SEIU Members Speak Out to Stop AHCA’s Devastating Impact on Healthcare, Jobs
Kimberly N. Alleyne
The numbers on jobs, insurance coverage and premiums reveal how devastating the AHCA would be to working people
Republican members of Congress who voted for the American Health Care Act (AHCA) say no one will be harmed or lose coverage under healthcare repeal, butinformation released by SEIU shows otherwise.
The numbers on jobs, insurance coverage and premiums reveal how devastating the AHCA would be to working people, in 17 swing states, and in competitive congressional districts where Republicans voted “yes” to pass along higher healthcare costs to the vast majority of Americans. Even worse, estimates from the Congressional Budget Office show Medicaid funding would be slashed by $834 billion under the AHCA. Now, doctors, nurses, home care workers and their consumers, are speaking out more forcefully than ever before on behalf of patients, their jobs and their lives.
“House Republicans are putting millions of their constituents’ lives at risk—including some of my patients,” said Jessica Edwards, a doctor from New Jersey, where 509,800 people would lose healthcare coverage under the AHCA.
Since most home care services and nursing home care is funded through Medicaid, people such as Patricia Walker, a Tampa, Fla., home care worker, and Belinda Brewer, her consumer, face a real threat. “I heard someone on the news say the healthcare fight is back on. As far as I am concerned, the fight never ended. It’s an everyday fight, and we worry all the time about what will happen to us without Medicaid,” says Walker. “We worry about each other. I worry she won’t have anyone to help her take care of herself, and she worries that I will be out of a job.” In Florida alone, 1.2 million people could lose Medicaid coverage.
Working people with representatives on both sides of the aisle want a bipartisan solution that expands and improves healthcare and protects jobs. “I voted for President Trump, but I am beginning to regret my decision. I worry that the proposed bill would cause my son to lose his healthcare coverage,” says Dawn Ammon, a nursing home worker from California where 207,070 jobs are at risk.
SEIU members such as Lee Ann Howell, a nursing home LPN from Washington, Pa., could feel the feel brunt of the AHCA in two ways.
“As a nurse, I know cuts to Medicaid would dramatically affect the quality of care that I’m able to provide for my patients. Cuts will also affect the care that my 23-year-old son receives. He has a traumatic brain injury, and needs round-the-clock care. My 9-year-old son is autistic and receives weekly treatment. Without Medicaid, I wouldn’t be able to afford all the expenses for their coverage, for my family and myself,” says Howell.
He Maketh Me to Lie Down In Green Pastures: The Church and Domestic Abuse
Kimberly N. Alleyne
Originally published by The Harvest Magazine
One out of the four women who reads this article has been abused or assaulted by a spouse or significant other in their lifetime, or she will be according to the centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Every nine seconds a woman is beaten or assaulted — that equals 400 women an hour. That’s enough to fill 10 Metro buses. Across the land of the free, home of the brave, many women live trapped by fear and remain in what is, sometimes, the deadly bondage of domestic abuse. Some women make it out. Some do not. Approximately 4,000 women die each year due to domestic violence. Another 182,500 women are raped or sexually assaulted each annually, enough to fill Yankees stadium more than 3.5 times.
One Monday morning in 2010, soon after her live-in finance left for work, Tamieka Smith packed all of her and her sons’ clothes along with a few other possessions, and threw everything into her car. She called her new job and resigned; they asked her to reconsider, but she told them she couldn’t. She wanted to but God had spared her life the preceding Friday and she didn’t want to take any more chances.
“I’m sorry. I can’t stay. My life is in danger,” Smith told the person on the other end of the phone. Read more Tamieka Smith made it out, but not before Charles, the father of her two children, and live-in fiancé of nearly five years, nearly killed her by suffocation one Friday afternoon.
Kissing Is Good for Your Health
Kimberly N. Alleyne
A romantic kiss awakened Sleeping Beauty from a deep sleep, and it was a smack on the lips that transformed a frog into a man in another fairy tale. While these classic scenes are from animated, fictitious stories, the benefits of kissing are real.
Maybe equally as thrilling as the romance factor is that kissing can actually help to reduce stress, too.
Kissing helps to reduce cortisol which is also known as cortisone, and is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland, according to the National Institutes of Health. Some levels of cortisol in the body are good because it helps to regulate sugar levels and suppress the immune system.
Too much of it though can wreak havoc on the body by contributing to increased blood pressure; it also has been linked to weight gain and depression. That is where kissing comes in says Mimi Secor, a nurse practitioner who specializes in women’s health at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Massachusetts.
“Kissing definitely helps people to lower stress levels, and takes us out of that “fight or flight” state. We are always on 24/7 and nobody has down time anymore, so kissing helps ease our stress,” Secor says.
“It also gives us sense of well-being,” Secor says.
Dr. Cedric Bright, M.D., assistant dean of Special Programs and Admissions in the Department of Medical Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, and president of the National Medical Association, agrees that there are benefits to kissing, though there is not much literature on the topic.
A 2009 study by Dr. Wendy Hill, a neuroscience professor, and her students at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, explored the connection between kissing and lower cortisol levels.
Hill, who is also provost and dean of faculty at Lafayette, studied pairs of heterosexual couples who kissed for 15 minutes. The groups’ blood and saliva levels of cortisol were measured before and after kissing, and cortisol levels were lower after kissing.
The study also found changes in oxytocin levels in the men who participated in the study. Increased oxytocin levels also “indicates an interest in bonding” according to information reported on Dr. Hill’s study.
So we know passionate puckers can be soul-rousing for the giver and the receiver, and ebb stress at the same time, but the benefits do not end there.
NIH cites a Japanese study that links kissing to reduced levels of “allergen-specific IgE production,” which causes sneezing and sniffing.
Kissing can also burn calories. Yep, that’s right. Kissing can whittle up to two calories per minute, especially long passionate kisses. Some estimates say a kissing workout can burn 14 calories during a 15-minute kiss.
Though a deeply romantic gesture and act of affection, we probably most often think of the dangers of kissing more so than its benefits. It is true that kissing can spread diseases.
Secor says, “STDs such as oral herpes can be transmitted during kissing mouth-to-mouth, and approximately 80 percent of Americans have oral herpes. Upwards of 40 percent of genital herpes originates with oral herpes.”
“The human papilloma virus (HPV) can also be spread by kissing. About seven percent of the population is estimated to HPV in their throats.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other communicable diseases such as viral and bacterial meningitis, influenza, and upper respiratory tract infections such as colds can be contracted through saliva.
“No one is thinking about wearing dental bands, or what disease you might be spreading when you’re kissing,” Secor says.
Still, the benefits of kissing are enough to keep at it. Mathew Messina, D.D.S. said in a WedMD article that kissing can even help to reduce tooth decay because saliva washes away bacteria off teeth. According to Dental Health Magazine, research by the British Dental Health Foundation shows that passionate kissing increases the flow of saliva which is a great boost to oral health. Since kissing stimulates the flow of saliva, which helps to decrease plaque levels.
Oh, and since kissing employs facial muscles, it can help keep a few frown lines in check, too, says the Daily Mail.
Tally up the points for a heavy petting session, and you will be swayed to set your lips for a smack.
Lovers pucker up and lock those lips. Fairytale princesses do it. Even Canadian porcupines even do it. So get to it. You can reduce stress, nurture your relationship, and even burn a few calories all at once. The more you do it, the better.
One kiss can bring better health and lift your spirits —now that’s a kiss to remember.
Kids health: There’s an app for that
Kimberly N. Alleyne
Class is back in session and kids are donning the latest fashions, tweeting about classes, and trying to stay a download ahead of the latest technology trends.
But, before the juggle of homework, exams and pep rallies blur each school day, tech-loving students, and their parents, can tap or click their way to health and fitness success.
Research by University of Illinois researchers suggests that physical activity boosts academic performance, so if kids want to stay at the head of the class and keep health and fitness a top priority, there is an app for that.
Guessing Game: Smash Your Food
The Smash Your Food app makes a guessing game of learning caloric content of foods. Kids watch a HD video of high-calories foods being smashed, guess the amount of sugar, sodium and oil, and then pull a lever to reveal the right answers.
The app, the brain child of Marta De Wulf, a private-practice nutritionist in Seattle, was a winner in first lady Michelle Obama’s Apps for Healthy Kids contest in 2010.
“The objective is for children to learn nutrition by leveraging the latest technology, and to empower them to make healthy decisions for the right reason, not because they’re told to,” De Wulf says.
Kids watch as individual foods, such as fries and doughnuts, and whole meals, such as hamburgers, fries and soda are smashed. They can then advance to different levels by earning points based on their game play. An android app is in development.
“It’s been interesting to see the behavior changes children are making,” De Wulf says.
Everybody say, “Ohm”: I Am Love Kids’ Yoga Journey
Who said yoga is only for adults? The I Am Love Kids’ Yoga Journey is a hand-drawn app that allows children to tap into their inner yogi and strike a pose. The interactive yoga app features 13 poses featuring children. Kids can also press the “Press the Breath” button to hear an affirmation. The “Guess What?” feature teaches children a new fact each time they press the button.
The product description says the app was developed to “help kids feel great about themselves and helps them experience increased concentration in a noncompetitive environment.”
The I am Love Kids’ Yoga Journey app is available at kidsyogajourney.com.
Yeah, I Can: fitsmi.com© and fitsmi2go©
The fitsmi.com© and fitsmi2go©apps were developed for teen girls who struggle with weight and self-image issues.
The site is designed to target America’s “seven million teen girls,” Linda Frankenbach, the app developer, says, “because that group will tell you they are concerned about their weight, and we knew that we could best reach teen girls on the Internet.”
Frankenbach’s own weight struggles as a teen prompted the idea for fitsmi.com.
The site provides an online community where teen girls who struggle with weight issues can find a refuge and support, receive educational information and set goals to stay on track. FitsmiForMoms.com, a companion site to fitsmi.com, is a Web community for parents of children struggling with being overweight.
Marilyn McPherson Corder is a pediatrician in Washington, D.C. Last summer, Dr. Corder and her daughter Adrienne Corder, who is a fitness specialist, ran a six-week boot camp designed to teach children about healthy eating and exercise options. The average weight loss was 16 pounds among the 30 camp participants.
Dr. Corder says summer months are a great time to change children’s eating and fitness behaviors.
“Kids have a whole different mind-set if we reach them during the summer, and begin to turn the tide and help them embrace lifestyle changes — it takes a village, but it certainly takes the family unit,” Corder says.
Clicking for Your Child’s Health: HealthyChildren.org
Engaging children in health and fitness may be a struggle for some moms and dads, but there are also tools crafted for these hesitant parents.
HealthyChildren.org, the official American Academy of Pediatrics website for parents, launched the Healthy Children app for Apple and Android devices in August 2012. The organization’s Healthy Children former print magazine is now offered as an e-zine that can be accessed through the new app.
“So many people have smart phones and tablets, it’s great to access this information this way; Portable information is much better than having pages and pages of content on a website,” says Dr. Jennifer Shu, an Atlanta pediatrician in private practice, and medical editor of HealthyChildren.org.
Shu says the app provides parents and teens access to information such as alcohol, drugs, fitness, nutrition and safety.
“These are good ways to start conversations,” Shu says.
Parents can search age-by-age health information for their children, check immunization schedules, access first-aid how-to information and other resources. The app also includes a Find-A-Pediatrician tool and the Ask the Pediatrician advice column.
The Eat-and-Move-o-Matic is an educational tool that allows children to see how many calories are in their favorite foods and shows the amount of time it will take to work those calories off.
So plug in a bean and cheese burrito and Eat-and-Move-O-Matic will show that there are 379 calories in the burrito, and that it will take one hour and 48 minutes of medium-impact exercise to work off those calories.
Apps are great way to engage kids about their health because, Dr. Corder says, “they are fun, and they allow the kids to monitor and pace themselves, so there is an accountability factor.”
Ending the Abridgement of Freedoms
The 2013 FOIA Bill and What It Could Mean for Journalists
Kimberly N. Alleyne
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” First Amendment, U.S. Constitution
Washington, D.C. — On Sept. 12, 2013, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Free Flow of Information Act of 2013, S. 987 (FOIA). The bill, written by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, has sparked an ongoing and familiar debate about whether journalists are fully protected by the First Amendment freedoms, what those freedoms are, and in the Digital Age, who is classified as a journalist.
The 2013 FOIA, also called a federal shield law, passed out of Committee by a 13-5 bipartisan vote. If a shield law was implemented, it would afford journalists Reporter’s Privilege, which is the right to decline to testify about information they gather while reporting a story, or to identify sources used in reporting a story. If enacted, the law will grant journalists immunity from subpoenas.
Several efforts have been made to enact a federal shield law dating to 1972 up to the most recent action by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Prior to the 2013 FOIA passing, the House failed to vote on the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act of 2013 before departing for summer break.
The Good and the Bad of It
Though federal protection for journalists has been long awaited, some are cautiously optimistic with weighted rational about the implications of the bill if passed in its state.
There are good aspects about the bill, says Tracie Powell, who writes about technology, media and policy, most recently for The Columbia Journalism Review and the Poynter Institute.
“If enacted, the law would prohibit a federal entity from compelling “certain individuals” to testify or reveal confidential information or sources. It would grant privilege for reporters, except in crucial cases of national security. And, most important, it would prevent the government from secretly monitoring journalists’ phone call records,” Powell says, who is co-chair of NABJ’s Digital Journalism Task Force.
“Basically it’s a federal media shield law similar to laws already adopted by 49 states.” Powell says.
Recent headlines about the Department of Justice secretly obtaining AP reporters’ phone records and reporters being subpoenaed to testify about their sources have brought the need for a shield law to the forefront. The events have caused concern about journalists’ latitude to do their jobs, and perhaps further establish the need for federal protection.
“With the current climate and surveillance of the public, it seems as though no one has any real privacy and a lot of people are afraid. Reporters should not be afraid to do their jobs,” said Richard B. Muhammad, editor in chief of The Final Call Newspaper, published by the Nation of Islam.
Fox News journalist Jana Winter has refused to reveal the identities of sources who gave her information from the notebook of movie-theater shooting suspect James Holmes. The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press filed an affidavit on Winter’s behalf asking a district court to apply the Colorado Shield Law to Winter’s case. Although Winter is based in New York, she was assigned the Colorado shooting.
Holmes’ attorneys argued that releasing the information violated the blanket gag order that was issued after the shooting. Afterward, a Colorado court asked a New York court to issue the subpoena for Winter to testify in Colorado.
The Colorado Shield Law provides qualified protection for journalists’ sources if the information sought is integral to the case, is not available from another source and the need for that information outweighs the First Amendment interests of the reporter and the public. As of press time, Winter was recently granted a motion for an expedited appeal in the New York Court of Appeals. Her New York appeal will be heard Nov. 12.
What’s Wrong with the Bill?
While the potential passage of federal shield law is an answer to a longtime push, there are caveats about the bill in its current state.
Perhaps the greatest concern is about characteristics the bill uses to define a journalist and what is considered journalism.
The bill defines a journalist as one who has a primary intent to investigate events and procure material in order to inform the public by regularly gathering information through interviews and observations. The person also must intend to report on the news at the start of obtaining any protected information and must plan to publish that news.
Further, the bill defines a journalist as someone employed by or in contract with a media outlet for at least one year within the last 20 years or three months within the last five years; someone with a substantial track record of freelancing in the last five years; or a student journalist. Additionally, the law would protect a person deemed appropriate by a federal judge, as long as her/his reporting practices have been aligned with the law. The bill’s protections have exceptions, such as instances where the information would prevent an act of terrorism, death, kidnapping or bodily harm.
The definition reflects the results of a good deal of contention among Committee members.
Sen. Schumer stated he wanted this definition to exclude Wikileaks.
“The world has changed. We’re very careful in this bill to distinguish journalists from those who shouldn’t be protected, WikiLeaks and all those, and we’ve ensured that,” Schumer said. “But there are people who write and do real journalism, in different ways than we’re used to. They should not be excluded from this bill.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., argued that the bill definition should apply only to journalists, —those she deems as “real reporters” — who earn salaries. Feinstein has previously argued that only major news agencies can produce journalism.
Voting against the bill, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he doesn’t think Congress should define who is and isn’t a journalist. He compared that government activity to licensing journalists. He also argued that only American journalists should be covered under the bill.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said website commenters, such as bloggers, should not be considered journalists and covered under this bill. Regardless, precedent has established that boundaries of journalism go are not limited to newspapers and there is a Supreme Court precedent. From Lovell v. Griffin, (1938) Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote in the majority’s unanimous opinion: “The liberty of the press is not confined to newspapers and periodicals. It necessarily embraces pamphlets and leaflets. These indeed have been historic weapons in the defense of liberty, as the pamphlets of Thomas Paine and others in our own history abundantly attest.”
Points of Contention
One example of an argument against a federal shield law is a vote by the American Bar Association. In 1974, the American Bar Association rejected a shield law for journalists by a vote of 157-to-122. The group voted against supporting any form of “newsmen’s” privilege stating that newsmen were putting themselves “above the law” and that the immunity would extend to the underground press and “college dropouts” claiming to be journalists. Another point of contention is that ordinary citizens are not allowed to withhold information while testifying, so the question is asked why journalists should be exempt. An additional argument that opponents make is that in most federal cases, journalists would not be protected from being subpoenaed or from having to testify, so then a federal shield law is not needed.
There is no “newsman’s privilege” —neither absolute or qualified—as has been proposed. Reporters are subject to the same civic duties as are other citizens, but they may use the First Amendment of the Constitution as a shield to protect their sources when they could be compromised. Another point of contention is the definition of a journalist and who can qualify under the law as journalists. For example, opponents contend that freelancers, citizen journalists and bloggers do not qualify as professional journalists and should not be allowed protections. Some opponents also argue that a federal shield law would encourage leaks of government classified information, such as in the WikiLeaks case. The scope of states’ shield laws varies greatly. For that reason, proponents argue that because the scope of state shield laws vary so greatly and most state shield laws offer inconsistent protection that a federal shield law is needed replace state laws with uniform and consistent protection.
As reported on federalevidence.com, opponents also cite the lack of uniformity in federal shield law cases. For example, some federal courts have recognized a qualified journalist’s privilege in non-grand jury settings, while others have extended it to both civil and criminal proceedings. Still, other federal courts have even extended the privilege to non-confidential sources.”
Journalists and media groups contend that they need a federal shield law that affords them absolute privilege, rather than a qualified privilege as some opponents have suggested. Some proponents also say that if journalists are required to testify about and/or reveal their sources, then their ability to report on sensitive and confidential information will be hindered significantly.
Proponents of a federal shield law argue that a journalist may have information that shows a clear violation of the law, such as in the Watergate case when Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein relied on an anonymous source to report on criminal activities committed by the Nixon administration.
Proponents of a broad reporter shield argue that, if journalists are forced to disclose confidences, then important sources will cease to provide information and that valuable and sensitive stories will be at risk.
If the Bill Passes
There are considerable concerns about the 2013 FOIA, particularly as it relates to who is deemed a journalist. However, if passed it will expand press freedoms under the First Amendment in an essential first step.
“If this bill helps protect journalists, that’s a good thing, but we don’t need government deciding who is a legitimate news reporter and who should have the right to report the news. If we truly want a democracy, we want freedom of the press to go with it. A controlled press doesn’t serve anyone. Even if it embarrasses political leaders, it can save the country from making huge mistakes and that’s what’s important,” Muhammad said.
Powell notes the bill’s advantages.
“I believe the law is not perfect, but it is certainly an improvement over what we have now. The primary improvement I see is that the Act makes it clear that the federal government would first need to exhaust all other resources to obtain the information before it attempts to get that information from a ‘covered party.’ And even then, the government must allow the ‘covered party’ to be heard in a court of law. In other words, what we recently learned about the administration secretly monitoring personal and work phone call records of journalists at the Associated Press should not be able to happen under the Free Flow of Information Act,” Powell says.
So far 70 news organizations have signed a letter supporting the bill.
In a statement about the bill, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said, “We are pleased to see that the Judiciary Committee passed this bill. It goes a long way toward ensuring that reporters will be protected from subpoenas for their confidential information and sources. It’s not a perfect bill, but it tries to cover a broad array of reporters. While it is not as inclusive as we would like, it is not nearly as limited in that area as previous attempts at a federal shield law have been.”
The Committee forwarded the bill to the full Senate for consideration.