Friday, February 17, 2012

The Woman Prevented From Testifying In Favor Of Birth Control Says She’s ‘Stunned’ By GOP’s Rebuke

The Woman Prevented From Testifying In Favor Of Birth Control Says She’s ‘Stunned’ By GOP’s Rebuke:

Sandra Fluke, the woman Republicans prevented from testifying at yesterday’s House Oversight Committee hearing, says she was “stunned” at Chairman Darrel Issa’s (R-CA) decision to keep her from discussing the consequences of limiting women’s access to affordable contraception at a hearing focused on Preside Obama’s birth control requirement. “I was so stunned when Chairman Issa made the decision to not allow me to speak…and to say that I was not an appropriate witness and that those women’s stories were not appropriate for this committee,” Fluke said last night on MSNBC’s The Ed Show. “I cannot think of who would be more appropriate for the committee to hear from than the women who are affected by this policy, whose lives were affected.”

The third-year Georgetown Law student went on to tell the story of her friend who couldn’t afford her birth control — at $100 per month — and was refused insurance coverage for the medication, despite its medical necessity. Shortly thereafter, she developed a massive cyst on her ovary and underwent a surgery that may have jeopardized her abilities to conceive a child:

FLUKE: What ultimately happen is she that had to have that ovary surgically removed. As a result of that, of course she would have problems conceiving a child, but even more, it just hasn’t stopped for her. She since the surgery has experienced symptoms of early menopause and her doctors are very concerned that at the age of 32 she is entering early menopause, which means that there will be nothing any doctor can do to help her to conceive a child and it will also put her at increased risk for cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis. And that’s where she was this morning when I was attempting to tell her story to the public and to members of Congress, she was at the doctor’s office trying to cope with the symptoms she’s experiencing.

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As the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein pointed out last week, Fluke’s friend isn’t the only woman relying on contraception to treat health ailments. “The Guttmacher Institute estimates that roughly 14 percent of birth control prescriptions are written for non-contraceptive purposes, helping some 1.5 million women with issues like ovarian cancer, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and endometrial cancer.” Many women currently “do not have access to health insurance coverage to pay for this medication simply because they work at places owned or run by the Catholic Church” and lower-income women too often can’t afford to pay for the medication out of pocket.

A recent study found that insured women paid about 50 percent of the total costs for oral contraceptives, even though the typical out-of-pocket cost of non-contraceptive drugs is only 33 percent. Oral contraceptives can cost $600 dollars a year for women without insurance. As a result, nearly one in four women with household incomes of less than $75,000 have put off a doctor’s visit for birth control to save money in the past year. Half of young adult women report using their method inconsistently because of high costs.

Under the administration’s new rule, all women will have access to a wide range of women’s health services — including contraception — as part of their health insurance plans, at no additional cost sharing. Houses of worship and institutions that primarily serve people of the same faith are exempt from the providing birth control, while nonprofit religiously affiliated colleges, hospitals, and universities can also opt out of offering the benefit. Their employees will receive the medication directly from the insurance company.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Leaked: a plan to teach climate change denial in schools

Leaked: a plan to teach climate change denial in schools: Internal documents have been leaked from the Heartland Institute, a Chicago nonprofit think tank, showing its funding of leading skeptics of global warming and a plan to teach climate change skepticism in schools.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Obama Unveils Budget That Includes Billions To Rebuild Nation’s Infrastructure, Create Jobs

Obama Unveils Budget That Includes Billions To Rebuild Nation’s Infrastructure, Create Jobs:

Economists estimated in 2011 that the United States needed $2 trillion in immediate investments just to bring its infrastructure up to date, and with borrowing costs low and the nation’s unemployment rate still high, such investments would allow the country to fix its crumbling roads and bridges while also putting unemployed Americans back to work. President Obama is attempting to take advantage of that opportunity by releasing a budget that takes billions of dollars in war savings and pours them into infrastructure investments and job creation programs.

Obama laid out his budget proposal, which includes the Buffett Rule to raise taxes on millionaires and aims to cut the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade, today in Virginia. The budget includes billions in spending on infrastructure programs, worker training, and higher education investment, all in attempts to create jobs and bolster the nation’s economic recovery:

The president will propose using half of the money from ending Americas’ two foreign wars to subsidize investment in infrastructure as part of his request for over $800 billion in multi-year spending on job creation and transportation.

The Obama budget also includes funds for worker training to prepare American workers for open jobs through community colleges and other avenues and invests in higher education to make Americans “the most skilled workers in the world” in the future, Obama said.

Republicans have already opposed multiple attempts to invest in infrastructure spending and create jobs, as they fought efforts to include further infrastructure measures in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, fought a 2010 attempt to pass a large-scale infrastructure bill, and blocked the American Jobs Act last fall, even as the infrastructure in their districts continues to crumble. Multiple Republicans have already announced their opposition to this budget.

Obama’s budget may not be perfect — it cuts spending from areas that need investment and it includes less revenue than bipartisan plans like Simpson-Bowles — but considering the tough budgetary environment, it is a step forward on the road to economic recovery. The GOP, meanwhile, continues to tout budgets that force radical spending cuts, jeopardizing the nation’s economic recovery and putting America on a path that economists say increases the likelihood of yet another painful recession.


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