Archives for July, 2017

With so many threats to public health arising each month, it can be hard to catch all of them. The Union of Concerned Scientists has performed a tremendous service by producing the report Sidelining Science from Day One: How the Trump Administration Has Harmed Public Health and Safety in Its First Six Months.

With the future of the Affordable Care Act still up in the air, most of the news coverage has gone to insurance coverage, premiums and Medicaid. And rightly so. But also included in the massive health reform law were a number of innovative measures to improve the quality and value of the medical care we actually get in the doctor’s office. With repeal still on the table, those measures are at risk too.

“It’s like an oven in there”: preventing work-related heat illnesses

Business lobbyists in California claim proposed worker safety rules for heat illness prevention are on too fast a track. They might think differently if they set up their desk in a warehouse or laundry without air conditioning.

Two global unions, four labor rights organizations and 23 apparel brands and retailers agreed in late June to extend the ground-breaking Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety that has led to safer working conditions for 4 million garment workers. The legally-binding agreement came about following the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse that killed 1,138 workers in Dhaka.

Remember in the bad old days before the ACA, when those who bought individual plans on the private market faced unpleasant surprises – like finding at out a very inopportune time that their plans didn’t cover hospitalization or maternity care, or that they’d reached a lifetime limit? If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has his way, we’ll be going back to those hated conditions, but with the added burden of deep Medicaid cuts and other provisions that are awful for public health.

In 2011, Texas legislators slashed the state’s family planning budget by 67 percent. The justification? To reduce abortions by defunding clinics associated with an abortion provider (read: Planned Parenthood). Now, it turns out Texas legislators actually accomplished the opposite: narrowing access to family planning services only led to more unplanned pregnancies and more abortions.

“Safety talk” at the Tour de France

Remarks about safety for cyclists at the Tour de France have a familiar ring to those about workplace safety.

Occupational Health News Roundup

Uber’s new insurance plan won’t do much to protect its injured workers; investigation finds 1,000 additional black lung cases in Appalachia; Washington state welcomes a new paid family leave law; and St. Louis workers face a pay cut after state legislators overturn the city’s minimum wage hike.

Dozens of safety inspector positions in California are vacant while workplace fatalities and injuries in the state are on the rise. Cal/OSHA has had an average of 34 vacant field enforcement positions a month since July 2015, which means that more than $10 million in state-authorized funding was left unused.

Both the Senate BCRA and the Freedom Caucus budget proposal aim to cut spending on crucial assistance programs while granting large tax breaks that disproportionately benefit the wealthy.