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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

 

Time Out: Let’s Talk Health Care Rhetoric

We interrupt a regularly scheduled brief to bring you a dissection of healthcare rhetoric. If you’ve been paying any attention to the midterm elections, or just watching/reading/absorbing by osmosis the news in the last few months, you know that healthcare reform is a...

read more

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.

read more

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...

read more
Time Out: Let’s Talk Health Care Rhetoric

Time Out: Let’s Talk Health Care Rhetoric

We interrupt a regularly scheduled brief to bring you a dissection of healthcare rhetoric. If you’ve been paying any attention to the midterm elections, or just watching/reading/absorbing by osmosis the news in the last few months, you know that healthcare reform is a hot button issue. Pretty much every candidate in the game is talking about it, be it Beto O’Rourke in Texas promising universal healthcare or Bernie Sanders promising medicare for all. Healthcare in general is quite confusing, but I find the terminology around it to be quite muddled. So, I’ve attempted to research and create a cheat sheet of definitions and diagrams to help our readers understand the discussion around healthcare reform in the US.

Healthcare: In general, this is the system that provides mental and physical health services. The United States does not have any universal healthcare system, rather it is called a “hybrid” system which is both public (owned and operated by the government) and private (typically for-profit companies owned and operated by a board of directors). These medical care companies (like hospitals or private practices owned by physicians) vary immensely, but most work with insurance companies to assist with medical billing and offsetting the upfront cost of care and government programs to help with financially offsetting the cost of those services to people that cannot afford them. There’s also two federal government programs that currently provide healthcare for older and poor people, which are known as medicare and medicaid.

 

Okay, so know that we have somewhat simplified the phrase healthcare, let’s talk about the problems.

The biggest issues in the United States with the current healthcare system boil down to the exorbitant cost.

The cost is so prohibitive in fact, that a lot of people are not getting any healthcare and so more people are dying of totally preventable illnesses and are just generally more uncomfortable because they do not have access to affordable, reliable medical care. Democrats have proposed changing the hybrid system to a completely public system that is funded through tax dollars. However, not all democrats are created equally and disagree about how public to make the system. This is how we arrived at where we are now, throwing a bunch of different terms around to talk about different degrees of the same type of healthcare reform.

Universal Healthcare

 

a health care system that ensures basic medical coverage for every citizen of the country

 

Medicare for All

 

This system was actually a bill proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, and has become known as the main Democrat stump speech phrase (which only deepens the ambiguity). It is a national system (federal level) ensures total physical and mental medical coverage for every single person regardless of employment status, class, pre existing conditions, or geography. It would ensure that patients would pay into the system directly, not through an alternative private insurance company. The funding from this would come from various tax increases on upper classes.
National Health Plan

 

This is technically a hybrid healthcare system (orginally based on an insurance system) organized by the government that uses public agencies, private companies, or a combination of both that would provide healthcare to all citizens regardless of class, geography, employment status, preexisting conditions, etc. The term is also used to refer to a single payer, universal system, so it’s important to understand the context of this phrase.
Single Payer This is probably the most technically accurate and specific term, but is used interchangeably with “medicare for all.” It is a federal system that will cover any citizen that pays into the program. There are no premiums, co-pays, or deductibles. However, the government does not own the healthcare facilities or directly employ workers. It merely pays the bills and sets the price for consumers.

 

“Under a single-payer system, all residents of the U.S. would be covered for all medically necessary services, including doctor, hospital, preventive, long-term care, mental health, reproductive health care, dental, vision, prescription drug and medical supply costs.”

Socialized Medicine A healthcare system that provides physical and mental health services to citizens. All services are completely owned and operated by the government.

 

 

 

You may be wondering how the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) fits into this. Well, the ACA was a stepping stone to get to the Democratic Party’s (or at least the more progressive democrats) goal of universal healthcare. It established a system so that everyone had to prove access to affordable care in a government regulated marketplace, known as the individual mandate. Additionally, there were many tax changes and benefit subsidies that alleviated the cost of this new burden, and expansions to Medicaid and Medicare. The ACA also prohibited the use of pre-existing conditions as a reason to deny people health insurance. But, it was not completely public, the healthcare system set up by the ACA just ensured that the premiums (payment for health insurance) would be kept minimal for people that had trouble affording healthcare, but it did not legislate very substantial insurance industry reform or much of the private healthcare industry (especially large pharmaceutical companies). Ultimately, it is still very much reliant on a hybrid system of healthcare.

Hopefully this clarifies what candidates, news outlets, and elected officials mean when they use a variety of buzzwords to discuss healthcare. Please keep your eyes and ears open to these terms and how they are used to indicate certain healthcare reform, and learn more accurate definitions as these terms change and include or exclude certain key features.

This Brief was posted by USRESIST NEWS Analyat Sophia Adams;  Contact Sophie@usresistnews.org

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Trump’s Medicaid Requirements Could Push Thousands Off Healthcare

Trump’s Medicaid Requirements Could Push Thousands Off Healthcare

Brief #42—Health Policy

Policy Summary
This week, the Trump Administration enacted more regulations on Medicaid that would allow smaller states to tighten their eligibility requirements. This could push more people off of the Medicaid plans. The primary issue is the work requirement, which means people currently on Medicaid have to be seeking a job or currently in employment within six months of signing on to the plan. The other requirement is that beneficiaries cannot be participating in illegal drug use and they would be tested before they receive benefits from Medicaid. Since states set the requirements for Medicaid, the compromises and implementation of these requirements will be on a state by state basis. LEARN MORE

Policy Analysis
Most of the states that are planning to change Medicaid requirements are traditionally conservative, so this change wouldn’t be as hard hitting and broad as some other changes Trump has tried to make, especially around the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. However, in states like Kentucky, estimates have said that this could kick off as many as 95,000 people from coverage. This could have disastrous effects, not only to those being direct beneficiaries, but on children and other dependents, who rely on Medicaid for healthcare coverage. Not only that, but it could ultimately cost the healthcare industry and public taxpayers much more if people go without insurance and end up needing healthcare. LEARN MORE

Resistance Resources

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 Marcelo Leal

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.

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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.

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