New version of health care bill will help Alaska, Maine — home of two holdout senators

 

WASHINGTON — The Republican senators at the forefront of the latest effort to undo the Affordable Care Act plan to release a revised version of their bill Monday sending more health care dollars to the states of key holdouts, as hardening resistance from several GOP senators left their proposal on the verge of collapse.

According to a summary obtained by The Washington Post, Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, will propose giving Alaska and Maine get more funding than initially offered. Those states are represented by Republican senators Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, and Susan CollinsMaine, who have expressed concerns about the bill but have yet to say how they would vote.

The Cassidy-Graham legislation would overhaul the ACA by lumping together the current law’s spending on insurance subsidies and expanded Medicaid and redistributing it to states in the form of block grants. Alaska would get 3 percent more funding between 2020 and 2026 than under current law, and Maine would get 43 percent more funding during that time period, according to a summary obtained by The Post.

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Portland changes Columbus Day to ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’

PORTLAND (WGME) — Columbus Day for Portland and Brunswick will also now be known as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”

City and town councilors voted in favor of that change Monday night.

Columbus Day is a federal holiday which Portland city councilors have no control over.

Monday night’s public comment on changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day stirred up conversation.

Some were against the change, claiming Christopher Columbus is a part of America’s history.

Others disagreed, claiming it was the indigenous people who found our county, and the change would be an outlet to reveal the truth.

Federally, America has celebrated Columbus Day since the 1930s. Some residents recommended councilors chose a different date, but councilors voted unanimously for Indigenous Peoples’ Day, claiming Portland residents have the opportunity to celebrate which ever they’d like.

The resolution was sponsored by City Councilor Pious Ali. He says he’s very pleased with the outcome.

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Union officials accuse Bath Iron Works of unfair labor practices

As leaders of the draftsmen’s union at Bath Iron Works met again Tuesday with company officials in an attempt to reach agreement on a new four-year contract, local union officials released a statement warning of a strike and accusing the company of engaging in “unfair labor practice issues.”

A key issue is BIW’s proposal to eliminate most of the flexible schedule benefit, which union leaders say has benefitted members, Trent Velella, vice president of the union, said in a release Tuesday.

“Flexibility in the workplace has allowed members to balance the needs of their families including children, aging [parents], and personal medical and health issues while designing some of the world’s finest Navy ships,” UAW Region 9A director Julie Kushner said in the release, adding that the UAW International fully supports the local Bath union.

US colleges under the spectre of sexual assault

Betsy DeVos’ move to rescind Obama era Title IX guidelines raise concerns rape survivors will fall back into silence.

Victims of sexual violence and their supporters protest at George Mason University. Betsy DeVos announced plans to replace the way colleges and university handle investigations. 

New York, NY – Taylor Moore, a 20-year-old college student from Arkansas, wants to be able to attend class, stay in the dorms, or go to the school’s library without having to encounter the student who sexually assaulted her – rights US anti-gender discrimination laws, known as Title IX, are supposed to protect.

Schools receiving federal funds – this essentially includes all of the about 5,000 US colleges – must protect the rights of those who have been sexually assaulted or harassed. But what they need to do to adequately protect those students has long been a subject of debate.

Betsy DeVos, the US secretary of education, has vowed to overhaul guidelines introduced by the Obama administration in 2011. Survivors of sexual assault had hailed those guidelines for making it easier for those who had been sexually assaulted to come forward and get on-campus justice, which is unrelated to criminal prosecution. But others have derided the guidelines as trampling on the rights of accused students.

The effects of sexual assault are profound, Moore told Al Jazeera.

“[My attacker] saw me naked, he touched my naked body,” she said, adding, of the possibility of seeing her assailant, “it makes me feel small and very insecure and just violated all over again.”

The Obama administration guidelines were introduced after decades of surveys continually found that about one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college. They also accompanied a gradual shift in social awareness about what constitutes rape and sexual assault to include psychological coercion, exemplified by the FBI’s 2012 removal of the word “force” from its definition of rape.

Political tensions, financial worries drive doomsday bunker sales

North Korea’s nuclear tests, severe weather and fears of a financial meltdown are boosting demand for underground bunkers in Maine.

Northeast Bunkers of Pittsfield is “busy as the dickens,” its owner said about the recent nuclear threats and hurricanes.

“Generally speaking, we have higher sales with these types of events,” said owner Frank Woodworth, a former general contractor who started his underground shelter business 15 years ago.

His two-person company sells four to six steel shelters a year ranging from 8×13 feet for two people to 8×20 feet for four people. Prices range from $40,000 to $60,000 installed. Customers are located across Maine, but mostly west of the 20-mile area near the coastline. He’s installed about 50 bunkers to date.

Customers who install bunkers are secretive about it, he said, declining to refer the Bangor Daily News to any of them for comment.

His company uses camouflage and indigenous trees and brush to hide the entrances. The bunkers, buried three to four feet underground with a doorway and stairs to get down to them, also have leach fields for septic, are near groundwater and have filtration systems to keep out gases.

Bunkers were popular in the 1950s and 1960s, especially during the Cold War and Cuban missile crisis in October 1962. One such shelter, built by an Augusta man in the 1950s, made the news in 2011 when officials said it was blocking a $17.3 million sewer project. The former owner said it was protection against a nuclear attack.

Nowadays, bunkers are built not just for doomsdayers, but for the wealthy worried about safety, and for others concerned about civil unrest, financial collapse and nuclear attacks. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian reportedlyordered an elaborate underground shelter after she was attacked in Paris.

Rising S Company of Murchison, Texas, is one of the largest bunker makers in the country, producing about 160, or 10 a year, since it started. About 30 of those bunkers are in Maine, including some near Portland, he said.

Echoing Woodworth’s comments about clients wanting privacy, he said only half a dozen of the total shelters he’s installed were done so with a building permit. Permits typically are required for expansions or buildings added to existing property.

Customers typically decide to order bunkers based on an accumulation of concerns, not because of one event, like the changing of a president, Lynch said.

“But we’ve seen an increase in sales recently in the last couple months with North Korea’s talk about and then doing missile tests,” he said. That includes four bunkers his company installed in Japan.

His shelters, which are custom built of steel and are square to allow more room, range from $39,500 up to the most expensive he’s sold so far, a $14 million, 8,000-square-foot bunker in metropolitan Los Angeles. It has a swimming pool and a bowling alley.

In Maine’s Farmington region, Margaret, a retired school teacher, and her husband, a retired Air Force colonel, had a 1,000-square-foot Rising S bunker installed in March. So far, the longest they’ve stayed in it without coming out has been 18 days. They bought the bunker over worries about war and the instability of the banking system.

“The U.S. is an enemy to so many nations,” said Margaret, who spoke via email through Lynch on the condition that her last name and exact location not be used.

She described the bunker as having three bedrooms and an open floor plan with a kitchen, dining and living areas. It sleeps 10 people. The amenities include an air filtration system, plumbing and a homey feel inside.

“I have decorated it with family portraits and other things from around our home so it really feels good when we go inside,” she said.

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157 Mainers die every year that we don’t accept federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage

Maine People's Alliance
Robin,I had an incredibly fun and insightful interview with Mainers for Health Care (Yes on 2) campaign manager Jennie Pirkl on the Beacon podcast this week, and something she said got me thinking.

She reminded me that the best evidence we have indicates that about 157 Mainers die every year we fail to accept federal funding to expand health coverage through Medicaid. Over the last few years, we’ve seen it happen. We know some of their names. We’ve read their obituaries.

157 people a year over the next couple decades is more than 3,000 lives that could be saved and only 220,000 people voted in the last odd-year referendum election.

So, if Question 2 passes with a bare majority, it will save about one life for every 35 votes.

35 votes! That’s one radio ad! That’s a couple shifts of knocking on doors!

This election matters and it has never been easier to make a difference. You could literally save someone’s life. Visit www.mainersforhealthcare.org to give some money or volunteer right now.

Also on Beacon recently:

Thanks as always for your feedback and for sharing these pieces on social media.

Keep up the fight!

-Mike

Mike Tipping
MPA Communications Director
mike@mainepeoplesalliance.org

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