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Daley Weekly: Austerity, Clarity and the Muddled East

Living the Dream

Well, I have been searching Craigslist for the perfect little place to park my camera gear while in Seattle. I just need a place for three months, furnished, with a deck so I can smoke and a kitchen so I can burn the toast while I am out on the deck. Found the perfect place. Got a written and signed lease and ignored the warning not to send money. Idiot. I am on the street again living out of a suitcase, out a couple of grand, and nearly penniless. But I do have health insurance to help cover the cost of my hypertension prescription.

What’s Next?

Everything that the Congress left hanging in the air when they left for their August recess is still hanging in the air. The Transportation Department lessened the emergency around the need for money for the Highway Trust fund by announcing that the fund was going to be just fine well into next year. And the Treasury Department thrust the Debt Lid back on the agenda by announcing that the U.S. borrowing limit would be reached as early as next month. Tea Baggers in Congress who apparently are willing to shut down the government rather than provide funding to Planned Parenthood may get their chance soon.

Refugees

The steady stream of refugees driven into Europe by violent conflicts in Iraq and Syria has become a river. Frightening scenes of the police beating back crowds, terrified children, and folks trapped in train stations are juxtaposed with efforts by other countries to deal with the fleeing masses. The U.S. just agreed to take in 10,000 and France, Germany, and England also are offering accommodation. But Hungary and Macedonia are not so open to all this. Perhaps they are waiting for Donald Trump to make the inevitable candidate visit overseas to establish his foreign policy credentials. While there, perhaps he’ll help the Hungarians design the border fence they are proposing and perhaps even convince the Syrians to pay for building it. (Whoever the Syrians might actually be these days.)

Iran

The Senate Democrats gave the President a major victory when they blocked Republican efforts to stop the nuclear deal with Iraq. They defeated the effort by refusing to give the 60 votes needed to proceed to debate on their measure reversing the deal. Big leadership kudos on this go the Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois who took charge of the effort to prevent a reversal of the agreement when Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada dithered and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the supposed next Democratic Leader, opposed it.

Muddle East

We thought that an essential bit of intelligibility about the situation in the Land of Perpetual Conflict had finally emerged when the U.S. apparently gave the Turks tacit approval to attack the Kurds, the most effective military force against ISIS. Another little bit of clarity came this week when a fellow known as Ayman al-Zawahiri – the post-Osama leader of Al Qaeda – attacked the top leader of ISIS for “sedition” because he had proclaimed himself Caliph. It must be good for us that these two are not joining forces and it certainly reduces the level of confusion.

ACA Enrollments

ACA enrollments reached 9.9 million by mid-year. Eighty-four percent of these were receiving subsidies.

Protecting Our Heritage

When the Heritage Foundation attacked the Obama Administration for incompetence over a cyber security breach at the Office of Personnel Management, they apparently did not realize that someone was hacking into their own web site and stealing personal information about their donors.

Interest Rates

The Federal Reserve seems poised to make some kind of an increase in interest rates, but cannot find the right time to do it. Just when everything looks peachy, China goes in the ditch or Greece decides it’s had enough and tries to rebel against austerity, or the jobs numbers are blah. I’m not sure I care. The stimulus that the Fed has given to the U.S. economy over the last few years has kept us from falling into the austerity trap, in spite of the very best efforts of some in Congress.

Klepto Bankers Beware

The U.S. Justice Department this week announced that it has a new policy – corporate officers will now be held personally culpable for criminal offenses committed by their companies. You will have noted to your chagrin the past practice of fining the company, but letting the criminal behavior of the people who work in the company go without prosecution. This is a critical step forward in efforts to stem the criminal behavior of multi-national financial institutions that have bilked investors and consumers out of billions, laundered trillions of dollars for the drug cartels, and manipulated currencies to bring themselves massive profits. I knew I liked that Etta who took over as Attorney General – at last, my love has come along.

The Boehner Suit

Remember that during one of last year’s interminable budget fights, Speaker John Boehner used the threat of bringing a lawsuit against the Administration over the ACA to quiet some of the dissent in his Caucus. Alas, this week a federal judge ruled that the House of Representatives does have standing to bring this suit. No telling where this might go, but it is yet another threat to subsidies under the ACA. The judge allowed the part of the suit that challenges the right of the Administration to fund the mandatory subsidies without having to get an appropriation directly from the Congress.

Presidential Stuff

The candidate lineup for the next Republican Debate is out and it includes some new faces – Carly Fiorina and Gov. John Kasich are now in, as are Donald Trump, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Interesting to note that Ben Carson has tied Donald Trump in a recent Iowa poll. We thought that that Trump has peaked out at just over 20 percent, but he seems to have reached 37 percent in a South Carolina poll.

Jeb Bush seems completely befuddled by the destruction of his Front Runner status. Befuddlement must be the state of a whole bunch of candidates over there – the plan went off the tracks.

Chris Christie is looking over his shoulder again because three leading executives of United Airlines have resigned as they are facing a criminal investigation centered on David Samson, Christie confidant and the former Chair of the New York, New Jersey Port Authority. The charge is that the airline established a special, money-losing flight route to accommodate Samson’s vacation travels while they were asking for major investments in the Port-operated Newark Airport.

Rick Perry’s second run for President is over. He was running out of money. Given that Perry barely made a dent in the polls, it won’t make much of a difference, big picture.

On the Dem’s side, Martin O’Malley also is cutting staff. Never a positive sign when you are already in a deep hole. No word on staff cuts from what’s his name from Virginia or from Lincoln Chaffee. No real sense that either of them actually have staff to cut. A week or so ago Conan O’Brien, the talk show host, decided to try to move Chaffee from zero to one percent in the polls. So far, Chaffee is still at zero.

Puerto Rico, My Heart’s Devotion

Looks like Puerto Rico may be about to sink back in the ocean – ocean of debt that is. Much like Greece, Puerto Rico is one of the victims of the great fraud induced Recession. Less growth plus fewer tourists equals bankruptcy. The hedge funds that own a whole bunch of Puerto Rican debt are suggesting that while states might be able to default on loans but not so a mere Territory. The hedgers are suggesting that the Puerto Ricans would be much more prosperous if they destroyed their economy by laying off a bunch of teachers, reducing health care benefits and cutting their minimum wage. But, the hedgers tell them, no restructuring of the debt.

This austerity prescription will lead to economic lassitude, just as it has everywhere else. The hedgers will lose their money anyway while imposing even further impoverishment on the Puerto Ricans. What is the point here?

We are waiting for some hedge fund manager to leap before the karaoke mike and inform us in song: “I feel petty, oh so petty.”

Medicaid Expansion

It looks as though Alaska’s Gov. Bill Walker may be going to pull it off. Remember, the legislature dithered around with his request to expand Medicaid so he decided to go ahead and do it anyway.

Naturally he got sued, but a judge just gave his plan the OK.

Schedule

It gives me spinal shudders and nervous twitches, but the Congress has returned and is set to be in D.C. for the next couple of months with the exception of the week of September 21 and the week of October 12.

Bill Daley, National Legislative Director
bill@allianceforajustsociety.org

Remember to follow the Alliance for a Just Society on Facebook

Bill Daley
http://allianceforajustsociety.nationbuilder.com/

Celebrate 50 Years of Medicaid by Expanding It to Cover More People

Persistence pays off. Let’s remember this as we celebrate 50 years of Medicaid on July 30.

In 1965, Medicaid entered the world as a Medicare add-on for low-income families. Now, the program provides comprehensive coverage to more people than any other insurer in the United States. Almost 70 million people in the U.S. turn to Medicaid for their health coverage.

But Medicaid is much more than the country’s top health insurer. It’s also a key battleground for the future of our country.

As we stake out this future, we have big questions to answer about who will benefit from all our country has to offer — and who will wind up excluded from those benefits. We also have big questions about how such decisions are made.

Will we be a United States where we all enjoy the security that contributes to a happy and healthy life? Or, will be a country where the economy is based on indebtedness and limited options for the majority, with snowballing enrichment of the hyper-affluent? No less important, will we be a country where billionaires answer these questions, or will we renew our democratic principles?

For 50 years, Medicaid has been doing the hard work of expanding our national community. It has provided health care to people of limited means and people of color — people who have long found themselves shut out of quality employment and, along with it, health insurance. For years, Medicaid has saved lives that the private sector didn’t find profitable enough to save.

The power of Medicaid is more than symbolic. In practical terms, Medicaid demonstrates the difference that government can make in our families and communities. According to the Commonwealth Fund, adults covered by Medicaid report getting high-quality, timely health care at — but at much lower rates of medical debt.

That’s why the billionaire-backed far right put Medicaid in its crosshairs. What could be more frightening to this bloc than a government program that invests in the lives of people of limited means and, in terms of both quality and cost-effectiveness, gives the private market a run for its money? This is also why the progressive fight for Medicaid expansion — now being waged across the country — is so important.

The battles are far from easy. Nineteen states still haven’t taken up Medicaid expansion available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), despite effective grassroots campaigning – and despite desperate calls for expansion from those among the nearly four million shut out of the benefits of the ACA because of this refusal.

This rejection of Medicaid expansion is so cruel and callous — and so steeped in racial injustice — that it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come.

From the very start, nothing about Medicaid — or Medicare, for that matter — was fated to be. In 1965, both programs came as the fruit of cresting movements for economic and racial justice. The powerful American Medical Association threw its weight against the legislation, fearing “socialized medicine.”

Meanwhile, the National Medical Association (representing African American physicians), the NAACP, the labor movement, and many others voiced the need for a government role in health care – including taking to the streets with their demand.

From this victory, we’ve made Medicaid a keystone of our health care system — turning back three major attempts to block-grant the program between 1981 and 2004 — thanks to committed, effective grassroots organizing and activism.

We’ve had losses along the way — eligibility barriers targeting immigrants being the most significant — but our victories have been greater than the losses. Since 1965, we’ve expanded Medicaid to bring in millions more children, pregnant women, and people with disabilities. People from all walks of life now count on Medicaid to cover everything from asthma treatment for kids to assisted living services for parents and grandparents.

And let’s not forget that our current fight for Medicaid expansion is also the outcome of progress — the ACA’s historic opening of Medicaid to adults without children. This was and continues to be tremendous win. To make it possible, hundreds of thousands of community leaders marched in the streets, called their lawmakers, and raised their voices on social media and in the press. Most states have responded by picking up the Medicaid expansion.

In short, thanks to ongoing grassroots pressure, more people turn to Medicaid than could ever have been imagined back in 1965. We stand to win even more as we push for full Medicaid expansion in all 50 states — each and every one of them.

The fight is about vision and values, but we shouldn’t see it in partisan terms. Many states have adopted Medicaid with bipartisan support or under the leadership of Republican governors. Take Nevada, New Mexico, and, most recently, Montana as examples.

The Republicans who have come out in support of Medicaid expansion know that it’s right thing to do, both morally and in terms of good government. Even in states stalled on Medicaid expansion – states like Alabama, Idaho, and Mississippi — most people agree. (This includes 62 percent of residents of the Deep South.) They want Medicaid expanded.

But they face an astroturf, billionaire-funded opposition so mired in a government-is-bad ideology that its adherents would rather see people die than see a public program succeed. This opposition is fueled by Koch brothers’ dollars funneled through Americans for Prosperity (meaning prosperity for billionaires). When nervous Republicans look over their shoulders, it’s AFP suits they see, making threats.

They should look more broadly. It’s our cause that has the support of the public, of the businesses in our communities, and the doctors that keep us healthy. We — and not those who don’t care if their fellow humans die for lack of health care — offer an inclusive vision. It’s a vision that everyone can get on board with and that — with 50 years of success under our belts –we know is going to win.

Racial Disparities in Health Care Access Magnified As More Gain Coverage

I was recently on a telephone call with Antron McKay-West, the president and founder of Upgrade Mississippi. He was describing the frustration people in his tiny hometown on the Mississippi Delta experienced trying to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Most families in the town still don’t have Internet in their homes; cellphone reception is unreliable, it comes and goes like the clouds blowing across the sky.

“It is so rural, most people can’t imagine life there,” said McKay-West. “Most people don’t have Internet, if they do, it’s very slow. It’s not the technology most people in bigger cities are used to these days.

“I know people who were trying to sign up for health care coverage, but they don’t have Internet at home, they don’t have email addresses. When they tried to sign up by telephone, the assistants on the other end often told them to just go to the library and use the Internet there to sign up and check their email.

“In the neighborhood where I grew up, the library is 15 miles away,” said McKay-West.

His story illustrates just one of the many challenges we have in bringing health insurance — and then quality health care — to all people and all communities across the country.

As more people gain health insurance, unless we take concerted action to tackle glaring racial disparities in access to health care, those disparities will only be magnified.

In a new report “Breaking Barriers: Improving health insurance enrollment and access to health care,” author and researcher Gary Delgado provides plentiful evidence that the doors to quality health care are still closed to many people of color, families in rural communities, the poor, and those with language and cultural barriers.

Delgado, a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Social Change and a longtime civil and human rights leader, led a team that surveyed 1,200 low-income people in 10 states in Spanish, Cantonese and English. The report was released by the Alliance for a Just Society.

“Obamacare didn’t cause the widespread racial disparities we found, but neither did it solve them,” said Delgado. “We have a lot more work to do.”

There is progress. In late April, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed legislationaccepting federal funding for Medicaid expansion that will extend health insurance coverage to as many as 70,000 more people.

However, there are still 21 other states where legislators continue to turn their backs on people – about 3.8 million people – who fall into the Medicaid coverage gap, denying them access to affordable health insurance. These are people who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to qualify for ACA marketplace subsidies or afford premiums and deductibles on their own.

It’s even more insulting when you plot these 21 states on a map. More than half are states in the Deep South, the states of the Old Confederacy, where a disproportionate share of uninsured people are people of color, especially African American and Latino.

There is no other way to describe it than health care racism. Expanding Medicaid is just the first step toward ending it.

The struggle to access quality care continues even after people of color have health insurance, including the high costs of premiums and deductibles. Many people have never had health insurance, or maybe not for years, and have trouble getting clear information about what’s included in their coverage, such as preventive care, checkups and routine tests.

Insurance companies must also be held to their obligation for reducing racial health disparities, and increase transparency in their reporting of results.

In some communities, just finding a personal doctor within a reasonable distance of your home is difficult. Going to the doctor should be no more than a 30-minute trip. Even after enrollment, technology continues to be a barrier when insurance companies expect payments online or send important notices by email.

As the “Breaking Barriers” report recommends, innovative options like school-based health care and community clinics and have to be supported and encouraged, particularly in rural areas.

Medical-legal partnerships should be developed to address environmental factors that impact health, especially in low-income communities where issues like mold in housing and industrial toxins create serious health risks.

Delgado describes the Affordable Care Act as a new house built on an old foundation, using the old bricks. He’s right, we need a stronger foundation and more bricks. We also need to welcome everyone inside to enjoy the basic human right of quality, affordable health care.

This article was originally published by LeeAnn Hall in her Huffington Post column.

Today in Montana: Big Win on Medicaid Expansion

Today, Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed SB 405 into law, making Montana the 29th state in the country to expand health coverage for low-income residents through Medicaid expansion.

Thanks to this bill, up to 70,000 Montana residents who are currently uninsured will be eligible for quality, affordable health coverage for the first time. It’s a big victory for Montana families and communities. But it didn’t come without a fight.

To an outside observer, the odds may not have looked good going into the 2015 legislative session. Medicaid expansion had already failed to clear the Montana Legislature once before. And the Montana chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP is the flagship organization in the Koch network) was throwing all its weight behind ginning up opposition and trying to scare moderate lawmakers away from the negotiating table.

But the Healthy Montana Campaign, a statewide coalition of 10 core partner organizations working in support of Medicaid expansion, was undeterred. Through three years of disciplined organizing, the coalition sent a clear message: when it comes to quality, affordable health care, we’re in it to win it. And that’s exactly what they did.

The Montana Organizing Project (MOP), an affiliate of the Alliance for a Just Society, played an integral role in the organizing that made this victory possible, mobilizing its base of members and leaders across the state, including in rural and eastern Montana, to join the fight.

MOP and HMC partners knew it would require a large-scale grassroots effort to overcome the Koch money on the other side. So they started early. And never quit.

In 2014, when MOP ran a nonpartisan civic engagement project focusing on low-income women voters that logged 19,000 phone calls, 3,500 doors knocked, and more than 3,000 “I pledge to vote” cards. They not only boosted turnout in their target universe – they also built a list of Medicaid expansion supporters, and prepared those supporters to take action.

As the 2015 session got underway, MOP mobilized its supporters to turn out at rallies, testify at legislative hearings, make calls to key legislators, and write letters to the editor.

Leaders in the Campaign expected an onslaught of opposition from Americans for Prosperity. But at the first legislative hearing, the Healthy Montana Campaign rallied 250 supporters, including businesses and statewide organizations. Americans for Prosperity turned out fewer than a dozen people in opposition.

Through this show of strength in numbers, partners in the HMC highlighted the difference between their grassroots support from Montana families and AFP’s astroturf opposition.

That set the tone for the debates to follow. And when AFP tried to run town hall meetings in the home districts of swing legislators to drum up opposition, they got out-smarted and out-organized: the targeted legislators showed up, won the crowds over, and turned them against AFP.

The final deal on Medicaid expansion in Montana isn’t perfect. It includes some provisions the HMC strongly opposed – like mandatory premiums (up to 2 percent of the recipient’s income), a co-pay of up to 3 percent, the ability to remove people who earn above 100 percent of the poverty level and fail to pay their premiums from the program, and a sunset provision.

But the Campaign won on its two most important goals: making sure the final deal accepts all of the federal funding available for Montana, and ensuring that everyone earning up to 138 percent of the poverty level (about $16,000 for a single person) will be eligible. That means up to 70,000 low-income Montanans who’ve had nowhere to turn will be eligible for quality, affordable health coverage thanks to Medicaid expansion.

The passage of Medicaid expansion will also help small, rural hospitals across Montana – hospitals that may otherwise have faced closure due to funding shortfalls – to remain solvent, preserving access to health care for rural communities and preserving good-paying health care jobs in those communities.

The work for quality, affordable health care in Montana isn’t over, of course. While today’s signing of Medicaid expansion is a great stride in expanding health coverage, there’s still a lot of work to do to make sure getting health coverage translates into getting health care, especially for women, Native Americans, and rural residents. MOP and the HMC partners look forward to engaging in the Waiver process to ensure that as many Montanans as possible get covered and get on the path to quality care.

There’s a lot more organizing and more fights ahead to make health care reform fulfill the promise of eliminating race and gender-based disparities in health access and outcomes in Montana. The Montana Organizing Project will be in the thick of that work.

 

 

“Breaking Barriers” Research Uncovers Disparities in Health Care Access

As more families get health insurance, it’s becoming clear that despite the many advances of the Affordable Care Act, we must do more to fundamentally change our health care system. The doors of quality health care are still closed to many people of color, families in rural communities, the poor, and those with language and cultural barriers. 

“Breaking Barriers: Improving health insurance enrollment and access to health care,” is a year-long study that includes a survey of nearly 1,200 low-income people in 10 states in Spanish, Cantonese, and English. They were contacted at food pantries, health clinics, homeless centers, and other locations.

“The Alliance for a Just Society works with partners nationwide who have low income members directly impacted by our health care system, “ said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society, which released the report today. “We will continue to fight to see that disparities are addressed and that these recommendations are put in place.”

Report author Gary Delgado is a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Social Change and a longtime civil and human rights leader.

The report details continuing barriers to enrollment and the glaring racial disparities in receiving health care that are magnified as more people gain health insurance. Significant changes need to be made to the system. “Breaking Barriers” includes 20 specific recommendations.

“The Affordable Care Act is a big, new house built on the old foundation,” said Delgado. “We’re still not serving people of color. We need to build a more inclusive health care system.”

While failure to expand Medicaid in 22 states is the biggest barrier to ending disparities in health care, it’s not the only obstacle. For many, cost, lack of technology, language access, and the complexities of health insurance make both enrolling and getting care difficult.

Of those surveyed, 45 percent said they live with a chronic condition. In addition, 54 percent of people of color said they use the hospital or clinic for their primary care.

“One woman told me it sometimes comes down to deciding between medication and food. Her credit is bad because of her high prescription costs,” said Adriann Barboa, of Strong Families New Mexico.

Especially in communities of color and in rural towns, a lack of Internet service is a significant barrier, to signing up for coverage, receiving updates and notices about plans, and paying premiums.

In the “Breaking Barriers” survey, 41.6 percent of Latinos and 47.7 percent of African Americans said they have Internet at home, compared to 77.5 percent of white people asked.

Antron McKay-West, with Upgrade Mississippi, grew up in the Mississippi Delta.

“It is so rural, most people can’t imagine life there. Most people don’t have Internet, if they do, it is very slow, it’s not the technology most are used to,” he said.

“During enrollment, some people were told to just go to the library and use the Internet. In the neighborhood where I grew up, the library is 15 miles away,” said McKay-West.

Nearly 200 organizations from around the country have joined with the Alliance for a Just Society in endorsing recommendations in the report for making sure everyone has access to quality health care.

Recommendations include:

  • Expand Medicaid in the 22 states that have refused to accept federal funding, leaving millions of low-income workers with out health insurance.
  • Expand the role of navigators to help people move from coverage to care.Navigators will teach those with coverage about personal doctors, routine tests, annual checkups and other aspects of health care.
  • Measure results: Require plans to track health outcomes, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, primary language, gender, disability, and sexual orientation.
  • Strengthen community-based health care. Expand school-based health centers in medically under-served communities. Support community providers including clinics, individual physicians, and small community practices.
  • Expand medical-legal partnerships to address issues that lead to poor health in low-income communities such as mold in housing, contamination, and industrial pollutants.
  • Enforce access to preventive care. Ensure that all health plans cover yearly check-ups, immunizations, and screenings at no out-of-pocket cost.

Alliance for a Just Society is a national organizing and research network that has produced pivotal reports for 20 years on state and national health issues including Medicaid, prescription drugs, and insurance industry practices.

 

 

Ebola Should Remind Us of Our Values and Priorities

Sierra Leone Ebola

After months of being ignored by much of the mainstream media and U.S. government, the ebola epidemic in West Africa has become headline news. The reason is that a traveler from Liberia—one of the West African countries most severely impacted by the outbreak of the disease—came to Dallas, TX infected with ebola.

The deaths of over 3000 men, women and children in West Africa and the potential for disease to affect upwards of one million more if not stopped, did not catch our attention, but a single case here has put many on edge.

The White House and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have since announced new measures to respond the possibility of new ebola cases in the U.S., but some media outlets and commentators have sounded the alarm with the typical stereotyping, bias, and anti-scientific speculation. Some politicians have called for banning all travel from West Africa or extreme measures in airports and at the borders. Absurd talk linking ebola to the ISIS terrorist group and attempts to link ebola fears to immigrant scapegoating surfaced over the weekend.

Meanwhile, the CDC and the World Health Organization have been trying for weeks to reverse the unilateral grounding of flights to and from Liberia and Sierra Leone. Public health officials, including CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, say:

“When countries are isolated, it is harder to get medical supplies and personnel deployed to stop the spread of Ebola. And even when governments restrict travel and trade, people in affected countries still find a way to move and it is even harder to track them systematically”

Despite the attempt by some to cynically spread misinformation and promote myths about ebola, the majority of people in the U.S. understand that ebola is a danger – but not a reason to panic. Only 11 percent are “very worried” about being exposed to ebola. Most people, it seems, understand the difference between healthy concern and panic.

So what should be done? First, the U.S. has to be a better global partner. The United Nations asked for financial and human assistance  months ago and the U.S. and others were slow to respond. Now the price tag and the task has ballooned. President Obama has order more than 3,000 U.S. troops to go to Liberia for “command a control” and to build 17 ebola clinics. But reports are that the clinics may not be in place for 60-90 days. All the global and regional officials seem to agree that more help is needed, and much faster than it’s currently coming.

One of the biggest problems is the lack of trained medical professionals in the area. While there are certainly logistical and civil engineering needs, doctors, and nurses are key. The U.S. and Europe have not done much on this count so far. The Washington Post reports that the small island nation of Cuba has sent more doctor’s to the ebola-affected areas than any single country – with over 500 doctors either on the ground or on the way.

And there are key lessons from the ebola crisis. We know that medical infrastructure and scientific education are the key to stemming disease outbreaks, not isolation. It also follows that helping the poorest countries in the world develop their own resources helps us all in the long run. We also need to really rethink a government system that can easily mobilize for wars, but not for other pressing emergencies.

In the end, not only is addressing the ebola crisis in the countries most affected the humane thing to do, it is, according to medical experts, the only way to stop the spread of the disease and prevent a regional nightmare from becoming a global disaster.

ACA Enrollment Figures Show More Focus Needed On Latino Communities

HHS must do more to close the Latino coverage gap; state officials who’ve resisted ACA implementation bear responsibility for making it worse.

For Immediate Release: Friday, May 2, 2014

Contact: Kathy Mulady, Communications Director, kathy@allianceforajustsociety.org, (206) 992-8787

Seattle, WA – The Alliance for a Just Society released the following statement from executive director LeeAnn Hall in response to the Department of Health & Human Services’ first release of race and ethnicity data yesterday for enrollees in the Affordable Care Act’s federally-facilitated marketplace:

“While we commend HHS for releasing data on the racial and ethnic breakdown of enrollments, we are gravely concerned about the deficit in Latino enrollment. Only 10.7 percent of enrollees in the federal marketplace who reported/race ethnicity were Latino, compared to an estimated 14.5 percent in the marketplace-eligible population. We can and must do better. Read more

After Obamacare Enrollment, Three Critical Steps

Massachussetts Considers Mandatory Health InsuranceThis article by LeeAnn Hall, first appeared in Colorlines.com

More than 7.1 million people have obtained health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, despite the early confusion and glitches with the computer system. In addition, 6.3 million are approved for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and an estimated 3 million more young people gained health insurance by staying on their parent’s plans.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to eliminate health disparities so people of color are no longer living sicker and dying younger. If we do our job, no mother will ever have to choose between paying the rent or taking her sick child to the doctor.
Read more