Tag Archives: health care

Catch up on your news

Republicans have gone awry the country over.  Do you know what’s going on?  Here are some websites to give you the gist on two important legislative happenings: Planned Parenthood and Wisconsin labor unions.

 

Wisconsin state employee unions

(yes, this really does matter to you)

New York Times

**(I’ve linked some definitions for “collective bargaining,” “union,” and “public employee”)**

  • The legislative push by Wisconsin’s new governor, Scott Walker, a Republican, to slash the collective bargaining rights of his state’s public employees could prove a watershed for public-sector unions, perhaps signaling the beginning of a decline in their power — both at the bargaining table and in politics.
  • But Mr. Walker is going far beyond that, seeking to definitively curb the power of government unions in his state. He sees public-employee unions as a bane to the taxpayer because they demand — and often win — generous health and pension plans that help push up taxes and drive budget deficits higher.
  • To end that cycle, he wants to restrict the unions to bargaining over just one topic, base wages, while eliminating their ability to deal over health care, working hours and vacations.
  • By flooding the State Capitol in Madison with more than 10,000 protesters, labor unions are doing their utmost to block Mr. Walker’s plans. They helped persuade Democratic state senators to slip out of the building this week to deny Republicans the quorum they needed to pass the legislation.
  • Democrats say the governor’s “budget repair bill” — strongly supported by the Republicans who control both legislative houses — is political payback, intended to cripple public-sector unions, which spent more than $200 million to back Democrats across the country in November’s elections.

Andy Manis/Associated Press - A Capitol protest in Madison, Wis., over Gov. Scott Walker's bill to slash collective bargaining rights for many state workers.

New York Times

  • Behind closed doors, Scott Walker, the Republican who has been governor for about six weeks, calmly described his intent to forge ahead with the plans that had set off the uprising: He wants to require public workers to pay more for their health insurance and pensions, effectively cutting the take-home pay of many by around 7 percent.
  • Mr. Walker said he had no other options, since he is facing a deficit of $137 million in the current state budget and the prospect of a $3.6 billion hole in the coming two-year budget.
  • “For us, it’s simple,” said Mr. Walker, whose family home was surrounded by angry workers this week, prompting the police to close the street. “We’re broke.”

New York Times

  • Then the surprising drama in Madison this week added a new twist: the Democrats disappeared.
  • That left Republicans, who control the Capitol and had expected to push through the bill, in limbo. Although Republicans control the State Senate by 19 to 14, 20 senators — and thus, at least a single Democrat — must be in the room to call a vote on such fiscal matters.
  • “The plan is to try and slow this down because it’s an extreme piece of legislation that’s tearing this state apart,” Senator Jon Erpenbach, one of the missing Democrats, told The Associated Press by telephone. (He refused, of course, to say where he was.)

Planned Parenthood

(not just birth control or abortions)

Washington Post:

  • The Republican-led House approved an amendment Friday that would prohibit federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
  • The measure, which passed the House 240 to 185, blocks Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds for any of its activities. The organization already is banned from using federal funds to perform most abortions.

Huffington Post

  • House Republicans voted on Friday to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood, cutting money for contraceptives, HIV tests, cancer screenings and reproductive health services as part of an attempt to weaken the abortion provider. Planned Parenthood does not currently spend federal money on abortion services.
  • The vote, which passed, 240 to 185, came after an emotional, late-night speech by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who revealed on the House floor that she had had an abortion. Speier criticized Republicans for vilifying Planned Parenthood and abortion-rights supporters.
  • “There is a vendetta against Planned Parenthood, and it was played out in this room tonight,” she said on the House floor. “Planned Parenthood has a right to operate. Planned Parenthood has a right to provide family planning services. Planned parenthood has a right to perform abortions. Last time you checked, abortions were legal in this country.”

And there are massive protests in Bahrain which you should read up on.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Obama Widens Medical Rights for Same-Sex Partners

Some utterly fantastic news today, on a day with some tragic news.

Love wins! Taken at a rally against Prop 8 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Brooke Lovell.

The adorable young girl shown above with her lesbian godmothers. Photo by Brooke Lovell.

This article from the New York Times, April 15, 2010, was written by Sheryl Gay Stolberg.

By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

WASHINGTON – President Obama on Thursday ordered his health secretary to issue new rules aimed at granting hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners, and making it easier for gays and lesbians to make medical decisions on behalf of their partners.

The White House announced the rule changes in a memorandum released Thursday night. In it, the president said the new rules will affect any hospital that participates in Medicare or Medicaid, the government programs to cover the elderly and the poor.

“Every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindness and caring of a loved one at their sides,” Mr. Obama said in the memorandum, adding that the rules could also help widows and widowers who rely on friends and members of religious orders who care for each other. But he says gays and lesbians are “uniquely affected” because they are often barred from visiting partners with whom they have spent decades.

Several states have tried to put an end to discrimination against same-sex couples, and Mr. Obama said he intended to build on those efforts. He said the new rules will make clear that designated visitors should enjoy visiting privileges that are no more restrictive than those enjoyed by immediate family members.

During his presidential campaign, Mr. Obama said he would fight for the rights of gays and lesbians, but he has been under pressure since the beginning of his presidency to be a stronger advocate for their issues.
Many gays and lesbians grew disenchanted with what they viewed as his foot-dragging on reversing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the policy that bars gays from serving openly in the military. The president said in his State of the Union address this year that he intended to move to overturn the policy, and his administration has been taking steps to do so.

Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton on gay rights issues, said that while the memorandum on its own does not grant any new rights, it “does draw attention to the very real and tragic situations many gays and lesbians face when a partner is hospitalized.”

Ordering the Department of Health and Human Services to find a better way to handle such situations, Mr. Socarides said, is “the kind of thing the gay community was hoping Obama would do right after he was inaugurated.”

The memorandum is intended to “help ensure that patients will be able to face difficult times in hospitals with compassion, dignity and respect,” a White House spokesman, Shin Inouye, said Thursday night.

“By taking these steps, we can better protect the interests and needs of patients that are gay or lesbian, widows and widowers with no children, members of religious orders, or others for whom their loved ones are not always immediate relatives. Because all Americans should be able to have loved ones there for them in their time of need.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized