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LGBT, HIV groups pan Trump’s executive order on health care

LGBT and HIV/AIDS groups are criticizing Trump’s health care executive order, asserting the measure endangers people with pre-condition conditions

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President Trump signs executive order for health care. (Image public domain)

LGBT and HIV/AIDS groups are criticizing President Trump’s executive order on health care, asserting the measure endangers people with pre-condition conditions who could be left out in the cold.

Trump signed the executive order Thursday in the Oval Office in front of Vice President Mike Pence, senior administration officials and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who opposes Obamacare, but has threatened to vote “no” on legislative replacement plans.

“With these actions, we are moving toward lower costs and more options in the healthcare market and taking crucial steps towards saving the American people from the nightmare of Obamacare,” Trump said.

LGBT groups, which predominantly were vocal opponents of Trumpcare in its legislative form, panned the executive order shortly after Trump signed it.

Carl Schmid, deputy director of the AIDS Institute, said the executive order sets up health care plans that don’t provide essential health benefits — like prescription drugs or preventative care — which he said is “really important for people at risk of HIV or with HIV.”

“I don’t know what these plans have to cover,” Schmid said. “They’re not regulated by the insurance commissioners. We’re been working so hard to get the insurance commissioners to look at problems in the insurance market; these plans don’t even get regulated by the insurance regulators, so it seems like it’s really substandard.”

Schmid added the executive order will “also hurt the overall insurance market,” which includes people with pre-existing conditions who may forced to pay higher premiums and deductibles.

“The people who are sick will stay in those, and other people will go in these plans and people don’t know when they’re going to have HIV, or going to have cancer down the road, and that’s what insurance does, it spreads it out,” Schmid said.

The executive order contains three key portions, each of which the White House says is designed to curtail the escalating costs of health insurance and assist the 1,500 counties estimated to be left with one provider in 2018:

* The order directs the Labor Department to consider expanding access to association health plans to allow employers to form groups across state lines to offer healthcare coverage to their employees. Employers participating in these associations cannot exclude any employee from joining the plan and cannot develop premiums based on health conditions.

* The order instructs the administration to consider expanding coverage through low cost short-term limited duration insurance — typically cheaper plans that under Obamacare were slated to last a maximum of three months, but not subject to the same requirements for pre-existing conditions.

* The order directs the administration to consider changes to Health Reimbursement Arrangements, employer-funded accounts that reimburse employees for healthcare expenses, such as deductibles and copayments.

David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign, said the executive order amounts to assault on health coverage provided under the Affordable Care Act.

“Trump’s executive order is nothing more than a cynical attempt to sabotage the Affordable Care Act,” Stacy said. “Beyond undermining the ACA, President Trump’s order will put LGBTQ Americans at risk through substandard health plans that exclude essential health benefits and protections for those with pre-existing conditions and increase premiums for those remaining in other plans.”

Dan Bruner, senior director of policy for the D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Health HIV clinic, said the executive order has no immediate impact until U.S. agencies act, but nonetheless expressed concern.

“If you get healthy people, or people who think they’re healthy, to leave the regulated plans that are in ACA’s health exchanges to sign up for this cheaper health insurance with less coverage then when you do is drive up the costs for the folks who need full health insurance because the risk pool gets skewed more and more towards people with high medical casts,” Bruner said.

Bruner added that could “really harm people with HIV or other high-cost medical conditions” as well as LGBT people.

“Although lots of folks don’t realize this, there are an awful of folks in the LGBT community who are low-income who potentially would be harmed by this as well,” Bruner said.

According to a March report from the Center for American Progress, uninsurance among low- and middle-income LGBT individuals has dropped by 35 percent since before the Affordable Care Act’s coverage reforms took effect in 2013.

Asked whether the Trump executive order would hamper Whitman-Walker’s ability to administer care, Bruner replied, “We certainly hope not and, of course, we’re committed to serving everyone regardless of their ability to pay.”

“The concern is that if folks have less insurance coverage that is less generous, or covers fewer conditions, or has much deductibles, then when they come to get the health care they need, either from us or from someone else, they’re going to be hit with much higher out-of-pocket costs that insurance won’t cover,” Bruner said. “One real concern is folks in that situation will just not get the care they need.”

Also speaking out against the executive order was Stephen Boswell, CEO of the Massachusetts-based LGBT organization Fenway Health.

“Today’s executive order is a significant step backwards for the nation’s health. Weakening the mandate to ensure that all health insurance plans offer essential health benefits means that core health services such as HIV/STI screening and prescription medications will become more costly and less accessible,” Boswell said. “Health insurance costs for people living with HIV will likely increase significantly, and insurance markets will become destabilized.”

Trump signs the executive order after repeated attempts in Congress to make good on Republican campaign pledges to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Although the U.S. House passed a version of Trumpcare, the U.S. Senate has been unable to reach an agreement on legislation.

Gregory Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, in contrast to other LGBT groups said the executive order is “a step in the right direction.”

“The goal of President Trump’s executive order on healthcare is to provide Americans — particularly middle-income Americans — with more affordable healthcare choices and to allow Americans to exercise greater control over their healthcare decisions,” Angelo said. “These are principles that all Americans should get behind, especially those who have been impacted directly by Obamacare’s ongoing collapse.”

Unlike other LGBT groups, Log Cabin has joined with other Republican groups in calling for repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD, also condemned Trump’s executive order in a statement as an attempt to sabotage coverage for the more than 20 million people who receive coverage under Obamacare.

“President Trump is working to sabotage the Affordable Care Act in any way possible; showing complete disregard for the health and well-being of millions of Americans, including many in the LGBTQ community, who rely on the ACA for coverage,” Ellis said. “Health care is a human right and now more than ever we must keep fighting to protect our care and demand the inclusive and affordable healthcare that the LGBTQ community, and all Americans, deserve to live and thrive.”

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California Politics

Rep. Karen Bass to enter Los Angeles mayoral race

Bass has been working to dismantle systemic racism, as well as other forms of social, racial and economic injustice, for decades

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Rep. Karen Bass, (D-37) (Photo Credit: Blade file photo by Karen Ocamb)

LOS ANGELES – In a breaking story published Friday morning, the Los Angeles Times reported that Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass, who represents California’s 37th congressional district, which covers several areas south and west of downtown LA will enter the mayor’s race.

U.S. Rep Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) intends to run for Los Angeles mayor, according to three people familiar with her plans. Such a move would shake up a contest that, until this past week, which saw the field of candidates increase, had been a fairly sleepy affair. Bass, a high-profile Democrat who has served in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C., could announce her entry into the mayor’s race as early as next week, those sources told The Times.

Bass has been working to dismantle systemic racism, as well as other forms of social, racial and economic injustice, for decades. She is a community activist who was raised on civil rights activism in LA’s Jewish Venice-Fairfax district, volunteered for Bobby Kennedy’s presidential campaign in middle school, graduated from Hamilton High School in West LA in 1971, studied philosophy at San Diego University but switched her attention to healthcare, graduating from USC’s Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program. She subsequently received her BA in health sciences from Cal State/Dominguez Hills and her Masters in Social Work from USC.

Bass focused that training on fighting the crack epidemic in South LA, where she founded the Community Coalition to fight for substance abuse prevention programs and better foster care and relative caregivers, like grandmothers.

She also fought the AIDS epidemic — all experience directly applicable to dealing with the ongoing Opioid crisis, as well as COVID-19.

“I went through the AIDS crisis from its very beginning. I watched all of Santa Monica Boulevard get wiped out near Vermont (Ave.). That whole area there. I watched everybody die within a matter of two years,” Bass told the Los Angeles Blade. “But I think that this [COVID-19 crisis] is really hard because you don’t have to have any physical contact….People are building the plane while it’s flying.”

Torie Osborn, the executive director of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center in 1989, met Bass at a meeting of progressive grassroots activists in a South LA church basement.

“This woman I didn’t know came up, introduced herself as Karen Bass from South LA, an anti-police violence activist and a physician assistant,” Osborn says. The two talked all day with Bass noting that the gay community’s experience of AIDS deaths was similar to what the Black community was experiencing during the crack epidemic.

“I had never heard anything like this before. She knew gay men. She clearly was an ally,” Osborn says.

Last summer the Biden campaign vetted Bass as a potential candidate for the number two spot on the Democratic ticket in the race for the White House, which ultimately ended up with then California U.S. Senator Kamala Harris as Biden’s choice.

“Los Angeles is facing a humanitarian crisis in homelessness and a public health crisis in the disproportionate impact this pandemic has had on Angelenos,” Bass spokesman Zach Seidl said in a statement, when asked for comment by the Times. “She does not want to see these two issues tear the city apart. Los Angeles has to come together. That’s why the Congresswoman is considering a run for mayor.”

Earlier this past week, another LGBTQ ally, Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León, a Democrat, announced his intention to seek the mayor’s chair after current Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was elected for a four-year term in 2013 and again in 2017- who’s limited to serving no more than two terms- was picked by President Joe Biden to serve as the U.S. ambassador to India on July 9, 2021.

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Politics

Head of Anti-LGBTQ group worked with Trump to overturn election

Eastman and the former president had a secret scheme to try to get former Vice-President Mike Pence to overturn election

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NOM Head John Eastman with Rudy Giuliani on January 6, 2021 (Screenshot via YouTube)

By David Badash | PROVINCETOWN, Ma. – The head of a once well-known anti-LGBTQ organization that spent countless millions in dark money to try to block the advancement of same-sex marriage worked with then-President Donald Trump and his legal team on a secret scheme to try to get Vice President Mike Pence to subvert the U.S. Constitution and overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

John Eastman, who until January 13 was a tenured professor of law and dean at the Chapman University School of Law in California, advanced a six-point plan detailing the steps he wanted Pence to take on January 6.

Eastman, who is the chairman of NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, “tried to convince then-Vice President Mike Pence that he could overturn the election results on January 6 when Congress counted the Electoral College votes by throwing out electors from seven states, according to the new book ‘Peril’ from Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa,” CNN reports.

“You really need to listen to John. He’s a respected constitutional scholar. Hear him out,” Trump told Pence during a January 4 meeting with Eastman in the Oval Office, according to “Peril.”

In addition to directing that Pence would falsely claim that the seven states had competing electors, Eastman suggested Pence make all these moves without warning.

“The main thing here is that Pence should do this without asking for permission — either from a vote of the joint session or from the Court,” Eastman wrote. “The fact is that the Constitution assigns this power to the Vice President as the ultimate arbiter. We should take all of our actions with that in mind.”

Pence disagreed with Eastman’s legal claims and did not enact the secret scheme.

Eastman spoke at the January 6 “Save America” rally that many claim Trump used to incite the insurrection.

One week later he “abruptly” resigned from Chapman University “amid criticism of his role in stoking the violent attack,” and “calls for his firing,” Law.com reported at the time.

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David Badash (@davidbadash) is the founder and editor of The New Civil Rights Movement, an award-winning news & opinion site.

The preceding article was first published by The New Civil Rights Movement and is republished by permission.

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Politics

The White House marks the 10th anniversary of the repeal of DADT

“A great injustice was remedied & a tremendous weight was finally lifted off the shoulders of tens of thousands of American service members”

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President Obama signs the certification stating the statutory requirements for repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" have been met 9-20-2011 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

WASHINGTON – President Biden recognized in a statement on Monday the tenth anniversary of the end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a law that once discharged service members from the military for being openly gay or bisexual.

“Ten years ago today, a great injustice was remedied and a tremendous weight was finally lifted off the shoulders of tens of thousands of dedicated American service members,” Biden said. “The repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ which formally barred gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members from openly serving, helped move our nation closer to its foundational promise of equality, dignity, and opportunity for all.”

Biden recognized high-profile openly gay appointees in his administrations who are also veterans, naming Air Force Under Secretary Gina Ortiz Jones and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Biden also names Shawn Skelly, assistant secretary of defense for readiness, who would have been discharged from the military under President Trump’s transgender military ban.

“On this day and every day, I am thankful for all of the LGBTQ+ service members and veterans who strengthen our military and our nation,” Biden said. “We must honor their sacrifice by continuing the fight for full equality for LGBTQ+ people, including by finally passing the Equality Act and living up to our highest values of justice and equality for all.”

Technically speaking, the anniversary of Obama signing repeal legislation was in December. Today is the anniversary of defense officials certifying the military is ready, which put an end to the policy.

Statement by President Joe Biden on the Tenth Anniversary of the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

Ten years ago today, a great injustice was remedied and a tremendous weight was finally lifted off the shoulders of tens of thousands of dedicated American service members. The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which formally barred gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members from openly serving, helped move our nation closer to its foundational promise of equality, dignity, and opportunity for all. It was the right thing to do. And, it showed once again that America is at its best when we lead not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.
 
Despite serving with extraordinary honor and courage throughout our history, more than 100,000 American service members have been discharged because of their sexual orientation or gender identity—including some 14,000 under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Many of these veterans received what are known as “other than honorable” discharges, excluding them and their families from the vitally important services and benefits they had sacrificed so much to earn.
 
As a U.S. Senator, I supported allowing service members to serve openly, and as Vice President, I was proud to champion the repeal of this policy and to stand beside President Obama as he signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act into law. As President, I am honored to be Commander-in-Chief of the strongest and most inclusive military in our nation’s history. Today, our military doesn’t just welcome LGBTQ+ service members—it is led at the highest levels by brave LGBTQ+ veterans, including Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness Shawn Skelly, who served under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I was gratified to appoint the first openly gay Senate-confirmed Cabinet member, Secretary Pete Buttigieg, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve and Afghanistan veteran who joined the military under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. And during my first week in office, I proudly delivered on my pledge to repeal the discriminatory ban on open service by patriotic transgender service members.
 
On this day and every day, I am thankful for all of the LGBTQ+ service members and veterans who strengthen our military and our nation. We must honor their sacrifice by continuing the fight for full equality for LGBTQ+ people, including by finally passing the Equality Act and living up to our highest values of justice and equality for all.

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