Posts Tagged ‘health care reform’

Change is Afoot

March 24, 2010 Leave a comment

What a difference a week makes.

Just a week after GetEqual’s first direct action, the Pentagon announced today that Sec. Robert Gates is taking “unilateral action” ahead of congressional action in order to relax the enforcement of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

From the Washington Independent:

Gates told senators that he would put together a study group, led by Army Lt. Gen. Carter Ham and Pentagon general counsel Jeh Johnson, to study the least-disruptive ways to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

That study hasn’t concluded. Nor has the Senate taken up Joe Lieberman’s (I-Conn.) bill to repeal the ban. But Gates has some unilateral tools at his disposal, and this week he intends to use them.

“He will announce changes to the way the current law is being enforced that make it more difficult to begin investigations and kick people out,” said a defense source who would not speak for the record ahead of Gates’s announcement. Spokesman Geoff Morrell hinted in his briefing yesterday that Gates would make some changes, but did not specify any.

The announcement comes the same day that long-time gay rights activist Cleve Jones, who was instrumental in organizing last October’s National Equality March, published a conciliatory open letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In the letter, Jones Jones makes an appeal for Speaker Pelosi’s skills as an artful and persuasive politician and leader.

We’ve seen the passion you’ve brought to the challenge of passing health care reform. Now more than ever, we need your passion and skill to achieve the passage of ENDA.

As you know, many Americans in the LGBT community — especially young people — are increasingly frustrated and cynical about the pace of progress in Washington.

We want you to show them that cynicism is not the response at this time. They need to believe in the process, Madame Speaker, and you can restore their faith in this process by moving expeditiously to bring ENDA to a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.

It is clear that the gay rights movement has no plans to ease up on its pressure to act on ENDA and DADT this year. I’m not so sure that’s going to happen. House Dems may have been chanting “Fired Up! Ready to Go!” at the health care reform bill signing ceremony, but I’m just not that confident they have it in them to work on immigration and climate change much less ENDA and DADT. I just don’t have that much faith in them, I guess.

Despite that, I still plan to do my part to keep up the pressure. If there’s anything the health care debate has taught us is that for change to happen with this administration and this congress it’s going to take everything your side has for anyone to react.

Choi’s actions were criticized last week by some because of his apparent ignorance to the debate du jour, health care. I think it was smart, though. After all, the Pentagon has not ceased operations because of that debate. In the midst of all the health care craziness were hearings and testimony from military brass before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Each who for the most part were in solidarity on the need to put an end to the inane DADT policy.

Surely Choi’s behavior caught the notice of his superiors who were no doubt put in an ackward situation because of him. Better to just urge Sec. Gates to do something now in order to curb more and more similar actions by other LGBT servicemembers who are certainly growing tired of this policy, too.

I know Congress would like to coast from here on out until November, but the reality is there is still so much more to get done and the community simply must keep vigorously applying the pressure. I am admittedly skeptical to whether Congress will do anything for the rest of the year, but I’ve never wanted to be proven so wrong before.


Happy Spring! It’s About Time

March 20, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s a beautiful day in Washington and the city is buzzing with activity.

Congress is voting on health care. I’m sorry my Hill friends have to work this weekend, but it comes with the territory and I’m sure they understand the importance of it. You can follow all the drama on Twitter, which, let’s face it, really is the best way to get information for events that are unfolding. There’s also a march happening today in support of health care reform. I firmly believe we’ll be getting some kind of reform in the coming weeks. Is it a good bill? Meh. But, this is where we are. Let’s get it through and slog through the awful process to fix it. Baby steps, I guess.

DC gays are getting married this weekend here too. They’re trying to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the biggest same-sex wedding ceremony. Congrats to you all! I love living in a city where this is law.

The Young Feminist Leadership Conference is happening in Washington this weekend, too. This should be a good one.

And, the weekend is going to be capped off with a march for immigrant rights. Sadly, I won’t be able to attend, but I hope my brothers and sisters marching know that I am there with them in solidarity. Like health care, this country needs to seriously reform its immigration policy.

And, where will I be this weekend? Enjoying one, possibly two bbq’s. It’s my first for the season and I’m so happy it’s here. Welcome Spring!

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Some Good News for Mental Health Parity

January 30, 2010 Leave a comment

The New York Times reported on Friday that the administration has issued new rules that will ensure mental health coverage for more than 140 million people.

In general, under the rules, employers and group health plans cannot provide less coverage for mental health care than for the treatment of physical conditions like cancer and heart disease.

Insurers cannot set higher co-payments and deductibles or stricter limits on treatment for mental illness and addiction disorders. Nor can they establish separate deductibles for mental health care and for the treatment of physical illnesses.

This law is named for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) and Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), both of whom are great advocates for mental health and who worked together for quite some time to get mental health parity passed.

It’s comforting to know that come July 1, there will be more of a safety net for Jim and myself. We won’t expect surprise hospital bills in the mail like we did this month for a hospital visit that happened more than a year ago! We’re still trying to figure out why we got the bill, but suffice it to say that since the visit had to do with a mental health issue, the insurance company decided we should bear more of the brunt of the bill.

Unfortunately, the rules do nothing for the millions more who are still uninsured or who can’t work because of their mental illness. Remember, this rule affects those who are employed at organizations with 50 or more employees. It also doesn’t apply to the individual marketplace, which is still something like shopping for coverage in the wild west.

Now can we have health care?

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Afternoon Tab Dump

December 30, 2009 Leave a comment

It’s been a few days since my last post and I’m working on a new one which will be featured on The Bilerico Project.

In the meantime, enjoy my first tab dump.

–The Mexico City municipal legislature approved marriage equality last week and this week it was signed into law. ¡Orale!

–Justice Sotomayor graces the cover of Latina magazine this month.

–The pro-abstinence folks are relentless. President Obama cut off funding for abstinence programs when he signed the budget citing, among numerous reasons, that they have repeatedly produced dubious results. The new health care reform bill, however, includes renewed funding for the programs. Even the amendment’s sponsor, Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), was surprised to see it survive the deal-making process.

–Finally, a local DC restaurant is hoping out-of-work reporters will be willing to spend whatever cash they have left on all-you-can-drink wine. I hope they have plenty of cases for the onslaught of unemployed journalists that are sure to stop in for several tall glasses of vino.

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