04/22/2018

HHS Whistleblower Reveals HHS Secretly Working with Hate Group to Target Planned Parenthood

We’re upset to read about our friends Planned Parenthood Federation of America who released “HHS Whistleblower Reveals HHS Secretly Working with Hate Group to Target Planned Parenthood“.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION OF AMERICA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, February 12, 2018

CONTACT: Planned Parenthood Federation of America Media Office; 212-261-4433; media.office@ppfa.org

Planned Parenthood Statement: HHS Whistleblower Reveals HHS Secretly Working with Hate Group to Target Planned Parenthood

Washington, DC — As reported in Politico today, a just released letter from Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, shows that Trump-Pence’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been secretly coordinating with a designated hate group to develop policy to deny women and others access to health care. The congressional oversight letter, sent to Eric D. Hargan, the Deputy Secretary for HHS, cites an HHS whistleblower raising “serious concerns” about HHS “taking orders” from Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

As the congressional oversight letter states, “the documents raise grave questions about the legitimacy of the Trump Administration’s letter to state Medicaid directors on January 19.”

The congressional oversight letter goes on to say that Alliance Defending Freedom was “behind an effort by the Trump Administration on January 19, 2018, to help states terminate Planned Parenthood as a healthcare provider for Medicaid beneficiaries seeking to exercise their statutory rights to obtain family planning or other health care services.”

Shortly after the January 19 Medicaid letter was released, six prominent provider organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Family Physicians, who represent more than 560,000 physicians and medical students, issued a joint statement denouncing the Medicaid letter.

Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:  

“This is shocking and outrageous. The Trump-Pence administration has been secretly coordinating with, and in some instances taking orders from, a designated hate group in order to try to block people from coming to Planned Parenthood for health care.

“The Alliance Defending Freedom has spent decades trying to take away women’s access to health care and ability to control their own bodies and lives. The Trump-Pence administration has embraced this group’s philosophy and handed them the pen to make official U.S. government policy.

“If there was ever any doubt, it’s now clear that the Trump-Pence administration’s actions to try to block women from accessing preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers are not only politically motivated, but being driven by extreme organizations, including designated hate groups.

“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should immediately rescind the politically tainted January 19 Medicaid letter. CMS should also cease any and all politically motivated attacks on health care.”

BACKGROUND: Key Passages from the Congressional Oversight and Investigations letter:

Pages 5-6:

  • “A whistleblower has now provided us with information and documents indicating that a right-wing advocacy group known as Alliance Defending Freedom was behind the Trump Administration’s recent effort to rescind the 2016 letter and to seek to eliminate protections for Medicaid beneficiaries who exercise their rights to seek family planning or other health care services.
  • “According to the information provided by the whistleblower, on the morning of January 11, 2018, several high-level Trump Administration political appointees at HHS and CMS discussed a draft letter they would soon be receiving from an undisclosed source that would rescind the 2016 letter.
  • “Directly after this discussion, at 10:07 a.m., your Chief of Staff, Kristin Skrzycki, sent an email to Brady Brookes, the Deputy Chief of Staff at CMS, explaining that processing this letter was an urgent priority:

o After conversations with Paula and Kelly this morning, CMS should be receiving the SMD [State Medicaid Director] letter today. Per our discussion yesterday, please make sure your clearance process is ready to go on this. We will need a very quick turnaround. Consider an utmost priority.

  • “Later that same day, at 2:22 p.m., HHS Deputy General Counsel Kelly Cleary sent an email attaching the draft letter from the undisclosed source. Now that we have obtained a copy of that draft letter, it appears to have originated from Alliance Defending Freedom. The metadata for the draft letter identifies Casey Mattox as the author and Alliance Defending Freedom as the company that created the document….
  • Within one minute of receiving the draft letter, Brady Brookes, the Deputy Chief of Staff at CMS, forwarded it on to additional political appointees within CMS.
  • “On January 19, 2018, only eight days after the draft letter was first received, the final CMS letter was sent to state Medicaid directors. The final letter cut down the length of the first draft significantly and removed nearly all of the rhetoric explaining the true purpose behind allowing states to terminate unwanted providers. However, it achieved the same result—it rescinded the 2016 letter to try to limit protections for Medicaid beneficiaries seeking access to family planning services.”

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:

The law is clear: It is illegal to bar people from seeking care at Planned Parenthood. Longstanding protections within Medicaid safeguard every person’s right to access family planning care at the qualified provider of their choice. The freedom of choice provision is federal law and cannot be changed by guidance.

Not only is blocking care at Planned Parenthood dangerous and illegal, it’s unpopular — which is why it failed in Congress six times. Poll after poll shows that the American people overwhelmingly support Planned Parenthood and strongly oppose these attacks on their health care.

The idea that other providers could absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients has been resoundingly dismissed by experts. In fact, the executive director of the American Public Health Association called the idea “ludicrous.” Planned Parenthood health centers care for 2.4 million people nationwide each year, and more than half of Planned Parenthood health centers are in rural or medically underserved areas. Two years after Texas barred care at Planned Parenthood, nearly 30,000 fewer women received birth control, cancer screenings, and other care through the state’s family planning program as a result.

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President’s FY19 Budget Released. Earlier today, the Trump-Pence administration released its FY2019 budget, as well as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)budget-in-brief. While the budget is unlikely to be taken up by Congress, it is a strong indicator of the administration’s priorities and continued focus on cutting off access to Planned Parenthood health centers, undermining access to sexual and reproductive health care, and dismantling the social safety net, including essential health care programs like Medicaid. Indeed, the budget serves as a roadmap for the types of regulatory action we could see from the Trump-Pence administration this year.

Like last year, the budget proposes to eliminate all HHS funding for Planned Parenthood health centers. Moreover, as expected, the budget includes proposed significant cuts to domestic funding for health care and other safety net programs. While some of the proposals in the budget would require congressional action (such as block granting Medicaid and other deep funding cuts to certain safety net programs), the administration can work to impose its agenda through harmful implementation policies. For instance, the administration is clearly attempting to undermine the Medicaid program by working directly with states to eliminate longstanding protections for beneficiaries (e.g. by imposing new Medicaid eligibility and enrollment restrictions). See below for additional highlights of the FY19 budget plan; we will continue to provide additional analysis as we learn more. Planned Parenthood’s press statement is available here.

Some key highlights in the FY19 budget plan:

  • Proposes to block Planned Parenthood from participating in all HHS programs, including Title X and Medicaid;
  • Proposes to continue funding for the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), while eliminating the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and sustaining abstinence-only-until-marriage funding;
  • Proposes level funding for Title X but prevents Title X patients from accessing care from Planned Parenthood health centers (which currently serve 40% of Title X patients);
  • Places a new ban on abortion access for immigrants in ICE detention facilities, and proposes to block implementation of D.C.’s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act;
  • Doubles down on policies allowing health care workers to deny information and care to women and LGBTQ people;
  • Proposes passage of the Graham-Cassidy bill, which would have dismantled the ACA, eliminated Medicaid expansion, and radically restructured Medicaid through block granting and per-capita caps;
  • Proposes to cut international family planning by more than 50 percent, while emphasizing fertility awareness methods over other, more effective forms of birth control.

To recap, the story in Politico is that a whistleblower revealed HHS’s secretly plotting with a hate group to block women’s access to healthcare from Planned Parenthood. The source is a letter from Rep. Elijah E. Cummings on the whistleblower. Our mission is to empower AAPI and this move directly targets our community especially its most vulnerable in the deplorable effort to maximize deplorable interests at any cost. Defunding women’s healthcare is outrageous and irresponsible. Apart from the poor ethnics of secretly coordinating (this administration has no care for poor ethnics, a traditional problem) with a designated hate group to block people from coming to Planned Parenthood for healthcare. Alliance Defending Freedom, that hate group, was designated as such by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Our goal is to empower the AAPI community, and the Trump administration’s actions as described here targets the most vulnerable in our community.  Alliance Defending Freedom has spent decades trying to take away women’s access to health care as well as their ability to control their own bodies and lives. It is deplorable that the Trump-Pence administration embraced this group’s philosophy, and handed them the pen to make official U.S. government policy. We must join forces and fight back.

 

Our Commitment to Critical Health Care Services is Nonnegotiable

Today, International Women’s Day, the AAA-Fund reminds the nation that we support Planned Parenthood, who provides needed healthcare for women around the nation.

Below is a letter from Angela Ferrell-Zabala, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Planned Parenthood Action Fund

Friends–

With the release of the ACA replacement legislation by House Republicans, I wanted to alert you to an article that was just posted by the New York Times reporting that some in the White House have been pressing for Planned Parenthood to stop providing abortion at all health centers in return for the potential of increased funding.

Of course, any such proposal is an insult to us all, and fundamentally misunderstands Planned Parenthood’s commitment to the people we serve across the country and our mission to ensure that everyone — regardless of who they are, where they live, or how much money they make — have access to the full range of reproductive health care, including safe, legal abortion.  It also misrepresents how health care reimbursement works.  Like other health care providers, there is no line-item in the federal budget for Planned Parenthood, and health centers only receive Medicaid reimbursement for preventive care, including birth control and cancer screenings.  The White House does not control the flow of funds to Planned Parenthood.

This so-called “proposal” is exactly what extreme organizations have pushed for decades, designed to get one-step closer to ending safe, legal abortion in this country by stopping Planned Parenthood’s service delivery and undermining our role as a strong advocate for full reproductive health care. These are also the same organizations who have long opposed comprehensive sex education, have attempted to stop access to condoms as a part of STD and HIV prevention, and want to roll back access to certain forms of contraception.

Please help us to amplify our response to this proposal on your social media properties.

Sample social share language:

  • Proud to #StandWithPP today & every day. Thank you for standing up for women no matter what. http://buff.ly/2mcvW53
  • Infographic on the myth that Planned Parenthood gets a check from the federal government http://bit.ly/2lPlOgz #IStandWithPP
  • Federal funds do not pay for abortion, an unfair law that has stood for over 40 years. #IStandWithPP http://bit.ly/1WvNC8T
  • WH reportedly offering @PPFA more funding if they’ll stop providing abortion. Their response: http://buff.ly/2mcvW53 #IStandWithPP
  • WH reportedly offering @PPFA more funding if they’ll stop providing abortion. That’s not how it works http://p.ppfa.org/2lUhQV3 #IStandWithPP

 

Please let me know if you have any questions.

How Federal Tax Dollars Support Planned Parenthood Patients

 

 

 

Asian American Mental Health Needs and The Clinton Response

ASian adults with mental illness are less likely to receive treatment or counseling compared to non-Hispanic whites Source: SAMHSA 2014 via FamiliesUSA.org

The Clinton campaign has issued a brief on mental health, a topic of special significance to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Of the 19 million Asian American surveyed for a 2014 Census Report, 13% had a diagnosable mental illness within the previous year. To put that into context, 2.2 million illl AAPIs is a number greater than the combined number of dentist, lawyers, and post-secondary teachers in American.

Mental Health America, a non-profit organization devoted to wellness programs, reports the following statistics:

  • 10.8 % of Asian American high school students report having attempted suicide, versus 6.2 % of whites.
  • Asian American high school females are twice as likely (15 %) to have attempted suicide than males (7 %).
  • Suicide death rates for Asian American females age 15-24 are 30% higher than white females in the same age group.
  • Suicide death rates for 65+ year old Asian American females are higher than they are for white females (4.8 to 4.5).

Public Policy Responses
Neither medical research nor health care services have successfully addressed mental health issues in the AAPI community. There’re relatively few epidemiological studies of AAPI mental health. As a result, health providers have no empirical explanation for the relatively high percentage of AAPI mental illness. Health care providers have also been unable to effectively address the problem. Until passage of Obamacare 15 % of Asian Americans and 18 % of Pacific Islanders lacked health care. Nearly half of AAPIs reported that they could not find mental health care providers with the appropriate language skills. A 2002 article identified some of the cultural influences which uniquely discourage Asians from seeking assistance. Mental illness can be a crippling source of shame within many traditional AAPI communities. These are just a few of the reasons that the AAPI population is 3 times less likely to seek mental health services.

Mental Health Statistics. Graphic created by Mental Health  America

Hillary Clinton’s Plan
In her published fact sheet, Hillary Clinton presents a comprehensive plan to address the systemic problem of mental health. Clinton is looking for ways to protect those with mental health needs, suppport their families and care givers, and promote relevant research. Highlights:

  • Promote early diagnosis and intervention.
  • Launch a national initiative for suicide prevention.
  • Integrate our nation’s mental and physical health care systems so that health care delivery focuses on the ͞whole person͟ and expand community-based treatment.
  • Prioritize treatment over jail for low-level, nonviolent offenders and help train law enforcement officers in responding to conflicts involving persons with mental illness.
  • Enforce mental health parity to the full extent of the law. Improve access to housing and job opportunities.
  • Invest in brain behavioral science research.

This is the type of leadership in a social problem which government is intended to highlight and solve given its lack of an immediate profit mode. This is the type of attention to our society’s unmet needs which reduces the citizenry’s persuit of happiness and productivity thus economy. This is the sort of good governance that we expect of our elected leaders. For AAPIs, it is especially relevant that Clinton has focused upon the need to end the stigma and shame associated with mental illness.

This week Donald Trump made headlines by implying that veterens with ptsd are week. In contrast, Hillary Clinton is ready to support those suffering from mental illness.

The AAA-Fund is proud to endorse Hillary Clinton, a candidate with a plan for helping all Americans, AAPI and otherwise.


Related link: The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMA) provides access to resources especially important to the AAPI community

2016 DNCC Platform for AAPIs

Yesterday, the Democratic National Convention issued a draft of the 2016 Democratic Party Platform (Draft). We quote the sections relevant to the AAPI community so you can tell your elected officials which helps our goal of increasing AAPI progressive political involvement.

draft watermark repeating

DNC Draft Platform

Create Good-Paying Jobs

Youth Jobs

Democrats will create millions of jobs for our young people. Roughly one in ten Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 is unemployed, more than twice the national average. The unemployment rates for African American, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), and American Indian teenagers are far too high. That is why Democrats will provide direct federal funding for a range of local programs that will put young people to work and create new career opportunities.

Bring Americans Together and Remove Barriers to Create Ladders of Opportunity

Racial Wealth Gap

America’s economic inequality problem is even more pronounced when it comes to racial and ethnic disparities in wealth and income. It is unacceptable that the median wealth for white Americans is roughly ten times that of African Americans and Latino Americans. These disparities are just as stark for American Indians and certain Asian American subgroups. The racial and ethnic gap in wealth and income has been created by historical and contemporary policies and practices that discriminate against people of color and constrained their ability to earn income and build assets to the same extent as other Americans.

This economic disadvantage has accumulated over time and is made worse by ongoing discrimination. For example, as a result of the housing crisis and the great recession, African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans lost more than half of their net worth. And these losses were compounded by the fact that during the subprime mortgage crisis lenders targeted communities of color for faulty mortgages.

Democrats believe it is long past time to close this racial wealth gap by eliminating systemic barriers to wealth accumulation for different racial groups and improving opportunities for people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds to build wealth.

Criminal Justice

Democrats are committed to reforming our criminal justice system and ending mass incarceration. Something is profoundly wrong when a quarter of the world’s prison population is in the United States, even though we have less than five percent of the world’s people. We will reform mandatory minimum sentences and close private prisons and detention centers. We will rebuild the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Across the country, there are many police officers who inspire trust and confidence, deploying creative and effective strategies, and demonstrating that it is possible to reduce crime without relying on unnecessary force. We should learn from those examples and build on what works.

We will invest in training for officers on issues such as de-escalation and the appropriate use of force, and encourage better police-community relations and the use of smart strategies like police body cameras. We will end racial profiling that targets individuals, based solely on race, religion, ethnicity, and national origin, which is un-American and counterproductive. We support states and localities that choose to make the investigations and prosecutions of police-involved shootings more independent and transparent, including through reforming the grand jury process. And we will explore reforms of the civil asset forfeiture system. Instead of investing in more jails and incarceration, we need to provide greater investment in jobs and education, and end to the school-to-prison pipeline. We will remove barriers to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society by banning the box, expanding reentry programs, and restoring voting rights. We will prioritize treatment over incarceration in tackling addiction and substance use disorder. This means significantly expanding treatment in this country for people struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

We have been inspired by the movements for criminal justice that directly address the discriminatory treatment of African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians to rebuild trust in the criminal justice system.

Provide Quality and Affordable Education

Minority-Serving Institutions

We will strengthen our nation’s public and private Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions, and other minority-serving institutions by providing a dedicated fund of tens of billions of dollars to keep costs down, provide a quality education, and provide dedicated support to improve student outcomes and completion rates. These schools play an important role in building opportunity and creating a diverse workforce.

Ensure the Health and Safety of All Americans

Democrats believe that it is not right that your zip code or census tract is a predictor of your health, which is why we will make health equity a central part of our commitment to revitalizing communities left behind. Democrats believe that all health care services should be culturally and linguistically appropriate. And we should disaggregate data collection for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders because data disaggregation is a necessary step in fully understanding the needs of the AAPI community for all government services.

Immigration

Immigration is not a problem to be solved, it is a defining aspect of the American character and history. We must defend against those who would exclude or eliminate legal immigration avenues and denigrate immigrants.

Foreign Affairs

Asia-Pacific

From the Asia Pacific to the Indian Ocean, we will deepen our alliances in the region with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand.

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