Policy

We made it to October without letting Congressional Republicans ravage our healthcare system, so that's a relief. However, the fact that it's October also means funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program and federally qualified health centers has expired ... and Congress has been putting so much energy into trying to gut Medicaid and further restricting women's access to abortions that they neglected to renew funding for these two immensely popular bipartisan programs. Instead of funding these programs because they're crucial sources of coverage and care for large portions of our…
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. He shot five hundred people. 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…
Two years ago, I wrote about a study 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 #CDCwhistleblower and #hearmewell. (These hashtags are still in use, but much less active.) However they did get better, to the point…
At the Toronto Star, 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. Mojtehedzadeh, along with Brendan Kennedy, write: I get about five minutes of training in a factory packed with industrial equipment…
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. How can a conscientious consumer or…
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. In this interview, 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…
Republican Senators have proposed one more bill to repeal the ACA. The Graham-Cassidy (or Cassidy-Graham) proposal would dramatically shrink the pool of federal money going to healthcare and revise how it’s distributed to states, 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 upcoming expiration of reconciliation rules that let them pass a healthcare-related bill with votes from 50 Senators and Vice President Mike Pence. Like Republican bills from earlier in the year,…
Earlier this week, members of the Senate Finance Committee announced an agreement 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. According to reports, 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…
At the Huffington Post, 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. Jamieson’s story begins: 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…
Typically, we like to end the annual “The Year in U.S. Occupational Health & Safety” on an uplifting note. But this time around — to be honest — that was a hard sell. Take a quick look through the 2017 yearbook 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…
I'll just put this item from UCS here for your interest: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Study Finds Top Fossil Fuel Producers’ Emissions Responsible for as Much as Half of Global Surface Temperature Increase, Roughly 30 Percent of Global Sea Level Rise Findings Provide New Data to Hold Companies Responsible for Climate Change WASHINGTON (September 7, 2017)—A first-of-its-kind study published today in the scientific journal Climatic Change links global climate changes to the product-related emissions of specific fossil fuel producers, including ExxonMobil and Chevron. Focusing on the largest gas, oil…
Here is the tweet: https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/895970429734711298 Locked and load means ready to pull the trigger. Making that conditional on Kim Jong-un becoming a pacifist means Trump is going to pull the trigger. Based on this statement of policy by President Trump (when President speaks/tweets, policy comes out his mouth or other orifice), bombs should be dropping, missiles flying, ancillary terrorist attacks initiated, naval forces engaged, and possibly action across the DMZ started, by the end of the day, or at least, by the end of the weekend. Tens of thousands will be…
The moment I have feared ever since Republicans took control of all three branches of Congress last fall has come one step closer to reality. Actually, it's merely one of many. occurrences that I have feared, given that Donald Trump has been our President for over six months. Although you won't find much in the news about it, yesterday the Senate easily passed a federal version of so-called "right-to-try." Senator Ron Johnson, who threatened to hold up Senate business unless a right-to-try rider was approved for the bill funding the FDA for the next seven years, was ecstatic: I’m proud the…
Public trust in science is a fickle creature. Surveys show a clear majority of Americans believe science has positively impacted society, and they’re more likely to trust scientists on issues like climate change and vaccines. On the other hand, surveys also find that factors like politics, religion, age and race can greatly impact the degree of that trust. It presents a delicate challenge for agencies that depend on trust in science to do their jobs. “Trust in science is high, but it’s not unanimous and it’s not completely unquestioned — and nor necessarily should it be,” Joseph Hilgard, an…
Like millions of others, I was hugely relieved to get the news early Friday morning that three Republican Senators had joined 48 of their Democratic and Independent colleagues to vote down the third Republican proposal to take healthcare away from millions of people. Now’s a good time to think about how we got here and what comes next.   The Affordable Care Act For much of 2009, Democratic members of Congress spent months negotiating with Republican colleagues and one another on the legislation that would eventually become the Patient Protect and Affordable Care Act. Over many hours of debate…
More politics, but since it is cunningly disguised as a reply to mt's Twitter rant, I think I may get away with it. You should go off and read mt's post, for context. But not for content; much as I like his take on the science I can never agree with his take on the politics. Here's a sample: One reason for the buckling of democracy is the stealing of people's time and emotional energy in high stakes marketplace hypercompetition. Democracy can be preserved or restored only if & when daily life is secure. A key reason to support Universal Basic Income1 or similar ideas. A calm and…
Remember in the bad old days before the Affordable Care Act, when those who bought individual plans on the private market faced unpleasant surprises – like finding at out very inopportune times that their plans didn’t cover hospitalization or maternity care, or that they’d reached a lifetime limit and their insurer wouldn’t pay for any more care at all? When dysfunctional insurance markets meant individual coverage was effectively impossible to purchase for all but the healthiest or wealthiest? If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has his way, we’ll be going back to those hated…
At the Intercept, Avi Asher-Schapiro reports on a new insurance plan that Uber is offering its drivers that could help them recoup wages and cover medical expenses if they’re injured on the job. Asher-Schapiro notes that while some have described the Uber insurance plan — which workers buy by setting aside 3.75 cents per mile — as a form of workers’ compensation, it hardly fits the bill. In fact, in documents obtained by the Intercept, Uber explicitly states that the insurance plan isn’t workers’ comp. He writes: Compared to traditional workers’ compensation insurance, Uber’s policy…
As I mentioned yesterday, at NECSS I gave a talk, Whither the antivaccine movement in the Age of Trump? At the time, I only knew the identity of one of the most important public health figures appointed by President Donald Trump, and that's Scott Gottleib, the man appointed to be FDA Commissioner. As I noted when his name first came up as a candidate for this position, antivaxers weren't going to like it. Why? One reason is because Gottlieb is the ultimate pharma shill, if such a thing exists. Another reason is that he is very pro-vaccine. This amuses me when I consider the high hopes…
Before I delve into the next topic, I can't help but congratulate John Oliver yet again for his excellent deconstruction of the antivaccine movement on Sunday night. As I noted on Tuesday, it clearly hit the mark, given how angry one antivax blogger got over it. As of yesterday, over at that wretched hive of scum and quackery, that antivaccine crank blog known as Age of Autism, resident "Media Editor" Anne Dachel was still sputtering over Oliver's segment, labeling it Oliver's vulgar treatment of vaccine-injured and their families and posting a line about how allegedly "mocking and berating…