Milwaukee Urban League President Ralph Hollmon (far left) and his organization recently hosted a workshop on the Affordable Care Act and what it means for small businesses and non-profit organizations at the Department of Natural Resources building on Martin Luther King Drive and North Avenue. Hollmon is joined by Katherine Leonis (center) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Chicago Regional Office; and Eric Ness (far right), district director of the Wisconsin District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Both Leonis and Ness addressed a gathering of small business owners and heads of non-profits about the impact the new healthcare laws will have on their businesses and organizations. (Photo by Yvonne Kemp)
There have been many changes in the United States the past decade: health care reform, the housing crisis, and high unemployment rates. But the view from black America, especially in terms of health care and positive financial attitudes, seems to actually be improving, said new survey results from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, NPR reported.
The latest study asked 1,081 African-American participants in the South or in urban areas their opinions on a wide range of issues: finances, personal health, their communities, dating lives and much more. (This sample roughly matched the demographics of African Americans in the country on a broad spectrum, according to researchers.) The results, when compared with those from a similar poll in 2002, yielded some interesting findings.
In 2002, only about 25 percent of survey respondents said they were “very satisfied” with their care options. Today, 47 percent of African Americans approved of the health care system. What’s more, two thirds of poll participants said they believed that the last time they or a family member got sick, they were treated by one of the best doctors in their community.
The survey also showed that although government figures from 2011 said one in five African Americans were uninsured, the number of survey participants who said they or a family member couldn’t get medical care decreased since 2006, from one in five to about one in eight.
But even with improvements in health care access and positive outlooks in the black community, some areas of concern haven’t seen such stunning advancements. Nearly 20 percent of survey respondents said high blood pressure and stroke were the biggest health problems for their families. Another 19 percent of African Americans in the same survey cited diabetes as their greatest health threat.
Robinson Burrell III lights the candle representing Kwanzaa principle of Ujima(collective work and responsibility) during the annual Kwanzaa Celebration at the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum on December 28 in Catonsville, Md.The program in it’s eighth year celebrated with performances by the Baltimore County Chapter of Jack and Jill America and the Growing Griots, a youth storytelling program affiliated with the Griot’s Circle of Maryland. (Photo by Mark Gail/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
by James Braxton Peterson
On the third day of Kwanzaa, Wisconsin State Senator, Glenn Grothman released a statement titled: “Why Must We Still Hear About Kwanzaa?”
In it he lambasts the holiday, claiming that “almost no black people today care about Kwanzaa” and that “it’s time it’s slapped down once and for all.”
The third day of Kwanzaa, Ujima which is Swahili for Collective Work and Responsibility, is an ironic day upon which the republican state senator decided to release his racist diatribe, mostly because work and responsibility are so often the calling cards for those on the right who racialize their own “makers and takers” discourses with visions of impoverished “lazy” people of color always already in mind.
But it is racist in a couple of other ways as well.
Senator Grothman’s central gripe about the cultural holiday – Kwanzaa is not a substitute for any religious practice – rests with his criticism of the holiday’s founder – Maulana Karenga – whom he describes as a “racist” who “didn’t like the idea that Christ died for all of our sins . . .”
According to Grothman there is no way to separate the message of Kwanzaa from its founder.
For him, the radical past of Karenga disqualifies the value of the Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of the cultural holiday that by most accounts have universal communal and familial significance.
As someone whose family has celebrated Kwanzaa for nearly forty plus years, I am well used to explaining Kwanzaa to black folks as well as white folks.
I grew up with the perennial crucible of not opening any gifts on Christmas because for my family, gift-giving only took place during the Kwanzaa celebrations. Each year as an adult with my own family (we also celebrate Kwanzaa and we are Christian) I weather through the countless explanations, definitions, and validations that this particular holiday has, for me, always required.
Please make no mistake about it. Although some several hundred thousand black Americans celebrate Kwanzaa (and maybe some several million observe the holiday in some form through consuming Kwanzaa paraphernalia), many black people are skeptical of the holiday and, like the senator, have a deep distrust of the holiday’s founder, but most black people know of Kwanzaa – mostly because of the consistency and cultural vibrancy with which families like my own have celebrated it for decades.
So Senator Grothman’s press release is not news to the black community. His assumption that we know little or nothing of the founder is both incorrect and paternalistically racist. His suggestion that the holiday is being forced on the black community by white left wing “nuts” is inaccurate, offensive and racist as it relies on the age-old white supremacist paradigm that black people simply aren’t intelligent enough to make their own decisions as individuals or as a community.
Over the last several decades, my family has continued to celebrate Kwanzaa as a unit but we have also throughout the years (during Kwanzaa and in our personal and professional lives) practiced the principles of the holiday. We have always invited our community into our celebrations, but more importantly we have also always maintained our commitment to serve our family, the black community and this nation.
In the forty plus years that we have embraced the Nguzo Saba, we have not once even mentioned or commemorated Dr. Karenga as a part of our observance of this cultural holiday. Not because my parents or any of my siblings have issues with the founder of Kwanzaa, but because the founder’s personal and political life has little or nothing to do with the value of unity, self-determination, collective work & responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith to our families and/or to our communities.
At this point in my life and career I see little point in defining and/or defending Kwanzaa to any one, least of all some racially incensed republican state senator in Wisconsin. However, because Senator Grothman has somehow garnered national news media attention for his ignorance and racism he has also earned himself a personal invite – from me to him – to come celebrate the first day of Kwanzaa 2013 with me and my family – in the spirit of Unity.
by Brandon Byrd
Renaissance man Common has recently added film producer to his long list of accomplishments. He recently sat down with Carson Daly to discuss his role as both actor and producer in his new film Luv.
In the interview, the Chicago-born rapper discusses playing the role of an ex-con who must take care of his orphaned nephew. Common also gives some great parenting advice and details of other projects he has coming up. Take a look via HipHopWired.
Johannesburg (AP) — Former South African President Nelson Mandela was released Wednesday from the hospital after being treated for a lung infection and having gallstones removed, a government spokesman said. But the 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon will continue to receive medical care at home.
Mandela had been in the hospital since Dec. 8. In recent days, officials have said he was improving and in good spirits, but doctors have taken extraordinary care with his health because of his age.
Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj says Mandela will receive more medical care at his Johannesburg home until he fully recovers. Maharaj requested that the public respect Mandela’s privacy at this time.
Mandela is revered around the world as a symbol of sacrifice and reconciliation, his legacy forged in the fight against apartheid, the system of white minority rule that imprisoned him for 27 years.
The Nobel laureate served one five-year term as president after South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994. Although the country today struggles with poverty and inequality, Mandela is widely credited with helping to avert race-driven chaos as South Africa emerged from apartheid
South African President Jacob Zuma was among those who joined Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, and other family members in wishing a Merry Christmas to Mandela at his hospital bedside in Pretoria, the South African capital.
A plan in the works would downsize the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex by moving many patients to community-based care
by Erin Toner, WUWM News
Thursday, the Milwaukee County Board will consider whether to apply pressure to the troubled Mental Health Complex. Twice during the past two years, regulators have declared patients to be in “immediate danger” following reports of abuse. Administrators have been working for a year-and-a-half on a plan to mitigate problems and move patients to community-based care. But as WUWM’s Erin Toner reports, some county leaders say the process isn’t moving fast enough.
The Mental Health Complex is a sprawling treatment center on the county grounds in Wauwatosa. It was built in the 1970s, when communities regularly institutionalized people with severe mental illness. In the decades since, many other states and counties have closed or downsized their hospitals and moved patients to community based care. But the Milwaukee complex continues to operate mainly as an inpatient facility for children, adults and seniors.
County Sup. Joe Sanfelippo says multiple reports over the past 25 years have detailed serious problems regarding patient safety.
“These reports have come on, when there’s problems at the mental health company, they’re in the news, the board takes action, and as soon as it’s not headlines in the news anymore, it kind of gets forgotten about,” Sanfelippo says.
Sanfelippo is referring to high-profile cases, including reports of patients being sexually abused by other patients, and a recent death the district attorney is investigating. An independent study recommended the county shift patients to services in the community, but he says so far, progress has been slow.
“The HSRI report said they scoured the entire country and they cannot find any other county that’s running an institutional based facility for mental health care like this. If you take a look in Madison, Waukesha, they all rely on more of a community based program, which really has been the approach for the last 30 years. It’s just Milwaukee County has never taken the initiative to transition into that type of care,” Sanfelippo says.
Last week, a county board committee voted to require administrators to submit a detailed plan and timetable for reforms at the Mental Health Complex.
But the committee’s chairperson, Sup. Peggy Romo West, dissented. She agrees improvements are overdue – and she’s been helping design them, but Romo West says the county must proceed responsibly and not simply rush the process.
“The issue at hand obviously is, how do we finance this and how do we do this in the safest way that we can for our mental health consumers?” Romo West says.
Romo West says studies have shown the county will need $25 million to complete the mental health redesign, and so far, the county executive has allocated $3 million. In addition to money, she says the county cannot transition patients out of the facility without having a strong community care network in place to serve their needs, and it will take time to develop.
Romo West says because there are so many moving parts, it’s not practical to force planners to outline a timetable.
“We refer to our redesign plan as a living document, because we’re dealing with human beings and there’s constant changes now in our health care policies and legislation and coverage and so, how long is it going to take? I’m really unsure at this point,” Romo West says.
Many meaningful changes have already taken place, according to Paula Lucey, administrator of the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division. She says recent initiatives have allowed the Mental Health Complex to close one inpatient unit. For example, the county has overseen the creation of a crisis resource center to give people an alternative to visiting the emergency room.
Lucey says the county has also boosted programs in the community to help those who are discharged stay on track with their recovery.
“That’s decreasing our number of re-admissions and our number of people that are coming back into the emergency room because it didn’t quite work when they got discharged,” Lucey says.
Lucey says there are solid plans for continuing the reforms in 2013, such as developing “step-down” housing for patients not quite ready to live independently. She says the approach to reform has been inclusive and thoughtful, which may not lead to the pace of change some county supervisors want.
“We have very vulnerable patients here at the core of these discussions. And so I think if we’ve made any errors, we’ve erred on the side of being careful about those patients and making sure that they’re not lost in the cracks and they’re not lost in the community,” Lucey says.
The full County Board is set to vote today on whether to require the Behavioral Health Division to outline specific goals and deadlines.
Administrator Lucey says her team has been reporting its progress all along, and would have no problem providing a more detailed plan.
Washington (AP)— A new report says states can receive more than $9 in federal money for every dollar they spend to cover low-income residents under President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Expanding Medicaid to cover about 20 million more low-income people will cost a total of more than $1 trillion from 2013 to 2022, the report estimates.
But states will pay just $76 billion of that, or roughly 7 percent of the cost.
Two nonpartisan groups, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Urban Institute, collaborated on the new analysis.
It also found that a few states might actually spend less than they do now.
The Supreme Court allowed states to opt out of the health care law’s Medicaid expansion, an issue that will be hotly debated when state legislatures meet next year.–Article by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press
Together, Milwaukee Health Services Inc. (MHSI), the 34 Ways to Assist Foundation and Molina Healthcare will host a Thanksgiving Dinner Giveaway and Health Screening for its patients on Saturday, November 17, 2012 from 11:00am-3:00pm at their Martin Luther King, Jr. Heritage Health Center location at 2555 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. Thanksgiving dawns the beginning of the holidays and represents the season to give.
“The primary objective of the Thanksgiving Dinner Giveaway and health screening for patients is to provide access to health care services and supply a nutritious holiday dinner for their loved ones,” says Kimberly Williams, Family Support Worker for Milwaukee Health Services, Inc.” Community service has always been an important part of the mission of MHSI. The Thanksgiving dinner giveaway provides an opportunity for our employees and collaborating partners to give back to the community we serve.”
Milwaukee native Devin Harris, starting point guard for the National Basketball Association’s Atlanta Hawks is the founder of the 34 Ways to Assist Foundation. “Devin’s belief is that he is greatly blessed in so many ways through his career as a professional athlete, and his desire is to give back to these communities he calls home as they have given to him.” Molina Healthcare employees will assist in the food distribution. Feeding America is sponsored by Molina Healthcare. Molina provides quality and cost-effective Medicaid-related solutions to meet the health care needs of low-income families and individuals and to assist state agencies in their administration of the Medicaid program.
“Molina Healthcare is committed to serving the Milwaukee community,” says Andy Bhugra, President of Molina Healthcare of Wisconsin. “By partnering with organizations such as Milwaukee Health Services, Inc., 34 Ways to Assist Foundation, Feeding America and Wal-Mart, we can work together to increase access to community resources for individuals and families who need assistance.”
The mission of MHSI is to provide accessible, quality, primary and related health care services to Milwaukee residents, with the continuing emphasis on medically-underserved families and individuals. MHSI operates the Martin Luther King, Jr. Heritage Health Center at 2555 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, the Isaac Coggs Heritage Health Center at 8200 W. Silver Spring Drive and the MHS Convenient Care Clinic located in the Midtown Piggly Wiggly at 4061 N. 54th Street.
With all the talk about health-care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, it seems few people know coverage is available in every state as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, says Dr. Dixie Swanson, a former television health reporter and physician, and a lupus patient.
“People can apply for the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan, which will not deny you coverage because you have asthma, diabetes or some other condition, and will not charge you more simply because of it,” says Swanson, the author of “The Accidental President Trilogy,” (www.dixieswanson.com). “In Washington D.C. and 23 states – including Florida, Massachusetts and Texas – it’s run by the federal government. Twenty-seven states run their own PCIP program.”
Policies vary from state to state and premiums may vary, but coverage can cost less than $200 a month. But a shockingly low number of people know about the coverage, Swanson says. As of July 31, there were 82,000 people enrolled. Maine had only 42 enrollees; California had the most, 11,118.
“Getting and keeping health insurance is Job One for many patients with chronic illness. This is a real step forward,” Swanson says.
Here are some important things to know about PCIP:
• You are eligible for PCIP coverage ONLY if you have been without insurance coverage for the past six months. If you have coverage – even if it does not cover your condition – you are not eligible, and if you’re in a state high-risk pool, you’re not eligible.
• Rules vary depending on who administers the plan. In states with the federally administered program, you must submit one of the following with your application: 1) An insurance company’s letter denying you coverage from within the past 12 months, 2) An offer of insurance with a rider disallowing your condition, provided you didn’t accept a policy, 3) If you’re under 19 or you live in Vermont or Massachusetts, a letter from a doctor, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner stating your condition, and 4) If you’re under 19 or you live in Vermont or Massachusetts, an offer of insurance that you didn’t accept because the premium was too high (provided it’s at least double the cost of a standard option PCIP premium),
• In states with the federally administered program, if you’re application is accepted, you’ll receive a letter within two to three weeks. If you submitted your application and all documentation before the 15th of the month, your coverage can start by the 1st of the following month (i.e. by Nov. 15, coverage starts Dec. 1). If you apply after the 15th, it will start by the first of the month after that (i.e. Jan. 1).
• PCIP is designed to be temporary. The Affordable Health Care Act calls for private insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions beginning in 2014, at which time PCIP will not be necessary.
• To find out more, visit the plan’s official website, www.pcip.gov
About Dixie Swanson
Dixie Swanson was a pediatrician for 10 years and the Family Health Reporter for NBC’s Houston affiliate. She also spent time working for a Washington lobbyist with access to the White House. Dixie is the author of “The Accidental President Trilogy – a Political Fable for Our Time.”
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin, U.S. Reps. Ron Kind (WI-3), Gwen Moore (WI-4) and Representative-elect Mark Pocan (WI-2) today sent a letter to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker asking him to move forward in implementing Wisconsin’s state-based health insurance exchange, made possible through the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Walker faces a November 16th deadline in deciding whether the state will run its own exchange or the federal government will run Wisconsin’s exchange.
“It is critical that Governor Walker moves forward and allows the State of Wisconsin to set up the health insurance exchange that best meets the needs of small businesses, family farmers and consumers here at home, it’s the Wisconsin way,” said Rep. Ron Kind. “Health insurance exchanges have previously had bipartisan support. Now is the time to put partisanship aside and do what is best for the people of Wisconsin.”
“State leaders must choose whether to create a state-based exchange, a hybrid state-federal exchange, or leave it entirely up to the federal government,” said Senator Herb Kohl. “The best choice for Wisconsin’s small businesses, families and individuals is to keep things in our state so we can meet our unique and specific needs. I hope that they will make the right decision for Wisconsinites.”
“Wisconsin has a strong tradition of advancing health care reforms and this is an important opportunity for our state to lead in moving reform forward,” said Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin. “I am committed to bringing people together and working collaboratively to make America’s new health care law work for Wisconsin. I also believe that putting in place a Wisconsin-run health insurance exchange will provide Wisconsin families and businesses more choices for the quality coverage our state is known for providing our citizens. Taking ownership of this opportunity is the right path forward for all of Wisconsin.”
“The implementation of this health insurance exchange, should Governor Walker allow it to proceed, will provide Wisconsinites with a ‘one stop shopping’ experience to compare prices, quality and physician and hospital networks,” said Rep. Gwen Moore. “This program will empower Wisconsinites to determine what works best for them and their families while keeping prices low and affordable. I join my colleagues in urging the Governor to move forward with this vital implementation.”
“Wisconsin voters went to the polls this election and supported candidates who advocate polices that extend health care to more and more Americans,” said Rep-Elect Mark Pocan. “We must ensure the people of our state have every opportunity to access quality health care.”
Health care reform provides for state-based health insurance exchanges that allow small businesses, family farmers, and individuals to pool their purchasing power to find quality, affordable health care. Exchanges create a marketplace that allow consumers to comparison shop among a variety of plans and prices, giving all Americans access to the same type of quality, affordable coverage that is now often available only to large employers. Based on the SHOP Act, authored by Rep. Kind, exchanges have long received strong bipartisan support because they are transparent, consumer-friendly, and operate on free market principles.
With President Obama’s reelection and a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, it is clear that the Affordable Care Act will continue to be fully implemented. The state faces a November 16, 2012 deadline to notify the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services how the Wisconsin exchange will operate.