Category Archives: Health Care

With Power to Kneecap Bold Demand, Incoming Democratic Tax Committee Chair Says Medicare for All ‘Not Realistic’

“Two decades of generous donations apparently gets you a powerful congressman willing to throw up roadblocks in front of universal healthcare.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-6-2018

Ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) speaks during a news conference on Republican plans to end the state and local tax deduction, on Capitol Hill, October 12, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Photo: C-SPAN screenshot

As progressive House Democrats strategize and push for a vote on Medicare for All legislation as soon as possible, surging congressional and grassroots momentum for single-payer could soon run into a serious obstacle in the form of incoming Ways and Means Committee chair Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who has denounced Medicare for All as “not realistic” and will soon be in a position to tank healthcare plans that are unacceptable to his insurance industry donors.

“Neal will have near total control over what tax-related policies come to the House floor, including legislation that would create a Medicare for All healthcare system,” noted investigative reporter Eoin Higgins in a piece for Sludge on Wednesday. “Having Neal at the helm of the committee, rather than a more progressive member, makes it much less likely that the House of Representatives will vote on universal healthcare measures.” Continue reading

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In ‘Craven’ Bait-and-Switch Attack on Workers, Michigan GOP Guts Minimum Wage and Sick Leave Proposals

“Imagine hating working-class people this much.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-5-2018

Michigan voters—joined by a “lame duck”—gathered to watch in Michigan’s capital as Republican lawmakers gutted a minimum wage hike and paid sick leave protections. (Photo: @LindsayVanHulle/Twitter)

Three months after ensuring that Michigan voters would not have a say in proposals to hike the state’s minimum wage and provide sick leave to workers, the state’s Republican-led Senate pushed through major changes to the initiatives on Tuesday, effectively gutting legislation that hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents had demanded.

Under the original minimum wage proposal, the state’s minimum wage would have gone up from $9.25 to $12 per hour by 2022—but workers will have to wait until 2030 under the GOP’s version of the bill. Tipped workers’s wages will go up to only $4 from $3.52 per hour by that time under the Republican proposal. Continue reading

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Emergency Protests Planned to Stop Scott Walker and Wisconsin GOP’s “Shocking and Naked Power Grab”

“This is straight out of a banana republic and should be a huge national story.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-3-2018

“Warning to our friends across the country: what happens in Wisconsin doesn’t stay in Wisconsin,” MoveOn.org Washington director Ben Wikler wrote. (Photo: Indivisible Madison)

As Wisconsin’s GOP-controlled legislature and outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker seek to thwart the will of voters by ramming through a sweeping slate of legislation that would drastically curtail Democratic governor-elect Tony Evers’ authority and ability to implement his agenda, progressive advocacy groups announced emergency rallies on Monday to fight back against the GOP’s latest “shocking and naked power grab.”

“This is straight out of a banana republic and should be a huge national story,” Mother Jones reporter Ari Berman said of the GOP plan, which would strip Evers’ power to approve decisions by the newly elected Democratic state attorney general and hand this authority over to the Republican legislature. Continue reading

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‘Yemen Can’t Wait’: Ahead of War Powers Vote, Urgent Push for Senate to End US Complicity in Saudi Atrocities

“The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, with U.S. support, has killed thousands of civilians. Over 85,000 children have died of starvation. Enough is enough.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-27-2018

“It’s long past time to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s devastating war in Yemen,” Peace Action wrote on Twitter. (Photo: CodePink/Twitter)

With a vote on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) resolution to end U.S. complicity in the Saudi-led assault on Yemen expected as early as Wednesday, grassroots anti-war organizations are ramping up pressure on Democratic senators who sided with the Republican majority in voting down the same measure earlier this year and demanding that Senate Minority Leader MChuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) act on his words by co-sponsoring the resolution.

“The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, with U.S. support, has killed thousands of civilians. Over 85,000 children have died of starvation. Enough is enough,” Sanders, who introduced the bill alongside Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), declared on Tuesday. “The Senate must vote to end U.S. support for this war.” Continue reading

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‘Mark of Shame on All Our Societies’: UN Finds More Women Killed by Domestic Violence Than Any Other Crime

50,000 women around the world were killed by family members or intimate partners in 2017

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-26-2018

A U.N. study found that violence perpetrated by family members or intimate partners is the leading cause of death for women worldwide. (Photo: CMY Kane/Flickr/cc)

In a quarter of the world’s countries, no laws exist protecting women and girls from what a new United Nations study says is the crime most likely to kill them: violence perpetrated by their intimate partners and family members.

Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime on Sunday released a global study on homicide, focusing on gender-related killings, and revealed that out of 87,000 women who were murdered around the world in 2017, 58 percent of them were killed by family members or partners. Continue reading

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Wildfire smoke is becoming a nationwide health threat

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An image from the International Space Station captures plumes of smoke from California wildfires on August 4, 2018. NASA

Richard E. Peltier, University of Massachusetts Amherst

The impacts of recent forest fires in California reach well beyond the burned areas. Smoke from the Camp Fire created hazardous air quality conditions in San Francisco, more than 170 miles to the southwest – but it didn’t stop there. Cross-country winds carried it across the United States, creating hazy conditions in locations as far east as Philadelphia.

As an air pollution exposure scientist, I worry about the extreme levels of air pollution that rise from these fires and affect many people across great distances. They can create unhealthy conditions in far-flung locations where residents probably never think about wildfires. But since major wildfires are becoming increasingly common, I believe it is important for all Americans to know some basics about smoke hazards. Continue reading

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Hospital Letter Urging Patient to Start ‘Fundraising Effort’ to Pay for Heart Treatment Seen as Yet Another Reason America Needs Medicare for All

“‘You can’t have a heart unless you do GoFundMe for 10K’ is not a just system.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-24-2018

Photo: USAF

As progressive lawmakers and healthcare experts have frequently pointed out in recent months, few growing trends have laid bare the fundamental immorality and brokenness of America’s healthcare system quite like the rise of GoFundMe and other crowdfunding platforms as methods of raising money for life-saving medical treatments that—due to insurance industry greed and dysfunction—are far too expensive for anyone but the very wealthiest to afford.

Providing the latest example of this horrifying trend, a Michigan woman seeking a heart transplant publicized a letter she received from the Spectrum Health Richard DeVos Heart and Lung Transplant Clinic—named after the late father-in-law of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos—informing her that she is “not a candidate” for the procedure “at this time” because she needs a “more secure financial plan” to afford the required post-operation immunosuppressive medication. Continue reading

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Here’s the Dire Climate Report the Trump White House Didn’t Want You to See

“The decision to release this damning report when families are beginning to celebrate the holidays and newsrooms are short-staffed is a brazen attempt to bury the truth.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-23-2018

The Carr Fire burned in Shasta and Trinity counties during the summer of 2018. Photo: BLM/flickr

In a move environmentalists and journalists denounced as a blatant effort to bury facts that conflict with the president’s denialism and pro-fossil fuel agenda, the Trump administration used the Friday after Thanksgiving to quietly release Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), which warned “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization” and concluded that “greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are the only factors that can account” for planet-threatening warming.

“The decision to release this damning report when families are beginning to celebrate the holidays and newsrooms are short-staffed is a brazen attempt to bury the truth from the public that we must act now to move off fossil fuels and stabilize the climate,” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement. Continue reading

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‘Entirely Preventable’ Deaths of 85,000 Yemeni Children Is Part of What Trump Has Embraced With ‘America First’ Allegiance to Saudis

“For children under the age of five this situation is proving a death sentence.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-21-2018

The London-based NGO Save the Children estimates some 85,000 children under the age of five have died in Yemen due to starvation over the past three years. (Photo: Fuad/UNICEF)

As President Donald Trump faces criticism for issuing a “dangerous” and “imbecilic” statement in which he vowed to stand by Saudi Arabia despite the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a London-based organization is estimating that some 85,000 children under age five have starved to death in Yemen since the U.S.-backed, Saudi- and UAE-led coalition launched military action there three years ago.

Drawn from United Nations data, Save the Children’s new figure is, as the Guardian put it, “a conservative estimate.”

“For every child killed by bombs and bullets, dozens are starving to death and it’s entirely preventable,” declared Tamer Kirolos, the group’s country director in Yemen. “Children who die in this way suffer immensely as their vital organ functions slow down and eventually stop. Their immune systems are so weak they are more prone to infections with some too frail to even cry.” Continue reading

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‘A Staggeringly Bad Idea’: Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would ‘Kneecap the Progressive Agenda’

“This is a very bad idea, House Democrats. It makes no sense whatsoever to give Republicans veto power over progressive legislation.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-16-2018

Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr

Nearly three-quarters of the American public and a historic number of Democratic lawmakers support Medicare for All, but the House Democratic leadership is considering using its newly won majority to impose a rule that would “recklessly betray” the grassroots forces that put them in power by making single-payer and other progressive priorities impossible to enact.

According to a list of Democratic proposals obtained by the Washington Post, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)—who is currently fighting back against efforts to prevent her from becoming House Speaker—is pushing for a rule that would “require a three-fifths supermajority to raise individual income taxes on the lowest-earning 80 percent of taxpayers.” Continue reading

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