Broad Shoulders Update

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Archive for the ‘health’ tag

You’re one step away from reforming your own health care

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Are Active Trans Footprints coaches included in ideas for health care reform? No. But the Gary Post-Tribune's Jerry Davich thinks that walking & biking more is excellent health care reform:,davich0916.article

Join the reformation: enroll in FootprintsAnd track them on Facebook.

Written by sbuchtel

September 17th, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Health care stories

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Local groups post a series of videos with real people's stories illustrating the need for affordable health insurance choices -- and "why health reform will happen."

Written by Curtis

September 11th, 2009 at 2:57 pm

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U.S. Economy Gets Lift From Stimulus,” -  The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON — Government efforts to funnel hundreds of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy appear to be helping the U.S. climb out of the worst recession in decades.

But there’s little agreement about which programs are having the biggest impact. Some economists argue that efforts such as the Federal Reserve’s aggressive buying of Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities, as well as government efforts to shore up banks, are providing a bigger boost than the administration’s $787 billion stimulus package.

The Five Biggest Lies in the Health Care Debate,” - NEWSWEEK 

To the credit of opponents of health-care reform, the lies and exaggerations they’re spreading are not made up out of whole cloth—which makes the misinformation that much more credible. Instead, because opponents demand that everyone within earshot (or e-mail range) look, say, “at page 425 of the House bill!,” the lies take on a patina of credibility. Take the claim in one chain e-mail that the government will have electronic access to everyone’s bank account, implying that the Feds will rob you blind. The 1,017-page bill passed by the House Ways and Means Committee does call for electronic fund transfers—but from insurers to doctors and other providers. There is zero provision to include patients in any such system.

Weight-Loss Surgery Breaks Families’ ‘Obesity Cycle’,” – Atlanta Journal Constitution

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) — Obese mothers have children who are likely to be obese, but a new study concludes that weight-loss surgery can break the cycle.

Researchers found that women who had weight-loss surgery before becoming pregnant had children who were less likely to be heavy when compared with siblings who were born before the weight-loss surgery.

Written by Keith Forest

September 3rd, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Today in Equity

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Grass Roots Put New Orleans Back on Its Feet,” - The Wall Street Journal
With Federal Aid Finally Flowing to Hurricane-Ravaged City, a Flurry of Rebuilding Helps Shield It from U.S. Downturn

NEW ORLEANS — This once-ravaged city is finally mending from Hurricane Katrina after years of administrative delays and political disputes that choked the flow of millions of dollars in federal aid.

Money now flowing through the city is beginning to deliver the most visibly widespread improvements since Katrina struck four years ago today. Scores of public works projects are under way. The last police precinct using a FEMA trailer as temporary headquarters moved into real offices earlier this year. More than half the public schools in New Orleans have been turned into higher-performing charter schools. Returning residents have pushed the population to 76% of its prestorm total of about 455,000.

Yes, We Can Afford Health-Care Reform,” - Washington Post

“Moderate” opponents of health-care reform like to say that we cannot afford it, particularly in the midst of a recession that has widened the deficit with both reduced tax revenue and the fiscal stimulus package. This was the argument advanced by Sen. Joe Lieberman on TV a week ago and repeated by Michael Gerson in this newspaper: “Obama’s massive spending, intended to stabilize the economy, also drained the Treasury, making it more difficult to propose major new expenditures.”

 ”Report maps out solutions to child obesity,” -  USA TODAY

To make it easier for children to eat healthfully and move more, local governments in towns and cities across the country need to help create a better environment, a new report says.

Children and their families should have access to grocery stores that offer plenty of healthful food such as fruits and vegetables, and schools shouldn’t be surrounded by fast-food restaurants. Children should be able to ride their bikes or walk safely to school, and they should have safe places to play afterward, says the report out today from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council.

Written by Keith Forest

September 1st, 2009 at 6:13 pm

Remind Us Who We’re Fighting For

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angela-color_000.jpgThis post originally appeared on The Washington Post’s “Health Care RX” weekly panel discussion, in response to the question: “Recent polls show declining support for President Obama’s handling of the health-care issue. What should he do to get the effort back on track?”

What are we even arguing about again?

Though the volume of the health-care debate has never been louder, it has never been more silent on what really matters to the real lives and real struggles of everyday Americans.

During the campaign, President Obama and his team were geniuses at keeping an even keel and steadily pushing on a single narrative — hope — that was both powerful and flexible. But during the health-care fight, they have been unfocused. Of course, it’s hard to have a consistent message when you’re bargaining with 535 potential legislative partners at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue (not to mention the dozens of TV and radio hosts who wield inordinate power in the modern media landscape).

Obama must take a step back and remind all Americans why we need to reform health care in the first place.

He needs to fill a town hall with people who have faced death or bankruptcy because of insufficient insurance or no insurance at all. Participants shouldn’t be hard to find — all of us have friends or neighbors or family members who have faced this harsh reality (or just go to Andrew Sullivan’s site where he has spent the past several weeks collecting dozens of heartbreaking “Views from Your Sickbed”)

Obama is a master of policy detail and — If he weren’t so politically savvy — would have made a terrific technocrat. But he must stress the big picture here.

We all know the health-care system is broken. We all know dealing with insurance companies is a maddening, often-frightening task. And we all know people will die needlessly unless we get some kind of reform now.

We need Obama to remind us of this fact. Every day. Every hour. The real pain of real Americans needs to become the center of this debate again, not the pitched voices of ill-informed mobs.

Written by Dan Lavoie

August 25th, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Today in Equity

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 ”Playgrounds: They’re safer but still can be dangerous,” -  USA TODAY

Playgrounds have come a long way from the asphalt jungle gyms of the 1960s and 1970s.

Monkey bars and hot metal slides have virtually disappeared. They’ve been replaced by colorful plastic castles with guardrails and ramps and rounded edges. And instead of blacktop and concrete, many new playgrounds are covered with soft wood mulch or springy rubber chips made from recycled tires.

Yet in spite of these improvements, many playgrounds still fall short on safety, experts say.

Stimulus Law Bolsters Food Bank Offerings,” -  The New York Times

Struggling to meet a demand for food that spiked with the unemployment rate, some food pantries have had to turn away people seeking help. Others are packing a little less food into each shopping bag they give out. But recently the nation’s food banks received a $100 million windfall of extra food, as part of the federal stimulus law.

The grant is a big boost for the food bank program, which usually gets $250 million a year from Washington, and the amount of food it can buy seems supersize, even for a field that routinely measures servings by the millions of pounds.

 ”Bay Area entrepreneur makes plans to open eco-friendly building-supply stores,” - Contra Costa Times

Bay Area entrepreneur aims to square off against big-box hardware stores — and buck a sour economy in the process — by offering green construction materials to builders of all sizes.

San Rafael-based New Home Inc. is planning to open a chain of building-materials stores, including some in the East Bay, that will cater to builders who want to be completely eco-friendly in their construction projects.

Written by Keith Forest

July 31st, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Real Progress, 30 Years in the Making

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angela-color_000.jpgI attended an event yesterday that was more than 30 years in the making. 

As I looked around the White House Office of Urban Affairs listening tour meeting at a packed Philadelphia warehouse space and saw low-income residents and local leaders mingling with some of our nation’s most powerful people (including two cabinet secretaries!), I thought back on where the fight for equitable access to healthy food started for me. 

It was 1979 and I was recently out of UC-Berkeley Law School and working for the public-interest law firm Public Advocates when a group of residents of a low-income, African-American neighborhood in San Francisco approached me to see if I could help stop their community’s one and only supermarket from leaving. In my hometown of St. Louis, I had seen first-hand the neglect and despair that festered after supermarkets left poor communities there.

No one had ever tried before to find a legal theory that would provide communities access to healthy food, so we were on uncharted legal ground.  Using interviews with more than 150 residents of local communities threatened by a lack of food access, we eventually filed an administrative petition with then-Gov. Jerry Brown seeking redress to the problem of the exodus of supermarkets from low-income communities.  The Governor was remarkably responsive: appointing a commission that held hearings throughout the state.  

Because of the determination of those residents, California began a slow move toward improving healthy food access for millions of our neighbors; the petition sparked farmers’ markets, cooperative buying clubs, a few cooperative markets-but, unfortunately, not one supermarket.urbanaffairsmeeting1.gif

In the years since, equitable food access has been mostly relegated to a local issue, with fights cropping up sporadically in neighborhoods as local supermarkets threaten to leave. We had seen some successes - like San Diego’s Market Creek Plaza or the Pathmark in Harlem - but the victories had been hard to come by.

That is, until about five years ago, when Pennsylvania’s Gov. Ed Rendell and State Rep. Dwight Evans began to listen to the ideas and innovation of their constituents and the leadership of The Food Trust and The Reinvestment Fund. Out of that collaboration came the Fresh Food Financing Initiative, a remarkable program that has helped open dozens of markets and seed more than 3,700 jobs in under-served communities.

Now, through the tireless efforts of residents and advocates, the White House Office of Urban Affairs has shown real interest in learning about this proven program, hopefully to take the ideas and solutions to the national scale. White House leaders want to lift up the program and hear how it is impacting real people. For the first time, I can see the fight for equitable food access is winnable.

I cannot stress enough how important and exciting it is to have a White House willing to listen to new and innovative ideas. This administration - in virtually every office and agency - seems to recognize that all Americans deserve to live in a community of opportunity.

But that does not mean progress will happen on its own. Far from it. The most important attribute the equity movement has going for it is our tenacity. Thirty years ago, when those residents came into my office to ask for help in improving their community, I knew it would be a long, hard fight. But sitting in Philadelphia this week, I felt emboldened to keep fighting, to keep pushing, because success is always within our grasp.

We must demand equity now.

Written by Angela Glover Blackwell

July 24th, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Today in Equity

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The Ultimate Obama Insider,” -  The New York Times

On Jan. 25, 2008, the day before the South Carolina Democratic primary, Barack Obama endured a grueling succession of campaign events across the state. When his staff informed him that the evening would conclude with a brief show-up at the Pink Ice Ball, a gala for the African-American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, Obama flatly refused to attend. “I’ve been to sorority events before,” he said. “We’re not gonna change anybody’s mind.”

Rick Wade, a senior adviser, Stacey Brayboy, the state campaign manager, and Anton Gunn, the state political director, took turns beseeching their boss. The gala, they told Obama, would be attended by more than 2,000 college-educated African-American women, a constituent group that was originally skeptical of the candidate’s “blackness” and that the campaign worked tirelessly to wrest from Hillary Clinton. State luminaries like Representative James Clyburn — himself an undeclared black voter — would be expecting him. They would be in and out in five minutes.

 ”EPA vows to examine impact of hazardous waste on poor communities,” – Los Angeles Times

The federal Environmental Protection Agency vowed Tuesday to home in on the impact of hazardous waste recycling plants on minorities and low-income communities.

The move hearkens back to a Clinton-era executive order that required federal agencies to consider the impact of their policies on disadvantaged communities. Although the Bush administration largely ignored the mandate, Obama-appointed EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson has promised to analyze those impacts.

Fact check: Obama’s health care claims adrift?” - The Associated Press
Assertions at news conference sometimes at odds with Congress, rhetoric

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama’s assertion Wednesday that government will stay out of health care decisions in an overhauled system is hard to square with the proposals coming out of Congress and with his own rhetoric.

Even now, nearly half the costs of health care in the U.S. are paid for by government at all levels. Federal authority would only grow under any proposal in play.

Written by Keith Forest

July 24th, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Today in Equity

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From the Spanish Steps to Spanish Harlem,” - The New York Times

Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times Gianni Alemanno, right, the mayor of Rome, visited Mad Fun Farm, a student-designed urban farm in East Harlem, on Tuesday afternoon.

After meeting with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg at City Hall on Tuesday, Gianni Alemanno, the mayor of Rome, arrived in East Harlem on Tuesday afternoon for a guided tour of a neighborhood garden run by 7- and 8-year-old children.

 ”The Slimming Figures of Childhood Obesity,” - The Wall Street Journal
Studies Suggest That Rates Are No Longer Rising, but Researchers Lament the Paucity of Data and Spar Over Methodologies

Evidence for the expanding epidemic of childhood obesity is thinning.

Nutritionists, health advocates and media reports have been sounding the alarm about a rise in childhood obesity, which could lead to diabetes, heart disease and other problems. But a series of studies from half a dozen countries suggest that rates have held steady over the past five to 10 years, albeit at levels much higher than in the 1960s and 1970s.

Written by Keith Forest

July 22nd, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Today in Equity

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Transportation Bill Inches Forward,” - National League of Cities

The future of funding for federal surface transportation programs, due to expire on September 30, was muddled further last week when House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar announced that the House would act to adopt a short-term fix for the federal Highway Trust Fund but would not extend the programs due to expire.

Oberstar has said he would not extend the current program but instead gained support for a sweeping $500 billion six-year authorization bill adopted by a House subcommittee last month. However, the House panel charged with finding the funds to pay for the ambitious new surface transportation program has indicated that health care reform will be the next issue it tackles as the September 30 deadline draws closer. Both the Obama Administration and members of the House Ways and Means Committee have indicated they oppose any increased taxes to fund transportation at this time. 

At Wal-Mart, Labeling to Reflect Green Intent,” - The New York Times

Shoppers expect the tags on Wal-Mart items to have rock-bottom prices. In the future they may also have information about the product’s carbon footprint, the gallons of water used to create it, and the air pollution left in its wake.

As the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores is on a mission to determine the social and environmental impact of every item it puts on its shelves. And it has recruited scholars, suppliers, and environmental groups to help it create an electronic indexing system to do that.

Foreclosures up: 1 in 84 homes affected in first half of year,”  - USA TODAY

Foreclosures are continuing to set records despite the Obama administration’s $75 billion plan to help borrowers at risk of losing their homes.

There were 1.9 million foreclosure filings in the first six months of this year, a 15% increase from the first six months of 2008, according to a report today from RealtyTrac. One in 84 homes

Written by Keith Forest

July 16th, 2009 at 7:13 pm