Make Your Voice Heard

In the political world you must work to have your voice heard. The path to representation is clear but is often fraught with the missteps of miscommunication. The video below encourages you to find your representative and speak to them about issues that you hold dear. You can email, call, text, message over social media, or protest your elected officials. The only thing you can’t do is refuse to participate. Our lives are political from the pillows you wake up from, to your mode of transportation, to your healthcare when you are ill, to the family you leave behind in death are all regulated by your elected officials. Let them know what you feel about certain issues so that you can make your voice heard. The video below will help you to accomplish these objectives.

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Women’s Rights Are Human Rights

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The infamous phrase that posited women’s rights are human rights was uttered by Hillary Clinton at the United Nation’s Fourth World conference on Women in Beijing, China in 1995. Yet 22 years later, we are still introducing policy that demeans and demoralizes women’s choices at home in the U.S. and abroad. We must fight for women to be recognized as human beings in this administration and forever.

The race to repeal the ACA would threaten pregnancy and maternity as part of the 10 essential health benefit categories. Prior to ACA plans could overcharge women because of their gender and exclude maternity coverage. For a party that is suppose to be Pro-Life, it would appear that consideration is not about the woman carrying the child, or even after the child is born. See: Cutting of Afterschool Programs

Please consider volunteering at your local Planned Parenthood. Clinics around the country need support in various ways, and we all can provide them with the help they aren’t receiving from the government.

On International Women’s Day, House Republicans reignited legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. Trump as vowed to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that works for women’s reproductive health, especially low cost care for poor women. In December 2016, The Verge noted that 55 million women have access to birth control right now without a co-pay, thanks to the ACA.

-As a note, women already face extreme circumstances if they want to get an abortion. There are many women who have to travel to different states, where those localities may require counseling or an ultrasound prior to the procedure taking place. There are logistical and financial burdens that await any woman’s right to choose.

Only two days after the Women around the world protested and marched on behalf of Women’s Rights, Trump reinstated the global gag rule (The Mexico City policy) that blocks U.S. federal funding to any non-governmental organizations that provide abortion counselling, referrals, for the expansion of abortion services or advocate to decriminalize abortion.

– Marie Stopes International, an international nonprofit reproductive health group said they will not follow the order, which will result in the loss of USAID funding. They note this loss of funding will result in in 6.5 million unintended pregnancies, 2.2 million abortions, 2.1 million unsafe abortions and 21,700 maternal deaths in Africa and Asia.

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Look at all these white men deciding what women need…….

AHCA v. ACA Which Healthcare plan will be the best for you?

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Healthcare is a difficult subject and one we don’t always comprehend. The United States is one of two countries that doesn’t provide universal healthcare to its citizens and former President Barack Obama has worked significantly to change that. However, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA aka ObamaCare) has been largely controversial but overall effective. Yet, the U.S. Congress in 2017, in collaboration with President Trump, have released the American Health Care Act (ACHA aka TrumpCare). The republican healthcare plan says that it will lower premiums and increase patient health but will actually hurt many Americans especially the oldest and poorest in the country. The AHCA is a tax cut for the rich while pricing many older Americans out of the market all together. This plan fails to address how it will be paid for, as the ACA forced people into the market in order to subsidize coverage in the US, AHCA repeals these payments without offering a replacement for them. Let’s dive into both of these plans to determine what it means for you and me.

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What is ACA

The Affordable Care Act is the current operating healthcare system in the United States.
– Employers provide health insurance, because the ACA required companies to provide affordable insurance or face penalties.
– Ideally, the ACA makes insurance more affordable by reducing premium and out-of-pocket costs for individuals who have been priced out of coverage in the past. In 2013 over 15% of Americans were without insurance despite the goals of the ACA
– The risk is spread equally to reduce discrimination.
– A new competitive health insurance marketplace that didn’t exist before.
– There is a cap on insurance company non-medical, administrative expenditures
– You can no longer be charged more money based on health status, gender, or salary

What is AHCA

The Republican plan, named the American Health Care Act AHCA
is the current insight into how Republicans are are going to tackle healthcare, however as of March 26, the plan has been pulled from the floor of both houses by the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, as he felt he didn’t have the votes

AHCA Offers:

o tax credits based on age for people earning a specific kind of income or less, this replaces the subsidies that ACA provided.
o you the ability save twice as much money (from previous years) a year, tax-free, in a health savings account — up to $13,100 starting in 2018.
o The individual mandate (that everyone must have healthcare or face penalties) is gone under this Plan
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ACHA: Repeals/Disadvantages

o The mandate that employers have to provide healthcare for employees are pay a fine
o Repeals the ACA subsidies
Subsidies are payments from the government that act as stimulus
o Puts in place a plan of continuous coverage
Continuous Coverage is the idea that if you always maintain health insurance (or don’t exceed a gap of 30 days) you will never have to pay more than an average amount for insurance in your area.
o Charges older, sick people more

Similarities between ACA and AHCA

– Adult children can stay in a family plan until age 26
– Insurers can not deny coverage to an already sick person/a pre-existing condition
– You can not charge a person more based on their gender.
– Basic benefits are still required by insurers but Medicaid would no longer offer these  benefits under ACHA
– Insurers would be barred from imposing annual or lifetime limits

Differences between the two plans

– A 28-year-old could get $2,000 toward your insurance premium under the republican plan. However, if you are at a higher paying job and get laid off and you need to find insurance quickly, because you can be penalized for a gap in coverage, being charged 30% more, for up to a year, compared with someone who never had a coverage lapse.
– The ACA lets insurance companies charge 64-year-old customers only three times as much as the youngest customers. But the ACHA would allow insurers to charge you five times the price for young adults.
ACA was paid for in large part by a tax increase on the wealthy, ACHA will give a large tax cut to the wealthy. Those making over a million dollars a year will get an average of $50,000 in tax cuts. Those in the .01% of Americans would get an average cut of more than $195,000.
-If you are living in Idaho earning $45,000 a year and your 10-year-old has cerebral palsy and gets insurance through Medicaid then, Medicaid helps your son out a lot by picking up a lot of the bills but Idaho didn’t expand Medicaid under ACA. Luckily, he qualifies for provisions as a “persons with disabilities”. However, ACHA changes this, in 2020 the federal government would scale back Medicaid by providing fixed sums to states to pay a set percentage of your son’s medical bills. If costs increase faster than the federal fixed sum, then Idaho could significantly scale back the the Medicaid subsides they provide.

A State of Instability

The Travel (Don’t-call-it-a-muslim) Ban

When President Trump enacted the travel ban executive order on Jan 27, 2017, the administration sent a clear message to anyone who didn’t see representation of themselves in the White House. That message was one of hate and fear, regardless of how chaotically and confusingly it was implemented. While the EO targeted individuals as “others”, this administration has failed to represent the safety and security of all American people. We must understand that this ban is nothing more than a desperate attempt to further divide this nation with notions of racism and fear. We can not be complicit in these actions.

Confusion and Chaos

There are a lot of people who feel uncertain after the bombardment of the EO’s. Not only is the ban confusing but many agencies have chosen to act in different ways. While the majority of chaos reigned at airports in the wake of the order, there were good people, lawyers, protestors and politicians who scrambled to help those stranded at airports, after being mid flight when the EO went into full effect. A federal appellate court did rule a temporary block on the travel ban. Melanie Evans of the Wall Street Journal notes the uncertainty after the travel ban for hospitals making residency decisions, citing 1000 doctors who applied for U.S. residency slots are from the seven countries included in the ban. This is only a small cross section to a larger overwhelming problems as there as been multiple news stories about students and families being held abroad and refused travel back to the United States.

The Threat of Raids

As Twitter now seems to be the hub for news gathering of the age, we still need to fight against too much degradation of news into bite sized tidbits for our consumption. This week and the last has seen a lot of reports from individuals using the social media to warn of ICE raids happening in various neighborhoods or checkpoints on streets. While the checkpoints haven’t been verified, there has been a surge of ICE raids on immigrant family in many major cities.  CNN reported on one family in Brooklyn who despite becoming naturalized citizens over a decade ago are still in fear that they could be next. The family state they they try to act American to avoid calling any undue attention to themselves. They have outlined their measure, one of which is to carry their passports with them at all times, so that they have proof of their allowed existence here. We can’t ignore the dichotomy that this is not the first time immigration round ups have happened, but this is the first time such fear has been held captive under this new administration. Vox news pointed out that what ICE is doing now isn’t radically different from what has happened under past administrations, specifically Bush’s and Obama’s.

A Day Without Immigrants

On February 16, we experienced a day without immigrants. Across the nation, protestors were stepping out to highlight the importance of migrants to the core of this economy. Business owners in many major cities have signified solidarity with the protestors by closing up shop on this day to really show everyone how our lives would be impacted if we started to erase diversity from our communities. Immigrants have helped to build this nation and these efforts help to show that these people are an integral part of this nation. The protest is modeled after a national march in 2006 under the same name. There were close to a million people that day who marched against reforms that called for criminalizing assistance to illegal immigrants. Bourree Lam of the Atlantic points out that the restaurant industry has a good reason to worry with nearly 2.3 million foreign born workers making up nearly 23 percent of the industry.

Diversity and Change

The real meaning behind of all of this is that America is made up of diversity, and that is what makes us strong. This travel ban is not about keeping us safe from terrorist, despites its purported message. The ban, and the administration that ordered it into existence is meant to divide American citizens into an “us versus them” mentality. As the United States was built solely on immigrants that arguably, came here illegally then it is imperative that all citizens stand together to face this injustice.

A Call to Action

Here are some websites that help immigrants in need, consider donating or volunteering your time to these organizations.
Go to American Civil Liberties Union
Go to National Immigrant Law Center