While the Trump administration seeks to dismantle any and all things Obamacare, Connecticut legislators, in the waning days of this year’s legislative session, passed a bill that protects important health benefits that are part of the 2010 reform package. Legislators also passed a law that seeks to reduce the times police officers arrest both the victim and the aggressor on domestic violence calls, or so-called “dual arrests.” And they, in an attempt to close the gender wage gap, passed a bill that prevents potential employers from asking job applicants about salary history. About that last one, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said, “This inequity is perpetuated by the practice of asking for salary history during the hiring process, which can disproportionately ensure that women who were underpaid at their first job continue to be underpaid throughout their careers, creating a cycle of poverty and causing real harm to families.”
But let’s give an honest grade for what happened—and what didn’t happen—in the session that ended at midnight May 9. Connecticut legislators’ effort was a solid C for what they could do for families—or, if we’re feeling generous, maybe a C+. Too many pieces of legislations that could have made a big difference in a small state were left on the table, died in committee, or never got traction.
Depending on your ZIP code, Connecticut is a wonderful place to live. A recent United Health Foundation report said Connecticut ranks sixth in the nation for women and children’s health. The state scored high because of a low teen birth rate, as well as a high percentage of publicly funded women’s health services needs being met. But the state faces a yawning disparity of health status among residents—and its segregated towns. That’s significant because research shows that if you want to calculate your life expectancy, check your ZIP code and your median household income.
An AR-15, when fired, sends bullets into soft flesh and shreds organs beyond repair, according to a trauma surgeon who treated victims from the Parkland, Fla., school shooting on Feb. 14. The shooting left 17 students and faculty members dead. It was one of the deadliest shootings in the United States. Three of those have happened in the last five months.
During the recent Women’s March in Hartford, Susan Eastwood, a board member of the nonprofit Permanent Commission on the Status of Women in CT, wandered among attendees and asked them about paid family leave. First, she asked women pushing strollers—ostensibly, women in their child-bearing years. They told her compelling stories about not having enough money to take time off from work. But the older women were particularly passionate. They are caring for elderly parents, for adult children with significant medical needs, or they’re batting their own health issues.
Amy Schneider, 31, of Stratford, came to Hartford last Saturday toting a colorful sign she made that said “Fight Like a Girl.”
At Bushnell Park, she joined some 10,000 people at the second annual Women’s March to chant, mingle, and remind themselves that the fight isn’t over. In fact, it’s just begun. The day after Donald J. Trump took office in January 2017, millions of women and men headed to D.C., New York, and places like Hartford to protest. This year all around the country women and men gathered again to march, and to mark a year’s worth of unprecedented political action, with hundreds of women who’d never considered entering political office running and winning, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. In Connecticut last summer, Yale’s Women’s Campaign School had 500 applicants for 80 slots in its five-day summer session.
On the surface, Connecticut is a great place to raise children. Our schools, on average, perform well. Families have access to incredible learning opportunities in our history, science and creative arts. But what do you call a crisis in waiting? A report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranked Connecticut sixth in the nation for things such as economics, education and health among our younger residents.
In October, President Donald Trump announced new regulations that loosen the requirements that employers provide coverage for contraceptives, which was a pillar of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Trump’s government expanded the reasons an employer could skip out on coverage on moral or religious objections. If in the recent weeks your employer just got religion, you should know why. Trump is messing with a woman’s important right to accessible and affordable birth control. The birth control mandate, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “had a large impact in a short amount of time.” Within two years of the policy taking effect, says Kaiser, just 3 percent of women with employer-sponsored insurance had out-of-pocket expenses for oral contraceptives (the most expensive and the most popular kind).
After a white terrorist (can we just start calling these people what they are?) shot and killed at least 59 people and injured another 527 at an outdoor country music contest in Las Vegas this week, Nelba Márquez-Greene took to Twitter:
“Guess what folks? Gun violence and grief hurt in EVERY zip code. In every color. Grieving mothers need your help.”
Who can forget Márquez-Greene and her family? After her 6-year-old daughter Ana was shot and killed in the 2012 Newtown school massacre, Márquez-Greene and husband Jimmy Greene, the award-winning musician, have continually reminded this country that we can do more than offer thoughts-and-prayers over gun violence.
In 1776, Abigail Adams asked her husband to “remember the ladies.”
Oh, if only Melania were so moved. Donald Trump could use the reminder. From the moment he announced his improbable campaign, Trump has played to his most conservative supporters by promising to severely restrict abortion rights, as well as limit access to affordable birth control. The battle has settled onto two fronts, including defunding Planned Parenthood, and—since a “repeal and replace effort” fell short—removing from the Affordable Care Act the mandate that requires employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives to their eligible workers. On the first front, Connecticut has vowed to fund Planned Parenthood, should the federal government pull away.
While we’ve been engrossed in the Republicans’ umpteenth attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration quietly has stopped funding 80-some teenage pregnancy prevention programs around the country, including a highly successful one in Hartford. The Trump administration has cut nearly $214 million in grants. Those grants were awarded under President Obama, and were supposed to have ended in 2020. Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services let grantees know that the funds would end in 2018—two years earlier than promised. The cut was first reported by Reveal, a product of The Center for Investigative Reporting.