The Woman Behind Medicare…

As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month, it’s important to learn more about the women who have had such an impact on our lives today.  Meet Dorothy Rice (courtesy of AFGE).  Like the movie, “Hidden Figures,” this article highlights the accomplishments of federal government employees and the impact that they have on our lives today.

Medicare is one of the most popular government programs in the country. Its played a key role in providing health insurance coverage to Americans age 65 and older as well as younger Americans with specific medical conditions or disabilities.

It works so well that 70 percent of Americans believe Medicare “should continue as it is today with the government guaranteeing seniors health benefits and making sure that everyone gets the same defined set of benefits.” A majority of Americans also told pollsters over and over that they support the program and prefer a federally funded health care system or Medicare-for-all to cover all Americans.

So Medicare has been immensely successful. But do you know how Medicare came to be?

Without the important research of one public servant, federal economist Dorothy Rice, it would have been nearly impossible to make the case for such an important government program. Rice passed away on February 25 at 94-years-old, but has left a legacy that all Americans are grateful for.

How Medicare Was Created

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers Social Security, the highly popular national retirement program created in 1934. Dorothy Rice was an analyst at SSA when her agency did a study on aging. Her 1964 research found that half of all seniors, about 8.5 million, were uninsured. Those who were 65 and older were the most in need of health insurance, but were the least likely to have it.

Rice’s work informed a national discussion on whether the country should have a national health insurance program.

“[Because of Rice’s research] people really came to understand the needs of the Medicare population and really contributed to the popularity of the program,” said Karen Davis, a professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, as reported by the New York Times.

Efforts to create a national health insurance program date back decades, most notably during the Truman administration.

President Truman had tried several times to get Congress to create a national health insurance program for every American, but his efforts were met with resistance from powerful, profit-hungry medical lobbies. Those groups vilified such a program as “un-American.”

In 1957 a small group of congressmen led by Rep. Aime Forand (RI – District 1) came up with an idea to create a smaller, more targeted national health insurance program for older Americans to be administered by SSA. Forand knew the wide impact that a lack of health care could have on an American family. In fact, the congressman was forced to quit school in the seventh grade to take care of his ailing father.

Soon, the group of lawmakers put together a proposal and Medicare was born. The proposal was gaining popularity in Congress, but when President John F. Kennedy tried to get a Medicare bill passed, the American Medical Association (AMA) launched a PR campaign that trashed Medicare, saying it would “put the government smack into your hospital” – similar language used by today’s politicians to justify the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.

At the time, AMA had an ally in the powerful Committee Chairman Rep. Wilbur Mills (AR – District 2). A staunch advocate of fiscal conservatism, Mills refused to bring Medicare up for a vote. Medicare continued to be held up, until President Lyndon B. Johnson and pro-Medicare legislators won in a landslide victory in the 1964 election.

When President Johnson eventually signed Medicare into law in 1965, President Truman, who had been invited to sit beside him during the signing ceremony, was given a Medicare card, making him the nation’s first Medicare beneficiary. Elizabeth “Bess” Truman, the former first lady, became the second.

A Woman of Her Time

That important research on aging was not the only thing Rice did that had a major impact on the country’s health care landscape.

At the National Center for Health Statistics, Rice established new standards and spearheaded studies on health care costs across the country, including on particular illnesses.

“I developed study methodology to determine the true cost of disease – you name a disease, I did a study on it – and that methodology is still being used today,” she said when asked what she was most proud of in her impressive career.

She and a colleague also developed a way to calculate an economic value of the work of women working as homemakers.

“She looked at all the things a housewife did during the week and how many hours she spent doing it and looked at the market for each of those components,” said Rice’s son Thomas Rice, a health-policy professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. “She wasn’t just taking stuff off the shelf. She and Barbara Cooper were inventing solutions to problems that others hadn’t dealt with before.”

Later on, at the School of Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco, she did research on the financial costs of cigarette smoking. One of the studies in 1998 concluded that smoking-related illnesses cost Medicaid $12.9 billion a year. The study came out when the tobacco industry was negotiating with states over the costs of smoking. They finally reached a settlement of $250 billion over 25 years.

A Shining Example of the Value of Public Servants

Rice was one of the public servants whose work made a difference in the lives of their fellow Americans and others around the world. Every day, federal researchers and scientists, notably at health and safety agencies like FEMA, CDC, EPA, the VA, and HHS, are finding new ways to save lives.

In 1960, for example, the first cardiac pacemaker, developed by a VA team, was successfully implanted. In 1984, the nicotine patch was developed by VA researchers Dr. Jed Rose, Dr. Daniel Rose, and Dr. Murray Jarvik.

Then there are dozens of Nobel Prize winners who are, or were, federal employees, including:

  • David Wineland, a National Institute of Standards and Technology physicist whose groundbreaking work contributed to the development of telecommunication systems such as GPS and cellphones.
  • Ferid Murad and Louis Ignarro, National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists who discovered the body uses nitric oxide to regulate blood vessels. Nitric oxide plays a critical role in blood pressure, heart function, infections, lung problems, and the body’s defense against tumors.
  • Julius Axelrod, an NIH scientist whose discoveries about a neurotransmitter formed a basis for understanding the effects of various drugs on the central nervous system.
  • Kenneth Arrow, a member of the Council of Economic Advisors honored for this contributions to general equilibrium theory (the question on how a market economy allocates resources) and welfare theory.
  • John C. Mather, a NASA scientist honored for his work examining the origins of the universe.

AFGE salutes all Americans who have answered the call for public service and inspired us all.

#womenshistorymonth        #knowyourhistory          #girlsrock        #whorunstheworld

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

The Feast of St. Patrick or as we say ” St. Patrick’s Day” is the most celebrated national festival in the world. On March 17th, marking the death of St. Patrick of Ireland, we celebrate the start of Christianity in Ireland and the heritage and culture of Irish people. It was made an official Christian feast day in the 17th century, and you get to lift the Lenten restrictions for the day! Pretty Cool ☘️

In my house, we learn something new about Ireland along with all the fun the day brings. This year KY girls and I wore leggings to celebrate the holiday! Of course, we’ll be posting on instagram (@monicabriggsanderson and @kennedyjoanne). Check out our style! Maybe we can get @thatbosslibby to do an Irish jog on!

However you decide to celebrate! Learn something new and have a lot of FUN! Now go Be Great!!

Welcome to Herstory

March 1, 2017 is the start of Women’s History Month 2017! It’s also Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten Season!  

Wow!! That’s a mouthful. Who had any idea that one day could have so much going on. Well, actually, women do, so it’s appropriate. There will be a lot to share and say and process this month as we celebrate women while remembering those that came before us and the last days of a man who made the ultimate sacrifice for no other reason than LOVE. 

So today, As we prepare to make short-term sacrifices, I want to share the writings of a woman whose writing I admire. 

In her blog, “Pinch Me Living with Bernadette Logue,” she expresses, 

We are all beautiful human beings here in this world trying to find our way.

Every day we seek to better understand the meaning of our lives. We long to discover our gifts and release them fully into the world, and we hope to find happiness and peace along the way.

For some of us these desires ring loud and clear, driving what we do and how we do it.

For others, these deep seeded needs are buried below the noise of daily life, below ego, below fear, below the pressures and norms that we face in society… and thus, they are rarely addressed.
Along my own journey of self-actualization, I’ve witnessed many great people discover their own paths to happiness and self-fulfilment, and I’ve noticed common themes emerge.

In all cases, the happiness they discover and gradually develop internally is seeded by the realization of certain fundamental truths.

It seems we are all here to realize these truths, in our own way, in our own time. And once they resonate fully, not just intellectually, but emotionally and spiritually, we are then able to find the happiness and peace we seek…

At this point, she shares concepts for self-actialization. The things that you need to embody to realize peace and self-satisfaction. One thing I appreciate about humans is that we are free to agree in some areas and not in others. For those that have a mantra, a saying that motivates and reminds you of the potential you possess, say it daily and keep these things in mind.

1. It’s impossible for anyone to define you. Only you can do that. 

2. You were born with everything you need. 

3. Perfection is a man-made illusion. Strive for progress, betterment, knowledge, NOT perfection. 

4. You are not your thoughts. 

5. Your beliefs can be modified to lift you up. 

6. Now is the moment. Be true to it!

7. Your calling is to fully express who you already are. 

8. Challenges are gifts for your growth. 

9. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. It’s for you!

10. Surrender is the gateway into sustainable inner peace. 

Post these principles over the best 40 days of Lent or for the entire life. It could make all the difference. 

52 Years After the Loss of our Black Prince

malcolm2  52 Years ago today, on February 21, 1965, Malcolm X, described as ‘our shining Black prince’, was assassinated in Manhattan’s Audobon Ballroom.  His body riddled with bullets, 21 in all including 10 buckshots from a single shot-gun blast.

Recently, an elementary student asked about Malcolm X.  Not being prepared with a response, the teacher could only respond that he was a man who believed in fighting for civil and human rights “by any means necessary” insinuating a more violent leader than another civil rights activist of that time.  I don’t know that it was her intention to invoke violence in the conversation.  Nevertheless, her words portrayed a comparison that was not lost on her audience.  In fairness, that’s how the some Americans may see this man, voiced by the responses to his death in 1965.

Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in a telegram to his widow Betty Shabazz, “While we did not always see eye to eye on methods to solve the race problem, I always had a deep affection for Malcolm and felt that he had a great ability to put his finger on the existence and root of the problem. He was an eloquent spokesman for his point of view and no one can honestly doubt that Malcolm had a great concern for the problems that we face as a race.

Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam at that time, stated “Malcolm X got just what he preached.”  Some allege that this is in response to allegations that the Nation of Islam took part in his assassination.

Various publications gave varying views of this death.  The New York Times described Malcolm X as, “an extraordinary and gifted man” whose life was “strangely and pitifully wasted.”  While The New York Post portrayed a man whose “sharpest critics recognized his brilliance—often wild, unpredictable and eccentric, but nevertheless possessing promise that must now remain unrealized.”  Time magazine labeled him a demagogue whose “creed was violence.

It is the voice of Ossie Davis who eulogized Malcolm X in the presence of notable civil rights leaders of that time, such as, John Lewis, James Forman, Andrew Young and many others, states:

malcolm3Malcolm X “didn’t hesitate to die, because he loved us so. There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain—and we will smile. Many will say turn away—away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man—and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate—a fanatic, a racist—who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them: Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him … And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves.

Malcolm X was killed just as he was beginning to think for himself, as he was taking the knowledge gained through his life’s experiences to develop a new way for Black liberation. No one can deny his love of Black people, and his desire to see them unshackled.  Had he lived, we have no idea how his beliefs may have developed.  We are only left with his own words and our interpretation of their growth captured in his speech, “Ballot or the Bullet” April 3, 1964, less than one year preceding his death.

Many will remember Malcolm X.  Many will remember those that lived during and after his time.  Today, I remember a man who understood the life of Blacks who lived above the Mason-Dixon line with a struggle very different from their Southern counterparts.  Today, I remember a man misunderstood by some who started a movement that continues into the 21st Century.  Black is Beautiful Brother Malcolm. Thank you for allowing us to feel it.


Related Article: The Legacy of Malcolm X

Facts from First 100 Days as of 1/31/2017

Check out the results of round 1 below!!!!!

One month in office…almost to the day.  Hey GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES!!!! You are next. He promises smaller government, so some of you have to go!!! 

In Case You Missed It! Things just got real!!!  The Senate voted 51 to 48 in late January:1. To end coverage for pre-existing conditions, veterans benefits, and aid to rural hospitals.

2. To remove discrimination protection for women in healthcare.

3. Against the provision allowing children to remain on their parent’s insurance till the age of 26.

4. To cut off funding for the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

5. Against ACA contraceptive coverage and maternity care provision.

6. To direct committees to send budget legislation to defund and repeal the Affordable Care Act.
For those who get health insurance through work, no pre-existing conditions. Lifetime caps for coverage are back for everyone. Real and disastrous actions are being taken that will affect more than just the 20-30 million people who will lose their health care coverage and the 3 million people who will lose their jobs.

Despite their assertions of this being an action to “repeal and replace,” no viable alternative plan has been proposed.

The House voted Friday 227-198 to repeal Obamacare. 

As of this moment, no replacement exists.

Wake up and Vote in All Elections. Mid-terms, which will be 2018, are just as important as the General. The Health of Our Country is at stake. Make your Voice heard with your Vote.

He Who Must Not Be Named

It was the best of times… Many of us are feeling so sort of way. Between the election results, today’s social, political and economic climate, Super Bowl LI, and the list could go on, we just find it hard some days, some moments to deal with “It”; however you define It.

A friend shared Bernice King’s (the daughter of MLK Jr.) advice on how to deal with It:

“1. Don’t use his name; EVER it’s like acknowledging the class clown (45, he who will not be named, Him upstairs, Mista, etc will do)

Briggsy Note: it’s like “he who must not be named” in the Harry Potter series! If it works for Michelle Obama, Dumbledore and Bernice King, it works for me. 

2. Remember this is a REGIME and he’s NOT acting alone;

Briggsy note: what is happening is very strategic. While certain world leaders may be using 45, so is the GOP.

3. Do not argue with those who support him – it doesn’t work;

Briggsy note: this speaks for itself! Anything else I could add would only solicit negative reactions and feedback. 

4. Focus on his policies, not his orange-ness and mental state;

Briggsy note: these are distractions from what is really important, which includes Hitler-like rhetoric, business interests, taxes, relationship with his children, where his wife lives, etc. 

5. Keep your message positive; they want the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow;

6. No more helpless/hopeless talk;

Briggsy note: Focus on what’s important in your life. I’ve started spending less time on social media because I found it affected my mood. Focus on those things that you can control, keep your thoughts positive, your words, deeds and disposition will follow. It’s contagious! 

7. Support artists and the arts;

Briggsy note: Go to the theater, symphony or a play. Follow @randallstownmom for local news on the arts and artists. The page is being updated weekly. 

8. Be careful not to spread FAKE news. Check it, check it twice;

Briggsy note: get your news from reputable organizations and news programs. There is a lot of fake news being spread. Be vigilant. 

9. Take care of yourselves; and

Briggsy note: learn to say ‘No’ sometimes. Be true to yourself first. You can’t help others when you don’t take care of you. I’m the first person that needs to take this advice. 

10. Resist!

Keep demonstrations peaceful. In the words of John Lennon, “When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight! Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor.”

When you post or talk about him, don’t assign his actions to him, assign them to “The Republican Administration,” or “The Republicans.” 

Briggsy note: only post about he who must not be named if you must and only if you must. He does not deserve that much attention from you. Plus it’s so much bigger than one man. Don’t let the GOP play you. 

Reassigning his actions will have several effects: Republican legislators will either have to take responsibility for their association with him or stand up for what some of them don’t like; he will not get the focus of attention he craves; Republican representatives will become very concerned about their re-elections.

Briggsy final note for this post: It’s time to change our focus, be purposeful in our actions and know that our future is bright. Stay sexy in a great pair of shades!