#Coronavirus Resources & Info: Keep Your Distance & Stay Healthy (video)

Coronavirus

I’m putting on my Masters in Public Health hat today to talk with you about being safe during the novel Coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus testing is still low in the state of Arizona and across the country. Although the deaths and the numbers of confirmed cases keep rising, the slow roll-out of diagnostic testing masks the real spread of the virus.

I recorded the video (below) on March 24, when there were 326 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arizona. Twenty-four hours later, when I drafted this blog post, there were 401 confirmed cases in Arizona. Today (March 26), there are 508 confirmed cases and eight deaths. Maricopa County is racking up 50 new confirmed cases per day this week. For several days, Arizona had one new death per day; now that rate is also increasing. Friends, this is serious.

There is a lot of news, data, and information out there about COVID-19, but there is also a lot of misinformation and flawed analyses of the epidemiological data. Check the sources before you believe the message. (I have linked resources below.)

Here are a few key public health points to remember …

Please practice social distancing. Don’t go out in public, to work, to school, or to the store unless you have to. Consolidate grocery shopping and try to do once a week. Now, I sound like an old school Home Ec teacher, but having a shopping list and planning meals ahead helps a lot. Some retail stores have hand-washing stations outside and are controlling entry to maintain social distancing inside. This is a good idea, but, friends, if you don’t really need to run out and buy something, stay home.

Stay home and stay safe. Whether you are sick or healthy, staying at home is the most important thing you can do limit COVID-19 exposure and spread. People can be mostly asymptotic but still infect others around them unknowingly. If you are over 60 and/or have preexising health conditions, particularly impaired lung function, you are at higher risk than the rest of the population.

Work from home. If you have the option to work from home or take classes from home, do it.

If you have to go to work, be safe. If you have to interact with the public in your work, please follow all safety precautions. Ask your employer for gloves and other protective equipment.

Know the symptoms of the novel Coronavirus and how it is different from a cold or the flu. Difficulty breathing, fever, and cough two to 14 days after exposure could be COVID-19.

Testing is limited. Even if you have symptoms, testing is limited. Banner Health Systems has set up drive-through screening, but you have to call first to be prescreened (1-844-549-1851). You can also call Arizona’s 2-1-1 information line to learn about Coronavirus. The low testing rates and subsequently modest number of confirmed cases clouds the real extent of the pandemic nationwide. This is dangerous because some people will not heed the public health warnings if they are misled into thinking they are invincible.

Governments Respond. There have been multiple executive orders from the federal and the state; it is hard to keep up. Both the federal and state governments have hurriedly passed laws to make money, services and related websites available to fight COVID-19. Unfortunately, with such speed, there are likely to be overlaps and gaps in the government response. We are obviously seeing this with the low testing rates and the calls for more personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

Resources are available. Multiple strategies have been proposed and passed into law to help people with wages and housing if they can’t work during the Coronavirus emergency. (There are some links below. Arizona House Democrats are compiling more information; look for updates.)

This will get worse before it gets better. If too many politicians, governments and people continue to be cavalier about the novel Coronavirus, the death tolls in the US could be staggering as hospital personnel, equipment and beds become scarce.

We’ll get through this as a country, but we won’t be the same on the other side. The novel Coronavirus has already shown us how shortsighted it is to have a globalized supply chain and work force, just-in-time operations, and a focus on corporate profits over public health, public service and public education.

Sending love, hope and health to all of you. Please stay safe and be kind … especially to your family members, while you are sheltering in place. We’re all in this together.

RESOURCE LINKS

TUCSON/PIMA LOCAL INFORMATION & UPDATES

Pima County Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – includes a wealth of information from outbreak statistics to public health links for a variety of services, here.

City of Tucson COVID-19 Update page – includes executive orders, information on city services and more, go here.

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson.Com) Coronavirus Updates – includes daily and hourly “what we know” updates, go here.

Tucson Coronavirus Update Facebook Page (Managed by the Tucson Sentinel.com) – includes news updates from the Tucson Sentinel, mixed with group member comments and other links. This page is heavily moderated to protect the integrity of the information and the tone of the discourse. No hate speech, trolls, or fake news allowed, go here.

Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak, go here.

 

HEALTH INFORMATION

Arizona Department of Health Services – includes state related information about Coronavirus in Arizona, the daily outbreak statistics, and information on testing, go here.

Telephone hotline:  1-844-542-8201

Banner Health Systems Coronavirus Testing Information – to be screened for drive-through testing, go here.

Telephone hotline for testing: 1-844-549-1851

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – federal information on the COVID-19 crisis, symptoms, and science, go here.

 

HOUSING, FOOD AND NECESSITIES

Arizona Food Bank Network – This site has many links for people seeking help during the Coronavirus cirsis. It also has a directory of food banks in Arizona, go here.

AZ Department of Economic Security (DES) Services – DES has set up a specific COVID-19 page with information and phone numbers. Please note that information for unemployment insurance benefits are provided on this website.

These services include unemployment insurance benefits, services for the developmentally disabled, the Arizona early intervention program, cash, medical and nutrition assistance (food stamps), child case assistance, short-term crisis service and mortgage assistance, go here.

Health-e-Arizona PLUS – Online application for nutrition assistance (food stamps), Medicaid (AHCCCS) and cash assistance, go here.

Health-e-Arizona Hotline: 1-855-432-7587

Arizona 211 – Arizona 211 has compiled a great list of resources in one place. Individuals can either call 211 from their phone or browse their website, go here.

Information Hotline:  2-1-1

Community Action Agencies (CAA) – CAAs offer a wide variety of services including rental assistance and general casework, go here.

The Senior Help Line – The Senior Help Line is the top resource for Arizona’s seniors and elderly. The hotline operates 24/7 and has a great library of resources to pull from, go here.

24/7 Senior Hotline: 602-264-4357

Utilities and bill pay – Many utilities are offering assistance with bills including delayed shut offs for people who can’t afford to pay. You will need to call each specific company and inquire about what may be available to assist you.

SRP – https://www.srpnet.com/about/customer-assistance.aspx– 602-236-8888

APS – https://www.aps.com/en/About/Our-Company/Our-Commitment-to-Safety/COVID-19 – 602-371-7171

Eviction assistance – The Arizona Department of Housing offers limited eviction assistance in certain zip codes, please refer to this website for further information, go here.

 

EDUCATION INFORMATION AND FOOD SERVICES THROUGH PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Public Schools – The AZ Department of Education has guidance for parents and schools on their website, go here.

ld9 School Districts…

Tucson Unified School District, go here.

Flowing Wells Unified School District, go here .

Amphi Unified School District, go here.

Catalina Foothills School District, go here.

 

ONLINE LEARNING RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES

 Wonderopolis – Children’s learning website created by Education Solutions for Families invites children to explore intriguing questions about the world around us, go here.

Camp Wonderpolis – offers interactive STEM and literacy-building topics boosted by Maker experiments, go here.

National Center for Families Learning – free educational resources for families, go here.

Storyline Online – children’s stories read by famous people, a project of the Screen Actor’s Guild and the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), go here.

Go Noodle – physical activity and learning for children, go here.

Fordham Institute Resource for Learning from home, go here.

National Education Association Resources, go here.

Swing Education: 20 Online Learning Resources, go here.

 

Rep. PPH Updates & Videos Re: COVID-19
#Coronavirus Resources & Info: Keep Your Distance & Stay Healthy (video), March 25, 2020

#AZ Legislature Passes ‘Skinny’ Budget with #Bipartisan #Coronavirus Plan (video), March 24, 2020

#AZHouse Republicans Push ‘Skinny’ Budget with Little Attention to #Coronavirus (video), March 23, 2020

#AZHouse OK’s Remote Voting for Members, #AZLeg Remains Open (video), March 19, 2020

Democrats Push for #Coronavirus Crisis Response Plan in Budget (video), March 19, 2020

#Arizona Steps Up #Coronavirus Response with Emergency Declaration & $55 million (video), March 15, 2020

#AZLeg Should Add Coronavirus Prevention & Control to Budget (video), March 9, 2020

COVID-19: Businesses… Please… Encourage Sick Workers to Stay Home (video), March 3, 2020

Gloves & Hankies: Lessons from the 1918 Flu Pandemic (video), February 26, 2020

COVID-19 NEWS & TRACKING

Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak

 

#AZ House Debates, Passes Association Health Plans SB1085 (video)

Although we had a short floor calendar on May 1, we had some rousing debates. The highlight was a two-hour debate on SB1085, association health plans. (Watch the action here, beginning at 19:32 min.)

The Republicans have had three bills this year to lower healthcare insurance costs by encouraging people to leave the healthcare marketplace. I agree that the Affordable Care Act is too expensive, particularly for sole proprietors (like my husband who was offered a silver ACA plan for more than $1000 per month just for him.) This is why I voted for direct care contracts. I believe those are a better deal for sole proprietors than association health plans.)

Democrats debated valiantly, led by Health and Human Services Ranking Member Rep. Kelli Butler (right). Here, she does Q&A with Rep. Isela Blanc.

I get that costs are too high, but the association health plans are not the way to go. They could, indeed, lower costs for business owners, but they could be risky due to limited coverage. There are reasons why these plans will likely be cheaper. Remember the old adage “you get what you pay for”. If sole proprietor business owners want to take a risk with their own insurance and their own health, I have a mind to let them take their own risk. (Just don’t ask me to help you later with a Go Fund Me Request if it turns out I was right on limited coverage under cheap junk insurance plans.)

Where I object is when businesses are making these risky insurance decisions for their employees— just to save money.

Continue reading #AZ House Debates, Passes Association Health Plans SB1085 (video)

In #AZ, Maternal & Child Health Is in Crisis (video)

Maternal and child health is in crisis in the state of Arizona. Too many infants die. Too many new

Maternal and child health is in crisis in the state of Arizona. Too many babies die. Too many new Moms die. Too many babies are born prematurely. Too many babies are born with birth defects. Too many pregnant women don’t get adequate prenatal care.

Some Arizona counties have been labeled maternal health deserts because of lack of medical care. Cochise, Graham, Gila, La Paz, Santa Cruz and Yuma are the worst off. Around 50% of the babies born in Arizona are born to unwed mothers (which makes them more likely to live in poverty with their Moms.) And around 50% of the live births are funded by AHCCCS (Arizona’s Medicaid program).

Arizona’s lack of attention to maternal and child health and our stingy social safety net policies have exacerbated the situation and cost the state lives and money. Each premature baby born under AHCCCS costs the state around $1 million. How many of these one-million-dollar babies are accidents due to lack of access to affordable birth control and the scarcity of women’s health clinics, particularly in rural Arizona? We should be funding women’s health and well baby clinics in rural Arizona and should be hiring community health workers to do outreach with pregnant women and new Moms. You can hire an army of community health workers for the cost of one or two premature babies.

Continue reading In #AZ, Maternal & Child Health Is in Crisis (video)

Direct Care Contracts: Cheap Non-Insurance Plans Could Put Patients at Risk (video)

Banner University Medical Center

In the Health and Human Services Committee, we have heard a few different insurance plans that would be cheaper and less comprehensive alternatives to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

With SB1105, healthcare moves into the gig economy. SB1105 covers direct primary care agreements, a non-insurance alternative to the ACA.  In Arizona, people are already allowed to make one-on-one contracts with a healthcare provider for certain services for a designated mount of money per month.

This bill clarifies existing law and says that these contracts are not insurance and, therefore, not regulated by the Arizona Department of insurance. It also says that you can have contracts with doctors, physicians assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, dentists, and physical therapists.

If you take this to it’s illogical extreme, you could have multiple contracts with different providers for different menus of services. Unless you are really good at contract law, you could end up having several contracts, paying monthly bills to each of these providers and still not getting the care that you need. Since these plans are not insurance, you would not be able to take your complaints to a bureaucrat at an insurance company or at the Department of Insurance.

Direct current primary care agreements are supposed to fill a niche in the healthcare market. The ACA is too expensive, particularly for sole proprietors. These are business people who are their business. Professional people, consultants, artists and musicians could all be sole proprietors.

Continue reading Direct Care Contracts: Cheap Non-Insurance Plans Could Put Patients at Risk (video)

Pam Powers Hannley: Your Voice in the Arizona House

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

When I ran for office in 2016, I said I wanted be your voice—the voice of the people—in the Arizona Legislature. And that is exactly what I did.

I used my voice, my votes, my amendments, and my bills to fight for the rights and wellbeing of workers, patients, teachers, students, women and the underserved.

Protecting your family…

I was a strong voice for public health and affordable access to care during the negotiations and eventual passage of both the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act and dental therapy. I also co-sponsored a bill to allow Arizonans to buy-in to Medicaid (AHCCCS). This is a potentially cheaper option for folks who are struggling with the cost of health insurance. House Democrats will be proposing it again in 2019.

On budget night 2018, I proposed an amendment to appropriate $56 million in federal child care subsidies to fill the $80 million gap left after Republicans swept the funds during the Great Recession. Arizona House Republicans voted to leave those funds unspent; Arizona is the only state in the country that didn’t use those earmarked childcare funds. (I’ll try again in 2019.) I also backed a bill for tiered reimbursement for childcare subsidies. This bill, which was signed into law, and the $56 million in subsidies would go a long way to help Arizona families and children.

Protecting your rights…

Also on budget night, at around 4 a.m., I defended the rights of pregnant homeless women to have access to abortion and abortion referrals. I have seen young homeless women with infants on the streets of Tucson. The streets are no place for adults– let alone children and babies. Because we are a state that does very little to help women once their babies have been born, I believe we should expand access to contraception and all legal medical procedures and teach medically accurate sex education in the schools.

ERA
ERA advocates participated in the Together We Rise rally on opening day at the Arizona Legislature in 2018. Besides me on the far left, legislative candidates Victoria Steele (third from left) and Sharon Girard (far right) are also pictured above.

Two years in a row, I proposed ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in Arizona. Arizona women won’t have equal pay for equal work without passage of the ERA.  Overall, women are paid roughly 78 cents on the dollar compared to men. Due to the intersectionality of race, class, ethnicity and gender,  African-American women, Native American women and Latinas are paid far less than white men. Latinas make roughly 55 cents per hour for every $1 earned by a white man. Tucson’s population is 41% Latino. Just think of the economic impact to our city and our region if Latinas were paid fairly and if they were offered quality education for themselves and their children. It doesn’t do our community, our state or our country to force people to live in poverty and sickness.

Continue reading Pam Powers Hannley: Your Voice in the Arizona House

I Want to Hear Your Healthcare Stories

Banner University Medical Center

For the past 30 years, my career has focused on health promotion, disease prevention, behavioral research, and communications. I have seen, photographed, and written about the good, the bad and the ugly parts of our country’s healthcare “system”.

I saw the rise of HMOs (health maintenance organizations) in the 1980s. I cheered the Clintons for at least trying to fix the overly complicated mess in the early 1990s. I saw costs going up every year and service going down. I saw a health insurance system that was creaking under the weight of its own complexity, while big insurance and big pharma collected huge profits. As managing editor of the American Journal of Medicine, I stood proudly by the Editor-in-Chief when he and the Editorial Board called for Medicare for All on multiple occasions.

Along the way, I have heard stories about huge medical bills, uncompensated hospital care, outrageously expensive drugs, limited or delayed access to medical care, premature death and disease, medical bankruptcy, and the medical consequences of poverty.

Now, as a member of the Arizona House and the ranking Democrat on the Health Committee, I want to hear your stories.

Do you have concerns about the future of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid and Kids Care? Is the cost of medical care or prescription drugs a worry for your family? How would dramatic cuts to these programs impact you? Come to the 200 Stories: Tucson Healthcare Forum on Oct. 29.

Continue reading I Want to Hear Your Healthcare Stories

200 Stories: Tucson Healthcare Forum, Oct 29

200 Stories: Tucson Healthcare Forum

Do you have concerns about the Affordable Care Act and repeal attempts; about the future of Medicare and Medicaid; or about access to care or the cost of drugs?

Whether you are a patient or a provider, we want to hear your medical and health insurance stories. The LD9 and LD10 Legislators are holding an open mic forum in which we listen, you talk, and we all learn.

This is a free educational community event for residents of Pima County. It’s about listening and learning from each other. Senators David Bradley and Steve Farley and Representatives Kirsten Engel, Randy Friese, and Pamela Powers Hannley have confirmed their attendance. (Rep. Todd Clodfelter was invited but has a scheduling conflict.)

In the news, we hear what politicians and big corporations think should be done with our country’s overly complicated and extremely expensive health care system. At this event, the people of Southern Arizona will have an opportunity to tell us their stories and help shape future policy.

Mark your calendars for October 29, 2017. The event will be held 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, 4831 E. 22nd St.

Please take a few minutes to register with EventBrite by clicking here. We want to make sure we have enough seats.

Watch Facebook and other social media for updates.