Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ongoing GOP War on Women - Florida on the front lines

Florida's Republican governor Rick Scott is a multi-millionaire. He made his big bucks in the health care industry, but not by actually providing services to patients. He made his money by defrauding Medicare.*

Continuing his personal tradition of indifference to trauma and suffering, Scott vetoed $1.5 million in funding for 30 rape crisis centers across Florida.

The funding had been passed by the legislature, because of a demonstrated increase in need for victim services.

A spokesperson for the governor said that the victim services funding was line-item vetoed because "nobody was able to make it clear to him why rape crisis centers needed the new funding."

But that's because the only advocate for the funding that Gov. Scott asked was "nobody."

Jennifer Dritt, advocate for the rape crisis centers said, "We gave them information about the number of new survivors we have and we showed them that these rape crisis centers have waiting lists. Survivors are having to wait weeks, sometimes six weeks, in some programs three months to be seen. We included quotes from the programs about the waiting lists and what services they weren't able to offer because of a lack of money. There is clearly an unmet need." 
Dritt added, the governor is "probably including rape prevention and education money," she said. "You think they would have asked us about that, and we could explain to them very clearly what money is available for our programs. It looks like $1.5 million is a lot of money to ask for, but frankly, when you spread it across 67 counties, it's not."
The multi-millionaire governor decided to cut funding for rape victims during "Sexual Assault Awareness Month."

Governor Rick Scott Vetoes Funds For Rape Crisis Centers During Sexual Assault Awareness Month

* Rick Scott: Florida's Drug Fraud Enabler? 

Friday, April 20, 2012


File:Obama portrait crop.jpg


"My administration will not give up on the DREAM Act, or on the important business of fixing our broken immigration system. The American people deserve a serious debate on immigration, and it’s time to take the polarizing rhetoric off our national stage." (12/18/10)

  (Photo: Getty)


"If I were elected and Congress were to pass the DREAM Act, would I veto it, and the answer is yes." (12/31/11)



Friday, April 6, 2012


June 8, 2011 - Ten months ago, five members of the Baltimore County Council told the immigrant residents of Baltimore County that they had no representation on the Council:

TowsonPatch June 8 2011: “Council Majority Supports Repeal of In-state Tuition for Illegal Immigrants. Opponents of the ballot initiative say effort is representative of the county’s difficult history with racial issues.”

Emma Lazarus wrote give me your tired, your poor
Kathy Bevins of the 6th District, says send them away -
especially if they graduated high school

Lady Liberty announces huddled masses yearn to breathe free
Chairman of the County Council John Olszewski (7th District), says
Unless they are doing my lawn, I don’t give a shit

Lady Liberty pleads, send the homeless, tempest-tossd to me
Fifth District’s David Marks says, the homeless and the tempest-tossed
are not part of my constituency

Don’t turn away the wretched refuse, Lady Liberty pleads
Third District’s Todd Huff says, they are human garbage!
They get no sympathy from me

Lady Liberty announces, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Lemming Vicky Almond (2nd District) signs on, says nothing, and by that,
snuffs out the Lady’s lamp
Hatred is not a line item in the county budget
Oh, yes! says David Marks
Fear-mongering is not a line item in the budget
Oh, yes! says John Olszewski
Denigration of high school graduates is not a line item
Oh yes! says Kathy Bevins
Cowardice, facing racism, is not a line item
Oh Yes! says Vicky Almond
To demean innocent moreno kids is not a line item
Oh Yes! says Todd Huff

My Baltimore County, you have given us Spiro Agnew
and now these five . . .

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Senator Barbara Mikulski on Family Planning Services and Freedom of Religion

April 4 2012:

Since my first days in Congress, I have been a leader in the fight for women's health care.  Whether it is inclusion of women in clinical trials, access to quality mammograms, or helping to establish the Office of Research on Women's Health at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), I firmly believe that women should be guaranteed access to high quality medical care that is both comprehensive and affordable. 

During health care reform, I was proud to introduce a bipartisan women's health amendment that made sure that women are treated fairly in our health care system.  The amendment requires health insurance companies to cover important women's health services – including annual mammograms – without co-payments or deductibles.  The amendment also directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to identify other essential women's preventive health services that insurers would be required to offer at no cost to women.  Instead of developing this list on their own, HHS tasked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) – an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization, comprised of doctors – with making recommendations about which women's health services insurance companies must cover at no additional cost.  The preventive benefits were defended by the medical community – doctors at the Institute of Medicine – not by the government. 

The IOM put out their recommendations last year, which included eight additional health benefits for women.  These included: an annual "well-woman" preventive care visit, screenings for gestational diabetes in pregnant women, screening and counseling for domestic violence, high risk HPV DNA testing, annual screening and counseling for HIV, comprehensive lactation support and counseling, and contraception. 

I know that there has been some confusion surrounding HHS' recent decision to adopt the IOM's preventive services for women recommendations.  I'd like to take this opportunity to clear up a few things.  

When HHS adopted the IOM's recommendations, they tried to reach a respectful balance on the issue of contraceptive services and religious freedoms.  Under the new rules, religious organizations that primarily employ people of their own faith (including churches and other houses of worship, and could also include other church-affiliated organizations) are not required to offer health insurance that covers contraceptive services.   Already, 335,000 churches and houses of worship are completely exempt from the new rule. In developing this policy, HHS looked at state laws already in place.  Twenty-eight states (including Maryland) currently require contraception to be covered by health insurance policies.

Some in the faith community felt that this exemption was too narrow and that all religiously-affiliated organizations (including certain hospitals, universities, and charities) – which employ people of many different faiths - should also be exempt from the contraceptive coverage rules.  President Obama worked together with the religious community and women's health groups to find a middle ground.  Under the revised rules, faith-based organizations with religious objections to contraceptive services will not be required to offer these services as part of their health plans.  Instead, a woman's insurance company – not the hospital or charity – will be required to reach out and offer her contraceptive care free of charge.  Religious organizations won't have to pay or refer for contraceptive services, nor will they be required to provide insurance coverage for these services. 

In addition, it is important to note that this rule does not affect existing conscience clause protections for providers. This rule simply requires certain insurance plans to cover contraceptive services.  No individual health care provider will be forced to prescribe or dispense contraception and no individual will ever be forced to buy or use contraception.

I voted against Senator Blunt's Amendment to the Surface Transportation Bill (S. 1813) because it would have allowed any employer or health insurance company – religious or not – to deny coverage of any health service they choose, based on religious beliefs or undefined "moral convictions."  If the Blunt Amendment had passed, an employer with a "moral conviction" against smoking would have been able to deny employees insurance coverage of medical services to treat lung cancer or emphysema.  An insurer with a "moral conviction" against blood transfusions would have been allowed to deny insurance coverage of this medical treatment.  It is my belief that health decisions should be made by a patient and their doctor, not by an insurance company CEO or a boss. 
This is a very difficult issue, and I understand that emotions are running high on both sides of the debate. I believe that President Obama has reached a responsible balance. Women will be able to get the health care they need and the concerns of religious institutions will be respected.  It is my hope that we can now focus on improving women's access to health care and women's equality.

Thanks once again for writing.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance in the future. 

Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator 

Gmail - Family Planning Services and Freedom of Religion - cookrb1@gmail.com