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HEALTH POLICIES, ANALYSIS, AND RESOURCES

The Health Policy Domain tracks and reports on policies that deal with women’s health, the Affordable Care Act, Head Start, child care and child support services, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and federal food and drug policy. This domain tracks policies emanating from the White House, the department of Health and Human Services, the US Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Our Principal Analyst is Ann Furbush, who can be reached at ann@usresistnews.org.

Latest Health Posts

 

Zero Tolerance Policy and the Mental Health Cost for Migrants

On June 27th, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold the legality of anti-abortion or “pregnancy crisis” clinics. Currently, there are 3,000 clinics in operation around the country. Because of the prevalence of these centers, women will not be adequately counseled by healthcare professionals on their current breadth of choices surrounding termination of unwanted pregnancies.

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Renewed Republican Effort to Crush Obamacare

Policy Summary In the last month, the Trump administration has introduced new attacks on  the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA/ Obamacare) most popular provisions. Last year, the inability of Republicans to repeal or replace or even amend part of the ACA compromised a...

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Trump’s Healthcare Policy is Built Around Destroying the Affordable Care Act

Trump’s Healthcare Policy is Built Around Destroying the Affordable Care Act

Brief #41–Healthcare

Policy Summary
Trump’s healthcare policy is largely built upon destroying the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and throughout the last year, he has continually attempted to destroy it brick by brick. From two other briefs reporting on this, we’ve seen that the strategy has shifted from the attempted legislation to wholly restructure and destroy the ACA. The latest attack comes by way of a decision to put a $10 billion risk adjustment program on hold in order to supposedly hold up a court decision. The risk adjustment program takes money from healthier customers in the ACA marketplace and redistributes it to the sicker customers so that there is an even spread of premium cost. This creates a stability for the market that without can make the insurance market more uncertain for the sick people that are the most vulnerable to changes. LEARN MORE

Policy Analysis
This policy comes on the back end of many Trump Administration strategies to debilitate ACA, Medicaid, and Medicare. The difference with this policy is that it could hike up insurance costs much more quickly, and right before midterm elections. This also comes after the market was beginning to even out after a couple years of financial and political uncertainty. Ultimately, all these attacks are leading to higher healthcare costs for people. This comes at an incredibly high cost to the sickest in the US, and will affect them the most. This policy comes with a slew of other healthcare policies that are debilitating American’s access to adequate healthcare. From the sheer cost of reuniting migrant children and parentstaking away from healthcare funds, to the abolishment of the individual mandate, health care costs are getting ever more expensive for Americans. There is one group who seeks to profit off of the sick, and that is the healthcare consultants. We’re forced to question the real constituents of Trump’s health care policies—his blue-collar worker base or the white collar criminals of the billionaire class? LEARN MORE

Resistance Resources
American Physicians Association (APHA)– Donate to this national physicians group dedicated to protecting and advocating for the ACA, read their materials on why the ACA is important.

As always, contact your state’s elected officials and voice your concerns or support.  Regularly check social media to see how you can get involved in local protests and rallies.

This brief was compiled by Sophia Adams. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact sophia@USResistnews.org

photo by rawpixel

Trump Administration’s Latest Intimidation Tactics used in the UN to Crush Pro-Breastfeeding Resolution

Trump Administration’s Latest Intimidation Tactics used in the UN to Crush Pro-Breastfeeding Resolution

Brief #39—Healthcare

Policy Summary
Early this month, the Trump Administration bullied other delegates into changing a World Health Organization resolution supporting the endorsement of breastfeeding in countries. The administration has been proven to have ties to companies producing breastfeeding alternatives, and this resolution would have dramatically hurt business in many developed countries. The resolution was aimed to encourage women to continue breastfeeding their young, as it has been proven to be the healthiest for mothers and newborn babies. Ecuador had been the first country to introduce the measure, but after being threatened with a loss of crucial military aid, they quickly dropped the resolution introduction. Several other countries have been reported to have withdrawn support in fear of falling into bad favor with the United States’. LEARN MORE

Policy Analysis
Not only does this policy discourage diplomacy and discourse, it allows Trump Administration officials to use intimidation tactics to push their agenda forward in the UN. This action also indicates the partiality that the administration has with all their business ties, but particularly companies producing breast feeding alternatives. The actions of the Trump Administration further convey the main aim of the administration, to get rich through political power. UN officials from the US ignore the positives of this resolution. Aiming to encourage more women to breast feed, especially in developing countries, normalizes the behavior and is much healthier for the development of babies in the currently underserved populations. In developed countries, it does the same, and encourages less waste and consumption of unnecessary products. This policy harms not only the US on a global stage, but it leaves behind the priority of women and children’s’ health. The actions threaten the relationship with the WHO, and the UN, which in turn alienates us further from the relative global peace the US has been able to establish within the UN. LEARN MORE

Resistance Resources

  • 1,000 Days Initiative-Learn about the importance of the first 1,000 days between a women’s pregnancy and the birth of her child and how certain health decisions (especially breast feeding!)  aim to reduce infant and mother mortality.
  • As always, contact your state’s elected officials and voice your concerns or support.  Regularly check social media to see how you can get involved in local protests and rallies.

Contact
This brief was compiled by Sophia Adams. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact sophia@USResistnews.org

Photo by: unsplash-logoWes Hicks

Zero Tolerance Policy and the Mental Health Cost for Migrants

Zero Tolerance Policy and the Mental Health Cost for Migrants

Brief #38—Healthcare

Policy Summary
On June 27th, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold the legality of anti-abortion or “pregnancy crisis” clinics. Currently, there are 3,000 clinics in operation around the country. Because of the prevalence of these centers, women will not be adequately counseled by healthcare professionals on their current breadth of choices surrounding termination of unwanted pregnancies. Anti-abortion clinics have often spread false information surrounding abortions and avoided informing women about the wide variety of contraceptive and termination options available for free or low cost. They are often falsely advertised as “clinics” but most of the mission relies on dissuading women from having abortions and using contraceptives–to the point of putting many women at unnecessary risk.  Ultimately, these clinics are misleading women about their healthcare options, but Justice Clarence Thomas and other conservative justices voted to allow these clinics to operate on the grounds of free speech. LEARN MORE

Policy Analysis
This decision was founded on the argument of the right to free speech, but seems to ignore the importance of women’s rights to safe and affordable healthcare. Limiting access to contraceptives and abortion harms families and limits choices for vulnerable women and families who do not have resources for additional children. This law also assists with the rampant spread of misinformation surrounding safe sexual practices. Additionally, access to birth control, termination information, and abortion services have been proven necessary for a sufficient national healthcare system. This case is only the first in what will become an assault on women’s rights to safe healthcare, and the nation’s right to education on safe sexual practices and options for birth control. The Trump Administrations’ and Republican Party’s religious platform should not limit the right of a woman to know the ramifications of pregnancies and the medical options available for birth control. LEARN MORE


Resistance Resources

  • Planned Parenthood-Support this organization’s cause to help people understand the importance of sexual health and family planning.
  • As always, contact your state’s elected officials and voice your concerns or support.  Regularly check social media to see how you can get involved in local protests and rallies.

Contact
This brief was compiled by Sophia Adams. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact sophia@USResistnews.org

(Image via Huntington Post)

Trump’s Zero Tolerance Policy Impacts Mental Health of Migrant Children

Trump’s Zero Tolerance Policy Impacts Mental Health of Migrant Children

Brief #37—Health

Policy Summary
Due to the recent Trump policies enforcing a “Zero Tolerance” immigration stance, children have been separated and detained against their will from their parents at the border and around the country. This policy is troubling not only for its civil and human rights violation, but also the horrendous and long-term effects on the mental health of the children. One magazine suggests such traumatic experiences will create angrier and more aggressive children, and can even lower the IQs of these children.  Children have additionally been reported to have been drugged in these facilities, which can be deeply harmful to  long term mental health.  These behaviors are classified under an “adverse childhood experience” (ACE).

Analysis
These zero tolerance policies are deeply disturbing and anti-American. Even more appalling are the long term effects of these traumatic experiences on children. Children will suffer incredibly difficult lives because the psychological effects of these detention centers, and the stress of possible deportation.  Research psychologists consider ACE to seriously affect children in their future lives as well, making it harder for them to obtain and keep jobs, stay in school, and ultimately keep people living below the poverty line and more reliant on government assistance. At a certain point some country will have to carry the social burden for the children affected by the “Zero Tolerance” Policy. If the US decides to keep these children the moral burden will be upon us. If these children are deported, their home countries, although ill equipped to do so, will have the responsibility handed to them.LEARN MORE

Resistance Resources

Photo By Eric Gay/Associated Press

Renewed Republican Effort to Crush Obamacare

Renewed Republican Effort to Crush Obamacare

Policy Summary
In the last month, the Trump administration has introduced new attacks on  the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA/ Obamacare) most popular provisions. Last year, the inability of Republicans to repeal or replace or even amend part of the ACA compromised a majority of their failures as a party. However, 2018 has proven to show their willingness to destroy healthcare survives like a cockroach that just can’t be stamped out. The administration is seeking to dismantle both the Supreme Court case that upheld individual mandates and is challenging providers granting health insurance for people without regard to preexisting conditions. In order to do this, the administration and the Justice Department  is encouraging a federal court in Texas to look at the legality of principles in the individual mandate to buy health insurance. Additionally, congressional republicans have effectively given up on the promised overhaul of medicare, which puts the party in a difficult spot before the November midterms. LEARN MORE

Analysis:
As healthcare becomes a primary topic for discussion in the 2018 midterm elections, the latest administration attack on the ACA and continued inaction on medicare reform threatens the improvement of the healthcare system.  A major part of the Republican legislative action has been to dismantle the current U.S. healthcare system. This further action against the ACA takes the fight a step further and would threaten several other states’ current systems relying on the individual mandate. One estimate is that it would cost other states half of a trillion dollars in healthcare costs to absorb the impact of losing the funds from the individual mandates. Even more terrifying, this could mean that sick people could be denied healthcare, which would exclude a key demographic of the healthcare market. The partisanship shown from the Justice Department additionally threatens the integrity of the department’s investigations on important issues. Additionally, Trump has encouraged none of this action take place before the November midterms, so there will need to be more harsh scrutiny over the continued attacks on the ACA policy. Ideally, people will still have access to affordable care act until November, but come 2019, who knows what will be dismantled? Will a single payer system still exist for those most needing it? Will medicare be sorely underfunded for a second year in a row? The Trump administration should answer these questions before the November midterms, but they likely will not discuss such a tenuous topic in order to try to maintain control of the bicameral legislature. LEARN MORE

Resistance Resources:

This brief was compiled by Sophia Adams. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact sophia@USResistnews.org.

Photo by rawpixel

Department of Justice fumbles with systemic sexual misconduct

Brief 35

Policy Summary:

A recent report that came out from the Justice Department (DOJ) appears to indicate that multiple sexual harassment charges have been filed within the DOJ.  The new policies and guidelines set up by the DOJ seek to create a harassment free work environment through a zero tolerance policy, but it’s vital to note that survivors often need more support than simply having the perpetrator removed. Simply incorporating a zero tolerance policy will not be enough to address the systemic issues of harassment and favoritism at the DOJ, there needs to be a culture shift to support and advocate for all employees, but especially survivors of sexual harassment and violence.

It appears that the DOJ is focused more on maintaining the credibility of the agency than about the mental health of those affected by sexual harassment. One particular case illustrates how little the DOJ is focusing on the survivors of sexual harassment because they simply switch the offenders to a different department, rather than working with the survivor to set up a safer environment for herself. This has been a pattern as discussed in the Washington Post as early as last February. This appears to have affected the overall work environment, with reports surfacing that accuse leaders in the death penalty unit  in the DOJ of creating a culture of sexism and favoritism. With the #MeToo movement gaining traction especially in the United States Entertainment industry, there are even more eyes on the DOJ to figure out how to address systemic sexual harassment in their department.

LEARN MORE

Analysis:

Ultimately, there’s a large focus on getting sued versus actively changing the culture of sexual harassment and violence within a federal agency. Trump hasn’t actively put forth any type of resources to further investigate the negative culture at the DOJ, but officials within the DOJ have made statements recommending further investigation into the extent of the problem. As often goes with these cases, it’s unclear how changes will be made to further support survivors of sexual violence and harassment in the workforce. The focus is often made on simply covering up the story and moving forward in a way that satiates the needs of the media and recovers optics, versus supporting survivors in adequate ways.

LEARN MORE

Take Action:

Equal Rights Advocates – Read more about ways you can become a better advocate and bystander to call out workplace harassment and donate time or money to this organization dedicated to improving equity for women.

Time’s Up – Support this legal fund dedicated to providing aid to women undergoing legal battles around sexual misconduct and violence.

As always, contact your state’s elected officials and voice your concerns or support.

This Brief was compiled by Sophia Adams. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this Brief please contact sophia@usresistnews.org.

American Patients First or American Pharmaceutical Executives First? Trump’s plan to lower drug prices and buffer Big Pharma

Brief 36

Policy Summary:

Trump and his HHS secretary, Alex Alzar, took to the Rose Garden to unveil his new plan, “American Patients First” (APF)  to cut costs for prescription and over the counter (OTC) drugs in the US. His speech and initiatives come after criticism over the rising cost of healthcare and medications. Basing many of his policies in a strategy to remove low cost medications from foreign competitors, APF seeks to cut rebates and deals for middlemen in developing and marketing medications. Another key aspect of the policy  are recommendations  that aim to cut attributes of Part B to Part D of the Medicare programs which covers senior drug costs. This would aim to limit special protections for key medications and lower the cost of drugs overall. HHS Secretary, Alzar, also has made comments that indicate he would cut the Part D rebate altogether.

LEARN MORE

Analysis:

Most of the outlined initiatives come in as mere suggestions or still as questions. A lot of these policies will require further legislation from Congress, and not be able to be implemented in a swift succession of executive orders. As far as the Part D plan is concerned, this could impact a lot of senior citizens, which largely make up the Republican base and Trump supporters. Cutting drug rebates will not have immediate effects on lowering drug prices, and it wouldn’t effectively cover all drugs in similar ways, especially those that are more popular and necessary for access. This could affect how certain demographics vote come the midterm and general elections, since healthcare is a number one issue for many Americans. Ultimately, these initiatives are a business minded approach to creating more access to healthcare. What Trump doesn’t understand is that opening up more opportunities for Big Pharma to get involved in drug pricing in the US leaves more room for business control of pricing, and could impact the rest of the world’s drug pricing. Big Pharma can get more involved in drug pricing because it will be able to set prices and market prices in advertising. The cut of foreign competitors from the domestic market will also allow for pharmaceutical companies to gain more control of the industry and therefore, pricing of drugs.

LEARN MORE

Take Action:

Accessing Generic Drugs– Encourage family and friends to purchase generic drugs at a cheaper cost, this Consumer Report will tell you the best drugs to buy at a generic price. This will assist in eliminating the financial support that Big Pharma gets and will help you get a better price on drugs. Look further for hospitals that start nonprofits to get better access to necessary life saving drugs.

Health Care Advocates-Consider using this resource for major healthcare decisions. Their knowledge and experience can help you make the best decision for your wallet and for your health.

As always, contact your state’s elected officials and voice your concerns or support.

This Brief was compiled by Sophia Adams. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this Brief please contact sophia@usresistnews.org.

Bipartisan Strategy to Attack Opioid Crisis Mirrors Federal HIV/AIDS Policies

Brief # 34 Health Policy

Policy Summary:

Senators Marco Rubio, Elizabeth Warren, Susan Collins, and Maggie Hassan have released a bipartisan bill, Hospice Safe Drug Disposal Act, to encourage the disposal of unused opioids by home hospice care providers. This would ultimately aim to reduce the amount of opioids in circulation. Typically, hospice providers aren’t allowed to assist with the disposal of opioids after their use in care of patients, and frequently these opioid medications are given to families and left unused and vulnerable to abuse. This is relevant because about 70% of people who have an opioid addiction report that they first got them from a relative or someone who was prescribed them. The senators have worked together to hopefully curb the opioid crisis by tackling one of the root sources of the addiction problem.

LEARN MORE

Analysis:

This strategy is an interesting parallel to the HIV/AIDS response from the federal government. Similar to the HIV syringe services program under the Federal Response, the Hospice Safe Drug Disposal Act, aims to stop the spread of opioids through a legislative change in medical policy.  Warren has said before that she supports increasing the level of funding for the opioid crisis  to match or even exceed what HIV/AIDS crisis has received through PEPFAR. While the omnibus spending package contains $4.6 billion to fight the opioid crisis, experts say that it isn’t enough and Warren repeated this claim after mentioning the she has modeled some of her other legislative approaches after HIV/AIDS legislation. This could be an indicator of more such strategies because the recently appointed Director of the Center for Disease Control, Dr. Robert Redfeld Jr., is a prominent AIDS researcher. He has been criticized because of his positions on abstinence only AIDS prevention, but seems to be quickly changing his approach as head of the CDC. He has also discussed his ideas for prevention in the opioid crisis as part of his priorities for heading into office.

LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources:

 NLC Opioid Action Report -Learn more about the National League of Counties and Cities report on community engagement and action for leaders on combating the opioid crisis.

As always, contact your state’s elected officials and voice your concerns.

This Brief was compiled by Sophia Adams. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this Brief please contact sophia.lorene30@gmail.com .

 

 

Mental Health and Gun Violence: Rhetoric or Necessary Policy?

Brief 33

Policy Summary:

There are many legislation proposals that are suggesting further limitations placed on those that are mentally ill and their access to guns. However, there are several loopholes which allow those with documented mental illnesses to purchase weapons. There have been recent movements to help block these loopholes. This includes further specifying the broad mental health categories which allow differentiation between commitments to outpatient treatment or guardian care, blocking access to purchasing guns from private sellers (e.g. buying at gun shows), and increasing accessibility to medical records which show possible violent behavior. Trump has also paved the way for open access to guns for as many Americans as possible, even those with a mental illness. Policy suggestions on both sides of the aisle have attempted to limit this access through closing some of the loopholes that exist for those that have documented mental illness. The problem of this lies not in the mental health policies around gun control, but in the presence of guns themselves.

LEARN MORE

Analysis:

The common strategy for conservatives to use to get out of applying common sense gun reform is blaming the problem of rampant US gun violence on solely the poor mental health of the active shooters. This is also actually working to convince most Americans that the gun violence problem is rooted not in access to guns, but the taboo of mental illness. The American Psychiatric Association has proven that there has been little research claiming a correlation between gun violence and mental illness. Limiting access to weapons for those with documented mental illness has been shown to reduce gun violence, but it’s not the main catalyst. There have been strong correlations to instances of bullying, but there hasn’t been significant connections between mental illness and gun violence in mass shootings. Ultimately, the broader question around mental illness and gun violence lies in access. Current legislation doesn’t limit the access of those without a documented mental illness or general public access to military style assault rifles. Common sense gun reform has often included background checks, but what’s the point if the buyer doesn’t have indicators of a violent history or if a buyer finds a military assault rifle at a gun show? This has been the central issue with gun control advocates: limiting access to more dangerous weapons for everyone, not just those with a mental illness.

LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources:

March for Our Lives- an organization started after the Parkland school shooting which aims to unify advocates for gun control around relevant issues. Consider donating or canvassing during the midterm elections on these issues with this organization.

Alliance for Gun Responsibility Foundation– Learn about how this organization is aiming to destigmatize the association between gun violence and mental illness. Consider donating or attending a conference if possible.

As always, contact your state’s elected officials and voice your concerns or support.

This Brief was compiled by Sophia Adams. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this Brief please contact sophia@usresistnews.org.

 

 

The Trump Administration’s Latest Assault on Healthcare for Women and LGBTQIA+

Policy Summary:

In the past year, Trump and his administration have championed actions that threaten the right to adequate healthcare for women and LGBTQIA+ populations. The latest actions in the past month were found primarily in a report last week detailing the elimination of online resources for lesbian and bisexual health on the Department of Health and Human Services website.  The report, from the Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project, details major flaws in the HHS website. It details redactions made specifically related to health resources and fact sheets for lesbian and bisexual populations, with additional information on domestic violence, breast cancer, and men’s health. This action was coupled with rhetoric on the recent Supreme Court case (National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) versus Becerra) on faith-based pregnancy crisis centers misleading women about healthcare options relating to abortion. The case is being spearheaded by an action group called Alliance Defending Freedom, which is one of many Christian Anti-Abortion organizations. On the state level, Mississippi and Kentucky have banned abortions after the fifteenth (Mississippi) and eleventh (Kentucky) week of pregnancy. These bans have been struck down by federal judges, but it’s not too soon to question the other methods that these state legislatures have concerning banning abortions for women.  The NIFLA vs. Becerra case, coupled with Trump’s blatant support for Pro-Life movements and states banning abortions, leads one to question the status and future of adequate healthcare for women, especially those in marginalized groups, in this country.

LEARN MORE ABOUT NIFLA V. BECERRA

LEARN MORE ABOUT HHS ELIMINATION OF LGBTQ+ RESOURCES

Analysis:

Each of these actions has permanent impacts within the care for women and LQBTQIA+ individuals in the United States. The removal of resources and fact sheets on a website not only shows the true nature of support for these groups from the Trump administration, but it strips people of knowledge relating to their identity. This was one specific strategy in an entire plan that excludes marginalized groups from the HHS’s outreach. The impacts of NIFLA versus Beccera could be much more impactful, especially with Trump’s support for abstinence education and pregnancy crisis centers within Title X. If  NIFLA wins the case, then faith based pregnancy crisis centers could continue misleading patients, especially women from marginalized groups (lower socioeconomic class, minorities) in more populous places like Texas and California. These centers could become more prevalent and widely used than healthcare clinics like Planned Parenthood, and more women could be subject to unwanted pregnancies and misinformation about their sexual health.  Furthermore, Mississippi and Kentucky’s laws pushing up the banning of abortions from twenty to fifteen and eleven weeks has no founding in legal or medical precedents. This legislation shows the atmosphere within Republican legislatures and their willingness to dismantle abortion rights for women. Ultimately, the combination of these policies prove the continued apathy and negative effects of the Trump administration’s policies on women and LGBTQIA+ healthcare.

LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources:

Fenway Institute– Learn about how you can support LGBTQIA+ individuals and donate time or money to this organization that advocates for LGBTQIA+ healthcare.

Planned Parenthood-Support this organization’s cause to help people understand the importance of sexual health and family planning.

As always, contact your state’s elected officials and voice your concerns or support.

This Brief was compiled by Sophia Adams. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this Brief please contact sophia@usresistnews.org.

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