LGBTI News and Politics

Archive for the ‘Health/Mental Care’ Category

New paperwork: VA filing, appeals system changes begin Tuesday; advocates voice concerns

Heath Druzin | Stars & Stripes | March 23, 2015

WASHINGTON — Beginning Tuesday, veterans filing or appealing claims must use standardized forms, a controversial move that the VA says will streamline the process, but some advocates say it will cost tens of thousands of veterans their benefits.

“This change is largely unnecessary and it’s been made solely for the convenience of the VA,” said Gerald Manar, Veterans of Foreign Wars National Veterans Service deputy director.

UPDATE | VA grossly underestimates paper claims as new forms policy begins

Until now, veterans have been able to begin the claims or appeals process by submitting a letter or even a scrap of paper. That informal system preserved the initial date of their claim, meaning any benefits awarded would go back to the date that the VA received the note. Under the new system, benefits will still go back to the date of claim or appeal, but the clock starts only when a veteran files standardized VA paperwork.

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Group Says Breaking Up VA Best Way To Serve Veterans

Nathan Baca | 10tv | April 4, 2015

One national Veterans Group is in Columbus with a big message: they say It’s time to break up the Veterans Administration. They believe it’s the only way to improve Veterans Health Care.

The idea is similar to school vouchers. Parents get public money to pay for either public or private school. The idea would be the same for the VA: allowing patients to see either public or private doctors.

Dozens of veterans gathered to at the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Columbus to hear ideas they believe will improve the level of Veterans health care in Ohio and nationwide. Nita Thomas isn’t a veteran – but her granddaughters’ fiancé is.

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WHO: Ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup ‘Probably Carcinogenic’

Roundup. (photo: Daniel Acker/Getty Images)
Roundup. (photo: Daniel Acker/Getty Images)

Renee Lewis | Al Jazeera America | ReaderSupported News | March 22, 2015

Glyphosate, found in world’s most widely used herbicide, classified as probable carcinogen by cancer research experts


he most widely used herbicide in the world, glyphosate, the active ingredient in the Monsanto product Roundup, was classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” in a report released Friday by cancer researchers affiliated with the World Health Organization.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced its assessment of glyphosate after convening a meeting this month of 17 cancer experts from 11 countries. They looked at the available scientific evidence on five different pesticides, including glyphosate, to determine whether to classify them as carcinogens. Carcinogens are substances that can lead to cancer under certain levels of exposure.

Glyphosate caused DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals, and in human and animal cells studied in laboratories, the report said. Studies of workers who had been exposed to the chemical in the U.S. Canada, and Sweden found “increased risks for carcinogensthat persisted after adjustment for other pesticides,” the report said.

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‘Finally Normal': How A New Medical Landscape Is Changing Life For Trans Youth


Cristina Pippin is seen with Kammie Johnson and her three brothers. | Tim Roberts Photography

 | Huffington Post | March 18, 2015


Nell Gaither, who grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, didn’t figure out that she was transgender until she was 40.

“It was just not something that you even knew how to put into words, or how to discuss,” she told The Huffington Post. “There was not any good language for it, or much information at all about it.”

Over the last two years, a quiet but significant change has occurred in nearby Dallas, where Gaither, now 54, lives today. The Children’s Medical Center in Dallas has launched a program for transgender adolescents, and this spring, the clinic will get its own space within the hospital. It is the first and only transgender pediatric program in the Southwest.

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Obamacare Triggers Massive Drop in Americans Without Health Insurance

Obamacare supporters at the Supreme Court. (photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Obamacare supporters at the Supreme Court. (photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Dan Roberts | Guardian UK | Reader Supported News | March 17, 2015

he proportion of Americans without health insurance has fallen by more than a third since the start of the Affordable Care Act, according to new government estimates that are likely to strengthen efforts to prevent Barack Obama’s flagship domestic reforms being rolled back by political opponents.

A total of 14.1 million adults are thought to have gained insurance since the act – known as Obamacare – went into full effect in October 2013, with a further 2.3 million younger adults benefitting from new rules that allow those aged 19-25 to remain on their parents’ insurance plans.

Together these net gains have reduced the national uninsured rate from 20.3% to 13.2%, or a total of 16.4 million people, based on government analysis of recent survey data.

Though tentative, the statistics may help the White House argue that its reforms are too well entrenched for future administrations to unpick – something many leading Republicans in Congress have called for due to their fierce opposition to the compulsory elements of the scheme.

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Lawmakers Introduce First-Ever Senate Measure Authorizing Medical Marijuana

NORML | March 13, 2015

“Today we join together to say enough is enough”

Lawmakers Introduce First-Ever Senate Measure Authorizing Medical Marijuana

Washington, DC: Members of the US Senate for the first time have introduced legislation to amend the classification and regulation of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

On Tuesday, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act, which permits qualified patients, doctors, and businesses to engage in state-sanctioned behavior involving the production, sale, and use of medical cannabis without fear of federal prosecution. It states, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of this title relating to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State law relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, laboratory testing, or delivery of medical marihuana.”

Although Congress enacted spending legislation in December seeking to similarly halt the Justice Department from interfering in state-sanctioned medical marijuana operations, that appropriation measure is set to expire in September.

Separate provisions in the Senate proposal reschedule marijuana at the federal level and remove the compound cannabidiol (CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act altogether. Additional provisions in the bill allow for financial institutions to legally provide services to medical marijuana businesses, permit VA doctors to authorize medical cannabis, and remove existing bureaucratic barriers that limit investigators from clinically studying the plant’s safety and therapeutic efficacy.

“Our federal government has long overstepped the boundaries of common sense, fiscal prudence, and compassion” in regard to its marijuana policies, Sen. Booker stated at a press conference. “Today we join together to say enough is enough.”

While numerous House measures have previously been introduced to amend federal marijuana policy, members of the US Senate have never before considered such reforms.

Commenting on the new measure, NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri said: “It is indicative of how far the movement to reform our nation’s failed marijuana policies has come when a Republican presidential hopeful partners with two high profile Democrats to undo the war on cannabis consumers. While we ultimately believe marijuana should be descheduled from the Controlled Substances Act entirely, this legislation provides an excellent opportunity for Senate leaders to begin engaging in this broader discussion.”

For more information about this measure, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here: or contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500(202) 483-5500.

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Opposition Grows Against Cutting Medicare Program that 16 Million Seniors Rely On

Protester holds Medicare sign. (photo: Fifth World Art)
Protester holds Medicare sign. (photo: Fifth World Art)

Sarah Ferris | The Hill | Reader Supported News | March 13, 2015

ore than 200 members of Congress are lobbying the Obama administration not to make cuts in a popular Medicare program that covers about 16 million seniors nationwide.

“We strongly believe that cuts to [Medicare Advantage] would be deeply unfair to millions of constituents,” a bipartisan group of 239 lawmakers wrote in a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Thursday.

Federal health officials announced last month that they planned to reduce rates by just under 1 percent next year for Medicare Advantage, which covers about one-third of Medicare beneficiaries.

While the drop is more modest than past years, the proposed cuts have again triggered a back-and-forth funding fight between lawmakers and the federal government. Fierce lobbying to protect the Medicare Advantage has so far been successful, with the government softening its rate hikes every year.

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