March 28, 2017

EDUCATE, ACTIVATE, COLLABORATE and INAUGURATE!
Elections matter.  But much or maybe even most of the work must be done outside of candidate campaign time.
Resistance is not enough.  We must organize to inform about the issues, and to activate volunteers to duplicate themselves, to create more voters who will vote in the best interests of us all.
Through the work of volunteers with Heartland Alliance for Progress, organizing with other groups in the Kansas City area and around the country, Democracy is working!
Republican Members of Congress and our state lawmaking bodies are frightened by the activism being displayed across the country.  Some are rethinking their allegiance to big money and to their own selfish interests.
In Missouri, SB 28,which would decimate the existing Medicaid program, was taken off the fast-track because of our calls to voters. (It will likely come up again).
The Andrew Puzder nomination for Sec. of the Dept. of Labor was derailed.
Trump’s Make America Sick Again bill, which would have also defunded Planned Parenthood, was pulled back from a vote in the majority Republican United States House of Representatives.
We are in this together, and we are winning.  We have a LOT of hard work ahead of us, but, together, we’ll help make the arc of the moral universe bend toward justice.
Remember to look at the wonderful calendar on our website, www.heartlandallianceforprogress.com.  It provides information about dozens of local events in which you can participate, to #resist and build effective coalitions for accomplishing our shared missions.
The website also provides suggestions for almost daily actions you can take.
I would like to highlight the following events for you to attend, that are coming up right away:
Monday, April 10, atCaliforno’s, 5:30-7:00 pm, is our bi-monthly HAP meeting. 4124 Pennsylvania.   A Stand Up KC worker and an organizer will be speaking about the fight for $15 and a Union and other worker rights and benefits, and what’s happening in this regard in the MO General Assembly and MO Supreme Court.  Please arrive prior to 5:30 to order food and drinks.
Phone Bank with Jobs with Justice, every Wednesday, 5:30-8:00 pm,  in the SEIU building, 4526 Paseo, KCMO. We been calling constituents of MO State Senators, about legislation related to raising the minimum wage, and to ask them NOT to cut Medicaid for our most vulnerable:  low income seniors, children, and people with disabilities. We patch calls through to Senators’ offices, to leave messages. Take your phone, charger, and, if possible,computer. It’s super easy, and fun!
DON’T FORGET TO VOTE in local elections TUESDAY, APRIL 4.  See your local election board’s website for what’s on the ballot.  For example, in Kansas City south of the MO River:  https://www.kceb.org/useruploads/4417/Sample_Ballot_4-17_Corr_Final_Website_1.pdf
Also on election day, April 4,  we’ll be collecting signatures for the ballot initiatives related to raising the minimum wage, and the democracy initiative which includes re-districting and ethics reforms, such as limiting the influence of money and lobbying in elections. TRAINING FOR THAT will be Saturday, April 1, 11:00am to 12:30 pm.  Contact Justin Stein Justin@mojwj.org, if you are interested in gathering signatures.  With Republicans in control of the Missouri General Assembly and the governorship,we have to take issues directly to the voters, relying on ballot initiatives such as these constitutional amendment drives.
Also on April 4, Stand Up KC will host a screening of “At the River I Stand,” on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. The film is about the Memphis sanitation workers’strike and will be shown at the Gem Theatre (1615 E. 18th Street) at 7pm. Contact info@standupkc.org to RSVP.
HAPpie Jordan Glasgow will be hosting monthly Wine and Organize events (socialization with a little postcard writing to lawmakers, etc.), on the last Thursday of the month, starting April 27.  Check the HAP Calendar for details.
Contact me anytime, with your questions or suggestions.
The people, united, will never be defeated!
Sarah Starnes

March 9, 2017

Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare

From The Hill, the morning of March 9, 2017:

“The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday advanced GOP legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare on a party line vote, moving the process forward even as the bill faces headwinds.

Republican leaders are pushing forward with the process on a fast timetable, even as many conservatives strongly object to the bill, known as the American Health Care Act, and centrists harbor their own reservations.

The committee markup lasted over 16 hours, stretching until after 4 a.m. Thursday before the measure was approved, 23-16…The measure now goes to the House Budget Committee, with plans for a vote in the full House within weeks.”

My first question is:  What do they have to hide, by doing this in the middle of the night, and rushing to vote on it, without having cost estimates and information about how real people will be affected?

The American Medical Association said this in opposition to the American Health Care Act, “As drafted, [this legislation] would result in millions of Americans losing coverage and benefits.”

Here was the statement from AARP: “[We oppose] this legislation, as introduced, that would weaken Medicare, leaving the door open to a voucher program that shifts costs and risks to seniors.”

And the American Hospital Association: “We cannot support the American Health Care Act in its current form.”

From the American College of Physicians: “The AHCA will have a tremendously negative impact on access, quality, and cost of care compared to current law for patients.”

Republicans are on shaky ground, with the far right not liking that there are ANY provisions based on income (weak as they are), which would require cross-checking people’s reports of their income with the IRS database.  Some Republican governors and Members of Congress are concerned about their re-elections if their constituents lose their health care coverage. Even those in red states like Arkansas (Senator Tom Cotton), which accepted federal Medicaid Expansion funds, are concerned not only about their voters losing their coverage,  but about losing millions of federal dollars that the Medicaid Expansion has pumped into their state budgets.

I won’t explain the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that help ALL of us, not just those who purchase insurance on the ACA Marketplace.  But I know that even people of privilege like me, with good health insurance through my former employer, are concerned about reporting to my doctor symptoms that might lead to my medical record showing that I have a pre-existing condition (and, therefore, being denied coverage or charged more, if the ACA is repealed and that’s not in the new law. If there is no requirement for everyone to be insured, only the sick will purchase insurance, which is an impossible way to run an insurance market). I’m concerned about my young adult child being kicked off my plan, having to make copayments and meet deductibles for preventive care, and my insurance company no longer being required to spend 80-85% of premiums collected on actual care rather than executive compensation or advertising (otherwise, the companies are required to give rebates to customers).  I’m concerned that, without the ACA, insurance companies could, once again, charge women twice as much for premiums just for being women. I worry about the loss of quality improvement programs such as those that have reduced hospital errors. I don’t want the donut hole for the cost of prescription drugs for seniors to return.  I don’t want to lose the ACA mechanisms that have resulted in recovery of millions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid fraud (committed by companies).  The ACA has provided funding for community health centers, many wellness programs, and more efficient and effective care delivery models. It’s required all policies to provide basic essential benefits rather than allowing companies to sell plans that don’t provide adequate coverage for care, when its needed.

Okay, so I got into the weeds more than I’d planned. 😊

My point is, the Affordable Care Act has literally saved lives (I know some of those people), has improved service delivery, has helped our national economy and created jobs, has reduced our federal deficit, and extended the life of the Medicare Trust Fund.

Why has there been so much opposition?  Politics. Pure and simple. Greed, which has actively promoted ignorance.

Contact your Members of Congress, to ask that they vote against the American Health Care Act, and thank them if they plan to do so. Say that a new law would need to provide the same protections and benefits to individuals, families, businesses, and our nation, as the ACA.

Together, we are powerful!  We must act.

 

February 25, 2017

For millions of Americans and people all over the world, our lives were shattered on November 8, 2016.  Thereafter, we couldn’t fall asleep, experienced nightmares, woke up in anguish, felt helpless and hopeless. And the reasons for our alarm have become even clearer and increased in scope and scale.

A group of Kansas City area super volunteers knew that we’d done everything we could have, to elect the most qualified candidate for President in recent history—Hillary Clinton–because we knew that nothing could be taken for granted.  Some of us had supported Bernie during the primary election and had come wholeheartedly over when that was decided. Nonetheless, after 11/8 we still grieved, nearly inconsolably, and felt the same pain as everyone else who cares about this country, international relations, our national security, and the future of humankind’s existence on this planet.  We spent a few days recovering, then we picked ourselves up and got back at it.  ACTION was our balm, and that was/is our specialty.

Sometimes goodness comes out of badness.  I’ve never previously, in my relatively long life, seen the same kind of energy around change that is occurring today. But we can’t just be AGAINST something or someone.  We can’t merely STAND for someone or something.  We MUST TAKE ACTION in ways that influence outcomes.  We work from the basic premise and reality that there is a TWO-PARTY system in the United States and we can influence our candidates while they are running for office and hold them accountable after they are elected, but we MUST FIRST WIN THEIR ELECTIONS.  We cannot win elections via a self-centered “what about me?  I needed that political appointment or my district needed that pork” approach, by vilifying a good candidate during a primary election because we preferred the other one, or by being hyper-critical of every single action or statement someone who has been a public servant for years has made, and labelling that person flawed.  We absolutely must pay attention to the good that the candidate has done, and “not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”  The more that someone has accomplished, the greater the room for error.  While analyzing the candidate of the party that cares about people, we must keep in mind what the alternative is. And we MUST NOT buy into the negative messages planted by the right, about our highly-qualified candidates.

We welcome and embrace everyone who joins us, to work for our common goals.  We are excited to teach our organizing and campaign skills to those who come onboard.  Do the work and become a leader, if that’s your goal!

None of us has been paid to work on issue or candidate campaigns.  We do this because we are passionate about our democracy.  Now, more than ever, we feel that our lives depend on it.

Please JOIN US!  Sign up on the Contact page of the website, and check out our meetings on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month.  See our calendar to connect with many opportunities for action.

Power to the People!

Sarah