March 29, 2017 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 175

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: The 14th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq and whether or not there is growing public support for universal programs in the United States. People: Bill and Greg. Produced: March 26th, 2017.

Episode 175 (57 min — extended version not aired on FM):
AFD 175

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Dec 28, 2016 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 163

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Second of a two part series: Greg and Jonathan join Bill to discuss the fate of the health insurance industry and what the left should counter Republican proposals with. Produced: Dec 19th, 2016.

Episode 163 (50 min):
AFD 163

Last week: Greg and Jonathan join Bill to discuss what worked and didn’t work in Democratic health reform as well as what really bad ideas Republicans have for replacing it.

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Dec 21, 2016 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 162

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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First of a two part series: Greg and Jonathan join Bill to discuss what worked and didn’t work in Democratic health reform as well as what really bad ideas Republicans have for replacing it. Produced: Dec 19th, 2016.

Episode 162 (52 min):
AFD 162

Coming next week: In part two (already recorded), we’ll discuss the big philosophical questions surrounding how societies provide for people’s health, and what Democrats should be proposing as an alternative to destructive Republican plans

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Could single-payer be coming to Colorado?

flag-of-colorado

Pending verification of signatures, this proposal will be on the Colorado ballot in November 2016!

“Colorado Pushes for Universal Health Care That’s Governed by the People” – Yes Magazine:

ColoradoCare proposes a single-payer model that covers every Colorado resident. A tax on income and employers would replace insurance premiums, but the revenue wouldn’t be subject to the whims of legislators; instead, it would go directly to a fund overseen by trustees whom the recipients choose. In this respect, it would be a cooperative-like system accountable to everyone in the state, independent from the rest of the government and enshrined in the constitution.

 
State Sen. Irene Aguilar (MD) explains the genesis of the proposal:

“In 2007, Colorado had something called the 208 Blue Ribbon Commission for Healthcare Reform. The four plans it considered included a single-payer health care plan, and the commissioners created subgroups to consider how the plans would impact certain populations. Since my daughter was disabled, I applied to be on the vulnerable populations task force. We learned that if we adopted the single-payer plan we could have everyone covered and decrease spending by $1.6 billion a year.”

They didn’t pick it and — after various twists and turns — she ended up running for office to find a way to pass it. Now it’s a ballot initiative effort.

More mechanics and projections of the program:

“You collect the funds through a premium tax—a 6.6 percent employer tax across the board and a 3.3 percent individual tax. If you’re self-employed, it’s the whole 10 percent, but because it’s tax deductible it ends up being less than that. The funds are collected through our taxes, but they’re transferred into a separate authority that is run by its own elected board of directors.”
[…]
“We had a fiscal analysis done by Gerald Friedman, an economist at UMass, Amherst. He anticipated that with the Affordable Care Act, health care would be about 19.4 percent of the gross state product, and if we were to switch to this model, it would be closer to 15 percent. By Obamacare standards, the level of care would be the very top—Platinum Plus—covering 90 percent of your total health costs. We added in no copay for primary care and low copayments that the primary-care provider can waive if necessary to prevent longer-term costs. We also had it priced for everyone in state, regardless of documentation status, under the knowledge that we would not be turning people away for emergency care, so it made more sense to have up-front preventative care available for all the people who lived in the state. Vermont’s single-payer policy imploded because it was way too expensive for them. It’s a small state. But we have the numbers.”

 

What is the debate about Planned Parenthood really about?

Hint: it’s certainly not about science.

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Since the release of five highly doctored videos of Planned Parenthood executives appearing to sell fetuses, much has been said about Planned Parenthood and the women who use their services. However, few people appear to have asked “Who was buying fetal tissue and why?” Little attention has been paid to the importance of research on fetal tissue and the typically bipartisan support that this research receives. (Even Senator Mitch McConnell, now spearheading the effort to defund Planned Parenthood, voted to support the donation of fetal tissue from abortions in 1993.)

On July 29, 2015, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards sent a much-ignored letter to the director of the National Institute of Health. She wrote:

“It has become clear in the ensuing public debate … that there is widespread confusion about fetal tissue research and that government officials, medical researchers, health care providers, and the public could benefit from a review of the research and the procedures surrounding it by an independent expert panel. The last time such a review occurred was in 1988 during the Reagan Administration. We believe it may be time for another expert panel to examine these issues in light of the advancements achieved in medicine over the past 27 years.”

 
The 1988 panel to which Richards refers was overseen by a conservative judge opposed to abortion. Nonetheless, “a decisive majority of the panel found that it was acceptable public policy to support transplant research with fetal tissue.” The panel even concluded that aborted fetuses were acceptable donations to the medical community, so long as the decision to abort a fetus and decisions regarding the time or method of abortion were not interfered with in order to collect the tissue.

Fetal tissue is no longer a central focus of transplant research, but remains important for many other kinds of medical discovery, including the study of birth defects, genetic causes of diseases, and even possible cures for degenerative disease, such as Parkinson’s Disease. Researchers at MIT are even able to use fetal tissue to implant the human immune system into mice, allowing them to study tumors and human responses without using human test subjects.

Fetal tissue has a long history of being incredibly valuable in the medical field, most notably in the development of vaccines. In the mid-1960’s, an aborted fetus allowed researchers to isolate the Rubella virus and develop the vaccine for the deadly disease which is still used today. The researcher central to this discovery, Stanley Plotkin, spoke out:

“Human fetal cell strains, derived from voluntary abortions, have been extremely important for vaccine development, specifically for rabies, rubella, hepatitis A, and chicken pox. It is important to understand that the cell [lines] are stored and no new abortions are done to produce those vaccines.”

 
(The last line is presumably meant to clarify that the fetal cells are used only in the research and development phase, not the actual manufacture of the developed vaccines. –Ed.)

Richards’ letter to the NIH explains the limited, but important role that Planned Parenthood plays in fetal tissue donation. Planned Parenthood exists in all 50 states, but currently, in only five states are women able to donate tissue through Planned Parenthood. She writes:

“We participate in fetal tissue donation and occasionally partner in research not because this research is a core part of our mission, but because we are supporters of medical research and serve women who chose to make donations.”

 
In an editorial published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the influential journal threw their full support behind Planned Parenthood and their work:

“We strongly support Planned Parenthood not only for its efforts to channel fetal tissue into important medical research but also for its other work as one of the country’s largest providers of health care for women, especially poor women. The contraception services that Planned Parenthood delivers may be the single greatest effort to prevent the unwanted pregnancies that result in abortions…We thank the women who made the choice to help improve the human condition through their tissue donation; we applaud the people who make this work possible and those who use these materials to advance human health.”

 
An opinion piece in the Washington Post this week brought into light the similarities between the policies of Planned Parenthood and the donations of fertilized embryos by in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics. The author, Margo Kaplan, an associate professor at Rutgers Law School, believes that one of the biggest differences between perceptions of the two donations is which women are making the donation.

Women who donate through the IVF clinic are women who want to become mothers and have waited a long time to get the treatment. (Oh, and they are typically white and wealthy.) Those women who decide to end a pregnancy at a Planned Parenthood clinic are admonished by society for their “irresponsible lifestyles” and unwillingness to become mothers at the moment.

It seems to me that if the outrage that has continued to smolder since the public viewing of these doctored videos was truly over the use sale of fertilized embryos and the use of fetal tissue in research, people would be talking about those things. (GOP Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson himself used fetal tissue in research, but claims that since the specimen was already dead when he used it, he is in no way in the wrong.) Instead, once again, it appears that the target of the public’s thinly-veiled outcry is actually the women who use the services of Planned Parenthood.

Cherokee Nation to get $1 million grant for health research

According to Grand Lake News, the Cherokee Nation recently received a $1 million health research grant from the National Institute of Health and Indian Health Service to fund four years of research into chronic health conditions in the Cherokee population, as well as to recruit (and mentor) more Native American undergraduates into the health profession and health research. Here’s how it’s going to help:

This award is good news for the Cherokee Nation in a myriad of ways. First, we will offer better relief to our citizens with these debilitating afflictions,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “Just as importantly, we have an opportunity to cultivate our brightest young Cherokees who have a passion for biological research. It has been shown time and time again that Native people respond better when their health care is provided by another Native. That is why it is so critical to cultivate our health care providers and researchers. It will improve the health of our people for generations.”

 

Flag of the Cherokee Nation. (Credit: Hosmich - Wikimedia)

Flag of the Cherokee Nation. (Credit: Hosmich – Wikimedia)

July 23, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 93

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Topics: Big Ideas in U.S. Reform — Is health care a human right? Central American unaccompanied children. People: Bill, Nate, Greg. Produced: July 20, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– Is health care a fundamental human right? Why or why not?
– What should be done about the wave of unaccompanied children arriving in the United States from Central America without permission?

Part 1 – Health care:
Part 1 – Health care – AFD 92
Part 2 – Unaccompanied children:
Part 2 – Unaccompanied children – AFD 93

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links

AFD: Central American toddlers are existential threat to USA, say militias
AFD: Unaccompanied minors forced to defend themselves in court

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