Category Archives: Health Care

Lame-Duck Dems Must Lift Debt Limit, Advocates Say as GOP Doubles Down on Social Security Threats

“Democrats must do whatever it takes to defeat Republican attacks on our earned Social Security benefits,” said one advocate. “That means raising the debt ceiling this year, before Republicans take control of the House.”

By Julia Conley.  Published 11-30-2022 by Common Dreams

#StoptheShutdown Press Conference with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer in 2019. Photo: AFGE/flickr/CC

Progressives on Wednesday warned that time is running out for Democratic leaders to take Republicans at their word regarding slashes to social safety net programs, as U.S. Sen. John Thune indicated the GOP will use a potential fight over the debt ceiling next year as leverage to push cuts—unless the Democrats act now to raise the debt limit while they still control the Senate and House.

Thune (R-S.D.), who is the number-two Republican in the Senate as the chamber’s minority whip, told Bloomberg Tuesday that the party has a “long list” of policy priorities for the next Congress, which will commence on January 3. The party plans to put forward budget reforms including to federal programs which they have long claimed, erroneously, are unsustainable. Continue reading

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90+ Groups Warn ‘Kids Online Safety Act’ Could Have ‘Damaging’ Effects

“Congress needs to pass real laws that rein in the abuses of Big Tech and protect everyone’s privacy and human rights rather than using kids as pawns to advance poorly drafted legislation in order to score political points,” said one critic.

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 11-28-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Julia M Cameron/Pexels

Nearly 100 LGBTQ+ and human rights groups warned in a Monday letter to Congress that while “privacy, online safety, and digital well-being of children should be protected,” proposed legislation intended to do so would instead negatively impact all internet users.

Specifically, the letter says that the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) “would undermine those goals for all people, but especially children, by effectively forcing providers to use invasive filtering and monitoring tools; jeopardizing private, secure communications; incentivizing increased data collection on children and adults; and undermining the delivery of critical services to minors by public agencies like schools.” Continue reading

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Scientists Revive ‘Zombie’ Virus After 50,000 Years Trapped in Siberian Permafrost

Researchers documented 13 never-before-seen viruses that have been lying dormant, frozen in thick ice, over tens of thousands of years.

By Common Dreams  Published 11-26-2022

Slump D is a massive retrogressive thaw slump on Herschel island., Yukon Territory. Photo: Boris Radosavljevic/flickr/CC

As our world continues to warm up, vast areas of permafrost are rapidly melting, releasing material that’s been trapped for up to a million years. This includes uncountable numbers of microbes that have been lying dormant for hundreds of millennia.

To study these emerging microbes, scientists from the French National Center for Scientific Research have now revived a number of these “zombie viruses” from the Siberian permafrost, including one thought to be nearly 50,000 years old – a record age for a frozen virus returning to a state capable of infecting other organisms.

The team behind the study, led by microbiologist Jean-Marie, says these ancient viruses are potentially a significant threat to public health, and further study needs to be done to assess the danger that these infectious agents could pose as the permafrost melts.

The researchers warned it may just be the tip of the iceberg:

“One-quarter of the Northern Hemisphere is underlain by permanently frozen ground, referred to as permafrost,” researchers wrote in the paper.

“Due to climate warming, irreversibly thawing permafrost is releasing organic matter frozen for up to a million years, most of which decomposes into carbon dioxide and methane, further enhancing the greenhouse effect. Part of this organic matter also consists of revived cellular microbes (prokaryotes, unicellular eukaryotes) as well as viruses that remained dormant since prehistorical times.”

According to Global News:

In 2014, the same researchers unearthed a 30,000-year-old virus trapped in permafrost, the BBC reported. The discovery was groundbreaking because after all that time, the virus was still able to infect organisms. But now, they’ve beaten their own record by reviving a virus that is 48,500 years old.

“If the authors are indeed isolating live viruses from ancient permafrost, it is likely that the even smaller, simpler mammalian viruses would also survive frozen for eons,” virologist Eric Delwart from the University of California, San Francisco told New Scientist.

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

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Austin AFL-CIO Council Becomes Latest to Urge Biden to End Medicare Privatization Scheme

The labor council’s newly passed resolution warns that the scheme “allows doctors and their offices to convert a patients’ traditional Medicare choice into ACO-REACH coverage without first informing their patients.”

By Jake Johnson  Published 11-21-2022 by Common Dreams

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/CC

The labor council of the Austin, Texas AFL-CIO has passed a resolution urging the Biden administration to terminate a Medicare privatization scheme that is quietly moving ahead despite vocal opposition from doctors, seniors, and progressive lawmakers.

The pilot program, which inserts private middlemen between patients and healthcare providers, was unveiled with little notice during the final months of the Trump administration despite internal concerns about its legality. The experiment has since been largely upheld by the Biden administration, which announced mostly cosmetic changes earlier this year, winning applause from industry groups that lobbied against complete elimination of the program. Continue reading

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Patients Push Biden HHS to Act as Pharma Firm Charges $190K for Lifesaving Prostate Cancer Drug

“HHS can clearly insist on limiting the U.S. price of Xtandi to the median price for other large high-income countries,” said advocates, “particularly since the drug has already generated more than $10 billion in sales from Medicare alone based upon these unconscionable pricing disparities.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 11-20-2022 by Common Dreams

Screenshot: GlobalGiving

“Cancer does not wait, nor should cancer patients have to wait for years for their government to act.”

That’s the message patient advocates reiterated in a Friday letter asking the Biden administration to help them secure a lifesaving prostate cancer drug that costs nearly $190,000 per year despite its development being 100% taxpayer-funded.

Last year, prostate cancer patient Eric Sawyer petitioned U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to grant march-in rights—under which the government can grant patent licenses to companies other than a drug’s manufacturer—for enzalutamide, which is sold under the brand name Xtandi. Continue reading

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13 Senate Dems Join GOP in Voting to End Covid Emergency Declaration, Kick Millions Off Medicaid

One public health advocate warned that final passage of the resolution would “affect the cost of vaccines, tests, and treatments, restrict access to Medicaid and telehealth, and restart student loan payments.”

By Jake Johnson  Published 11-16-2022 by Common Dreams

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the midterm elections “a victory and a vindication” for Democrats after the results of the Nevada U.S. Senate race on November 13, 2022. Screenshot: NBC News

Thirteen members of the Senate Democratic caucus—including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer—joined Republicans on Tuesday in approving a resolution aimed at terminating the national emergency declaration for Covid-19, a move that would kick millions of people off Medicaid as experts warn of a winter infection and hospitalization surge.

While the White House said Tuesday that President Joe Biden will veto the resolution if it passes the House and reaches his desk, the Senate vote sparked outrage among public health experts and others who stressed the far-reaching implications of the resolution. Continue reading

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Amid Eli Lilly-Twitter Fiasco, Groups Call for End to Insulin Price Gouging

“The fake Eli Lilly account was right. Insulin should be free.”

By Kenny Stancil  Published 11-14-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Brian J. Matis/flickr/CC

Dozens of progressive advocacy groups marked World Diabetes Day on Monday by urging Congress to pass legislation that would ensure people in the United States have access to the insulin on which their survival depends and prevent Big Pharma from price gouging on the lifesaving medicine.

In a letter addressed to Senate and House leaders, Public Citizen, T1International, and more than 50 other organizations wrote: “World Diabetes Day marks the birthday of Frederick Banting, who discovered insulin and famously sold its patent for $1 and stated, ‘Insulin does not belong to me, it belongs to the world.’ Despite its discovery more than 100 years ago and the generosity of Banting and the co-inventors, many people living in the United States still struggle to afford access to the insulin they need.” Continue reading

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The US Christian Right groups actively involved in voter suppression

OPINION: Religious and anti-abortion groups are trying to restrict voting rights ahead of the midterm elections

By Annika Brockschmidt  Published 11-3-2022 by openDemocracy

Occupy Wall Street joined the NAACP as thousands marched in midtown Manhattan on December 10, 2011 to defend voting rights. Photo: Michael Fleshman/flickr/CC

Anyone who wants a future in today’s Republican Party must openly claim that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, or at least dance around the question of electoral fraud enough to appease their dear leader.

Meanwhile, a coalition of conservative dark money groups with strong ties to the religious Right have made it their mission to curb voting rights in potentially election-deciding swing states. They are using allegations of Democratic voter fraud and ‘election integrity’ as tactics to engage in voter suppression. Continue reading

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US Unemployment System ‘Wholly Unprepared’ as Fed Risks Throwing Millions Out of Work

“If another wave of job losses does indeed hit, the unemployment safety net isn’t ready to cushion the blow without significant improvements,” warns the co-author of a new study.

By Jake Johnson  Published 11-1-2022 by Common Dreams

People’s Unemployment Line protest in Philadelphia, 2020. Photo: Joe Piette/flickr/CC

With the Federal Reserve poised to induce mass layoffs in its ongoing campaign to curb inflation, a study published Tuesday warns the notoriously fragmented U.S. unemployment system is nowhere near ready to handle another surge in jobless claims, potentially spelling disaster for the millions of people who could be thrown out of work next year.

Authored by Andrew Stettner and Laura Valle Gutierrez of The Century Foundation (TCF), the new analysis notes that “the share of jobless workers actually receiving UI benefits has shrunk dramatically” since federal benefit increases expired last year. According to TCF, just 26.8% of jobless workers were receiving state unemployment benefits in the 12 months that ended in August 2022, a sharp decline from the 76% rate through early 2021. Continue reading

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‘A Brazil of Hope’ as Leftist Lula Defeats Far-Right Bolsonaro in Presidential Runoff

The Workers’ Party candidate, who completed a remarkable political comeback less than three years removed from a prison cell, tweeted one word following his win: “Democracy.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 10-30-2022 by Common Dreams

Brazilian President-Elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Photo: Daya Laxmi Shrestha/Twitter

“A huge blow against fascistic politics and a huge victory for decency and sanity.”

That’s how RootsAction director Norman Solomon described Brazilian President-Elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s Sunday presidential runoff victory against far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, the culmination of a most remarkable political comeback for a man who was languishing behind bars just three years ago.

With 99% of votes counted via an electronic system that tallies final results in a matter of hours—and which was repeatedly aspersed by Bolsonaro in an effort to cast doubt on the election’s veracity—da Silva led the incumbent by more than two million ballots, or nearly two percentage points. Continue reading

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