Republican administration denies babies health care

Hispanic_infant Babies born in America, who are U.S. citizens, are being denied health care. This is being done by a President and his administration who profess to be Christian and followers of Jesus. It's hard to accept the hypocricy of this President and his base. They rail against abortion and claim to be pro-life but then deny children health care.

New federal rules deem babies born in the United States to poor illegal immigrant parents no longer automatically qualify for Medicaid health coverage, a policy some doctors worry might deprive these newborns of vital preventive care. The babies are American citizens by virtue of being born in the United States, even if their parents are in the country illegally. The Bush administration's new policy requires that before these babies get Medicaid insurance, their parents must submit documentation demonstrating the infants' citizenship and apply for coverage under the program. Medicaid is a joint state-federal government health insurance program for low-income people. Previously, a child born in the United States was deemed automatically eligible for Medicaid for a year after the mother got emergency care under Medicaid for the birth. The policy, first implemented in July, is drawing criticism from some doctors and advocacy groups who worry that the new requirements could scare off illegal immigrants from seeking medical insurance for which their babies are eligible. The policy change comes amid a national debate over illegal immigration. "Since the mothers are illegal immigrants, they are not very likely to go to the Medicaid office to enroll their children because they're worried that they're going to get caught and deported," said Dr. Joh.

Link: MedlinePlus: Medicaid baby care requires citizenship papers.


Earned Income Tax Credit help the one out of six kids in the U.S. who live in poverty

Poor_kids_1 In the richest, most powerful nation on earth one out of six children live in poverty. One of the programs that help these kids who have parents or a parent that works with low income and/or at minimum wage is the Earned Income Tax Credit. This is a program that deserves continued and increased support.

More than one in six American children live in poverty. Nearly 13 million children live in families that earn less than the federal poverty level. For 71 percent of these children, a family member works but simply does not earn enough to support the household.1 The federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) was created in 1975 to support low-income workers. The program was expanded in 1986, 1990, 1993 and 2001, and has become a central part of federal efforts to fight poverty and move Americans from welfare to work. Only wage earners qualify for this program, and the value of the tax credit depends on a worker’s income and family size. Workers who earn the minimum wage benefit most from EITCs.2

Link: Center for Policy Alternatives: EITC.xml.


Are we rich if we don't feed the poor?

Soup_kitchen This commentary was in the Christian Science Monitor on October 2, 2006 dealing with the increasing income inequality and growing hunger of poor people in the United States under the current Republican administration. It is a national disgrace. And even more troubling is that it rarely gets mentioned as an issue in the current campaign season. The politicans keep screaming about terrorists, gay marriage, abortion, protecting embryos, flag burning, and the 10 commandments being displayed in public buildings, but rarely a word about the poor.

The unseen contrast is sharp. Every workday morning, some of the nation's richest corporate executives and Wall Street financiers ride in trains or cars through poorer parts of New York to their Manhattan offices.

There, in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, or upper Manhattan, mostly volunteers offer some 250,000 free meals per day from church and synagogue basements or community centers. They serve 1.2 million people a year, some 350,000 of them children.

Last year, more than 1,200 New York soup kitchens and food pantries distributed about 67 million pounds of food to the city's poor and sometimes hungry. That's up 50 percent in five years.

As the incomes of the richest 1 percent of Americans have been rising spectacularly, the Food Bank for New York City has been nearly "flat funded" by city, state, and federal programs for almost 10 years, complains vice president Aine Duggan. The result has been less government money after inflation - and some people leaving food banks still hungry.

"We are not always able to serve all those standing in line," says Ms. Duggan.

Meanwhile, the average chief executive officer at a large American firm last year got 411 times an average US worker's pay, up from 107 times in 1990.

Each CEO should look in the mirror every morning and ask about his or her "personal responsibility and integrity," says Travis Hale, coauthor of a study on US income distribution.

A doctoral student in economics at the University of Texas at Austin, Mr. Hale dislikes the attitude that, "I've got mine, and I deserve it - and good luck to the rest of you." Reducing inequality of incomes is "not a matter of just growing the pie. It is a matter of splitting it up more equally," he adds. "If the economic growth of the last 40 years had been shared more equitably, we could now have a country where very few persons are poor."

As it is, the richest 1 percent of Americans have seen their incomes pull away dramatically from the merely rich, the middle class, and the poor. That 1 percent in 2004 got 17 percent of all income nationwide. The bottom 90 percent got less than 58 percent.

Link: Are we rich if we don't feed the poor? | csmonitor.com.


Financial security in your retirement? How about state prison?

Elderly_in_prison Are you better off than you were 6 years ago, or 12 years ago when the Republicans took over congress? Desi, the web mistress of Mia Culpa, one of my favorite blogs has a sad story today of how desparate some people have become.

Columbus, Ohio - A man who couldn’t find steady work had a plan to make it through the three years until he could collect Social Security payments: He robbed a bank teller, then handed the money to a guard and waited for police.
Timothy J. Bowers, of Columbus, told a judge a three-year prison sentence would suit him, and the judge obliged.
“At my age, the jobs available to me are minimum wage jobs. There is age discrimination out there,” Bowers explained Wednesday in a quiet voice to Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Angela White.
He turns 63 in a few weeks and said he would receive full Social Security benefits at 66.

As Desi points out after she provides the full article:

And so even among lawyers and community leaders, no one had a better alternative for Timothy J. Bowers than convicting him of a felony, and sending him off to prison. I don't know if I could think of a sadder commentary on the times we're living in today.

Our congress has done very well for millionaires and corporations, but the "little guy" like Timothy Bowers is getting screwed over. It is a sad day in this country when the best place for some financial security, "3 hots and a cot" as they say, is the County jail or State prison.

The Fort Wayne, Indiana, News-Sentinel had an interesting article on 12/01/99 on "Prisoners of Age: Growing old behind bars". The article says in part:

Add all those factors together and it's guaranteed that the average age of the country's prison population will continue to climb. With that increase comes the unique and expensive problems older inmates pose.

The most obvious is health care. Like anyone else, the older prisoners become, the more health problems they are likely to have. A study earlier this year by the California Department of Correction said dealing with Alzheimer's disease will be "one of the most challenging aspects of an increasingly aging population." Two years ago, Indiana corrections officials who responded to a survey by the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives listed senility and dementia and the need for a hospice program as high on the list of special needs for elderly inmates.

Meeting those challenges won't be cheap, states are learning. The center reports that the cost of incarcerating an elderly inmate averages $69,000 a year. Virginia recently spent more than $61 million on only 891 older prisoners. Edward L. Cohn, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Correction, says the state's average per-diem cost of keeping a prisoner — about $17,000 a year — won't increase if the prisoners stay healthy, but admits that's a pipe dream.

If the average cost of incarcerating an elderly inmate in 1999 was $69,000 per year, can you imagine what it would be today in 2006? It seem to me that the cost to the state of Ohio to incarcerate Timothy J. Bowers for 3 years will be far more than what it would cost to give him some financial assistance.

It makes my ache as a Social Worker, and as a citizen, when I reflect on how far wrong we have gone as a society when we are willing to spend billions of dollars a month on Iraq and put people like Timothy J. Bowers in jail.

Link: Mia Culpa: Here's your Economy, Dumbya.


Do school based health centers lower teen pregnancy rates? Yes

Teen_pregnancy Do school based health centers help reduce teen pregnancy rates. The answer is clearly yes, significantly, in high schools in Denver, Colorado with high percentages of African American students according to a study publiched in the September, 2006 issue of the American Journal Of Public Health

A high adolescent fertility rate (165 births/1000) in 1992 among Black students in Denver high-school areas with school-based health centers declined to a low rate (38/1000) in 1997 that matched the rate of school areas that did not have school-based health centers. Rates declined for both types of areas over the study period, but the rate of decline in the areas with school-based health centers was significantly greater (77% vs 56%).

Link: School-Based Health Centers and the Decline in Black Teen Fertility During the 1990s in Denver, Colorado -- Ricketts and Guernsey 96 (9): 1588 -- American Journal of Public Health.


89% of Americans who want to buy health insurance can't

Out of work? No health insurance? Buy your own. Not going to happen. Lots of luck.

According to the Commonwealth Fund's Biennial Health Insurance survey done in 2005, 89% of Americans between the ages of 19 and 64 who thought about or tried to buy health insurance in the previous three years were unsuccessful.

Insurance in the individual market is often impossible to obtain or unaffordable. Nearly nine of 10 people who explored obtaining coverage through the individual market never bought a plan, citing difficulties finding affordable coverage or being turned down.

Squeezed_es_cht1

I heard on Meet The Press this morning, October 1, 2006, that the United States is spending 2 Billion dollars a week in Iraq. That's 8 Billion dollars per month. You'd think the United States could figure out a way to help its citizens get health care.

Link: Americans Squeezed by Health Care Costs.


More Children are Uninsured

According to the Economic Policy Institute more kids were uninsured in 2005 than in 2004. While the percentage of children covered by employer health insurance has dropped significantly during the first five years of the 21 century, the number of children being covered under Medicaid has increased until 2005 when the number of kids on Medicaid has dropped as well.

The rate of uninsured children in the United States has increased for the first time in seven years, from 10.8% in 2004 to 11.2% in 2005. From 2004 to 2005, the number of uninsured children grew by 361,000 to a total of 8.3 million uninsured children.

Children have experienced declines in employer-provided health insurance in each of the past five years, but public health insurance programs—Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)—have offset this trend, preventing many children from becoming uninsured when their employment-based benefits were lost. But in 2005, this phenomenon reversed as fewer children were insured by either employer-provided or publicly provided health insurance

Graph

It is interesting how the current Republican administration can spend billions and billions of dollars on an immoral and pre-emptive war in Iraq and yet not provide a safety net for the health care of the children of our nation. It is the shame of the military/industrial/capitalist complex. Once again I am reminded of Tom Frank's book, What's the Matter With Kansas, in which he points out the Republican brainwashing of Americans with the idea that their real concern should be gay marriage, and flag burning rather than with the health of their children and grandhcildren.

Link: More Children are Uninsured.


US defense spending ruining our democracy

The Republicans are leading the United States to its destruction. We are fading the way of the Roman Empire, the British Empire, the colonial powers of the French and the Spaniards, because we want to police the world and engage in imperial conquest for oil and to fuel the defense industry. Meanwhile, services to our own people at home are disgraceful. There is no universal health care, retirement plans are being canceled, people, except the 1% of the rich, are getting poorer.

The Democrats are no better because they are as beholden to the corporations as the Repubicans are. The corporations, especially the defense industry, has bought our government for its own interests which is profit.

Today I am starting a new category on my blog called "Platform of rationality". This is a platform for policies for the people of the United States which would lead to a healthier country.

The first plank in the platform of rationality is to cut defense spending. Will it be guns or butter? The United States has the largest defense budget in the world, the biggest of all other countries combined, and the largest discretionary piece of the federal government. Who are we planning on using all this equipment and personnel on? Terrorists? In Iraq they are beating us with a $2.50 road side bomb made with parts they got from Radio Shack.

Worldmilitaryspending

The bozos in Washtington aren't going to change the defense spending because its the military contractors who contribute to their campaigns and get them elected.

Here's what is suggested on the Avenging Angels web site:

There is only one political force in America strong enough to break the Military Industrial Complex stranglehold on federal budgeting. It isn’t the Democrats and it isn’t the Republicans. It’s the U.S. taxpayer. Taxpayer sanity can cut the Pentagon down to size. Here is how it can work.

A “Truth in Federal Spending Act” Let’s call it the “Truth in Federal Spending Act of 2007.” It mandates three revolutionary steps:

First, it requires the administration to inform every single taxpayer--personally—as to what was done with his or her money last year. Exactly how was discretionary spending allocated?

Second, it invites every single taxpayer to re-allocate that spending according to his or her priorities.

Third, it requires that the White House report to Congress the collective results of this national exercise in priority shifting.

It's time for new national priorities. What better time to be setting them than this fall when we are electing new people to congress, and as we enter the campaign season for 2008. Don't worry about gay marriage, and flag burning amendments. Halliburton and Bechtel, Lockheed and Raytheon are stealing your Social Security pension by getting the next congressperson and senator elected in your state. Begin to push the Platform of Rationality instead of the Platform of Greed.

Link: Avenging Angels Plank 3.


New Report Finds Child Poverty has Surged in Midwest Since 2000 - "What's the matter with Kansas?"

Is America better off now than it was since the Republicans took office? The answer is clearly no, and yet most Americans, having been distracted with bogus issues like Gay Marriage amendments, and reproductive rights, don't vote their economic interests. This is the point in the great book by Thomas Frank, "What's the Matter With Kansas?"

Poor_white_kids A press release by the Mailman School of Public Health at the Columbia University, made on August 7, 2006, reported on a new study which shows that child poverty has surged across the United States since 2000, but especially strongly in the Mid West, and increasingly among those children with working parents and among whites.

Although child poverty has increased 12% nationally since 2000, the rise in the Midwest was a stunning 29%by far the most substantial of any region. Accounting for nearly half of the increase nationwide, the Midwest was the only region where poverty increased among children with employed parents, due in part to the loss of relatively well-paid manufacturing jobs.

Child poverty increased in the Northeast by 11% and in the South by 9%. In the Northeast, the increase was greatest among white children, whereas in the South, the most substantial increase was among children of immigrants. The child poverty rate in the West remained virtually unchanged.

“Policymakers, especially at the national level, have been slow to acknowledge that more working Americans are economically insecure because of low wages, few benefits, and minimal job protections,” said Dr. Cauthen. “If employers can’t—or won’t—take care of American workers, government needs to step up to the plate.”

I hope that voters will ask their candidates in their congressional and senatorial district campaigns this fall, what they are doing, or intend to do, about child poverty in the United States.

It is in these parts of the nation, that as economic insecurity and poverty rise, we also see a rise in religiosity with its concomitant intolerance and scapegoating. Very few people make this connection between economic insecurity and social injustice and the rise of fundamentalism, but it clearly is manifested in the United States and is a force for splitting and division rather than collaboration and cooperation. The best approach to resolving our problems of poverty and injustice are political. While moral and religious considerations are appropriate in dealing with these topics, scapegoating gays, and terrifying people with bogeymen like terrorists while bankrupting this country by giving money to war profiteers is unconscienceable.

Perhaps, as a nation, we could feed our kids instead of giving our money to Haliburton and private contractors to profit off our pre-emptive and immoral war in Iraq.

Link: NCCP | New Report Finds Child Poverty has Surged in Midwest Since 2000; Children with Working Parents Especially Hard Hit.


Wealth inequality is vast and growing

Income_inequality

The figure is one such measure of inequality—the ratio of the wealth of the richest 1% to that of a household with typical wealth in the middle. As the figure indicates, wealth inequality has not only persisted, but also grown much larger over time. The richest 1% of wealth holders had 125 times the wealth of the typical household in 1962; by 2004 they had 190 times as much or $14.8 million in wealth for the upper 1% compared to just $82,000 for the household in the middle fifth of wealth.

The current Republican administration has given tax cuts to the rich far greater than to lower income Americans. Further, they have refused to raise the minimum wage, and lower class Americans are falling further and further behind because their income has not kept up with the rise in the cost of living. This does not bode well for the future of our democracy and will fuel continued adherence to fundamentalist religiosity and intolerance. These kinds of ideologies lead to newly kindled forms of racism, discrimination, and social conflict.

Before you vote this fall, ask the candidates where they stand on these fundamental economic issues, and don't get sidetracked by fear and hate mongering invective.

Link: Wealth inequality is vast and growing.