Category Archives: Health Care

Heavily Polluted Louisiana Community Asks EPA to Step In

“Louisiana has failed to protect fenceline communities, including St. John residents, from the harms of highly polluting facilities,” said one local advocate.

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 1-20-2022 by Common Dreams

A pair of local advocacy groups in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, submitted a civil rights complaint to the U.S. EPA on Thursday, accusing two state agencies of failing to protect residents of the low-income and predominantly Black jurisdiction from toxic air.

According to the complaint—filed by Earthjustice and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on behalf of Concerned Citizens of St. John (CCSJ) and the Sierra Club—the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) and the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) have violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits entities receiving federal financial assistance from engaging in activities that subject individuals to discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Continue reading

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Tax on Global Mega-Rich Could Help Lift 2.3 Billion Out of Poverty

“The insane reality is that whilst billions face a daily struggle to survive during this pandemic, billionaire wealth is spiraling out of control. This cannot be right.”

By Jake Johnson.  Pubished 1-18-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Bryan Ledgard/Wikimedia Commons/CC

A new analysis released Tuesday estimates that an annual wealth tax targeting the world’s millionaires and billionaires would raise enough revenue to lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty, provide universal healthcare to the people of low- and middle-income nations, and produce enough coronavirus vaccines to meet global demand.

“During 2021, we witnessed the epidemic of Covid-19 and wealth-hiding, and it’s time to reverse course.” Continue reading

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Why Did Democratic AG Kill Flint Water RICO Case?

“Political corruption poisoned Flint and political corruption shielded the wrongdoers from accountability,” said one critic following new revelations.

By Kenny Stancil.  Pubished 1-17-2022 by Common Dreams

Dana Nessel. Photo: Michigan Attorney General’s Office

Prosecutors investigating Flint’s contaminated water crisis were pursuing a racketeering case against public officials whose austerity-driven policies caused the health catastrophe, but after newly elected Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel took over in 2019, those charges were dropped.

That’s according to investigative journalist Jordan Chariton and Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Charlie LeDuff’s explosive new story, which was published Monday in The Guardian and sparked fresh questions about holding perpetrators responsible for the ongoing calamity. Continue reading

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Poor People’s Campaign Readies ‘Massive, Nonviolent’ Effort to Save Democracy

“We are not in this for a moment, but for a movement,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. “Our deadline is victory.”

By Jake Johnson.  Pubished 1-16-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Becker1999/flickr/CC

Don’t call it a day of action.

On June 18, the Poor People’s Campaign and its partners in organized labor, the civil rights movement, and religious communities are planning to mobilize their members and allies from across the U.S. to Washington, D.C. for what they hope will be the “largest mass assembly of poor people and low-wage workers in this nation’s history.”

But Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, cautioned against viewing the impending “massive, nonviolent” march on the nation’s capital as a singular event, one whose energy and demands will fade as soon as that June Saturday ends. Continue reading

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200 Inmates Hunger Strike Over ‘Inhumane’ Rikers Island

“It just keeps getting worse and worse,” said one inmate at the notorious New York City jail. “I don’t wish this upon nobody.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 1-13-2022 by Common Dreams

A large group gathered to support the prisoners inside Rikers Island. Photo: Dean Moses/Twitter

A hunger strike by around 200 prisoners at New York City’s Rikers Island jail entered its sixth day Thursday, as demonstrators continued to protest “deplorable” and dangerous conditions including lack of medical care during a surging Covid-19 outbreak at the notorious lockup, where 15 inmates died last year.

“It just gets worse and worse,” 55-year-old Rikers inmate Nelson Pinero told The New York Times, adding that mice and insects regularly keep him up at night. Continue reading

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More Than 8,000 Kroger Grocery Workers Strike in Colorado

The strike began a day after a report showed 14% of Kroger workers have experienced homelessness in the past year.

By Julia Conley.  Published 1-12-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Chimi Chi/Twitter

On the heels of a new report showing significant financial insecurity, including homelessness, among workers at Kroger grocery stores, more than 8,000 of the chain’s employees in Colorado went on strike Wednesday to demand fair wages and better healthcare benefits.

Amid a recent wave of successful strikes at companies including John Deere and Kellogg’s, the work stoppage is taking place at nearly 80 King Sooper grocery stores, which are owned by the Kroger Company, across the Denver metropolitan area. According to the Colorado Sun, 10 additional stores in Colorado Springs could also go on strike in the coming weeks. Continue reading

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Red Cross Declares First-Ever Blood Shortage Crisis in US

The warning that “lifesaving blood may not be available for some patients when it is needed” comes amid a surge in Covid-19 cases.

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 1-11-2022 by Common Dreams

Due to problems tied to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the American Red Cross on Tuesday declared its first-ever national blood shortage crisis, warning that already, “doctors have been forced to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait.”

The plea for “critically needed” blood and platelet donations comes during National Blood Donor Month and amid a surge in U.S. Covid-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant. Continue reading

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‘Good News for Seniors’: Becerra Orders Medicare to Reassess Premium Hike

“It is unconscionable,” said one advocate welcoming the announcement, “for Medicare premiums to increase this dramatically because of one corporation’s greed.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Pubished 1-10-2022 by Common Dreams

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced on January 10, 2022 that he was ordering a review of a planned 15% hike in the Medicare Part B premium. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

As the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that he was ordering a review of a planned 15% hike in the Medicare Part B premium for 2022, healthcare reform advocates stressed the need for Congress to pass a Build Back Better bill with a provision allowing the federal government to negotiate the price of prescription drugs.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said that he was instructing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “to reassess the recommendation for the 2022 Medicare Part B premium”—a hike that progressive critics said was largely the result of the pharmaceutical industry’s outrageous profiteering. Continue reading

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Caravans Across California Set to Hit the Road as State’s Single-Payer Bill Advances

“Single-payer healthcare is long overdue, and while we push for Medicare for All nationally, California can lead the way by enacting CalCare.”

By Brett Wilkins  Pubished 1-7-2022 by Common Dreams

Single-payer healthcare advocates prepare to participate in an April 16, 2020 auto caravan in Ukiah in support of A.B. 1400, also known as CalCare, which would provide all California residents with medically necessary care with no co-pays, deductibles, or other out-of-pocket costs. (Photo: Bob Dass/Flickr/cc)

As a bill to deliver single-payer healthcare to Californians is set to advance to a state legislative health committee next week, more than a dozen automobile caravans will take to the streets of cities and towns across the Golden State on Saturday to promote and show support for what could be a first-in-the-nation universal care program.

The proposed legislation, A.B. 1400 or CalCare, would provide all medically necessary healthcare to every California resident, regardless of immigration status, with no co-pays, deductibles, or out-of-pocket costs.

A related bill, Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 11, that was introduced Wednesday by Assemblymembers Ash Kalra (D-27) and Alex Lee (D-25)—two of A.B. 1400’s primary sponsors—would fund CalCare via a gross receipts tax, payroll tax, and a personal income tax on high earners.

On Thursday, A.B. 1400, which had previously stalled due to questions over how it would be funded, was approved by the Assembly Rules Committee—with strong Republican opposition—and will advance to the Health Committee next week.

At least 15 California caravans are planned for Saturday, from San Diego in the south to Eureka in the north. California Nurses Association (CNA) will host a rally and car caravan to the state Capitol in Sacramento.

“A.B. 1400 and ACA 11 provide Californians a clear understanding of what they can expect from a truly publicly financed, single-payer healthcare system and allows them to decide for themselves if they are better off paying for the most expensive healthcare in the world with the worst outcomes of any wealthy nation or guaranteed healthcare for all with CalCare while reducing overall healthcare costs,” Kalra said in a statement.

“Those that profit off the immoral status quo may not like it, but I am confident that the vast majority of working and retired Californians will see the benefit of significant cost savings as we remove debilitating insurance costs, out-of-reach prescription drugs, and arbitrarily high hospital fees,” he added.

Mike Bonin, who serves on the City Council of Los Angeles—one of more than two dozen municipalities supporting the bill—said in a statement that “single-payer healthcare is long overdue, and while we push for Medicare for All nationally, California can lead the way by enacting CalCare.”

“Unanticipated medical expenses should not doom people to bankruptcy, poverty, or homelessness,” Bonin continued, noting that A.B. 1400 “would offer healthcare coverage to three million uninsured Californians. As we have done with the minimum wage and the fight against the climate crisis, California can lead and show what’s possible.”

Oakland City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Sheng Thao said that “in Oakland, we know health disparities overwhelmingly impact our BIPOC communities in East and West Oakland. As cities across the state work to end health disparities we need California to step up and reaffirm that healthcare is a human right, that nobody should go bankrupt because they are sick, and that our health system prioritizes patients over profit.”

“They can do this by passing AB1400 this year to expand quality, affordable healthcare to every Californian,” she added.

Stephanie Roberson, CNA’s government relations director, said that “in 2022, we already have one guarantee: out-of-pocket healthcare costs for Californians will continue to sharply rise. This time, let’s guarantee Californians can get the care they need without going into medical debt, starting a GoFundMe campaign, or going homeless or not paying for food or heating bills instead.”

Activist Ady Barkan, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease), noted that “our whole society has been profoundly disrupted by the Covid pandemic because we have built a healthcare system that prioritizes profits over people, and private wealth over public health.”

“Our state leaders must listen to our cities—large and small—who bear the brunt of our healthcare crisis and deliver guaranteed health care for all through A.B. 1400,” he added.

While then-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, supported single-payer legislation in the past and called for such a program while campaigning for governor, he has not taken a position on CalCare.

“I don’t know how to do it, because it’s never been done,” Newsom said of single-payer during his gubernatorial run in 2018. “But I believe it can be done. And if any state can prove it, we can. I’m willing to tackle this.”

In addition to the 26 cities and Santa Clara County—home to San Jose—that support the bill, groups including the California Democratic Party, the California Labor Federation, CNA, Public Citizen, and various local chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) back the measure.

“Guaranteed single-payer healthcare for all people regardless of citizenship status would have made my family’s life much more stable and safe when we were undocumented immigrants,” Dr. Haemin Cho, secretary and co-chair of the Progressive Democrats of America’s San Francisco chapter—a supporter of A.B. 1400—told Common Dreams. “CalCare is the best thing we could do during this crippling pandemic to ensure all families are safe from financial ruin due to illness. It can save lives and stabilize our economy.”

Lee, the legislation’s co-author, lamented that “despite being the richest country in the world, the United States is still the only country in the developed world without a system of universal healthcare.”

“The pandemic has made evident that tying your healthcare to employment isn’t just antiquated, it’s dangerous,” he added. “Now is the time to realize healthcare is a human right—and California will lead the way with CalCare.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
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After 7 Years, Anti-War Group That Fed the Hungry Wins Fight With Fort Lauderdale

“We outlived and outmaneuvered the old mayor, city manager, and city attorney, who were all intent on policing us and the homeless out of existence,” said the local chapter of Food Not Bombs.

By Kenny Stancil  Published 1-5-2022 by Common Dreams

“It took seven years, but Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs’ federal civil liberties lawsuit against Fort Lauderdale for banning food sharings is finally concluding,” the group said on January 3, 2022. (Photo: Ft. Lauderdale Food Not Bombs/Facebook)

Anti-hunger and anti-war activists in Florida have reportedly won their protracted legal fight against the city government of Fort Lauderdale, which agreed to compensate the local chapter of Food Not Bombs after spending years trying to prevent the group from sharing free food with people in need at a downtown park.

“It took seven years, but Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs’ federal civil liberties lawsuit against Fort Lauderdale for banning food sharings is finally concluding,” the group said Monday in a statement. “After we won our second appeal in August 2021, the city has accepted a settlement that admits they were wrong to enforce the park rule against us and will pay us a small amount of damages. They will also have to pay our lawyers a great deal more!”

Last August, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th District ruled unanimously that “a rule limiting food-sharing inside Fort Lauderdale parks is unconstitutional as applied to Food Not Bombs’ hosting of free vegan meals for the homeless,” the Courthouse News Service reported at the time.

According to the outlet:

A three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based appeals court overturned a Florida federal court’s summary judgment in favor of the city, finding that a rule which banned the sharing of food as a social service in city parks without written permission violated Food Not Bombs’ First Amendment rights.

Fort Lauderdale Park Rule 2.2 requires city permission for social service food-sharing events in all Fort Lauderdale parks and allows officials to charge as much as $6,000 for the permitting process.

In a 64-page ruling issued Tuesday, the panel determined the rule cannot lawfully qualify as a “valid regulation” of Food Not Bombs’ expressive conduct due to its “utterly standardless permission requirement.”

In its statement, Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs said that the favorable settlement is “on top of the victories this lawsuit already accomplished in years’ prior, including the 2018 appeals ruling that ruled that the original sharing ban law was unconstitutional—[…] creating a strongly worded precedent about sharing food as protected free speech.”

“We had to bite our tongues a lot over the years to see how this would play out, but no more,” the group continued. “We outlived and outmaneuvered the old mayor, city manager, and city attorney, who were all intent on policing us and the homeless out of existence.”

“Let’s not forget multiple FLPD chiefs and captains who sent their goons to stalk and arrest us, all gone now!” the group added. “Nuts to all the narrow-minded fools who wanted to be rid of us.”

Decrying government efforts to crack down on those who feed the poor, Keith McHenry—co-founder of Food Not Bombs, which uses surplus ingredients that would otherwise be thrown away to provide vegetarian meals to people in more than 1,000 cities in 65 countries across the world—told the Institute for Public Accuracy on Wednesday that “sharing free food with the hungry is an unregulated gift of love.”

McHenry—currently in Houston, where another local chapter is risking arrest by refusing to comply with a city ordinance that seeks to move meal distribution from outside the downtown library to a parking lot near the courthouse—noted that in addition to worsening poverty, the coronavirus crisis has made obtaining assistance more difficult, underscoring the importance of Food Not Bombs.

“While most indoor soup kitchens shut down during the pandemic,” he said, “Food Not Bombs continued to share with the unhoused.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

 

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