Health & Home

Can Businesses Turn LGBT People Away Because of Who They Are? That’s up to the Supreme Court Now

by James Esseks – The United States Supreme Court agreed to decide a case about whether a business can refuse to sell commercial goods to a gay couple because of the business owner’s religious beliefs.  A win for the business could gut the nation’s civil rights laws, licensing discrimination not just against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, but against anyone protected by our non-discrimination rules. In July 2012, Debbie Munn accompanied her son, Charlie Craig, and his fiancé, Dave Mullins, to the Masterpiece Cakeshop just outside of Denver  to pick out a cake for their wedding reception.  When the bakery’s owner heard that the cake was for two men, he said he wouldn’t sell them a cake because of his religious beliefs. Debbie was stunned and humiliated for Charlie and Dave.  As she has  said, “It was never about the cake.”  She couldn’t believe that a business would be allowed...

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Fuggedaboudit! No Trumpcare Vote in the Senate this Week

by Murfster35 – The fun on the healthcare merry-go-round never stops. And now the GOP is seeing the one thing that McConnell wanted to avoid with all of his secret bill writing, and minimal debate, no fooling around is going to happen. MSNBC is reporting, and multiple GOP Senators have confirmed by their comments to the media  that their will be no healthcare vote this week. This is only going to make getting the bill passed more difficult, exactly the thing McConnell wanted to avoid. According to MSNBC reporting, traditional wisdom is that for a controversial bill like this, going home for a long July 4th break will expose Senators to more feedback from their constituents. No more staffers handling the phones, if they go into a food store to get a gallon of milk they’re going to get an earful. The parking lot at church is not going to be a very...

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The Trump Administration Just Officially Repealed Obama’s Clean Water Rule

by Natasha Geiling – The rule protected the drinking water of 1 in 3 Americans. The Trump administration has officially repealed the Clean Water Rule, which was finalized by the Obama administration in 2015. The repeal, which was published in the Federal Register on Thursday afternoon, signals the first step in the Trump administration’s promise to rescind and rewrite the regulation. The repeal was finalized on the same day that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee and promised that under his leadership, the EPA would focus on its core mission of protecting clean air and water for the American people. “We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” Pruitt said in a press statement. “This is the first step in the two-step process to redefine ‘waters of the U.S.’ and we are committed to moving through...

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Welcome to the ‘Second Tier’: US Failing Big League on Social Progress

by Jon Queally – Given its immense wealth, the United States is seriously underperforming. And its citizens are paying the price. Contrary to the mythological story known as “American Exceptionalism,” the United States does a poor job, according to a fresh analysis, of meeting even “the basic human needs of its citizens” and should now be considered a “second tier” country in terms of promoting social progress.   Released by the Social Progressive Imperative (SPI), the 2017 Global Social Progress Index reveals that the U.S. ranks 17th in the world when it comes to promoting the general welfare, coming in behind its Canadian neighbor to the north and far behind Scandinavian countries and the other social democracies of Europe. Of all countries, Denmark comes in first when it comes to providing for its citizens and fostering progress on various fronts. The Index, designed to offer “holistic” measurements of a country’s social...

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Senate’s Opioid Fund Cannot Substitute for Health Coverage

by Emily Gee and Richard G. Frank – The concerns of some Senate Republicans about making the opioid epidemic worse have spilled out of their secretive negotiations for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in the form of a fund to combat opioid addiction. A $45 billion fund in the Senate bill would reportedly be aimed at helping people with dependence on prescription opioids and illicit forms of the drug, but it would provide scant resources to address the epidemic. The fund also would not be able to undo the true costs of the repeal bill, would result in millions of Americans losing health insurance coverage, and could cause those still insured to lose access to substance use disorder treatment. There were 2.66 million people in the United States with an opioid use disorder (OUD) as of 2015. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 33,091 people died from an opioid overdose in 2015....

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Why Heller Matters

by acadia – I wasn’t expecting Nevada Senator Dean Heller to be the first senator to express real opposition to the Wealthcare bill.  While some think this is a ploy, Jon Ralston disagrees and says it is real. Ralston knows Nevada politics like no one else, and pretty much always gets it right. What adds weight to Ralston’s view is the way Heller presented his position — in Nevada at a press conference, with the governor at his side. This wasn’t some mealy-mouthed “I have concerns” mumble while sprinting down a hallway. Could he be flipped? Sure, but he’s given his opposition in 2018 a great big pile of video clips to use against him if he does back out. Honestly, what Heller did was genius. He really doesn’t want to be the deciding vote against the bill, and by being the first real vote in opposition, he won’t be. It’s the third real no...

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The Secret Republican Plan to Unravel Medicaid

by Robert Reich – Bad enough that the Republican Senate bill would repeal much of the Affordable Care Act. Even worse, it unravels the Medicaid Act of 1965 – which, even before Obamacare, provided health insurance to millions of poor households and elderly. It’s done with a sleight-of-hand intended to elude not only the public but also the Congressional Budget Office. Here’s how the Senate Republican bill does it. The bill sets a per-person cap on Medicaid spending in each state. That cap looks innocent enough because it rises every year with inflation. But there’s a catch. Starting 8 years from now, in 2025, the Senate bill switches its measure of inflation – from how rapidly medical costs are rising, to how rapidly overall costs in the economy are rising. Yet medical costs are rising faster than overall costs. They’ll almost surely continue to do so – as America’s elderly population grows, and as new...

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Big Pharma Gets $28 Billion Tax Break in GOP Health Plan

by Will Rice – One of the few winners if this bill passes would be the nation’s pharmaceutical industry. There will be a lot of losers if the House GOP’s disastrous plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act ever becomes law: people with preexisting medical conditions, working families, older folks, kids. One of the few winners would be the nation’s pharmaceutical industry: $28 billion richer thanks to a big tax cut. The Senate is likely to keep this tax break in its version of the legislation. Do America’s drug makers deserve a $28 billion tax cut over 10 years, when the profits of the top 10 companies topped $83 billion last year alone, with the top 5 pocketing nearly $58 billion? Hardly. In fact, they need to start paying their fair share. The Republican plan passed by the House and endorsed by President Trump this spring would cost 23 million Americans their...

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Barack Obama Calls on Republicans to Oppose Senate Healthcare Bill

by Adam Peck – “I hope that our Senators step back and measure what’s really at stake.” Shortly after Republican leadership finally pulled back the curtain on the health care legislation they have been working on in secret for weeks, reaction—much of it critical—began pouring in. None was more forceful or unequivocal than the reaction from former President Barack Obama. In a lengthy post published on Facebook, the 44th president beseeched Republicans in the Senate to consider the ramifications of the bill, which will strip health insurance from tens of millions of people, raise costs for millions more, and eliminate Medicaid protections that an estimated 75 million Americans rely on. “The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America,” said Obama in the post. “It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug...

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EPA Dismisses the People in Charge of Scientific Integrity

by BEN ADLER – Pruitt has now gotten rid of most of the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors. In the latest blow to the integrity of the science used by government agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dismissed nearly all of the members of its Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) this week. The board, which reviews and advises EPA’s internal research departments on their scientific methodology, was already understaffed. On Tuesday, E&E News, an environmental news outlet, obtained an email from Robert Kavlock, acting head of EPA’s Office of Research and Development, saying that BOSC members whose three-year appointments expire in August will not get renewed. Environmental advocates had been concerned about the fate of the BOSC for some time. This week’s highly unusual action comes on the heels of EPA’s decision in May not to renew the appointments of nine of the BOSC executive committee’s 18 members. (Historically, BOSC members have been renewed for a...

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We Finally Know What’s Going to be in the Senate Version of Trumpcare — and it’s not Pretty

by Judd Legum – An ugly process begets an ugly bill. For weeks, Senate Republicans have negotiated their version of Trumpcare in near total secrecy. There have been no public hearings — just private meetings among a select group of Republicans about a bill that could reshape one-sixth of the American economy. For many Americans, the contours of the bill could be a matter of life and death. Text of the bill was released on Thursday, but key details began to leak Wednesday night (some from lobbyists who learned about the bill before the American people). Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is insisting on a vote before the July 4th holiday, which means everyone has a week to learn about this bill — including many of the senators who will be voting on it. So let’s get started. Here are the most important things you need to know. The bill would strip health care coverage from millions of low...

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GOP Cuts Critical Services to Pay for Wealthy Tax Cuts

by Frank Clemente – At a recent press conference at the U.S. Capitol, Marta Conner told reporters, “My daughter Caroline is alive because of Medicaid.” Caroline suffers from Rett Syndrome, a rare, debilitating neurodevelopmental disease that prevents her from using her hands, talking, and walking. Marta says that Caroline has roughly 90 seizures a year and relies on 10 medications. Without her medication, Caroline would have seizures every day. Caroline’s care requires hospital-grade equipment including a cough assist machine, a nebulizer, oxygen supplies, and help from nurses. Marta relies on Medicaid to pay for the substantial costs that her insurance doesn’t cover. So why would President Trump so cruelly threaten Caroline’s care and the care of millions of other Americans by drastically cutting Medicaid in his recently released budget? Sadly, there’s a simple explanation: he wants to give huge tax cuts to big corporations and billionaires like himself. It’s been widely reported...

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Teens With No Engineering Experience Invent Solar Tent For Homeless, Win Grant From MIT

by Amanda Froelich – A group of twelve girls with no prior engineering experience developed a solar-powered tent for the homeless. Along the way, they learned the ins-and-outs of sewing, coding and 3D printing. Due to a flailing economy, homelessness is on the rise in cities such as Los Angeles. Fortunately, a new innovation developed by students at San Fernando High School may help those who are stranded on the streets — at least until a more permanent solution is presented. Bored Panda reports that with absolutely no experience, a group of young females invented a solar-powered tent that rolls up into a backpack. Together, the 12 females were recruited by DIY Girls, a non-profit organization that empowers young women from low-income families in LA to pursue fields in technology and engineering. Overseeing the project was executive director of DIY Girls, Evelyn Gomez. The girls primarily used YouTube videos and information found via Google searches to produce a...

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Trump “Simply Doesn’t Care”: Six Members of HIV/AIDS Advisory Panel Resign

by Andrea Germanos – Final straw, they say, was president’s pushing of healthcare legislation that would deal devastating blow to HIV community.   Six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS have resigned in protest saying that Donald Trump “simply does not care,” and that he is not only unaware of the continuing impact the epidemic has on communities but is supporting legislation that threatens to reverse recent gains. In a blistering op-ed published at Newsweek, Scott A. Schoettes, counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal, outlines the motivations that led him and five of his colleagues—Lucy Bradley-Springer, Gina Brown, Ulysses W. Burley III, Michelle Ogle, and Grissel Granados—to resign on June 13. The resignations come as Senate Republicans secretly hammer out their Affordable Care Act repeal legislation—a measure healthcare advocates fear will gut Medicaid, bringing drastic harm to people living with HIV. The council was established under the Clinton administration and is tasked with...

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GOP Senate Plan Would ‘Gouge Poor People’ With Even Deeper Medicaid Cuts

by Jake Johnson – “This change would thoroughly demolish Medicaid funding over time, much more so than even the House bill,” wrote Slate‘s Jordan Weissmann. Further indicating their willingness to “gouge poor people,” Senate Republicans are reportedly considering even deeper cuts to Medicaid than those proposed by the House version of Trumpcare, which amounted to around $800 billion over ten years. The Hill’s Peter Sullivan first reported on this latest development Monday in a healthcare fight that continues to intensify as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to bring Trumpcare to the floor for a vote before the July 4 recess without any semblance of public debate. Citing several aides and lobbyists, Sullivan reports that the proposal to make even larger cuts to Medicaid—a program that provides insurance for one in five Americans—has become a “consensus option.” “The proposal would start out the growth rate for a new cap on Medicaid spending at the same levels as the House bill,”...

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Republicans are Keeping Their Health Care Bill Secret Because They Can’t Defend it on the Merits

by Peter Suderman – The Senate GOP is relying on the same opaque process they accused Democrats of using to pass Obamacare. One measure of the strength of a piece of legislation is how enthusiastic its backers are about defending it at length in public. This may not always account for the full merit of a bill, but at the very least, it provides a sense of whether or not its own supporters believe it is worthwhile, and are willing and able to make the case for its value. By this metric, the Senate’s health care bill is almost entirely indefensible. Although the bill, an update of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) that passed the House in May, is reportedly almost finished, the handful of Senate Republicans charged with drawing up the legislation have declined to share details with the public, and have repeatedly indicated that they have been ordered...

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Trump is About to Break a Major Campaign Promise

by Tara Culp-Ressler – He said he would lower drug prices. But he’s embracing Big Pharma’s wishlist instead. During his campaign for president, Donald Trump sounded a lot like Bernie Sanders on one policy issue: He promised to implement sweeping government reform to lower drug prices and called Big Pharma executives “disgusting” for profiting off life-saving medication. It was a campaign pledge that earned Trump some praise for his apparent populism. But it’s not one that Trump seems prepared to keep. According to reporting from Kaiser Health News and Politico, the Trump administration’s task force working on policy solutions for rising drug prices is now cozying up to pharmaceutical industry interests. Documents from the task force reviewed by the two outlets reveal the administration is backing away from ambitious reform, such as allowing the government to directly negotiate with Medicare over drug prices, in favor of focusing on policy priorities that mirror Big Pharma talking points. For instance, one of the “principles”...

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NY Attorney General Joins 16 States Taking Legal Action Against Trump and the GOP on Healthcare

by Leslie Salzillo – So many important pieces of news are missed due to the bombastic and disgusting outbursts of Donald Trump who continues to suck up the media with outrageous lies, executive orders and tweets—along with a  Republican-led Congress that delivers odious self-serving bills like they were firing pellets from a BB gun. One press release last month by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman slipped through traditional and social media cracks after he posted a statement on his website. It slipped through, but we can be sure he will follow through with this legal action. Schneiderman is a predator of crime chasing justice with a vengeance. You only need to take a glance at one page of his past month’s legal motions and convictions to see the man is a beast. Schneiderman is not a fan of Trump or the AHCA so-called “healthcare” bill and he has joined forces to protect the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare. Here are excerpts from the press release posted on May 18,...

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Inexperienced Former Event Planner to Run Major Federal Housing Program

by E.A. Crunden – At HUD, she will oversee the distribution of billions of funds for a region with urgent needs. Event planner Lynne Patton, a Trump loyalist without any housing experience, will run the office overseeing New York’s housing programs. Trump named Patton to the position Wednesday, where she’ll oversee the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Region II, home to both New York and New Jersey. Vacant since January 20, the job has been in need of new shoes — but Patton may not be what many had in mind. Up until now, Patton’s biggest claim to fame seems to be planning the wedding of Eric Trump, the president’s son. According to her LinkedIn public profile, Patton says she holds a law degree from Quinnipiac University (with an unexplained “N/A” written next to the degree), in addition to an unnamed degree from Yale University. But Quinnipiac school registrar Jim Benson told the New...

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Gender Equality Justice for Unwed American Mothers and Fathers Abroad

by Diana Fletcher – The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a backward, gender discriminating federal law based on shocking stereotypes — one being that most men hardly care about their children born out-of-wedlock. Under this law, a child born abroad to an unwed American mother automatically becomes a U.S. citizen if the mother previously lived in the U.S. for a minimum of one year. Under the very same law, a child of an unwed father can’t become a U.S. citizen unless the father has lived in the U.S. for a continuous period of five years, two of them when he was over the age of 14. How could this law have such requirements? Who would think this? How did that even pass originally? It’s sad and disgusting. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court agrees. They have ruled that these horrid gender lines drawn by Congress violate the Constitution’s guarantee to equal...

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