SB 1070 Taken Down Yet Another Notch

SCOTUS_picEarlier this week, the Supreme court dealt another blow to supporters of the infamous anti-immigrant SB 1070 law. The court declined to review a specific provision of SB 1070 that would have made it illegal to transport or harbor undocumented immigrants. That provision had already been blocked by the U.S. District court in Phoenix and an injunction was later upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Were it not for the tireless work of our Arizona Affiliates, this case might still be making its way through the courts. The case was led by our Affiliates in Arizona, with Valle del Sol listed as the lead plaintiff.

NCLR President and CEO, Janet Murguía, applauded the court’s decision in the statement below.

“The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold this injunction unequivocally affirms what we have known to be true since this law was passed in 2010: SB 1070 is an unconstitutional infringement on the civil rights of all Arizonans. This legislation is a reckless attempt to make racial profiling and discrimination the law of the land in Arizona, tarnishing the state’s reputation and needlessly costing millions of dollars to defend it in the courts. We applaud the efforts of our Affiliates in Arizona, including the lead plaintiff in this court case, Valle del Sol, and the supporting plaintiff, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as well as our allies throughout the state. They have all tirelessly pushed back against this legislation in order to ensure that all Arizonans, especially Latinos, are treated by law enforcement fairly, with dignity and respect.”

Enhancing Health Care Protections for LGBT Individuals

By Matthew Heinz, MD, Director of Provider & LGBT Outreach, and Juliet K. Choi, JD, Chief of Staff & Senior Advisor, Office for Civil Rights

(This was originally posted to the HHS Blog.) 

Photo: JBrazito

Photo: JBrazito

Throughout the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), we operate on the fundamental belief that every American deserves equal opportunity, equal protection, and equal rights under the law. When we are sick or injured, we depend on health care professionals to treat us with competence, compassion, and the understanding that we are protected against mistreatment.

Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) individuals harms the health and well-being of LGBT individuals and their families in many ways. Like everyone else, LGBT individuals should receive regular health care when and where they need it, without fear of disclosing their sexual history and gender identity to their health care providers, and with the freedom to involve their partners in their care. But they often cannot do so, or believe they cannot do so, based on the threat of discrimination.

HHS has in place a matrix of powerful protections to ensure that LGBT individuals have equal access to health care and freedom from discrimination:

  • The Affordable Care Act prevents health insurance companies from raising rates or denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition like HIV/AIDS, cancer, or mental health concerns – or because they happen to be LGBT.
  • Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can no longer impose a lifetime limit on coverage. This is particularly important to HIV/AIDS patients, and anyone else who has a chronic condition.
  • The landmark civil rights provision, Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, prohibits discrimination against individuals based on sex, which includes discrimination based on sex stereotyping and gender identity. While implementing regulations are being drafted, HHS is accepting complaints and enforcing the law.
  • Insurance companies are prohibited from discriminating against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, including against same-sex spouses with respect to an offer of spousal coverage.

All of this is good news for the LGBT community, particularly when we consider that prior to the new coverage options provided under the health care law, one in three lower income LGBT adults in our country did not have health insurance. You don’t have to be an expert to figure out what we need to do to get the word out. It’s outreach. It’s education. It’s communication. Information is a powerful tool to equip individuals, friends, family, and community leaders with knowledge to ensure LGBT people have access to quality, affordable health care and freedom from discrimination.

We hope you will continue to join us in this important work.

Prevention Is Power: Using the Affordable Care Act to Tackle Minority Health Disparities

NMHM14_Banner2

(Cross-posted from the Families USA blog.)

By Sinsi Hernández-Cancio, Director of Health Equity, Families USA
Priscilla Huang, Policy Director, Asian & Pacific Islander Health Forum
Noel Manyindo, Senior Director, Community Health, National Urban League
Steven López, Senior Health Policy Analyst, NCLR

In honor of National Minority Health Month, Families USA, the Asian and Pacific Islander Health Forum, the National Council of La Raza, and the National Urban League have joined forces to promote the power of prevention to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities.

workersApril is National Minority Health Month, and this year’s theme is “Prevention Is Power.” With the first open enrollment period behind us, it’s a good time to discuss how the Affordable Care Act provides not just better health coverage options, but also the tools to help us reduce the health disparities among racial and ethnic minority communities.

Minority communities bear a disproportionate disease burden

Communities of color face grave disparities in health and health care that undermine the well-being of families and their financial futures. Compared to non-Hispanic whites, people of color are more likely to get sick with certain conditions, such as diabetesasthma, and certain cancers. And when they do develop these diseases, they tend to be more likely to lead to complications and even premature death. This is especially true for common chronic diseases that are preventable and that can be effectively managed if detected early. For example, this infographic summarizes some of the top disparities that affect African Americans. Preventing chronic diseases not only saves money, it gives people many more healthy, productive years, which creates stronger, more resilient communities.

For instance, early diagnosis and effective management of diabetes—which is preventable in many cases—can mean the difference between having a relatively normal life and experiencing disabling, life-threatening complications, including amputations, blindness, intractable nerve pain, and end-stage kidney disease. African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans are, respectively, 60 percent70 percent, and 210 percent more likely to develop diabetes than non-Hispanic whites.

People of color with diabetes are also more likely to suffer serious complications than are non-Hispanic whites with diabetes. For example, African Americans with diabetes are one-third more likely to be visually impaired, twice as likely to have a lower extremity amputation, more than twice as likely to have end-stage kidney disease, and more than twice as likely to die of the disease.Latinos with diabetes are 60 percent more likely to have end-stage kidney disease and 40 percent more likely to die of the disease. Early detection and effective treatment can usually prevent these complications.

HEALTH child getting ear checked_newsizeAccess to preventive care can help close the health disparities gap

Having access to preventive health care can make a difference with other serious, chronic conditions too. Hepatitis B is responsible for 80 percent of liver cancers, and Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders are disproportionately affected by this disease. One in 12 Asian Americans has Hepatitis B, and they are more than two and a half times as likely to be diagnosed with liver disease than whites, and more than twice as likely to die of the disease.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is another example. HPV causes cervical cancer, which is more prevalent and deadly among Latinas and African Americans. Vaccination, early detection, and treatment can all drastically reduce these figures. Click here for an infographic on the impact of cervical cancer on Latinas.

The Affordable Care Act provides free preventive care to those with health insurance

Preventive services can greatly reduce the impact of high-disparity conditions like diabetes, Hepatitis B, and certain cancers, among others. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, these tools are within reach for more people than ever before.

Now, health insurance plans must cover a list of preventive services at no additional cost, including an annual checkup, immunizations, birth control, mental health screenings, and screenings for hypertension and for cervical, breast, and prostate cancer. For those without insurance, community health centers will provide care regardless of someone’s immigration status, criminal background, or ability to pay. Find one near you here.

Consistent, quality preventive health care offers consumers and their families a better life

Prevention is power: It is the power to live better, to protect your productivity, and to safeguard your well-being (and your family’s). Prevention allows you to choose a path that saves you money, along with blood, sweat, and tears. And it can mean the difference between life and death.

But these very powerful tools work only if each of us makes the commitment to use them. Talk about the power of prevention with your family at the dinner table. Spread the word in your community. Help equip the trusted leaders in your communities of faith so that they can share this good news with those around them.

We all have a role to play in making the power of prevention a reality not only for our own good, but for the good of our families, our communities, and a stronger, healthier nation.

Join us for a Twitter Chat: Prevention is Power

NMHM14_idea10_maiandra_2As part of National Minority Health Month, we’re joining the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies for a Twitter chat on Wednesday, April 23, at 1:00pm ET to engage and educate key stakeholders on strategies that alleviate chronic disease disparities. We’ll be joining five other REACH Minority National Organizations (MNO), including Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL), Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, and Black Women’s Health Imperative. REACH is a national initiative vital to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health.

The theme of National Minority Health Month is “Prevention is Power: Taking Action for Health Equity”. It emphasizes the critical role of prevention in reducing health disparities. It is a call to action, a charge for all of us to unite towards a common goal of improving the health of our communities. To join, just include #REACHMNO in your tweet and follow:

Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies: @Jointcenter

APPEAL: @APPEALhealth

SOPHE: @SOPHETweets

Black Women’s Health Imperative: @blkwomenshealth

NCLR: @NCLR

Weekly Washington Outlook – April 21, 2014

HouseImmigrationBill_pic_new

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

The House:

The House is in recess, returning Monday, April 28.

The Senate:

The Senate is in recess, returning Monday, April 28.

White House:

On Monday, the president and the First Family will participate in the White House Easter Egg Roll.  The event will feature live music, sports courts, cooking stations, storytelling, and Easter egg rolling.  On Tuesday, President Obama will travel to Oso, Wash., to view the devastation from the recent mudslide and to meet with families affected by this disaster, as well as first responders and recovery workers.  Following his visit to Washington state, the president will travel to Tokyo.  On Wednesday night, the president will arrive in Tokyo and remain overnight.  On Thursday, President Obama will hold a state call with the Emperor and Empress of Japan at the Imperial Palace.  Later in the morning, the president will participate in a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan at the Akasaka Palace.  In the afternoon, the president will visit the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation to tour and deliver remarks at a youth and science event with students.  Later in the afternoon, Mr. Obama will visit the Meiji Shrine and host a roundtable meeting with Select USA business leaders. In the evening the president will attend the Japanese State dinner at the Imperial Palace with the Imperial family. On Friday morning, President Obama will meet with employees and family members of the U.S. Embassy to Japan. He will then travel to the Republic of Korea. In the afternoon, the president will participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the National War Memorial to honor fallen soldiers. Following the ceremony, he will tour the Gyeongbok Palace. Later in the afternoon, the president will visit the Blue House to participate in a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with President Park of the Republic of Korea . In the evening President Obama will join President Park for a working dinner. On Saturday morning, the president will participate in a roundtable meeting with business leaders to discuss trade policy. Following the roundtable, President Obama will travel to Yongsan Garrison. Here, he will be briefed by U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command officers and deliver remarks and visit with troops and their families to thank them for their extraordinary service to our nation. In the afternoon, Mr. Obama will travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In the evening, he will join King Abdul Halim and Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia for the State dinner at the Istana Negara Palace. On Sunday, the president will visit the National Mosque of Malaysia. Following his visit, he will participate in a bilateral meeting and working lunch followed by a joint press conference with Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia at the Prime Minister’s Office. In the afternoon, the president and Prime Minister will take part in an event at the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center. In the evening, the president will travel to Malaya University to participate in a town hall with participants in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative.

Also this week and beyond:

Immigration Reform – Last week, both Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor made statements about immigration reform as the President marked the anniversary of the introduction of the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill. The Majority Leader’s came after the president called him to wish him a happy Passover and was widely considered an over-reaction to what was otherwise categorized as a “pleasant” conversation. Later in the week, after much speculation about the status of immigration reform in the House, Speaker Boehner’s press secretary emailed a number of reporters asking their editors to “chill” and emphasizing that the focus remained on job creation.  He provided the following quote:  “Nothing has changed.  As he’s said many times, the Speaker believes step-by-step reform is important, but it won’t happen until the president builds trust and demonstrates a commitment to the rule of law.”

Smarter Sentencing Act – While the Senate could begin consideration of Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Senator Mike Lee’s (R-Utah) Smarter Sentencing Act as soon as the next work period, the Administration is planning to grant clemency to “hundreds, perhaps thousands” of imprisoned non-violent drug offenders.  It is possible that new procedures to handle the large number of applications could be announced as soon as this week.

Housing Finance Reform – The Senate Banking Committee has scheduled a mark-up of the Johnson-Crapo housing finance overhaul bill for April 29.

Minimum Wage – A procedural vote to advance a minimum wage hike has been postponed again and is now expected in the Senate sometime in early May. However, the next work period in the Senate is now likely to be dominated by judicial nominations and several bipartisan measures, including the long-stalled Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill. As a result, it is possible that a vote on minimum wage could be put off once again.

Tax Reform – Following the recess, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he plans to bring to the floor the so-called “extenders package” approved by the Senate Finance Committee last week. The measure extends retroactively the majority of tax credits that expired at the end of the year. In the House, Ways and Means Chairman Dave exercise. Camp is instead examining making certain tax credits permanent rather than going through the annual extenders

Federal Standards for Paid Leave Will Help Workers Stay Healthy and Productive

By Alicia Criado, Field Coordinator, Economic Policy Project

Most workers have the option to earn paid time off for when they get sick or need to care for a newborn child, right?

Wrong.

According to a new brief by CLASP, only 30% of low-wage workers have access to paid sick days and nearly half of all workers in the lowest 35% of wage earners have no paid personal time, sick time, family leave, or paid vacation.workers

CLASP’s research reminds us that paid leave is a key form of compensation. Without it, workers must forgo wages when they take time off because they or a loved one is ill. Yet paid leave disproportionately benefits higher-income earners, leaving out many low-wage workers and workers of color. According to CLASP’s research, 47% of all Hispanic workers in the U.S. have access to paid sick days, compared to 64% of White workers and 62% percent of Black workers. In addition, just 25% of Latino worker have access to some paid parental leave, compared to 50% of White workers and 43% of Black workers. Without paid leave, low-wage workers face a double blow: lower compensation and unfair tradeoffs between health and economic security for them and their families.

Now more than ever, it is important for decision-makers to support policies that boost compensation, including access to paid leave. That’s because the majority of post-recession job growth is in low-wage jobs, and economic inequality is at record highs. Working families are struggling to cover their basic expenses. They deserve to not be penalized for taking a day to care for themselves or a loved one.

In today’s economy, a majority of Latinos prioritize having a protected and steady job. Thus, many Hispanic workers in the low-wage market do not ask for days off for fear of losing their jobs. In some cases, taking unpaid leave is not an option when workers cannot make ends meet. Since Latinos are more likely to be employed in the low-wage labor market and work in part-time or temporary positions, they rarely have access to benefits such as paid vacation or guarantees under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)—a national law that allows workers to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year to care for themselves or their loved ones. Without paid parental leave, many workers, particularly working mothers, are forced to choose between a day’s wages or caring for a family member in need.

Paid leave not only helps keep workers and their families healthy but also allows workers to stay productive. Unfortunately, there is no federal standard requiring paid leave benefits. California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island are the only states that have their own paid leave laws. These states serve as blueprints for national legislation that would allow workers to earn paid sick days and protect the economic security of their families. Several proposals in Congress would create a national standard for paid sick days, such as the “Healthy Families Act,” or provide 12 weeks of paid leave per year for employees for health-related events, such as the “FAMILY Act.”

NCLR and other advocates believe that the time to broaden the protections offered by FMLA is now. We must pass federal legislation that would prevent all workers from having to choose between earning wages or forfeiting their jobs when facing family responsibilities.

Three Things to Know about Cervical Cancer Prevention

Smiling DoctorBack in January, we wrote here about cervical cancer and Pap tests, which look for cancers and pre-cancers in the cervix. This month, it is National Minority Health Month, which is a time to discuss health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities. It’s also a perfect opportunity to remind you how to prevent cervical cancer.

The theme of this year’s Minority Health Month is “Prevention is Power”. Considering Latinas have the second highest rate of getting and dying from cervical cancer out of all racial and ethnic groups, we are back to tell you three things you should know about cervical cancer prevention.

  1. More than half of cervical cancers occur in women who have never received a Pap test of have not been tested in the past five years. Periodic Pap tests play a huge role in preventing cervical cancer. Pap tests can catch pre-cancerous or cancerous cells when treatment is still relatively simple. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women should begin getting Pap tests at 21. While there are general guidelines about how often to get a Pap test, you can talk to your doctor about what is best for you.
  2. If you have health insurance, Pap tests are covered as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Depending on your health insurance plan, you may be able to get a Pap test at no cost to you. Check with your insurance plan to learn about what it is included in your plan.
  3. If you do not have health insurance, you may be eligible for the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) through the CDC. This CDC program provides free or low-cost mammograms or Pap tests to women who have low-income and little or no health insurance. To learn more about eligibility for this program, take a look at the criteria on the NBCCEDP website.

We’re Hiring!

Jobs_blogpost_pic

We’ve got a number of positions we’re trying to fill in our Policy Analysis Center. Take a look and follow the instructions for submitting your application if you think you would make a good fit at NCLR!

Director Health Policy Project

Assoc Director, Policy Analysis Center

Education Policy Analyst

Policy Analyst

Weekly Washington Outlook – April 14, 2014

Congress Instagram

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

The House:

The House is in recess, returning Monday, April 28th.

The Senate:

The Senate is in recess, returning Monday, April 28th.

White House:

On Monday, the President will host an Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House.  On Tuesday, the President and the First Lady will mark the beginning of Passover with a Seder at the White House with friends and staff.  On Wednesday, President Obama and Vice President Biden will travel to Leetsdale, Pennsylvania for an event on the economy.  On Thursday, the President will welcome the Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride to the White House in celebration of the eighth annual Soldier Ride.  A cycling event to help Wounded Warriors restore their physical and emotional well-being, the Soldier Ride also raises awareness of our nation’s Wounded Warriors who battle the physical and psychological damages of war.  On Friday, the President will meet with the National Commander and Executive Director of the American Legion.  Later, he will welcome the United States Naval Academy Football Team to the White House to present them with the 2013 Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy.

Also this week and beyond:

Emergency Unemployment Compensation – Last week, the Senate approved a five-month retroactive extension of lapsed unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.  Moving to the House, Speaker Boehner has made clear that he would only bring a paid-for extension to the floor and that it must also include job-creation measures.  There has been some speculation that an extension could include a compromise on job training programs or business tax cuts, but the Speaker has made no comment on specifics.

Budget/Appropriations – This morning, the Congressional Budget Office will release a new budget baseline.  This will be an update of CBO’s revenue forecasts from February and should also include revised estimates of the coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  On Thursday, CBO says it will have its analysis of the president’s latest budget request.

HealthThe President announced on Friday morning that Secretary Sebelius is stepping down as the head of the Department of Health and Human Services.  She will be replaced by current Director of the Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Matthews Burwell.  Burwell is widely expected to be confirmed.  It is not yet clear who will replace her OMB.

Housing Finance ReformThe Senate Banking Committee has scheduled a mark-up of the Johnson-Crapo housing finance overhaul bill for April 29th.  In recent weeks, a number of high-profile editorials have taken aim at the bill’s deficiencies.  The Wall Street Journal on Monday morning chimed in and suggested that Chairman Johnson and Ranking Member Crapo should “go back to the drawing board.”  Full text here.

EducationThe House Education and Workforce Committee last week marked-up a bipartisan bill to reauthorize and modernize charter school programs (H.R. 10).  Ahead of a pending floor vote, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) instructed his colleagues to visit charter schools in their districts to build further support for the measure.  The focus on school choice for House Republicans is also part of a broader campaign to make the GOP more appealing to minority voters.

Minimum Wage – A procedural vote to advance a minimum wage hike has been postponed again and is now expected in the Senate sometime in early May.  However, the next work period in the Senate is now likely to be dominated by judicial nominations and several bipartisan measures, including the long-stalled Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill.  As a result, it is possible that a vote on minimum wage could be put off once again.

Tax ReformFollowing the recess, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he plans to bring to the floor the so-called “extenders package” approved by the Senate Finance Committee last week.  The measure extends retroactively the majority of tax credits that expired at the end of the year.  In the House, Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp is instead examining making certain tax credits permanent rather than going through the annual extenders exercise.