Claire Snell-Rood, Cathleen Willging

AHCA Would Make Rural America’s Health Care Worse

Much has been made of the distress and discontent in rural areas during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Few realize, however, this is also felt through unequal health. Photo credit: Flickr / jeua Researchers call it the “rural mortality penalty.” While rates of mortality have steadily fallen in the nation’s urban areas, they have actually climbed for rural Americans. And the picture is even bleaker for specific groups, such as rural white women and people of color, who face persistent disparities in health outcomes. In every category, from suicide to unintentional injury to heart disease, rural residents’ health has been declining since the 1990s.

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Richard Eskow

Would a Berniecrat Have Won Ossoff’s Georgia Race?

Reams of commentary have been written about the results of the recent special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. Jon Ossoff lost the seat, which was left vacant by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, to his Republican rival by a margin that was larger than expected. Photo credit: Jon Ossoff / Facebook It was the most expensive House race in history, with the two candidates spending a combined $50 million. Republican Karen Handel beat Ossoff by a 3.8 percent margin, winning 51.9 percent of the vote to Ossoff’s 48.1 percent. Ossoff substantially outperformed the Democrats who had run against Price, who typically won by 20-point margins. But despite spending enormous sums on  his campaign, he failed to match Hillary Clinton’s 1-point loss to Donald Trump in the same district in 2016. A total of 259,488 votes were cast.

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Robert Borosage

Stop the Senate Republican Health Care Obscenity This Week

This is it. The Senate has to decide on health care. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell is pushing for a Thursday vote on the Senate plan that will deprive millions of Americans of health care coverage, and raise premiums to tens of millions more. There will be a procedural vote on Tuesday to open the debate, and a push for a vote on Thursday. Protester Stephanie Woodward took this photo of a banner protesters hung in the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. This is the week to call your Senators – the number is 202-224-3121 – and to demonstrate in their offices in Washington, and in your state. All across the country on Wednesday, June 28, People’s Action from Maine and Pennsylvania to West Virginia and Nevada will be sponsoring protests. But you needn’t wait. Make certain your Senator hears from you.

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Jeff Bryant

Charter Schools Do Bad Stuff Because They Can

Charter schools have become a fetish of both Democratic and Republican political establishments, but local news reports continue to drip, drip a constant stream of stories of charter schools doing bad stuff that our tax dollars fund. Keys Gate Charter School, Homestead, FL. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons An independent news outlet in New Orleans, where the school district is nearly 100 percent charter, reports that two homeless children were kept out of class for a month because they didn’t have monogrammed uniforms. In Oakland, California, a state-based news outlet reports charter school enrollment practices ensure charter schools get an advantage over district schools when academic performance comparisons are made. The advantage comes from charters being able to enroll students who are more “academically prepared” than students who attend district-run schools.

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Valerie Woody

WV Voters in DC Ask Senators to Save Health Care

Sleepy but excited voters got on a bus at dawn in Charleston to ride six hours over the Allegheny Mountains to Washington, DC so they could ask their senators to save health care for West Virginians before it’s too late. This group of grassroots activists made the trip to pay visits to their two senators, Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Shelly Capito. For Manchin, they brought their gratitude for his promise to vote against a bill that will take health care away from hundreds of thousands of West Virginians. For Senator Capito, the riders brought stories of healthcare heartbreak and fears for what may happen to their friends and family should the Senate bill pass. The state of West Virginia is a pivotal battleground in the fight for healthcare.

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Richard Eskow

GOP “Health” Bill: Death, Disaster and Gilded Age Greed

  The Republican Senate’s draft health bill differs from the House version, but its basic purpose is the same: give millionaires and billionaires a massive new tax cut by slashing health benefits for millions of Americans, and take care away altogether from millions more. Photo credit: Ted Eylan / Flickr People will die if this bill becomes law, but that doesn’t seem to trouble the Republicans’ conscience. The only thing they seem to fear is losing their jobs. That’s why this bill was written in unprecedented secrecy. That’s why it, like the House version, obfuscates and misdirects to conceal its true goals. Make Them Think It’s More Once, as a young health financing consultant, I met with the CEO of one of Wall Street’s most powerful firms.

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Sam Portera

Mainers Angry Over Health Care Repeal Find Rep. Poliquin in Boston

Second-District Representative Bruce Poliquin has mostly been avoiding public appearances in Maine following his vote in favor of the Republican health care repeal bill last month, but several dozen of his constituents managed to find him in Massachusetts on Monday, where he was giving a speech to a regional business lobby. Holding signs reading “I drove here from Maine” and “Hands off of my health care,” carloads of Mainers, some of whom traveled up to six hours to join the picket, stood outside the Hampshire House in Boston and castigated Poliquin for his vote and his failure to  engage with his constituents on health care. “Every day I see the tough choices people have to make to ensure that they can afford medical care. People shouldn’t have to decide whether or not to have lifesaving treatments because of cost.

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Robert Borosage

The Lessons We Learned From Jon Ossoff’s Defeat

The special election for the open congressional seat in Georgia was the most expensive in history, with an obscene $60 million in total spending. Jon Ossoff, the Democratic candidate, narrowly lost in the upscale, suburban sixth district, which is heavily Republican. The chattering classes will speculate endlessly on what this special election means for the 2018 midterms. The election was seen as a referendum on Trump. Ossoff lost by about 4 percent in a district that has gone Republican for decades. He outspent his Republican opponent, Karen Handel, yet he garnered a smaller share of the vote than Hillary Clinton received against Trump in 2016. For all the sound and fury, this signifies very little for 2018. For many voters, and surely for Trump’s supporters, the administration has just settled into office and still deserves a chance. Trump’s policies haven’t taken hold yet.

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Sarah Chaisson-Warner

Colorado Calls Out Sen. Gardner to Defend Health Care

“It should be more open,’ says Colorado Senator Cory Gardner about the way his Republican colleagues are hiding the facts of their plan to repeal health care. “I think there should be (Senate) hearings on this.” We agree, senator. But Gardner’s dismay over the way his Republican colleagues conceal the truth glosses over the fact that their plan will strip millions of their insurance, and that he is part of the process. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons We know, and Gardner knows, that more than a quarter million of his Colorado constituents will lose health care if the House version of the bill goes through. The Senate repeal makes similar cuts and slashes Medicaid even more deeply. Colorado has benefited dramatically from its expansion of Medicaid – the uninsured rate has fallen by forty percent in the state since 2013, with more than half a million gaining coverage.

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Will Rice

Big Pharma Gets $28 Billion Tax Break in GOP Health Plan

There will be a lot of losers if the House GOP’s disastrous plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act ever becomes law: people with preexisting medical conditions, working families, older folks, kids. One of the few winners would be the nation’s pharmaceutical industry: $28 billion richer thanks to a big tax cut. The Senate is likely to keep this tax break in its version of the legislation. Do America’s drug makers deserve a $28 billion tax cut over 10 years, when the profits of the top 10 companies topped $83 billion last year alone, with the top 5 pocketing nearly $58 billion? Hardly. In fact, they need to start paying their fair share. Profits of Top 10 U.S. Pharmaceutical Corporations Company                                                                               2016 Profits (in U.S.

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Leo Gerard

Veto the Cold-Hearted Health Bill

Donald Trump is right. The House health insurance bill is “mean, mean, mean,” as he put it last week. He correctly called the measure that would strip health insurance from 23 million Americans “a son of a bitch.” Graphic credit: AFL-CIO The proposal is not at all what Donald Trump promised Americans. He said that under his administration, no one would lose coverage. He said everybody would be insured. And the insurance he provided would be a “lot less expensive.” Senate Democrats spent every day this week pointing this out and demanding that Senate Republicans end their furtive, star-chamber scheming and expose their health insurance proposal to public scrutiny. That unveiling is supposed to happen today. Republicans have kept their plan under wraps because, like the House measure, it is a son of a bitch.

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Sarah Chaisson-Warner

Arizona and Ohio Speak Up to Defend Health Care

223,300 in Arizona. 360,000 in Ohio. That’s how many people will lose their Medicaid coverage if the GOP forces through the health care repeal they’re currently drafting behind closed doors in the Senate. Arizona and Ohio voters overwhelmingly oppose the repeal, as they do in every state.  Photo credit: Ted Eytan, Flickr / CC Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain of Arizona, and Rob Portman of Ohio have the power  with their three votes to protect health care for more than half a million of their constituents.  Or, they can vote to kick them off, and cause inestimable suffering to their constituents and to millions more like them all across the country. These three senators – Flake, McCain and Portman – could block passage of the most disastrous health care bill this country has ever seen.

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Sam Pizzigati

GE’s Immelt Steps Down: ‘Meanness and Greed’ Win Again

Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric since 2001, is retiring. The 61-year-old will be making a well-compensated exit. Jeffrey Immelt, photo by JD Lasica: Flikr / CC Fortune magazine estimates that Immelt will walk off with “nearly $211 million,” on top of his regular annual pay. Immelt’s overall General Electric retirement account, an Institute for Policy Studies report calculated last year, rates as Corporate America’s ninth-most generous. Immelt’s annual pay hasn’t been too shabby either. He pulled down $21.3 million last year, even more, $37.25 million, in 2014. But Immelt’s millions don’t come close to matching the haul that his predecessor, the “legendary” Jack Welch, collected in his own two decades at GE’s helm. Welch’s annual compensation topped $144 million in 2000. He stepped down the next year with a retirement package valued at $417 million.

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Mark Trahant

How to Destroy the Economy With 50 Votes

I have been wondering what I should say about the Republican health care legislation in the Senate. We do know that there is a policy split among Senators about how much and how fast to cut Medicaid. We know the bill will cut taxes. But beyond that there is more information on one of my whiteboards than what is posted in public. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell Photo credit: McConnell press office via Twitter Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is moving this legislation in secret. And there’s a reason. As The Washington Post puts it: “ So McConnell’s theory is that if the Senate’s bill were seen, debated and discussed, opposition would grow and grow, and eventually at least three of his members would bail out (the Republicans’ 52-48 majority means they can only lose two votes).

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Sarah Chaisson-Warner

Health Care Repeal: Playing Political Chicken With Our Lives

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is playing political chicken with our lives. Since he and the other Republicans in his 13-member working group are choosing to draft their bill to repeal health care in secret, it’s up to us to share the stories of those who will be affected by this disastrous plan. I was finally able to get treatment. Without Medicaid, I’d be dead. Without Obamacare, I’d have gone bankrupt. Don’t they care about people like us? I’m not worried about myself – I feel compassion for the people who have been helped, and don’t want them to suffer. These are a few of the themes that come through loud and clear in the more than twelve hundred comments we’ve received from all across the country in the first 24 hours after we asked people to share their health care stories with us.

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Miles Mogulescu

Did Trump Revive Failed Cold War Cuba Policy to Buy Rubio’s Loyalty?

Donald Trump has made clear that there’s little room in his “America First” foreign policy for pressure on authoritarian foreign governments – whether Russia, Saudi Arabia, or China – to improve their human rights record. When it comes to human rights, as Trump told Arab leaders last month in Riyadh, his message seems to be “We’re not here to tell you what to do.” The one exception to this see-no-evil policy is Cuba, where Trump has moved to reimpose failed Cold-War sanctions, ostensibly to pressure the island nation to improve human rights. How can we understand this seeming contradiction? The answer may be close at hand – indeed, standing right next to the president.

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Andy Spears

Tennessee Dads Ask Senators for a Simple Father’s Day Gift

A group of Tennessee dads gathered inside a dimly-lit parking garage on a rainy Nashville day to send a message to their senators, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander. Their message was simple: this Father’s Day, they want their senators to protect Medicaid. The assembled dads each had letters about the importance of Medicaid for their own children. One of the dads, John Shouse, had this to say: Senator Alexander, Senator Corker, we gather here today as fathers, with Father’s Day mere hours away, to share with you our concerns with the course of action currently being set in Washington. We are fathers of children with disabilities. We are imploring you to vote to save Medicaid, and the other “lifeline programs” that are currently facing unprecedented funding cuts. This is a course that, left unchecked, WILL have dire negative consequences for our sons and daughters.

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Robert Borosage

Infighting Is Good for the Democratic Party

  Given the Democratic Party’s recent failures, isn’t it time to debate ideas and strategy?   The populist uprising championed by Senator Bernie Sanders, now America’s most (only?) popular politician, just gathered at the People’s Summit in Chicago. Over 4,000 activists redoubled their commitment to move from “resistance to power.” That commitment poses a direct challenge to the Democratic party’s leaders. A front-page report in The New York Times (“Democrats in Split Screen: The Base Wants it All; the Party Wants to Win”) summarized the perspective of the party’s political establishment. The party’s elected leaders and operatives have “a cold-eyed recognition” of the need to “scrounge for votes in forbidding districts” if Democrats are to take back a gerrymandered Congress.

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Leo Gerard

Subjugation in Steel

One cost of freedom is steel. To remain independent, America must maintain its own vibrant steel industry. Image of USW member at EVRAZ North America by Steven Dietz Steel is essential to make munitions, armor plate, aircraft carriers, submarines and fighter jets, as well as the roads and bridges on which these armaments are transported, the electrical grid that powers the factories where they are produced, the municipal water systems that supply manufacturers, even the computers that aid industrial innovation. If America imports that steel, it becomes a vassal to the producing countries. It would be victim to the whims of countries that certainly don’t have America’s interests in mind when they act. In the case of China, the attempt to subjugate is deliberate.

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Richard Eskow

Resistance in a Time of Gunfire

  The smell of gun smoke had net yet lifted from an Alexandria baseball field when the calls for unity began. “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan. “You’re going to hear me say something you’ve never heard me say before,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi responded. “I identify myself with the remarks of the speaker.” “We’ve had a very, very divided country for many years,” said President Donald Trump, “and I have a feeling that (wounded Congressman Steve Scalise) has made a great sacrifice but there could be some unity being brought to our country.” “Let’s hope so,” Trump added. The country’s leaders understandably tend to call for unity after acts of political violence. But unity doesn’t mean silence. There are sharp political differences in this country.

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