Connecticut’s finances: Not a time to mince words

This is no time to mince words about Connecticut’s fiscal crisis. It is deep, serious, and affects everyone and everything: taxpayers, businesses, jobs, social services, infrastructure, K-12 schools, colleges and universities, towns and cities, hospitals, federal funding opportunities, and Connecticut’s reputation. Let’s be clear – it’s not new. The state’s finances have been precarious for several years. But now even those who have long denied the gravity of the situation are acknowledging it.

AHCA creates barriers for victims of domestic violence

The health care bill that passed in the House last Thursday has the potential to negatively impact large numbers of Connecticut residents, chief among them, domestic violence victims and their families. Under the American Health Care Act (AHCA), buying insurance will become too expensive for some middle- and low-income victims. Abusers will use that expense, and the continuous coverage requirement, as a means to control their partner. This isn’t hyperbole; maintaining health insurance is a very real barrier for someone trying to leave a relationship. The AHCA does even more harm though, it has the potential to cut off a vital lifeline for victims by making domestic violence a pre-existing condition.

New health care act would wreak havoc on women, children, older adults

The latest healthcare plan to emerge from the U.S. House of Representatives is not merely cynical or short-sighted; it is downright draconian. And, if passed by the Senate and signed into law, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) will wreak havoc – in many cases irreversible – on millions of people in our state. Women, children and older adults – who make up two-thirds of the state’s population – will be harmed the most by this proposal.

Deadly math: Fentanyl and why the opioid epidemic is getting worse

Opioid overdose deaths continue to rise. A 2015 DEA report showed a greater than thousand-fold increase in fentanyls —potent synthetic opioids— showing up in intercepted drugs. This, more than anything, fuels our worsening crisis. The economics and pharmacology of fentanyl are game changers. Word on the street is buyer beware. What’s sold as heroin is probably fentanyl. What looks like a Xanax, Oxycodone, or Ativan could also be fentanyl.

Connecticut shouldn’t restrict access to eye care

In Connecticut, health disparities are a well-known problem among ethnic minorities such as African-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos. House Bill 6012, An Act Concerning Consumer Protection in Eye Care, is currently pending before the legislature and raises major concerns in terms of health disparities… I’m afraid it will only serve to exacerbate this divide…

Appreciation for lawmakers’ efforts to preserve funding for disabled constituents

I am the president of the board of directors of the Arc Connecticut, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy group for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). I am writing to applaud the efforts of several key legislative leaders for the part they are playing to preserve funding for people with I/DD despite the State’s increasingly difficult budget situation.

Our garbage can – and so can yours!

When Oscar the Grouch so wisely exclaimed, “It’s called garbage can, not garbage cannot!” he wasn’t just referring to his treasured home on Sesame Street, but to the abundant source of life living – and working – in our garbage to help process our food waste, improve sustainability, reduce landfills and ultimately, help feed the hungry.

We all have roles to play to avert a ‘post-antibiotic era’

Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) published, for the first time ever, an extensive list of superbugs, aka bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics, against which our modern antibiotics are quickly losing their effectiveness. The list warns that these superbugs now “pose the greatest threat to human health.”

Bad assumptions threaten good bill raising the smoking age

Every conversation in Hartford these days comes down to two things—dollars and cents. Unfortunately, there’s not enough focus on dollars and sense. As a result, lawmakers face an unenviable task in developing working solutions to the financial crisis the state finds itself in. There is a proposal before the Connecticut legislature to raise the tobacco sale age to 21 (HB 5384) that deserves to pass because it will protect kids from tobacco, won’t hurt state revenues in the short run, and will save the state millions of dollars in health care costs in the long run.

Lies won’t solve the opioid epidemic

One of the many “alternative facts” posed by the Trump administration targets the biggest contemporary public health issue in the United States: the opioid epidemic.

On Feb. 23, press secretary Sean Spicer linked the opioid epidemic to recreational marijuana use. This is part of an attempt by the Trump administration to enforce federal regulations on marijuana, even in states where it has been decriminalized. Focusing his attention on a link between marijuana and opioids that lacks scientific support is counterproductive. This is unfair to the millions of victims who have suffered through the epidemic alongside their families and friends.