At today’s Israel Lobby and American Policy Conference at the | 9 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. attendees remarked that this was the best conference thus far. They believe the conference will encourage reporters to cover both sides of Middle East affairs. To watch the program, fast forward to 20 minutes in via the Youtube video.
The speakers appear in order of the program posted on Israellobbyandamericanpolicy.org , where you also will find edited video footage and transcripts. Mondoweiss has already posted the first in-depth article on the conference. Additionally, statistically significant polling results presented by conference co-host IRmep’s Director Grant F. Smith show that Americans oppose many of AIPAC’s core programs.
Let your members of Congress know how the majority feels as they prepare to receive scores of AIPAC supporters urging funding for these unpopular programs.
After blocking confirmation of Justice Scalia’s replacement on the U.S. Supreme Court for a full year, the Senate Judiciary Committee is now preparing to take up the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the post on March 20, nearly seven weeks after President Trump announced his pick. But this nomination won’t go under ” business as usual,” because too much has transpired in the intervening days for the Senate to treat it as such. Moreover, recent revelations have thrown the White House and Department of Justice into turmoil and created a crisis of legitimacy for the Trump Administration that will spill over to the nation’s highest court if there is a rush to judgment on Gorsuch’s confirmation. Also, the Senate and the public lack key information about Judge Gorsuch needed to give his nomination thorough consideration.
In other news, Republicans fighting to repeal the Affordable Care Act have shown their willingness to rush major legislation to short-circuit a thorough review process that would expose the dangerous holes in their proposal; they are attempting to rush the confirmation process of Neil Gorsuch to avoid public scrutiny of his extreme views and record.
Crisis of Legitimacy
Since Trump nominated Judge Gorsuch for the Supreme Court on January 31, Americans have witnessed the forced resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn for lying to the Vice President about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and seen Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuse himself from any investigations into the Trump campaign after coming under fire for misleading the Senate Judiciary Committee about his previously undisclosed meetings with Kislyak. Now we find out that Flynn was paid more than $500,000 to lobby for the Turkish government even while attending classified intelligence briefings.
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s current focus—and rightly so—is on getting to the bottom of Russian interference in the 2016 elections and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Last week’s confirmation hearing for the nomination of Rod Rosenstein as Deputy Attorney General had some members of the committee demanding that he commit to appointment of a special prosecutor as a precondition for his approval. Some believe Senators should not take up the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch until matters so critical to our democracy and national security have been resolved, yet Republicans seem intent on rushing his nomination forward.
Lessons Learned from Recent Confirmation Hearings
The Trump Administration has pushed through a number of cabinet-level appointments in recent weeks without full and proper vetting, proper ethics paperwork, or a complete record for Senators to review. That’s bad enough for positions critical to the functioning of the federal government, but completely unacceptable for a lifetime appointment that will shape the direction of the Supreme Court for decades to come.
The fast pace of Jeff Sessions’ confirmation as Attorney General—one of eight major confirmation hearings scheduled over the span of three days—allowed him to dodge numerous questions about potential conflicts of interest given his role as a close political advisor and friend to Trump during the presidential campaign and transition.
When asked if he would recuse himself from any decisions regarding potential criminal prosecutions in connection with Russia’s hacking of the election, Sessions got away with saying, “I am not aware of a basis to recuse myself from such matters.”
As a result, mere weeks later, America is left with an Attorney General who cannot ethically participate in one of the most important matters facing the nation. Sessions will be likewise hobbled on a host of other legal issues that may come before the Department of Justice, including Trump violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause prohibiting foreign gifts and bribes, conflicts of interest created by Trump’s refusal to divest his business holdings into a blind trust, and potential insider trading by Trump family members actively involved in both White House and Trump Organization decision-making.
Gorsuch Role in the Bush Era DOJ
Top among the Gorsuch matters that need more time for investigation are questions about his handling of controversial cases while serving as a Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General from 2005 to 2006, and his role, if any, in the scandal over the politically motivated firings of nine U.S. Attorneys that ultimately led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in 2007.
Gorsuch told the Senate Judiciary Committee in response to its questionnaire that, he played a role in “major litigation decisions” and “developing legal strategy” for the Civil Division while at the Justice Department. That division handled some highly controversial cases at the time, including defense of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, the Defense of Marriage Act, the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program, and detention of prisoners at Guantanamo.
In addition, Gorsuch was responsible for helping to supervise the Civil Rights Division at a time when there were serious problems with its politicization and lax enforcement of civil rights laws.
A 2008 report by the DOJ Inspector General found that the firings in 2005 and 2006 were politically motivated, “severely damaged the credibility of the Department and raised serious doubts about the integrity of Department prosecutive decisions.” The Bush Administration had pressured U.S. Attorneys to find and prosecute voter fraud, despite a lack of evidence, and retaliated against those who would not cooperate.
“The requested records will shed light on what role, if any, Mr. Gorsuch had in the disastrous hiring and firing initiatives implemented at DOJ during his time there,” CLC wrote in its FOIA request. “How Mr. Gorsuch navigated the issue of the DOJ’s independence under an administration bent on interfering for political gain has significant bearing on how he might approach similar troubling interference as a nominee to, and as a Justice on the Supreme Court.”
The Justice Department turned over 144,000 pages of documents to the Judiciary Committee last Wednesday night, but 90,000 of those were from after Gorsuch left the department. Just days away from the confirmation hearings, it is unclear whether the Committee has all the information it asked for—let alone adequate time to review it—and CLC is still waiting for its FOIA records.
With the independence of the judiciary—as well as the integrity of our elections, a free press, and crucial civil rights—under attack from the White House, the Senate and the public must have a complete record of Judge Gorsuch’s role in or handling of past compromises to our system of impartial justice. Will a Justice Gorsuch fiercely defend the rule of law from political manipulation? Just calling such attacks “demoralizing” is not enough.
Protecting the Integrity of the Supreme Court
If Senate leadership rushes through confirmation of Gorsuch in the next few weeks, after holding the position open for more than a year, it will cast the same shadow of illegitimacy that now lies over the White House over the Supreme Court. It is time to slow things down, wait to see if the Trump Administration stabilizes, and allow adequate time to review and debate the wisdom of placing Gorsuch on the Supreme Court bench.
This week Commissioner Matthew Masterson was elected Chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), a position he will hold for one year. Masterson will continue to serve alongside EAC Commissioner Thomas Hicks, who now moves from the role of Chairman to Vice Chair, and Commissioner Christy A. McCormick. As a former Ohio election official and having served as a member of the EAC’s Testing and Certification team, Masterson knows the EAC is a vital resource for state and local election administrators, voters, and stakeholders. There are more than 8,000 election jurisdictions in the United States, each facing mounting pressures that stem from concerns such as cybersecurity and aging voting equipment. He plans to spend the coming year as Chairman helping to make sure their needs are met and their voices are heard.
Chairman Masterson has identified three areas of concern to state and local election officials that will tell his agenda for the coming year, including:
Supporting and empowering state and local election officials as they deal with pressures stemming from America’s aging election system infrastructure.
Working to bridge the information gap between the Department of Homeland Security and state election officials who are still wondering how the department’s decision to designate election systems as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure will impact their day-to-day operations.
Ensuring improved election accessibility for voters with disabilities, Limited English Proficiency Voters, as well as military and other Americans voting overseas.
Chairman Masterson assumes this new role amid the EAC’s #GamePlan17 work to prepare for next year’s midterm elections. That effort will be largely informed by lessons learned in 2016 and the Commission’s 2016 Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS), the most comprehensive set of data regarding election administration and voting across the United States. EAVS is slated for release at the end of June. His election also comes less than a week after a set of 17 core voting system functions that will guide the EAC’s next generation of Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) was adopted by the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), a step that sets the stage for the new voting system guidelines to be completed by 2018. This spring the EAC is also poised to release a new website that will feature a cutting-edge, user-friendly design. The site will also become the new permanent home for the popular tools and guidance stemming from the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA).
Masterson was recommended by former Speaker of the House Representative John Boehner (R-Ohio) and nominated to serve as an EAC Commissioner by President Barack H. Obama. He was confirmed by unanimous consent of the United States Senate on December 16, 2014. Before his EAC appointment, Chairman Masterson served as Interim Chief of Staff for the Ohio Secretary of State, whom he had previous served as a Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief Information Officer. In his earlier position of Deputy Director of Elections for the State of Ohio, Chairman Masterson was responsible for voting system certification efforts by the Secretary of State’s office, including being the liaison to the Ohio Board of Voting Machine Examiners. He was also in charge of Ohio’s effort to develop an online voter registration system and online ballot delivery for military and overseas voters.
Prior to joining the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, Chairman Masterson held multiple roles at the Election Assistance Commission. Masterson joined the EAC staff in 2006 as a Special Assistant/Counsel to Chairman Paul DeGregorio. He went on to serve as Deputy Director for the EAC’s Voting System Testing and Certification Program. In this role, his primary responsibility was the creation of the next iteration of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG). Chairman Masterson worked with the EAC’s Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the creation of the TGDC’s recommended Voluntary Voting System Guidelines. In addition to these responsibilities, he managed the day to day business of the EAC’s laboratory accreditation program, including the creation of the EAC’s Voting System Test Laboratory Program Manual.
About the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC)
Washington, DC – A set of 17 core voting system functions that will guide the Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) next generation of Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) was adopted this week by the EAC’s Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC). The unanimous vote came during a meeting called by the EAC and chaired by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). It comes as the Department of Homeland Security has affirmed its intent to maintain designation of election systems as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure.
“The need to protect America’s voting systems has never been more apparent,” said EAC Commissioner Matthew Masterson, who is the designated federal officer for the committee. “We are pleased the TGDC was unanimous in its vote to approve the proposed scope for the next set of guidelines, putting us another step closer to finalizing the next generation of standards used to test voting systems. These will be the most advanced standards against which a voting system can be tested in the United States, ensuring improved security, accessibility and auditability of the next generation of voting systems. Even better, these new guidelines are designed to spur innovations that allow local election officials to give voters the best experience possible.”
What are VVSG?
VVSG are a set of specifications and requirements against which voting systems can be tested to determine if the systems meet required standards. Some factors examined under these tests include functionality, accessibility, accuracy, auditability and security capabilities. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 mandates that EAC develop and maintain these requirements as well as testing and certifying voting systems. On December 13, 2005, the EAC unanimously adopted the 2005 VVSG, which significantly increased security requirements for voting systems and expanded access, including opportunities for individuals with disabilities to vote privately and independently. The 2005 guidelines updated and augmented the 2002 Voting System Standards, as required by HAVA, to address advancements in election practices and computer technologies. These guidelines were again updated by the EAC’s Commissioners on March 31, 2015.
About the new VVSG
The new VVSG are slated to be complete by 2018. These guidelines are voluntary. States may decide to adopt them entirely or in part prior to the effective date. The structure of the new VVSG reflects modifications proposed by the election community, EAC, NIST and the TGDC, which is comprised of election officials, voting system manufacturers, disability experts, cyber security experts, technology experts, and other key election stakeholders. The new guidelines are a nimble high level set of principles that will be supplemented by accompanying documents that detail specific requirements for how systems can meet the new guidelines and obtain certification. The supplemental documents will also detail assertions for how the accredited test laboratories will validate that the system complies with those requirements. The new VVSG structure is anticipated to be:
Principles: High level system design goals;
Guidelines: Broad description of the functions that make up a voting system;
Requirements: Technical details necessary for manufacturers to design devices that meet the principles and guidelines of a voting system;
Test Assertions: Technical specifications required for laboratories to test a voting system against the requirements.
During this week’s meeting, the TGDC also had the opportunity to hear from the Department of Homeland Security about how the department’s new critical infrastructure designation may impact local election officials. The discussion marked the first time DHS and local election officials and other stakeholders had the opportunity to talk about the designation and revealed next steps in the process, including the creation of working groups that DHS plans to convene to inform its recommendations and services. Last year marked the 10th anniversary of the EAC’s Testing and Certification program, which is the most successful and most implemented voting machine testing and certification program in the nation.
The Testing and Certification program was a requirement of the Help America Vote Act of 2002, legislation that created the EAC and mandated that the commission provide certification, decertification, and recertification of voting systems, as well as the accreditation of voting system testing laboratories. This marked the first time the federal government assumed responsibility for these activities, a step that allowed states to procure new certified voting systems without the added expense of independent testing and certification. At least 47 states now use the EAC’s Testing and Certification program in some way when deciding which voting system to procure, and over the past decade, it has handled 58 certification campaigns in coordination with 15 voting system vendors. The TGDC is expected to convene again in late summer 2017.
About the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC)
Three new rounds of illegal settlement construction were announced by Israel in January. On Jan. 22, the government announced plans for 566 new housing units in occupied East Jerusalem. On Jan. 24, plans for 2,500 new housing units in the West Bank were announced. On Jan. 31, approval was given for 3,000 additional housing units in the West Bank. The Trump administration declined to condemn the announcements and David Friedman, President Trump’s pick to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel, formerly served as president of a group that raises funds for settlements.
So far 137 Palestinian structures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem were demolished by Israeli forces in January. According to figures from the United Nations, the demolitions have displaced 237 people, including 134 children. These demolitions build upon the 1,093 Palestinian structures that Israel destroyed last year—the highest number since the U.N. began keeping records in 2009.
Two people—an Israeli Bedouin and an Israeli police officer—were killed in clashes on Jan. 18 after Israeli officials entered the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran with demolition orders. Israeli-Palestinian Knesset member Ayman Odeh was injured and hospitalized after being hit by a foam-tipped bullet during the clashes. Israel regularly demolishes Bedouin villages it does not recognize to build new towns for Jewish Israelis only.
20-year-old Israeli Sgt. Elor Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter by an Israeli court in early January. In March 2016, Azaria was filmed fatally shooting a wounded and incapacitated Palestinian attacker in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. Azaria’s conviction was a rare moment of justice for Palestinians, as IDF soldiers rarely face severe consequences for crimes committed against Palestinians.
In six months, the amount of time Israeli-Palestinian Knesset member Basel Ghattas has been suspended from the Knesset after he was caught allegedly smuggling cell phones, SIM cards and documents to prisoners convicted of terrorism. Ghattas will still be permitted to vote during his suspension.
56 percent of Americans oppose moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to a January poll conducted by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. President Donald Trump seemed poised to announce the move within his first week in office, but has since put any such announcement on hold.
31 percent of Democrats polled by the Pew Research Center in January said they sympathize more with Palestine than with Israel. 33 percent of respondents said they sympathize more with Israel. These findings mark the first time in Pew Research history that Democrats are as likely to sympathize with Palestinians as they are with Israelis. The poll found that Republican support for Israel remains strong.
342 members of the House of Representatives—233 Republicans and 109 Democrats—voted in favor of a resolution objecting to U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemns Israel’s ongoing settlement enterprise. President Barack Obama refused to veto the resolution in December, thereby allowing the resolution to pass and leading to criticism from pro-Israel groups in the U.S.
41 men remain at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, after former President Obama failed to fulfill his promise to close the prison. Obama transferred 18 men from the facility in January—10 to Oman, 5 to Saudi Arabia and 3 to the UAE. During his eight years in office he transferred 197 detainees from the facility.
26,172 bombs were dropped in seven countries by the United States in 2016, according to an estimate conducted by Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations. The vast majority of bombs were dropped in Syria (12,192) and Iraq (12,095). The remainder was dropped in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. “This estimate is undoubtedly low,” Zenko points out, “considering reliable data is only available for airstrikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, and a single ‘strike,’ according to the Pentagon’s definition, can involve multiple bombs or munitions.”
Three U.S. drone strikes were carried out in Yemen in January, reportedly killing between 6 and 13 militants, according to data complied by New America. Two of the strikes were authorized by President Donald Trump. According to the Director of National Intelligence, the U.S. conducted 526 counter-terror strikes (most of them drone strikes) during President Obama’s tenure in office. The U.S. government estimates 64 to 117 civilians were killed in the strikes, though independent estimates put this number much higher. This official data does not include strikes in areas of “active hostilities,” including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, where it is believed U.S. drone strikes have been particularly devastating to civilians.
30 Yemenis, most of them civilians, were killed on Jan. 29 when U.S. commandos carried out a raid targeting al-Qaeda militants in southern Yemen. Among those killed in the first military raid authorized by President Trump was 8-year-old American citizen Nawar al-Awlaki, the daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, who was extrajudicially killed by a drone strike in October 2011 and whose 16-year-old son Abdulrahman was killed in a drone strike two weeks later. An American service member was also killed in the January raid, which the president described as “successful.”
1,000 Yemeni children die every week from preventable diseases, according to UNICEF. An estimated 2.2 million children in the poor, war-torn nation suffer from malnutrition, according to the agency.
Seven years after being jailed for leaking American military and diplomatic documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Chelsea Manning had her sentence commuted by President Obama on Jan. 17. Manning’s leaks led to a greater public critique of U.S. military action in the Middle East. Manning is set to be released on May 17, after originally being scheduled for release in 2045.
1,363 civilians were killed in violence in Iraq in January, according to Iraq Body Count.
64 percent of Americans oppose the U.S. withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran, according to a poll conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation in late December.
82-year-old Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died of a heart attack on Jan. 8 in Tajrish, Iran. The two-time president and former chairman of the Assembly of Experts was one of the most influential politicians in Iran. A leader of the 1979 revolution, Rafsanjani was a mentor to current President Hassan Rouhani and used his power to give greater legitimacy to more “moderate” forces within Iran.
About the Washington Report
The Washington Report is published by the American Educational Trust, a non-profit foundation incorporated in Washington, DC to provide the American public with balanced and accurate information on U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states. Material from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs may be printed without charge with attribution to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.
Tomorrow January 31, 2017, the American Humanist Association will host briefings in both the US House and Senate to educate legislators and their staff about the importance of protecting the Johnson Amendment, a piece of legislation that prevents religious organizations from violating the separation of church and state by endorsing political candidates. The US House briefing will be held at 11:30am, and the US Senate briefing will be held at1:30pm.
WHERE: The US House briefing will be held at Cannon 340, and the US Senate briefing will be held at Russell 485, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
The briefing will feature experts on the topics of religious freedom and campaign finance, including: Policy Counsel Jennifer Ahearn of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Executive Director Amanda Tyler of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and Political Action Committee Coordinator Ron Millar of the Freethought Equality Fund. American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt and American Humanist Association Development and Communications Director Maggie Ardiente will also be in attendance.
Arepeal of the Johnson Amendment, which was passed in 1954 to protect the separation of church and state by prohibiting religious and other non-profit organizations from engaging in political activity, including endorsing and funding political candidates would be devastating. Already, a bill has been introduced in this session of Congress, HR 172, which would overturn the Johnson Amendment. The American Humanist Association, as well as other church-state separation groups and organizations for campaign finance reform, are concerned that without the Johnson Amendment, churches and other religious organizations could funnel anonymous, tax-deductible donations to candidates who promise to carry out their religious practices into policy.
About the American Humanist Association
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
In reaction to the Bulletin’s decision, Derek Johnson, the executive director of the international Global Zero movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, issued this statement:
“The decision to move the Doomsday Clock is alarming, but not surprising. This is due in part to rising geopolitical tensions and the enormous nuclear modernization programs that are pending in many nuclear-armed countries, including the United States.”Johnson continues “A single modern nuclear weapon has more destructive force than all of the bombs detonated in World War II combined. There are 15,000 of these weapons in the world today, and 95% of them are now under the absolute control of two authoritarian nationalists. Today’s decision to move the Doomsday Clock closer to midnight makes it crystal clear this is no time to ‘wait and see.’ We must act urgently to roll back the Clock and reduce the risk of nuclear catastrophe. And the only way to completely eliminate that risk is to eliminate the weapons globally.”
As an immediate next step, Global Zero recently endorsed the Restricting the First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act (H.R. 669), which requires a Congressional declaration of war prior to launching nuclear weapons except in response to an incoming nuclear attack. The legislation would limit the ability to start a nuclear war on a leader of the free world’s own initiative, which the current system allows.
At the beginning of 2016, President Obama made a commitment to invest $1.1 billion to help address the prescription opioid abuse and heroin use epidemic but what is the status of the fight against opioid at the start of 2017? Opioid and heroin addiction is destructive to the core of community wellness. The addiction destroys lives and tears apart families and communities alike. In 2014, more than 28,000 people died from opioid overdoses nearly 900 died in Maryland. It is clear communities can no longer ignore this public health emergency. With additional government funding states could fund more prevention and treatment programs to stop this epidemic in its tracks.
In 2016 House Republicans joined with Democrats to pass several bills to address the opioid crisis, but none of these bills provided the essential funding that partners on the frontlines of this crisis need. More can be done and must be done. That is why the Opioid and Heroin Abuse Crisis Investment Act was introduced to provide more than $1 billion in new federal resources to combat the causes and effects of the opioid epidemic, including $930 million to expand access to medication-assisted treatment in every state and $50 million to expand substance use treatment capacity. This epidemic has become a runaway train barreling through every family and every community in its path and the stakes are high.
July 2016, the Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) with sweeping bipartisan support. This was an important and meaningful step in the nation’s efforts to address its prescription opioid and heroin public health crisis. The House of Representatives passed CARA with an overwhelming 407-5 vote. The Senate followed suit with a near unanimous vote of 92-2. The bill will fund grants for treatment expansion for opioid use disorder through recovery networks, strengthen state-based prescription drug monitoring programs, and increase the availability of opioid overdose reversal drugs.
What will it take to overcome the Opioid Epidemic?
The opioid epidemic is a major problem due to inadequate packaging because Medicare and payers are being short-sighted. Today, all CVS, Rite Aid and other major pharmacies have a preventive solution they are not getting paid to carry out because Medicare and payers refuse to pay for compliance packaging on opioids. In other words the unwillingness to reimburse is causing, contributing and exacerbating the opioid epidemic unnecessarily.
CEO of TimerCap LLC, Larry Twesky, leads a compliance packaging company that makes it possible for people to track their medications on the bottle that opioids are dispensed in while keeping vital labeling information. Their product is being sold in about 13,000 pharmacies around the country and doctors and the Surgeon General are not talking about it because Medicare doesn’t cover compliance packaging.
According to Persistence Market Research, the opioids market is estimated to account for $42 billion dollars by 2021 and the organization Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, states nearly 21 million Americans struggle with substance addictions.
Every 19 minutes an American dies from an opioid or heroin overdose. The consequences of this abuse have been drastic as the number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain relievers has quadrupled in the United States since 1999. One of the biggest causes of opioid addiction is that less than 50% of patients take their medications as directed, with the biggest cause of that being forgetfulness.
On-going solutions for fighting opioid
TimerCap, a California-based company is offering a solution to prevent opioid addiction. They offer a vial cap, sized to fit most pharmacy vials, with a built-in LCD timer, that automatically keeps track of the time passed. The vial cap is useful to help people remember when they last took their medication or also indicate that someone else wrongly opened the vial. The TimerCap is the compliance packaging that is needed to prevent opioid abuse and available at all CVS and Rite Aid locations. It is important that more people be reminded there are simple and inexpensive solutions to remember when they last took their medication, which would reduce opioid abuse. Learn more about TimerCap.
In the last days of President Obama’s time in office, he is fighting for health law as republicans stand firm on their vow to repeal his Affordable Care Act (Obama Care). What is the future of the Affordable Care Act? No one can really say. President Obama’s signature health care plan is being defended by the democrats on Capitol Hill while President-elect Donald J. Trump warns Republicans to let Obama care “fall of its own weight.”
The Republicans want to repeal Obama Care altogether while the Democrats want to find ways to improve the Affordable Care Act – they even have a slogan: “make America sick again” to get public support on keeping Obama Care in tact. By a vote of 51 to 48, the Senate is taking the first step to repeal the Affordable Care Act via a budget resolution or blueprint that would clear a path for legislation repealing of major provisions of Obama’s signature health care law. And next week the House is expected to take up a budget resolution. Republicans are hoping the Trump administration acts on a series of executive orders that will make it easier to repeal the Affordable Care Act but it will be hard to repeal Obama Care because removing parts of the law could put the health care market in chaos.
If Republicans want to repeal Obama Care, they need to offer Americans an effective replacement and show the added value that replacement can offer citizens. 20 million poor and working-class Americans now take advantage of Obama Care to make sure they have health insurance. Read Why It Will Be Hard to Repeal Obama for more insight on the situation.
Two components of Obama Care Trump would like to keep are:
– Affordable healthcare for Americans with pre-existing conditions
– Let children stay on their parents’ policies until age 26
While Trump may support getting rid of cost-sharing subsidies and contraception coverage. The problem at hand now with the Affordable Care Act is that young, healthy people may not necessarily want to give to the insurance pool because they may feel it’s a waste of money if they are not going to go regularly to medical and dental appointments. The Obama care subsidies and the mandate right now need young, healthy people to help pay for older, sicker customers. If they did not give to Obama care, insurance companies would have to raise premiums and that could make millions Americans under the health care plan be priced out of insurance.
Fromgirltogirl’s thoughts on improving Obama Care
The only way any system, including a universal #healthcare system, becomes favorable is offering added value to all parties affected. In other words #insurance companies, #healthcare providers and #patients must feel like they are winning within the system. It’s harder to completely replace a system than make adjustments to improve a system. Regardless of industry, there’s one thing everyone likes to hear and see: a problem resolved or a system improved. If you can’t solve problems or improve a system, you’ll struggle to find support and won’t make progress on goals. A great way to find problems/resolve them is to focus on the user experience. Most valuable information you can have: complaints because knowing complaints can help anyone find creative ways to resolve issues. If Obama care can help Insurance companies keep down cost cross the system, more Americans will buy into the market place. This buy-in will make Obama Care profitable for insurance companies and health care providers while making healthcare affordable by the year for buyers. The big challenge is how to get to this point. Send commentary to Fromgirltogirl about your thoughts on how to improve the healthcare system and truly give universal healthcare to Americans.