03/26/17 9:06pm

Apologies for the interruption in #actiontrumpshate service. I’ll admit it, I just could not read another article about politics or look at another photo of Trump in the Oval Office for a few weeks. It made me feel tired and sad and that’s ridiculous because ultimately, I have a home, and I can afford to heat it and feed my family and now we even get to keep our ACA coverage. Letting a tyrant as petty as Trump stop me from sitting on the couch and pontificating to you all on my Apple product is as first world a problem as they come.

Last week we got the best news we’ve had since the election. The Republicans blew it. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. The Freedom Caucus, Paul Ryan, Tom Price all those guys wasted mountains of political capital and still couldn’t come up with a bill that was appealing to much of anyone, that would actually serve the American people or that they could pass.

You know what the best thing about was? They did it to themselves, with a little help from us, the people. Republicans in the House were reluctant to sign on to a piece of legislation that so many constituents had so vocally opposed. Calling, sending postcards, showing up a town meetings, sending faxes, we’re doing it. And this should give us great hope.

What now? We have to keep the pressure on our elected officials, keep standing up and speaking out, and start looking toward the 2018 midterm elections. But most of all, we need to take this opportunity not to gloat, but to re-energize. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been experiencing late winter, Trump-related ennui. There’s a lot to dig into right now, some of it even genuinely progressive, not just playing defense.

Bernie Sanders told a crowd of 1000 at town hall meeting in Vermont this weekend that he has plans to introduce a single-payer bill in the Senate. You get to call your senators’ offices and either voice your support, or your support for strengthening the ACA–by lowering the Medicare eligibility age, by importing drugs from Canada (Sanders and a few other Democratic Senators, including New Jersey dream boat, Cory Booker introduced a bill in February proposing just that). Sanders isn’t likely to succeed with a single payer system at this point, but by pushing to the left measures like lowering the Medicare age and finding ways to resist big pharma and fine tuning the ACA may become more possible.

And yes, the Republicans failed because the ultra-conservative Tea Party types thought the terrible bill that would have stripped tens of millions of people of health insurance and important protections against corporate greed and healthcare chaos was too liberal. There are plenty of moderate Republicans in the House though, who are very relieved that they didn’t have to vote because they know how angry it would have made their constituents, and that’s thanks to the level of political engagement that is the new normal. Let’s keep it rolling, this week and forever. (more…)

01/04/17 1:59pm

coloredbandaids

Update: It’s come to my attention that the 2017 National Single Payer Strategy Conference is happening in NYC  Jan. 13-15. Registration is $85 and since the Republicans have no plan to replace the Affordable Care Act with anything, maybe going to this and getting behind single payer healthcare (remember, Obamacare is the MORE CONSERVATIVE alternative to single payer, otherwise known as nationalized health insurance) is the change you want to dig into this year. 

Also, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, remember him?, is organizing a series of rallies all over the country to support the ACA on Sunday, Jan. 15. 

And, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is asking for your ACA stories on his site. 

Well, it’s 2017. Are you ready?

This week I wrote a story for Brooklyn Based about two excellent tools for organizing your thoughts about political action for the year to come. Stop Freaking Out is a set of tools that will help you figure out a more specific course of action that is tailored to your interests and abilities. Take a look, gather a group, order some pizza and prepare to be that change. Indivisible is a document that outlines the best ways for progressives to make their voices heard in congress, both in terms of working with Democrats, and how to stand against the Republican representatives who are poised to dismantle so many things.

If you had any doubt at all what this Congress was going to be like, perhaps holding out hope that we all, progressives, conservatives, Bernie lovers, Hillary voters and secret Ben Carson fans alike could align in solidarity against racism, cronyism and ugliness, well think again. House Republicans voted, in a secret session, to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics on Monday. That plan has been halted, for now, but their intentions and attitude is clear: they don’t believe that they work for us.

Two things about that. Well three.

First, Trump is totally gaslighting the Republicans. It’s like he’s the cool new kid with a bad attitude and a leather jacket with lots of patches on it and Goodlatte and the gang were all like, “Hey man, wanna smoke in the parking lot after school with us?” and Trump was all, “Losers. Smoking makes you ugly, didn’t you know?” as he ground out a butt on a teacher’s desk.

Second, citizen voices really are important. I can’t stress this enough. Yesterday several government accountability organizations, including the Project on Government Oversight, reported that House offices were absolutely FLOODED with calls from citizens saying, “No way, you work for us and let us tell you, ethics and accountability matter and NO we don’t trust you to do it on your own.” (more…)

03/11/14 9:00am

As the open enrollment deadline for Obamacare approaches, approximately 16% of Brooklynites are still uninsured. Photo: BarackObama.com

As the open enrollment deadline for Obamacare approaches, approximately 16% of Brooklynites are still uninsured. Photo: BarackObama.com

Despite early promises from President Obama that buying affordable insurance would soon be as simple as shopping on Amazon, the process of selecting a health-care provider is more than just a matter of picking and clicking. Plans, premiums and out-of-pocket expenses under Obamacare vary greatly from state-to-state and person-to-person, depending on factors like household size, annual income and employment. The confusion could help explain why approximately 420,000 people–about 16% of the population–are currently still uninsured in Brooklyn.

The time has come, however, to pick a provider if you haven’t already because everyone is now legally required to have health care of some kind under the Affordable Care Act–be it Medicaid, an employer health plan or insurance you’ve purchased on your own through a marketplace exchange or private company. Those without coverage, with few exceptions, will face a federal penalty equivalent to either 1% of their annual income or $95, whichever is more, when filing this year’s income tax return.

So if you still need insurance, it’s not too late to avoid an IRS fine and find a provider for 2014. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of basic info on two local coverage options still accepting applicants before this year’s open enrollment ends on March 31, as well as a couple of alternatives to insurance for health-care holdouts.  (more…)

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