Updates

Communications from SPW

Challenging the remark – with patience – can make change happen

“These women are hurting my soldiers’ careers. You’re wasting OUR time.” A major lambasted me during a training’s break. He continued: “My soldiers would never do that. Can we get back to our real work.” Although worded like a question, his last sentence spewed at me with such authoritative, deep guttural tones, that I clearly knew he meant it as a command.

Here I was, my very first training working with military victim advocates. Green as can be and the highest-ranking figure in the course commanding me to release the class. Of course, I couldn’t dismiss the class; and he technically didn’t have any authority over the matter. Continue reading “Challenging the remark – with patience – can make change happen”

From Research Readiness to Empowering Action

It was a delightful surprise to hear from our cohort member Jody Verble last month that she had just created a website that offers tips and help on disability employment. Jody took part in our “research readiness” training. This course was put together for people with traumatic spinal cord injury to have a greater voice in the scientific studies that are done about that condition.

We invited our research readiness graduates and expert panel members to an On The Table event – one of the many gatherings held citywide in May as part of the Chicago Community Trust’s initiative to bring people together to spark conversations and projects for the public good.

“The message was TAKE ACTION,” Jody told us. “So I went home that day and bought this domain.” Continue reading “From Research Readiness to Empowering Action”

Would You Wait Three Decades?

Whether you wait three hours or three decades, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Politics aside, the media and others should be incredibly ashamed of their behavior.

The reckless victim-blaming appalled me.

In no case have I ever seen one’s unwillingness to come forward affect one’s credibility. Continue reading “Would You Wait Three Decades?”

Feds Will Subsidize Junk Health Coverage

Washington Post tweet about new guidance, featuring CMS Administrator Seema VermaRecent guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services encourages states to take new steps to circumvent the ACA. Specifically, it invites them to apply for Medicaid Section 1332 waivers in order to use ACA subsidies for short-term insurance and association health plans. These plans, originally intended only to tide people over between periods of more-permanent coverage, are little more than flimsy stop-gaps that scarcely merit the name of real health insurance. Continue reading “Feds Will Subsidize Junk Health Coverage”

Sexual Assault: A Community’s Responsibility

Mural of womanOnce at a high school track meet, a boy grabbed my butt. Before I could do anything, he scurried back to his group of male friends where they proceeded to point and laugh at me.

Later I told my mother what happened. She shared with me that a similar thing had happened to her when she was my age. It was comforting knowing that I was not alone. But it was frustrating knowing that my experience, like hers, would most likely not be addressed or taken seriously by any authority figure. Continue reading “Sexual Assault: A Community’s Responsibility”

VA Wrongly Denies MST Claims

We were distraught and disheartened – but sadly, not surprised – by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General report released Tuesday, which found that nearly half of the denied claims related to military sexual trauma were denied due to improper processing.

Wrongly denying services for MST is life-threatening. It is hard enough for a survivor to trust someone enough to disclose their experience in the first place – let alone go through this challenging process of applying for benefits only to be turned away. Continue reading “VA Wrongly Denies MST Claims”

Empowering Patients to Drive Research

SCI Research Readiness Training Cohort
SCI Research Readiness Training Cohort
Visit the site – see their stories
We spend a great deal on medical research that often does not reflect the interests of people who have the condition.

In 2016, $171.8 billion was spent on medical and health research and development in the United States, the majority (67.4%) financed by industry, which includes biopharmaceutical developers, medical technology developers and healthcare service companies. Federal spending on medical and health research is subject to statutory budget caps. The American Journal for Managed Care estimates that the US spends less than 5 cents of each health dollar on research and development. The result is industry-driven research that doesn’t reflect the needs and priorities of those who stand the most to gain from it – real people with the actual condition being studied. Continue reading “Empowering Patients to Drive Research”

Medicaid Work Requirements Will Create More Problems Than They Solve

Since efforts to repeal the ACA stalled out in Congress, the Trump Administration has used its administrative authority in an attempt to reshape Medicaid to be more in line with conservative arguments that employment is linked to better health outcomes and helps move people off Medicaid and out of poverty.

The Administration is giving the green light to states to condition Medicaid eligibility on meeting a work and/or community engagement requirement. Guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has expressed a preference for following existing federal program work requirements found in programs like the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). CMS has also indicated that they will allow states to account for local conditions such as high unemployment in certain areas and other factors such as “lack of viable transportation.”

To date, CMS has approved three state demonstration waivers – Arkansas, Kentucky and Indiana – incorporating work requirements; several other states reportedly have waivers pending [Note: We are keeping this fact sheet updated as these numbers continue to grow]. Each carries a combination of additional provisions that may affect the eligibility or affordability of coverage. Approved waivers have exemptions for work requirements for “medically frail” adults, certain caregivers, students and pregnant women.

Continue reading “Medicaid Work Requirements Will Create More Problems Than They Solve”

The President’s Budget Doesn’t Reflect Smart Policy

The President’s proposed budget is a wholesale shift of federal responsibilities onto states, with little to no support for those states to fulfill those responsibilities. It includes cuts to fundamental federal programs such as public housing, utilities, and food assistance programs. It also revives the President’s wish to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act through the use of Medicaid block grants that would strip $250 billion from state Medicaid programs over the next ten years.

Smart Policy Works is most troubled by the efforts of this Administration and Congress to consistently undermine the Medicaid entitlement. A shift to block grants breaks the 50-year compact between the federal government and states to provide health care to the poor. A block grant – or flat funding – puts the onus on states to deliver the same quality of care without taking into account increases in medical costs, health care epidemics, or increased Medicaid enrollment in times of economic decline. Continue reading “The President’s Budget Doesn’t Reflect Smart Policy”

Every Day Without a Budget Hurts Healthcare

Smart Policy Works is pleased to see that an agreement in principle was reached that will re-open our government, fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and allow for the resumption of critical programs. We continue to stand with healthcare organizations, businesses, and leaders to express our grave concern about the effect of continued budget uncertainty will have on programs and services that support countless millions.

SPW has spent 25 years breaking down the barriers to healthcare access faced by millions with complex health conditions. Many of these barriers are created when policy is written and implemented in isolation, without consideration to its impact on the people it’s meant to support and how various health programs can work together to improve outcomes. Countless healthcare agencies and organizations rely on a stable policy framework to drive their operations and support the health of the people they serve. Addressing long-term budget issues with short-term continuations creates tremendous uncertainty, which then forces organizations to work in the short term as well.

We believe that a clear budget policy that seeks to broaden access to healthcare is the best solution for everyone. We will continue to evaluate actions in Washington and provide information that translates those actions into impacts at the federal, state, and local level.