Newswire : Democrats, Black candidates win historic victories on election night

By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

melvincarter_stpaulmayor_ss_melvincarterorg_web120
Melvin Carter was elected the first Black mayor of St. Paul, Minn., on Tuesday night, Nov. 7, 2017. (Screenshot/MelvinCarter.org)
The blue wave that swept the country last week wasn’t just a victory for Democrats, but a resounding win for African American candidates, who defied the odds—and Trumpism—to make history.
In Charlotte, N.C., voters elected the first female African American mayor in the city’s history, choosing Democrat Vi Lyles over Republican Kenny Smith.
In St. Paul, Minn., Melvin Carter became that city’s first Black mayor, earning slightly more than 50 percent of the vote in a field that featured 10 candidates and a write-in opponent.
In Virginia, Democrat Justin Fairfax trounced Republican challenger Jill Vogel in the race for lieutenant governor. In January, Fairfax will become only the second African American to hold statewide office in Virginia. Doug Wilder was the first, serving as lieutenant governor from 1986-1990, then as governor from 1990-1994.
Fairfax said his and other Democratic victories could “be the match that sparks the wildfire of progressive” change all across the country.“All across the world. This is a battle for the nation’s soul,” Fairfax said. “Since I announced my candidacy, this campaign has been about the future, about building a Virginia where all of us have the opportunity to rise.”
Most saw victories by Democrats as a referendum on President Donald Trump, whose record low job approval rating has shrunk to 39 percent according to various reports.
Republicans lost races for governor in Virginia, where Ralph Northam easily beat Trump-backed Ed Gillespie, and in New Jersey, where former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy won election as governor, defeating Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.
Also, in Virginia, attorney general Mark Herring, a Democrat, won reelection over Republican John Adams while Democrats gained at least 10 seats in the House of Delegates.
The party also won key mayoral races in New York, Charlotte, Stamford, Conn., and St. Petersburg and, in a direct rebuke of Trump and Republicans who have tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act, voters in Maine approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid under former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.
On Twitter University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato wrote that the results were a “backlash to Trump and Trumpism, pure and simple.”
Results may have been helped by a strong get out to vote campaign launched by the NAACP. The legendary civil rights organization and its approximately 500,000 adult and youth members around the country were on the frontlines committed to raising awareness for political, educational, social and economic equality of minorities in the electoral process, the organization said in a statement posted on its website.
“The NAACP is actively engaged in increasing the African American responsiveness of citizens to be fully engaged in the democratic process,” the statement read.
Terry McAuliffe, Virginia’s outgoing Democratic governor, told reporters that the election night victories were indeed a springboard for future elections, including the 2020 presidential race.
“This was a spark plug,” McAuliffe said. “This is the revitalization of the Democratic Party in America.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden said voters clearly sent a message to Trump. “A resounding defeat tonight for President Trump,” Biden tweeted. “Voters across the country rejected the ugly politics we have seen this past year. Instead, they chose candidates who unite and inspire us.”
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus also engaged voters. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), urged everyone to vote. “The vote is precious, almost sacred,” Lewis said. “It is the most powerful nonviolent tool or instrument in a democratic society [so] use it.”
And, if that admonition wasn’t enough, the legendary civil rights leader reminded voters why participating is so important. “I was beaten, left bloody and unconscious so that every American has the right to vote,” Lewis said. “Friends of mine gave their lives. Do your part. Vote.”

Newswire : Rep. Sewell statement on start of 45 day open enrollment period for healthcare insurance

terri-sewell
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, November 1, the national health care open enrollment period began, enabling people who buy health insurance through the individual marketplace to shop for coverage for 2018. The federal open enrollment period runs from November 1 through December 15. During this time, constituents have the opportunity to enroll in or change their health care plan.

Alabama residents can visit EnrollALA.com for more information or call (844) 248-7698 for free assistance. A full list of Alabama’s local navigators, who can provide fre­­e guidance on signing up for health care through the individual marketplace is available at that website.

“The Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land,” said Rep. Terri Sewell. “The open enrollment period is a great opportunity for my constituents to shop for new coverage with the help of premium assistance. Enroll Alabama and the free support provided by Alabama’s local health care navigators makes it easy for families to find insurance that fits their needs. Whether you already have coverage through the individual marketplace or you are looking to get covered next year, I encourage everyone to check out their health care options during the open enrollment period.”

“As hospitals in my district face financial challenges and families struggle to afford doctor’s visits, I am deeply disappointed by the Trump Administration’s decision to cut advertising for the open enrollment period. Too many Americans do not know how to navigate the insurance enrollment process and I believe we have a responsibility to raise public awareness about how to sign up for affordable health insurance. We must do everything in our power to increase coverage, reduce costs, and stabilize the insurance marketplace for all Americans.”

The Trump Administration has purposefully taken actions to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Administration has made sharp cuts to advertising for the ACA’s open enrollment period and funding for health care navigators who help Alabamians enroll.

The enrollment period for the federal marketplace has also been cut in half, to 45 days, with little publicity by federal officials. In addition, the Administration’s announced plan to cut cost-sharing subsidies for low-income families has created confusion among many Americans enrolled in the insurance marketplace and millions more who remain uninsured.

Newswire: Disability advocates forcibly removed from Senate protest

Republican leaders pull Graham-Cassidy bill before vote
By: Katie Reilly, Time Magazine

Stephanie Woodward and protestor being removed from Capitol Hill protest

At press time, the Democrat learned that Republican leaders pulled the Graham-Cassidy proposal before a vote in the U. S. Senate, after five Republican Senators indicated that they would vote against the bill, which seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with block-granting reduced Medicaid funds to the states. This is the legislation that disability activists were protesting.

Stephanie Woodward, a disability advocate who was forcibly removed from the U.S. Capitol while protesting the controversial Senate health care bill on Thursday, said it was worth it because “the lives of millions of people with disabilities are on the line.”
“I genuinely believe that thousands, if not millions, more people in our nation now know about the crisis that people with disabilities are facing with these cuts,” said Woodward, director of advocacy at the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, N.Y. “And if being arrested and carried out is what needed to happen in order to get people to pay attention to this issue and get angry about it and start calling their Senators, then it was completely worth it.”
Woodward, who has spina bifida, got out of her wheelchair to participate in a “die-in” organized by the disability rights organization ADAPT outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office. Protesters chanted against the bill’s significant proposed cuts to Medicaid — which could affect the community services available to people with disabilities.
Woodward, who was arrested along with several dozen other protesters, said officers who broke up the demonstration initially put her back in her wheelchair, but they struggled to wheel her out and ultimately carried her out instead.

“They at first were reluctant to touch me because they had seen I was wearing leg braces, so I think they thought I was extra fragile, so they waited to carry me out last from the office,” said Woodward, 29, who was charged with incommoding, or obstructing. “And I was not actively being aggressive or resisting, but I certainly wasn’t going to help them in the process. I acted more like a sandbag that just kind of flopped.”
Dawn Russell, who was born with cerebral palsy, also participated in Thursday’s protest. She said one of the most concerning parts of the current health care debate is a lack of public understanding about how the proposed legislation could affect nearly every part of disabled people’s lives.
“We have a perception of people with disabilities in this country, and we have a mindset that somehow our lives aren’t valued. And I can promise you, with the home and community-based services that I receive, I would dare put my life up against anybody without a disability,” said Russell, 51.
“Without those services — without the home and community-based services — I am just what people think about me, as a person with a disability. But with these services, I live a life. I live independently, interdependently, in the community just like everybody else. These services allow me to do that.”
She said had it not been for Medicaid, she would have entered a nursing home when her husband died in 2015. Instead, she receives daily attendant care in her home, helping her to get ready for work in the morning and go to bed at night.
“We have the right to live,” Woodward said. “And by live, I don’t mean just breathe. I mean be a part of the American dream, be in the community, raise a family, go to work. These Medicaid cuts will force people into institutions who don’t need to be there.”

U. S. Senate voting on health care; voters must keep calling to let their Senators know not to repeal the Affordable Care Act

The U. S. Senate voted Tuesday, July 25, 2017, on a procedural motion to begin debate on the plan to repeal Obamacare outright and replace it within two years – after Vice President Mike Pence voted to break a 50-50 tie and ailing Arizona Sen. John McCain slammed the chamber’s secretive process.
Moderate Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined all Democrats to vote against the motion, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky proposed after two previous versions of a healthcare bill failed to attract enough votes.
Several GOP senators switched their positions after saying as recently as last week that they would not support a complete Obamacare repeal without replacement. They were Sens. Shelly Moore Caputo of West Virginia, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rob Portman of Ohio and Dean Heller of Nevada. While these Republican Senators voted to begin debate, they may not vote for any of the pending proposals to ”repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act.
McCain, 80, who was diagnosed with brain cancer after undergoing surgery 11 days ago, returned to the Senate to vote for the procedural motion. “I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments be offered,” McCain said. “I will not vote for this bill as it is today. It’s a shell of a bill right now. We all know that.”
He called for both parties to work together to bring forth legislation that would improve healthcare for all Americans.
“We keep trying to win without help from the other side of the aisle,” McCain said. “We are getting nothing done, my friends, we’re getting nothing done.”
Democratic Senate leaders urged voters to continue to call their Senators, especially Republicans not to vote to destroy coverage for millions of people who need healthcare.
In Alabama, call Senator Richard Shelby at 202/224-5744; and Senator Luther Strange at 202/224-4124. In other states call the central Capitol switchboard at 800-826-3688 and follow the verbal prompts.

 

Newswire : Now is the time to repair, not repeal, the Affordable Care Act

Alabama Arise

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Tuesday in response to the collapse of U.S. Senate efforts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act:

“The defeat of the Senate’s awful health care bill was a victory for Alabama families. This cruel plan would have gutted Medicaid, which provides essential health coverage for children, seniors, and people with disabilities in every corner of our state, to pay for huge tax cuts for rich people and big corporations. It would have hammered rural hospitals and nursing homes while sending insurance costs soaring for many older Alabamians. And it would have sent us back to the bad old days of limiting benefits and discriminating against folks with pre-existing conditions.

“Powerful advocacy from everyday people across Alabama and across the country stopped the bad Senate bill in its tracks. We urge senators to stop trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and start trying to make it work better for everyone. Our lawmakers should work together in an open, thoughtful, bipartisan way to strengthen the ACA, reduce insurance costs and extend quality, affordable health care to all Americans.”

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of congregations, organizations and individuals promoting public policies to improve the lives of low-income Alabamians.

Newswire : Stalled GOP Health Care Bill would have ‘crushed working-class Blacks’

Written By Lynette Holloway, Newsone
Health care protest.jpg
Health Care protest
In a major blow to Republicans’ ongoing effort to dismantle Obamacare, Senate majority leader on Tuesday postponed a vote on a measure that would have rendered health care treatment unaffordable for working-class Black Americans.
Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, who faced resistance from inside and outside his party, acknowledged that he had more work to do to pull together at least 50 members to vote on the measure, writes The New York Times. It has been tabled until after the July Fourth recess.
McConnell, known as a formidable deal-maker, made the announcement at a news conference late-Tuesday after meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House. McConnell warned warring factions that if they cannot come together, he would be forced to strike a deal with Democratic New York Sen. Charles Schumer, an equally wily negotiator.
In short, the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare is a mess. And it’s a good thing because poor Blacks and Whites, who are barely recovering from the great recession, would have been hit hard.
For months, the media have characterized Trump voters as poor Whites, including miners and steel workers. Alternet notes that the GOP health care plan “crushes working-class Blacks and Whites,” but not middle-class Whites who voted for Trump.
The failed measure proposed more severe cuts to Medicaid than the House bill, and provided more tax credits and breaks to the wealthiest Americans. At stake is a program that provides low-cost care to mostly poor people. “An estimated 75 million Americans — including children, pregnant women, disabled individuals and elderly people in nursing homes,” writes USA Today.
Former President Barack Obama condemned the Senate healthcare plan
Barack Obama sharply condemned the healthcare plan unveiled by Senate Republicans on Thursday as a “massive transfer of wealth” to the rich, at the expense of poor and middle-class Americans.
In a Facebook post hours after the Republican bill was made public, the former president made some of his most pointed comments since leaving office in defense of what remains the most signature accomplishment of his two terms.
“The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a healthcare bill,” Obama wrote. “It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America.”
“Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family, this bill will do you harm,” he added, while highlighting some of the more contentious provisions within the legislation, such as tax breaks to top earners and drug and insurance companies, and the potential gutting of coverage for pre-existing conditions, pregnancy and mental health.
“Small tweaks over the course of the next couple of weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.”
Obama has largely kept out of the political fray since his departure from the White House – weighing in on just a handful of Donald Trump’s actions through written statements, such as his successor’s travel ban on refugees and several Muslim-majority countries, and the decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord.
But Obama’s personal stake in the healthcare debate, and his concern that Trump and Republicans will dismantle the Affordable Care Act, has transcended the other matters that have dominated Washington under the new administration.
In his post on Thursday, Obama notably echoed Trump’s alleged assertion behind closed doors that the healthcare legislation passed by House Republicans in May was “mean”. Democrats have adopted Trump’s characterization into somewhat of a slogan to rally against the Republican healthcare proposals.
The Senate bill released on Thursday has already faced some early opposition from conservatives who say it does not go far enough in repealing and replacing Obama’s healthcare law. Obama urged Republicans on Capitol Hill to not simply be driven by meeting a campaign promise, but to instead think about the potential for millions of Americans to lose their insurance. While the Congressional Budget Office is expected to score the Senate legislation by early next week, the House-passed bill would leave 23 million more people uninsured over the next 10 years.
“I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican party,” Obama said. “Still, I hope that our senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on healthcare or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.

Trump Administration plans to ‘repeal and replace’ Affordable Care Act raises concern in Alabama

By: Mynecia Steele, Special to the Democrat

After two unsuccessful tries, the Trump Administration was able last week to convince the U. S. House of Representatives to narrowly pass, by a 217 to 213 vote, a measure to ‘repeal and replace’ the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare.
Trump and members of the House Republican leadership celebrated victory last week in the White House Rose Garden. Trump called the legislation “a great healthcare plan that will give all Americans access to health care at lower premiums and better care.” But many questions and concerns remain before this legislation passes the U. S. Senate and reaches the President’s desk for final signature.
“The Trump administration may make changes in the ACA, but will not totally repeal it while President Trump is in office,” said Elmore Patterson, CEO of the Greene County Health System, which operates the hospital, nursing home and a physician’s clinic in Greene County.
“Eliminating the Affordable Care Act will leave even more Americans without healthcare,” said Patterson. He sees the attempts to repeal the ACA as a “waste of time.” There does not seem to be a thought-out replacement for the ACA. The repeal will only increase the number of uninsured citizens, and that is not what the country needs,” said Patterson. A study by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said as many as 24 million people will loose health care under the Trump proposal.
“The thing is, they would have to find a way to keep the good things about the Affordable Care Act, and get rid of the bad,” said Patterson.
Former Governor Robert Bentley never allowed the expansion of Medicaid in Alabama. So, Alabamians never reaped the full benefits of the Affordable Care Act, said Patterson. Many low income working people, who made more than the base minimum of around $5,000 annually to qualify for Medicaid and less than the $15,000 annually to qualify for subsidies on the ACA state exchange, were left out of care. The Supreme Court gave states the discretionary power to expand or not expand Medicaid for people up to 138% of the state poverty level ($11,000 for an individual in Alabama). Alabama did not expand Medicaid and over 300,000 people, some of the poorest and the sickest in the state, were left without insurance coverage.

Alabama healthcare will be further limited with President Trump’s plan, said Dr. Dedra Reed of the Franklin Primary Health Center, in Mobile, Alabama. “I don’t think Trump should repeal Obamacare, because millions of people would lose coverage. Medicaid won’t be expanded, and many rural hospitals will be forced close down because they will not have people who can pay for needed healthcare.”
In 2015, AP reported that eight rural Alabama hospitals were closed within the last 15 years. Many others are staying open with subsidies and support from sales taxes and other local non-healthcare generated support.
When former President Obama’s administration originally proposed the Affordable Care Act, and even after it was approved the public reacted in both negative and positive ways.
“Current health care with Obamacare has given many people healthcare coverage without being penalized for preexisting conditions,” said Dr. Dedra Reed of the Franklin Primary Health Center, in Mobile, Alabama. “I think it can be improved by lowering premiums and making it more affordable for everyone.”
Proposals for a new health plan have received similar reactions.  “I make so little money, I can’t qualify for subsidies in health care plans–at least as far as I’m currently aware,” said Lyra Galle, a senior Professional and Public Writing, and English major at Troy University. “The health care plan my mom has through work doesn’t allow family members on the plan, so that puts me in a sticky situation.” Obamacare does allow insurance companies to cover students and young adults, up to age 26, to be covered on their parent’s health care plans.
“Ultimately, before Obamacare, with Obamacare, or the Republican health care plan that recently passed wouldn’t have benefited me. I think it’s a bad idea to repeal Obamacare, and I think it’s a move purely to spite Democrats.” People are uncertain that President Trump will successfully pass a new healthcare plan while in office. And, some don’t want him to. Galle is one of those uncertain people. “I didn’t think Trump would win the election, but he did. At this point, I don’t know what to expect,” Galle said.