African-American Women Face Challenges, Find Support in Quitting Smoking

By Talib I. Karim, Health Writer*

Nearly 20% of African American women smoke cigarettes, some fear gaining weight if they quit. Health professionals suggest that women can shed smoking and pounds, together. (Photo/courtesy.colourbox.com)

 Sister Mary, as we’ll call her, is sharp-dressing, nice looking, and holds an MBA degree along with a six-figure position with the federal government.

An usher board member with a prominent church, Sister Mary recently added a new title, “ex-smoker,” she proudly professes.

“I got started young…and used to smoke a pack a day,” says Sister Mary, which according to the American Legacy Foundation can be as many as 25 cigarettes.“Two years ago, when my mom died, I cut back to three a day,” Sister Mary reflects.  From then until just recently, Sister Mary explains “I would normally go onto my balcony and enjoy a cigarette along with a glass of red wine,” she adds.

In late July, a friend disclosed to Sister Mary that he could taste cigarettes in her skin and on her lips, even though it had been hours since she had last smoked.  “That’s when I knew it was time for me to quit for good,” recounts Sister Mary.

The taste of cigarettes as described by Sister Mary’s friend is real according to Dr. Joseph Adams, MD, who specializes in internal and addiction medicine at Park West Health Systems in Baltimore, MD.  “Kissing a smoker is like licking an ash tray,” says Dr. Adams, past president of the anti-smoking group, Smoke Free Maryland.

Dr. Adams also notes that smoking by mothers during pregnancy is widely understood to cause behavior problems and learning disabilities in their new born.  The American Legacy Foundation recommends that since smoking can damage the DNA, it is “vitally important” for men and women alike who wish to have children to quit smoking at least several months prior to conception.

Women who smoke can also risk the health of those near them through second-hand smoking.  The U.S Surgeon General estimates that living with a smoker increases the chance of getting lung cancer by 20% to 30%.  Many studies show that secondhand smoke causes children to develop asthma, ear infections, and pneumonia in children.

In fact, some researchers suggest that even after a person gives up smoking, the toxins from past smoking that remain in a person’s hair and clothes or in carpet and furniture are hazardous to infants and children.  Researchers describe this gradual buildup of toxins from secondhand smoke as “thirdhand smoke.”

While stats like these inspire women like Sister Mary to kick the habit annually, quitting smoking like ending a long relationship, is easier said than done, according to Dr. Adams.  And that’s not by mistake, he adds.

report by the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine suggests conditions called “smoking withdrawal symptoms” are tied to nicotine, the highly addictive ingredient in cigarette smoke.  According to the report, cigarette companies manipulate levels of nicotine in cigarettes to make sure that smokers become addicted.

Nicotine causes the brain to release chemicals that create feelings of pleasure, or the “buzz” which many smokers report.  Within half an hour, the “buzz” fades away and the smoker is left feeling depressed and tired. This feeling is what causes smoker to light up the next cigarette. The cycle of stimulation and depression keeps repeating, which leads to addiction.

A person who plans to stop smoking can expect several withdrawal symptoms including headaches, nausea, and low blood pressure.  In addition to physical symptoms, women should also be on guard for the emotional issues that often result from smoking withdrawal such as anxiety, trouble sleeping, and even hunger.

To cope with these issues, Dr. Krystal Stanley, Ph.D., a DC-based licensed psychologist offers patients a few techniques.  Dr. Stanley recommends that those seeking to kick the habit should be prepared to address anxieties that may have caused them to start smoking in the first place.

For sleeping troubles and weight gain concerns, Dr. Stanley advises patients to (1) avoid alcohol or caffeinated beverages up to five hours before bed; (2) spend an hour or so before bed to wind down, without TV, text messages, or other highly stimulating input; and finally (3) drink a warm, non-caffeinated beverage before bed such as warm milk or tea.

Beyond the withdrawal symptoms, since as Dr. Adams notes, over 4000 chemical compounds are created by burning a cigarette, many additives like nicotine can remain in the body long after you quit smoking.

The health web portal, primehealthchannel.com, suggests several steps for flushing your body of nicotine including drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water per day; consuming fruits containing antioxidants like Vitamin C; and regular and rigorous physical exercise.

Knowledge is one of the most potent weapons to help women leave cigarettes for good suggests Amber Bullock with the American Legacy Foundation.   On this front Bullock’s organization offers a free hotline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) and a website where smokers can develop a personalized quit plan at www.BecomeAnEX.org.

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*Brian Jones contributed to this article.  To contact the writer, email him at tkarim@teclawgroup.com.

DC Finds “Cure” for Ending Mother-Child HIV Transmissions, No HIV Births Since ’09

By Talib I. Karim, Health & Tech Writer
 
For version published in theGrio.com: http://thegrio.com/2012/07/26/no-children-born-with-hiv-in-d-c-since-09/

The District of Columbia has cut mother-baby HIV transmission from 36 per year in 1989 to zero from 2009-2011 (photo courtesy/communityoperationsmile.org).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of the more than 600,000 residents of the District of Columbia, 2.7 percent are living with HIV, according to a new D.C. government report. This rate is double the amount needed for a disease to be called an “epidemic” by the World Health Organization.

Despite that fact, no children have been born with HIV since 2009.

The D.C. government’s success in eliminating HIV births, down from a high of more than three per month, is an “awesome” achievement, says Dr. Marta Gwen of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CDC, mother-to-child HIV transmission can occur anytime during pregnancy, labor, delivery or breastfeeding.

Between 1988 and 1990, when AIDS cases were at their highest levels, Dr. Gwen led a team that tested thousands of delivering moms in D.C. over a given 12-month period. It was discovered that, of those tested, 121 mothers and an estimated 36 newborn babies were HIV-positive.

HIV infections of African-American mothers continue to rise

While D.C. celebrates no new HIV births, children remain at risk due to the increasing infection rates among women, particularly African-American women. In D.C., the rates of HIV infection among all women have doubled in the past four years to 12.1 percent — that’s more than one in every ten women.

Nationally, African-American women are among the highest group of newly infected persons. In 2009, of all women newly diagnosed with HIV, 57 percent were African-American — 15 times that of Caucasian women, and over three times the rate among Hispanic and Latina women.

Unlike years past, when intravenous drug use was the primary cause of HIV infection among women of color, most acquire HIV through heterosexual sex. Yet, fear remains a hindrance for some African-American women.

“There is still a large amount of stigma surrounding HIV in women of color,” says Chip Lewis, spokesperson with D.C.’s Whitman-Walker AIDS clinic. That makes it much less likely that large amounts of women of color will get tested or treated for HIV, he adds.

Winning formula, good investment

Eradicating mother-to-child HIV transmission hasn’t been easy, says Dr. Gregory Pappas, director of D.C.’s HIV/AIDS administration.

“Physicians have worked to provide HIV tests to all new moms in the District. Those found to be positive are immediately put on medication,” explains Pappas, who credits D.C. Mayor Vince Gray for ensuring that mothers and anyone else who tests positive can receive antiretroviral medication for free. These new medicines have allowed mothers to reduce their HIV viral loads so low that it is highly unlikely for them to transmit HIV to their infants.

Babies of infected mothers are also being delivered by C-section, which “eliminates much of the blood that causes mother-infant transmission,” states Pappas. And, after birth, HIV-positive mothers in D.C. are often instructed to feed their infants baby formula rather than breast milk.

Finding a solution for perinatal HIV transmission hasn’t been cheap. A lifetime pack of antiretroviral drugs costs the D.C. government $400,000 per person, notes Dr. Pappas.

But, the investment by the District makes sense according to Larry Warren, CEO of Howard University Hospital, who regularly delivered babies with HIV in the 1980s and 1990s. In terms of D.C.’s unique HIV prevention strategy, Warren asserts “I don’t believe the District of Columbia has a peer [that rivals us] in this country.”

Talib I. Karim manages a Washington, D.C.-based law firm that assists clients in resolving health, family, and construction-related legal issues.  In addition to writing for his blog, talibkarim.com, Talib hosts a weekly talk show in Washington, D.C.

The Nation’s Capital Deserves “One DC”, Now, More than Ever!

Leaders call on DC residents to demand fairness and respect for Mayor Vince Gray.

As DC business, labor, and faith leaders, we take issue with the tone and underlying motivations of those attacking District Mayor Vincent Gray and his 2010 Mayoral campaign.

Many understand that this story has its roots in an earlier election, the 2006 Adrian Fenty for Mayor campaign.

Fenty excited a cross-section of the District based upon his can-do, must-do attitude, his willingness to roll up his sleeves and take his message to every DC neighborhood, and his solidly progressive legislative record, such as standing up for low income residents.

The Fenty ’06 campaign inspired many of us to invest into building what became the Fenty machine.  On election night, our coalition helped Fenty win every voting precinct in the District.  Yet, sadly, almost immediately after the election, we began to realize that we had created a political Frankenstein.

First, was Fenty’s decision to strip power from the elected school board.  Next, Fenty placed DCPS under his direct control and hired Michelle Rhee as Chancellor.

Over the next three years, the Fenty-Rhee team would close schools, violate labor rights, and disenfranchise parents, under the guise of education reform, without much evidence of academic improvement.

Then came the pay-to-play system of awarding government contracts, the summary firing of DC employees, and the intimidation of those who dared to differ with or toe the Fenty political line.

One example of the infamous Fenty arrogance was his refusal to meet with the late civil rights leader Dorothy Height and author Maya Angelou, seen as slap in the face of all women, particularly women of color.

By late 2009, the once-beloved Fenty managed to alienate and diss nearly every group in the District.

In response, the diverse coalition that elected Fenty began looking for a new horse, an anti-Fenty.

It took months to convince Vince Gray to run against Fenty, his cronies, and their $3-5 million war-chest. Gray’s decision to take on Fenty was a political gamble of the highest order.

In 2010, Gray was ending his first term as DC Council Chair.  Because of Gray’s mastery of DC’s $10 billion operation and traits of conciliation, deliberation, and collaboration was positioned for easy reelection.

When Vince Gray decided to enter the mayoral race, he had just five months to hire staff, develop position papers, design campaign messages, give speeches, recruit volunteers, secure endorsements, and raise money all sufficient enough to defeat perhaps the most organized disciplined political machine in DC history.

On election night, the Mayor’s campaign of mostly volunteers won Fenty’s own Ward and every other, save, one, Ward 3.

So upset by Fenty’s defeat, his supporters ran, albeit unsuccessfully, a Black Republican against Mary Cheh, their council rep, as pay-back for her principled decision to back Gray over Fenty. After the primary election, Gray immediately extended olive branches to the Fenty camp in the spirit of healing, party unity. Yet, the bitterness among team Fenty and his loyalists was so intense, they waged an unheard of write-in general election campaign against Gray.

When the elections were over, Gray worked to win over his former foes.  He invited many Fenty supporters to his transition team and retained numerous Fenty officials such as Chief Cathy Lanier and Michelle Rhee’s number two, Kaya Henderson. Gray even elevated a key Fenty hire Alan Lew to serve as the City Administrator.

At the start of the Gray Administration, it surprised many that the most well-paid District employees were Fenty appointees. Yet, for those who knew Vince Gray, the fact he would match his words with his deeds to create One City, was of no surprise.

What is surprising was the intense sense of entitlement of Fenty backers.  Instead of accepting the Mayor’s overtures of friendship, many Fenty friends were intent on thwarting and even un-doing the people’s will. The recent calls for the Mayor to resign by David Catania and Muriel Bowser, two of Fenty’s biggest Council allies are illustrative of this political opportunism.

In the end, we believe the Mayor’s track record, in its totality, should be the basis for how he should be judged.  His record includes, education reform policies that respect teachers, parents, and other stakeholders, including Charter Schools.  Initiatives to ensure that sustainable development reaches every DC neighborhood.  Launching a health insurance exchange, as a model for health reform implementation.  Improved labor-management relations.

And least we forget, last year the Mayor put his own body and liberty on the line by getting arrested for DC Statehood and dignity, garnering international attention and  support for DC rights.

Today, our Mayor, the District and the rest of the nation need DC residents to unite and demand respect and fairness for Mayor Gray.   Now, more than ever, the people of the District deserve “One DC.”

Signed by,

Geo Johnson, JD, AFSCME Council 20; Averette Mhoon Parker, MD; DC Muslim Democratic Caucus; Talib I. Karim, Esq., TEC Law Group; and Rosalind M. Parker, Esq.

Health Reform Prevails in Supreme Court, Just One Step for People of Color and Poor

By Talib I. Karim, Health & Technology Writer

The Supreme Court’s decision on the President’s signature health reform law considered the Brown v. Board of Education of today. (Photo/courtesy Supreme Court Collection).

Astute students of history recall the exact date when Brown v. Board of Education was decided.  Thursday, June 28, 2012 may also be etched into history as the day the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in what some consider the Brown case of this era, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius.

In the Sebelius case, the nation’s high court preserved, almost completely, President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Summary

The Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” (as described by critics) was designed by Congress to expand health insurance coverage to over 30 million in the US and decrease health care costs.  To achieve these goals, Congress included a provision in the law requiring taxpayers to obtain a “minimum” level of health insurance coverage.  Those who failed to secure health coverage and were not exempt were mandated, by 2014, to begin paying a penalty to the IRS, similar to tax penalties.

In 2010, right after the President signed the reforms into law, the Affordable Care Act was challenged in court by groups, including the National Federation of Independent Businesses.  Earlier this year, the challenges made their way to Supreme Court, which set aside an unprecedented three days of oral arguments to review the health law.

By a 5-4 decision, the Court made several findings in the case.  First, the Court upheld its prerogative to review the individual mandate, bypassing a reconstruction-era requirement, the Anti-Injunction Act, which prevents a tax-related issue from being reviewed by the Court until the tax is accessed.  Next, Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by the Court’s four traditionally conservative members (Justices Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito), ruled that the individual mandate could not be sustained under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.  Initially, this ruling caused some media outlets to incorrectly report that the entire law was struck down.

However, the Chief Justice and the liberal wing of the Court (Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan) sided together in ruling that the individual mandate could be upheld, nonetheless under the long established Constitutional power of Congress to “lay and collect Taxes.”

Finally, the Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act could not penalize states who refused to expand Medicaid by cutting off all federal Medicaid funding.  This, the Court’s majority held, was an impermissible “threat” against the rights of states.

Brown vs Sebelius

In comparing the Brown and Sebelius cases, the NAACP’s Hillary Shelton sees distinctions and similarities. Shelton notes that “Brown concerned a fight over equal education, and whether segregated schools were legal so long as they were equal.”  Brown was argued by Thurgood Marshall, then the NAACP Legal Defense and Education President, who would go on to become the first African American US Solicitor General and Supreme Court Justice.

Shelton observed that “The thing Americans needed to be successful in the 1950s was good education…today…its good health care. Further, Shelton pointed out that while Brown sought to protect mostly African Americans, the current ruling seeks to ensure working class and poor people of all races have the right to equal health care.

Impact on Doctors and Patients of Color

Congresswoman Donna Christian-Christensen of the U.S. Virgin Islands, a physician, and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus’s health reform task force, said the ruling “means a lot for people of color.”  Specifically, the Court’s decision protects numerous programs and initiatives such as placing minority health officers in each major health agency to ensure that people of color’s needs are being met, noted Christensen.

Dr. Cedric Bright, National Medical Association President, called the health reform ruling “a great victory,” yet observed that many health providers still don’t understand how the law impacts them and their patients.  “Health providers need to know how to participate in an Affordable Care Organization (ACO); how they can get funds for electronic medical records; and the benefits of using preventative health care.”  Dr. Bright recommends that as a next step, the Obama administration should sponsor seminars to educate health providers on implementing the Affordable Care Act.

The director of the DC Department of Health, Dr. Mohammad Akhter, views the case as a win for District’s residents and its budget.  “[The ruling] means that the 30,000 DC residents moved on to Medicaid can stay.  It would have a huge budget impact had [the law] not been upheld.”  Dr. Akhter points to several new community health centers in the District built using tobacco settlement money, but which depend upon the Affordable Care Act funding to remain operational and thriving.

However, Drs. Christensen, Bright, and Akter, all view the Affordable Care Act as just one step in a long march towards the end goal…quality, affordable health care for all.

The writer can be reached at tkarim@teclawgroup.com.

Business Leaders Focused on DC Development, Not Scandals

By Talib I. Karim, Tech & Health Writer

Business leaders see economic, real estate development as focus for District, not minor scandals involving Mayor, Council Chair (Photo/courtesy brightestyoungthings.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recent revelations from a federal probe into the successful 2010 campaign of DC Mayor Vincent M. Gray (D), has dogged the veteran community organizer-turned-politician.  An investigation is also scrutinizing Kwame Brown (D) for leasing two costly SUVs in the days before he became Chairman of the DC Council.

While these stories may dominate the attention of mainstream media outlets, District business leaders have another focus, development.

According to the Gray administration, there is currently more than $60 billion in the District’s development pipeline for residential, commercial, retail and institutional projects.  This development is on pace with the trend over the past decade to ensure that development dollars are spread beyond the District’s downtown commercial hub into all sectors of culturally diverse DC, in line with the Gray “One City” theme.

The results have been astounding.

In just a decade, scores of new developments have cropped up around town, from the blocks of new businesses near the New York Avenue Metro Station (the North of Massachusetts Avenue (NOMA) district) to 14th Street/Columbia Heights project, and even the National’s Ballpark/Riverfront community.  With this development has come an infusion of over 50,000 new District residents, taxpayers.

Keeping up the pace of local development is what’s on the mind of Andy Shallal, a popular political activist, developer and owner of the popular Busboys and Poets restaurant chain.  Shallal, a Ward 1 resident, believes that scandals of politicians “are a mere distraction to issues that face Washingtonians; good schools, jobs, development…issues that pertain to improving the quality of life for all district residents.”

Shallal doesn’t completely dismiss the alleged missteps of local officials and understands that “such publicity cannot be good for the city.” Nonetheless, the noted restaurateur believes that extended media preoccupation of local scandal news amounts to “silly sensationalism” and could “set back any kind of further autonomy” that he and other activists and business leaders alike realize is essential for the District to truly prosper.

Darrin Davis, a young real estate professional and broker-owner of Anacostia River Realty, based “east of the river” views claims surrounding Gray and Brown as, at worst, “minor errors in judgment and shouldn’t be distracting from the city’s goals.”

For Davis, the real news is what’s in store for the District’s east of the Anacostia River neighborhoods, places he describes as “hidden jewels.”  Davis has recently seen new interest, particularly in Ward 7, by entrepreneurs and investors seeking to get ahead of the curve.  The fact that Ward 7 is home to three of the District’s top political leaders, Mayor Gray, Council Chair Brown, and incumbent Councilmember Yvette Alexander (D) is only a plus contends Davis.

The chance to spur development recently bought a delegation of District leaders to the International Council of Shopping Center (ICSC) convention in Las Vegas, considered by many as the world’s largest annual development industry networking and deal-making event.  Each year, the retail conference brings together more than 30,000 government officials, retailers, developers and other professionals from around the world.

At the ICSC conference, DC Council Chairman Brown, outside the microscope of DC mainstream news outlets, met with a variety of “retailers and developers to discuss various projects” in all of the District’s eight wards, said the first-term Council Chairman.  Now that he’s back, Brown hopes to take advantage of contacts that he and other local leaders made at ICSC to lure “retailers and developers who seriously intend to invest in the District.”

Brown is particularly bullish about development in his home Ward, noting several economic development priorities in Ward 7, such as the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor, the 4800 Nannie Helen Burroughs project, and the long-anticipated redevelopment of the Penn-BranchShopping Center.

According to Brown, Ward 7 and other underserved neighborhoods are perfect opportunities for developers.  Ward 7, in particular, Brown notes, includes more than 75,000 residents who all require basic services and amenities that currently are not offered, including grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment options.  “In my view, smart investors will realize these gaps in the market and deliver these services to Ward 7 residents,” stated Brown.

There is a balancing act in promoting new business in the District, while making sure that development does not come as a detriment to local, home-grown enterprises.

To achieve this balance, Victor Hoskins, the Gray administration’s Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development leads a staff charged with ensuring a level playing field.  Hoskins and his team are supported by District laws that require at least 51% of jobs created by new development projects to be given to DC residents.

Hoskins’ team has also built a webportal for developers that “allows anyone interested in doing business in the District to determine what incentives they would be eligible for depending on their location within the District.”

In sum, the word on DC’s main street is development, not scandal.

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To contact the writer, email him at tkarim@teclawgroup.com.

Dean Garfield Lays Out Tech Industry Blueprint for Jumpstarting U.S. Economy

By Talib I. Karim, Tech & Health Writer

For version published in the Afro American, visit:
http://www.afro.com/sections/news/afro_briefs/story.htm?storyID=74963 

Writer William Faulkner in a 1958 interview said, “Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” In 2012, Dean Garfield, is employing this sage wisdom to assist the nation’s top tech firms create innovations and jobs to boost the country’s economic engine.

Garfield serves as president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), which represents the country’s largest tech-sector companies, including the likes of Apple, eBay, and Google. According to noted attorney David Honig, who leads the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, Garfield is achieving his mission while also prodding Silicon Valley firms to increase the diversity within their ranks.

For some, Garfield may be viewed as the tech world’s Barak Obama. Like President Obama, Garfield is a super-smart, east coast-educated lawyer, with joint advanced degrees in law and international affairs degrees from NYU and Princeton University, respectively. After school, Garfield worked as a litigator for top law firms in New York and Washington, D.C. Later, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), tapped Garfield as its vice president of Legal Affairs, where he helped shut down early online music sites such as Napster that were blamed for illegally downloading millions of sound recordings.

Garfield’s successes for the record industry caused the Motion Picture Association of America to lure Garfield from D.C. to California to serve as the group’s executive vice president and chief strategic officer. There, Garfield employed his anti-piracy expertise to challenge illegal copying of film works while directing the film industry’s efforts to better utilize internet-based technologies.

Together with his wife Chanda (a Howard alumnae and fellow lawyer) and two children, Garfield lives on the other end of 16th Street from the Obama’s, near a neighborhood known as D.C.’s “Gold Coast.”

I caught up with the busy Garfield and here’s what he had to say.

AFRO: What is the mission of ITI?

Dean Garfield: Much of what we do is to create an enabling environment through quality for our companies to be successful. We try to break down barriers that get in the way for our companies to compete effectively, or to breed new opportunities and markets for those companies. That ideally will allow companies to be more successful and create more jobs as well as continue to reshape society in ways.

AFRO: As the president kicks off his official re-election campaign; what grade would you give him for his work in creating opportunities for the tech sector?

Dean Garfield: I would say that there are areas where there’s been significant progress. Specifically, I point to his [the President’s] focus and emphasis on skilled labor, getting more people proficient and interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). I think they have built some really solid-state public-private partnerships there, the investments they’ve made in research I think will help…in the long term. There are also important areas where we didn’t see any full progress and hopefully there will still be opportunity for that to happen. The big example is mobile broadband: that’s the invisible infrastructure that allows all of us to be really and highly efficient as we travel around, whether by bus, rail or airplane. There is a dire need for more spectrum in our country. So there are identifiable successes but there are also areas that need real attention.

AFRO: The president has touted trade agreements with places like Korea as victories while unions and others view these as bad deals, particularly for workers and since they erode our manufacturing base and ship jobs outside the country. What’s your take?
Dean Garfield: My take is that we live in a world where 95% of the world’s population is outside our borders and owns 75% of the world’s earning power. So, the only way we can create a success story for U.S. businesses is to ensure they have access to those markets. If you are building glass that will go into mobile devices in Asia, then you’re not going to ship that glass from New York to Asia, you’re going to create a facility where you can manufacturer glass there in Asia. But dollars are earned from these products wind up here in the United States.

So there is no doubt in my mind that creating new markets and opening up existing markets for the US companies is in our best interest. That is not saying that there aren’t more steps that the country can take to encourage more manufacturing here in the U.S. I think that they are related but just different issues.

 

Afro: You represent the world’s top tech firms like Apple but who manufacture many if not most thier products outside the country.  This creates an imbalance of foriegn currency reserves, which makes these countries like China wealthy.  Why don’t your firms simply bring thier manufacturing facilities back to the US to give jobs to our nation’s citizens so they can purchase more of the products your firms sell, and thus grow our economy?

 

Dean Garfield: This is not a new phenomenon.  Over the last 40 years, there has been a decline in the nation’s manufacturing sector.  What are other countries, whether places like China or Singapore, doing that the US is not.  There are some real things being done that the US should emulate.  Most of those markets are working hard to ensure there are people with the skills necessary to fill the positions necessary to support the manufacturing sector.  Most of the jobs in our sector are high-skilled.  A lot of countries are investing to help develop those skills or attract people with those skills.  Other countries are also creating tax politices that attract companies to create manufacturing facilities.  Three, other countries are creating a regulatory enviornment that is limited.  In other countries where there are regulations, they are not a maze.  I think we need to figure out what steps we take to reverse that trend.

 

Our companies have to be responsive to share holders.  They cant do something that’s not in the overall health of the companies.  Yet, folk who sit at the helm of these companies are human beings who want to see this country get stronger.  To the extent that they have a partner in the US government willing to work with them and take the steps that other countries are taking to attract thier investment, that sense of patrotism will always weigh in favor of this country.

 

What they need is a partnerships that will make those decisions a lot more easy.  I would say…make it a close call.  Look at the countries that are attracting US investment.and replicate that, so its a close call for CEOs.  If its a close call then the overwhelming instances the US will win out because these people want to see the US do well.

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The writer can be reached at tkarim@teclawgroup.com.


 

DC, Maryland Health Centers Win Millions from Obama Health Law Grants

By Talib I. Karim, Tech & Health Writer

DC-based Unity Health Care, a recipient of the Obama health center grants this week cut the ribbon for a $20 million health facility in Southeast, DC (Photo/courtesy Unity Health Care)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently, President Obama’s administration awarded grants of over $728 million for the renovation and construction of health centers around the country.  DC andMaryland centers snagged more than $15 million for projects designed to boost local government’s ability to care for low and mid-income patients while creating jobs in the process.

The funds were made possible by the Affordable Care Act, described as the President’s signature legislative achievement, currently being examined by the U.S. Supreme Court, which in weeks, is set to rule on whether the law should be upheld.

“We don’t have time to wait,” to determine how the Court will rule on the law said Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council.  Instead, the President is moving ahead to ensure that the public enjoys all the many benefits of the landmark health reform law asserts Muñoz.

One significant benefit under health reform, carved out and championed by Congressional Black Caucus and progressives in Congress, was $11 billion for community health centers.  These facilities, located in urban and rural communities alike, are designed to offer comprehensive, culturally competent, health care services to communities and vulnerable populations that lack access to quality health care.  By definition, these centers are community-based and serve individuals and families experiencing homelessness, those living in public housing, immigrants and many others.

Over the next five years, the community health center provision of the Obama health law divides its funding up by setting aside $9.5 billion to build new or expand existing health centers, and $1.5 billion to help maintain and renovate current community health centers.

In addition to expanding health care access, the funding is also designed to create jobs, according to White House officials.  The numbers back up this claim.  The Obama Health and Human Services department reports that President’s health care law has funded as many as 190 construction and renovation projects and helped open up 67 new health center sites across the country to date.  Through 2014, the law aims to fund more than 485 new health center construction and renovation projects.  It’s predicted that in total, community health center funding will pave the way for 457,300 jobs by 2015.

When its all said and done, the $11 billion invested by the government is expected to generate $54 billion in economic activity, in two ways.  First, health centers employ people in the communities they serve, including entry-level workers taking people right off the unemployed rolls.  Second, health centers purchase goods and services from local businesses, which leads to even more job growth according to thinkprogress.org, a blog of the progressive Center for American Progress Action Fund.

An example of the direct impact of the funding on local communities can be seen in the efforts of Community of Hope, one of the six DC and Maryland non-profits winning health center grants.  Community of Hope got a half-million dollars through a grant targeting existing health centers seeking to address pressing facility and equipment needs.  With the money, the non-profit intends to invest in equipment and renovations for its newly acquired Family Health and Birth Center located at 801 17th Street, NE,  near the old Heckinger Mall said Kelly Sweeney McShane, the group’s executive director.  “We want to buy an ultrasound machine, phone system, and more exam tables,” states McShane.  “We also want to configure space [of the center] so we can see more patients…and give [patients] more privacy,” McShane adds.

And even though it’s a relatively small pool of money, McShane hopes to spend as much of it as possible with small, community based, and disadvantaged businesses.  “We’re currently taking bids for a general contractor for this project,” noted McShane.  With this and the larger multimillion 50,000 square foot facility planned for Ward 8, McShane says her group is committed to spending as much of 40% of the overall construction dollars with community-based businesses.

If the health law prevails, communities can expect another round of funding for local health centers in June.  According to the US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), up to $150 million will be available to support approximately 220 new full-time service delivery site(s) for the provision of comprehensive primary and preventive health care services including oral and behavioral health services.  Groups interested in applying for health center grants can visit http://bphc.hrsa.gov/about/howtoapply/index.html.

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The writer can be reached attkarim@teclawgroup.com.