Volunteers In Medicine: A Whole Village Approach

Health care should be a right. Health advocates in New Jersey and around the country are doing their part on a volunteer basis to bring health care directly to those who cannot afford health insurance. This article is about a number of organizations dedicated to delivering free health care in their communities.

VIM patients earn too much for Medicare and not old enough for Medicare yet. At the end of the month there is little money left to cover the high cost of premiums, co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. This may sound familiar to the one in ten households who are uninsured.

VIM patients tend to have chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The types of conditions typical to middle-aged people, who have worked in service and manual labor, lived with very low income, and rarely “doctored.” Patients that register with VIM receive free, quality primary care, specialists care when available and prescription medicine assistance. Perhaps more importantly, VIM becomes their advocate to ensure continuity of care.

There are four VIM organizations in New Jersey, all part of a nationwide network. They are:

Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative, Inc.
Established: 2009
URL: www.bvmi.org/
Area of Coverage: Bergen County
Office/Telephone: Hackensack, 201-342-2478
Eligibility Criteria: 1)Live in Bergen County; 2)Working and earnings up to 300% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines; 3)Do not have health insurance; 4)Do not qualify for Medicaid; 5)Do not qualify for Medicare; 6)Do not qualify for subsidized healthcare

Coastal Volunteers in Medicine
Established: 2013
URL: www.coastalvim.org
Area of Coverage: Southern Ocean County
Office/Telephone: Barnegat, 609-384-0102
Eligibility Criteria: 1)Live in Southern Ocean County; 2)Have no health insurance; 3)Do not qualify for Medicaid; 4)Annual income equal to or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines

Parker Family Health Center
Established: 2000
URL: www.parkerfamilyhealthcenter.org
Area of Coverage: Monmouth County
Office/Telephone: Red Bank, 732-212-0777
Eligibility Criteria: 1)Uninsured and do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid; 2)Annual income is under 300% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines

Volunteers in Medicine of South Jersey
Established: 2002
URL: www.vimsj.org
Area of Coverage: Atlantic and Cape May Counties
Office/Telephone: Egg Harbor Township, 609-867-6384; Cape May Court House, 609-463-2846
Eligibility Criteria: 1)Uninsured or no usable insurance (high deductable/co-pay); 2)Income no more than 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines

A recent Press of Atlantic City news article provides a look at the Volunteers in Medicine of South Jersey.

To find a VIM clinic in other states visit the national Volunteers in Medicine website.

The Federal Poverty Guidelines are issued annually in late January by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Congress To Block Consumer Protection Rule

A Congressional vote is expected as early as Tuesday, July 25, on a resolution to block a new rule issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that prohibits class action bans in forced arbitration clauses of consumer contracts.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rule “would make it easier for consumers to file or join an existing group lawsuit if they are harmed by a financial service provider, such as a bank or credit card company”, according to a statement appearing on the Board’s website.

Action to prevent this consumer rule from going into effect is supported by Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee. The GOP’s bill, H.J. Resolution 111, sponsored by Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA) uses the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal the Bureau’s rule.

What can you do to protect consumer rights and support the new protections against mandatory arbitration? You can take the following direct action, today:

  • Telephone Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who represents New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District and a member of the House Financial Services Committee. His Washington office number is 202-225-4465. We need as many calls as possible.
  • Ask,”Will the Congressman support ordinary New Jersey people hurt by bad actors and oppose any resolution to take away our day in court?”
  • Support the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s force arbitration rule, which restores our 7th Amendment right to our day in court when companies like Wells Fargo engage in widespread wrongdoing.
  • Ask what is the Congressman’s position on H.J. Resolution 111.

Please let me know if you hear anything back on his position by emailing me at my contact page.

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Avoiding Utility Shutoffs in New Jersey

This is the time of year when assistance with energy bills is often needed. Information is available from a number of sources. Visit Avoiding Utility Shutoffs in New Jersey for valuable links.

Need to speak to someone about a pending shutoff? Dial 2-1-1 or call the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities at 800-624-0241.

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Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation

This summer free meals for children and teens are available under the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The federally funded program ensures that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. This summer, USDA plans to serve more than 200 million free meals to children 18 years and under at approved SFSP sites.

Last year, led by such groups as Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) and the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition, New Jersey witnessed a 21% increase in the number of local summer meal sites. This year efforts include working more closely with local sponsors to help them get the word out by distributing flyers, hosting kickoff events and working with school districts. Other organizations can aid program participation by distributing flyers in locations where children and families congregate, sending email alerts to their network and by posting information on social media. See the New Jersey specific toolkit.

Parents can find a local summer meal site for their children by any of the following methods:

Parents, schools, organizations and government agencies are encouraged to download and distribute poster #1 and poster #2.

For more information on child nutrition campaigns visit the New Jersey Food For Thought
Campaign
webpage.

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Let America Be America Again: A Fourth of July Poem

Let America Be America Again is a poem written by Langston Hughes in the 1930s. It is appropriate, in my opinion, to read it on this national holiday as we celebrate the Fourth of July and as we continue to struggle against unjust laws and tyranny.

A video version, narrated by Alfre Woodard, is available online.

Let America Be America Again

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes.

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Senate Call-In To Stop TrumpCare

The United States Senate is scheduled to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act later this month by which 23 million will lose their health care coverage. Political analysts currently believe the TrumpCare bill (American Health Care Act, or AHCA) currently before Congress will pass unless there is overwhelming reaction by the voting public.

“Our pressure makes political change possible”, according to Ben Wikler, Washington director of MoveOn.org. He went on to state “an uprising is needed to stop the Republican bill from passing”. The following doable actions have been suggested:

  • Use social media to message your friends about the American Health Care Act.
  • Contact your U.S. Senator – especially Republican Senators – using the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly to the requested Senate office.
  • Call everyday and flood Senate offices with phone calls. (Wednesday, June 13 is a national call-in day.)
  • Recruit others to call.
  • Join a local Indivisible Group.
  • Attend rallies outside a Republican Senator’s district office.

Particular emphasis has been placed on calling Senate Republicans from the states of Alaska, Colorado, Ohio, Maine, Tennessee, West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Arizona and Nevada. Urge friends and family in these states to take action, too.

A full listing of Senators is available at https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm.

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LIHEAP Deadline: May 31, 2017

The deadline to apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is May 31, 2017. Applications with a May 31 postmark will be accepted. Applicants who had previously been denied may wish to reapply if their circumstances have changed, particularly if their monthly income has been reduced.

For details see the Department of Community Affairs March 9 press release. Applications with incomplete documentation will be put into pending status for thirty days, according to a DCA spokesperson.

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