We welcome expressions, support and collaboration from like-minded organizations

 

 

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

 

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

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. 

read more

Trump’s White House Opioid Summit: Indication of Continued Inaction

Since Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in October of 2017, there has been very little successful action on preventative measures and combatting the effects of the crisis. The medication assistance “waiver” program suggested by HHS Secretary Alzar has only been filed by five different governors. This is due…

read more

Work Requirements for Medicaid

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a letter on January 11th allowing states to impose work requirements for Medicaid eligibility. Eight states, (AR, AZ, IN, KS, ME, NH, UT, and WI) have pending requests for work requirements as a condition for Medicaid eligibility and CMS has already approved Kentucky’s…

read more

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.

Trump’s White House Opioid Summit: Indication of Continued Inaction

March 6, 2018

Summary

On Thursday, March 1, 2018, the White House held an Opioid Epidemic Summit to discuss possible solutions for the current public health emergency. In true Trump fashion, there was much discussion of possible policy implementations, but little action. Trump notably suggested that a capital charge should be set up for fentanyl traffickers and heroin drug dealers, similar to the death penalty set up in Singapore. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Alzar, encouraged states to use medication assistance programs or “wavers”  provided through federal programs like Medicaid. In addition, Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Ben Carson, made efforts to continue to discuss how communities could provide more housing and resources for those suffering from addiction. The strongest action came from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who filed a statement of interest in suing opioid manufacturers and distributors. To do this, he set up a Prescription Interdiction and Litigation Task Force. Other cabinet secretaries discussed strategies to close the supply chain of fentanyl from China and Mexico. This would mostly encourage China and Mexico to make fentanyl illegal in their countries as well. Ultimately, the summit reviewed multiple policy options, but there is still little action from the administration on the crisis.

LEARN MORE

Analysis

Since Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in October of 2017, there has been very little successful action on preventative measures and combatting the effects of the crisis. The medication assistance “waiver” program suggested by HHS Secretary Alzar has only been filed by five different governors. This is due to Trump’s suggestions to cut Medicaid programs which have greatly decreased states’ interest in forming a reliance on the medication assistance programs. Closing off the supply chain from Mexico and China could help with decreasing the amount of fentanyl trafficked, but only 1,485 pounds of fentanyl were seized by Customs and Border Protection officials from border and postal service intersection, compared to individual US distributors where as much as 141 pounds were seized from two traffickers. As for AG Sessions’ Task Force on Litigation, that appears to have been the most effective means of eradicating online trafficking sites like Alpha Bay and holding manufacturers and distributors accountable. Even so, it’s unclear how effective this policy will be since opioid manufacturers and distributors have provided close to $4 billion dollars in advocacy and lobbying in Congress for pharmaceutical companies profiting off of the current crisis. Litigating these conspirators will not stop them from advocating for the distribution of these drugs in the beginning of the supply chain. Additionally, Sessions has made comments negating the role of Big Pharma in the opioid crisis, and blaming medical marijuana instead for much of the problems.

No new policy has been implemented since 2017 from the White House or the Department of Health and Human Services, and it appears that will remain the status quo.

LEARN MORE

Engagement 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.


 

USRESISTLogo

Alzar’s Proposed ACA Change Increases “Junk Insurance” and Insurance Premiums for Nation’s Sickest

March 4, 2018

Summary

On Tuesday, February 20th, Secretary of Health and Human services, Alex Alzar announced a proposed rule to offer more “short term, limited duration health insurance.” This proposed rule would shorten the maximum time period of all Affordable Care Act (ACA) health care insurance plans from 12 to 3 months. This would increase the presence of short term insurance plans in the ACA marketplace giving more options to Americans who can’t commit to a longer plan like college students taking a semester off or people in between jobs. In a continued effort to undermine the ACA, this change is one of many coming from Trump’s October 2017 Executive Order 13813, “Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States.” The Executive Order is an attempt to reverse and dismantle the ACA’s protections for marketplaces, and ensuring quality plans for individuals not able to afford more expensive plans. The latest change would create more options for cheaper insurance, but not ensure those plans’ qualityLEARN MORE

Analysis

Part of ensuring quality plans under the ACA that include vital benefits meant limiting the existence of these short term plans. This new change will allow for more insurance carriers to offer cheaper plans that exclude important benefits–the reason most of these people need more extensive insurance plans in the first place. It is predicted that between 100,000 and 200,000 of those insured on the 12 month long plan will switch to these lower quality, shorter plans. This will also likely increase the cost of premiums for those that need more extensive coverage, those already burdened by higher medical expenses. After a federal comment period, this law will take place sometime in April or early May. Some states, like California, that prefer the longer coverage have already proposed legislation to prevent this change. LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources

  • NCHC – Learn more about the National Coalition on Healthcare and how they focus on ensuring healthcare reform for vulnerable populations and what this proposal would mean for the country’s sickest.
  • As always, contact your state’s elected officials and voice your concerns.

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


 

USRESISTLogo

Trump’s 2019 Budget Proposal Slashes Health and Welfare Program Funding

February 12, 2018

Policy Summary

On Monday, February 12, President Trump released a 2019 budget proposal. The proposal calls for massive cuts to social welfare programs such as food stamps, housing subsidies, and health insurance. Trump’s proposal would cut food stamp funding by almost 30% over the next decade. Part of these cost savings would come from a government initiative called America’s Harvest Box that would cut SNAP recipients’ benefits in half and instead deliver packaged, U.S.-grown, processed and canned food to the recipients, saving money but severely limiting poor American’s food options. The proposal would also cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by 14%, instate work requirements for housing vouchers, and cut Section 8 vouchers by nearly $1 billion. These changes would cause 250,000 low-income families to lose housing assistance. Trump also wants to cut health care for low-income Americans. The proposal would cut Medicaid funding by $250 billion over the next decade. LEARN MORE

Analysis

While the budget proposal has a ways to go before becoming law, it reflects the President’s goals and priorities in office. He continues to cut taxes for large corporations and wealthy Americans while slashing welfare programs. Were the new budget to pass homelessness and hunger would grow among the most vulnerable populations, while rich Americans and corporations become richer. Many Americans would lose essential health care as well. Slashing programs that help the poor widens income inequality and limits upward mobility for poor Americans. Cuts like these were largely rejected in Congress last year and the budget bill that recently passed actually increased discretionary spending. Nevertheless, Trump’s budget proposal sets the bar for negotiations and reflects the priorities of the President. LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources

This brief was compiled by Ann Furbush. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact ann@usresistnews.org.


 

Work Requirements for Medicaid

Letter issued on January 11, 2018

Note: This brief updates previous entitlement programs briefs. For more information, please see the April 12, 2017 brief on work requirements for Medicaid.

Summary

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a letter on January 11th allowing states to impose work requirements for Medicaid eligibility. Eight states, (AR, AZ, IN, KS, ME, NH, UT, and WI) have pending requests for work requirements as a condition for Medicaid eligibility and CMS has already approved Kentucky’s weaver. Previous administrations did not approve work requirements for Medicaid because the guidelines do not align with the program’s purpose of promoting health care coverage. The letter asserts that the new policy assists “states in their efforts to improve Medicaid enrollee health and well-being through incentivizing work and community engagement.” LEARN MORE 

Analysis

Six in 10 nonelderly adults that receive Medicaid benefits are already working. Most of the remaining recipients are not working due to illness, disability, school, or caregiving responsibility, leaving only 7% of nonelderly, Medicaid eligible adults subject to work requirements. Even so, all recipients would have to verify that they are working, looking for a job, or training for employment. States would need to pay for the staff and administrative processes to enforce work requirements. Some eligible recipients may lose coverage due to miscommunication or paperwork errors. In many states, working at minimum wage to adhere to Medicaid work requirements would cause recipients to lose Medicaid eligibility because they would earn too much to qualify.  LEARN MORE 

Engagement Resources

  • Contact Your State Officials – Voice your opinion on the matter to the people who make these important decisions!
  • Families USA – Learn more about Medicaid and how it affects families. Families USA supports the expansion of Medicaid to boost state economies and strengthen the health care system.

This brief was compiled by Ann Furbush. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact ann@usresistnews.org.


 

Trump Administration Cracks Down on Legal Marijuana

January 4, 2018

Summary

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice would reestablish federal marijuana laws as a priority. His announcement goes against the Obama-era Cole Memo guidelines that deprioritized enforcing federal marijuana laws and gave states the freedom to establish their own legislation. The new memo stirred confusion in the states that have already legalized recreational use of marijuana, such as California where cannabis became legal just a few days before Session’s announcement. Users in states where marijuana is legal will not have trouble with state officials but could be prosecuted by federal officials. This contradiction has stirred fear and confusion in the booming industry. It is still unclear how the changes will affect medical marijuana. LEARN MORE

Analysis

Some entrepreneurs think Session’s action was more of a political show than an actual threat. Sessions has always been a strong opponent to marijuana and is quoted comparing cannabis to heroin and saying “good people don’t smoke marijuana” and that he thought the KKK was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.” Many feel that marijuana regulation should be similar to that of alcohol because marijuana is safer than alcohol and even has some health benefits. A Gallup Poll recently revealed that a record 64% of Americans support marijuana legalization. Executive director of the Drug and Policy Alliance Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno points out that marijuana legalization is much more popular than Sessions or Trump and she expects it to outlive them both. LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources

This brief was compiled by Ann Furbush. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact ann@usresistnews.org.


 

Pin It on Pinterest

USRESISTLogo

Get Just-In-Time Briefs on Administration Policies and How to Resist Them

Subscribe to get free one-page policy summaries and analysis. Stay updated with what the Administration, Congress and the Supreme Court are doing.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

USRESISTLogo

Get Just-In-Time Briefs on Administration Policies and How to Resist Them

Subscribe to get free one-page policy summaries and analysis. Stay updated with what the Administration, Congress and the Supreme Court are doing.

You have Successfully Subscribed!