:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Sunday, June 29, 2003  


For those of us who would like President Bush voted out of office in 2004, the weak Democratic presidential candidates aren't the only reasons it's going to be an uphill battle. A Washington Post article noted that in this fundraising period (the last two months perhaps?), Bush has already raised $30 MILLION, an amount that the 9 Democratic presidential candidates may have raised COMBINED.

In addition, the strategy behind the Bush-Cheney campaign is so sleek -- this administration is dismantling every social program and convincing the public that he's doing it for their good. In ONE WEEK alone, Republicans have managed to pass out of a House committee a plan to dismantle the HeadStart program for low-income communities (handing it over to states; requiring 1/2 of headstart teachers to have a 4 year college degree by 2008, but paying them half of what kindergarten teachers make), and he's managed to push privatization into the public Medicare program (which could disqualify some seniors and make others pay more for less). In the end, he'll claim that he fought for "affordable medicare" and if we aren't saavy enough, we'll believe him. He's even got senators passing a bill without knowing details -- Republican Senator Judd Gregg (New Hampshire) stated last week "No one understands what the heck this bill says or will do" -- and yet it was passed in the House and the Senate this week. Wow.

So between his fundraising efforts and his efforts to coopt Democratic plans (fighting for affordable medicare) as his own (while smashing the programs to pieces), he's got us, and it'll be hard to beat him come election day.

Lastly, two things on the Head Start issue. It is quite disturbing that for the most part, many of the decisions of the Bush administration are made behind closed doors and are not open to the public. However, the administration went too far when it threatened Head Start employees and parents of children in the program with loss of grant funding and possible criminal charges if they were to speak up against the bill to dismantle it. How crazy is that? Second, I did it and I hope you do too -- click here to send a quick message to your elected official asking to Save Head Start.

posted by Anjali Taneja | 6/29/2003 03:33:00 PM | (0) comments |

Friday, June 20, 2003  


Our Congress, fondly known as the "millionaires' club", is much more affluent than its constituents. The investments disclosed by our elected officials include health and energy related investments. And many of them have put their investments into "blind trusts" so they can't report conflicts of interest. The economic disparities between our elected officials and their constituents is a bit disturbing, but even more disquieting are the major conflicts of interest with big pharma and energy companies. Anybody wish it were a requirement for elected officials to give up their investments in conflicts of interest if voted into office? Thoughts?

posted by Anjali Taneja | 6/20/2003 08:17:00 PM | (0) comments |


THE MOST AMAZING TIME, and a "Health Justice Gathering"

I'm finishing up my first month in HEAVEN right now. I've taken a year off and am serving as the Jack Rutledge Fellow at the American Medical Student Association (www.amsa.org) national office right outside of Washington, DC. I've been having a BLAST (the previous JRF, Minesh Shah, called this "the best job in the country" -- I'd have to agree) and I've been COMPLETELY reenergized in just one month!

So anyway, I'm typing from Orlando, Florida, where I will be part of a panel tomorrow on "legislative issues facing medical students and physicians" at the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin conference. And then the day after tomorrow, i'll be flying out to the Midwest Academy week-long training in Redwood City, California -- an intense and absolutely amazing weeklong training on "Organizing for Social Change". Can't wait! And last week we had an Action Committees and Board of Trustees meeting at the AMSA national office, and it was so much fun to hang out with 60 inspirational medical student activists and leaders, and to share my goals with them and hear theirs and how we can work together. I've also been to some interesting meetings on Capitol Hill, and to a REALLY exciting Health Justice Gathering in New Mexico, which I'll detail:

Two weeks ago, I flew out to Albuquerque, NM for a Health Justice Gathering organized by a few people including Andru Ziwasimon, a doctor completing his fellowship in Rural Health at Univ of New Mexico. The day I arrived, there was a community meeting organized, in which patients actually stood up in front of a microphone and shared their stories about how they have been affected by not having health insurance. They told horrifying stories about receiving expensive hospital bills (one woman had to pay $30,000 after having an emergency cesarian section), and about not having the choice to pay in monthly installments but having to come up with 50% of their money up front and the other 50% a little later (one woman had to sell her house in order to pay the bill). There were also tragic stories of not having translation services and not being able to communicate with doctors and nurses. It was SO absolutely powerful to see patients sharing their stories, and the CEO and the Public Relations director from the hospital were there too, so hopefully some positive changes will come out of this. I like the concept involved in this -- empowering patients themselves -- and helping them convey messages effectively, instead of doctors and other educated activists always speaking up for them. It's exciting. I'll add more in the near future from this really amazing and diverse group of activists, the Community Coalition for Health Access based in Albuquerque, NM.

The next day 24 of us (medical students, residents, attendings, others) drove to the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico, where some amazing cabin-owners allowed us to use a few of their cabins for free! We went hiking and chillin' in the hot springs nearby (and I think I got altitude sickness). In two days we discussed the health effects of globalization (thanks to John and Lucy, two of the most inspirational and fun doctors i've met yet) and the future of the universal health care movement. I also heard tons of interesting stories about health justice issues in Latin America, from Lanny Smith, founder of Dcotrs for Global Health (by the way, the DGH annual meeting is in Berkeley California at the end of July!) It was all in all supercool, and i'll be posting more about these movers and shakers, and about our "what to do now" work. That's it for now, more exciting news and opinions shortly!

posted by Anjali Taneja | 6/20/2003 07:19:00 PM | (0) comments |

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