Daily archives: November 12th, 2009

Over 2,200 Veterans Died in 2008 Due to Lack of Health Insurance


A research team at Harvard Medical School estimates 2,266 U.S. military veterans under the age of 65 died last year because they lacked health insurance and thus had reduced access to care. That figure is more than 14 times the number of deaths (155) suffered by U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2008, and more than twice as many as have died (911 as of Oct. 31) since the war began in 2001.

The researchers, who released their analysis today [Tuesday], pointedly say the health reform legislation pending in the House and Senate will not significantly affect this grim picture.

The Harvard group analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s March 2009 Current Population Survey, which surveyed Americans about their insurance coverage and veteran status, and found that 1,461,615 veterans between the ages of 18 and 64 were uninsured in 2008. Veterans were only classified as uninsured if they neither had health insurance nor received ongoing care at Veterans Health Administration (VA) hospitals or clinics.

Here’s the Catch-22 faced by uninsured veterans:

“Like other uninsured Americans, most uninsured vets are working people – too poor to afford private coverage but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or means-tested VA care,” said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor at Harvard Medical School who testified before Congress about uninsured veterans in 2007 and carried out the analysis released today [Tuesday]. “As a result, veterans go without the care they need every day in the U.S., and thousands die each year. It’s a disgrace.”

Tell Congress to support our troops and pass comprehensive health insurance reform.

Read more here.

HRC Launches National Action Alert on Workplace Discrimination

The Human Rights Campaign is turning up the heat on Congress to pass the federal Employement Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) launching a new Web site: www.PassENDANow.org.

With Congressional Action looming, HRC’s No Excuses Campaign Engaged

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)– The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, announced today that as Congressional action looms on the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), it is extending the grassroots "No Excuses" campaign to increase constituent contact with Congress and awareness of the comprehensive website: www.PassENDANow.org.

ENDA, which has been introduced in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, would address discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or refuse to promote an employee based on the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. HRC also launched a national action alert this week to grassroots members and supporters urging them to contact Congress and express their support for a fully-inclusive ENDA.

“We need to step up the important work of telling Congress our personal stories and explaining the additional hardship we face in protecting our families, our loved ones and our jobs,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Congress is moving forward to protect Americans from arbitrary discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Like our neighbors and coworkers, LGBT people simply want a fair chance to succeed and support our families.”

HRC plans to release details next week on its participation of a national call-in day organized by a coalition of groups urging members and supporters to call the Congressional switchboard in support of ENDA. Meanwhile, HRC members and supporters have been overwhelmingly responsive this week to the organization’s national call to action on ENDA by sending off more than 62,000 emails or letters to members of Congress and newspapers urging for swift passage.

Earlier this summer, HRC launched a national, grassroots campaign called “No Excuses” to demand action from Congress on key issues of equality, including a fully inclusive ENDA. Designed to take advantage of the congressional summer recess, when members are in their local offices and meeting with constituents, “No Excuses” helped mobilize HRC’s members and their allies to meet directly with lawmakers and push for federal legislative change.

On November 5, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held the Senate’s first-ever hearing on a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that includes both sexual orientation and gender identity. The lead sponsors of the measure include Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Susan Collins (R-ME). The legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate on August 5 of this year; a House version was introduced on June 24 and the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on the measure on September 23.

An estimated 87% of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in their equal employment policies, and more than one-third also include gender identity. More than 80 companies have joined the Business Coalition for Workplace Fairness, a group of leading U.S. employers that support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. To view a list of the companies, visit:www.hrc.org/bcwf.

ENDA is supported by a broad range of civil rights, religious, civic and professional organizations, including the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, NAACP, AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, AFSCME, National Education Association, National Employment Lawyers Association, Anti-Defamation League, Union for Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, American Civil Liberties Union, and many others.

Currently, federal law provides legal protection against employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability, but not sexual orientation or gender identity. In 29 states across America, it is still legal to fire someone based on his or her sexual orientation, and in 38 states, it is still legal to fire someone for being transgender.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Hannity Claims He “Screwed Up” for “Incorrect Video” Revealed by Jon Stewart

I know the report on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart happened a couple of days ago. I just want to give this video a home on Turning Left. This is the story where Stewart reveals that Sean Hannity used video footage of a September 12 rally in Washington, D.C. to give the impression that an anti-health insurance reform rally by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann had more people than actually attended.

From the Huffington Post:

The tea party protests continued last week, as Congresswoman Michele Bachmann held an anti-health-care-reform rally on the steps of the Capitol. While she estimated that 20,000-45,000 people attended the event, the Washington Post reported it was actually more like 10,000.

Still, that is a sizable number of Americans exercising their right to free speech and assembly, and that warrants news coverage. But Sean Hannity and his team did more than cover the event. They not only inflated the number in attendance with their words, but actually used footage from a heavily-attended protest this summer to make this health care rally appear more popular. Hannity even pointed out that this was a huge crowd for a Thursday, when the protest footage they used was from a Saturday.

Why did it take a couple of days for me to post the Stewart video? Permit me to blow off some geek steam. The HTML purist in me gets frustrated with Comedy Central’s embed code, which is always invalid. If anyone from Comedy Central happens to stop by, here’s your problem: your captions always include an improperly closed anchor tag:

<a target='_blank' style='color:#333; text-decoration:none; font-weight:bold;' href='http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-november-10-2009/sean-hannity-uses-glenn-beck-s-protest-footage'>Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck's Protest Footage<a>

This, of course, should look like this:

<a target='_blank' style='color:#333; text-decoration:none; font-weight:bold;' href='http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-november-10-2009/sean-hannity-uses-glenn-beck-s-protest-footage'>Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck's Protest Footage</a>

No charge for the design tip. Just fix it, please! That error is in every video released by The Daily Show! It’s a pain to fix!

Sean Hannity claims he "screwed up" for airing "incorrect video" of the 9-12 protests while discussing the Bachmann rally. (Tip of the hat to MediaMatters.org for this video — which doesn’t have broken code.)

Hats off to Jon Stewart and his team for this great catch.

Say It Ain’t So, Michael Steele! RNC Insurance Plan Covers Abortion

Say it ain’t so, Michael Steele! How could it possibly be true that the RNC’s health insurance plan has covered elective abortion since 1991?


The Republican National Committee’s health insurance plan covers elective abortion – a procedure the party’s own platform calls “a fundamental assault on innocent human life.”

Federal Election Commission Records show the RNC purchases its insurance from Cigna. Two sales agents for the company said that the RNC’s policy covers elective abortion.

Informed of the coverage, RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho told POLITICO that the policy pre-dates the tenure of current RNC Chairman Michael Steele.

“The current policy has been in effect since 1991, and we are taking steps to address the issue,” Gitcho said.

The RNC moved quickly Wednesday to assuage any concerns its members might have.

In a letter obtained by POLITICO, RNC Chief of Staff Ken McKay writes to the 168 committeemen and committeewomen across the country that Steele "takes this issue very seriously."

He writes that the RNC has been evaluating its health insurance policy and will continue to do so.

Since 1991? Are you kidding me? Are we seriously talking almost two decades of the Republican National Committee making sure their employees have access to elective abortion?

And here’s the real question: in the midst of all the GOP wrangling over abortion in the current health care debate, for how long would the RNC have continued to offer abortion benefits to their employees if POLITICO had not uncovered this?

There’s more here.