Single-Payer Health Care: Debate on Smart Talk

This morning (October 2, 2017), the local public radio station in Harrisburg, PA aired a program on universal health care, often called single-payer health care or Improved Medicare for All.  They presented a debate between insurance industry members, legislators, and advocates for single-payer health care.

Three women holding up posters that say

Advocating for Medicare for All – a universal, single-payer healthcare program. Photo Courtesy of National Nurses United.

The radio clip that I’m embedding below discusses HB 1688, the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan.  This bill was reintroduced in the PA House of Representatives on Friday, September 29. It is a state-based universal health coverage for residents of Pennsylvania via a single-payer health care payment program which redirects Medicare and Medicaid funds into a single state funding program where 9 out of 10 people will have reduced healthcare costs and where you get to select your own doctors, healthcare providers, and hospitals. Decisions about treatment are made between the healthcare provider and the client.

The debate on both the state and federal ideas for universal health care follows Rep. Pam Delissio’s summary of her bill. Here is Part 1 of the debate on SmartTalk:

And here is Part 2 of the debate on universal single-payer healthcare:

Rep. Delissio has been the prime sponsor of HB 1688 for the last three sessions of the PA General Assembly. Here’s a 2016 presentation on the Pennsylvania Healthcare Plan by Representative DeLissio on her bill. FYI, the bill number did not change between the current and last session.  So when she talks about HB 1688, she is presenting essentially the same plan (with some minor tweaks).

 The Return of the Coat Hanger: The State of Abortion Rights

We must Resist this backlash against women and their bodily integrity!

Resist! Show your support for women and reproductive justice. Many years ago, I was given a gold hanger pendant to show my support for abortion rights and reproductive justice. I’m going to start wearing it again. Every day. This is only a small statement. It’s a beginning.

Meanwhile…Resist! Resist! Resist!Take action! Start by being aware of what your state legislature is planning on legislating about your body and your personal medical decisions. We are in for a very bumpy ride.

Take action! Start by being aware of what your state legislature is planning on legislating about your body and your personal medical decisions. We are in for a very bumpy ride.

Nel's New Day

coat-hanger

When Gov. John Kasich vetoed the infamous “heartbeat” bill, people across the nation breathed a sigh of relief. If signed, the ensuing law would have made abortion illegal in Ohio after the sixth week when some women didn’t even know they were pregnant. The bill he did sign into law, making abortion in the state illegal after 20 weeks, seemed mild by comparison. The 1972 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade made abortions legal until 24 weeks, 4 weeks later than Ohio, yet the Ohio’s restriction to 20 weeks initially seemed much better than the alternative.

The new Ohio law is dangerous, however, on many levels. Not only does it attempt to break Roe v. Wade, but it also puts doctors in prison. Performing an abortion after 20 weeks is a fourth-degree felony, carrying a sentence of up to 18 months in prison. A 2013 Ohio law…

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NOW's Keep abortion legal round

Oppose the Most Restrictive Abortion Ban in Country

Keep Abortion Legal NOW Round

Oppose the PA Abortion Ban

Pennsylvania is poised to pass what is seen as the most restrictive abortion ban law in the country.  The House has already passed HB 1948 and has sent it to the Senate. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed strictly along party lines. It has the most extreme restrictions placed on abortion in the country. A vote by the full state Senate is expected as early as this Wednesday, July 13. Please call your PA State Senator and tell her/him to OPPOSE House Bill 1948.

SUMMARY OF HOUSE BILL 1948
House Bill 1948, sponsored by Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Warren), decreases the gestational limit for abortions from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. It also bans Dilation and Evacuation abortions at any gestational age unless necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or prevent the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman. There is no exception for rape, incest or fetal anomaly

TALKING POINTS

  1. My name is __________________ and I am a constituent from [your city]. I would like Senator________________________ to oppose HB 1948 that would restrict a woman’s access to abortion care services in an extreme and harmful way.
  2. All women should have access to a full range of health care options, including abortion care services, and live their lives free from violence and reproductive coercion.
  3. Every pregnancy is different and protecting women’s health and safety is paramount. I ask Sen. __________________ to stand with the women of this Commonwealth and vote “No” on HB 1948.
  4. More than 40 years ago, the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade recognized a woman’s constitutional right to decide whether to continue or end a pregnancy prior to viability.  This ban is clearly unconstitutional and will cost taxpayers for the state to litigate a law that is unenforceable.  It also constitutionally violates the most recent Supreme Court decision as noted in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s concurring opinion in the June 2016 WHOLE WOMAN’S HEALTH ET AL. v. HELLERSTEDT case: 

Justice Ginsburg dismissed Texas’s argument about its interest in protecting “the health of women who experience complications from abortions,” by countering that “complications from an abortion are both rare and rarely dangerous.” She recites a laundry list of studies of how safe abortion is, and then she delivers the message: “So long as this Court adheres to Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113 (1973), and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833 (1992), Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers laws like H. B. 2 [and PA’s proposed HB 1948] that ‘do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion,’ Planned Parenthood of Wis., 806 F. 3d, at 921, cannot survive judicial inspection.”

You can find your representatives by clicking here. Once you are on the page you may enter your address and your elected officials and their contact information will appear.

Meme that says "Even with the Supreme Court's Decision, Reproductive freedom is in a sorry situation in the US. Poor Women don't have a choice (Justice Ginsburg).." Then is says, 9 states tried to ban abortion in 2016; in the past 5 years, states have enacted nearly 300 laws restricting abortions; over 30 million women live near a shuttered clinic; and in red and blue states, nearly 15 clinics were shut down in the last five years [with] only 21 clinics opened."

Don’t Add Pennsylvania to the States that are Banning Abortions.

Don’t let Pennsylvania become the most restrictive state for abortion access in the country. Call your legislator TODAY!

(Thanks to the Pennsylvania Reproductive Health Coalition and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence for providing part of this information).

Helping Reduce Rape Culture: Two Legislative Ideas

Picture of a sign at the Window of Opportunity rally that says "End Rape Culture."

What we need to do to reduce/eliminate sexual assault, stalking, and harassment in our community.

I live close Penn State University where the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity’s online cyber bullying activities using Facebook to show explicit pictures of nude and/or inebriated women occurred. As a result of this action and the now ongoing investigations by both Penn State University and the State College Police, Erin Matson’s idea of reducing the legal age for alcohol consumption might be something that states might want to consider. I don’t know where I stand on this, but Erin does make a decent argument here.

Drinking age is a state, not a federal issue. So, if the drinking age were to be lowered, it would have to go through the state legislatures and be signed into law. Just like when the drinking age was raised back in the 1980’s.

To some extent, the same is true for any law that might be enacted to deal with online cyber-bullying and stalking, often known as revenge porn. If interstate commerce is involved in the bullying and stalking, federal law can and has been created (see here and here). If not, then this issue has to be dealt with at the state level.

States across the country have recently enacted or are considering bills to punish perpetrators of revenge porn and online cyber bullying or stalking. Here in Pennsylvania, legislators passed a “revenge porn” bill known as the “UNLAWFUL DISSEMINATION OF INTIMATE IMAGE AND DAMAGES IN ACTIONS FOR UNLAWFUL DISSEMINATION OF INTIMATE IMAGE Act;” it became law on September 8, 2014. It however does not cover online bullying outside of dating or marriage relationships since the law restricts coverage to a victim who is a “current or former sexual or intimate partner.” This law makes the non-consensual dissemination of such images a misdemeanor offense.

I understand that the PA legislature may now revisit this bill to expand the law to cover such types of bullying activities outside of an intimate relationship as a result of the KDR incident. When they do, I would recommend that they expand the law to all forms of cyber bullying and stalking in addition to any non-consensual dissemination of such images. This would include severe harassment and bullying threats that place a person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury.

This proposal would, I believe, help create a state-based law similar to federal law (18 U.S.C. 875 and 18 U.S.C. 2261a) that “ makes it a federal crime to transmit threats of bodily injury in interstate commerce and criminalizes the use of electronic communication to place a person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury.”

Finally, there will be a Congressional hearing on on-line cyber-bullying and stalking on April 15. This hearing is being set up by Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA) with the assistance of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. This hearing will focus on concerns about gender violence in all forms of social media. I’ll post a comment here once I find out where and at what time the hearing will be held.

New Federal Guidelines On Pregnancy Discrimination Align with Pregnancy Discrimination Act

I received an email today from Pennsylvanians for Choice. They requested that we publicize a news article from the Feminist Majority.  It is an article that summarizes new federal guidelines on pregnancy discrimination law related to women’s employment.  Here it is:

Picture of woman talking to her employer about work expectations

Women and Employment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its pregnancy discrimination guidelines this week for the first time in over 30 years. The new language reiterates the policies outlined in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and classifies discrimination against pregnant employees as a form of sex discrimination.

The guidelines were approved 3-2 Monday. The guidelines make it clear that an employer cannot discriminate against a worker based on pregnancy, childbirth or any related medical condition. They also disallow discrimination against someone based on whether or not they have been pregnant in the past, or want to get pregnant in the future.

“Pregnancy is not a justification for excluding women from jobs that they are qualified to perform, and it cannot be a basis for denying employment or treating women less favorably than co-workers similar in their ability or inability to work,” EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien said in a press release this week. “Despite much progress, we continue to see a significant number of charges alleging pregnancy discrimination, and our investigations have revealed the persistence of overt pregnancy discrimination, as well as the emergence of more subtle discriminatory practices.”

In a Q-and-A section on the EEOC’s site about pregnancy discrimination, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is explained as banning employers from firing, refusing to hire or demoting a woman if pregnancy, childbirth or any related condition was the reason for the action. The EEOC guidelines were released in part for those who may not have been aware of the cited federal laws, in order to make the requirements better understood and known.

“I think it will make a really big difference,” Joan C. Williams, a law professor whose work is cited in the EEOC’s new guidelines, told the Associated Press. “This is also the direction the courts have begun to go in, and that’s why the EEOC said, ‘Yeah, that makes sense.'”

Pregnancy discrimination complaints in the US increased by 71 percent between 1992 and 2011. Many women nationwide, especially those in low-income jobs, are forced to take unpaid leave or leave their jobs altogether during their pregnancy. Almost two-thirds of first-time mothers work while pregnant, including 90 percent of those mothers who work into their last two months of pregnancy. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a piece of national legislation currently stalled in Congress, would update and strengthen the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to ensure that pregnant women are not denied necessary accommodations at work.

Media Resources: Associated Press 7/16/14; NPR 7/16/14; US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 7/14/14; Feminist Majority 10/31/13; Feminist Newswire 2/3/14

Copyright 2014 Feminist Majority Foundation 1600 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 801 Arlington, VA 22209 703-522-2214 (Phone) 703-522-2219 (Fax)

ALICE, Throw ALEC Out

ALICE- The American Legislative and Issue Campaign Exchange – is an alternative to ALEC. It’s new, but may help push back against the conservative business backlash. Let’s hope so.

Nel's New Day

The corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been active for over four decades. Businesses pay for conservative federal and state legislators to take copy-ready bills to Congress and state legislatures. ALEC has been responsible for lax gun regulations—including the infamous “stand your ground” laws—as well as laws that roll back civil rights, pollution regulations, unions while privatizing public services which costs taxpayers far more money. Thanks to ALEC, schools, prisons, public transportation, and social and welfare services have been taken over by for-profit businesses that only help the private owners.

Since  I learned about ALEC, I have longed for a way to fight back. Lo and behold, there is one! Meet ALICE, The American Legislative and Issue Campaign Exchange, that also provides “model bills,” ones free to state and national legislatures.

During the Occupy Movement about two years ago, New York City Councilman Brad Lander met with Seattle Councilman Nick…

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