Policy https://scienceblogs.com/channel/policy/feed en It's October. What's Congress doing about healthcare? https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/10/04/its-october-whats-congress-doing-about-healthcare <span>It&#039;s October. What&#039;s Congress doing about healthcare?</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>We made it to October without letting Congressional Republicans <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/25/graham-cassidy-isnt-a-health-care-solution-its-a-blueprint-for-less-access-less-value-and-less-coverage/">ravage our healthcare system</a>, so that's a relief. However, the fact that it's October also means funding for the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/10/01/9-million-kids-get-health-insurance-under-chip-congress-just-let-it-expire/?utm_term=.4e7cdab67f04">Children's Health Insurance Program</a> and federally qualified health centers has expired ... and Congress has been putting so much energy into <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/17/one-more-gop-healthcare-bill-that-would-gut-medicaid-and-wreck-individual-insurance-market/">trying to gut Medicaid</a> and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/10/house-republicans-ban-abortions-after-20-weeks/">further restricting women's access to abortions</a> that they neglected to renew funding for these two immensely popular bipartisan programs.</p> <p>Instead of funding these programs because they're crucial sources of coverage and care for large portions of our population, House Republicans are trying to use them as leverage to weaken other aspects of public health. <a href="https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/3/16413936/voxcare-health-care-fight-chip-ipab">Vox's Dylan Scott reports</a>:</p> <blockquote><p id="6kz4uD"><strong>Republicans want to pay for CHIP and health center funding by cutting Obamacare and cutting entitlement spending.</strong></p> <p id="WBeFSo">The House GOP plan would:</p> </blockquote> <ul><li id="rRWSwk"> <blockquote><p>Cut Obamacare's public health fund by $6.4 billion over 10 years</p></blockquote> </li> <li id="dLLl9W"> <blockquote><p>Cut the grace period for Obamacare enrollees who fail to make premium payments. Under current law, enrollees can miss three months of payments without losing their coverage. The House bill would shorten that grace period to one month or allow states to set their own.</p></blockquote> </li> <li id="l7rWHr"> <blockquote><p>Repeal Obamacare's Independent Payment Advisory Board, the controversial panel created by the law tasked with reducing Medicare's costs if the program's spending grows at too fast a rate.</p></blockquote> </li> <li id="J6OB8s"> <blockquote><p>Increase Medicare premiums for high earners (individuals making $500,000 annually)</p></blockquote> </li> <li id="270oTw"> <blockquote><p>Aim to cut Medicaid payments for prenatal care and preventive services for children in circumstances when another insurer could instead be liable for the costs</p></blockquote> </li> </ul><p>Let's all remember what this says about the values of current members of Congress when the next election arrives.</p> <p> </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/lborkowski">lborkowski</a></span> <span>Wed, 10/04/2017 - 13:53</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/policy" hreflang="en">Policy</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 04 Oct 2017 17:53:31 +0000 lborkowski 62936 at https://scienceblogs.com Considering Candidates Post Las Vegas Massacre: Rule Out Tim Walz https://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2017/10/02/considering-candidates-post-las-vegas-massacre-rule-out-tim-walz <span>Considering Candidates Post Las Vegas Massacre: Rule Out Tim Walz</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>A man who was not even known as a gun collector amassed an arsenal that all experts agree included illegal fully automatic weapons. He carried out an act of carnage, alone and using only those weapons, that exceeded in casualty count almost every military battle fought in recent decades by American troops, and that equaled or surpassed all but a very small number of terrorist attacks. </p> <p>He shot five hundred people. </p> <p>He shot these people, killing nearly 60 of them, with guns he was able to get because he lives in America. In America, the Second Amendment has protected gun ownership for so long and so irrationally that, even though the worst killing machines are sort of, kinda, a little, illegal, you can still get them.</p> <p>Guns are the only toys protected by a Constitutional amendment. Gun ownership is a deadly pasttime that is protected by Congress. Even though the CDC and other government agencies, and the concomitant experts, believe that guns are a major public health risk, Congress has legislated against the distribution of research funds one might use to study this problem. And, generally, Congress has been the lapdog of the National Rifle Association, which is a lobbyist organization representing gun and ammo manufacturers disguised as an interest group supporting guns as toys for men and women, but mostly men, across the country.</p> <p></p><h2>Why Tim Walz Is Not Viable as a DFL Gubernatorial Candidate </h2><p>First, let me say that I would normally argue that it is too early to make strong statements against a fellow DFLer (Democratic Party) who is running for office. But what happened last night in Las Vegas has changed all that, and I have to speak out, and strongly so. I am very unhappy about this situation. Here's the story. </p> <p>As I was poking around to find out how various members of Congress and future candidates for re-election had voted on guns, in pursuit of writing about Las Vegas. I was shocked and deeply disturbed to find that Congressman Tim Walz, who currently represents Minnesota's 1st District and is now running for the Democratic Party's endorsement for Governor, is one of those questionable members of Congress. I had seen Walz speak at a recent forum. Members of a gun-control group were there and they asked the first questions. They asked about various bills and they asked about silencers, an issue that has come up recently in the Minnesota legislature.</p> <p>I was utterly confused by Congressman Walz's response to these questions. At no point did he lay down a position. He seemed to take more than one position at a time. He mentioned he was a veteran and a hunter several times, but he also mentioned that we have to be sensible about guns. But he wasn't able to articulate a position that I could understand, and I've been following and writing about gun issues for years. I left that forum not knowing what his position on guns was, but feeling like I had been somehow conned. In fact, I felt like I needed a shower after that set of answers, and I honestly can't explain exactly why. I did check my wallet on the way out the door, though.</p> <p>Anyway, I have now looked into it. Walz is, essentially, a Republican when it comes to guns. He supports conceal carry. He supported a bill that allowed the registration and position of weapons that are normally illegal, by a privileged group. He supported the ban by Congress of the Washington DC law that included sensible trigger lock provisions, disallowed semiautomatic weapons, and provided for stricter registration He opposed legislation what would limit access to guns by people with questionable mental competence. And, I think he said, silencers should be legal, but again, I'm not sure. </p> <p>Walz was actually a co-sponser of HR420, the Veterans Heritage Firearms act. This basically allowed veterans or people related to veterans (i.e., a LOT of people) to keep and register firearms that would normally be illegal, as long as they had stolen the gun off a dead enemy. Or otherwise acquired it while "overseas." </p> <p>The act of Congress disallowing Washington DC to regulate its own guns was HR 1399 was also co-Sponsored by Walz. Congress allowed DC to continued to disallow sawed off shotguns, but not semiautomatic weapons. </p> <p>The mental competence law that Walz supported was HR2547. This bill "Prohibits, in any case arising out of the administration of laws and benefits by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, considering any person who is mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or experiencing an extended loss of consciousness from being considered adjudicated as a mental defective for purposes of the right to receive or transport firearms without the order or finding of a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority of competent jurisdiction that such person is a danger to himself or herself or others."</p> <p>It seems like Walz is especially concerned with protecting and even expanding beyond normal the gun ownership rights of veterans with mental disabilities, which by definition includes a subset of individuals who really should not be walking around with guns that are not even legal for other people to have. </p> <p>The other Democratic candidates for Minnesota Governor have very different positions. Walz stands out like a sore thumb among his colleagues. Rebecca Otto wants a science based approach. She noted in a statement following the Las Vegas massacre that Congress has essentially illegalized scientific research on guns and gun safety. Clearly, we have made huge strides in automobile safety, and people generally have the right to drive cars, and far far fewer people are killed because of driving today than would otherwise have been possible without sensible science-based policy. We did not need a Constitutional Amendment protecting driving to make this happen. In fact, the Second Amendment damages our nation's ability to be sensible about gun laws. </p> <p>Here is, in part, Otto's <a href="https://www.facebook.com/rebeccalwotto/?ref=br_rs">statement</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>What we are doing with gun safety laws is not working. We must study gun violence as a public health issue just as we did motor vehicle safety and our work to reduce motor vehicle deaths. We need to steep our policies in evidence, not rhetoric. Let's collect the evidence and let our scientists study the issue.</p> <p>The NRA has its place, but not at the expense of so many lives. The NRA and their gun lobby stranglehold on D.C. is a perfect example of the Politics of unfettered greed. Time to end the Politics of Greed &amp; return to the Politics of the common good.</p></blockquote> <p>Here's the thing: Even Walz can be seen as advocating a sensible approach, if you stand in the back of the room, plug one ear, and kinda squint while he is talking about guns. But he has never voted for sensible change, and when he tries to advocate a mainstream progressive policy, his tongue gets stuck on his trigger and thing go badly. He is pushing himself as a progressive left of center who won't move to the right, but he's been far right on guns all along. </p> <p>Sorry, Tim. </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/gregladen">gregladen</a></span> <span>Mon, 10/02/2017 - 11:38</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/policy" hreflang="en">Policy</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 02 Oct 2017 15:38:36 +0000 gregladen 34545 at https://scienceblogs.com Antivaxers on Twitter: Fake news and Twitter bots https://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2017/09/28/antivaxers-on-twitter-fake-news-and-twitter-bots <span>Antivaxers on Twitter: Fake news and Twitter bots</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Two years ago, I <a href="http://respectfulinsolence.com/2015/06/09/twitter-as-an-amplifier-of-antivaccine-messages/">wrote about a study</a> that demonstrated how the antivaccine movement had learned to use Twitter to amplify their antiscience message. At the time, I noted how in 2014, when the whole "CDC whistleblower" conspiracy theory was first hatched, antivaxers were so bad at Twitter, so obvious, so naive. The Tweeted inane claims at government officials, scientists, legislators, and whoever else might have influence on vaccine policy, using hashtags like <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CDCwhistleblower">#CDCwhistleblower</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/hearmewell">#hearmewell</a>. (These hashtags are still in use, but much less active.) However they did get better, to the point where the study that I discussed pointed out how antivax Twitter accounts formed large networks Tweeting opposition to California SB 277, the bill (now law) that eliminated personal belief exemptions to school vaccine mandates.</p> <p>All of this was before the 2016 election, even before Donald Trump came gliding down the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President. It was right around the time that fake news was beginning to be appreciated as the huge problem that it ultimately became. More importantly, it was long before it became appreciated how Twitter bots and hordes of Twitter trolls were engaged in an active effort to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/27/technology/twitter-russia-election.html">influence U.S. politics and the 2016 election</a>, and how Facebook was weaponized for the same purpose.</p> <!--more--><p>An inestimably important tool in the armamentarium of tools used by those seeking to influence election politics were bots. A bot is an automated program that posts to social media according to an algorithm. Twitter bots are the ones that most people are familiar with; chances are very good that if you're on Twitter for any length of time you'll come into contact with bots, which are used to distribute Tweets en masse, sometimes in an attempt to influence Twitter's trending topics, sometimes just to give the appearance of way more support for people or policies than there actually is. If you're on Twitter long enough, you'll start to learn the telltale signs that an account might be run by a bot, although accounts that combine a mixture of human-generated and automated Tweets are also common.</p> <p>It turns out that bots are everywhere. It turns out that there is evidence that Twitter is using them too. I shouldn't be surprised, and I wasn't really that surprised, but I was disturbed. Earlier this week I came across an article, <a href="https://medium.com/@mentionmapp/socialbots-are-pouring-the-pseudo-into-science-vaccines-part-i-8637b0e9e697">SocialBots are Pouring the Pseudo into Science. #Vaccines</a>. It was the product of Mentionmapp Analytics, a company that runs a website called <a href="http://mentionmapp.com/">Mentionmapp</a>, which is a tool that looks at connections between accounts and advertises itself as making "finding Twitter's great stuff easier." It begins:</p> <blockquote><p> There’s no immunity. Computational propaganda is infecting every significant online socio-political conversation. Algorithms are directly influencing the content populating social feeds, and people with ill-intentions are using software automation tools to spread digital pathogens. There’s no escaping that the number of likes, re-tweets, shares, and views are the foundations of our “filter bubbles.”</p> <p>These key social indicators are easily manipulated. They’re like micro-events and discerning human from non-human engagement is nearly impossible to detect. Detecting SocialBots at work and seeing concentrated efforts to influence public opinion and perceptions leaves us wondering how civil discourse will survive this spreading <em>digital black death</em>. </p></blockquote> <p>OK, so the article starts out a bit apocalyptic and overdramatic. It's a company that exists to sell its services analyzing Twitter networks. Still, that doesn't mean that the computer-automated manipulation of social networks isn't a massive problem. In any case, the company notes that the hashtags #vaccines and #antivax came to its attention recently, which made it curious to see how SocialBots are involved in online conversations about science and public health. Not surprisingly these days, the answer is: Heavily.</p> <p>Mentionmapp notes that it's hard to do an analysis of what it calls SocialBots without getting pulled into the misinformation being spread by those bots, which, as it turns out, is a lot. Here's the story:</p> <blockquote><p> For this case-study we observed 23 different daily Twitter maps. Each map captures the last 200 tweets and the profiles that tweeted using a the hashtag #Vaccines. Before separating real profiles from the fakes, the first map we reviewed (above) seemingly highlights the divisiveness of this issue. We also noted the volume of tweets from those profiles staking an anti-vaccine position subsequently flow to high profile and politically partisan secondary profiles.</p> <p>After reviewing the 23 separate maps of the hashtag #Vaccines, we documented 284 profile as SocialBots with one dominant participant emerging above the rest. Day in and day out @LotusOak is at the center of this conversation. </p></blockquote> <p>A short video is included to visually illustrate this phenomenon:</p> <iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/234589879" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p> Regular Twitter users might also recognized prominent antivaccine activists and the pro-vaccine activists who make prodigious efforts to counter their misinformation. What some of those pro-vaccine advocates might be unhappy to learn if they've been countering Twitter users @LotusOak (name: Vera Burnayev, who, as far as Mentionmapp can tell, doesn't exist as a real, identifiable person), @eTweeetz, or @draintheswamp55, they've almost certainly been arguing with bots Tweeting antivaccine misinformation.</p> <p>Mentionmapp also noted:</p> <blockquote><p> Out of the 23 maps we also noted the presence these four profiles re-tweeting @LotusOak on multiple days —</p> <p>@SNCCLA = 11 days<br /> @8greatyears = 5 days<br /> @Marmy2c = 5 day<br /> @theruralists = 5 days</p> <p>We classify them as SocialBots. As well as noting 284 SocialBot profiles tweeting the hashtag #Vaccine, we also documented every hashtag used in conjunction with it. A total of 609 secondary hashtags were used. Here are the top 30 hashtags. </p></blockquote> <p>The authors also documented every hashtag used in conjunction with the #vaccine hashtag. those of you out there on Twitter will recognize a lot of them that came up in the top thirty: #LearnTheRisk, #CDCTruth, #homeoprophylaxis, #aluminum, #mercury, #GMO, and more. There are also some pro-vaccine hashtags in there but those are often used by pro-vaccine Twitter users along with #vaccines. I do note that I did find one thing about this list very puzzling. Anyone who's on Twitter and deals with antivaccine misinformation will know that, over the last few months, among the favorite hashtags used by antivaxers are those related to the antivaccine propaganda movie <a href="http://respectfulinsolence.com/2016/07/18/in-which-andrew-wakefield-and-del-bigtrees-antivaccine-documentary-vaxxed-is-reviewed-with-insolence/">VAXXED</a>, like #wearevaxxed (of course) and #praybig (I have no idea why antivaxers adopted this hashtag).</p> <p>Why didn't these hashtags get flagged? I can think of a few possible reasons. One is that maybe the "VAXXED" contingent of the antivaccine movement is not as prominent as Andrew Wakefield would like everyone to believe. I'd like to think that, but there are other possible reasons. One possible reason is that, although #vaccines might be heavily influenced by bots, discussions using VAXXED-related hashtags are not. After all, why would they be? There are so many Wakefield groupies willing to use #wearevaxxed and #praybig to try to influence Twitter conversations. Alternatively, whoever is behind accounts like @LotusOak are not interested in promoting VAXXED and affiliated antivaccine viewpoints.</p> <p>From my perspective, one of the weaknesses in the Mentionapp analysis flows from a lack of knowledge about the antivaccine movement. That's not surprising, as Mentionapp is not noted for its expertise regarding pseudoscientific arguments about vaccines or, more importantly, about the main players in the antivaccine movement. As a result, what I see as a key flaw is that Mentionapp's analysis focused on #vaccines as the main hashtag to study. As a first pass, that probably sounds reasonable, but there are so many more major hashtags used by antivaxers. Arguably, #vaccines isn't even the most important. No, I don't have quantitative data to support that conclusion and thus could be wrong, but my impression in the trenches in Twitter is that most antivaxers rarely use the #vaccines hashtag. In other words, real humans who are antivaccine probably don't use #vaccines that much, but it makes sense that bots would. That makes me wonder if this analysis overestimates the influence of bots in social media interactions on Twitter. That's not to say that bots are unimportant. Even if this analysis does overestimate their influence, it wouldn't surprise me if antivaxers are using Twitter bots to influence discussions about vaccines and to give the impression that antivaccine viewpoints are more prevalent than they in fact are.</p> <p>I realize that my readers include a number of people who are active combatting antivaccine misinformation on social media, particularly Twitter. It's a hard and thankless job that subjects one to potential online abuse and stalking, particularly for women. I know that I hadn't really considered the possibility that antivaxers might be adopting the same tactics as political activists, namely using bots to try to influence the conversation on Twitter. At least, I didn't think it was likely to be happening on a large scale. The current article doesn't really answer the question of how prevalent these bots are, but it does suggest that it behooves science advocates to be aware of bots and have an idea how to identify them. Also, we should realize that not all bots are malicious. Some just post poetry, photography, or news, with no distorting effects on social media conversations.</p> <p>There are <a href="https://medium.com/dfrlab/botspot-twelve-ways-to-spot-a-bot-aedc7d9c110c">several characteristics</a> of Twitter accounts that should make you suspect you're dealing with a bot. One of the most glaring traits of Twitter bots is the frequency with which they Tweet. Benchmarks vary, but one commonly accepted benchmark is more than 50 Tweets per day. Some bots produce hundreds of Tweets a day, something real humans cannot do, at least not on a sustained basis. Another characteristic of a bot is that it frequently produces far more retweets than original Tweets. Remember, one of the main purposes of bots is amplification, to boost the signal from others by retweeting, liking, or quoting others. Another amplification technique is to program a bot to share news stories from selected sites without comment. This is particularly true if the content is always very similar, because bots are often programmed to post similar content.</p> <p>There are, of course, other characteristics suggestive of a bot, such as not having an avatar or having an avatar that is a stolen or shared photo, having a random string of numbers at the end of its handle, and choice of URL shortener. Basically, after a while on Twitter, one starts to be able to "smell" a bot. Personally, I block any account I suspect of being a bot. I'm willing to accept the "collateral damage" of potentially blocking legitimate Twitter users.</p> <p>Thanks to bots, social media has been weaponized. I might have some quibbles with Mentionapp's analysis, btu I also have to admit that part 2 hasn't been released yet. Maybe the deficiencies I've noted in this discussion will be considered and discussed in part 2. Maybe not. Even if they aren't, it's hard not to conclude that antivaxers aren't using bots to promote their point of view. It's the new reality. I can't help but wonder if we shouldn't have bots of our own.</p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/oracknows">oracknows</a></span> <span>Thu, 09/28/2017 - 01:00</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/policy" hreflang="en">Policy</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 28 Sep 2017 05:00:00 +0000 oracknows 22632 at https://scienceblogs.com Occupational Health News Roundup https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/27/occupational-health-news-roundup-255 <span>Occupational Health News Roundup</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>At the <a href="http://projects.thestar.com/temp-employment-agencies/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Toronto Star</em></a>, reporter Sara Mojtehedzadeh went undercover as a temp worker at Fiera Foods, an industrial bakery, to investigate why temp workers are more likely to get hurt on the job. Earlier this year, Canadian occupational health and safety officials brought charges against the company, whose clients include Dunkin’ Donuts, Costco and Walmart, for the death of 23-year-old Amina Diaby, who was strangled to death after her hijab got caught in a machine.</p> <p>Mojtehedzadeh, along with Brendan Kennedy, write:</p> <blockquote><p>I get about five minutes of training in a factory packed with industrial equipment.</p> <p>I am paid in cash with no deductions or pay stubs. I pick up my wages from a payday lender, a 35-minute bus ride from the factory.</p> <p>Fiera has been slapped with 191 orders for health and safety violations over the past two decades, for everything from lack of proper guarding on machines to unsafely stored gas cylinders.</p> <p>At least a dozen of the women I meet on my assembly line at Fiera, a multimillion-dollar company, are hired through temp agencies.</p> <p>Temp agency workers are changing the face of labour in Ontario.</p> <p>In workplaces around the province, the use of temp agencies limits companies’ liability for accidents on the job, reduces their responsibility for employees’ rights, and cuts costs.</p> <p>When I walk into the factory, I see mostly people of colour. Many are new Canadians. Many told me they have taken this job for one reason: to survive.</p></blockquote> <p>The story describes the speed of the production line as “crushing” — Mojtehedzadeh reports:</p> <blockquote><p>Work that is too slow elicits shouting. Work that is too sloppy elicits more shouting. Our lead hand fires out a salvo of shrill commands to push the tempo.</p> <p>The pinching continues for seven hours and 15 minutes. We receive one half-hour lunch break, as required by law. It is unpaid. We also receive a paid 15-minute break.</p> <p>I feel overwhelming relief when it’s finally my turn for lunch. My shoulders are on fire. I shuffle to the break room and look eagerly at the THINK SAFETY clock. Only three hours have passed. A co-worker watches me collapse onto a bench.</p> <p>“It gets harder,” she calls out.</p></blockquote> <p>Read the full story at the <a href="http://projects.thestar.com/temp-employment-agencies/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Toronto Star</em></a>.</p> <p>In other news:</p> <p><a href="http://www.wvgazettemail.com/news-politics/20170927/manchin-will-oppose-trump-mine-safety-nominee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Charleston Gazette-Mail</em></a>: Ken Ward Jr. reports that Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., will oppose Trump’s nominee to head the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Trump has nominated former coal executive David Zatezalo, who served as chairman of Rhino Resources. While Zatezalo was an executive at Rhino, the mining company received more than one letter from MSHA regarding a “pattern of violations”; another Rhino mine was the target of an MSHA lawsuit for undermining inspections. Manchin said in his statement: “I have comforted too many families who have lost loved ones serving our nation in the mines. Strong leadership at the Mine Safety and Health Administration is non-negotiable.”</p> <p><a href="http://tucson.com/news/local/union-workers-confront-arizona-industrial-commission-over-penalty-reductions/article_67c61559-3ede-5617-94d4-43b3b6a65003.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Arizona Daily Star</em></a>: Emily Bregel reports that about 160 members of the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters showed up at a meeting of the Industrial Commission of Arizona to confront officials about being too lenient with employers who violate health and safety standards. The also confronted the commission for not aggressively going after wage theft allegations and fraud within the construction industry. (An <a href="http://tucson.com/news/local/arizona-commission-improperly-slashes-workplace-safety-penalties-feds-say/article_2e4472d5-d216-52e3-b8d7-6892f06a3603.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">OSHA investigation</a> found the commission arbitrarily reduced penalties for safety violations.) Bregel reported that during the meeting, union President Fabian Sandez said: “In our industry, dishonest businesses commit on a continuing basis acts of wage theft, fraud and willful safety violations, putting the physical safety and financial well-being of our state’s workers at risk. Yet this commission has chosen to side with lawbreakers by reducing fines, watering down violations, rather than taking the appropriate actions demanded by law.”</p> <p><a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/25/target-to-raise-its-hourly-minimum-wage.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">CNBC</a>: Lauren Thomas reports that Target will be raising its minimum wage from $10 to $11 and is committed to raising it to $15 by 2020. The move comes amid a “quiet wage war” between Target and Walmart, which had previously announced a raise to $10 an hour by 2016. Target said the wage increase will start in October and will apply to the 100,000 temp workers it plans to hire for the holidays. In a <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/27/targets-15-an-hour-move-busts-minimum-wage-myths-commentary.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">commentary</a>, Peter Sonn, general counsel for the National Employment Law Project, writes that Target’s decision “blows up the claims of corporate lobbyists who argue it's simply not possible for industries like retail and restaurants to pay a $15 minimum wage.” He goes on to write: “Target's plan to raise pay to $15 an hour over the next 30 months is smart business strategy, and what our nation's workforce and economy need. There's now a bullseye on the back of employers like Amazon, Walmart and McDonalds. They should follow Target's lead.”</p> <p><a href="http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Philadelphia-Union-Plans-to-Sue-Big-Pharmaceutical-Over-Opioid-Crisis--448010533.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">NBC Philadelphia</a>: Alicia Victoria Lozano writes that the Philly-area International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 98 is preparing to file suit against pharmaceutical companies that have contributed to the opioid epidemic. The union has lost eight members in 11 months to the drug. The union recently changed its opioid prescription policy to help prevent addiction, with members using the union’s health provider now limited to five days of opioids for injury or pain. The old policy allowed for unlimited opioid prescribing. Lozano quoted John Dougherty, business manager for the union, who said of fellow workers: “They don't want to miss any work time, so they work through injuries, which compounds the pain and leads to the use and abuse of opioids. I'm sick of seeing our members working themselves into an early grave.”</p> <p><em>Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for 15 years. Follow me on Twitter — <a href="http://www.twitter.com/kkrisberg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@kkrisberg</a>.</em></p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/kkrisberg">kkrisberg</a></span> <span>Wed, 09/27/2017 - 12:31</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/policy" hreflang="en">Policy</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 27 Sep 2017 16:31:43 +0000 kkrisberg 62934 at https://scienceblogs.com Latest data on working conditions in global supply chains, September 2017 edition https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/21/latest-data-on-working-conditions-in-global-supply-chains-september-2017-edition <span>Latest data on working conditions in global supply chains, September 2017 edition</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The whole world is one global supply chain. Brand name companies like Nike, Apple, Hasbro, and dozens of apparel companies do not actually make the consumer products they sell. Instead they hire contract manufacturers in the developing world to produce their goods, and these contractors have sub-contractors, and sub-sub-contractors, all the way down to industrial homework in workers’ homes. Global supply chains start with processing the products’ raw materials, manufacturing parts and the finished product, and then transportation to the consumer.</p> <p>How can a conscientious consumer or occupational health professional keep track of working conditions and workers’ rights in global supply chains? There is a comprehensive “one stop” way, and then multi-stop methods for the more ambitious.</p> <p>For one-stop shopping, sign up for weekly notifications from the UK’s “<a href="https://www.business-humanrights.org">Business &amp; Human Rights Resource Centre”</a>. The staff of this non-profit organization in London scours the internet every day for the latest reports from companies, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on all aspects of global business. Their concise weekly update provides the headlines for what has been released that week, and <u>also</u> the response of the corporations whose operations are the subject of the reports.</p> <p>Not all the companies respond to the <a href="https://www.business-humanrights.org">Resource Centre’s</a> invitation to comment, but the most publicity-conscious corporations often do, providing a richer understanding of impact of global supply chains and the varied efforts to improve working conditions.</p> <p>In general, there are four sources of information about working conditions and the efforts to implement corrective actions in these supply chains: news media reports; factory reports from NGOs, factory reports from “multi-stakeholder initiatives” (MSIs); and reports from the corporate social responsibility (CSR) departments of the transnational corporations themselves.</p> <p>I have <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/359537803/Table-1-CSR-Articles-Reports-Jul-Sept-2017">assembled a selection</a> of the key reports and articles from these four sources for the period of June to September 2017. Some of my favorites this quarter are:</p> <ul><li>The International Labor Organization’s <a href="http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_574717/lang--en/index.htm">report</a> on the 40+ million people caught in modern slavery;</li> <li>A Fordham University law professor’s <a href="https://wsr-network.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Gordon-CSR-vs-WSR-FINAL-July-2017.pdf">critique</a> of corporate social responsibility;</li> <li>The <em>Guardian</em> and <em>Washington Post</em> articles on illegal and abusive conditions in Ivanka Trump’s shoe factories in China (<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/13/revealed-reality-of-a-life-working-in-an-ivanka-trump-clothing-factory">here</a>, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/politics/ivanka-trump-overseas/?utm_term=.fd8173b24a4e&amp;wpisrc=nl_heads-draw6&amp;wpmm=1">here</a>); and</li> <li>The Baptist World Aid (Australia) <a href="https://baptistworldaid.org.au/action/who-makes-my-clothes/?_cldee=Z2FycmV0dGRicm93bkBjb21jYXN0Lm5ldA%3d%3d&amp;recipientid=contact-4d1de43c5151e711814c02df0a9e492b-ff148bc6cf574826a0a56d2dbffc63d9&amp;utm_source=ClickDimensions&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=Advocacy%20Enews&amp;esid=ea74b586-7e9e-e711-8153-02df0a9e492b">computer simulation</a> game on “who makes my clothes?”</li> </ul><p>A more ambitious, and time-consuming, way to stay informed is to sign up for the weekly or monthly notices from the following <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/359537955/Table-2-Table-for-All-Organizations">types of organizations</a>:</p> <ul><li>Labor rights organizations, such as the <a href="http://www.cleanclothes.org">Clean Clothes Campaign</a> and <a href="http://www.goodelectronics.org">Good Electronics</a></li> <li>Multi-stakeholder initiatives, such as the <a href="http://www.ehticaltrade.org">Ethical Trading Initiative</a> and <a href="http://www.fashionrevolution.org">Fashion Revolution</a></li> <li>Corporate social responsibility organizations and industry associations, such as <a href="http://www.eiccoalition.org">Electronics Industry Citizen Coalition</a></li> </ul><p>If one has an interest in supply chains that involve a particular area of the world, then <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/359537972/Table-3-Table-of-Regional-Organizations">these organizations’ web sites</a> can be visited regularly for news from Asia, Africa and the Americas.</p> <p>If one has a particular industry in mind then <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/359538023/Table-4-Table-for-Specific-Industries">these organizations’ web sites</a> can be followed, including apparel, electronics and toys, although some these organizations focus more than just one industry’s supply chain.</p> <p>Dozens of labor, human rights, and environmental groups are monitoring and investigating global supply chains. Every week they issue detailed and first-hand reports from the factory floors and communities that make up global supply chains. They want consumers and advocates to have this information. They want this information to inform decision making and public policy. They want it to influence the reputation of transnational corporations. They want it to improve the lives of millions of workers, their families and communities around the world.</p> <p>So dive in! Use the knowledge to make a difference!</p> <p><em>Garrett Brown is a certified industrial hygienist who worked for Cal/OSHA for 20 years as a field Compliance Safety and Health Officer and then served as Special Assistant to the Chief of the Division before retiring in 2014.  He has also been the volunteer Coordinator of the Maquiladora Health &amp; Safety Support Network since 1993 and has coordinated projects in Bangladesh, Central America, China, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Mexico and Vietnam. </em></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/garrettbrown">garrettbrown</a></span> <span>Thu, 09/21/2017 - 10:55</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/policy" hreflang="en">Policy</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:55:52 +0000 garrettbrown 62930 at https://scienceblogs.com Doctors, public health workers, patient advocates — even insurers — oppose latest ACA repeal https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/20/doctors-public-health-workers-patient-advocates-even-insurers-oppose-latest-aca-repeal <span>Doctors, public health workers, patient advocates — even insurers — oppose latest ACA repeal</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Senate Republicans are again trying to ram through an Affordable Care Act replacement that threatens the health and well-being of millions of Americans. It’s shameful. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at what people who actually work in health care are saying about the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill.</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzhK81GzSWw" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this interview</a>, Sen. Bill Cassidy insists that his bill would protect people with pre-existing conditions. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association disagrees. (Cassidy also says in that same interview that his bill would work through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which he said has been reauthorized. That’s totally false — CHIP has not been reauthorized and its funding expires Sept. 30.) But back to pre-existing conditions — here’s what <a href="https://www.bcbs.com/news/press-releases/blue-cross-blue-shield-association-statement-graham-cassidy-health-care-reform" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Blue Cross Blue Shield</a> had to say:</p> <blockquote><p>Although we support providing states with greater flexibility in shaping health care options for their residents, we share the significant concerns of many health care organizations about the proposed Graham-Cassidy bill. <strong>The bill contains provisions that would allow states to waive key consumer protections, as well as undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing medical conditions. </strong>The legislation reduces funding for many states significantly and would increase uncertainty in the marketplace, making coverage more expensive and jeopardizing Americans’ choice of health plans.</p></blockquote> <p>America’s Health Insurance Plans just released <a href="https://www.ahip.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/AHIP-Letter-to-Leaders-McConnell-and-Schumer-re-Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson-Proposal-9-20-2017.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this letter</a> that was sent to Senate leaders Mitch McConnell, R-KY, and Charles Schumer, D-NY. Guess what? They also read the proposed repeal as taking away protections for pre-exiting conditions:</p> <blockquote><p>The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal...would have real consequences on consumers and patients by further destabilizing the individual market; cutting Medicaid; <strong>pulling back on protections for pre-existing conditions</strong>; not ending taxes on health insurance premiums and benefits; and potentially allowing government-controlled, single-payer health care to grow.</p></blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/politics/advocacy/2017/09/graham-cassidy-letter-final-september-2017-aarp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">AARP</a> thinks so too:</p> <blockquote><p>Overall, the Graham/Cassidy/Heller/Johnson bill would <strong>increase health care costs for older Americans with an age tax, decrease coverage, and undermine preexisting condition protections</strong>. In addition, this bill would jeopardize the ability of older Americans and people with disabilities to stay in their own homes as they age and threaten coverage for individuals in nursing homes.</p></blockquote> <p>Cassidy insists more people will have coverage under his plan. But strangely, people that actually deliver medical care to people disagree. Here’s what the <a href="https://www.childrenshospitals.org/Newsroom/Press-Releases/2017/CHA-Statement-on-Graham-Cassidy-Repeal-Bill" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Children’s Hospital Association</a> had to say:</p> <blockquote><p>Their legislation <strong>would slash funding for Medicaid, the nation’s largest health care program for children, by one-third, reducing access and coverage for more than 30 million children</strong> in the program. Furthermore, the legislation weakens important consumer safeguards, and as a result, millions of children in working families would no longer be assured that their private insurance covers the most basic of services without annual and lifetime limits and regardless of any underlying medical condition. This bill would have devastating consequences for children and families.</p></blockquote> <p>In a letter to Senate leaders, the <a href="https://searchlf.ama-assn.org/undefined/documentDownload?uri=%2Funstructured%2Fbinary%2Fletter%2FLETTERS%2F2017-9-19-AMA-Letter-on-Graham-Cassidy-Amendment-Final.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">American Medical Association</a> writes:</p> <blockquote><p>Similar to proposals that were considered in the Senate in July, <strong>we believe the Graham-Cassidy Amendment would result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance coverage</strong>, destabilize health insurance markets, and decrease access to affordable coverage and care. We are particularly concerned with provisions that repeal the ACA’s premium tax credits, cost-sharing reductions, small business tax credit, and Medicaid expansion, and that provide inadequate and temporary block grant funds (only through 2026) in lieu of the ACA’s spending on marketplace subsidies and the Medicaid expansion.</p></blockquote> <p>Not surprisingly, the Republican replacement is bad for women’s health too. According to <a href="https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/planned-parenthood-blasts-cassidy-graham-heller-proposal-worst-aca-repeal-bill-yet-proposes-to-defund-planned-parenthood" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Planned Parenthood</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>The Graham-Cassidy-Heller proposal includes a provision that <strong>would block millions of people from going to Planned Parenthood for preventive care</strong>, including birth control, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment.</p></blockquote> <p>And because Cassidy’s bill would allow states to weaken pre-existing condition coverage and the requirement that insurers cover a set of essential health benefits, coverage of maternity care would be at serious risk. According to an analysis from the <a href="https://www.cbpp.org/research/health/like-other-aca-repeal-bills-cassidy-graham-plan-would-add-millions-to-uninsured" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Center on Budget and Policy Priorities</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>While insurers would still be required to offer coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, insurers could charge unaffordable premiums of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars per month, effectively resulting in a coverage denial. Insurers could also offer plans with large benefit gaps.  For example, <strong>before the ACA introduced the requirement that all plans cover a defined set of basic services,</strong> <strong>75 percent of individual market plans excluded maternity coverage</strong>, 45 percent excluded substance use treatment, and 38 percent excluded mental health care, according to analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. This would leave many people — especially those with pre-existing conditions — without access to the health services they need.</p></blockquote> <p>And let’s not forget public health. The ACA’s Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) has become an absolutely critical source of funding for the nation’s public health agencies. Cassidy’s bill would eliminate that fund. Here’s what the <a href="http://www.bigcitieshealth.org/graham-cassidy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Big Cities Health Coalition</a>, a forum for the country’s largest metropolitan health departments, had to say about the fund’s potential elimination:</p> <blockquote><p>Among the programs at risk at the CDC are the 317 Immunization Program, Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Grants, the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, and a host of chronic disease programs. The PPHF provides vital resources to governmental public health at all levels, and its elimination will further erode our fragile health system.</p> <p><strong>Eliminating public health programs that are now funded by the ACA would seriously undermine the ability of cities and counties to protect and promote health.</strong> The loss of hundreds of millions of dollars would hamper efforts to respond to food borne illness outbreaks, prevent emerging infectious diseases like Ebola and Zika, and respond to natural disasters like Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.</p></blockquote> <p>And in a letter to senators from the <a href="https://www.apha.org/~/media/files/pdf/advocacy/letters/2017/170918_apha_graham_cassidy.ashx" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">American Public Health Association</a>, Executive Director Georges Benjamin writes:</p> <blockquote><p>The Graham-Cassidy plan would also eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the first and only mandatory funding stream specifically dedicated to public health and prevention activities. The fund has already provided more than $6 billion to support a variety of public health activities in every state including tracking and preventing infectious diseases like the Ebola and Zika viruses, community and clinical prevention programs, preventing childhood lead poisoning and expanding access to childhood immunizations. <strong>Eliminating the fund would devastate the budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</strong> The fund currently makes up 12 percent of CDC’s budget and eliminating this funding stream would force Congress to replace the funding through the regular appropriations process where resources for nondefense discretionary programs are already too low.</p></blockquote> <p>Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson is a threat to America’s health. If you’d like to voice your opinion, the American Public Health Association has an <a href="https://secure3.convio.net/apha/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&amp;page=UserAction&amp;id=1293">easy-to-use template</a> to help you reach your representatives in Congress. For more information on the ACA replacement, NPR has a <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/09/19/552044236/latest-gop-effort-to-replace-obamacare-could-end-health-care-for-millions?utm_source=twitter.com&amp;utm_medium=social&amp;utm_campaign=npr&amp;utm_term=nprnews&amp;utm_content=20170920" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">fantastic explainer</a>.</p> <p><em>Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for 15 years. Follow me on Twitter — </em><a href="http://www.twitter.com/kkrisberg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>@kkrisberg</em></a><em>.</em></p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/kkrisberg">kkrisberg</a></span> <span>Wed, 09/20/2017 - 12:20</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/policy" hreflang="en">Policy</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 16:20:00 +0000 kkrisberg 62929 at https://scienceblogs.com One more GOP “healthcare” bill that would gut Medicaid and wreck individual insurance market https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/17/one-more-gop-healthcare-bill-that-would-gut-medicaid-and-wreck-individual-insurance-market <span>One more GOP “healthcare” bill that would gut Medicaid and wreck individual insurance market</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Republican Senators have proposed one more bill to repeal the ACA. The Graham-Cassidy (or Cassidy-Graham) <a href="https://www.cassidy.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/senators-introduce-graham-cassidy-heller-johnson">proposal</a> would <a href="https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/8/1/16074746/cassidy-graham-obamacare-repeal">dramatically shrink the pool of federal money going to healthcare</a> and <a href="https://www.cbpp.org/research/health/like-other-aca-repeal-bills-cassidy-graham-plan-would-add-millions-to-uninsured">revise how it’s distributed to states</a>, in a way that is especially damaging to states that accepted the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. They hope to pass this destructive bill before the end of September, due to the <a href="https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/9/12/16290424/obamacare-repeal-cassidy-graham-can-it-pass">upcoming expiration of reconciliation rules</a> that let them pass a healthcare-related bill with votes from 50 Senators and Vice President Mike Pence.</p> <p>Like Republican bills from earlier in the year, Graham-Cassidy would <a href="http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2017/06/26/the-downstream-consequences-of-per-capita-spending-caps-in-medicaid/">cap Medicaid spending</a>, which would lead to fewer people having Medicaid coverage and reductions in benefits. It would go even farther than previous bills in ending the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, terminating it completely in 2020. It also keeps earlier bills’ one-year prohibition on reimbursing Planned Parenthood for services it provides Medicaid enrollees, an action that <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/04/03/playing-politics-with-womens-health/">disproportionately harms low-income women</a>. Edwin Park and Matt Broaddus of the Center on Budget and Policy priorities estimate that <a href="https://www.cbpp.org/research/health/cassidy-graham-plans-damaging-cuts-to-health-care-funding-would-grow-dramatically-in">in 2027 alone, the bill would result in nearly $300 billion less in federal funding</a> relative to current law. This bill <a href="https://www.cbpp.org/research/health/like-other-aca-repeal-bills-cassidy-graham-plan-would-add-millions-to-uninsured">wouldn’t just take us back to the bad old days before the ACA</a>; it would <a href="http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2017/09/14/graham-cassidy-a-closer-look-at-the-medicaid-provisions/">fundamentally alter the Medicaid program</a> that has allowed so many millions of children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and low-income seniors access to care they otherwise couldn’t afford.</p> <p>In the individual market, Graham-Cassidy ends the federal subsidies designed to make insurance affordable for people with incomes under 400% of the poverty level and repeals the individual mandate. It also allows states <a href="https://www.cbpp.org/blog/cassidy-grahams-waiver-authority-would-gut-protections-for-people-with-pre-existing-conditions">to rescind the ACA’s prohibition on charging more to enrollees with pre-existing conditions, and to stop requiring plans to include essential health benefits</a> (including prescription drugs and maternity care). Individual insurance policies may still be for sale, but they’ll be completely out of reach for many — not only because subsidies have disappeared and premiums can increase based on an enrollee’s health history, but because scrapping the individual mandate will mean smaller risk pools, which translates to less stability for insurers.</p> <p>At the same time, the Trump administration’s <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/10/upshot/obamacare-premiums-are-set-to-rise-thank-policy-uncertainty.html?mcubz=0&amp;_r=0">unwillingness to commit to making necessary payments to insurers has already contributed to higher premiums</a>, and its <a href="https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/9/12/16294784/aca-outreach-advertising-sabotage-funding">decisions to slash important advertising and outreach programs</a> are expected to substantially reduce enrollments for 2018. The Trump administration has already harmed the individual market for insurance. Graham-Cassidy will make the situation much worse for all but the youngest, healthiest enrollees — and even they could see their premiums soar if they develop expensive health conditions.</p> <p>In answer to criticisms about millions of people losing coverage, the bill’s backers point to a pot of federal money that will be divided amongst states. <a href="https://www.cbpp.org/research/health/like-other-aca-repeal-bills-cassidy-graham-plan-would-add-millions-to-uninsured">States that expanded Medicaid will see their federal funds plummet</a>, while those that didn’t will get relatively more money — but still far too little to actually solve the uninsurance problem that the ACA did so much to address. And the states wouldn't be required to direct the funds toward increasing coverage for low-income populations.</p> <p>This is the important thing to keep in mind as Republican Senators push this bill with claims about Obamacare being broken: The ACA wasn’t perfect, but it substantially reduced this country’s shameful rate of uninsurance. Approximately <a href="https://www.urban.org/research/publication/who-gained-health-insurance-coverage-under-aca-and-where-do-they-live">20 million people gained insurance</a> between 2010 and early 2016, and the <a href="https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2017/demo/p60-260.pdf">newest number from the Census Bureau</a> show that uninsurance continued to decline. Problems with affordability of premiums and deductibles remained, but <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2016/12/07/the-fate-of-the-affordable-care-act/">the majority of people with new ACA marketplace or Medicaid plans were satisfied</a>.</p> <div style="width: 310px;display:block;margin:0 auto;"><a href="/files/thepumphandle/files/2017/09/US-uninsurance.png"><img class="size-medium wp-image-11972" src="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/files/2017/09/US-uninsurance-300x228.png" alt="" width="300" height="228" /></a> Source: JC Barnett &amp; ER Berchik, US Census Bureau, 2017: <a href="http://ow.ly/qjlB30fdsfG">http://ow.ly/qjlB30fdsfG</a> </div> <p>At the moment, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/us/politics/senate-health-committee-obamacare-bipartisan-fix.html?mcubz=3">Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are working on legislation to stabilize the ACA</a>, instead of creating a situation that’s far worse than what we had prior to 2010. They've held hearings and delved into details about insurance markets. This is a much more responsible approach than eviscerating Medicaid and destabilizing the individual market.</p> <p>Another thing to monitor is whether Senate Republicans wait for a Congressional Budget Office score before rushing to vote on a bill that imperils millions of people’s access to health insurance. CBO scores of  Republican proposals earlier this year have calculated that they’d cause more than 20 million people to lose coverage over the next decade. (Specifically, by 2026 <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/05/29/congressional-budget-office-confirms-latest-gopcare-bill-disastrous-for-health/">the American Health Care Act would have led to 23 million more uninsured</a> and <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/07/05/by-2036-senate-bill-would-cut-medicaid-by-more-than-one-third/">the Better Care Reconciliation Act to 22 million fewer with coverage</a>.) Graham-Cassidy is somewhere between those proposals and an ACA repeal bill that was passed by a Republican Congress and vetoed by President Obama, which CBO calculated would lead to <a href="https://www.cbpp.org/blog/cbo-32-million-people-would-lose-health-coverage-under-aca-repeal">32 million more uninsured by 2026</a> relative to current law.</p> <p>Failing to wait for a CBO score before holding a vote is irresponsible in the extreme — but, alas, something <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/06/19/the-appalling-process-of-gopcare/">we’ve seen already from this Congress</a>. With or without a CBO score, a vote on Graham-Cassidy is very likely to happen in the next two weeks. That doesn’t leave much time for Senators to hear from their constituents what they think about a bill that will affect so many millions of people.</p> <p> </p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Related Posts</span></p> <p><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/08/30/another-new-study-finds-the-affordable-care-act-is-not-a-job-killer/">Another new study finds the Affordable Care Act is not a ‘job killer’</a> (8/30/17)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/07/31/relief-and-trepidation-on-healthcare/">Relief and trepidation on healthcare</a> (7/31/17)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/07/16/latest-gopcare-bill-brings-back-hated-pre-aca-conditions-while-still-slashing-medicaid/">Latest GOPcare bill brings back hated pre-ACA conditions while still slashing Medicaid</a> (7/16/17)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/07/05/by-2036-senate-bill-would-cut-medicaid-by-more-than-one-third/">By 2036, Senate bill would cut Medicaid by more than one-third</a> (7/5/17)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/06/30/gop-health-care-bills-would-cripple-public-health-opioid-response-wed-essentially-be-putting-up-the-white-flag/">GOP health care bills would cripple public health opioid response: ‘We’d essentially be putting up the white flag’</a> (6/30/17)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/06/30/five-key-points-about-medicaid-and-gopcare/">Five key points about Medicaid and GOPcare</a> (6/30/17)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/06/23/were-close-to-universal-insurance-coverage-for-kids-the-gop-health-care-bills-would-reverse-that/">We’re close to universal insurance coverage for kids. The GOP health care bills would reverse that. </a>(6/23/17)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/06/22/senate-health-care-bill-wont-improve-the-nations-health-but-it-will-make-rich-people-richer/">Senate health care bill won’t improve the nation’s health, but it will make rich people richer </a>(6/22/17)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/06/19/the-appalling-process-of-gopcare/">The appalling process of GOPcare</a> (6/19/17)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/06/16/report-house-gop-health-care-bill-would-spark-job-losses-economic-downturns-across-the-country/">Report: House GOP health care bill would spark job losses, economic downturns across the country </a>(6/16/17)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/05/29/congressional-budget-office-confirms-latest-gopcare-bill-disastrous-for-health/">Congressional Budget Office confirms latest GOPcare bill disastrous for health</a> (5/29/17)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/05/08/gopcare-passes-house-threatens-healthcare-of-millions/">GOPcare passes House, threatens healthcare of millions</a> (5/8/17)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/04/21/aca-premiums-are-just-beginning-to-stabilize-but-they-cant-withstand-federal-sabotage/">The ACA marketplace is beginning to stabilize. But it can’t withstand federal sabotage.</a> (4/21/17)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/04/03/playing-politics-with-womens-health/">Playing politics with women’s health</a> (4/3/17)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/03/25/the-aca-is-safe-for-now-but-its-still-very-much-in-danger/">The ACA is safe for now, but it’s still very much in danger</a> (3/25/17)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/03/15/insurance-losses-under-proposed-aca-replacement-a-matter-of-life-and-death/">Insurance losses under proposed ACA replacement a matter of life and death</a> (3/15/17)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/03/13/ahca-would-slash-medicaid-while-giving-tax-cuts-to-the-rich/">AHCA would slash Medicaid while giving tax cuts to the rich</a> (3/13/17)</p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/lborkowski">lborkowski</a></span> <span>Sun, 09/17/2017 - 09:50</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/policy" hreflang="en">Policy</a></div> </div> </div> Sun, 17 Sep 2017 13:50:07 +0000 lborkowski 62928 at https://scienceblogs.com CHIP provides health insurance to nearly 9 million kids. Its funding expires on Sept. 30. https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/15/chip-provides-health-insurance-to-nearly-9-million-kids-its-funding-expires-on-sept-30 <span>CHIP provides health insurance to nearly 9 million kids. Its funding expires on Sept. 30.</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Earlier this week, members of the Senate Finance Committee announced an <a href="https://www.finance.senate.gov/chairmans-news/hatch-wyden-push-to-extend-chip-funding-provide-additional-protections" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">agreement</a> to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The announcement had been anxiously awaited by families and advocates across the nation, as the program’s federal funding expires in about two weeks. The agreement is good news, but coverage for CHIP’s 8.9 million children isn’t safe just yet.</p> <p>According to <a href="https://ccf.georgetown.edu/2017/09/13/positive-development-for-chip-emerges-from-senate-finance-committee-leaders/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reports</a>, the agreement would extend CHIP’s funding for five years — a win for advocates worried that lawmakers might propose another two-year extension as it did in 2015. The agreement would also maintain the Affordable Care Act’s enhanced CHIP matching rate — a measure that boosted the federal share by 23 percent — for another two years and then begin a phase-down to pre-ACA matching rates. CHIP currently provides nearly 9 million U.S. children with timely access to medical care, covering kids whose families make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to access affordable coverage in the private sector.</p> <p>While news of the Senate CHIP agreement is encouraging, there are still big questions and concerns. Senate Finance Committee leaders — Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore. — haven’t yet identified how they’ll offset the cost of re-funding CHIP, which is between $5 billion and $10 billion. That omission has some worried that CHIP funding could come at the expense of other critical health funding. Two other big questions: Will members of the House agree to a five-year CHIP extension? And will lawmakers attempt to attach CHIP funding to more divisive measures that could hinder its quick passage?</p> <p>And quickness is key. Most states set their CHIP budgets months ago, and most made those budgets assuming federal lawmakers would reauthorize CHIP funding at its enhanced rate, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation <a href="http://www.kff.org/medicaid/fact-sheet/current-status-of-state-planning-for-the-future-of-chip/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">survey</a> of state Medicaid officials. That means if Congress doesn’t follow through on CHIP funding, states will face serious funding shortfalls and officials will be forced to find ways to make up the money gap (not likely) or reduce costs (such as cutting back on services and eligibility). The Kaiser survey found that of the 42 states that provided information on when they will exhaust their current CHIP funds, 10 states said funding will likely run out by the end of 2017. Some states, the survey noted, have statutes on the book that require officials to shut down their CHIP programs if federal lawmakers stop funding CHIP.</p> <p>Just the fact that lawmakers have allowed CHIP’s funding reauthorization to come down to the wire is unprecedented, said Carrie Fitzgerald, vice president for Children’s Health Programs at <a href="https://firstfocus.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">First Focus</a>.</p> <p>“We were hoping and working hard to try to get CHIP done early in the year, but the larger health care debate took precedent and it was impossible to get this going,” Fitzgerald told me. “But it does seem that (lawmakers) know this has to get done and that it will get done. …Still, it’s tough on states. They’re doing the best they can to keep things moving smoothly, but everyone needs to see this done.”</p> <p>Echoing the Kaiser findings, Fitzgerald said she hadn’t heard from any state officials worried about running out of CHIP funds on Oct. 1 — as far as she knew, none were planning to shut down their CHIP programs or scale back either. In fact, she said state CHIP officials are “trying to walk a fine line” — they want to raise awareness about CHIP’s importance, but they don’t want to worry families during CHIP’s crucial fall enrollment period. But if Congress doesn’t act by the Sept. 30 expiration date, she said it would force states to start considering their options, none of which bode well for children’s health coverage.</p> <p>“There isn’t another option that’s as affordable and child-specific as CHIP,” Fitzgerald said.</p> <p>The consequences of Congress’ inaction vary depending on how a state organizes its CHIP program. According to the <a href="http://www.nashp.org/planning-now-state-policy-and-operational-considerations-if-federal-chip-funding-ends/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">National Academy for State Health Policy</a>, the ACA requires that Medicaid expansion CHIP programs maintain eligibility levels for kids through 2019, regardless of federal funding. However, the 42 states that run separate CHIP programs can scale back enrollment if federal funds cease.</p> <p>Eva Marie Stahl, director of the Children’s Health Initiative at <a href="https://www.communitycatalyst.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Community Catalyst</a>, said if children did begin to lose CHIP coverage, some might find coverage in Medicaid and some may be able to access employer-sponsored insurance (though employer coverage is generally more <a href="http://khn.org/news/many-parents-with-job-based-coverage-still-turn-to-medicaid-chip-to-insure-kids/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">expensive</a> than CHIP for many working families). Families who lose CHIP could turn to the ACA marketplace, but Stahl said many would face another hurdle known as the “family glitch.” The way the ACA was written, part of eligibility for marketplace subsidies is whether a family has access to affordable employer-based coverage. However, the ACA’s definition of “affordable” employer coverage is based on the cost of covering the individual, not the whole family — hence, the family glitch.</p> <p>“There’s no question that Congress should move swiftly to refund CHIP and they should cleanly extend it for five years at a minimum — especially with so much uncertainty around other forms of health coverage” Stahl told me. “This program is 20 years old, enjoys bipartisan support and works well. It’s good for keeping children healthy and it’s a really important program for helping working families.”</p> <p>Across the U.S., more than one in three children are covered by either Medicaid or CHIP — in fact, the two programs have helped drive the children’s uninsured rate to record lows. (The newest <a href="https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2017/demo/p60-260.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Census data</a> puts the 2016 children’s uninsured rate at 5.4 percent.) Medicaid and CHIP typically offer more comprehensive children’s coverage than private insurance, such as covering dental care and myriad services for children with special health care needs. <a href="http://www.kff.org/medicaid/issue-brief/the-impact-of-the-childrens-health-insurance-program-chip-what-does-the-research-tell-us/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Research</a> finds that children with Medicaid or CHIP coverage have better access to primary care and preventive care than uninsured children and fare just as well as on those two indicators as privately insured kids.</p> <p>Dennis Cooley, a general pediatrician in Topeka, Kansas, for 37 years, said about 30 percent of his patients get coverage through the state’s combined Medicaid/CHIP program, KanCare. Statewide, more than <a href="https://www.aap.org/en-us/Documents/fed_advocacy_chip_kansas.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">73,000</a> Kansas children get their coverage thanks to CHIP. For many low- and moderate-income Kansas families, CHIP provides affordable care that’s also high-quality care, said Cooley, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Subcommittee on Access. For example, CHIP follows Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment <a href="https://mchb.hrsa.gov/maternal-child-health-initiatives/mchb-programs/early-periodic-screening-diagnosis-and-treatment" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">guidelines</a>, which ensure children get appropriate medical and preventive care. In other words, CHIP is designed specifically to support the needs of children, whereas private insurance is typically designed for a more general population.</p> <p>Cooley said he’s been traveling to Washington, D.C., and talking with legislators about the importance of CHIP for years now — and he agrees that CHIP does enjoy bipartisan support. But he’s still worried.</p> <p>“Each time, legislators say ‘no one’s against CHIP’ or ‘don’t worry,’” he told me. “But then politics gets involved.”</p> <p>CHIP’s federal funding officially expires on Sept. 30. For more on CHIP, visit <a href="https://firstfocus.org/resources/fact-sheet/key-facts-about-the-chip-program" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">First Focus</a>.</p> <p><em>Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for 15 years. Follow me on Twitter — </em><a href="http://www.twitter.com/kkrisberg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>@kkrisberg</em></a><em>.</em></p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/kkrisberg">kkrisberg</a></span> <span>Fri, 09/15/2017 - 12:15</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/policy" hreflang="en">Policy</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 15 Sep 2017 16:15:51 +0000 kkrisberg 62927 at https://scienceblogs.com Occupational Health News Roundup https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/12/occupational-health-news-roundup-254 <span>Occupational Health News Roundup</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>At the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/organized-labor-steps-up-to-fight-deportations_us_59b6df97e4b03e6197afea7c?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Huffington Post</a>, Dave Jamieson reports that labor unions are stepping up to help protect increasingly vulnerable immigrant workers from deportation. In fact, Jamieson writes that in many instances, labor unions have become “de facto immigrants rights groups,” educating workers on their rights and teaching immigrants how to best handle encounters with immigration officials.</p> <p>Jamieson’s story begins:</p> <blockquote><p>Yahaira Burgos was fearing the worst when her husband, Juan Vivares, reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in lower Manhattan in March. Vivares, who fled Colombia and entered the U.S. illegally in 2011, had recently been given a deportation order. Rather than hide, he showed up at the ICE office with Burgos and his lawyer to continue to press his case for asylum.</p> <p>Vivares, 29, was detained for deportation. That’s when Burgos’ union sprang into action.</p> <p>Prepared for Vivares’ detention, members of the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ gathered for a rally outside the ICE office that afternoon, demanding his release. Union leadership appealed to New York’s congressional delegation, enlisting Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) to reach out to ICE leadership. The union president even disseminated the name and phone number for the ICE officer handling Vivares’ deportation and urged allies to call him directly.</p> <p>“I was very lucky to have a union,” said Burgos, a 39-year-old native of the Dominican Republic who works as a doorwoman on the Upper East Side. “They moved very fast. They moved every politician and every union member. ... If it were not for the union he would be deported.”</p> <p>Vivares is now at home with Burgos and their 19-month-old son, having been granted a stay of deportation as the court considers his motion to reopen his asylum case. Although he’s far from being in the clear, his lawyer, Rebecca Press, says the union’s quick response was critical to keeping Vivares in the U.S. for now. “I do believe that their being able to reach the upper echelons of Congress gave us a window of time,” she said.</p> <p>Vivares’ case provides a vivid example of the gritty work unions are doing to protect immigrant members and their families vulnerable to deportation in the Trump era.</p></blockquote> <p>Read the full story at the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/organized-labor-steps-up-to-fight-deportations_us_59b6df97e4b03e6197afea7c?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Huffington Post</a>.</p> <p>In other news:</p> <p><a href="http://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/20170902/trump-nominates-former-coal-exec-to-run-msha" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Charleston Gazette-Mail</em></a>: Ken Ward Jr. reports that Trump intends to chose David Zatezalo, the former chief executive of the coal company Rhino Resources, to head up the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Zatezalo was a top executive at Rhino when MSHA cited the company for a number of health and safety violations, including two “pattern of violations” letters. In 2011, MSHA took the “unusual” action of seeking a court injunction against Rhino after the agency discovered that miners were being tipped off about the timing of MSHA inspections. In a related article in the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trumps-mine-safety-pick-would-be-policing-his-fellow-coal-operators_us_59af136ae4b0dfaafcf37a5e" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Huffington Post</a>, Dave Jamieson wrote: “If he’s confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, Zatezalo would be just the latest business-friendly official installed in Trump’s deregulation-happy administration. And like many of the appointees before him, Zatezalo has a resume that appears better suited to an industry trade group than a watchdog government agency.”</p> <p><a href="http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article172164502.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Sacramento Bee</em></a><em>: </em>Marjie Lundstrom reports that a year after 26-year-old Abraham Nicholas Garza was crushed to death at a Sacramento Goodwill outlet store, the nonprofit is facing new lawsuits and heightened scrutiny regarding its worker safety practices. In particular, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health opened three more investigations into safety issues at three Goodwill locations in the region. Among the lawsuits is one brought by Dave Goudie, a commercial truck driver who witnessed Garza’s death and had repeatedly warned Goodwill managers about the store’s hazardous work conditions. Goudie is suing Goodwill, his former employer, for defamation and retaliation. In the wake of Garza’s death, Goodwill was issued six violations and more than $106,000 in fines — the highest OSHA penalty ever issued against a Goodwill operation nationwide.</p> <p><a href="https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/9/7/16243176/harvey-undocumented-immigrants" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Vox</a>: Alexia Fernandez Campbell reports that in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, unauthorized workers will likely be “desperately needed” to rebuild Houston and the surrounding areas, even as Texas lawmakers are cracking down on undocumented residents and making it harder for them to live and work in the state. Campbell noted that after Hurricane Katrina, undocumented workers did the “dirtiest jobs” during the rebuilding effort, making an average of $10 an hour; overall, undocumented immigrants made up about 25 percent of construction workers after Katrina. However, the post-Katrina situation was also ripe for worker exploitation. Campbell writes: “Federal contractors found themselves in a situation where they could pay workers little money to do dangerous work with little federal oversight. The Department of Labor also temporarily lifted worksite safety enforcement actions against employers in hurricane-affected areas. As a result, undocumented workers were far less likely to get the wages they were promised.”</p> <p><a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-new-york-9-11-responders-20170910-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Los Angeles Times</em></a>: Matt Hansen writes that years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “the list of the fallen continues to grow as police officers, firefighters, first responders and recovery workers succumb to illnesses linked to their work in the aftermath of the attacks.” Yesterday, he reported, a memorial on Long Island, New York, was dedicated to those who died on Sept. 11 as well as to those who’ve died from response-related illnesses. As of June, the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/wtc/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">World Trade Center Health Program</a> had more than 67,000 responders and 12,000 attack survivors enrolled; since the program began in 2011, more than 1,300 enrollees have died, though not all deaths were related to the attack. Hansen writes: "John Feal, who heads the FealGood Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for first responders, worries that there are still too many responders and survivors who aren’t aware of the federal programs. ‘The reality is that more and more people are getting sick and dying,’ he said. He is particularly concerned about the coming emergence of asbestos cases, which he noted can take up to 20 years to appear.”</p> <p><em>Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for 15 years. Follow me on Twitter — </em><a href="http://www.twitter.com/kkrisberg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>@kkrisberg</em></a><em>.</em></p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/kkrisberg">kkrisberg</a></span> <span>Tue, 09/12/2017 - 15:30</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/policy" hreflang="en">Policy</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 12 Sep 2017 19:30:59 +0000 kkrisberg 62924 at https://scienceblogs.com Labor Day yearbook: All workers deserve safety, dignity, respect and justice on the job https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/08/labor-day-yearbook-all-workers-deserve-safety-dignity-respect-and-justice-on-the-job <span>Labor Day yearbook: All workers deserve safety, dignity, respect and justice on the job</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Typically, we like to end the annual “The Year in U.S. Occupational Health &amp; Safety” on an uplifting note. But this time around — to be honest — that was a hard sell.</p> <p>Take a quick look through the <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/357864830/The-Year-in-US-OHS-Yearbook-2017">2017 yearbook</a> and you’ll quickly glean that worker health and safety is very much at risk under the new administration and from lawmakers in the states. From the attempted rollback of a new federal beryllium exposure standard to state efforts to weaken workers’ compensation systems, the view from 2017 does not seem terribly promising. On the other hand, the fight for workers’ rights has never been easy — it’s always been a movement defined by taking on the powerful by giving voice to the powerless. In that way, organizers and advocates are well prepared for the fight ahead — and they have a long history of labor accomplishments from which to draw strength.</p> <p>On that note, we leave you with an excerpt from the 2017 yearbook — a section called “The Year Ahead”:</p> <blockquote><p>Let’s be frank, the year ahead does not look great. It looks hard and disappointing and upsetting. Beyond the politics and talking points and arguments, the cold, hard fact on the ground is that weakening key mechanisms that create safe and fair working conditions — like data collection, transparency, research and enforcement — emboldens unscrupulous employers and puts workers in harm’s way. This is a fact.</p> <p>Just as this yearbook was going to press in August, worker safety advocates noticed that OSHA has scrubbed its worker fatality list from its home page and buried the link on an internal page. Now, the list only contains incidents for which a citation was issued and removes the names of deceased workers. A Department of Labor spokesperson told reporters the change was meant to protect the privacy of workers’ families. The truth is that OSHA leadership decided to weaken one its most useful enforcement tools. The truth is that removing workers’ names only protects the privacy of employers who may have needlessly put them at mortal risk. A decision like this dehumanizes workplace fatalities, erasing from the raw data the real people and families behind the numbers.</p> <p>Word of OSHA’s website change began circulating around worker advocate listservs and on occupational safety and health sites. By that afternoon, the news had popped up in <em>Politico</em>. Just as quickly as advocates had spread word about the problem, they began discussing ways to ensure that the names and stories of fallen workers would not be washed from public view.</p> <p>No one is surprised that the Trump administration is hostile toward OSHA, an agency whose mission is to hold employers accountable to the law. After all, it’s also a fact that private citizen Trump had a sizeable history of flouting labor laws and practicing ethically questionable behaviors in his own business ventures. Still, watching those inclinations manifest into public policy is hard to stomach.</p> <p>All that said, we know worker advocates in communities across the country won’t be deterred. They’ll just work harder. They face anti-worker sentiment every day, working hand in hand with some of the most powerless people in the U.S. They know that the collective power of informed workers is greater than those who conspire to deny workers their rights and erase their names from view. Labor history is full of such stories. For example, just this year, farm workers in Washington state officially formed America’s first new farm worker union in 25 years. The union is aptly named Familias Unidas por la Justicia — or Families United for Justice.</p> <p>With the future so uncertain and federal commitment to worker safety so unclear, it seems like a critical moment to support organizers on the ground and stand with workers in the streets. Let next year’s Workers’ Memorial Week be a forceful reminder that all workers, regardless of immigration status, deserve safety, dignity, respect, and justice on the job. To borrow a phrase from another social justice movement, workers’ lives matter. Keep telling their stories.</p></blockquote> <p>Like we wrote earlier this week, we also hope you’ll help share the 2017 yearbook far and wide — not only is the yearbook a call to action, it’s a source of inspiration and motivation. Download the 2017 yearbook <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/357864830/The-Year-in-US-OHS-Yearbook-2017">here</a> and find previous editions <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2015/08/15/yearbooks-on-us-occupational-health-and-safety-2012-2016/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.</p> <p><em>Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for 15 years. Follow me on Twitter — </em><a href="http://www.twitter.com/kkrisberg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>@kkrisberg</em></a><em>.</em></p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/kkrisberg">kkrisberg</a></span> <span>Fri, 09/08/2017 - 11:55</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/policy" hreflang="en">Policy</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 08 Sep 2017 15:55:44 +0000 kkrisberg 62922 at https://scienceblogs.com