Economic Repercussions Prove Powerful in Stopping Hateful Public Health/Quality of Life Laws

It’s hard to keep up with the regressive state laws that threaten the people’s health and quality of life. Women, LGBT individuals, and people of color are popular targets. There may be a silver lining though. Just this morning, the NY Times reported corporate sponsors are thinking twice as groups mobilize to #dumpTrump, demanding that corporations separate themselves from Trump and the Republican National Convention. Coke already shrunk its $  substantially. More sponsors are expected to join in. Kind of makes me hungry for a Coke, all that sugar and all. This is special.

Economic boycotts have also been announced following North Carolina’s passage of the egregious HB2, which eliminates all new LGBT protections.  Although it’s been oversimplified into the “bathroom bill”because it disallows transgender people from entering bathrooms of the gender they identify with,it is more wide-reaching, and also takes away legal protections for LGBT individuals in the state. Last February, Charlotte NC passed a nondiscrimination ordinance. That will be made moot with NC Governor Pat McCrory signing the law.

New York State, Vermont, Washington, the City of Seattle, have announced boycotts against the state, and by the time you read this, we’ll see many more. The City of Atlanta has come out punching, saying the NBA’s All-Star Game should be moved out of Charlotte to Atlanta. Tourism, sports money are at stake.

North Carolina is already facing economic woes as a result of its outrageous positions on abortion rights. The Women’s Right to Know Act, passed in 2011, forced women opting for abortions to listen to a narrated ultrasound within 4 hours of a scheduled abortion. The good news is that the State lost a Federal lawsuit to stop this, and they now must pay out $1 million from savings in an emergency fund for legal fees, according to a News & Observer report.

Economic sanctions are proving  a lever for change, for getting corporations on the side of the people’s health. Interestingly, Atlanta was at risk of losing rights to the upcoming Super Bowl, given fair warning that passage of its regressive anti-LGBT bill would have repercussions. Then, last week, that bill was not signed into law, a victory for the people of Georgia, and LGBT health and safety.

I always think about the people in states proposing regressive legislation. The Moral Monday movement in North Carolina has been out front for quite awhile objecting to these horrendous laws that harm the public’s health. I applaud the movement. Although I wish that there was a better way than boycotts, I have to say I am delighted that people have been organizing successfully, that businesses are taking note, and that we just might stem the tide of the nasty rhetoric and legislation afoot in many parts of this nation.

Do you have thoughts on how we can restore protections now endangered? Please join the discussion below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alzheimer’s Disease Issues 2011 Fellowship Begins

I am in Washington at the National Press Foundation’s Alzheimer’s Disease Issues 2011 Fellowship with about 15 other journalists. The program runs through Wednesday. Today’s session was a half-day, with presentations by Richard Jackson, director of the Global Aging Initiative, Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Harry Johns, President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Global Age Shift

Trends that struck me in Jackson’s global aging presentation were as follows:
1.    Falling fertility is near or beneath replacement in countries, including China, Brazil, Mexico, and Chile. In Turkey, Iran, North Africa, and Indonesia, fertility is also falling fast.
2.    Rising life expectancy is bringing added financial burdens that few developed countries can handle.
3.    As the population ages, productivity in the workforce goes down and growth slows.
4.    Savings and investment drop.
5.    As a result, families get smaller and people become more risk averse. Smaller families may find it more difficult to socialize their children to care for elders as they did traditionally.
6.    A rising share of the population does not have a child to look after them, which in my mind, puts more elders at risk of poverty in old age.
7.    Right now, Germany and Sweden look the best in terms of funded retirement savings. Germany and Japan both have mandatory long term care insurance deducted from income.
8.    There have been Draconian cuts in pensions worldwide.
9.    However, Germany stands out as one country where you don’t have to become poor to get old age/long term care.

Planning for Alzheimer’s Disease Burden in the United States

Turning to the United States, Johns compared the stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s to where cancer was in 1961, when many doctors did not tell patients about a diagnosis of cancer. He pointed out that available treatments are at best “”symptom improvers’ that don’t work for everyone and when they work, they may not work for long.”

Legislative changes at the federal level are promising, including the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), which passed in December, as part of the lame duck session in Congress. It requires developing a strategic plan for Alzheimer’s in America, according to Johns. As part of the “Welcome to Medicare exam,” including an annual cognitive measure will be added to the annual physical.

The HOPE (Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education) for Alzheimer’s Act (H.R.5926), sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association, is currently making the rounds in Washington. It is endorsed broadly, with bipartisan support. Change.org has a petition on the web  urging the public to sign it and “Stand with the Alzheimer’s Association and urge members of Congress to support” it.

According to Johns, the Hope for Alzheimer’s Act will encourage discussion about Alzheimer’s, promote charting in the medical record, and advance discussion about Alzheimer’s and care.

The change.org petition states: “Too many of America’s baby boomers will spend their retirement years either living with Alzheimer’s disease or caring for someone who has it. Even worse, many of the estimated 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease do not have access to a formal diagnosis or care planning services preventing them from planning for the future. As we work for Alzheimer’s research, we must ensure individuals living with the disease have access to services that can improve their quality of life today.”

This is the second time that the Foundation has run this event, which is underwritten by Pfizer,the Lawrence B. Taishoff Endowment, and the National Press Foundation Program Fund. A few journalists and bloggers have criticized the program in the past because of Pfizer money. Pfizer is in the Alzheimer’s market so anyone could argue that in supporting an educational program on Alzheimer’s, journalists who cover Alzheimer’s information gained at the meeting, could use that information to enhance Pfizer’s market share. That’s why I am being up front about this here. According to NPF President Bob Meyers, Pfizer has absolutely no editorial impact on the program, but before the program, Pfizer receives a proposed agenda and budget.

I don’t know whether I’ll have the energy to blog every day of this meeting (it’s Alzheimer’s all day for 2.5 days ahead), but if you have any concerns about Alzheimer’s patient care, caregiver issues, or funding, please point them out in the comments.