dinner conversation

Last night I was at dinner in someone’s home and the following is the abridged version of a portion of dinner conversation. I say abridged because I was so mad that one, the guest had the audacity to discuss politics in a room of people this person had never met, save one, and two I didn’t want to go ballistic and embarrass the host so I left.

Guest: I was at the VA hospital today for (some random event) and was able to see the blueprint of the new hospital.

Me: Oh really, tell me about it…

Guest: Well on Banks street, the old oak trees were saved, and some of the buildings will be built around the oaks, so there will be a corridor down the middle – a shaded promenade with benches and such.

Me: That sounds nice!

Guest: While I was there today, some of the (nameless) dignitaries were discussing how the Charity Hospitals were being dismantled and they were looking at private corporations to take over the care of the patients.

Me: Oh really? Well after Katrina, when Charity hospital was closed down, all the patients had to go somewhere so they were seen at Ochsner, East Jefferson – it didn’t work well and those hospitals lost a lot of money…

Guest: Yeah, one of the doctors at (nameless hospital) was telling me how after the storm, a gun shot wound patient broke into some pharmacy storage area to take medicine, so that didn’t work out too well with “those” (emphasis guest) patients at the private hospitals. So its going to be difficult for “those” (emphasis guest) patients to find somewhere to go.

Me: I honestly don’t see how the state could possibly shut down the Charity Hospitals? What are they going to do with the new hospital? Sell it?

Guest: Well there will be no more Charity system, they are doing everything right now to close all the hospitals. It won’t be an issue especially if Obamacare is defeated in November when Romney wins.

Me: Its called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Plus there is no guarantee Romney will win.

Guest: Well if Obama is re-elected, there are ways to defeat the health care bill.

Me: Oh Really? You know, we really shouldn’t be going there (having political discussion with strangers) at dinner…

Guest: Well how do you think Obamacare is going to be funded? The federal government will need to put up $50 billion dollars they don’t have to pay for it…

At this point I excused myself and helped clear the table and began washing dishes. The guest continued carrying on political discussion with the others remaining at the table which I could hear from the kitchen. I did as much as I could to assist the host –  but very soon after when another guest excused themselves it was my cue to leave too.

I find it extraordinarily disturbing that there is a subversive political process going on which is hell bent on obliterating health care for the poor and uninsured in Louisiana. There has already been a loss of thousands of state jobs, and this current round will result in 1500 more people out of work. How does this contribute to the tax base, the spend and growth economy, putting people out of work, regardless of the fact that these are hard working and dedicated state employees?  Where are all the students of health care, physicians, nurses, allied health, going to go for training? Not to mention all of the sick, sick patients and not just the victims of and perpetrators of violent trauma: there is no plan in the foreseeable future for the state to pony up through Bayou Health or any other fee schedule to reimburse the private hospitals that will wind up caring for the uninsured poor. And once these private hospitals begin to see red, what will happen to the patients? Will they just start dying in the streets? Where is the social justice in that?

There is a call to action out there, let your voice be heard. Representative Jerome Richard from Thibodaux has called to convene a special session to address the recent bulldozing of healthcare, among other things. Contact your state legislators and senators, and demand they go to special session in November to reverse the evisceration of health care in this state. You the citizens elected the legislators and they answer to you, compel them to do their job and do what’s right by their constituents and not the special interests.

*****UPDATE***** This link will take you to an online petition through Change dot org requesting the legislature to convene a special session to find out what in God’s name is going on with the railroading of health care in Louisiana – please consider signing it – thanks

Assault on Local Home Health Nurse Precipitates Fundraiser/Outreach Program

The HALO Foundation
Holistic Healing for Violent Crime Victims in Healthcare

On Thursday, January 26, 2012 the crime that persists in the City of New Orleans shocked us again. And this time it hit very close to home. One of our own, a home health nurse, who has dedicated her life to home care service, became another Victim of Violent Crime, another statistic in the long list that pervades our community. At 3:30 p.m., in the middle of a beautiful Thursday afternoon, while arriving at a patient’s home, she was robbed at gunpoint, abducted and assaulted.

We all heard the blip on television that Thursday evening and perhaps even a bit through the weekend. But just how many of us paid attention? Just another crime, we all think. And then more information is revealed. The woman is a home health nurse. Uneasiness settles in as she begins to have a face. We realize she is a mother, a daughter, a friend, a caregiver, one like us and the ripple effect begins. For those in the home care and hospice industries, this is a daily fear. For those in healthcare, we recognize we can sometimes be a target. And all of us in the healthcare industry know the unique needs of a Victim of Violence. We are too acutely aware of the long-term effects these acts can have not only on the Victim, but on their families. We know how long and how difficult the road to healing can be.

We call her “Angel” because she needs and wants to be anonymous at this time. She is surrounded by a strong support group of family, friends and mental health professionals. She is comforted, yet gives comfort. Her strength amazes us. She has many needs that encompass the physical, the psychological, the emotional and even the practicality of financial and legal needs. She must process this, begin a path to healing, deal with the stress of the legal aspects and must have a means of support.

She recognizes she needs help, and is willing to accept. She also realizes how this tragic event has affected the home health and hospice community. As a dedicated caregiver who has experienced violence, she seeks a way to care for colleagues who may in the future also become a Victim, and to also work towards better safety systems and policies.

Through this desire, and her need for anonymity, The Healthcare Angels Lifeline Outreach Foundation a/k/a The HALO Foundation was formed on February 15, 2012. A dedicated fund for “Angel” has been established at Regions Bank for donations directed to her. Donations can be made at any Regions Bank to the account of “The HALO Foundation.” 100% of donations made to this account go directly to “Angel.”

We Need Your Help!

Request for Volunteers: We are currently seeking individuals who want to proactively be involved. Our needs are many and we need volunteers and leaders. We have established the following Committees needing volunteers – Program Development, Financial, Fundraising, Public Relations, Information Technology and a Nominating Committee for the Board of Directors. If you or someone you know would like to be involved, please contact any one of us listed at the bottom of this page.

Fundraising: In an effort to help “Angel” concentrate on healing we would like to assist her financially by sponsoring a series of fundraisers. Currently, we are announcing that The HALO Foundation is sponsoring a fundraising event for Angel’s benefit to be held at Mid-City Rock’nBowl on Sunday, June 10, 2012 from 1:00p.m. to 4:00pm. We are in the preliminary planning stages at this time and are working on entertainment and a Silent Auction. We need volunteers and humbly ask that you consider giving us your TIME to help us plan and execute this event, to assist with planning the entertainment or helping to collect donations for the Silent Auction. Please help us in having a successful and fun-filled event by donating your time.

Please share this with your staff, colleagues, family and friends. For More Information:

Mary Kathryn Nichols
President
504-339-9802
MaryKYoung@att.net mail to: MaryKYoung@att.net

Michele Schellhaas, R.N.
Vice-President
504-296-9001
Mds0919@yahoo.com mail to: Mds0919@yahoo.com

Jane Fountain
Secretary/Treasurer
504-236-9925
Tillytoo@aol.com mail to: Tillytoo@aol.com

The Healthcare Angels Lifeline Outreach Foundation
a/k/a The HALO Foundation
Holistic Healing for Violent Crime Victims in Healthcare

Mission Statement
The mission of The HALO Foundation is to provide support, resources and a pathway for holistic healing addressing the physical, psychological, emotional, financial and legal needs for members of the healthcare community who become victims of violent crime while in the service of administering care to others.

Vision Statement
Our medical community will feel free to administer necessary care to others without fearing for their own safety.

Our Goals
Our goal is simple, yet two fold. We want to provide support and comfort to our colleagues and their families who become victims of violence and to give them a sense of empowerment so they may recover to their full life potential. In addition, we want to be proactive in addressing the safety concerns of healthcare workers in our community. To address these goals we have issued a 7-point plan:

• To provide financial assistance to allow victims and their families to concentrate on recovery;
• To provide a peer support network;
• To provide a network of medical and legal professionals to ensure advocacy through law enforcement, judicial, and healthcare systems;
• To offer in partnership, safety, self-awareness and self-defense presentations, seminars and other professional trainings to healthcare workers;
• To promote community awareness of the daily dangers faced by home care professionals in an effort to promote collaborative community action efforts to stop victimization;
• To work to improve policies and procedures of the medical and legal professions in the treatment of victims of violence throughout the crisis;
• To collaborate with law enforcement and healthcare associations/organizations in an effort to affect the Safety Policy and Procedures and Safety Performance Improvement Plans to better protect healthcare providers working in field positions.

Guest Blogger: Bayou Creole on A New Nursing Home Trend

The hands of an elderly resident at a nursing home (John Stillwell/PA Wire)

The hands of an elderly resident at a nursing home (John Stillwell/PA Wire)

New Nursing Home Trend

Many moons ago, the only people  living in nursing homes were the elderly.  If your parents or grandparents needed 24 hour care, you could put them in a home where there would be nurses and aids there 24-7  to assist them. But, there’s a new trend going on( here in Louisiana for sure).

Facilities that previously only had elderly people are now getting young folks,folks in their 20′s-50′s…way too young to be in a facility with the elderly.Not only that, a lot of these young people have mental health problemsor drugs and alcohol problems. Some of the young people who end up in these facilities are helpful to the elderly. But a lot of times, they intimidate the elderly to the point where the elderly are afraid to say anything against them. Then, there’s the abuse and the situation of having young, sexual men in a place with females who are either elderly or mentally challenged. I received a phone call today informing me that an elderly female in one such facility was raped by a male living there. That’s a hard pill for a family member to handle. You think you’re doing the right thing by your loved one, putting her somewhere medical care is available, meals are being served, she can no longer wander out of the home so, she’s supposedly safe. Then, you get a call saying someone raped her there.

The nursing game has changed. It’s sad but, it’s true. I’ve heard horror stories over and over again. I’ve witnessed horror stories too. Since there aren’t any place for the mentally ill to go anymore, it seems the new trend is to put them into nursing facilities. But what happens to the poor elderly people who have to be there… with a paranoid schizophrenic, who refuses to take his medication? Who’s  really protecting them? Folks call the state all the time and nothing ever changes.

If anyone is thinking about putting their loved one in a nursing care facility, do your research first. Don’t believe what they tell you. Visit there at different hours of the day. Walk every single hall in the facility. Take note of the mental capacity and age of everyone you see, employees included. Let your senses be your guide. What do you see, hear,smell? Hang around for lunch and order a plate, how does it taste? Do you see residents wandering around aimlessly or are they engaged in activities? What is the work environment like? Happy employees take better care of people. Visit as many places as humanly possible before making a decision about where you’ll put your loved one because, the game has changed.Healthcare has changed… and the elderly are suffering because of it.
~~~
Bio:
I’m a registered nurse born,raised and living in the fabulous city of New Orleans. I’m married to a man who’s way too good for me and have two kids who keep me young and zany. My passions are for all things NOLA, Elder Rights and Animal Rights.
~~~
This piece was previously published on Bayou Creole’s blog of the same name.

gang rape redux 2012

So its 2012, yet there are still instances of horrific crimes against people, against nurses who are on a mission to simply tend to the sick. It happened practically a week ago – a 53 year old home health nurse was brutally gang raped in Zion City, in an abandoned house in the 1300 block of South Gayoso during the afternoon of January 26, 2012. The first appearance in the Times Picayune of this incident occurred on Monday evening, and a follow up report indicates there still is no police report on the crime.

Could that be because the owner of the abandoned 4-plex where the gang rape occurred is owned by (ironically) a CEO of a biomedical company who is developing the planned Tulane medical corridor? I find this interesting…

The location where the woman said she was raped is a rundown fourplex owned by Jim McNamara, president and CEO of BioDistrict New Orleans, the state agency charged with redeveloping portions of the Central Business District and Mid-City into a medical corridor. McNamara said police had not contacted him. In fact, he was unaware of the attack on his property until contacted by a reporter. His brother lives in the only occupied unit on the property and also was not aware that anything untoward had happened there, he said. The attack probably happened while his brother was at work, he said. “I’m sure if he would’ve been there he would’ve stopped it,” McNamara said.

The thing that strikes me is, how in the heck is one man going to intervene in a gang rape of a lone female by six adrenaline fueled men?

I think this echoes the pathetic state of the city of New Orleans, the utter breakdown of the moral fiber that can fuel such an incredibly heinous act, in 2012. And we are relegated to wringing our hands, expressing outrage and praying for the victim to recover both physically, mentally and spiritually.

The first thing that came to mind when I read this story, buried in the back pages mind you, was JoEllen Smith. Miss Smith was a student nurse who was making a house call in Algiers sometime in 1973, and was brutally raped and murdered while on a “mission of mercy”.

JoEllen Smith has been memorialized, having a hospital named in her honor and a memorial scholarship still actively bestowing funds to eligible people 39 years later. But it was quite unfortunate that she was killed while caring for the health of others. I am not comparing the two crimes, but instead I ask when will the lurid segment of mankind recognize the actions of those who serve a selfless mission to ease the suffering of others, without feeding their own deplorable, twisted need to commit vicious crimes against nature?

Come on NOPD…

UPDATE: NOPD has made some arrests in this case – read about it here – and the Times Picayune published an editorial piece on how the NOPD handled the incident in today’s paper.

How The Affordable Care Act Will Affect You

The Supreme Court is gearing up to hear challenges to The Affordable Care Act soon. Access to affordable healthcare is an issue that impacts virtually every person in this country and one we should all be concerned about, whether you’re already covered under a plan or are uninsured. There are so many people in dire straits in our current economic climate and thousands are losing their healthcare benefits along with their jobs. Many are bankrupted after using their life savings to pay for medical costs over the lifetime max allowed by their insurance plans. (Under the plan, annual limits on benefits are phased out by 2014.)

This morning I read a piece in Women’s Voices for Change that has a lot of good information and links about The Affordable Care Act and I’ve decided to publish it here in it’s entirety. I hope you find it as valuable as I have.

The Affordable Care Act: An Online Primer

November 28, 2011 by

Though the Supreme Court is preparing to hear arguments about its constitutionality, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is law, and more provisions are set to go into effect this coming year and in 2013. With that in mind—and to brush up on the basics before the Court digs in—we asked healthcare scholar Janet Golden to give us a quick roundup of information that’s easily available online.  —Ed. 

On March 23, 2010 President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (If you’ve got hours and hours of time to kill you can read the whole thing online.  Before, during, and after the debate over this legislation, it’s been deemed everything from a sell-out to big business as usual to a socialist plot. But with more of its provisions going into effect in 2012, it’s worth taking a closer look at what’s in it for over-40 women and their families.

A key provision is the mandate requiring individuals to be covered by health insurance. It provides subsidies for low- and moderate-income individuals to purchase coverage, mandates a basic set of benefits, and prohibits exclusions based on pre-existing conditions. The logic of the mandate is simple: for the Affordable Care Act to effectively lower health care costs while covering those with expensive chronic conditions, we all need to participate. It simply isn’t fair for someone to avoid insurance premiums for decades and then, when needing millions in care, to jump into the coverage pool.  Moreover, if only those needing care get coverage, insurance rates will be unaffordable.  In a 2009 commentary on CBS News Moneywatch, one economist offered a simple explanation of the need for the individual mandate.

So what exactly is in this law—which I’ll call the Affordable Care Act—and how do you get accurate information about the phase-in of benefits? And which provisions directly affect women over 40? The answers can be found at a number of easily understood websites.

The federal government website Healthcare.gov offers a timeline explaining the implementation of the numerous provisions in the law. For example, women who run small businesses or who lead small nonprofit groups became eligible for tax credits for their contributions to their employees’ health insurance retroactive to January 1, 2010. Women over 65 on Medicare who hit the “donut hole” in their prescription-drug coverage received a one-time rebate check for $250, with additional coverage and discounts being phased-in. The website also has a list of the preventive services for women, mandated under the law, that are covered. Notably, mammography, cervical cancer screenings, and well-woman visits are covered. Funds for prevention—including those aimed at smoking and obesity—are increased under the law. It’s worth scrolling through the timeline and looking at the phase-in of various reforms. (Perhaps you’ve gone to the doctor this year and been pleased to find that you don’t have a co-pay for these services!) You’ll find additional information in Healthcare.gov factsheets.

Of the many sites offering information, my personal favorite is the one supported by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that funds research on healthcare issues and grant programs aimed at improving healthcare practice and policy.  Their timeline and “health reform provisions” tool are the most clearly written and easiest to navigate of any that I’ve found.

Another rich source of information is the Kaiser Family Foundation website. The foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente or Kaiser Industries, aims to provide independent, factual information on health issues. They have a dedicated discussion of health reform, and if you’d rather watch than read, they produced a short video on the topic narrated by Cokie Roberts. If you think you know all you need to about the Affordable Care Act, you can take their ten-question online quiz and determine your knowledge of the new law.  (For the record, I scored 9 out of 10—better than 97 percent of all Americans!)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act required the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to determine the minimum set of benefits to be provided by all insurers. The Department asked the Institute of Medicine—an arm of the National Academy of Sciences that provides “unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public”—to propose criteria and methods for deciding what benefits should be covered. You guessed it—the IOM report is available online, too.

The Trust for America’s Health, a non-profit, non-partisan organization focused on public health and disease prevention, also has a website on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  The TFAH does an excellent job of pointing to the health-promotion and disease-prevention funding that comes out of the legislation, including better nutrition in schools, injury-prevention programs, smoking-cessation efforts and nutrition labeling in chain restaurants.

As I’ve tried to suggest, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has numerous provisions and a phase-in period of several years. It is aimed at not only providing access to care through insurance, but promoting health through other initiatives. It is complex, but good sources of information are available.

Now, the Supreme Court is getting ready to hear arguments about the law in the wake of conflicting federal court rulings about various provisions. If you’d like to keep up with the news about this and other key health care debates, visit, or sign up for email delivery of Kaiser Health News.  Your access to health services and public health efforts in your community, now and in the years to come, may depend upon the Supreme Court’s ruling, so it’s a good idea to stay informed.

Janet Golden is a professor of history at Rutgers-Camden and the author of numerous books and articles. She is a specialist in women’s history, medical history, and the history of childhood.

~~~
Testimonial photos via We Are the 99 Percent.

Guest Blogger Laura Bergerol on Planned Parenthood

Why this is personal; I stand with Planned Parenthood!
Congressional leaders and President Obama headed off a shutdown of the government with less than two hours to spare Friday night under a tentative budget deal that would cut $38 billion from federal spending this year. I am grateful that they figured out a way to avert government shutdown and not hurt Planned Parenthood in the process. But I AM REALISTIC; this battle is not over; this was simply the first skirmish in the war on women’s health.  So I ask you to please support Planned Parenthood and women’s health issues; it has never been so needed especially in a time where there is an all out assault on women’s health.  Please read the post that follows; it was written yesterday and it is my personal story on why this matters!

====================================

Friday April 8, 2011; Today I received emails from Planned Parenthood that actually make me sick; due to the stupid GOP who have decided that Planned Parenthood is a bad thing, so they plan to shut down the government and hold the Democrats and all women hostage in order to prove their point because they have decided that Planned Parenthood is ONLY about abortion.  The truth could not be farther from this!

I will cite articles, but what I want to do is to relate my own experience with abortion and a woman’s right to choose.  The beautiful girl that you see below in the photo is my sister Brenda; I lost her when she was twenty seven years old and the world lost a great crusader for the underdog.  It is because I was lucky enough to have her in my life, that I have the strength to speak out against what the GOP is doing; it is fundamentally wrong and it has to be overturned.  Here is her story (and mine.)

When Brenda was 25, she found out that she was pregnant.  It should have been a moment that most women who are in love and engaged to be married would cherish; the chance to have a child with the man that they love. Instead it was a time of terror for Brenda; you see, Brenda had severe epilepsy, and she could not be taken off of the medicines that kept her safe, in order to carry a child to term, and the medicines that already caused her significant side effects would have caused severe side effects to a child.  If she was taken off the anti-convulsive medicines, it was highly probable that she would have died from a seizure.

Additionally, she had a hard time taking birth control, since the pill caused her to have seizures. So after much heartache, pain, and discussion with her fiance to make her decision, she chose to have an abortion, and asked me to accompany her to Planned Parenthood in Santa Clara, California.  The year was 1982, and thank goodness, we had good facilities at that time that performed safe abortions. This had NOT always been the case as I was growing up, and indeed many deaths were attributed to back street abortion clinics.  When they called her back for the procedure, they had her talk to several counselors before taking her back to the room.  She explained over and over why she had no choice and I could see she was getting more and more upset; why couldn’t they just understand was written across her face.  Finally they began the procedure; it seemed an interminably long time, though in reality, it probably was over in less than a half hour.  BUT not before, my beloved sister suffered a Grand Mal seizure;  I stayed with her, never leaving her side and I tried to protect her from the seizure, and to simply be there for her.  She was terrified, as she always was when she had a seizure, and once the procedure was finally over, I took her home and put her to bed where she slept for 14 hours straight. She often felt guilt about that act, but I know in my heart that she would not have survived pregnancy, and that she had made the right decision.  If the GOP gets their way, the Brenda’s of the world, will have no where to turn.  Please do not let this happen!

To finish my story, about two summers later, Brenda married her sweetheart in June of 1984.  They began their married life together, but it was to be short-lived. On October 4, 1984, my sister had a Grand Mal seizure while driving and was killed instantly when her car ran into the piling for an overpass on Highway 101 in Santa Clara, CA.

The one thing that I know about my sister Brenda, is that she would not mind me telling you this story; indeed knowing Brenda, she would be on the picket lines in DC marching with Planned Parenthood.  Please do not force women to go back to a terrible time where contraception, family planning, and abortions are difficult to obtain.  Please stand with Brenda and me; we support and stand with Planned Parenthood and we believe in the rights of all women to get the medical help they need, no matter their financial situation.

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Links;

Today’s (4/9/11)  New York Times; http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/09/us/politics/09fiscal.html?_r=1&hp

From the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/what-planned-parenthood-a… “Though the fight over Planned Parenthood might be about abortion, Planned Parenthood itself isn’t about abortion. It’s primarily about contraception and reproductive health. And if Planned Parenthood loses funding, what will mainly happen is that cancer screenings and contraception and STD testing will become less available to poorer people. Folks with more money, of course, have many other ways to receive all these services, and tend to get them elsewhere already. The fight also isn’t about cutting spending. The services Planned Parenthood provides save the federal government a lot of money. It’s somewhat cold to put it in these terms, but taxpayers end up bearing a lot of the expense for unintended pregnancies among people without the means to care for their children. The same goes for preventable cancers and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.”

From Planned Parenthood; I stand with Planned Parenthood; https://secure.ppaction.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=pp_ppol_urgent

From US Dept of Health and Human Services; http://www.hhs.gov/opa/familyplanning/index.html

From the New York Times; http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/09/us/politics/09fiscal.html?_r=1&hp

Shutdown Near, No Sign of Compromise; After the nightlong negotiations that ended before dawn on Friday yielded no agreement, Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and majority leader, went on the offensive. He told reporters and said on the Senate floor that Mr. Boehner, the Senate Democrats and President Obama had essentially settled on $38 billion in cuts from current spending. But he said that Republicans were refusing to abandon a policy provision that would withhold federal financing for family planning and other health services for poor women from Planned Parenthood and other providers.“This is indefensible, and everyone should be outraged,” Mr. Reid said on the Senate floor. “The Republican House leadership have only a couple of hours to look in the mirror, snap out of it and realize how truly shameful they have been.”

______________________________

Laura Bergerol is a professional photographer in New Orleans and blogs on Posterous and at Time Captured.net. Laura also was a major contributor to our Katrina Photo Project for the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. This essay was cross-posted from her personal blog.

How Repeal of the Affordable Care Act Will Hurt Louisiana Women

Via The National Women’s Law Center

Repealing the Affordable Care Act will Hurt Women in Louisiana
January 2011

The Affordable Care Act makes important advances for women’s health. The new law protects women in Louisiana from discriminatory health insurance practices, makes health coverage more affordable and easier for them to obtain, and improves access to many of the health services they need. Repealing this important law will hurt women in Louisiana by returning to the days of a health care system that did not work for women.

Insurance Industry Practices that are Harmful to Women Would Continue
In addition to the prohibition on sex discrimination in health care, the new health care law explicitly prohibits discriminatory insurance practices. These important protections will prohibit insurers from treating women like a pre-existing condition. Here are a few of the important insurance protections women will lose if the law is repealed:

􀀑 A ban on gender rating for individuals and small businesses. Under the new law, by 2014 (at the latest) insurers in Louisiana would no longer be allowed to charge individual women and small employers with a predominately-female workforce more for coverage.
􀀑 Prohibitions on coverage denials and exclusions for women with “pre-existing conditions” such as pregnancy; having had a C-section, breast, or cervical cancer; or having received medical treatment for domestic or sexual violence. By 2014 (at the latest) insurers in Louisiana will be required to accept all applicants for coverage regardless of their medical history, and will no longer be able to issue coverage with pre-existing condition exclusions. For children, the prohibition on pre-existing condition exclusions began in September 2010.
􀂃 Uninsured women in Louisiana who were uninsured due to a pre-existing condition will lose access to coverage through the pre-existing condition insurance plan – or “high-risk pool” – that is available on a temporary basis, until the new insurance rules are in effect in 2014.
􀀑 A ban on lifetime and annual limits, which prohibits health plans from placing dollar limits on covered services, giving women the security of knowing that their plan benefits won’t run out when they need them the most. Lifetime limits were banned for all health plans starting in September 2010. Annual limits are also strictly regulated and will be banned entirely for all new health plans and existing group plans in 2014.

Obtaining Insurance will be Harder and More Expensive if the Affordable Care Act is Repealed.
Women in Louisiana are poorer (on average) than men and have more trouble affording health care. For instance, nearly a quarter of all women in the state report not visiting a doctor due to high costs.1 The new health care law would expand access to affordable coverage in several ways by 2014, but if the law is repealed women will lose opportunities to obtain the affordable coverage they need. For example:
Up to 97,500 uninsured, low-income women in Louisiana would not become eligible for  Medicaid, which by 2014 would be expanded to those up to 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL), or roughly $29,000 a year for a family of four. 2
􀀑 Women would not see the benefits of a new Health Insurance Exchange that would be established in Louisiana to serve as an easy-to-use “insurance shopping center” where women can compare and choose the high-quality health plan that best fits their needs.
􀀑 Approximately 176,000 women in Louisiana would not receive health insurance subsidies to help towards premiums and out-of-pocket costs of Exchange-based health plans; subsidies would be available to those with family incomes up to 400% of the FPL, or roughly $88,000 a year for a family of four. 3
Women Would Lose Coverage of Many of the Important Health Care Services They Need.
􀀑 All new health plans issued on or after September 23, 2010 are required to cover recommended preventive care at no cost. Repealing the new law would mean women would lose no-cost access to important preventive screenings such as mammograms and pap smears.
􀀑 Starting in 2014, health plans sold to individuals and small businesses must cover a broad range of health services. If the law is repealed, plans will not be federally required to cover many services important to women including maternity care, prescription drugs and mental health care.

There Are Many Additional Provisions of the New Law That Will Improve the Health and Well-Being of Louisiana Women and Their Families- Which Women Will Lose with Repeal.
Additional benefits of the new health care law that women will lose with repeal include (but are certainly not limited to):

􀀑 Tax Credits for Small Business: Women are more likely than men to work for small businesses that don’t offer health insurance, and will benefit from the new tax credits to help small businesses provide coverage to their employees (available for the 2010 tax year), as well as unprecedented access to affordable small group health coverage through the Exchanges.
􀀑 Coverage for Young Women Up to Age 26: Young women—who are more likely to be uninsured than women in any other age group—will benefit from a new rule that took effect September 2010 which allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance policy as a dependent until age 26. 4
􀀑 Closing the Medicare Drug Coverage Gap: Older women will benefit from a provision which closes the Medicare Part D “donut hole,” or the coverage gap that currently requires seniors to spend a considerable amount out-of-pocket for prescription drugs. In 2007, 64% of the Medicare beneficiaries that were affected by the “donut hole” were women.5
􀀑 New Long Term Care Insurance Options: A new national, voluntary insurance program known as CLASS will be established as early as 2011 to provide long-term services and supports to individuals with functional limitations. This program will alleviate burdens on family caregivers, who are most often women.6
􀀑 Time for Nursing Moms to Express Breast Milk at Work: Nursing mothers and their infants will gain from a requirement that employers provide a reasonable break time and location to express breast milk (effective immediately).7,8
􀀑 “Direct Access” to Obstetrical and Gynecological Care: As of September 2010, all new health plans are prohibited from requiring authorization or prior approval when women seek this type of health care.9

For more detailed information on how women will benefit from Affordable Care Act, visit the National Women’s Law Center website: www.nwlc.org/reformmatters

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1 Kaiser Family Foundation, Putting Women’s Health Disparities on the Map (2009), http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemapreport.jsp?rep=31&cat=15
2 National Women’s Law Center calculations based on health insurance data for women ages 18-64 from the Current Population Survey’s 2008 Annual Social and Economic Supplement, using CPS Table Creator, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstc/cps_table_creator.html
3 Ibid. Includes an estimated 102,000 uninsured women and 51,000 women who currently purchase coverage from the individual health insurance market.
4 At least thirty states already have laws that extend dependent coverage to young adult children, regardless of enrollment in school. Many of these state laws are more restrictive than the new federal law, and none apply to self-insured or ERISA plans (as the federal law does). The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) provides a list of states’ dependent coverage laws at: http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14497
5 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Strengthening the Health Insurance System: How Health Insurance Reform Will Help America’s Older and Senior Women, http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/seniorwomen/index.html, Last Accessed on April 26, 2010.
6 Kaiser Family Foundation, Women and Health Care: A National Profile (July 2005), http://www.kff.org/womenshealth/upload/Women-and-Health-Care-A-National-Profile-Key-Findings-from-the-Kaiser-Women-s-Health-Survey.pdf
7 This provision applies to all employers, though employers with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt if they demonstrate that the requirements impose an “undue hardship” on their business.
8 At least twenty-four states already have laws related to expressing breast milk in the workplace. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) provides a list of these states and summaries of their laws at: http://www.ncsl.org/IssuesResearch/Health/BreastfeedingLaws/tabid/14389/Default.aspx
9 Thirty-six states and DC already have direct access laws that managed care companies and group health plans must comply with. However, the new health reform law is broader in scope, since it requires all new health plans (i.e. for individuals and groups of all sizes, including self-insured health plans) to comply. The Kaiser Family Foundation provides a list of existing direct access laws at: http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemaptable.jsp?ind=493&cat=10

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Free Medical Clinic in NOLA Aug 31 – Sept 1

Thanks to Carl Webb for passing this along:

The National Association of Free Clinics will be conducting a free medical clinic for the uninsured on Tuesday, August 31 and Wednesday, September 1. This will be held at the Ernest M. Morial Convention Center. The purpose is to provide medical services to the uninsured, as the metro region continues to struggle post-Katrina and with the ongoing oil spill crisis.

They are in urgent need of medical and non-medical volunteers to help
staff this 2-day clinic. They especially need physicians (internists, pediatricians and family practitioners), nurses and nurse practitioners. I am writing to ask if you or any of your friends would be available to help with this. You can get the details of the event, volunteer shift times, etc. and can sign up at http://www.freeclinics.us. You can also view a video on the recent free medical clinic that was held in Washington, DC, to get a better idea of the work this great team is doing across the country here.

Dr. Ralph Freidin and his wife from Boston, MA have been organizing and running these free clinics. Dr. Freiden is a straight ally of the LGBT community, and serves as a member of the Board of Governors of the Human Rights Campaign, on the Boston Steering Committee. He contacted the New Orleans HRC Steering Committee for help in reaching out to the New Orleans metro area LGBT community to get volunteers and help spread the word.

Please consider volunteering and spread the word to your friends. We need to get the word out about this clinic to all people in our area who do not have access to medical care. This clinic will provide diagnosis and treatment for individuals as well as referrals for follow-up care.

Please let me know if you intend to volunteer, because I will forward
your name and contact info. to Dr. Freidin. Thank you so much for your consideration.

Best regards,

Lili Alpaugh
HRC New Orleans Steering Committee
HRC Board of Governors

Lili.alpaugh@gmail.com

folly in red stick begins tomorrow

I enjoy reading my Sunday paper – I am one of those that actually looks at the ads floating around on the inner pages, those entities hawking their goods. One particular ad caught my eye this morning – a small ad at the bottom of page A-22 beginning NULLIFY Obama Care, and below requesting a joint resolution [that the] Louisiana Legislature MUST pass now. Then underneath was the “Don’t Tread On Me” Gadsden flag, which I’ll bet whose creators would be appalled that today’s tea baggers have adopted as their standard bearer.

Here is the ad

So I then checked out the website and was pretty shocked at the fringe group promoting this. I went on to read the Bios and concluded that the ad is probably financed by a couple of pretty wealthy individuals, not to mention the silent supporters fueling their money train. One can only imagine what sort of freaks this would attract: just take one look at the home page and all the stars and bars floating across the page and draw your own conclusions.

Two things scary about this: Folks reading this ad, without internet connections to see what these two yahoos are all about, would contact their Louisiana legislators and demand a resolution for Louisiana to repeal health care reform. Our play-along attorney general has begun the process, but all it would take would be for a large group of constituents to contact their lawmakers demanding Louisiana opt out of healthcare. Second is that the Times Picayune is allowing entities such as this to purchase ad space – are they THAT desperate for dollars?

This is just one example of the subterfuge we are in store for over the next few months, until Baton Rouge empties on June 21 and we can take a breath from the required vigil over the lunacy that seems to transpire 65 miles upriver. Watch your newspaper and televisions closely. Write down the numbers of bills that seem completely out of whack and don’t hesitate to call, write or e-mail your representative to voice your opinion on any bill filed, easily found and tracked here.