Affordable Care Act

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January 7-13 Weekly News Round Up

A round up of current news stories on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues

By Tess Koenigsmark

Governor Malloy has created a new cabinet-level disability advocate position. The responsibilities of the new position include making policy recommendations and outreach to people with disabilities.

Thursday, an all-male House of Representatives subcommittee held a hearing on the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act. And why yes, it IS already illegal for federal funds to pay for abortion. But, anti-abortion supporters has never let logic stop them before, and they’re certainly not going to start now. The proposed bill would ban private insurance plans sold through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges from providing abortion coverage and tax small business owners who want to provide their employees abortion coverage. Since this bill will never leave the House, the hearing was simply an excuse for anti-choice representatives to engage in some terribly ill informed grandstanding.

Connecticut Representative Rosa DeLauro is awesome, but you already knew that.

The Supreme Court will hear an anti-choice challenge to a Massachusetts “buffer zone” law. Buffer zones were created to protect abortion clinic patients from harassment and violence at the hands of anti-choice protestors.  The zones generally strike a compromise between free speech and the safety of patients, prohibiting protesters within a certain number of feet from clinics while still providing a space for them to continue with their regularly scheduled activity of screaming terribly offensive things at women. Anti-choicer activists will argue that such laws violate free speech.

Connecticut’s health insurance exchange expands coverage for Hartford residents.

Watch Katie Couric get schooled (gracefully) after she asks two transgender TV celebrities offensive and inappropriately invasive questions.

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November 17-23 Weekly News Round Up

A round up of current news stories on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues

By Tess Koenigsmark

The current uproar over UConn President Susan Herbst’s inappropriate response to the accusations by Title IX complainants is not the first time she’s caught flack over statements regarding sexual assault. Sensitive though the subject may be, it doesn’t seem like it should be this difficult to address sexual assault in a tasteful, respectful manner. And, as a general rule, if you don’t how to broach a sensitive topic, how hard is it to consult someone who does?

Marissa Alexander, the Florida woman sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at the ceiling in the presence of her abusive husband, has not been granted bail as she awaits her new trial.

President Obama has announced that, in response to news that many Americans’ insurance plans are being cancelled, insurance companies may continue to offer the cancelled plans for another year. However, Connecticut has rejected Obama’s offer as it is unlikely CT insurance companies would continue to offer cancelled plans even if given the option.

Albuquerque, New Mexico voters rejected a proposed 20-week abortion ban on Tuesday. Strong grassroots organizing, backed by support from larger national organizations, is responsible for defeating the bill. From RH Reality Check, how such laws contribute to the criminalization of all pregnant women.

Connecticut is considering legislation that would change how juvenile offenders are treated, including sentencing and parole. The legislation is being considered in response to Supreme Court decisions that juvenile offenders cannot be treated the same as adults.

A horrifying story of police abuse of power and racial profiling in Miami Gardens: One shop owner in the Florida city is fighting back after police have repeatedly arrested his employees and customers for “trespassing” inside his store.

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November 10-17 Weekly News Round Up

A round up of current news story on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues

By Tess Koenigsmark

Players on the UConn Women’s Basketball team are speaking out against the discrimination of LGBT athletes, just in case you needed any more proof of how awesome they are.

The GOP is upset that insurance companies must now cover maternity care under the Affordable Care Act, with one economic advisor claiming that having a baby is a choice equivalent to buying a Porsche. First of all, no luxury item I’ve ever heard of cries all day and poops on you. Secondly, this is a great example of the paradox of the GOP stance on reproductive rights: the “life” of a fetus is super important, until that fetus is born and becomes just another mooching poor person.

CT Senator Richard Blumenthal and five other Congressional Democrats introduced the Women’s Reproductive Health Act on Wednesday. The legislation would aim to counteract the litany of anti-choice TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion providers) laws that have sprung up in states around the country by creating a basis for challenging such laws in court.

A UConn professor who publicly criticized Susan Herbst’s lack of response to rape culture on campus says the price of speaking out is her dismissal.

Another of the UConn Title IX complainants, Alyssa Palazzo, has gone public. Palazzo witnessed UConn football player Lyle McCombs yelling at his girlfriend outsider Palazzo’s dorm. McCombs was later charged with Breach of Peace for yelling, pushing, and spitting on his girlfriend. Palazzo claims that when she reported the incident to UConn, administrators discouraged her from providing testimony and failed to address her concerns about retaliation. Palazzo wrote an article about her experience for the Huffington Post.

At a legislative hearing in Hartford Wednesday, state representatives heard testimony from both the complainants in the UConn Title IX case and UConn administration on how the university handles sexual assault complaints.

In response to news that many people’s health insurance plans are being cancelled because they don’t meet the requirements set by the Affordable Care Act, President Obama announced Thursday that people will be able to keep their current plans through 2014. While most of the cancelled plans offered very limited coverage to begin with, and some people with cancelled plans may be able to find a better deal through the government’s healthcare exchange, many are predictably upset after Obama’s promises that people would be able to keep their plans if they like them.

Connecticut is the only state in which more people have signed up for private insurance than Medicaid through the healthcare exchange. This is at least partially because CT began its Medicaid expansion several years ago. CT’s exchange, Access Health CT, continues to fare better than the exchange run by the federal government.

Washington Post columnist and perpetual waste of ink Richard Cohen attempts to defend the GOP against accusations of racism in his latest article, but instead ends up vulgarly insulting biracial couples. After the Miley Cyrus debacle, why does this guy still have a column?

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September 23-29 Weekly News Round Up

A round up of current news story on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues

By Tess Koenigsmark

At a rally in Hamden, CT politicians and advocates for greater worker protections drew attention to how CT can improve its current laws. While CT was ahead of other states in passing family medical leave, many workers still can’t afford to take advantage of leave that is unpaid. Representative Rosa DeLauro spoke at the event and advocated for a federal paid sick leave bill.

From Tuesday to Wednesday, Senator Ted Cruz  “filibustered” the Senate vote on a House spending bill that would also have defunded the Affordable Care Act. Democrats and  some Republicans saw Cruz’s antics as having more to do with gaining personal publicity than the legislation at hand. Congress must pass a spending bill to continue funding the government and avoid a looming October 1 shutdown, but the Senate predictably rejected the House version that would defund the Affordable Care Act.

This Tuesday is the big day for the Affordable Care Act, as the state healthcare exchanges, one of the core pieces of the legislation, open in all 50 states. How smoothly the exchanges operate and how many people enroll will be a huge factor in judging the success of the Affordable Care Act. You can find information on CT’s exchange, Access Health CT, here.

A Connecticut task force created after the Newtown shooting is responsible for making recommendations on how to improve mental health services in the state. Figuring out how to better address mental illness is something that all states should be devoting greater energy to. However, one issue I do have is that addressing mental health as part of a response to Newtown reinforces the stereotype that the mentally ill are prone to violent behavior, ironically enabling the stigma the taskforce is trying to prevent.  Most mass shooters are not mentally ill, and to my knowledge there is still no evidence indicating that the Newtown shooter suffered from mental illness.

John Olsen, president of the CT AFL-CIO, stepped down earlier this week with a farewell speech that warned against threats to labor even in liberal states such as Connecticut. Governor Malloy was present to voice his support for organized labor. The new president, Lori Pelletier, will be the first openly gay woman to lead a US state labor federation.

Governor Malloy has issued an executive order that will make it easier for veterans to transfer their military experience into college credit.

State government officials, including Governor Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen, are objecting to changes in federal tribal recognition standards proposed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The concern is that the changes, which would relax current standards, would allow for the recognition of several additional tribes in Connecticut, entitling them to land and the right to open casinos. The clear stance of CT officials regarding the changes has led Indian news outlets to accuse state officials of being anti-Indian.

Women’s groups in Texas have filed a lawsuit against the new anti-abortion provisions in the legislation that was famously filibustered by Wendy Davis, who is running for Texas Governor. Hopefully, the suit will stop implementation of provisions that have the potential to shutter several Texas abortion clinics. The law will otherwise go into effect October 29.

Finally, what would a roundup be without a good dose of righteous outrage? The chairman of Barilla Pasta went on a radio show and decided it would be the perfect opportunity to discuss why he would never have a gay family in their advertisements. Seriously? Obviously anti-gay sentiment has not gone anywhere, but at least most public figures have figured out that no one wants to hear about their homophobia. And must we drag poor pasta, in all its carb-laden goodness, into this?

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September 16-22 Weekly News Round Up

A round up of current news story on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues

By Tess Koenigsmark

New US Census Bureau data shows a widening gap between the rich and the poor, with unemployment rates for the lowest group of earners at 21 percent. Connecticut is no stranger to income inequality, particularly in Fairfield County.

CT Attorney General George Jepsen is pushing for legislation that would require healthcare providers to notify patients upfront about hospital facility fees. As more doctors’ offices are acquired by hospitals, some unsuspecting patients have been billed thousands of dollars in hospital facility fees for medical procedures.

Implementation of the state healthcare exchange as part of the Affordable Care Act is making strides in CT, but lags behind in other states. A large part of the difficulty is that many states have opted not to run their own exchange, making the federal government responsible for implementation in those states.

The House of Representatives voted to cut 4 billion dollars a year from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as food stamps). California representative Jackie Speier made an unconventional and epic argument against the cuts, which included bringing steak, vodka, and caviar to the House floor. Speier chided representatives who oppose SNAP yet eat lavish business meals around the globe on someone else’s dime.

In an effort to get more men involved in reproductive justice advocacy, NARAL celebrated “Men for Choice” day Wednesday.

The Supreme Court is likely to rule on whether the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act impinges on the First Amendment rights of business owners.

CT parents have filed a complaint against the Hartford school system after their daughter went on a field trip where students participated in a re-enactment of slavery and were subject to racial epithets.

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