Newswire : Diverse rural farmer and community groups praise bipartisan Senate Agriculture Committee Farm Bill

Two national organizations representing thousands of rural farmers and communities today commended the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 released by the Senate Agriculture Committee on Friday. The Rural Coalition and National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) applaud the Committee, Chairman Pat Roberts, and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow for the bipartisan bill. While the bill stops short of fundamental changes to provide a fair price to all producers, it contains important provisions to address the dairy crisis; protects and expands equity for tribal, historically underserved, veteran, and beginning farmers and ranchers; and preserves the integrity of nutrition programs. The bill also makes two critical updates to farm credit programs to benefit family farmers.

At a moment when dairy farmers are receiving prices as low as 30 percent below the cost of production, the Senate farm bill takes an important first step towards improving those prices for by establishing a Class 1 Fluid Milk donation program. The program will provide $5 billion per year to reimburse dairy farmers who make donations to non-profit feeding programs.

Wisconsin dairy farmer and NFFC board president Jim Goodman noted, “The inclusion of a fluid milk donation program in the Senate farm bill will help two groups of people in need: dairy farmers who have been trying to survive on milk prices that are well below cost of production and people who cannot afford to put food on the table. Many people struggling with food insecurity are working, many are children – and some are farmers themselves. The dairy donation program will provide significant relief to all of these populations.”

Two credit provisions in the Senate bill will bring further relief to farmers facing today’s credit crisis. The provisions offer new favorable loan servicing options to help farm families preserve farmland and avoid foreclosure, as well as expanding eligibility for emergency loans following a catastrophe such as a drought or flood.

“NFFC and Rural Coalition have fought for equitable farm credit since our work on the 1987 Agricultural Credit Act, which slowed the 1980s farm crisis,” said Savonala Horne, Executive Director of the North Carolina Association of Black Farmers Land Loss Prevention Project, a board member of both organizations. “These critical but common sense changes to the law will keep more family farmers on the land through the challenges rural America is again facing today.”

The bill also strengthens equity for tribal farmers and food systems and invests in programs supporting the nation’s historically underserved, veteran and young farmers and ranchers. It is notable for measures to strengthen and fund programs to assist small farmers and grow local food and farm systems. Among these is the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (OASDVFR), which has struggled for funding since it was first authorized in 1990, and since military veteran farmers and ranchers were added in 2014. The Senate bill links OASDVFR with the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program and strengthens and provides permanent authority to both programs. Under the new bill, the programs would equally share permanent direct funding of $50 million.

“We have been working hard for decades to bring equity to the farm bill in terms of treatment for Black farmers and other farmers of color to build cooperatives and to uplift low-wealth communities. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 addresses continuing inequities and supports the quality hands-on assistance needed to make sure the 2018 farm bill reaches everyone,” said Rural Coalition Chairperson John Zippert, based in rural Alabama.

Rural Coalition and NFFC further commend Senators Roberts and Stabenow for a farm bill package that, unlike its counterpart in the House of Representatives, takes a strong bipartisan stance on ensuring food access for all communities, by retaining funding and authority for the crucial Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It also increases support for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives program and related initiative to strengthen local food systems.

For additional commentary and analysis on the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, visit www.nffc.net and https://www.ruralco.org/.

The Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural is an alliance of farmers, farmworkers, indigenous, migrant, and working people from the United States, Mexico, Canada, and beyond working together toward a new society that values unity, hope, people, and land.

NFFC unites and strengthens the voices and actions of its diverse grassroots member organizations in 30 states to demand viable livelihoods for family farmers, safe and healthy food for everyone, and economically and environmentally sound rural communities.

CASH REWARD $7,500 LEADING TO THE ARREST AND CONVICTION OF PERSON(S)

CASH REWARD $7,500 LEADING TO THE ARREST AND CONVICTION OF PERSON(S) RESPONSIBLE FOR: Setting Deputy “Hank” Henry McWhorter’s House on Fire At approximately 3:00 a.m. on Friday, October 7, 2016; unknown person(s) attempted to burn an occupied residence and explode an adjacent propane tank; which would have caused serious property damage and casualties. This serious criminal offense took place in the Tishabee Neighborhood of Boligee, Alabama Please call Henry “Hank” McWhorter if you have any information to solve this crime at 205-259-9000.

Tennyson Smith defeats Pelt for Commission seat Greene County has high turnout for straight Democratic ticket; Not enough to stem state trend for Republicans

Gov. Kay Ivey and Tennyson Smith

Unofficial vote totals for Tuesday’s General Election show that 4,183 of Greene County’s 7,050 registered voters (59.3%) turned out and voted overwhelming for the straight Democratic ticket. In Greene County, in the Governor’s race, Democratic candidate, Walt Maddox received 3,506 votes (84.1%) to 661 votes (15.1%) for incumbent Republican Kay Ivey. Statewide Ivey received 849,410 (61%) to 562,521 (39%) for Maddox. Ivey becomes Alabama’s second woman Governor and at 74, the oldest elected Governor in the nation. In other statewide contests, the Republican candidates were all successful in their races including: Will Ainsworth for Lieutenant Governor, Steve Marshall for Attorney General, Tom Parker for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, John H. Merrill for Secretary of State, John McMillan for State Treasurer, Jim Ziegler for State Auditor, Rick Pate for Commissioner of Agriculture, Jeremy H. Oden, Public Service Commission, Place 1 and Chris ‘Chip” Beeker Jr., Public Service Commission Place 2. Beeker is a native and resident of Greene County. All seven of Alabama’s incumbent Congresspersons were reelected, including Terri Sewell, who ran unopposed for the 7th District. Sewell is the only Democrat in Alabama’s delegation to Congress. In local Greene County races, Tennyson Smith was reelected County Commissioner in District 2 by a vote of 620 defeating Independent Latoya ‘Mi-Mi’ Pelt with 191 votes. Tennyson Smith will be joining Commissioners Lester ‘Bop’ Brown (District 1), Corey Cockrell (District 3), Allen Turner, Jr. (District 4), and Roshonda Summerville (District 5), who were Democratic nominees from the primary who were unopposed in the General Election. This election also officially confirmed the election of other Greene County office holders who were nominated in the Democratic primary and unopposed in this election. This includes: Eddie Hardaway Jr, Circuit Judge, Veronica Morton-Jones, Circuit Clerk, Rolanda H. Wedgeworth, Judge of Probate, Jonathan ‘Joe” Benison, Sheriff, and Ronald ‘Kent’ Smith, Coroner. Greene County will also be represented by the same legislative delegation including Bobby Singleton, State Senator District 24, A. J. McCampbell, State Representative District No. 71 and Ralph A. Howard, State Representative District 72, who were unopposed and elected in yesterday’s election. All four State Amendments on the ballot were approved statewide by a 60% margin, however in Greene County voters opposed amendments 1, 2 and 4. Amendment 2, which says that Alabamians recognize the rights of the unborn, could lead to the outlawing of abortions and certain contraceptive measures in the future.

Sen. Doug Jones gives keynote address at Federation’s Co-op Month celebration at Rural Training Center in Epes

 

U. S. Senator Doug Jones was the luncheon speaker at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives celebration of National Co-op Month at its Rural Training and Research Center near Epes, Alabama. The Federation had a series of workshops on cooperative and credit union development and land retention issues during the morning. This included a presentation by several members of the SoGoCo, meat goat producers’ co-op on their efforts to promote goat production among family farmers in west Alabama. Rev. Samuel Fairley, Rev. Constance Scott and Pamela Madzima talked about their work with SoGoCo to encourage farmers to produce goats. The co-op now has 30 members with over 500 nannies, female reproductive goats. The cooperative is looking forward to having a large enough membership to support a goat processing plant. “We want to produce goat sausage and other quality cuts of goat meat for consumers and restaurants in the area,” said Fairley. The Federation’s Land Retention Specialist and Attorney, Monica Rainge, spoke on the problems of land tenure by Black farmers indicating that “heir property ownership” has become a significant obstacle to Black land owners making maximum utilization of their land. “When the original land owner dies without a will, the land title passes to all of the heirs without a division. This means all of the heirs have an un-divided interest in the land and all the heirs must agree on any decisions affecting the utilization of the land, including the application for USDA funds and programs. If several generations pass before the family tries to resolve this problem, there can be multiple heirs spread around the country, which makes it difficult for families to make decisive and timely decisions affecting the use of the land,” said Rainge. In his luncheon remarks, Senator Jones said he had been working since he was elected on bipartisan themes that would be helpful to rural people and communities in the State of Alabama including affordable health care, expanding high speed internet services and support for farmers. Jones said he was working on several aspects of the 2018 Farm Bill, which was now in a conference committee to reconcile differences between the Senate and House versions of the legislation. Jones said he had sponsored a proposal with Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina to provide support and assistance to heir property landowners, which is part of the Senate bill. He is also supporting an effort to provide support for veteran, minority and beginning farmers, which would provide outreach and technical assistance for these groups and help to pass down the farming legacy from older farmers to the next generations. Jones said he was also working to protect the basic safety net and disaster assistance sections of the Farm Bill as well as prevent excessive cuts to food and nutrition programs. “Overall I am looking for ways to bring people together and seek bi-partisan common ground in a Washington D. C. that is broken. This has been a difficult ten days for our nation and I hope you go out and vote. You also must demand that your public officials be more responsible and work together. “We learned from the period of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama that politicians could fan the flames of racism with their words and rhetoric. Governor George Wallace and Police Commissioner Bull Conner made things more difficult with what they said in the 1960’s and the current President’s words on the caravan of poor immigrants from Central America and Mexico weigh on our nation’s discourse. “We must put our common good at the forefront of our discussions and seize the opportunity to speak and work for unity and not discord in our nation,” said Jones. Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director of the Federation observed that, “ We appreciate Senator Doug Jones coming to the Federation’s Rural Training Center in Epes. We have had Congressmen and women, three Secretaries of Agriculture, numerous government officials, but Doug Jones is the first U. S. Senator to visit our facilities. He also came on a great day to celebrate National Co-op Month.

Newswire : Mauritania ordered to end forced labor or lose trade benefits

 

Anti-slavery activists in Maritania

Nov. 5, 2018 (GIN) – Forced labor tolerated by the Mauritanian government was called a decisive factor in the U.S. decision this week to end favored nation trade status for the country as of January 1. “Forced or compulsory labor practices like hereditary slavery have no place in the 21st century,” said Deputy U.S. Trade Representative C.J. Mahoney. “This action underscores this Administration’s commitment to ending modern slavery and enforcing labor provisions in our trade laws and trade agreements. “We hope Mauritania will work with us to eradicate forced labor and hereditary slavery so that its eligibility in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) may be restored in the future.” President Donald Trump, according to a press release from the executive office, had determined that Mauritania was not making sufficient progress toward establishing the protection of internationally recognized worker rights. It went without saying that such criticisms from United States were least expected from a nation built on slavery, challenged over voting rights and currently dismantling the rights of workers to unionize, to safe working conditions, to freedom from discrimination, among others. At a public hearing last August, a representative of the AFL-CIO federation of unions in the U.S. affirmed that Mauritania was in violation of established worker rights to association and to bargain collectively. A ruling by the African Union earlier this year found that anti-slavery laws were not enforced and slave owners received lenient sentences for violating human rights. Mauritanian government spokesman Mohamed Ould Maham called the decision by President Trump “a betrayal of the friendly relations between our countries and a denial of our efforts” to roll back slavery practices. The West African nation insists the country is no longer home to slavery, but to “the vestiges of slavery”, including poverty, social and economic exclusion and unequal access to education for members of the country’s former slave class, known as Haratin. An estimated 90,000 people in the country of about 4.3 million still live in modern slavery conditions. Haratins are the largest minority group in Mauritania and among the most economically and politically marginalized, according to UNPO – the Underrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization. Public comments and hearing testimony related to the eligibility review are available online at www.regulations.govunder docket number USTR-2018-022.

Newswire :  Baseball great Willie McCovey dies at 80

By Stacy M. Brown,NNPA Newswire Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia

Former San Francisco Giant slugger and one of Major League Baseball’s all-time greatest players, Willie McCovey, has died at the age of 80. Nicknamed “Mac,” and “Stretch,” McCovey played 22 seasons – mostly with the Giants but split time with the Oakland A’s and San Diego Padres – and produced 521 home runs while driving in 1,555 runs. He earned three National League Most Valuable Player Awards and six All-Star Game MVP honors. McCovey earned induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Giants built a statute in his honor outside of their stadium by the Bay in San Francisco. “San Francisco and the entire baseball community lost a true gentleman and legend, and our collective hearts are broken,” Giants CEO Larry Baer said in statement announcing the loss of the all-time greats. “Willie was a beloved figure throughout his playing days and in retirement. He will be deeply missed by the many people he touched,” he said. Baer continued: “For more than six decades, he gave his heart and soul to the Giants – as one of the greatest players of all time, as a quiet leader in the clubhouse, as a mentor to the Giants who followed in his footsteps, as an inspiration to our Junior Giants, and as a fan cheering on the team from his booth. “Willie’s greatest passion was his family and our thoughts and prayers are with his beloved wife, Estella, and his daughter, Allison, and her children Raven, Philip, and Marissa.” As noted by MLB Trade Rumors, McCovey’s name has become synonymous not only with the San Francisco Giants — who retired his No. 44 and named right field’s “McCovey Cove” at AT&T Park in his honor — but with baseball greatness. McCovey’s overall statistics include a slash line of .270/.374/.515 with 521 home runs, 353 doubles, 46 triples, 1229 runs scored and 1555 runs batted in. In addition to spending 19 seasons with the Giants, McCovey played three seasons with the Padres and also spent part of the 1976 season with the Athletics. He played with other legends like Willie Mays and Bobby Bonds and against greats like Roberto Clemente and Bob Gibson. “He really is Giants royalty. You see the statue out behind the cove, you hear about the Willie Mac Award,” Baer said. “You think of him as a gentle giant. He was just big and imposing and he was feared as a hitter and soft and cuddly and warm as a person.”

Newswire:  Chicago twin sisters clear hurdles to become top doctors

 By Stacy M. Brown,NNPA Newswire Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia

 Two sisters – Brandi and Brittany Jackson

They are sisters – twins to be correct – and both are medical doctors and were born and raised in a town in Ohio called Twinsburg, a segregated, lower-income and primarily African American area. Both say they’ve always been drawn to science and excelled academically which led to each being in Advanced Placement and Honors courses in school. Frequently the only African Americans in their classrooms, the twins endured their share of racism. There’s a pressure to perform and be on when you’re the only person of color in a space, lest you inadvertently perpetuate stereotypes about your race to non-people of color, they said. But, none of that prevented them from succeeding. Both would go on to become elected as chief residents in their respective residency programs at the University of Illinois and today they are practicing physicians whose primary patients include many in underserved populations in Chicago – Brandi in the Department of Psychiatry and Brittani in the College of Medicine-Family Medicine. In an effort to give back, the twins have co-founded Medlikeme.com, a resource for high school, pre-med and others to submit questions that will be answered by medical students, physicians and other professionals.

The website is scheduled to launch Nov. 5.

Newswire :  Rihanna has a message for Trump playing her music at his ‘Tragic Rallies’

 

Written By NewsOne Staff

Rihanna

Several artists have spoken out about Donald Trump playing their music at his hate rallies. The long list includes Adele, Neil Young, the Rolling Stones, Queen, REMand Pharrell Williams. Even Prince’s estate released a statement when Trump played “Purple Rain” at a rally in Mississippi, saying, “The Prince Estate has never given permission to President Trump or The White House to use Prince’s songs and have requested that they cease all use immediately.” Now Rihanna is speaking out. At a Trump rally in Tennessee, her song “Don’t Stop The Music” was playing. Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker wrote on Twitter, “It’s been said a million times, but here’s a million and one — Trump’s rallies are unlike anything else in politics. Currently, Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music” is blaring in Chattanooga as aides toss free Trump T-shirts into the crowd, like a ball game. Everyone’s loving it.” Rihanna was not happy and wrote, “Not for much longer…me nor my people would ever be at or around one of those tragic rallies, so thanks for the heads up philip!” It’s been said a million times, but here’s a million and one — Trump’s rallies are unlike anything else in politics. Currently, Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music” is blaring in Chattanooga as aides toss free Trump T-shirts into the crowd, like a ball game. Everyone’s loving it. However,The Washington Postreported that Rihanna may not have any control over it. AsAxl Rosefrom the band Guns N’ Rosessaid,the Trump team is using “loopholes” to play songs from artists who have not given him permission to use their music. The Washington Post explained, “ASCAP warns politicians that even if a campaign has obtained a license to use a song, they should still get the artist’s permission. According to the ASCAP’s guidelines, disgruntled artists could file suit under the Lanham Act, which is intended to prevent the dilution of a brand’s trademark through unauthorized use or under “right of publicity” laws which provides image protection for well-known artists in some states.” However, filing a lawsuit would be a lengthy and expensive process that may not be worth it. Therefore, as The Washington Post details, Trump uses the loophole of, “Most of the typical venues for campaign events, such as arenas and convention centers, will already have a blanket license from a performance rights organization in place.” Sounds like Trump. He find loopholes from everything to his taxes to playing music from artists at his hate rallies.

Newswire: Democrats take the House, but lose closely followed Governor’s races in Florida and Georgia Republicans keep the Senate

 By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.

Today Democrats took over the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday’s midterm elections, which will boost the power and influence of representatives Maxine Waters, John Lewis, and Elijah Cummings. Republicans were able to retain control and build their majority in the U. S. Senate. Democrats lost seats in North Dakota (Heidi Heidcamp), Indiana ( Joe Donnelly) and Missouri (Claire McCaskill). Other Senate races in Florida, Arizona and Montana are too close to call and may be subject to recounts. Waters, a California Democrat,  will become chair of the Financial Services Committee, and Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, is expected to become chair of the House Oversight Committee. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, is a member of the Ways and Means Committee and he is the ranking House member on the Subcommittee on Oversight. At least four African Americans were elected to Congress for the first time, including Colin Allred, who defeated an incumbent Republican in Texas’s 32nd District in Dallas  during Tuesday’s election. Allred once played for the Tennessee Titans in the National Football League. Ayanna Pressley was the first black women elected to Congress from Massachusetts. Pressley, a Chicago native, will represent Massachusetts’  7th Congressional District, which includes sections of Boston. She ran unopposed. All of newly elected member of Congress are Democrats. In Illinois, Lauren Underwood, a nurse, defeated Republican incumbent Randy Hultgren in the state’s 14th Congressional District in the Chicago suburb of Naperville. In New York, Antonio Delgado, a Rhodes Scholar and a Harvard-educated lawyer, defeated Republican incumbent John Faso in the state’s 19th Congressional District that includes the Hudson Valley. The Party controls 230 seats to Republican Party’s 205. A political party needs to 218 votes to control the House of Representatives. In Mississippi, Democrat Mike Espy will compete in a runoff election against Republican Cindy Hyde for Mississippi’s U.S. Senate seat. Democrats winning the House smoothed over some big disappoints in state governor’s races. Stacey Abrams lost her contest to become Georgia’s first black woman governor and Andrew Gillum lost his race to become Florida’s first black governor. But Abrams called for a recount because large numbers of absentee ballots have not been counted. In Maryland, incumbent Republican governor Larry Hogan defeated Democrat Ben Jealous, the former head of the NAACP.

Eutaw City Council meeting reveals continuing controversy between Mayor and Councilmembers over Carver school, water bills and finances

By; John Zippert, Co-Publisher

The official agenda distributed for the October 23, 2018 meeting of the Eutaw City Council was deceptively short. No new business was listed and under old business was one item on political signs. This should have been a warning that this would be a divisive meeting where issues dividing the Mayor and Council would come forward and be aired in public. The Mayor asked City Attorney Zane Willingham to present a draft ordinance regulating the display of political signs in the City of Eutaw. Members of the City Council had the proposed ordinance in writing but copies were not distributed to the public at the meeting. Council members did not raise many questions or objections to the sign ordinance. Willingham asked for suggestions on size limitations of political signs and Councilman Joe Lee Powell and others volunteered to provide more input. The Democrat secured a copy of the proposed ordinance after the meeting. The ordinance is very strict on the display of political signs in the City. Section 1 of the proposal says: “ No political sign shall be erected, constructed, posted or painted on any utility pole, tree, bench, fence, or awning; nor attached to any city, county, state or federal roadway, directional sign or informational sign. No signs shall be erected, constructed, or posted on any portion of the Greene County Courthouse Square Historic District.” The proposed ordinance goes on to limit signage to the period between qualification and election. There is a penalty of $25.00 per sign, ascribed to the candidate whose name is on the sign and whose sign is left up more than seven days after an election. Several political observers, consulted by the Democrat, were critical of the sign ordinance as being too restrictive and punitive especially in its limitations on placing signs at the Courthouse Square, where political discourse is expected during elections in a democracy.

Mayor and Council disagree on use of school

The Council then shifted to a discussion of the use of the former Carver School facility, which the City has acquired from the Greene County Board of Education and named the Robert H. Young Civic Center. When the City of Eutaw acquired the school, the Christ Temple Church was already operating a used furniture exchange in a portion of the facility. In July, the City Council passed a motion, proposed by Councilwoman Latasha Johnson, that Christ Temple Church be allowed to operate the furniture business at no cost for up to one year while the City formulated policies and procedures for use of the Robert H. Young Civic Center. The Mayor and City Attorney Zane Willingham submitted a letter, in August, to the church saying that they would have to vacate the building and remove their furniture because the resolution adopted by the City Council was invalid and procedurally incorrect because the property was not declared surplus before it was provided “at no cost” to the church group. The letter from the Mayor gave the church until September 15, 2018 to vacate the city property. The Democrat interviewed Ms. Fannie Grantham, church secretary and spokesperson. Grantham also attended and City Council meeting and tried to get an explanation of the Mayor’s actions on behalf of the City. The Mayor and Willingham insisted that the Council must rescind the “improperly constructed resolution” but no alternatives were offered to the church for utilization of the building or other available city buildings for a rental charge. The Council by a vote of 3 to 2 with the Mayor, Abrams and Powell voting in favor and Councilwomen Johnson and Smith opposed. Councilman LaJeffrey Carpenter was absent. Ms. Grantham says the church has received this furniture as a gift from various sources and provides furniture to people who otherwise cannot afford it, for a donation, which goes toward the costs of hauling the furniture. “We have tried to help people who needed furniture to be able to get it; this is not a business, it is a community service,” says Grantham. At the City Council meeting, Mayor Steele said that he was concerned about providing space in a city owned building for a furniture business that was competing with Spiller’s Furniture and other businesses in the City, who pay for business licenses. After receiving the Mayor’s letter to vacate the school, Grantham says several meetings were held to try to work out a solution with the Mayor. “The church and our non-profit – REACH, offered to pay rent for the space and asked the City to make a proposal. The Mayor said that his plans for the school did not include furniture and no other city buildings, including an out building at the Armory were available. He did offer to sell us a building, that he owned downtown, next to the cleaners, for $65,000,” said Grantham. Grantham says Rev. Barton, who the Mayor has employed to operate a youth sports program at the school has locked up the part of the building where the furniture is located and the church has not been able to get in to use it since the October 23rd meeting. Councilwoman Latasha Johnson says, “The Mayor has been wrong from the beginning on the purchase and use of the Carver School. We were supposed to work on a plan with the Greene County Commission to purchase the school and use it more widely for all of Greene County. The way the Mayor has treated the church is unfair. My original proposal was to allow them to stay and use a part of the building, at no rent, until we made policies for its use. The Mayor does not want to work with the Council.” Councilwoman Sheila H. Smith said, “ I do not understand what the Mayor is doing. He insisted on buying a school, we cannot afford. Our water meters and bills are still not updated. We do not have a budget and we have not paid our bills.” The Mayor says that the City Council has been unwilling to work with him on the development of a program for young people at the Carver School. “ We have been providing opportunities for young people and we are planning for more activities going forward.”

SOS alerts voters to urgency of Medicaid expansion

Shown above ANSC President John Zippert, Latasha Brown, Shelly Fearson, Senator Hank Sander, Jeanette Thomas, Johnny Ford and Faya Rose Toure

 

The Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy (SOS) a coalition of forty social justice organizations in the state, held a press conference at the State House in Montgomery, Alabama. State Senator Hank Sanders of Selma said, “We are here today to alert voters, candidates and the press to the importance of healthcare and the expansion of Medicaid in the November General Election. Governor Ivey, as Governor, can take the step of expanding Medicaid for thousands of people.” A study by the Kaiser Foundation indicates that 500 to 700 people each year in Alabama are likely to die without Medicaid expansion – so this is a matter of life and death. The Alabama Hospital Association, a trade association for over 100 hospitals in the state says, “If Alabama expands Medicaid, almost 300,000 uninsured Alabamians would receive health insurance coverage, an estimated 30,000 jobs would be created, and $28 billion in new economic activity would be generated.  Alabama would also save millions of dollars on current state services.  “On average, in Alabama, almost one out of every 10 hospital patients does not have health insurance, resulting in more than $530 million annually in uncompensated care,” said Danne Howard, executive vice president and chief policy officer of the Alabama Hospital Association.  “Currently, 75 percent of Alabama’s hospitals are operating in the red, meaning the dollars they receive for caring for patients are not enough to cover the cost of that care.  Expanding Medicaid would be a significant investment in the state’s fragile health care infrastructure and would help maintain access to care for everyone.”

“In Greene County because we are a poor county, one in three patients do not have any insurance, which means we provide an average of $100,000 in uncompensated care per month. Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would help people in our county whose earn less than 138% of poverty (approximately $20,000 annual for a family of four) to secure affordable health insurance coverage,” said Dr. Marcia Pugh, Administrator of the Greene County Health System. Former Mayor of Tuskegee, Johnny Ford said “The SOS Health Committee would be remiss if we did not point out that Medicaid expansion is the issue, which must be in the forefront of voter’s minds as they go to the pools in one week. Walt Maddox and the Democratic candidates for statewide office have pledged to expand Medicaid to 300,000 working poor people on their first day in office. Incumbent Governor Kay Ivey has not expanded Medicaid during her tenure. She says that the state cannot afford the costs of expanding Medicaid. She is also supporting a proposed rule change, which will eliminate 70,000 caregivers from Medicaid unless they meet a work requirement, which will also make them financially ineligible for Medicaid coverage. Maddox says that Alabama needs to help its neediest people to receive health insurance coverage to improve healthcare and economic opportunities in the State of Alabama.” John Zippert, SOS Health Committee Co-chair pointed out that since 2010 when Medicaid expansion has been available under the Affordable Care Act, Alabama has lost $7 billion in Federal support under the program. For the first three years of the program, there was no cost to the states to participate. This has increased by 2.5% a year until it reached the maximum 10% this fiscal year. In addition in coming years beginning in 2020, the disproportionate share reimbursement rate payment to rural hospitals will decline because the program assumes coverage for low-income people in the state by Medicaid expansion under the ACA. Rural hospitals in states like Alabama, that have not expanded Medicaid, will begin to take a “double-whammy” for not expanding Medicaid – more patients without insurance coupled with lower reimbursement rates. Danne Howard, with the Alabama Hospital Association, notes that a recent study showed that hospitals in expansion states were 84 percent less likely to close than hospitals in non-expansion states.  “Alabama has had 12 hospitals close since 2011, and more are on the verge of closing if something doesn’t change,” she added. “Plus, the economic impact in other states has been tremendous; Louisiana has added 19,000 jobs; nearly 50 percent of new enrollees in Ohio have been able to receive mental health and substance abuse treatment, and the state has seen a 17-percent drop in emergency department use; Kentucky has seen an increase in state revenues of $300 million.” SOS calls this critical issue to the attention of voters and urges every registered voter to vote on November 6, 2018 with the need for equitable health insurance coverage in mind.