Millions May Lose Their Healthcare

Call Your Senators

Don’t fail to act this time! The Senate is trying to work fast to pass a bill before the public knows what’s in it. This bill cuts Medicaid by hundreds of billions of dollars. That’s the program which provides healthcare coverage for 69 million people in America.

What senators hear now and in coming days will determine whether they pass their bill which would destroy the system that makes it possible for American’s most needy to have access to healthcare. The 23 million people that will be hit hard by this bill are seniors, children, veterans, people with disabilities, and people suffering from substance abuse and mental health conditions.

The Senate leadership plans to bring this vote without any hearings and very little notice. It would have a terrible impact on millions of lives and our economy. It is important that you speak against this bill right now.

Don’t be fooled by the Senate’s bill. The effects will be horrible. It will still end the guarantee of Medicaid. It will be 80% of what passed the House. The House bill cuts Medicaid by $850 million over ten years and leaves 23 million Americans without coverage.

Some senators may be hoping you’re not aware of these details, but the details of America’s healthcare policies mean life and death for many Americans. We aren’t talking about saving bills, or budgets; we are talking about the lives of men, women, and children, many of whom are your neighbors, friends, or family members, and one day could be you.

In Alabama, 875 million people are enrolled in Medicaid. The cuts in the Senate bill would leave the poorest of our population without healthcare choices.

The Alabama state budget would be hit hard. Alabama gets $3.8 billion from the Federal government for Medicaid. Over time, Federal funding would be cut and the state would be responsible for the difference in cost and funding. This would force the state to cut services, eligibility, or provider payments, potentially leaving thousands without healthcare.

Fifty percent of the Medicaid program goes to help children. One of every two children in the state is enrolled in Medicaid. Children enrolled are more likely to be better in school, miss less days, finish high school, go on to college, and earn more as adults. When we are talking about Medicaid, we are talking about the future of many of Alabama’s children.

In Alabama, the opioid death rate is 6.1 per 100,000. The state’s Medicaid program provides all three drugs used in the treatment of addiction. Cutting the program would hinder the state’s ability to cope with the problem and raise the death rate. In addition, the Senate bill would cause approximately 11,200 jobs lost in the health sector.

People of color will suffer more if the bill passes. They have worse healthcare access and outcomes than do whites. Over half of the non-elderly uninsured are people of color, and the black infant death rate is 2.4 times higher than whites. Medicaid cuts would only increase the gaps.

Rural communities will be hit hard by the bill. Approximately 1.7 million people live in rural areas, and 24% of them are enrolled in Medicaid. They have larger Medicaid populations because more people with disabilities live there, household incomes are lower and unemployment rates are higher.

Any proposal to reduce or cap Medicaid funding would have a terrible impact on women’s health. In Alabama, 61% of the enrollees are women. Cuts would limit access to maternity care, family planning, and other healthcare services such as Pap smears, sexually transmitted disease testing, and counseling for HIV and domestic violence. In our state, 65,000 women and girls are living in poverty. They cannot afford to lose Medicaid coverage.

Due to Medicaid expansion, 11 million low income Americans now have quality healthcare coverage. Don’t let them lose it! Call your senators today and ask them to vote against this bill.

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A SAD COMMENTARY ON AMERICA AND DONALD TRUMP

The completion of the Dakota pipeline marks another sad chapter in America’s history. If we listen closely to the pipeline and the events around it, we can learn a great deal about our government and Donald Trump.

The pipeline builder was Energy Transfer Partners, a Texas-based energy company. They built an 1100-mile pipeline to move crude oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa into Illinois. They estimated it would move nearly a half million barrels of crude oil a day. The company said no damage would be done to surrounding water sources or lands.

The pipeline was opposed by the Standing Rock Sioux, whose land is only about a half mile away from the pipeline. The tribe gets their water from a reservoir off the Missouri River along the pipeline route.

When the tribe sued to stop the pipeline they said, “The pipeline threatens our sacred lands and the health of 17 million people who rely on the Missouri River for water. They also claimed construction would destroy burial grounds that are “of enormous cultural importance to the tribe.” How would we like for some company to build a large pipeline across our family cemetery?

The pipeline says, “America’s new president Donald Trump is not an honorable man.” Honorable men keep their word and they don’t lie. He promised the country he would keep his business interests and his work as president separate, implying that he would not use the office of the president for personal gain. All the while, he was a $100 million investor and partner with the pipeline developers and stands to make several million dollars on the deal.

One of his first acts as president was to sign an executive order which removed all obstacles to the pipeline’s completion. No wonder he smiled while holding up the signed executive order for photographers.

The pipeline says, “When it comes to big money, people don’t matter much.” There were hundreds, maybe even thousands, who came to protest the pipeline. On one Wednesday, over 1.6 million had checked in via Facebook to show their support.

Protesters from the Standing Rock Sioux were joined by many other tribes and many non-Native American friends. Many solidarity demonstrations were held throughout the world. High profile supporters included Senator Bernie Sanders, actor Mark Ruffro, and actress Shailene Woodley. Reporter Amy Goodman and documentary filmmaker Dia Schosberg were arrested for documenting the demonstrations. People showed who and what they supported but in the end, it didn’t matter much.

The pipeline says, “The people had good reasons to demonstrate.” There have been a rising number of pipeline accidents in recent years. Doug Hayes, an attorney at the Sierra Club said, “These are the types of concerns the tribes have, and they’re frankly very well-founded. That’s why the pipeline’s original route which passed near Bismarck, the state’s capital, was changed.

North Dakota officials estimate more than 176,000 gallons of crude oil leaked into the Ash Coulee Creek, about 150 miles from the Dakota Access pipeline protest camps on December 5, 2017. True Cos operates at least three pipeline companies in three states. According to their reports submitted to the federal government, they have had 36 spills totaling 320,000 gallons, most of which have never been recovered.

It is commendable that so many people stood up for our native American friends for clean water, and a clean environment. Their courage cost them. They were attacked by police dogs, maced, and even jailed. They were forced to camp outdoors for weeks in bitter cold, snowy weather. But their suffering was not in vain. They made their point. They stood for the right. Our hope and prayer should be for more like them.

Want Change? Vote!

Many people don’t like what exists in their city, state, or nation. But sadly, they make no effort to change it. Some just give up on government and don’t participate in it. Others turn into gripers and complainers.

Citizens of Birmingham, do you like having a mayor and city council who are faced with problems of crime, education, and jobs yet spend most of their time arguing and fighting with each other over petty issues?

Citizens of Alabama, do you like it when your state government has been rated as one of the most crooked in America? The state has some of the best politicians that money can buy. Ethics among lawmakers is a joke. Violations are not clearly spelled out, and there is little enforcement, if any. Besides that, what bribed representative is going to tell on another one?

Citizens of America, do you like it that Donald Trump and the Republican party are working hard to pass a healthcare bill that will leave 32 million Americans without healthcare, close rural hospitals, and in general cause suffering and pain among millions, even death for some?

Do you like it that your government is being run by and for millionaires, rich corporations, and lobbyists more than by the majority of the American people? It is no longer a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

There is a fix for all these dismal situations. It’s called voting, and a democracy cannot exist without it.

Voting gives you the power to change things. If you don’t like how the government is being run, voting is a simple way to change it. You can replace the old with someone who agrees with your views at both local and national levels.

Voting gets politicians working for you. They often look at voter turnouts before making important decisions. It benefits them to give favorable votes on the issues most voters in their districts support, if they want to be re-elected.

Voting is the only way for you to have a say in your government. By not voting, you are giving up your right to have a say in what is happening to you and your community.

When voters don’t turn out to choose their local and state governments, the government does not represent them. Ferguson Missouri is a good example of this. Not long ago, an unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer. Several community groups complained loudly to public officials. However, city government did nothing to get justice for Michael Brown.

There was a reason the mayor, city council, and police department didn’t respond to the outcries of the community—most of the people in the community did not vote. A board member of the Missouri NAACP said “We warned you about these kinds of things. Who hires police officers? The police chief. Who hires the police chief? The mayor. Who hires the mayor? Who elects the city council folks?” The answer is clear—the voters.

The next time you hear someone griping and complaining about their government, ask them, “Did you vote?” If they say, “No,” tell them, “I don’t want to hear it. When you didn’t vote, you gave up your right to complain.”

If you don’t like it—change it—vote!

Santa’s Disappointing Gift

Have you ever been disappointed by what Santa brought you for Christmas?  One year, as a small boy, I was disappointed.

Ralphie, the little boy in the movie, “The Christmas Story,” and I had a lot in common. He wanted a BB gun, but not just any BB gun. He knew every detail of the gun he wanted. He wanted a Red Ryder, 200 shot, range model, air rifle.

Like Ralphie, I wanted a bicycle, but not just any bicycle. I wanted the one that was pictured on the back pages of the comic book I was reading. It was the most beautiful bike in the world. It was a red Schwinn with white trim. It had a seat over the rear fender where a friend could sit and ride with you. It had a light on the front fender where you could see when it got dark. The handle bar grips set it off perfectly. They had beautiful red and white streamers coming out of them. That bike was beautiful, and it looked fast. It was my dream that Christmas.

Like Ralphie, I told my parents and anyone else who would listen about it. I even made a trip to the downtown Pizitz department store, and rode the escalator to the third floor to talk to Santa. I stood in a long line until I had my chance to sit in his lap and tell him exactly what I wanted.

When Christmas morning came, I was filled with excitement. My mother came into my room and said, “Come on, Bobby. Get up and see what Santa Claus had brought you.” I rushed into the room, fully expecting to see my dream bike. When I saw the bicycle by the tree, the words flew out of my mouth, “That ain’t no Schwinn!” Disappointment reigned supreme.

What I saw was a big green ugly bicycle with the name “Collegiate” on it. It was definitely not the Schwinn of my dreams. When I tried to ride it, I found that my feet could barely reach the pedals, and I fell over several times. Disappointment reigned supreme.

However, as the years went by, I learned to love that big ugly “Collegiate” bicycle. One of my first jobs was delivering shoes for McClendon’s Shop Repair shop on First Avenue North near Woodlawn High School. I delivered shoes all over Woodlawn, and Woodlawn Highlands. When Mr. McClendon wanted lunch, I had to pedal all the way to Mack’s Barbeque stand on First Avenue North and Sixty-Fifth Street where the railroad tracks crossed the avenue. They had very good barbecue. I did all of this on that big ugly “Collegiate” bicycle.

My second job was delivering newspapers for the Birmingham Post-Herald. My route covered part of Woodlawn, and all of Woodlawn Highlands. Once again, that big ugly bike made it possible for me to work.

I kept that bike until I grew out of the bicycle stage. It never broke down, or needed repair. It was the best bike I ever owned and the only one.

As I look back across the years, I learned several lessons from my disappointing gift from Santa. They are as follows:

  1. Everything doesn’t have to be new, flashy, or as advertised in a comic book to be good.
  2. Parents sacrifice for their children, particularly at Christmas. My parents were poor, but I didn’t know it. They bought a used bicycle from our neighbors, and took it to the Woodlawn Bicycle Shop where it was checked out and painted green. This was the bike they gave me for Christmas. It was all they could afford.
  3. I have regretted my words of disappointment on that Christmas morning. My parents must have been disappointed in my reaction to their gift. However, they must have known that over the year, I came to love and appreciate that bike, and the ones who gave it to me.
  4. As a young adult, I became a Christian, and learned that Christmas was snot really about Santa Claus and gifts. It was, and still is, about God, the greatest gift giver, and His greatest gift—His Son Jesus Christ. No one who receives Him is ever disappointed. Merry Christmas!

Dr. Robert Wilkerson is a Christian author, retired minister, and public speaker who lives in the Birmingham area. drbobwilkerson@bellsouth.net

TRUMP NO! HILLARY YES!

Author Robert G. Wilkerson

front coverI have often wondered where the German Christian Church was when Adolph Hitler was rising to power. Why didn’t they see the evil in the man? Why didn’t they oppose him?

Well, I think I’m beginning to understand some of them. I don’t like losing friends or making enemies, so I have been quiet about Donald Trump. However, I can’t be quiet any longer, regardless of the cost! Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is evil itself: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” I believe that is true. If Donald Trump wins the election, it will be disastrous for America for the following reasons:

  1. Trump is not qualified to be the president of the United States. There are basically two qualifications for most jobs in America—education and experience. Trump has neither.
  • Trump has never studied…

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TRUMP NO! HILLARY YES!

front coverI have often wondered where the German Christian Church was when Adolph Hitler was rising to power. Why didn’t they see the evil in the man? Why didn’t they oppose him?

Well, I think I’m beginning to understand some of them. I don’t like losing friends or making enemies, so I have been quiet about Donald Trump. However, I can’t be quiet any longer, regardless of the cost! Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is evil itself: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” I believe that is true. If Donald Trump wins the election, it will be disastrous for America for the following reasons:

  1. Trump is not qualified to be the president of the United States. There are basically two qualifications for most jobs in America—education and experience. Trump has neither.
  • Trump has never studied government or politics. He doesn’t have earned degrees in those fields or even a certificate from a correspondence school. Would you want a surgeon to operate on you who had never been to medical school?
  • Trump has no experience in government. He has never served in any office in government. Would you want someone to operate on you who had never performed an operation before, or even assisted in one?
  • That he’s gotten this far without these basic qualifications is why some people call him a con artist.
  1. Trump is a bully. It could be seen clearly in the debates.
  2. Trump is all wrapped up in himself. As someone has said, “When a man is all wrapped up in himself, he makes a very small package.”
  3. Trump thinks he knows all the answers. He doesn’t even know the questions in many cases.
  4. Whether he intended to or not, Trump has stirred up hatred and division in America.
  5. Some have compared Trump to Hitler. I won’t do that, but there are some similarities
  • Hitler was a strong, charismatic leader. According to many, that’s what many Americans want. Hitler led Germany, but he led in the wrong way. I believe the same thing would be true if Trump wins the election.
  • Hitler promised to make Germany great again. Trump promises to make America great again. You can’t restore what has never been lost. America is a great nation! One of the reasons it is, is that we have never elected a man like Trump to the highest public office in the land.
  • Hitler scapegoated minorities (Jews, Poles, and gypsies), and did his best to kill them and destroy their bodies. Trump doesn’t want to kill Mexicans or other immigrants. He simply wants to deport millions living here. Then he wants to build a wall across our southern border to keep them out.
  • Hitler led Germany into war. Trump with all his ignorance, bragging, and loose talk could do the same for America.

Some people say there isn’t any difference between Hillary and Trump—but there is! A very big difference.

Some people have said they won’t vote for Hillary because their insurance premium has gone up. Let’s put the blame where it belongs. The Affordable Care Act has been a great benefit to millions of poor, and middle-income people. If it costs you more, it is because you live in a Republican state that refused to cooperate with the Act and receive the help that was offered to the states. Add to that, the multimillion dollar costs that the insurance companies rake in and huge salaries and bonuses their CEOs are paid.

Wake up, get smart, and vote for Hillary Clinton.

 

The Lord is My Shepherd-Part 1

Psalm 23:1

 When you say, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” you’ve said a lot. David was one of the first to say it. For him, it meant Jehovah the God of Israel is my Shepherd. When God came in the flesh on this earth, he was referred to as Jesus. Jesus did not hide who he truly was. He stated strongly and clearly, “I am the good Shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

The person who says, “The Lord is my Shepherd” in essence is saying, “The Lord is my owner and manager.” I have a special relationship with him. He loves me and I love him. I belong to him because he has bought me with the price of his blood.

God in Christ is deeply concerned about me and my welfare in particular. Sheep do not just take care of themselves. They require great attention and care. Jesus is the one who provides it. As our Shepherd, He is always guiding us and working on our behalf. Aren’t you thankful you have a Shepherd?

Robert G Wilkerson, D.Min., is a minister, Christian author, and public speaker. www.RobertWilkersonandAssociates.com.  drbobwilkerson@bellsouth.net.