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St. Paul Is Erasing $100 Million In Medical Debt

We all deserve the right to access life-saving medical care without being trapped by staggering costs that leave us unable to pay for our housing, food and other basic needs. Over the next year, 43,000 residents of Saint Paul, Minnesota will receive a letter in the mail telling them that their medical debt – the crippling hospital bills that have been hanging over their head for years – have been paid off. Using federal pandemic relief funds, left over from the city’s response to COVID-19, to erase medical debt for our low-income neighbors is not a move without controversy: Critics, including some residents and elected officials, have argued that dealing with residents’ medical debt isn’t the role of government.

Retired New York City Teachers Rise And Run

They’ve really stepped in it. The incumbent Unity Caucus that runs the huge teachers union in New York City is facing a challenge from the Retiree Advocate slate who hope to take leadership of the powerful 70,000-person retiree chapter within the union. Ballots were mailed May 10 and will be counted June 14. The rallying issue has been the United Federation of Teachers’ collusion with the city to put municipal retirees, including retired teachers, into a for-profit Medicare Advantage plan run by Aetna. The plan would replace their traditional Medicare, which is provided premium-free along with a cost-free wraparound.

A New Doctors’ Union In The South Is A Model For Health Care Organizing

North Carolina - Each day on his commute to the clinic, Dr Crister Brady traverses the rolling farmland of Eastern North Carolina, gliding past the neon-green tobacco fields where many of his patients live and work. Brady’s clinic, the Prospect Hill Community Health Center, is one of ten federally qualified health centers operated by Piedmont Health Services Inc. The nonprofit provides comprehensive primary care services to patients who are uninsured or who receive coverage from Medicaid and Medicare. Brady’s desire to care for underserved communities dates back to his experience providing “street medicine” to the unhoused. Today he aims to use his credibility as a physician to chip away at the artificial divisions designed to separate caregivers from their patients and each other.

July 30 – March For Medicare For All

Washington, DC - The grassroots, volunteer led activist group March for Medicare for All returns to Washington D.C. on Medicare's birthday for their National Day of Action. March for Medicare for All demands national improve Medicare for All and rejects the privatization of healthcare in America. Last summer, March for Medicare for All launched in 56 different locations all the same day. This year, the primary focus will be on the nation's capital. On Saturday, July 30 at 10:30 am, marchers will meet at the southeastern corner of The Ellipse off of Constitution Ave., NW, between 15th St, NW and 17th St, NW. For those interested in attending the rally, people will start congregating at noon in Union Square off of 3rd St, SW between Madison Dr., NW and Jefferson Dr., SW. Speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.

Activists Outraged As Democrats Withdraw Trans Healthcare Bill

Democrats in Maryland recently withdrew their own bill to expand healthcare coverage for trans people, despite having a majority to pass it, leaving transgender Marylanders feeling betrayed by the party that’s long claimed to champion their rights. House Bill 746, the Trans Health Equity Act, would have forced Maryland’s Medicaid program to provide coverage for transgender people’s transition-related treatments, including hormone therapy, surgeries, and voice therapy. According to its sponsor, Delegate Anne Kaiser, some 2,000 transgender Marylanders use Medicaid. The bill easily passed Maryland’s Senate, but just as the House of Delegates’ legislative session was ending in early April, the bill mysteriously disappeared.

California Healthcare Bill Fails

Another effort to change the healthcare system in a U.S. state is dead in the water. This time, last week, lawmakers in California declined to vote on a measure whose proponents say would lead to a single-payer system in the state. Monday’s nonvote in California provides yet another instance in which a state cannot move forward with a proposal for single payer. But while supporters may argue that there just needs to be more political will, in reality, it is not impossible to achieve a true single-payer healthcare system on a state level. On a larger scale, the recent results in California show the futility of the current reformist strategy to win universal healthcare in the U.S. State-backed efforts for healthcare reform like those in California — or the push to pass the New York Health Act — have been touted by many on the Left as a path to winning universal healthcare on a national level, but they are actually counterproductive.

The Day After Election Day

For the second election in a row two of the least favored politicians in American history represent the range of choices speaks to the vacuity of the ‘process.’ In the throes of electoral passion, the insistence has been that personality and tenor are substance, hence the promise ‘to restore dignity to the presidency’ is put forward as a ready substitute for adequate healthcare, meaningful employment at a living wage, environmental repair, and real political participation. The American posture that elections create the political system has it perfectly backward. What better way to counterfeit the consent of the governed than through a system of choice controlled by establishment interests? By analogy, does the choice between two brands of corn chips define the range of food that can be eaten? Who it is that controls this process is demonstrated when the DNC mails ‘swag bags’ to rich donors as unemployment hovers above fifteen million people and millions more are expected to be made homeless in the coming weeks. And if this weren’t enough, healthcare lobbyists have already decided that Democratic campaign promises of a ‘public option’ go too far.

Health Insurance And The COVID-19 shock

The inefficiencies and problems caused by the U.S. system of tying access to health insurance to specific jobs are well known. The downsides of employer-based health insurance access have been made spectacularly visible by the COVID-19 shock—a shock that has cost millions of Americans their jobs and their access to health care in the midst of a public health catastrophe. Delinking access to health insurance from specific jobs should be a top policy priority for the long term. The most ambitious and transformational way to sever this link is to make the federal government the payer of first resort for all health care expenses—a “single-payer” plan. The federal government already is the primary insurer for all Americans over the age of 65 and for households with incomes low enough to qualify for Medicaid. The advantages of a single-payer system are large, both in ensuring consistent access to medical providers that households prefer and in restraining the often-rapid growth of health care costs. The lowest-hanging fruit in the current crisis is to have the federal government pay all expenses for COVID-19-related testing and treatment. Given the historically rapid increase in uninsurance in the first months of the COVID-19 shock, policymakers should also allow all those without insurance to enroll in Medicaid, regardless of income, for the duration of the crisis.

Cops Repeatedly Attacked And Obstructed Street Medics

Dozens of reports of police arresting medics and destroying their property have arisen since the revolt began in late May. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, police assaulted medics at their tent in a Kmart parking lot on May 31. “We announced ourselves as medics,” one medic told Unicorn Riot. “They began to launch rubber bullets and tear gas into our facility where there were no other protesters in that area, exclusively medics and those who had been wounded…” Police forced them out, occupied the space and slashed all tires in the parking lot. In Asheville, North Carolina, police destroyed a medic station by stabbing and stomping on water bottles and dismantling a table with snacks and supplies. In Denver, Colorado, demonstrators filed a class-action lawsuit against police, presenting videos of police firing projectiles at a medic who was helping an unconscious person. In Columbus, Ohio, videos show police choking a medic, ostensibly because they were filming an arrest. Still, Portland-based Rosehip Medic Collective told Truthout, “Police attack white medics a lot less than they attack other prote

The Pandemic Revealed US’s Zip Code Map Of Inequality

The stark divide in the level of health care from testing to treatment is divided by wealth and the legacy of systemic racism. In the words of Ed Yong of the Atlantic: “Chronic underfunding of public health neutered the nation’s ability to prevent the pathogen’s spread. A bloated, inefficient health-care system left hospitals ill-prepared for the ensuing wave of sickness. Racist policies that have endured since the days of colonization and slavery left Indigenous and Black Americans especially vulnerable to COVID-19.” Yong could also add Hispanics to that list, along with virtually any person of limited economic means, regardless of race. In the land of the free and the home of the brave, income and zip code determine everything. And this is not a new phenomenon. COVID-19 has both amplified and revealed these long-standing flaws, tragically reflected in its death count, but it is by no means a historical anomaly. Earlier pandemics reveal a similar pattern, suggesting a more widespread systemic problem: namely, that the high death counts relative to the rest of the world are an inescapable consequence of our for-profit, pervasively oligopolistic health care system. The problems of a for-profit health care system are exacerbated by the diversion of resources and skills into militarism, and unequal food distribution systems’ effect on diet and obesity.

During COVID-19, The Risk To Health Care Workers Has Never Been Greater

If you happen to provide health care services to actual Covid-19 patients — as a nurse or a doctor, an orderly or a physician’s assistant — this has been the year from hell. Amid the worst worldwide pandemic in over a century, you’ve been working long, intense, chaotic hours. You’ve watched patients die at rates unimaginable just six months ago. You’ve watched colleagues die. You’ve worried that you may be bringing death home to your families. If you work in health care but don’t interact with pandemic patients, the months since March haven’t exactly been easy street either. In April alone, 1.4 million health care workers lost their jobs, as virus-free Americans delayed and cancelled appointments and elective procedures. If, on the other hand, you swivel your day away in a corporate health care executive suite, these difficult and horrific months of Covid-19 have been among the most rewarding — financially — you’ve ever seen.

Reclaiming Public Health: The Communalist Healthcare Model

During the Spanish Influenza outbreak of 1918, Alfred W. Crosby, a Professor Emeritus of History, Geography, and American Studies wrote that nurses were more important than doctors during this period: “[N]either antibiotics nor medical techniques existed to cure influenza or pneumonia. Warm food, warm blankets, fresh air, and what nurses ironically call TLC — tender loving care — [kept] the patient alive until the disease passed away.” When Voltaire said that nature cures the disease, I like to think of him referring to care workers’ TLC.

Human Solidarity And A Global Health Commons

The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of the most fundamental features of the human condition: the solidarity that exists between humans across borders, between humans and all other living beings, as well as between living beings and their environments. This reminder, which obtuse nationalisms and competitive logics are already rushing to hush up, invites us to rethink what a true global political institution should be — what we will here call the “global commons of humanity.” The lessons from the pandemic also apply to other major problems that confront humanity, starting with global warming and the procession of disasters that are predicted to occur, and for which we are no more prepared than we were to confront the global virus today. In no way do our economic and political institutions arm us to face what lies ahead. It is then more urgent than ever to politically rethink the necessary conditions for the survival of humanity on Earth.

A Better Health Care System?

Suzanne Gordon, a longtime health care reporter and author of Wounds of War: How the VA Delivers Health, Healing, and Hope to the Nation’s Veterans, says the VA “outperforms the private sector with one hand tied behind its back.”   The VA delivers health care to around nine million veterans each year at more than 1,200 sites across the country. In Wounds of War, Gordon described the VA as resembling “the health care systems of almost all other industrialized nations: a full-service health care system that both pays for and delivers all types of care to those it serves.” The VA’s health care providers are salaried, rather than paid by the service, meaning they can actually spend time with their patients, and its integrated system cares for the whole patient, from when they leave the military to end-of-life care. This makes the VA uniquely invested in keeping its patients well.

Hispanic Americans On The Front Lines Of COVID-19

Workforce needs are changing and immigrants and Americans of all kinds are critical to the fight, response, and recovery that we face in the coming months. As the country continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Hispanic Americans are playing an important role on the front lines in healthcare, food supply, education, and biomedical industries. There are 2.2 million Hispanic healthcare workers (or 13.0% of the total workforce) nationwide, almost one-third of which are immigrants. Hispanic Americans are even more prominent in another essential sector of the U.S economy: the food supply chain. Hispanic workers are also on the front lines of finding a cure for coronavirus and helping to shore up America’s supply of medicines and medical supplies.
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