight years, President Obama has commuted the sentences of hundreds of nonviolent drug offenders serving decades-long prison terms — signing more commutations than any other president in history. He encouraged a bipartisan effort in Congress to lower harsh mandatory sentences for drug offenders. He expanded the amount of marijuana grown for medical research. His Justice Department opted to leave alone states that decriminalized and legalized marijuana to varying degrees. Under his tenure, eight states and the District of Columbia legalized recreational marijuana, and nearly 30 states now allow its use in some form. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Donald Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s next Attorney General, opposed...

Read More...


Trump Has to Rescue Obamacare or Admit He’s a Liar

by Bernie Sanders – The president-elect might have forgotten his campaign promises. But we won’t. It didn’t take long. During the first week of 2017, the new Republican Congress has begun efforts to dismantle America’s health-care system. Their long-standing goal, consistent with their right-wing ideology, is to take away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans, privatize Medicare, make massive cuts to Medicaid and defund Planned Parenthood. At the same time, in the midst of grotesque and growing income and wealth inequality, they’re preparing to allow pharmaceutical companies to increase drug prices and to hand out obscene tax breaks for the top one-tenth of 1 percent. Let me be absolutely clear: The impact of repealing large pieces of the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans are planning to put on Donald Trump’s desk on his first day in the White House, would be devastating. If Republicans get their way, 30 million Americans, 82 percent of whom are from working families, will lose their health insurance. With Medicare privatized, seniors will see...

Read More...


Thousands Of Free Joints Will Be Passed Out In DC On Inauguration Day

by Amanda Froelich – For the 58th Presidential Inauguration, 4,200 free “legally grown cannabis” joints will be passed out to activists who support the legalization of recreational marijuana nationwide. In case you missed it, the real winner of the 2016 U.S. election was marijuana. Donald Trump won the electoral college vote and Hillary Clinton the popular vote, but more Americans supported the recreational legalization of cannabis than either main Presidential contender.  Now, approximately 20% of all Americans live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal, and 28 states have approved medical marijuana. This development is expected to bring $7 billion in annual sales to the cannabis industry, which will positively benefit the country’s economy. Not only is the herb safer than alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs, as it kills 0 people per year, it is an effective anti-anxiety and pain-relieving substance. Additionally, CBD oil (which doesn’t contain THC, the psychoactive compound)...

Read More...


Oxfam: Ten Multinational Corporations Control Most Food Brands

by Dave Johnson – Take a look at Oxfam’s report, “Behind the Brands: Food justice and the ‘Big 10’ food and beverage companies.” A Food System In Crisis The Behind the Brands report explains, “For more than 100 years, the world’s most powerful food and beverage companies have relied on cheap land and labor to produce inexpensive products and huge profits. But these profits have often come at the cost of the environment and local communities around the world, and have contributed to a food system in crisis.” Explaining the campaign, the report says, “Oxfam’s campaign focuses on 10 of the world’s most powerful food and beverage companies – Associated British Foods (ABF), Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez International (previously Kraft Foods), Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever – and aims to increase the transparency and accountability of the ‘Big 10’ throughout the food supply chain.” “Big Ten” Infographic The report...

Read More...


The Three Big Reasons Republicans Can’t Replace Obamacare

by Robert Reich – Republicans are preparing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and have promised to replace it with something that doesn’t leave more than 20 million Americans stranded without health insurance. Yet they haven’t come up with a replacement. And they won’t, for three reasons. First, Republicans say they want the replacement to be “market-based.” But Obamacare is already market based – relying on private, for profit health insurers. That’s already a problem. The biggest health insurers – Anthem, Aetna, Humana, Cigna, and United Health – are so big they can get the deals they want from the government by threatening to drop out of any insurance system Republicans come up with. Several have already dropped out of Obamacare. Even now they’re trying to merge into far bigger behemoths that will be able to extort even better terms from the Republicans. Second, every part of Obamacare depends on every...

Read More...


Paul Ryan Pledges GOP’s First Legislative Action Will Defund Planned Parenthood

by Tara Culp-Ressler – The GOP will try to repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood in one fell swoop. With majorities in Congress and the impending inauguration of Donald Trump, Republican lawmakers are wasting no time pursuing policy goals that threaten to imperil millions of Americans’ access to health care. This week, GOP leaders moved forward with a plan to repeal Obamacare through a process called budget reconciliation, which will allow them to avoid a filibuster from their Democratic colleagues. Through this budget process, Republicans are asking House and Senate committees to produce legislation by January 27 that includes dismantling key parts of Obamacare. But it doesn’t stop there. On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) confirmed that the GOP-sponsored budget resolution will also include provisions to strip funding from Planned Parenthood — the biggest provider of reproductive health services in the country. “Planned Parenthood legislation would be in our reconciliation bill,” Ryan told...

Read More...


In 2 Minutes, Cory Booker Shows the GOP What #Resistance Looks Like as he Defends Planned Parenthood

by Leslie Salzillo – In response to the GOP’s plan to defund Planned Parenthood, New Jersey’s Senator Cory Booker knocked it out of the park this week during a press conference. Here is transcript followed by the short and stunning YouTube video of Booker demonstrating and explaining how a real #Resistance can, does, and will work. TRANSCRIPT: Patty Murray: I call again on all members, Republican and Democrat, who stood with this time and time again, for people across the country, men and women who understand the impacts of what this is — to stand up and fight back now before it’s too late. Cory Booker: So, I don’t have a message for fellow Republican elected, because they’re not depending on Planned Parenthood in their neighborhoods. They’re well paid comfortable people. I have a message for every American, Democrat, and Republican who rely on these services or know people that do,...

Read More...


Come up with a Real Health Care Plan, Biggest U.S. Doctors Group Tells the GOP

by Tara Culp-Ressler – Republicans are forging ahead with Obamacare repeal before they have any idea what to replace it with. The largest group of doctors in the country is cautioning Republican leaders to come up with a real plan to replace Obamacare before forging ahead with repeal. On Tuesday, Republicans took the first step toward rolling back the law, introducing a budget resolution that will allow Congress to sidestep a Democratic filibuster and dismantle key parts of Obamacare. Republican leaders have signaled they plan to use this budget process to produce legislation by January 27 that includes repealing portions of health reform. But repealing Obamacare is the easy part. What to do next is much harder — and GOP lawmakers don’t have that part figured out. Although Republicans have been railing against Obamacare for the better part of six years, they haven’t come up with any concrete policy ideas to reshape our nation’s complicated...

Read More...


About Seven in Ten Americans Oppose Overturning Roe v. Wade

by HANNAH FINGERHUT – More than 40 years after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, 69% of Americans say the historic ruling, which established a woman’s constitutional right to abortion in the first three months of pregnancy, should not be completely overturned. Nearly three-in-ten (28%), by contrast, would like to see it overturned. Public opinion about the 1973 case has held relatively steady in recent decades, though the share saying the decision should not be overturned is up slightly from four years ago. In January 2013, 63% said this, which was similar to views measured in surveys conducted over the prior two decades. Democrats have long been more likely than Republicans to say Roe v. Wade should not be overturned, but the partisan gap has grown wider over time.  Today, 84% of Democrats and those who lean Democratic say the Supreme Court should not completely overturn the ruling, up 9 percentage points...

Read More...


“Green is Gold” is the Feel Good Marijuana Movie You’ve Been Waiting For (TRAILER)

by C.M. WATTS – Ready for the next great marijuana film? Because these clips from the recently released movie, Green is Gold, are bound to tug on your heart strings. Green is Gold is an award-winning, heartwarming movie following a 13-year-old boy as he moves in with his older brother after his father’s incarceration. But his older brother’s occupation of growing marijuana leads the two down a tangled path of brotherhood, family and learning how to get buy in this world. Writer, directed and star Ryon Baxter presents a different look at those active in the marijuana industry of the prohibition era. With each clip – including the TWB exclusive below – viewer can see each characters reactions to what most would consider seemingly “normal” life events. However, from their past and current experiences, the world or marijuana teaches them so much more. Green is Gold Learn more at...

Read More...


President to Help Dem Lawmakers Strategize on Saving Obamacare

by Deirdre Fulton – Wednesday’s meeting between Obama and congressional Democrats will come ahead of a nationwide campaign to highlight the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Aiming to stave off Republican efforts to swiftly repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) upon returning to Capitol Hill next week, President Barack Obama will meet with congressional Democrats on Wednesday morning for an urgent strategy session. The January 4 meeting in the Congressional Visitors Center auditorium was called in a notice sent to lawmakers on Friday; it will reportedly last for “at least one hour.” A White House official said Obama will use the meeting to “share his perspective about the dangers posed by Congressional Republicans’ stated strategy to repeal the ACA before proposing any replacement, creating chaos in the health system in the short run—and holding hostage Americans’ health care—while Republicans develop their plan.” As Common Dreams reported last month, repealing the...

Read More...


Quietly, Trump and Republicans Are Gunning to Destroy Medicaid

by Deirdre Fulton – As Democrats focus on Obamacare and Medicare, there’s a “quieter war” on Medicaid brewing. Medicaid, the nation’s healthcare program for the poor and disabled, is on the chopping block under President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress—and it will take “intense focus by progressives” to ensure it doesn’t meet a dire fate. In fact, former National Economic Council director Gene B. Sperling wrote Sunday in a New York Times op-ed, “if Democrats focus too much of their attention on Medicare, they may inadvertently assist the quieter war on Medicaid—one that could deny health benefits to millions of children, seniors, working families, and people with disabilities.” As Democrats prepare for battles over the two programs, “the Republican effort to dismantle Medicaid is more certain,” Sperling warned—a prediction echoed this week by multiple news outlets. “Neither Mr. Trump nor Senate Republicans may have the stomach to fully own the political risks...

Read More...


Girding for GOP Healthcare Attack, Leading Dems Plan to Mount ‘First Stand’

by Andrea Germanos – Trio of lawmakers says nationwide events needed to rally opposition to likely targeting of Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid. Leading Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate on Wednesday urged their colleagues to help mobilize a national stand against Republican threats to “vital and necessary health programs.” Authored by incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who will serve on the Senate Democratic leadership team as outreach coordinator, the letter (pdf) calls for a day of action just before Donald Trump takes office—Jan. 15—in the face of a likely Republican budget bill poised to repeal Obamacare and gut Medicare and Medicaid. The bill, they write, could include: Taking away healthcare coverage for over 30 million Americans by dismantling the healthcare system; Ending guaranteed Medicare benefits for millions of older Americans by converting Medicare into a voucher program; Slashing...

Read More...


Russian Officials Finally Admit Olympic Doping was an ‘Institutional Conspiracy’

by Lindsay Gibbs – They’re not apologizing, though. In the past, Russian officials have vehemently denied allegations of widespread doping, going so far as to call reports “baseless libel.” But now they are changing their tone. “It was an institutional conspiracy,” Anna Antseliovich, the acting director general of Russia’s national anti-doping agency, told the New York Times in a series of interviews conducted in Moscow. This reversal comes just weeks after Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren delivered the second part of his report on Russian doping, part of an independent investigation commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). McLaren found that more than 1,000 Russian athletes in 30 sports were part of the state-sponsored doping program, which dates back to at least 2011. The breadth of the Russian doping scandal is unprecedented. In May, an explosive New York Times interview with Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory, revealed...

Read More...


Rights Icons Join Women’s March as Organizers Aim to Build “Movement for Dignity”

by Nadia Prupis – “Together we are bridging the historical struggles for women’s rights and civil rights to the current intersectional movement for dignity and human rights.” The Women’s March on Washington, a mass mobilization to champion women’s rights, is growing as President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration approaches. Organizers announced on Tuesday that several high-profile supporters, including Gloria Steinem and Harry Belafonte, will be joining the January 21 march as honorary co-chairs. Planned Parenthood has also signed on as a partner. “This is a historic moment to come together to protect the progress we’ve made,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said in a statement. “We will send a strong message to the incoming administration that millions of people across this country are prepared to fight attacks on reproductive health care, abortion services, and access to Planned Parenthood, as they intersect with the rights of young people, people of color, immigrants, and people...

Read More...


Ted Cruz to Introduce Bill Allowing Discrimination Against LGBT Americans Nationwide

by Hunter   – Led by Sen. Ted Cruz, Republicans will be wasting no time in their efforts to roll back civil rights for LGBT Americans. would prohibit the federal government from taking “discriminatory action” against any business or person that discriminates against LGBTQ people. The act distinctly aims to protect the right of all entities to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on two sets of beliefs: “(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” The intentionally broadly-written law would, in other words, enshrine the “right” of any private business to deny service to gay Americans outright if they are personally opposed to marriage equality. It would not merely allow businesses to deny their services in same-sex marriage ceremonies themselves: it would allow any business to...

Read More...


Licensing Medical Marijuana Stirs Up Trouble for States

by Rebecca Beitsch – The seven lucky balls that popped out of the Arizona Department of Health Services lottery machine in October produced big winners — not in the state’s Powerball game, but in the competition to make money in the medical marijuana industry. The prize winners were granted licenses to open a medical marijuana dispensary in a state where patients with prescriptions to treat conditions such as glaucoma and cancer spent $215 million last year on marijuana products. Arizona’s public health officials awarded most licenses based on rules designed to place new dispensaries within range of the greatest number of medical-marijuana patients. But when it wasn’t clear which applicant was in the most patient-dense area, they used a lottery to randomly select the winners, hoping to sidestep conflict. States have struggled with how to give out potentially lucrative medical marijuana licenses — trying to balance public health concerns against an...

Read More...


Texas says Abortions Increase the Risk of Cancer and Mental Illness. FALSE !

by Maureen Shaw – Despite what the state says, abortion access does not increase the risk of cancer or mental illness. Despite suffering a major defeat at the Supreme Court this past June, Texas simply can’t stop — won’t stop — undermining reproductive rights. Earlier this month, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) released an updated edition of its abortion booklet — ironically titled “A Woman’s Right to Know” — which unapologetically promotes debunked links between abortion, breast cancer, and adverse psychological risks. A pregnant person considering termination in the Lone Star state may very well believe that her physical and mental health are at risk if she obtains an abortion. Texas already requires a 24-hour waiting period for abortion, after mandated counseling that includes information on breast cancer, fetal pain and mental health effects. But the updated DSHS booklet spreads further misinformation. With regards to mental health, the booklet says, “Women report a range of emotions after...

Read More...


NAACP Pushes for National Economic Boycott of North Carolina

by Alice Miranda Ollstein – Civil rights activists are also preparing lawsuits and mass protests to pressure the state’s Republican majority. Late Wednesday night, North Carolina Republicans reneged on their promise to repeal HB2, known colloquially as the “bathroom bill.” The legislation contained a number of controversial provisions, but chiefly banned transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender with which they identify and barred cities from passing laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination. The law has already cost the state hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars. On Thursday, the North Carolina NAACP announced it will turn up the heat on the state. The group plans to file lawsuits against the state, organize mass protests, and call for an economic boycott to pressure lawmakers to repeal HB2 and other legislation they say infringes on civil rights. “Enough is enough,” said Reverend Dr. William Barber, the president of the...

Read More...


In Historic Decision, Canada Declares Internet Access a Fundamental Right for All

by Lauren McCauley – National telecom agency promises to connect all Canadians, from Quebec to Yukon, to high-speed broadband. In what is being described as a “historic” decision that will have a significant impact, particularly on the lives of those living in rural and First Nations communities, Canada’s telecom agency on Wednesday issued a new rule declaring high-speed internet a basic service “necessary to the quality of life” of all Canadians. “The future of our economy, our prosperity, and our society—indeed, the future of every citizen—requires us to set ambitious goals, and to get on with connecting all Canadians for the 21st century,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, chair of the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), at a news conference. “These goals are ambitious. They will not be easy to achieve and they will cost money. But we have no choice.” Under the new broadband strategy, the CRTC aims to provide 100...

Read More...


After ‘Pivotal Year’ for Reproductive Rights, Advocates Ready for Trump-Era Battles

by Deirdre Fulton – Despite major Supreme Court victory, 2016 saw the enactment of at least 60 bills restricting access to reproductive healthcare across the country. 2016 was a “pivotal year” for women’s health, according to a 50-state report card released Monday by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR)—and given signals from the incoming Trump administration, “2017 will undoubtedly bring new challenges and new opportunities for action.” This year brought a historic U.S. Supreme Court victory in Whole Woman’s Health vHellerstedt, which CRR president Nancy Northup described as “the most important abortion rights ruling in a generation.” The decision struck a major blow to the more than 300 abortion restrictions—also known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP, laws—enacted by state legislatures since 2011. But 2016 also saw the enactment of at least 60 bills restricting access to reproductive healthcare across the country, and the introduction of hundreds more—including nearly...

Read More...


Sanders Calls for Investigation of Big Pharma Drug Pushers

by Lauren McCauley – From 2007-2012, the Big Three wholesalers earned a combined $17 billion while they collectively shipped 423 million pain pills to West Virginia. Drug-pushing, multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies should be “investigated and prosecuted,” declared Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in response to revelations that out-of-state drug wholesalers have been pouring highly-addictive and lethal opioids into rural West Virginia towns, reaping profits while countless suffer. Bernie Sanders  ✔@SenSanders Large, multi-billion dollar corporations should not make billions pushing addictive drugs. They should be investigated and prosecuted. https://twitter.com/wvgazettemail/status/810521005680656384 … 3:18 PM – 20 Dec 2016 Reporter Eric Eyre with the Charleston Gazette-Mail published a two-part investigative series this weekend exposing what looks like the Big Pharma behemoths profiting off the state’s overdose epidemic. According to “previously confidential drug shipping sales records sent by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office,” and obtained by the Gazette-Mail, “drug wholesalers...

Read More...


Disabled Children in Texas are the First to Feel the $350 Million in State Cuts to Medicaid

by Walter Einenkel – $350 million in budget cuts to Texas’ Medicaid have gone into effect. Don’t worry though, it mostly affects disabled children’s therapy. We all know that God doesn’t like therapists of any sort—physical, speech, occupational, or psychological. They reduce revenue for some Texas therapy providers. Opponents say they’ll force providers to close, and could cost roughly 60,000 children access to speech and occupational therapists.    Health and Human Services Commission spokeswoman Carrie Williams said the cuts were implemented Thursday to “achieve savings,” as directed by state lawmakers.   This plan was put into place over a year ago by Texas’s brightest lawmakers, and went through a lawsuit that the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear. The Supreme Court’s announcement means that a lower court’s decision, which found the lawsuit lacked standing, will remain in place, clearing the way for state officials to begin cutting payments to in-home therapists by...

Read More...


CEO of Opioid Company that Funded Arizona’s Anti-Pot Campaign Charged with Bribing Doctors

by Mother Mags – Can you say hypocrisy? Of all the states that had marijuana propositions on the ballot this year, either legalization or medical weed, only Arizona rejected the measure. The state passed a medical pot referendum in 2010, and Prop 205 was an initiative similar to Colorado’s decriminalization law. Until a few weeks before the election it appeared 205 would pass by about 10 points. Then a well-funded anti-205 campaign kicked into gear, with 24/7 TV commercials and state officials, including the governor, attorney general, and other GOP leaders, going on their Reefer Madness tour (the Democratic Party supported 205). The TV spots said Colorado’s experience with legal pot was terrible: schools didn’t get the money they were promised and many more students were getting high. All of it was a lie. The fear-mongering ads were so dishonest that Colorado legislators sent a letter to Arizona’s anti-205 officials telling them to quit lying about Colorado....

Read More...


“Fight’s Not Over”: Obama Blocks States From Defunding Planned Parenthood

by Nadia Prupis – Planned Parenthood praised new measure, but warned reproductive rights will likely be under attack from ‘extremists’ like Mike Pence and Tom Price. The Obama administration on Wednesday issued a final rule that prohibits states from cutting federal funding to Planned Parenthood chapters and other clinics that provide abortions, a measure that will go into effect before President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration and will require a time-consuming effort to revoke. The rule, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), requires that state and local governments give out federal funds to qualified healthcare providers that offer family planning and preventive services, regardless of whether the providers also perform abortions. (The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal money from directly funding abortions.) Dr. Karen Scott, chief medical officer in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, said in a statement Wednesday, “This rule will strengthen access to essential services...

Read More...


The Coat Hanger Comes of Age

by Jessica Goldstein – Evaluating the power — and limitations — of a pre-Roe symbol in a post-Roe world. The foundation of the Ohio Statehouse is more than 18 feet deep and was constructed by inmates from the Ohio Penitentiary. The Statehouse itself, a limestone Greek revival in downtown Columbus, took 22 years to build. Construction started on Independence Day, 1839, and it wasn’t until after the foundation and ground floors were built that skilled tradesmen complained about the missed opportunity for work and replaced prison laborers at the site. If, as 2017 dawns, a new Statehouse were to be constructed, and were prison labor employed for this task, among the fourth-degree felons pouring the foundation could be any doctor who provided an abortion to a woman who was more than 20 weeks along in her pregnancy — this thanks to the one-two punch of an abortion-restriction bill Governor John Kasich signed on Tuesday and a 2013 bill that...

Read More...


John Kasich’s Anti-Abortion Bait and Switch

by Casey Quinlan – More extreme abortion bans distract from anti-abortion lawmakers’ real strategy. Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed a bill that would ban abortion at six weeks on Tuesday. On the same day, he signed a 20-week abortion ban into law. Although some Ohio Republicans, buoyed by the prospect of a Donald Trump administration, argued that a six-week ban would survive the courts, the 20-week ban was always the main goal for pro-life groups and conservative lawmakers. Anti-abortion activists and lawmakers have debated over whether to fight hard for more extreme bans or the more politically viable 20-week ban, but 20-week bans are the most popular restriction pushed by conservative lawmakers. The powerful pro-life group, National Right to Life Committee, is pushing for a 20-week ban on the federal level. Under Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court can’t ban an abortion before 24 weeks — when the fetus is viable — but Republicans...

Read More...


As Prices ‘Skyrocket,’ 20 States Sue Drug Companies for Collusion

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘We have evidence of widespread participation in illegal conspiracies across the generic drug industry,’ says Connecticut attorney general. Twenty state attorneys general filed a lawsuit on Thursday against several pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of entering into “numerous illegal conspiracies” to fix generic drug prices at consumers’ expense. The federal lawsuit (pdf) names generic drug-makers Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Aurobindo Pharma USA, Inc., Citron Pharma, LLC, Mayne Pharma (USA), Inc., Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., and concerns two drugs: doxycycline hyclate delayed release, an antibiotic used to treat a range of conditions including respiratory tract infections, and glyburide, an oral diabetes medication. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and labels Heritage as the “principal architect and ringleader” that helped organize a “wide-ranging series of conspiracies” to fix prices. “My office has dedicated significant resources to this investigation for more than...

Read More...


Federal Judge Concludes Transgender Worker can Sue for Sex Discrimination

by Zack Ford – Discrimination based on gender conformity is discrimination based on sex. A federal court in Kentucky is allowing a transgender workplace discrimination suit to proceed, recognizing that mistreatment in regards to gender identity constitutes illegal discrimination on the basis of sex. Plaintiff Mykel Mickens sued General Electric Appliances (GE) for harassment and disparate treatment in the workplace. He was not permitted to use the men’s restroom, so he had to use a facility much farther away from his work station, and he was then disciplined for how long his breaks were to accommodate that journey. Mickens also had a conflict with an employee, but though GE addressed a complaint one of his white, female colleagues had with that employee, his complaint went unaddressed. He says that when he disclosed that he was transgender to his supervisor, he was singled out and reprimanded for conduct no one else was reprimanded...

Read More...


San Francisco Judges Dismiss 66,000 Arrest Warrants Against The City’s Homeless

by Whitney Webb – San Francisco chief judge John Stewart and his colleagues dismissed thousands of cases against the homeless for “quality-of-life” crimes such as sleeping on sidewalks because it “was the right thing to do.” The United States, despite often advertising itself as the world’s “most developed” nation, has a major problem with homelessness, with approximately 3.5 million currently living with no place to call home. Even though vacant houses outnumber the nation’s homeless by more than five to one, most of them end up sleeping in public places or out in the street. In cities around the country, the homeless are frequently criminalized as are those who offer them food and other forms of human kindness. Despite the widespread maltreatment of the homeless, judges in San Francisco have been dismissing thousands upon thousands of arrest warrants targeting the homeless because “it was the right thing to do.” Many...

Read More...


Oklahoma Republicans Mandate New Anti-Abortion Signage in the State’s Public Restrooms

by Hunter – As part of the Republican Party’s ongoing efforts to turn America into a society based on The Handmaid’s Tale (if it had been written by George Orwell), Oklahoma Republicans have forced through some new, properly theocratic signage. Oklahoma plans to force hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants and public schools to post signs inside public restrooms directing pregnant women where to receive services as part of an effort to reduce abortions in the state. The provision for the signs was tucked into a law that the Legislature passed this year that requires the state to develop informational material “for the purpose of achieving an abortion-free society.” The signs must be posted by January 2018. No money was allocated to the signs, which means nursing homes (sigh) will have to put up the anti-abortion signage on their own dime. And it includes nursing homes because it includes all public bathrooms in the...

Read More...


Texas Sued (Again) for Latest ‘Insult’ to Women

by Deirdre Fulton – Lawsuit filed to halt rule imposing ‘funeral ritual on women who have a miscarriage management procedure, ectopic pregnancy surgery, or an abortion.’ Reproductive health advocates have filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas for its latest unconstitutional attack on women’s right to access safe and legal abortion. The suit (pdf), filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on behalf of several Texas healthcare providers, demands that the state halt implementation of a regulation, finalized late last month by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), requiring the burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue that results from abortions, miscarriages, or ectopic pregnancy surgery. The Center for Reproductive Rights had warned (pdf) in August that the regulation would “almost certainly trigger costly litigation.” According to the suit, the new rule “burdens women seeking pregnancy-related medical care. It imposes a funeral ritual on women who have a miscarriage management procedure,...

Read More...


Sanctuary Cities Vow to Defend ‘Basic Human Decency’ From Trump

by Andrea Germanos – With Donald Trump‘s inauguration just over a month away, it will soon become clear whether he intends on using beginning days in the White House to try to follow through on his promise to end federal funding for sanctuary cities. Scores of such cities, however, are standing resolute, with officials from over three dozen of them publicly reaffirming their commitment to “basic human decency.” Sanctuary cities, sometimes called Fourth Amendment cities, as The Atlantic‘s CityLab has described, offer some protection to undocumented immigrants because they “keep local policing and federal immigration enforcement separate by asking local police to decline ‘detainers’—non-binding requests from ICE asking for extended detention of inmates they suspect are deportable.” In contrast to claims made by proponents of harsh immigrant crackdowns, research has shown that “designating a city as a sanctuary has no statistically significant effect on crime.” In fact, it is harsh immigration...

Read More...


House Republicans Just Introduced Bill To Slash Social Security

by Stephen D Foster Jr – The Republican effort to let Social Security “whither on the vine and die” just became reality as Donald Trump prepares to take office and become their puppet. Last month, House Speaker Paul Ryan made it clear that he wants to privatize Medicare and phase it out. That means anybody who is on Medicare or hoped to be on it soon are shit out of luck because Ryan’s plan gives Medicare to private insurance companies, which means higher costs to get insurance and paying more for healthcare, even if the government offers pathetic vouchers to help pay for it. But now Republicans have unveiled their plan to cut Social Security as well. On Thursday, GOP Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas introduced the Social Security Reform Act of 2016 or H.R. 6489. The bill claims to be “saving” Social Security even though it is fully solvent through...

Read More...


Repeal Obamacare? GOP Should Be Careful What They Wish For

by WENDELL POTTER – Now that they’ll control the White House and Congress, Republicans still haven’t got a clue what to do about health care. For years, Republicans have been condemning Obamacare and vowing to repeal and replace it. Now that they’ll soon be able to do that, they’re like the dog that caught the car: Now what? I’d be willing to bet a month’s worth of premiums that this is what’s happening right now: The best PR pros money can buy are quietly developing strategies to help Republicans deal with two different scenarios, neither of which many of them gave a second’s thought to before the election, and both potentially catastrophic for the Republican brand. To say nothing of the health and well-being of a whole lot of people. Under the first scenario, the US health care system is imploding. Which is exactly what will happen if Republicans repeal the...

Read More...


Repealing Obamacare? Here’s a Better Idea – Medicare for All

by RoseAnn DeMoro – Eliminating private insurance and the high premiums, co-pays and deductibles will save families thousands of dollars, free up millions for businesses, increase wages for workers, and save hundreds of billions for taxpayers. Now that the dogged opponents of the Affordable Care Act have caught the Obamacare bus, transforming U.S. healthcare is back on the political agenda. Repeal of the ACA will not curb the persistent, systemic inequities of our profit-focused healthcare system. Tens of millions, even those with health insurance, still struggle with unpayable medical bills due to rising deductibles and co-pays and skyrocketing prescription drug costs and hospital charges. Insurance networks sharply restrict patient choice. Millions remain without any health coverage, or simply avoid getting the care they need because they can’t afford it – at great risk to their health. Disparities based on race, gender, age, or where you live remain rampant. Even advocates of...

Read More...


The War on the Poor Is Already Underway

by BOB HERBERT – Donald Trump and congressional Republicans will roll back many of the policies that gave poor people some relief during the Great Recession. It was just a little over two months ago that the Census Bureau reported the very good news that real median household incomes had increased by 5.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, and that the poverty rate had fallen by 1.3 percentage points. The bureau also told us that the percentage of people without health insurance coverage had continued to decline substantially. That upbeat report is likely to be the last burst of good news that the poor will see for quite some time. Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and the bellicose tribunes of the hard right are in complete charge of the federal government. Their hostility to such crucial anti-poverty efforts as the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, food stamps and substantial increases in the minimum wage is...

Read More...


Ohio GOP Pass Extreme Attack on Abortion Rights

by Nadia Prupis – Bill to ban abortion after fetal heartbeat can be detected—as early as six weeks—on its way to anti-choice Governor John Kasich’s desk. Ohio lawmakers approved a bill late Tuesday that bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The bill is now headed to Governor John Kasich’s desk. If signed, it will be one of the strictest abortion laws in the country. The so-called heartbeat bill means that abortion could be prohibited as early as six weeks after conception—a point at which many women may not even realize they are pregnant—effectively making it illegal in the state. Lawmakers passed the bill largely along party lines, “emboldened by anticipation of Donald Trump’s upcoming federal and Supreme court appointments,” as Cincinnati.com reports. Republicans in the state have tried to advance the heartbeat bill in some form since 2011. In Ohio, Republicans control both legislative chambers, as well...

Read More...


Shkreli’s Infamous $750 Pill Recreated By High Schoolers For Just $2

by Whitney Webb – A team of high school students have created an inexpensive version of the drug Daraprim, which Martin Shkreli made infamous by increasing its cost by over 5,000%. Martin Shkreli quickly became one of the most hated men in the world almost overnight, when he used his position at Turing Pharmaceuticals to jack up the price of the drug Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750. The 5,000% jump in the drug’s price quickly drew protests from the medical community as concerns were raised that many patients would soon be unable to afford the drug. Daraprim, one of the World Health Organization’s essential medicines, is commonly prescribed as an anti-parasitic. Despite the obvious price gouging at work here, Shkreli maintained that the increase was simply a savvy business decision. Though Shkreli tried to make amends by reducing the drug’s price for hospitals, it has remained at $750...

Read More...


‘Identity Politics’ Actually Won in North Carolina (VIDEO)

by Zack Ford – Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has finally conceded defeat, and he lost for being anti-LGBT. The gubernatorial race in North Carolina was close, though not quite as close as originally thought. After weeks of challenges, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) conceded Monday, making him the only incumbent governor who was not reelected in 2016. McCrory’s unique loss can only be attributed to his opposition to LGBT equality. He lost to Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) by just over 10,000 votes in a year when North Carolina otherwise voted more heavily Republican. Donald Trump (R), who McCrory openly campaigned with, bested Hillary Clinton (D) by about 173,000 votes. Sen. Richard Burr (R) held his seat with 267,000 more votes than challenger Deborah Ross (D). The major thing that differentiated McCrory from the candidates in these other races is that HB2 defined his campaign. HB2 was the law the North Carolina legislature...

Read More...


Anti-Choice GOP Doubles Budget for ‘Witch-Hunt’ Panel (VIDEO)

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘It is appalling that the House of Representatives just gave the dangerous Select Investigative Panel an $800,000 pat on the back for its work to peddle lies’. In yet another sign that the war on women will ramp up under a Republican-controlled Congress and Trump administration, the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday doubled the budget for an anti-choice subcommittee that reproductive rights advocates have denounced as a “taxpayer-funded witch hunt.” With a vote largely along party lines, the House approved an additional $800,000 for the so-called “Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives,” created last October to look into fetal tissue research in the wake of 2015’s video smear campaign by anti-abortion activists that purported to show Planned Parenthood officials admitting to selling fetal body parts. In January, a grand jury empaneled to investigate those charges indicted the anti-abortion activists for fraud instead. According to The Hill:...

Read More...


Carson, Who Called Fair Housing a ‘Failed Social Experiment,’ Tapped to Run HUD

by Lauren McCauley – Under Dr. Ben Carson, ‘millions of low-income Americans and residents of color could stand to lose critical protections and housing resources’. Dr. Ben Carson, the former Republican presidential candidate who once called fair housing a “failed socialist experiment,” on Monday was officially nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to head the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Poverty and rights organizations are concerned, particularly given the retired neurosurgeon’s lack of experience in the area, as well as his politicized view of many of the programs he would be charged with overseeing. “Under Carson, millions of low-income Americans and residents of color could stand to lose critical protections and housing resources,” warns a call-to-action put forth by the Campaign for American Progress. In particular, a 2015 Obama administration rule that was passed to address systemic racial and income neighborhood segregation, known as the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing”...

Read More...


“Millions Of Americans Have Been Sucker-Punched. They Just Don’t Know It Yet.”

by Dartagnan – Now that we’re officially living in a world where facts don’t exist, I can’t tell you how liberated I feel. The weight of all those facts lifted from my shoulders has removed a terrible burden, so much that I want to actively get rid of all my facts. I want to purge them from my soul and cast them to the wind. Nobel-Winning economist Paul Krugman must feel the same way.  His column in today’s New York Times is unburdening those facts left and right. While the media this week fixated on the new President-elect’s tax-cutting bribe of Carrier Industries and its parent company to temporarily prevent 800 jobs from going to Mexico, something rather more ominous was lurking in those fact-hampered news stories that didn’t make the trending Facebook feed. Yes, the white working class is about to be betrayed. The evidence of that coming betrayal is obvious...

Read More...


Republicans Start to Realize that Repealing Obamacare is a Lot Easier Said than Done

by Tara Culp-Ressler – The crusade against Obamacare is about to hit some roadblocks. Republicans in Congress are preparing to immediately move on repealing Obamacare, one of President-elect Donald Trump’s central promises. Some GOP lawmakers have suggested the repeal vote may be scheduled next month, before Trump’s inauguration on January 20. But Republicans are becoming aware that, while rallying to vote against Obamacare will be easy, what comes after that will be much harder. For years, Republicans have been voting to repeal President Obama’s signature piece of health care reform. But as long as Obama has been in the White House to veto these attempts, the repeal effort has amounted to little more than political theater — a way for conservative lawmakers to win points with their base by proving how much they’re opposed to Obamacare. Voting to scrap health care reform didn’t lead to any real-world consequences (other than wasting Congress’ time...

Read More...


On His Way Out the Door, Obama Suggests Marijuana Should Be Legal

by Jacob Sullum – The president plans to do something about it “as a private citizen.” In a new interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama comes as close as he ever has to endorsing marijuana legalization, saying, “I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it.” Tobacco and alcohol, of course, are not prohibited by state or federal law, so the implication is that marijuana shouldn’t be either. But Obama apparently is waiting until he leaves office to say so explicitly: I will have the opportunity as a private citizen to describe where I think we need to go. But in light of these referenda passing, including in California, I’ve already said…that it is untenable over the long term for...

Read More...


Leading Rights Groups Launch ‘Wave of Litigation’ to Protect Abortion Access

by Nadia Prupis – ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Center for Reproductive Rights say ‘these laws are dangerous, unjust, and unconstitutional—and they will come down’. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) on Wednesday filed lawsuits to challenge abortion restrictions in three states—the first of a promised “wave of litigation” aiming to protect women’s access to healthcare around the country. Wednesday’s lawsuits target abortion legislation in Alaska, Missouri, and North Carolina that the groups say are medically unnecessary and are reminiscent of other abortion restrictions already ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. “Today’s filing is a major step in the fight to ensure all women can get safe and legal abortions in their own communities, when they need them,” said CRR president and CEO Nancy Northup. “We are a nation of laws, and the center is prepared to use the full force of...

Read More...


17% of Republicans Suddenly Lose Their Zeal for Repeal

by Brainwrap –  Every month, the Kaiser Family Foundation conducts an extensive national survey about various issues, mostly having to do with healthcare for obvious reasons. Their November survey results are both facepalm-inducing and completely predictable at the same time. Plenty of other outlets are doing full analysis of the survey, such as this one by Jonathan Cohn of the Huffington Post, and I’m swamped today, so I’ll just focus on a couple of the charts. First, take a look at the double pie charts above. Yes, that’s right. After screaming “REPEAL! REPEAL! REPEAL!” at the top of their lungs for 6 years straight, now that they’re actually in a position to follow through with fully repealing the Affordable Care Act, all of a sudden a full 17% of Republicans have gotten cold feet. How about the country at large? Well, only 26%…barely over a quarter of the country…now want full repeal…while fully 49% (nearly half) either want to keep the...

Read More...


More Than Half Of New Yorkers Are One Paycheck Away From Homelessness

by Whitney Webb – A new report has found that 60% of New Yorkers could face eviction, foreclosure, or homelessness in the event of a lost job, medical emergency, or similar crisis due to a lack of emergency savings. Since the 2008 economic crisis, most Americans have seen little of Obama’s much-touted economic “recovery” in their personal lives. Considering that the so-called “recovery” involved printing millions of dollars that went directly into the pockets of the same bankers who created the crisis itself, it’s not surprising that many Americans still find themselves struggling. Throughout the nation, many families are struggling just to get by, especially in areas were wages remain stagnant and the cost of living and housing continues to climb. Many American cities are a microcosm of this larger phenomenon, perhaps none more so than New York City. However, a recent report from the Association for Neighborhood & Housing...

Read More...


Medical Innovation Bill Would Water Down Disclosure of Industry Payments to Doctors

by Charles Ornstein – The 21st Century Cures Act aims to support biomedical research. But along the way, it would exempt certain payments from drug companies to doctors. Critics say such changes are a mistake. Update, Nov. 29, 2016: Provisions in the 21st Century Cures Act dealing with disclosure of physician payments were removed from the bill Tuesday, following criticism from some lawmakers and transparency advocates, a GOP aide said. This week, Congress is expected to consider a bill promoting biomedical research and innovation that would also weaken requirements on pharmaceutical and medical device companies to disclose certain payments to doctors. The goal of the 21st Century Cures Act, which has bipartisan support, is to help bring drugs and devices to market faster and at lower cost. It would increase funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration and would provide grants to states to address...

Read More...


Trump’s New Cabinet Pick is Bad News for Recipients of Obamacare and Medicare

by Casey Quinlan – Potential Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is one of Affordable Care Act’s fiercest critics. Rep.Tom Price (R-GA), one of the fiercest critics of the Affordable Care Act, is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Health and Human Services secretary. By selecting Price to lead the agency, Trump has indicated that he intends to systematically dismantle the law — despite hinting otherwise shortly after he was elected. Price, an orthopedic surgeon, has been proposing plans to replace Obamacare since 2009. This makes him stand out among his fellow members of Congress, who have offered few ideas for how to supplant the law. He has led efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in every Congress since 2009. That year, he introduced the Empower Patients First Act, which would put the coverage of Americans with preexisting conditions at risk, and increase health care spending. In 2012, he introduced a replacement bill...

Read More...


Texas Will Now Force Hospitals and Women to Bury or Cremate Fetuses from Abortions

by Walter Einenkel – \What do you get when you add Texas and a Republican and Governor Greg Abbott? One of the worst laws surrounding women’s right to choose, or in some cases not be able to choose, what they do with their bodies. The rules, which go into effect on Dec. 19, mandate that aborted fetal tissue must be buried regardless of how long it has been gestating. The rules state it can either be buried directly after an abortion has been performed or it can be buried or scattered after it has been incinerated. Fetal remains can also be steam disinfected before burial, according to the guideline. This is step one in Gov. Abbott’s war on women. Step two will be his cutting of funding to Planned Parenthood—for which his grandstanding has made him beaucoup dollars. Abbott has said that fetal remains should not be treated like “medical waste,” and...

Read More...


Pay More and Get Less: The Ryan Plan to Privatize Medicare

by David Akadjian – One of the fights likely to come up early during the next administration is privatizing Medicare. Tom Price, chairman of the House Budget Committee, has indicated Republicans will try to privatize Medicare in a budget reconciliation bill (a sneaky filibuster proof attack). You’re going to hear a lot about “choice” and “efficiency” and the amazingness of markets, but Ryan’s plan basically comes down to two things: 1) you will pay more, and 2) you will get less. Ryan’s proposal is for what he calls “premium support” programs. Think premium like an insurance premium, not like a Cadillac. The latter usage of the word is not a mistake though. The intent is to make it sound desirable. The big change is that Medicare would no longer provide coverage for medical care but would be a subsidy towards the purchase of a privatized insurance plan. No surprise. Ryan wants to...

Read More...


Prepare Your Daughters to Re-Fight the Battles Their Grandmothers had Won

by Victor Klemperer Respawned – I have been banging this drum for a long time, but the threat of a Trump (or God forbid, a Pence) administration adds new urgency. At the end of the day, the issue comes down to something real simple.  If you read the decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Alito is clear they are not stopping with abortion.   Setting the stage for a repeal of Roe v. Wade isn’t going to satisfy these guys.  They are chomping at the bit to repeal Griswold v. Connecticut.  Griswold is the case that struck down a Connecticut law that had made the use of birth control by married couples illegal. You know who brought the case over 50 years ago that set the stage for access to birth control?  Estelle Griswold, the executive director of Planned Parenthood in Connecticut.  So don’t be fooled by the apparent ahistorical nature of the Republicons.  They know exactly...

Read More...


Hateful Letter To Food Bank Proves We Need Food Stamps

by Wendy Gittleson – A few days before Thanksgiving, a food bank in Central Texas received a letter that was so hateful it could only have been written by a Trump supporter. Dear Foodbank: I don’t understand who these poor folks are that need food. I assume they consist primarily of illegals, who come to Texas for “free stuff.” And of course, our unemployed Africans, who find work too much trouble, especially when they can collect the equivalent of $40,000 a year on welfare, and other “benefits” offered to the unfit, the lazy, and the under-educated…and of course, the drug addicts. I expect that most who need food are marching around whining that the congenital liar, Hillary Rodham Clinton, lost the election. Too bad; How sad. I also wonder if your organization is not one of those Phoney-Baloney, so-called “charities,” designed primarily to provide a good living to its organizers. In...

Read More...


Twelve Scientists Propose Ten Policies to Protect Pollinators

by Besame – In response to the United Nations’ global study on pollinator status, twelve scientists from universities around the world have outlined ten policies to protect pollinators. Earlier this year, the U.N. confirmed that pollinator populations are declining in North American and western Europe, and that urgent studies are needed to fill in data gaps here and elsewhere in the world. The status of pollinators outside these two regions can’t be determined due to lack of adequate information. This is no small issue for humans, although pollinators like bees, wasps, flies, moths, butterflies, and bats are important to all habitats and wildlife. Even orcas depend on pollinators. Three-quarters of the world’s food crops benefit from pollinators and ironically one primary threat to pollinators is the agriculture that produces our food. Pollinator health is a worldwide issue that extends across national boundaries. Avocados, chocolate, coffee and vanilla come from outside the U.S. and other nations depend on the income...

Read More...


Healthcare CEOs to Trump, Republicans: No Repeal Without Replace

by Joan McCarter – “CEOs of insurers, suppliers and technology companies, as well as associations representing sectors across the industry” are in strong agreement that Obamacare should not be repealed until there’s a plan that can adequately replace it. And they are universally freaked out by the uncertainty Donald Trump’s election has caused. Shortly after Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the presidential election, leaders of the six-hospital Mission Health system decided to put large capital investments on hold. They wanted to preserve financial flexibility in case the new Republican administration pushed through “very harmful changes and reductions in payment,” said Dr. Ronald Paulus, CEO of the Asheville, N.C.-based system. Healthcare CEOs, Paulus among them, are willing to consider Trump’s healthcare reform ideas. But they have strong concerns about whether his plan would match the ACA’s performance in expanding coverage and slashing the uninsured rate to less than 9%, according to Modern...

Read More...


Obama Administration Breaks 1,000 Commutations Threshold (VIDEO)

by Scott Shackford – Another 79 granted mercy over federal drug war sentences. It took almost his entire presidency to get it rolling, but President Barack Obama will have ended his term granting more than 1,000 federal prisoners mercy from incredibly long federal sentences placed on them due to severe drug war laws. The president took to Facebook to announce another 79 commutations. He used the story of Ramona Brant, who was indicted and imprisoned for life over her relationship with a man who was involved in a drug ring. She was released back in February and filmed a video talking about her experiences earlier in the year. Obama commented on Facebook: Ramona’s story should serve as a reminder to all of us that we need to reform the sentencing laws for drug crimes in this country. It makes no sense for a nonviolent drug offender to be serving decades, or...

Read More...


Planned Parenthood Gets More Than 50,000 Donations in Mike Pence’s Name

by Nadia Prupis – VP-elect has called for health organization to be de-funded and for Roe v. Wade to be overturned and ‘consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs’ More than 50,000 donations have been made to Planned Parenthood in anti-choice Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s name, in another show of creative resistance and organizing against the incoming Republican administration. “We’ve seen an unprecedented outpouring of support, with more than 200,000 people donating in the week following the election—a quarter of whom pledged to be monthly supporters, recognizing the long-term work that is needed,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, said Tuesday in a statement to the New York Daily News. “Tens of thousands more are pledging to make sure access to healthcare is protected.” Before joining President-elect Donald Trump‘s ticket, Pence served as governor of Indiana, where he approved some of the country’s strictest anti-choice laws, including one...

Read More...


Josh Marshall at TPM: Medicare is our Winning Issue

by political junquie – I’ve written a few diaries about Medicare recently, because I see it as a unifying cause, and a way to strengthen alliances among working voters all across the spectrum. The Republicans want to destroy Medicare and Obamacare, and throw millions of people back to the despair and uncertainty that comes when you don’t have health insurance. Their attacks on workers’ health insurance will make it crystal clear how much contempt they have for ordinary people. As Josh Marshall writes at Talking Points Memo today, in a terrific piece called “Medicare for the Win,” this is a signature issue for us. He writes, Medicare is a hugely important and hugely successful social insurance program for tens of millions of Americans and Republicans aim to repeal it in about six to eight months using a mix of bamboozlement, word play and lies. When I say tens of millions I am speaking of current...

Read More...


With ‘A Friend in the White House,’ Texas Lawmakers Prep Anti-Woman Attack

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘These men who would do away with abortion might find more success or at least more support in a nation ruled by President Donald Trump.’ Lending credence to those who warn Donald Trump’s administration will be dangerous for women nationwide, conservative Texas lawmakers last week filed a slew of new bills attacking reproductive rights. Legislation filed by GOP state representative Byron Cook would require healthcare centers to bury or cremate fetal remains after an abortion or miscarriage. In October, women’s rights advocates delivered 5,500 signatures to the Department of State Health Services opposing the costly (pdf) bill. At a hearing on the proposal held the day after Trump’s election, “ome women were in tears as they shared stories about their traumatic miscarriages and abortions,” the Austin American-Statesman reported. “They said they would have suffered more had they been required to bury or cremate the fetus.” Notably, Vice President-elect...

Read More...


Michigan Fights Court Order to Give Flint Residents Bottled Water

by Bryce Covert – The state is balking at the cost of handing out water to residents who still can’t drink from their taps. Last week, a federal judge ordered the state of Michigan and the city of Flint to begin delivering bottled water to all residents’ homes to ensure that everyone has access to safe drinking water. Now the state is fighting back. Flint residents still can’t drink water straight from their taps after officials switched water sources two years ago and failed to use corrosion control chemicals that would have kept lead from leeching into the water. While officials have urged residents to use filters, those are expensive, difficult to install, and need replacing. And at the peak of the lead poisoning crisis, levels were so high that filters weren’t able to remove all of the toxic chemicals. In light of this ongoing health crisis, Flint residents, the Natural Resources...

Read More...


Abortion Doctor Writes Powerful Response to Anti-Abortion Witch Hunt by Congress (A MUST READ)

by annrose – Dr. Warren Hern of Boulder Abortion Clinic has written a stinging rebuke of a document request he received from Congress that was revealed in my Diary last week. I Fear for my Life. I Fear for my Patients describes his real concerns in light of the following: One week ago I received a chilling letter from Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the most ferociously anti-abortion member of Congress, who chairs the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. The letter demanded that I submit a wide variety of documents, including patient medical records in cases of gestations greater than 22 weeks. I have until Nov. 21 to comply. The panel is looking for evidence that I am selling “baby body parts.” It has the power of subpoena and can cite me for contempt of Congress if I don’t comply by the deadline. It is frightening. It is a witch hunt....

Read More...


Ignore Bannon. It is a Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare Bait & Switch

by Egberto Willies – We are about to fall for the biggest con. The Alt-Right, Steve Bannon, and dissension in Trump’s transition team is nothing more than a distraction. We better get engaged now. Today’s post-election media coverage is about Trump naming Steve Bannon, a white supremacist, as his chief strategist. It’s a bait & switch. Donald Trump knew that Steve Bannon would be controversial. At the same time, he named Right Wing ideologue Reince Priebus as his chief of staff. While Steve Bannon’s Alt-Right White Nationalist proclivities are disturbing, more disturbing is his likely attempt to distort the news. That should be much more concerning. It is obvious what Trump is doing. It is obvious what Paul Ryan is doing. It is obvious what Republicans are doing. While Democrats and the media are hyperventilating about a white supremacist in the White House, Paul Ryan is giddy working to undo Obamacare, Medicare, and Medicaid. Ryan could...

Read More...