Health & Home

Senators Reach Bipartisan Deal to Save Key Obamacare Subsidies

by Addy Baird – There is not yet a guarantee from leadership that the bill will come to the floor for a vote. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have reached a deal on “a short-term limited plan to stabilize health care markets,” Alexander announced Tuesday afternoon. Alexander, the chair of the Senate Health Committee, said there was no guarantee from Senate Leadership that the bill would go to the floor for a vote, but that Alexander and Murray, the ranking member on the Senate Health Committee, were going to round up co-sponsors and then present the bill to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Schumer did tell CNN that he thought the deal was a “good solution” and that it got “broad support” from the Democratic caucus at their lunch Tuesday. Although details are still forthcoming, Schumer said the deal includes “anti-sabotage” provisions. “A very good step...

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Administration Unveils the ‘Fetal 14th Amendment’

by Jon Perr – While most eyes this week were on the carnage in Las Vegas, the catastrophe in Puerto Rico, or the dangerous provocations towards Pyongyang and Tehran, the Trump administration was hard at work deconstructing the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. While that bulwark of American civil rights promises “due process of law” and “equal protection of the laws” to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” Donald Trump has declared that some persons are more equal than others. For starters, two years after Justice Kennedy ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the constitutionally-protected right to marry extends to LGBTQ Americans, Attorney General Jeff Sessions began turning back the clock at the Justice Department. DOJ’s “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty” signaled that the faith-based sensitivities of some religious people should literally trump the marriage rights, workplace protections, and other 14th Amendment guarantees for gay and lesbian Americans. By signing an...

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Big Pharma’s Neutering of the DEA Highlights Corruption of US Capitalist and Political System

by m2c4 – The pharmaceutical industry apparently just won’t stop in its efforts to expand the opioid crisis in order to line its own pockets with profits. A report from the Washington Post shows how, even at the height of the opioid epidemic in 2014, the industry basically bribed 23 members of Congress with over $1.5 million in campaign donations and spent over $100 million lobbying Congress in order to keep the DEA from interfering in its suspicious sales of hundreds of millions of opioid pills which netted pharmaceutical companies billions of dollars. A law, eventually passed in 2016 but effectively enforced by DEA lawyers starting in 2014, changed the level evidence that the DEA needed to intercept suspiciously large shipments of opioids to highly suspect pharmacies and doctors. The legal wording changed the existing law from requiring the DEA from merely determining “imminent danger” based on the “preponderance of evidence” to a...

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‘The People of Puerto Rico are Dying’: Action is Needed Now

by Bonnie Castillo – Volunteer nurses describe deadly conditions and demand federal action immediately. Crowd funding. A Costco Card. The water in a nurse’s own backpack. These are the resources to which volunteer nurses on the ground in Puerto Rico—where 85 percent of the island is still without power and where the official death toll has risen to 48 (with the real toll expected to rise much higher)—have been forced to turn in recent weeks, to keep hurricane victims alive, even for a few additional days. “The people over here in Puerto Rico are dying. We have a healthcare crisis right now,” said National Nurses United (NNU) vice president and Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN) volunteer Cathy Kennedy, RN. “Nurses have been going out into communities, where all they ask for is water and food. And when you have to make a decision of who’s going to get the food today or the water—we shouldn’t have to...

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Kentucky Governor Says He’ll Never Legalize Marijuana Because of the ‘overdoses’

by Rebekah Entralgo – No one has died from a marijuana overdose. Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) appeared on a local radio show this week and called legalized marijuana a “sucker’s bet,” and something that will never happen so long as he’s in office. Why? Bevin says he’s concerned about overdoses. “We are not, while I’m governor, going to be legalizing the use of marijuana in this state for recreational purposes or for revenue-generating purposes,” Bevin said on Terry Meiner’s WHAS radio show. “There are people overdosing based on ingestion of products that are edibles and things.” Contrary to what the governor believes, however, while an individual can certainly have a “bad trip” from marijuana usage, there have been zero reported deaths from marijuana “overdoses,” according to the Centers for Disease Control. Bevin points to the uptick in marijuana-related emergency room visits in Colorado, one of the first states to legalize marijuana, as evidence...

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Republican Senator Says Healthcare Policy Will Hurt American Citizens

by Amanda Michelle Gomez – There are no winners in Trump’s health policy. President Donald Trump’s health policy is hurting U.S. citizens, says Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), “by affecting the ability of vulnerable people to receive health care right now.” On CNN’s State of the Union, Collins blasted the Trump administration’s decision to stop paying insurance companies for subsidizing health plans on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace.    Collins is not the first Republican to criticize Trump for undercutting the ACA marketplace, where nearly 22 million people get insurance. And the criticism doesn’t end there. Insurers, doctors, hospitals, and even the U.S. Chamber of Congress think the federal government needs to pay insurers for a subsidy known as cost sharing reductions (CSR). (CSRs help people — who make up to 250 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL) — afford deductibles and copayments.) They’ve asked Congress to make these payments, since the president refuses to. The Senate is purportedly...

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Several States Vow to Sue Trump Administration Over Obamacare Sabotage

by Rebekah Entralgo – Attorneys general from across the country say they will take legal action. The Trump administration’s recent decision to abruptly end a provision of the Affordable Care Act that helps insurers lower out-of-pocket medical fees for millions of Americans has spurred some states to consider taking legal action. Attorneys general from across the country have said they plan to sue the Trump administration in order to keep money flowing to their states. “Hundreds of thousands of New York families rely on the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies for their health care — and again and again, President Trump has threatened to cut off these subsidies to undermine our healthcare system and force Congress to the negotiating table. That’s unacceptable,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) in a press release late Thursday night, following the administration’s decision to cut off cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage. “I will not allow...

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Trump Takes His Rage Out On Obamacare, Again, With New Executive Orders

by Joan McCarter – Thwarted by the Republican Congress’s inability to take health insurance away from millions of people, Donald Trump is continuing his efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act from the inside. He’s expected to sign executive orders on Thursday intended to siphon off healthy Obamacare enrollees into skimpy cheaper plans. The order will loosen rules for what these plans have to cover and who they have to cover, like people with pre-existing conditions. The cumulative effect of the new rules he’s ordering will be to damage Obamacare’s regulated markets, leaving just the sickest, most expensive patients there. A press release issued by the White House in advance of his signing the orders is short on details, heavy on rhetoric attacking Obamacare, but generally follows what previous leaks and news reports have suggested he will do. He’s got a three-bladed hatchet that he’s taking to the law, one that will make it easier for...

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Mobile Clinics Assume Greater Role in Preventive Care

by Scott Rodd – One afternoon last month, the Family Van stopped at the corner of Washington and Roxbury streets in Boston. The regulars had already formed a line, waiting in the lingering summer heat for the red and green RV to arrive. The Family Van, which is funded in part by Harvard Medical School, provides free blood pressure tests, HIV counseling and basic medical care to underserved neighborhoods across Boston. The van has been operating since 1992, and mobile health clinics like it have been around for decades, but they are assuming a more prominent role as the U.S. health care system places a greater emphasis on preventive care. Encouraged by incentives in the Affordable Care Act, health care providers and insurers are trying to treat health care problems before they turn into costly health crises. Mobile clinics are an effective way to reach patients who may forgo...

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Trump’s Health Department Declares That Life Begins at Conception

by Amanda Michelle Gomez – Trump and his health department said they’d promote a faith-based, anti-choice agenda. They’re delivering. The Trump administration has repeatedly delivered on a campaign promise to the religious right that he’d prioritize a faith-based, anti-choice agenda. The latest evidence comes in the form of the draft strategic plan released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which defines life as “beginning at conception.” The draft was released two weeks ago, before HHS Secretary Tom Price resigned, and it outlines the priorities of the agency and its governing offices. As Dr. Jen Gunter, an obstetrician and gynecologist in the San Francisco Bay Area, pointed out, HHS went beyond the normative promise from conservatives to promote faith-based partnerships, and declared that the life of each human begins at conception. “It’s concerning because HHS isn’t just a theoretical group that writes think pieces no one reads,” Dr. Gunter told ThinkProgress. “We are replacing...

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LGBTQ and Abortion Advocates Have Found an Unlikely Champion: The Satanic Temple

by Brianna Acuesta – The Satanic Temple is an organization that is stepping up to help others. Tempers are running high this year, with arguably the most controversial president to date in the White House and the push for equality between a number of groups based on race, gender, and sexual orientation becoming even more heated than usual. Though the usual organizations are taking up the issues and organizing marches, their numbers have increased as support has flared since President Trump first announced his run for office. People say that politics makes strange bedfellows, so it shouldn’t be too surprising to hear that LGBTQ activists and pro-choice groups have found an unlikely ally in their fight for rights. That ally is The Satanic Temple (TST), which, contrary to what your instinct may tell you about people who ‘follow Satan,’ is an ethical group that just wants to lend a hand. “The mission of The Satanic Temple is...

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Trump’s Calling Democrats About Healthcare Now

by Addy Baird – Chuck and Nancy may strike again. President Trump looks to be turning to new allies to pass a health care bill after Senate Republicans failed yet again to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare last week. “I called Chuck Schumer yesterday to see if the Dems want to do a great HealthCare Bill,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning. “ObamaCare is badly broken, big premiums. Who knows!” Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump I called Chuck Schumer yesterday to see if the Dems want to do a great HealthCare Bill. ObamaCare is badly broken, big premiums. Who knows! 8:17 AM – Oct 7, 2017 Trump has been friendlier with Schumer, the Senate minority leader — as well as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — in recent weeks. Last month, the trio struck a deal on a short-term debt limit increase. Pelosi and Schumer also said they struck a deal with Trump to...

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‘This Attack Is a New Low’: Trump Blasted for Rolling Back Birth Control Mandate

by Jessica Corbett – “Today’s outrageous rules by the Trump administration show callous disregard for women’s rights, health, and autonomy.” Update: In response to the Trump administration’s decision to roll back the federal birth control mandate, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it is filing a lawsuit to challenge the interim final rules issued on Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies. “The Trump administration is forcing women to pay for their boss’s religious beliefs,” said ACLU senior staff attorney Brigitte Amiri. “We’re filing this lawsuit because the federal government cannot authorize discrimination against women in the name of religion or otherwise.” The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of ACLU members as well as Service Employee International Union-United Health Care Workers West (SEIU-UHW) members, who could lose their contraception coverage under the administration’s new rules. “With the stroke of a pen, the Trump administration has...

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DOJ Rescinds Policy Protecting Transgender People From Workplace Discrimination

by Zack Ford – Discrimination based on gender identity will no longer be considered discrimination based on sex. The Department of Justice will no longer argue that workplace protections on the basis of sex protect transgender people from discrimination. That’s according to a new memo from Attorney General Jeff Sessions obtained by BuzzFeed Thursday. The new policy reverses a policy put in place in 2014 by then-Attorney General Eric Holder. The fundamental question is whether denying someone employment based on their gender identity (i.e. being transgender) constitutes discrimination on the basis of that person’s “sex,” as protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Holder held that trans people fall under that category, but Sessions has now reversed that and declared they no longer enjoy such protections. “Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se,” Sessions writes, according to BuzzFeed. Under his view, the law only covers discrimination between “men and...

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The Psychological Ripple Effects of Mass Shootings

by Karin Kamp – A mental health professional talks about the emotional and mental fallout from the violence in Las Vegas. The latest mass shooting in America — the largest in modern history — has us once again questioning the role of guns in our society and our willingness to allow weapons and ammunition to proliferate throughout. Until Sunday, when a gunman opened fire in Las Vegas and killed 59 people and wounded hundreds more, the deadliest mass shooting happened in June 2016 at an Orlando nightclub, leaving 49 dead and many injured. Since then, there have been over 520 mass shootings, which the Gun Violence Archive defines as an event in which four or more individuals are shot at or killed in the same general time and location. How do these mass shootings impact all those involved as well as those who witness them from afar? We asked Sheila A.M. Rauch, Ph.D.,...

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Mental Illness Rates are Spiking, and its Victims Feel Forgotten by the Trump Administration

by Lindsey Weedston – “I’m worried that Trump’s America doesn’t have a place for people like me.” The first week of October marks the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI’s) Mental Illness Awareness Week. Nine months into Donald Trump’s presidency — and nearly one year after his victory sparked a flurry of self-care and self-help articles — the new normal is taking a toll on Americans, and there’s still no sign of change in our policies. Nicole Nadeau, a 26-year-old from Georgia, suffers from severe anxiety, which, she says, became noticeably worse after Trump became president. After Trump’s “grab ‘em by the pussy” comments during his campaign, Nicole was “terrified that it would be more alright for women and men to be sexually assaulted” — a fear aggravated by her disorder. “The first month after he was brought into office, I was scared to leave the house,” she told ThinkProgress. Of course, mental health...

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Millions of Lives at Risk as GOP Lets CHIP Expire

by LeeAnn Hall – Nine million children in this country are at the brink of losing health coverage. What do our lawmakers say about this? Not a damn word. Why? Because they care more about themselves than our children, and our country’s future. But if they won’t speak up, we will. On Saturday, Congress allowed CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, to expire. CHIP is a partnership between states and the federal government that since 1997 has extended health care to millions who would otherwise have no access to care. As an organizer in rural Idaho in the nineties, I saw with my own eyes the difference CHIP makes in the lives of ordinary people. Thousands of children and expectant mothers in our state got access, many for the first time, to everything from checkups and healthy care to treatments for chronic asthma and cancer. The benefits of CHIP are profound,...

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Trump’s Empathy Deficit (VIDEOS)

by Sam Fulwood III – The racism is no longer thinly disguised; it’s blatant and obvious for all to witness. You would think that during the two weeks since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump would have found the proper message for the people of the U.S. territory as they struggle to reassemble their homes and lives. It’s easy to envision any of our past presidents bringing words of comfort and hope to Puerto Rico, along with a pledge of federal support to assist in the recovery. But Trump is no normal president and his overdue visit to the island on Tuesday, his first since the storm, demonstrated just how much he lacks empathy for others and selfishly craves praise for himself. At this point in both his personal history and White House tenure, the racism is no longer thinly disguised; it’s blatant and obvious for all to witness. For example, during his meeting with...

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Oxfam to Assist Puerto Rico Victims After ‘slow and inadequate’ U.S. Government Response

by Hunter – The charitable organization Oxfam does not generally respond to humanitarian crises in America or other wealthy nations; they primarily provide relief in impoverished or infrastructure-deficient regions of the world. They are making an exception in the case of the ongoing Puerto Rico crisis, and are pinning the need for such action squarely on the Trump administration’s continued lack of action. Oxfam has monitored the response in Puerto Rico closely, and we are outraged at the slow and inadequate response the US Government has mounted in Puerto Rico. Clean water, food, fuel, electricity, and health care are in desperately short supply and quickly dwindling, and we’re hearing excuses and criticism from the administration instead of a cohesive and compassionate response. The US has more than enough resources to mobilize an emergency response but has failed to do so in a swift and robust manner. Oxfam rarely responds to humanitarian emergencies...

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Bogus Stoned Driving Arrests Highlight Dubious Methods of ‘Drug Recognition Experts’

by Jacob Sullum – A lawsuit by three sober drivers who were busted for DUI questions the pot-detecting abilities of DREs. To the untrained eye, Katelyn Ebner seems completely sober during her 28-minute roadside encounter with Cobb County, Georgia, police officer Tracy Carroll, who has pulled the 23-year-old waitress over for failing to maintain her lane as she made a left turn. But Carroll, who was designated a “drug recognition expert” (DRE) after undergoing 160 hours of special training, perceives “numerous indicators” that Ebner is under the influence of marijuana. Ebner repeatedly assures him she does not “smoke weed” or “do any of that stuff” and volunteers to prove it by taking a drug test. “You’re going to jail, ma’am,” he replies. “I don’t have a magical drug test that I can give you right now.” Carroll does not need a magical drug test, because he is a magical drug test—or so the...

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