Dissatisfaction With Candidates Growing Among Republicans

The Pew Research Center has released a new report showing that Republican voters are becoming increasingly unhappy with the field of candidates- the majority (52%) giving them a “fair” or lower rating.

Click graph for link

By comparison, just 46% of Republican voters have positive opinions of the GOP field, according to the latest survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 26-29 among 1,006 adults, including 341 Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters. In early January, shortly before the New Hampshire primary, 51% gave the field excellent or good ratings while 44% rated the candidates collectively as only fair or poor.

That survey showed that GOP voters’ ratings of the field are far less positive than were opinions of the Republican field in 2008. At about this point four years ago, 68% of Republican and GOP-leaning voters rated the field as excellent or good. (See “GOP Voters Still Unenthused about Presidential Field,”Jan. 9, 2012.)

A Tale Of Two Polls

…from The Montana Democrats:

The red "GOP" logo used by the party...

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Dennis Rehberg’s supporters tonight are pushing a new GOP poll about Montana’s 2012 Senate race.  But a second poll released today—conducted by the same GOP polling firm—tells a much different story.

The first poll, conducted by the firm Public Opinion Strategies for Karl Rove’s secretive organization American Crossroads, shows questionable and uncharacteristic results for the race between Jon Tester and Congressman Dennis Rehberg.

The second poll released today, also conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, has much different results.  It shows the race much closer—well within the margin of error.

“Montanans don’t trust Crossroads or Dennis Rehberg, so why would they believe numbers from a firm that can’t even decide which numbers are accurate,” said Ted Dick, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party.  “Congressman Rehberg believes secrecy and unlimited corporate spending belong in Montana’s elections, and he and his allies will stop at nothing to try to influence the people of our state.”

Fascinating.

Kaiser Permanente Announces HIV Challenge

When healthcare gets it right, I think it’s important to notice.
Contrary to the HMO stereotype, Kaiser Permanente has taken on the challenge of HIV and instituted policies and guidelines for the effective care and treatment of persons with HIV- to dramatic effect:

English: The Ordway Building, One Kaiser Plaza...

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Kaiser Permanente announced (January 26th) the Kaiser Permanente HIV Challenge to help health care providers nationwide improve health equity for people living with HIV by increasing access to HIV care and improving health outcomes.

The HIV Challenge was announced at the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation Care Innovations Summit in Washington, D.C. ( www.hcidc.org ).

Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest nonprofit health care provider, has treated more than 60,000 people since the HIV epidemic emerged 30 years ago, and has reduced disparities among its current HIV population of more than 20,000 people by working to meet or exceed the objectives of the U.S. National HIV / AIDS Strategy.

The crux of the HIV Challenge (kp.org/hivchallenge) is to challenge other private health care providers and public and community health clinics to increase the number of HIV-positive people getting effective treatment by sharing Kaiser Permanente’s toolkit of clinical best practices, provider and patient education materials, mentoring, training and health IT expertise.

(Watch the excellent video series about Kaiser’s HIV Challenge here)

HIV is still an epidemic in the United States, with 56,000 people becoming infected each year and more than 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, but one in five people with HIV don’t know they are infected.

“The organizations presenting challenges here today are pushing the best minds in the country to create a better health care system. They represent exciting solutions to help address some of the nation’s most urgent health needs,” said CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.

Health care disparities are gaps in the quality of care associated with inequities encountered by racial, ethnic, poor and marginalized groups. The HIV Challenge is part of Kaiser Permanente’s larger work to identify, measure, research and eliminate disparities in health and health care in the United States. To learn more go to kp.org/healthdisparities.

“Too many people are unaware they have HIV because access to effective prevention and care is insufficient,” said Michael Horberg, MD, director of HIV/AIDS for Kaiser Permanente, executive director of research for Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group, and a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. “People with HIV need to get into treatment because quality HIV treatment prevents others from getting infected. Patients on effective therapy and better case management are living longer and more productive lives. However, quality HIV treatment requires effort.”

Kaiser Permanente has demonstrated excellence in HIV clinical care outcomes with:

  • HIV mortality rates that are half the national average
  • 94 percent median treatment adherence among patients regularly in care and on antiretroviral therapy
  • No disparities among its black and Latino HIV-positive patients for both mortality and medication rates, compared to a 15 percent higher rate in the United States for mortality and for medication
  • 89 percent of its HIV-positive patients are in HIV-specific care within 90 days, compared to 50 percent in the U.S. within one year
  • 69 percent of all its HIV-positive patients have maximal viral control compared to 19 percent to 35 percent nationally

As part of its HIV Challenge effort, Kaiser Permanente is sharing these best practices and tools for private health care providers and community health clinics to replicate: quality improvement programs that measure gaps in care; testing, prevention and treatment guidelines; how to set up multi-disciplinary care team models that emphasize the “medical home” so HIV specialists, care managers, clinical pharmacists and providers work together; and education for both the provider and patient.

For more details on the HIV Challenge, to download the best-practices toolkit and to watch videos of success stories in setting up HIV clinics and reducing disparities, go to: kp.org/hivchallenge

“Our success in the treatment of patients with HIV/AIDS results from the excellence of our clinicians, our advanced IT systems, our integrated delivery system and our effective coordination across specialties,” said Robert Pearl, MD, chief executive officer and executive medical director of The Permanente Medical Group and Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group. “In the same way that we have reduced the chances of our patients dying from cardiovascular disease and cancer significantly below the national averages, we have achieved outstanding clinical outcomes for our patients with HIV/AIDS.”

The National HIV/AIDS Strategy ( http://www.aids.gov/federal-resources/policies/national-hiv-aids-strategy/ ) calls for increased testing so that all Americans can know their HIV status, increased access to culturally sensitive prevention messages, community-targeted prevention and condom and clean needle access. NHAS also calls for improving access to quality HIV care because HIV medications not only improve individuals’ health and extend their life expectancy, they also reduce their risk of transmitting HIV to others. A recent scientific study found that effectively treating HIV patients with antiretroviral medications reduces HIV transmission by 96 percent. The study, known as HPTN 052, found that treating people with antiretroviral drugs before they are symptomatic can reduce the amount of virus in the blood sufficiently to reduce the risk of sexual transmission of HIV to an uninfected partner.

The Kaiser Permanente HIV Challenge is part of Kaiser Permanente’s ongoing research of HIV and HIV treatment. Published Kaiser Permanente research studies include:

  • A study that found there are no disparities by race or ethnicity in risk of AIDS and death among HIV-infected patients in a setting of similar access to care, despite lower anti-retroviral therapy adherence among Latinos and blacks compared to whites.
  • A study that found HIV-infected patients are at increased risk for cancer as a result of both their impaired immune system and lifestyle factors, such as smoking.
  • A study that found 17 measures, such as screening and prevention for infections and monitoring of antiretroviral therapy, should be adopted uniformly to improve the quality of HIV care and treatment nationwide.
  • A study that found that cholesterol medications can work well among certain HIV patients who are at risk for cardiovascular disease.

About the Care Innovations Summit:

Sponsored jointly by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Health Affairs, and the West Wireless Health Institute, the Care Innovations Summit brings together more than 1,000 health care leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, government officials, and finance experts to stimulate investment in a high-quality, sustainable health care system. Made possible by the Affordable Care Act and the Obama Administration’s commitment to open government, the Summit represents a new opportunity for industry and government to work together to help spur innovation in the public and private sectors to improve health care quality as never before and lower costs through improvement.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: http://www.kp.org/newscenter .

For more information:
Danielle Cass, danielle.x.cass@kp.org, 510-267-5354
Farra Levin, farra.r.levin@kp.org, 510-267-7364

SOURCE Kaiser Permanente

Lesbian Healthcare Study

I like to help students out- especially when it involves greater understanding of our community.  Please pass along to others who may qualify.

Icon from Nuvola icon theme for KDE 3.x.

LESBIAN RESEARCHER SEEKING PARTICIPANTS FOR STUDY ON LESBIANS’ EXPERIENCES WITH HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS
My name is Melissa St. Pierre and I am a lesbian doctoral student from the University of Windsor (ON, Canada).  I am looking for women who are interested in participating in a research study.  You can participate if:

You are a lesbian.

You are 16 years or older and live in Canada
OR
You are 18 years or older and live in the United States

Chance to win 1 of 5 $100 cash prizes!

This study has received clearance from the University of Windsor’s Research Ethics Board.

To find out more, go to: http://www.uwindsor.ca/lesbianhealthstudy. Questions?  Prefer to fill out a paper survey?  Contact me at stpier4@uwindsor.ca or at 519-253-3000 ext. 4703.

Tester vs Rehberg: Who Works Harder?

While the question may seem inflammatory and derisive, it’s totally fair. And The Montana Democrats have done their homework:

Location map of Montana, USA

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How did Jon Tester and Congressman Dennis Rehberg spend the month of January?  The difference couldn’t be more obvious.

Jon Tester traveled thousands of miles across the Treasure State, holding dozens of meetings and public events attended by more than 1,000 Montanans from across the political spectrum—discussing everything from online safety to consumer protection to job creation in Montana.

As for Dennis Rehberg?  Not counting plenty of interviews with newspapers, TV and radio stations, Rehberg’s only public event was a political news conference announcing his Senate bid—surrounded Republican legislators known for comparing women to cattle and birther bills.

“Unlike Jon Tester, Congressman Dennis Rehberg thought January was vacation time,” said Ted Dick, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party.  “After 35 years in politics, Congressman Rehberg has he’s lost touch with Montana, and his decisions are so irresponsible he apparently doesn’t want to face the music at home.”

Not including press interviews, political events, or “work” in Washington, here’s what Congressman Dennis Rehberg did in January:

January 12

  • Addressed Sentinel Kiwanis Club (Missoula)
  • (Rehberg also held political press conference in Helena during which he filed for U.S. Senate surrounded by Montana lawmakers)
January 19
  • Addressed Montana Chamber of Commerce (Helena)
Not including press interviews, political events, or work in Washington, here’s what Jon Tester did in January:

January 2:

  • Visited U.S. Government class at Harlem High School (Harlem)
  • Hosted Economic Development Roundtable (Harlem)
  • Met with Fort Belknap Tribal Council (Fort Belknap)
  • Visited U.S. Government class at Rocky Boy High School (Box Elder)
  • Held Veterans Roundtable (Box Elder)
January 4:
  • Visited Black Coffee Roasters (Missoula)
  • Met with local realtors (Missoula)
  • Met with Ravalli and Missoula Counties Suicide Task Force (Missoula)
  • Held roundtable with Missoula Head Start (Missoula)
  • Visited U.S. Government class at Sentinel High School (Missoula)
  • Met with Lance Corporal Tomy Parker, U.S. Marine Corps (Ronan)
January 5:
  • Addressed Daybreak Rotary (Kalispell)
  • Met with Mayor John Muhlfeld and City Council (Whitefish)
  • Toured Whitefish Care and Rehabilitation Center (Whitefish)
  • Met with Sheriff Chuck Curry (Kalispell)
  • Hosted online safety forum with Facebook (Kalispell)
  • Hosted online safety forum with Facebook (Billings)
January 6:
  • Visited Social Studies class at Skyview High School (Billings)
  • Met with Rocky Mountain College President Michael Mace and Greg Kohn (Billings)
  • Met with regional tribal leaders to discuss Indian health care (Billings)
  • Hosted roundtable discussion with Billings Chamber of Commerce on energy (Billings)
  • Met with Central Labor Council (Billings)
January 9
  • Met with the School Administrators of Montana (Helena)
  • Met with the Montana Rural Education Association (Helena)
  • Met with the Montana School Board Association (Helena)
  • Met with the Independent Insurance Agents of Montana (Helena)
January 10
  • Met with the National Federation of Independent Businesses (Helena)
  • Met with the Montana Bankers Association (Helena)
  • Met with the Montana Realtors Association (Helena)
January 11
  • Hosted roundtable discussion with Holly Petraeus Helena community leaders (Helena)
  • Visited Montana Department of Labor training session (Helena)
  • Hosted roundtable discussion with Holly Petraeus and National Guard members (Helena)
  • Hosted Roundtable discussion with Holly Petraeus and Great Falls community leaders (Great Falls)
  • Hosted roundtable discussion with Holly Petraeus and officers at Malmstrom Air Force Base (Great Falls)
  • Hosted town hall meeting with Holly Petraeus and airmen at Malmstrom Air Force Base (Great Falls)
January 12
  • Addressed the Montana Contractors’ Association (Big Sky)
  • Visited Bozeman Head Start (Bozeman)

January 13

  • Visited seniors at Lame Deer High School (Lame Deer)
  • Hosted veterans listening session (Lame Deer)
  • Toured Little Big Horn College (Crow Agency)
  • Hosted veterans listening session (Crow Agency)

January 20

  • Addressed Montana Chamber of Commerce (Helena)
  • Visited Helena Middle School (Helena)
  • Met with SeaCast Montana (Butte)
  • Met with Montana State Sheet Metal Workers (Butte)

Hmmm. Looks like Tester wins this round. If you count being industrious, that is.

“Dead Gay Kids And The Politics Of Hate”

You’ve heard of the “It Gets Better” campaign? Well, according to one Tennessee legislator ,”It Just Gets Worse”.

Christy Diane Farr writes an excellent article about the rhetoric used by the ignorant to allow- and justify- the death of our children. Excerpt:

Behavior

Image by Rickydavid via Flickr

The next morning, she received a response from Tennessee State Representative John Ragan that sounded as if it had been taken straight from Hitler’s playbook. I am not exaggerating, even a little, and invite you to go here and read for yourself.

I cried as she read me the message. I thought I would throw up. His final point literally took my breath away:

“Examining another statistic, it has been well known for a decade that suicide is attempted much more frequently in the homosexual community than in the heterosexual community (Mathy, Cochran, Olsen, & Mays, 2009). This same source pointed out that, on average, suicide is approximately three times more likely among homosexuals than heterosexuals.

“As a fitting critical thought question, it could be asked if other identifiable groups that engage in behavior of which ‘others may disapprove’ commit suicide at similar rates? In other words, do prostitutes, pedophiles, polygamists, murders, etc., commit suicide at the same, or similar, rates to homosexual behavior practitioners? If similar rates were hypothetically so (not proven to be the case), do these behavior practitioners commit suicide at a higher rate because someone may have disapproved of their behavior or for other reasons? Should society avoid disapproving of pedophilia, prostitution, murder, etc., because practitioners of those behaviors may commit suicide at higher rates?”

The author makes a lot of amazing points- chief among them is that for a lot of of kids, the “It gets better” message isn’t coming through- because teachers and legislators and parents are stifling the message- and countermanding it. But there is a need to stay vigilant, there is a need to speak up- and it’s because of one simple philosophy:

The list of the others–the “they” who are allowing their fear and hatred to erode our National integrity–goes on and on, but the truth is that this radical lesbian-headed household doesn’t even believe in “they.” We teach our children about how everyone is equal, even those who think we are not. We believe that human difference is real, that it’s important, and that diversity, inclusivity, and integrity are what make us strong–as individuals, families, communities, states, counties, and as a planet.

We live by one guiding principle: Be nice or leave.

That means we don’t make life harder for other people (rinse your dishes before they go in the dishwasher and dispose of your waste responsibly). It means do your best so the collective “we” can be at our best. We tread lightly on the planet. We disagree respectfully because we certainly won’t always agree, but we can always do it respectfully and intelligently.

Oh, and we ask for what we need because we understand that it’s codependent and manipulative (prime examples of the “not nice” that can result in being invited to leave) to expect others to know what you need and desire.

Read the rest of this excellent essay here.

Study: HIV+ Women Cope Better With Pets

Phyllis and Bandit

I’m a dog lover. I’ve had many important dogs in my life- from the dog I got for my sixth birthday, Ruff- to Bandit and Phyllis, our dogs today. Animals can provide a lot of joy, comfort and support- and for a lot of persons with HIV, they often provide an excellent reason to take better care of themselves.

Science Daily reports today on a study showing that HIV+ women with pets cope much better than their petless counterparts. Excerpt:

(Allison) Webel set out to better understand how women manage their HIV/AIDS and stay on track to take their medications, follow doctors’ orders and live healthy lifestyles. She conducted 12 focus groups with 48 women to find out what they did to stay healthy. The women had an average age of 42, about 90 percent had children, and more than half were single.

During the focus groups, six predominant social roles emerged that helped and hindered these women in managing their illness: pet owner, mother/grandmother, faith believer, advocate, stigmatized patient, and employee. All roles had a positive impact except stigmatized patient, which prevented women from revealing their illness and seeking out appropriate supports.

“Much information is available about the impact of work and family roles, but little is known about other social roles that women assume,” Webel said.

Being a pet owner was an important surprise, added Webel, who collaborated with co-author Patricia Higgins, a professor of nursing at Case Western Reserve University.

“Pets — primarily dogs — gave these women a sense of support and pleasure,” Webel said.

When discussing the effect their pets have on their lives, the women weighed in. “She’s going to be right there when I’m hurting,” a cat owner said. Another said: “Dogs know when you’re in a bad mood…she knows that I’m sick, and everywhere I go, she goes. She wants to protect me.”

The human and animal bond in healing and therapy is being recognized, Webel said, as more animals are visiting nursing homes to connect to people with dementia or hospitals to visit children with long hospital stays.

I’m sure that this translates across genders, as well. I’ve known plenty of chronically ill men who have strong bonds with their pets.

Psychologically, it’s much more difficult to be depressed when there’s a pet in your life- taking care of someone/something other than yourself can be very beneficial and provide relief from feelings of isolation, sadness and fear. Organizations like PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support) have known this for years- that for animal lovers, nothing helps speed healing like the love of a pet- now science may make this an even more integral component of treating chronic illness….

Often Overlooked, Sisters Are At Equality Forefront

What do you know about nuns?

nuns

Image by neil1877 via Flickr

I’m not talking about the caricatured, stereotyped and ridiculous portrayals by movies, television and popular culture (Dead Man Walking and a few others excepted). You’ve probably seen pictures of nuns marching for civil rights in the sixties. You may heard of the selfless sacrifices made by sisters in the missionary field. And you may know a sister (or two) who have changed your life for the better.

I do. Several, in fact.

Sisters have been on the cutting edge of social issues (it can be argued) for over a thousand years- much of the hierarchy cannot claim even a fraction of the social justice work these women have accomplished. They have been working (often very quietly) to keep the fundamental message of Jesus alive- the message that compassion, dignity and respect is the only response to every human person.

What you may not know is this: they are also some of the fiercest advocates of social justice for LGBT persons.

New Ways Ministry, a Catholic organization dedicated to promoting understanding and dignity for LGBT persons, has an excellent blog post about the work of religious sisters for LGBT equality. Excerpt:

It’s no secret–though it’s not well-known, either–that high on the list of Catholic supporters of LGBT equality are nuns.  Communities of women religious have consistently been supportive of education, dialogue, and justice activities for LGBT people since the late 1970s.

After Vatican II, when nuns’ communities re-evaluated their charisms and ministries, they quickly realized that the church had long neglected lesbian/gay rights and that this was an issue that cried for justice.  They responded positively and actively.

Johnson’s article  highlights the reason that nuns can be so steadfast:

“American nuns don’t want to fight the official church, but neither are they likely to sacrifice the integrity of their consciences for the sake of peace.”

At New Ways Ministry,  we are indebted to our Sisters for financial, spiritual, and practical support over our 35 year history.  More New Ways Ministry programs have been held in convents and motherhouses than in any other type of Catholic facility by far.

Read the full post here- and follow their blog on Twitter- it’s a heartening voice in a religious climate that is often far from charitable.

So if you have a negative view about nuns, consider changing your mind. And if you know a sister who’s braving the forefront of equality- thank them. Send them this post, in fact.

We owe them more than we think.

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