Health & Home

Trump Agrees to Pay Key Obamacare Subsidies, Extending its Lifeline

by Amanda Michelle Gomez – After threatening to stop CSR payments, Trump finally paid insurers… for now.  Everyone and their doctor has asked President Donald Trump to continue funding Obamacare cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments. After flirting with eliminating these payments to insurance companies, he finally agreed to pay them for the month of August. A White House spokesman told multiple news sources on Wednesday that the Trump administration will make the payment. Andrew Desiderio   ✔@desiderioDC CONFIRMED: Trump administration will make the August CSR Obamacare payments, a WH spokesman tells @thedailybeast 3:29 PM – Aug 16, 2017 Under current law, insurance companies need to provide CSR subsidies to enrollees who make between 100 and 250 percent of the poverty line (that’s about $12,060 to $30,150 for an individual).  CSR is one of two types of subsidies offered to low-income people who purchase plans on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges. Unlike premium tax credits that...

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Yemen Hit by 5,676 Airstrikes in Six Months

by D. Parvaz – The country is dealing with over 30 airstrikes a day and half a million cases of cholera. According to a new report, the number of clashes and airstrikes in Yemen have increased dramatically in 2017: In the first six months of the year, there were 5,676 airstrikes in Yemen – much higher than the total of 3,936 in all of 2016. Data gathered by the Protection Cluster in Yemen – led by the U.N.’s refugee agency (UNHCR) – found that the average number of monthly clashes has also increased by 56 percent. The uptick follows the same trend recorded in Iraq and Syria, where U.S.-led airstrikes have led a dramatic rise in civilian casualties this year. Yemen’s conflict has been a relatively short one when compared to Iraq and Syria. The country has been mired in a civil war since March 2015, with the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi under attack by Houthi...

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CBO Finding Will Put Republicans in a Bind: What do They Hate More, Obamacare or Deficits?

by Joan McCarter – At the request of House Democrats, the Congressional Budget Office has released its analysis of the costs of Trump’s Obamacare sabotage. Specifically, it analyzes what will probably happen if the Trump administration stops paying cost-sharing reduction payments to health insurers. Those are the repayments insurers get for subsidizing the deductibles, copayments, and other means of cost sharing to some of the people who purchase plans, as required by the law. Its conclusions: premiums will be hiked 20 percent, then 25 percent in 10 years, and the deficit increased by $194 billion. In addition, about 5 percent of the population will live in an area where there is no individual insurance plan available—on or off the Obamacare exchanges—and more employers would likely end offering employment-based insurance. Noting that these “effects are uncertain and would depend on how the policy was implemented,” the CBO finds: The fraction of people living in areas with no...

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Defense Secretary Reveals the Trans Military Ban is in Limbo

by Zack Ford – The White House has yet to provide any guidance. Secretary of Defense James Mattis sent some mixed messages Monday when he stopped by the Pentagon newsroom to discuss President Trump’s intended ban on transgender personnel in the military—which the president announced via Twitter. At best, the proposal remains in limbo and is still being studied; at worst, it’s inevitably still coming. The key takeaway Mattis revealed is that Trump has yet to actually issue anything other than a few tweets and public comments. “I am waiting right now to get the President’s guidance in and that I expect to be very soon,” he explained. In the meantime, the military is continuing to study the issue, consistent with what Mattis announced when he agreed to delay the implementation of transgender recruitment by six months. The change to recruitment policy was initially set to take place July 1.”The policy is going to address whether or...

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Trump Thinks the Trans Ban is ‘doing the military a great favor’ (VIDEO)

by Zack Ford – He doesn’t seem to care he’d be firing thousands of people. It’s been two weeks since President Trump announced on Twitter that he’d be banning transgender service in the military, and though there’s still no actual policy in effect, Trump is standing by the decision. Speaking to the press Thursday, Trump claimed to have “great respect” for the transgender community and boasted that many transgender people had voted for him. “It’s been a very difficult situation and I think I’m doing a lot of people a favor by coming out and just saying it,” Trump said. “As you know, it’s been a very complicated issue for the military — it’s been a very confusing issue for the military — and I think I’m doing the military a great favor.” The Pentagon announced in June of 2016 that it would be immediately lifting the ban for transgender servicemembers who were already serving...

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450 Scientists Present Stunning Rebuke of Climate Science Denial

by Joe Romm – NOAA-led report tells the truth about the science behind the warmest year on record. A massive new report by more than 450 scientists, confirms that the Earth warmed to a new record in 2016, driven by a record increase in carbon dioxide levels. The 27th annual “State of the Climate” report, led by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), stands as the first comprehensive rebuke by the nation’s and world’s climate scientists to the presidency of Donald Trump. Trump has repeatedly called climate change a “hoax” and reaffirmed last week that he intends to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, which remains the best hope for America and the world to avert catastrophic impacts. “Surface temperature and carbon dioxide concentration, two of the more publicly recognized indicators of global-scale climate change, set new highs during 2016,” the report explains, “as did several surface and near-surface indicators and essential climate...

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Study: Trump’s Actions are Directly Responsible for Rising Health Care Premiums

by Addy Baird – The president likes to blame Obama, but a new study indicates he should look in the mirror. Despite the repeated failure of Republicans in Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Trump has succeeded in raising health care premiums. A number of insurers who provide coverage through the Obamacare marketplaces have requested double digit rate increases for the coming year, and the majority cite uncertainty about the actions of the Trump administrations as the reason for the requested increases, according to a new study released Thursday. The study, from the Kaiser Family Foundation, looked at plans offered in 20 different states and in Washington D.C. The rates the study considers are requests and can be adjusted by regulators, but fewer insurers have even agreed to participate in the Obamacare exchanges in 2018. According to the study, there were an average of 5.1 insurers per state in...

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Salt Lake’s Dem Mayor Goes Undercover as a Homeless Man for Three Days. Pledges Vital Assistance

by Tevye – This story has a ‘Brubaker’ feel to it. It happened over four months ago, and until recently, was known by only a small handful of people. Last March, Democratic Mayor Ben McAdams put into play something he long felt compelled to do. Due to a state law, he had to select possible sites for three new homeless centers/shelters. Two for men and one for women and children. Regardless of the choices, it would prove highly unpopular in the neighborhoods. Each perspective area arose in fury at the idea. But it had to be done. He needed a more personal perspective. And it was this catalyst that solidified his decision. McAdams left work on a Friday with Patrick Reimherr, the Director of Government Affairs. They both wore three-day growth. No wallets, money, or I.D.’s  They were dressed in their oldest jeans, sneakers, sweatshirts and hoodies. Each had a small bag with some clothes, a blue tarp...

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USDA Report: Bee Populations FINALLY Rising After Years of Decline

by Mike Barrett – Honeybee populations may be starting to rebound. The decline in bee populations and the many threats bees face have been well-publicized. Scientists have been frantically hunting for solutions to the problem. Without bees, we lose much of our food. Without food, well …we don’t want that. Thankfully, there is a bit of good news on the conservation front: honeybee populations are finally on the rise.  A report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released August 1, 2017 shows that as of April, 2017, an estimated 2.89 million bee colonies existed across the U.S. – an increase of 3% from 2016. Beekeepers started to notice several years ago that fewer and fewer honeybee colonies were surviving the winter. On average, 28.7% of hives survived the winter months. But during the 2014-2015 winter, that number dropped 23.1% and hovered there. Source: Vox 2015 Beekeeper Survey: “We’ve Lost Almost Half Our Bee Colonies...

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An Anonymous Couple Donated $6.5 Million to Build a New Planned Parenthood Facility

by Jen Hayden – An anonymous (to the public) couple is stepping up to stand with Planned Parenthood in a big, big way. From City Pages: The Planned Parenthood clinic in Uptown Minneapolis is due for a makeover. And now it’s getting one, thanks to a massive donation to the regional branch of the women’s health care clinic. A recent $6.5 million donation will help pay for replacing the existing clinic with a “state of the art” facility, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota announced Monday morning. The donation came from “a very generous couple in this community.” Though the statement didn’t reveal their identities, regional president Sarah Stoesz described the pair as “fierce defenders of making sure women get the health care they need, no matter what.” Thank you to these anonymous fierce defenders of women’s health! It is the largest single donation to Planned Parenthood. More information on the...

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Disaster For Big Pharma As 50% Of People Report Quitting Pills For CBD

by Carey Wedler/ANTIMEDIA – According to a recent survey conducted by cannabis market research firm the Brightfield Group and HelloMD, nearly half of CBD (cannabidiol) users give up prescription drugs and over the counter medications in favor of the non-psychoactive substance. According to a recent survey conducted by cannabis market research firm the Brightfield Group and HelloMD, an online medical cannabis community, nearly half of CBD (cannabidiol) users give up prescription drugs and over the counter medications in favor of the non-psychoactive substance. The survey of over 2,400 respondents found forty-two percent of CBD users — whether they used marijuana-derived CBD or hemp-derived CBD — “have left their traditional medications behind altogether and now use cannabis instead.” The survey summarized that roughly “66% of CBD users indicated that CBD products are either ‘more effective’ or ‘much more effective’ in relieving their medical conditions than are over-the-counter (OTC) products.” Further, “pproximately 52% of this consumer group indicated that their CBD products are either ‘more effective’...

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15 Million Americans May be Drinking Water Contaminated with PFCs

by JULIE FIDLER – Perfluorochemicals are found in virtually all Americans More than 15 million Americans across 27 states may have drinking water contaminated with perfluorochemicals (PFCs) that are used to make non-stick cookware and other products, according to a report published in June 2017. PFCs have been linked to cancer, thyroid disease, and weakened immune systems. What’s more, prenatal exposure to the chemicals has been linked to low birthweight and future obesity. Even small amounts in drinking water are considered a public health threat. Research by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Northeastern University in Boston reveals that drinking water has been polluted with perfluorochemicals from more than 4 dozen industrial and military sources from Maine to California. In a press release, managing editor of the EWG Bill Walker said: “It’s remarkable that the richest country on earth can’t guarantee its citizens that their drinking water is completely safe and has no long-term health implications.” Although...

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Martin Shkreli Found Guilty on 3 of 8 Fraud Charges

by mconvente – Hot off the presses.  Martin Shkreli, the infamous “Pharma Bro” who raised the price of the generic medicine Daraprim, which his company owned the rights to, from $13.50/pill to $750/pill overnight, has been found guilty by a jury of his peers on three of eight securities fraud charges.  Shkreli faces up to 20 years in prison. From the New York Times: Martin Shkreli, accused of defrauding his hedge fund investors and a pharmaceutical company, was convicted on three of eight counts on Friday, after a five-week trial in the Federal District Court in Brooklyn. He faces as much as 20 years in prison. The conviction, even as a mixed verdict, was a shattering defeat for the divisive Mr. Shkreli, who said before the trial that he was “so innocent” that the judge, jury and prosecutors would apologize to him afterward. Mr. Shkreli was accused of securities and wire fraud related to two...

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A Bipartisan Health Care Fix? Governors Have Some Ideas

by Michael Ollove – The apparent demise of the Republican drive to scrap the Affordable Care Act may open the door to bipartisan fixes to the law. If it does, some of the proposals being touted by a bipartisan group of governors may get a hearing on Capitol Hill. The seven Democrats and six Republican governors who crafted the proposals want federal money to stabilize the ACA’s health insurance marketplaces, and greater power to manage them. They argue it should be easier for states to customize Medicaid, the joint federal-state health insurance for the poor, and they want new tools to curb fast-rising drug prices. And they insist that states should continue to regulate the health policies sold within their borders. “We didn’t intend this to be a political statement, other than to say to Washington, ‘Here’s information, look at where there is agreement,’” said Paul Edwards, deputy chief of staff...

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Sen. Booker Introduces ‘most far-reaching’ Bill to Legalize Marijuana Ever

by Walter Einenkel – On Tuesday morning, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) tweeted this out. Cory Booker  ✔@CoryBooker Today at 12:30pm ET I’m introducing the Marijuana Justice Act to legalize marijuana at federal level. Watch live: http://cor.bo/2tX20Rx  9:29 AM – Aug 1, 2017 According to numerous outlets, the bill that Sen. Booker plans to introduce would be similar to the one Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced in 2015, but with an extra push on the part of the federal government to incentivize states to legalize. Where Booker’s bill goes further is it actively encourages states to legalize cannabis. Specifically, the bill leverages federal funds to incentivize legalization in states that have enforced laws against marijuana in a way that disproportionately impacts low-income people and people of color — a category that includes virtually every state. (A 2015 report from the Sentencing Project, for one, estimated that black Americans are 3.7 times as likely to be arrested...

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White House Commission on Drug Abuse Recommends Increasing Medicaid Spending

by Judd Legum – The recommendation comes on the heels of an aggressive push to reduce funding. The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, established by President Donald Trump in March in response to a nationwide epidemic, publicly released their interim recommendations on Monday. The commission, which is chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), said the best way to “rapidly increase treatment capacity” is to expand the availability of treatment under Medicaid with more federal funds. The commission, which also includes the governors of Massachusetts and North Carolina, calls expanding the availability of Medicaid “the single fastest way to increase treatment availability across the nation.” The recommendation, the very first one offered by the commission, comes on the heels of a prolonged effort by the Trump administration and the White House to shrink Medicaid as part of the repeal of Obamacare. The Republican health care bill that passed...

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NFL Ends Concussion Research Partnership $16 Million Short of $30 Million Commitment

by Lindsay Gibbs – The “unrestricted gift” came with too many strings for the National Institute of Health. Back in 2012, the NFL made a heavily publicized $30 million commitment to the National Institute of Health to fund concussion research, which the league wanted the public to see as a commitment it was taking head safety in football seriously. But as ESPN’S Outside the Lines reported this week, that partnership is set to expire next month even though the NFL — which is projected to reach $14 billion in revenue this year — failed to give the NIH $16 million of the promised funds. In other words, the league fulfilled less than half of its obligations to the NIH. “The NFL’s agreement with ends August 31, 2017, and there are no current research plans for the funds remaining from the original $30 million NFL commitment,” the NIH said in a statement. The relationship between the...

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Senate Democrats Stepped Up, and They Saved Obamacare

by Joan McCarter – Sure, the trio of Republican defectors in the Senate—Collins, McCain, and Murkowski—are getting lots of plaudits for standing up to leadership to kill Trumpcare. But what absolutely has to be recognized and applauded is the unity of Senate Democrats throughout. Start with the five Democrats who are all up for re-election in 2018 in states Trump won by more than 20 points: Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Jon Tester of Montana. Five more are also in states that Trump won but by smaller margins: Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Sherrod Brown in Ohio, Bob Casey in Pennsylvania, Bill Nelson in Florida, and Debbie Stabenow in Michigan. Not one of them gave an inch in working with McConnell to undermine Obamacare. Not one of their votes—even in procedural motions—were in question throughout the process. Thank Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Patty Murray of Washington, who...

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Deregulation and Market Forces Can Lower Pharmaceutical Prices

by Marc Joffe – The pharmaceutical market is anything but free at present. In the rollout of their “Better Deal” program last week, Democrats identified high prescription drug prices as a major challenge facing America and proposed new regulations to rein them in. Their diagnosis is spot on, but their prescription is backwards. The way to roll back pharmaceutical prices is to deregulate and rely on market forces. But for that to happen, both Democrats and Republicans will have to resist the pharmaceutical lobby, which benefits from the status quo and is very generous with its donations. In 2015, spending on prescription drugs totaled $325 billion, or roughly $1,000 for every person in the U.S. according to federal data. Pharmaceutical spending rose by 9 percent from 2014 to 2015, far outstripping the growth of the GDP. Drugs in the U.S. often cost more than twice as much as they do in other developed countries. A 28-day supply of...

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There Aren’t ‘Tremendous Medical Costs’ for Trans Soldiers

by Nick Gillespie – President Trump’s new ban didn’t just “blindside” military brass and disrespect equality under the law, it’s founded on a lie. When President Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, he specifically cited “the tremendous medical costs” that such troops impose on the Pentagon budget. This is simply false. Barack Obama had OK’ed trans people to serve openly. According to the two most-recent studies on providing health care for trans people in the military, the costs are in fact negligible. A 2016 Rand study done for the Department of Defense calculated that between 1,362 and 6,630 trans people serve and that costs associated with transitioning would increase military health spending by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually. That’s an increase of 0.04 percent and 0.13 percent. A New England Journal of Medicine study from 2015 found slightly less than 13,000 transgender service members and transition-related care...

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