Category: Health Care

Help Save Women and Children with HB315

When Democrats ran our state, they passed a law that made it a crime to be a midwife in Alabama. Alabama is one of just six states that criminalizes midwifery. HB315, which was introduced by Moulton-Republican State Rep. Ken Johnson in February, would decriminalize Certified Professional midwives and has been scheduled on Tuesday’s special order agenda. Please contact your State legislators and let them know you would like for them to support HB315.  HB315 is legislation that is pro-life, pro-liberty, and pro-women. For women in Alabama currently facing a health crisis in rural areas of the state, allowing professional mid-wives to serve is a common sense solution.  It makes little sense to penalize a trained mid-wife who bears certification for helping women have safer births.

As registered nurse in Alabama Sarah Brown stated, “While I love my OBGYN doctor, I believe it is time that the women of Alabama have the option to hire a midwife. It puzzles me to think that I could choose to abort my baby, but that I cannot choose to hire a midwife to assist me in my pregnancy.”  The current law criminalizing a historic and safe medical practice of midwifery needs to be changed this session. Women in Alabama and families in Alabama have waited far too long for HB315 to be passed. Eagle Forum of Alabama is proud to stand up in support of this pro-life legislation which has a direct impact on helping families and women in this state. Contact your State Representative today and early tomorrow before the vote on HB315! Let them know you expect their support of this important legislation. Contact the Alabama State House (334) 242-7095 then ask for you respective member.

All Pro-life Bills Pass Senate

Wonderful news!  All three pro-life bills that we have supported this legislative session passed the Senate today.  They now head to the Governor’s desk for signature.

1.  The Healthcare Rights of Conscience bill (religious freedom for healthcare providers who object to abortion, cloning, stem-cell research) by Rep. Arnold Mooney/Sen. Paul Sanford

2.  Ban on Assisted Suicide bill by Representative Mack Butler/Senator Phil Williams

3.  Right to Life Constitutional Amendment (a constitutional amendment to go on the ballot declaring that abortion is not a protected right in Alabama)  by Rep. Matt Fridy/Sen. Phil

Williams

Thank you to everyone who turned out to lobby for life, and especially those legislators that voted to protect it!

 

Get the Facts on HB277

Get the facts on HB277!  It is important for Alabamians to learn more about the significant role of religious and private child care providers in Alabama. A large portion of Alabama’s families rely on these providers to care for their children on a daily basis.  These are predominately church operated ministries to church members and outreaches to the community. A smaller number are affiliated with religious schools. Many prefer private facilities which are licensed exempt over state controlled facilities. In October 2016, there were 998 licensed and 943 license exempt child care centers in Alabama, according to Alabama DHR. The number of licensed exempt child care centers in Alabama is increasing because many families our choosing licensed exempt centers.

Families already have a choice between licensed exempt and licensed by the state child care providers. Yet many decide to not attend licensed child care providers and purposely go to licensed exempt child care options. Even the grandchild of the sponsor of HB277 attends a license exempt child care provider in Alabama.  Opposition to HB277 is about protecting children by protecting some of the best, safe, and positive child care options for children in Alabama. If hard working Alabamians no longer have high quality and low cost options, it harms children.  Many families will no longer have the opportunities and options they rely on for their families.

No one is exempt from child safety laws or regulations 

  • Licensed exempt day care providers are not exempt from child safety laws and regulations. All child care providers in Alabama are either licensed exempt or licensed. To become licensed exempt the provider must file appropriate paperwork with DHR including immunization records.
  • Criminal behavior is already outlawed in the state of Alabama regardless of where the crime occurs whether in a private or public setting. There are many state laws which directly address child abuse and neglect. The appropriate state agencies already possess the authority to investigate and punish criminals
  • Just as public school employees those at licensed exempt child care facilities already must pass full criminal background checks. (AL Code 38-13-3)
  • In addition, the State of Alabama already places an affirmative duty on child care employees in private and public settings with the responsibility to report suspected child abuse.
  • Child care providers are regulated for health and safety standards by multiple state agencies already. License exemption for child care providers in Alabama does not mean they are exempt from child safety laws and regulations.

What is currently required of licensed exempt facilities?

 DHR provides a list of requirements that involves their agency here http://dhr.alabama.gov/services/Child_Care_Services/license%20Exempt%20Centers.aspx

  • Notice that the child care program is an integral part of a local church
  • Notice that intent to operate a child care program has been given to the appropriate health departments so that facilities will be inspected to meet standards
  • Inspection by fire department at least once a year
  • Inspection by the Alabama Department of Public Health at least twice a year
  • Notice to the department certifying health inspection reports, immunizations, and medical forms for all staff and children.
  • Notice to parents of staff qualifications, pupil-student ratio, discipline policies, type of curriculum, religious teachings, and type of lunch program.
  • Parents required to sign affidavits about licensed-exempt status
  • Church/facility must submit affidavits of notification to DHR
  • Must follow all state and federal laws

What are the thirteen agencies who currently regulate license-exempt providers in Alabama?

  • Alabama Department of Human Resources
  • Alabama and Local Health Department
  • State Fire Marshall
  • State Building Commission
  • Alabama Department of Revenue
  • Alabama Department of Labor
  • Alabama Law Enforcement Agency
  • Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Federal Transportation Administration
  • Local Codes (zoning, safety requirements)
  • Safe States (enforce asbestos laws)
  • County District Attorney
  • The Alabama Code governing numerous aspects of caring for children

Licensed care does not ensure safety

DHR and other state agencies have failed on many occasions to follow through on inspections to facilities. In 2014 changes to block grants from the Federal Government required DHR to inspect facilities receiving grants whether or not they are license exempt.  Those inspections were not always completed.  Regulations and license requirements have failed on many occasions to protect children.

  • There is no evidence that licensed day care facilities are safer than license exempt facilities. We can all cherry pick examples in either public or private settings, but there is no factual evidence that licensed facilities are safer than non-licensed facilities.

Misleading examples of child endangerment as pretext for state action

As a matter of fact, every claim of injury to children upon which HB277 proponents rely are as a result of the violation of health standards already required of licensed exempt facilities.  If DHR and the responsible health departments had done their jobs, those events would not have happened. But more to the point, DHR regulation would not have prevented them. However, it certainly makes for good, if not misleading, selling points to uninformed observers.

Sunny Side Day Care– Sunny Side Day Care was highlighted as a key example of a licensed exempt center for a staph infection outbreak that happened at that location. Sunny Side Day Care receives funding from the Federal Government. That means state agencies already have more ability and responsibility to regulate that facility. However, on many occasions DHR has failed to inspect some facilities as they did in regards to Sunny Side. In regards to food safety all child care facilities must meet be food safety, standards already. All the reasonable measure are already in place to address this problem.  There was no clear testimony provided that regulations or licenses would have prevented the staph incident. This memorandum from the Office of Inspector General about license exempt facilities examines the legal authority. https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-10-00231.pdf

  • There is no guarantee that regulations or licenses will prevent all health incidents but one thing is clear: Alabama DHR had the ability to inspect Sunny Side Day Care facility prior to the staph incident. Licenses and regulations do not ensure a child’s safety.

HB277 exempts certain child- care facilities but targets religious facilities

Do supporters of HB277 think that licenses and the regulations associated with this bill protect children?  Why then are shopping center day cares exempt on page 6 of HB277 Why would public controlled facilities be exempt from this regulation? The potential for safety concerns for children is the same in these locations as others.

Follow the money

The free market allows parents to decide for themselves in what type of educational environment or child care facility they would like to place their child. Most parents like options because it produces the best choices for their children. However some groups and individuals are resorting to scare tactics to push economic protectionism against religious affiliated facilities. In the last several years more families have been moving away from licensed facilities and towards licensed-exempt facilities. That concerns some who benefit economically from licensed centers.

  • In addition to the economic protectionism aspects of HB277, the Federal involvement and out of state donations to lobbying organizations have thrown big money to groups and agencies to push for licensure mandates. As the fiscal note for the HB277 shows the financial support for this regulation comes from the Federal government http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/ALISON/SearchableInstruments/2017RS/FiscalNotes/FN-36426.htm. Another source of funding for this lobbying push comes from Kellogg Foundation a national out of state organization.

Public policy should be based on facts not stereotypes

Religious and secular child care providers both care about protecting children and helping families. That is why they do what they do.  There have been many innuendos and false claims made about religious institutions in Alabama.

  • The vast majority of Alabama’s religious institutions and religiously affiliated providers do wonderful work for Alabama’s families. Just as we do not judge every public school teacher by the actions of a small percentage of teachers we should apply that same respect for private and religious institutions.
  • We punish the individual not an entire religious community or group. We do not judge every private child care institution by select bad actors. That promotes fear and prejudice between Alabama’s religious populations, the general public and state agencies. Solid public policy proposals will not result from fear tactics and prejudice.

Religious Liberty Violations

“A child care facility that is an integral part of a church or nonprofit religious school shall be licensed…” (pg. 27 of HB277)  HB277 removes important religious liberty protections that ensure Alabama’s diverse religious population has freedom to exercise their religious beliefs in regards to early childhood development without government intrusion and control. “Also under existing law, child care facilities that are part of a church or nonprofit religious school are exempt from licensing by the Department of Human Resources.” (pg. 1 of HB277) Alabama’s diverse religious communities have for generations worked to protect children, start hospitals, adoption agencies, founded schools, and ministries for the poor.

Separation of church and state means that the state does not control the church or any religious institutions. If the church must receive a license from the state in order to operate a ministry that violates the religious liberty protections Alabamians have been provided in the state and Federal Constitution.  Protecting children and religious freedom are not mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact parents and the Alabama Constitution expect them to be mutually inclusive. The Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment provides for what is called the “compelling interest test.” Government may not burden or restrict a religious activity or belief without first having a compelling interest to do so in the least burdensome or restrictive way. HB277 is unconstitutional and will likely face class action suit by Alabama religious institutions. It will very likely be struck down.

  • First Amendment United States Constitution applicable to Alabama

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

  • Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment 622, section V

Section V. (a) Government shall not burden a person’s freedom of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b).

(b) Government may burden a person’s freedom of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person:

(1) Is in furtherance of a compelling government interest; and

(2) Is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling government interest.

(c) A person whose religious freedom has been burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial, administrative, or other proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against a government.

Government overreach

Hundreds of licensed exempt facilities will close due to HB277 unnecessary regulatory overreach. HB277 oversteps and violates what the proper role of government is in Alabama.  The government has an interest in protecting safety of all Alabamians but that does not mean the government should control private religious institutions. Reasonable regulations and criminal laws already punish bad actors. State agencies already retain the ability to regulate and inspect in needed situations.  Demanding licenses and the regulatory power that comes with licenses will not improve children’s safety. Instead, a license requirement will mean more state control over private and religious institutions. If the church was must come to the state to request to operate then the church is not free from state intrusion. In addition to day cares HB277 will regulate mother’s day out, volunteers, day nurseries, and play groups.

Removes Parental Authority and choice

Currently there are more positive child care options and choices in early childhood service providers in the state of Alabama. Once HB277 passes that will no longer be the case. If you dislike one provider, you have options outside of state regulated facilities or facilities who accept grants. Families who rely on grants also have options currently. However, HB277 will remove this option for parents.  It will require every child care provider to follow the same regimen, and it will give state agencies control of these institutions.

Truth about minimum standards

Many private and religious child care providers in Alabama already go above and beyond minimum standards by DHR.  HB277 would require every day care facility to follow the list of regulations called minimum standards. Child neglect, abuse, health, and safety regulations and law exist and are already in place outside of minimum standards. Many religious institutions or private facilities reject DHR minimum standards.  These regulations have many aspects that are not directly related to child’s safety but they are instead more focused toward the facility.

DHR would have the full authority to deny licensing, employment, and ability to volunteer based on individual receiving speeding tickets, or criminal charges even when found innocent.

DHR would have the authority to consider a center’s beliefs unsuitable for licensing, employment and the ability to volunteer.

DHR can immediately terminate license, employment and the ability to volunteer for being viewed as unsuitable with no proof of wrongdoing. It gives them unintended control due to the subjectivity of determining who or what is “unsuitable”.

DHR can close a center for what they “think” is a lack of business funds.

DHR holds the approval to whether or not a Center Director can be hired.

DHR requirements for certain number of staff per child.

Real Solutions

Rather than address the issue of a few “for profit” daycares masquerading as churches, proponents of HB277 want to remove the protection of all churches. The good faith offer of actual redress of the real problem has been disingenuously and deceitfully rejected by supporters of HB277 in favor of unconstitutional church regulation. Using child protection as an excuse, their real goal is church regulation of this very important church ministry, the choice of parents to raise up their children in the way they should go. 

Dr. Allen Mendenhall, Executive Director, The Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty

Joe Godfrey, Executive Director, Alabama Citizen’s Action Program

Alabama Citizen’s Action Program

Robin Mears, Executive Director, Alabama Christian Education Association

Eunie Smith, President, Eagle Forum of Alabama

Deborah Love, Executive Director, Eagle Forum of Alabama

Eric Johnston, President of The Southeast Law Institute

Jeff Smith, Administrator of Trinity Christian Academy and Preschool, Oxford, Alabama

Danny J. Hubbard, Publisher and Author, Reveal Publishing

Scott Elliot, Director of Youth Ministries at Christ the King Lutheran Church

Dr. Tom Ford, Pastor, Grace Baptist Church and Ezekiel Academy Board Member

Col. Charles Orr, Christian Citizen Task Force, Whitesburg Baptist Church

Samuel J. McLure, The Adoption Law Firm

James McCaney, Jr. Senior Pastor, Victory Christian Fellowship Church

Maurice McCaney, Chancellor, Victory Christian Academy

Wanda McCaney, Director, Victory Christian Academy

Lorraine McCaney, Head Administrator, Victory Christian Academy

Mike Parsons, Director of Save Alabama’s Values and Education

Rev., Dr. John Killian, Pastor and Past President Alabama Baptist State Convention

McCaney Law Group, LLC

Denise Driskell, Senior Administrator of Pathways Academy

Robert M. Driskell, High School Administrator of Pathways Academy

Rev. Jerry Johnston, Associate Pastor, Trinity Baptist Oxford, Alabama

Michael Rippy, Lead Pastor, Evangel Church, Evangel Christian Preschool

 

 

 

 

 

Pro-Life Bills Pass Out of House Health Committee

Great news!  All three of the pro-life bills that Eagle Forum of Alabama is promoting were reported out of the House Health Committee on Feb. 8th, after public hearings on all of them.

HB24 – Adoption by Rep. Rich Wingo (334) 242-7681
This bill would establish the Alabama Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act.  It would prohibit the state from discriminating against child placing agencies on the basis that the provider declines to provide a child placement that conflicts with the religious beliefs of the provider.

HB95 – Conscience by Rep. Arnold Mooney (334) 242-7744

This bill would give health care providers the following: The authority to refuse to perform or to participate in health care services that violate their conscience; immunity from civil, criminal, or administrative liability for refusing to provide or participate in a health care service that violates their conscience. It would declare it unlawful for any person to discriminate against health care providers for declining to participate in a health care service that violates their conscience. The bill would also provide for injunctive relief and back pay for violation.

 

HB96 – Suicide by Rep. Mack Butler (334) 242-7446

This bill would establish the Assisted Suicide Ban Act to prohibit a person or a health care provider from providing aid in dying to another person and would provide civil and criminal penalties for violations.

 

We are asking Representatives for a “Pro-life Day” for all three bills to come up in the House. Senate sponsors should be dropping companion bills in the next few days. Please call the numbers listed above, and thank the sponsors and Rep. April Weaver, chairperson of the Health Committee for the completion of this first step.  She can be reached at (334) 242-7731.

Governor Bentley Announces Alabama Will Not Set Up State Insurance Exchange

 

Office of the Governor
ROBERT BENTLEY Governor
 STATE OF ALABAMA Press Office

 

 

 


November 13, 2012

Governor Bentley Announces Alabama Will Not Set Up State Insurance Exchange
MONTGOMERY – Governor Robert Bentley on Tuesday announced that Alabama will not set up a state insurance exchange under the federal health care law.

“I am not going to set up a state-based exchange that will create a tax burden of up to $50 million on the people of Alabama.  As governor, I cannot support adding such a tax burden onto our citizens,” Governor Bentley said.  “The Affordable Care Act is neither affordable nor does it actually improve health care.  Congress and the President have said they want to work together to solve the fiscal crisis facing this country, and I suggest they start with this health care bill.”

“I have been speaking individually and in group settings with governors from all over the country, and I feel that a significant number of these governors will take a similar stand,” Governor Bentley added.  “That will send a clear signal to all of our elected leaders in Washington that the health care bill should be changed.”

“I also will not expand Medicaid under the current structure that exists because we simply cannot afford it,” Governor Bentley said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Obamacare Is Now A Tax And Liberty Is Now A Memory

Many conservatives were convinced that yesterday we would see the US Supreme Court strike down what we know is a massive expansion of the federal government and an unconstitutional use of federal power.  Unfortunately, things didn’t quite turn out as we had hoped.  While there were not 5 votes to allow Congress to use the commerce clause to force individuals to buy health insurance, Chief Justice Roberts voted with Justices Breyer, Ginsberg, Kagan, and Sotomayor to uphold the law on the grounds that Congress does have the power to tax and that requiring an individual to pay a tax for refusing to purchase health insurance is consistent with that power.  A copy of the ruling can be found here.

There were only two small victories (if you want to call them that) for conservatives: 1) the individual mandate was not upheld under the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution limiting (albeit to a small extent) Congressional power to regulate economic activity; and 2) attempts to force states to expand Medicaid by threatening to withhold all Medicaid funds from states that refused to comply was ruled unconstitutional.  Under today’s ruling, states can choose to expand Medicaid programs and get extra money from Congress to pay for part of that expansion, but if they choose not to expand Medicaid, they cannot be denied existing Medicaid funds.  This is extremely important to Alabama where our state General Fund budget is already in shambles due to the high costs of Medicaid.  If this provision had been upheld, it would have made an already bad situation much, much worse.

So what lesson can we take away from today’s ruling?  First and foremost, we cannot count on the US Supreme Court to save us from ourselves.  This ruling makes the November election more important than ever before because it will literally determine the fate of our country.  For those of us who believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, it is vital to the future of our nation that we participate–along with working ourselves we should also encourage others to help get candidates elected who share a constitutional worldview and once these candidates are elected, do everything in your power to make sure they stick to their philosophy.  We must help elect a president who will appoint judges with a strict constructionist judicial philosophy.  Finally, we MUST hold these candidates accountable and let them know we will support them when they do the right thing.

The real loser yesterday was not Republicans or Conservatives or the Tea Party (no matter what the media says), the real loser yesterday was the United States of America and liberty as we know it.  We cannot forget that and we MUST fight back.

More good resources on today’s Supreme Court ruling can be found here:

Analysis by Richard Epstein:  http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/06/taxation-and-regulation-under-the-health-care-act/

Cato Institute Video Analysis of Ruling:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMkg0y4vakM

On the Medicaid Provision:  http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/06/court-holds-that-states-have-choice-whether-to-join-medicaid-expansion/

ALEC Guide to Repealing Obamacare:  http://www.alec.org/publications/the-state-legislators-guide-to-repealing-obamacare/

Busy Week For House Committees

Fresh off spring break, Alabama legislators will jump right in with a committee meeting on the charter school bill(HB541) in House W&ME. The committee will also look at a proposed fix to the PACT program (HB603).  On Wednesday, the House Health Committee will have public hearings on the Healthcare Rights of Conscience Act (HB375), Healthcare Compact legislation (HB43), and an opt-out of abortion coverage by state run exchanges (HB112).  Don’t forget to let your legislator know where you stand on these important pieces of legislation!

On The Anniversary of Obamacare, Tell Congress: NO Partial Repeal!

Today marks the 2-year anniversary of the federal takeover of our health care system. A majority of Americans still oppose Obamacare and believe it must be repealed in its entirety.  Unfortunately, Congress hasn’t gotten the message.  The House of Representatives voted yesterday to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (a.k.a. the Obamacare Rationing Board).  This sounds like a good thing, right?  But this is a dangerous strategy for several reasons.  First, this will give cover to many Democrats and Liberal Republicans who have consistently opposed a full repeal of Obamacare.  They will now be able to tell voters they voted for repealing Obamacare when in truth, they did not.

The strategy of a piecemeal dismantling of Obamacare is troubling in itself.  The American public has made it abundantly clear they want a full repeal.  The idea that we can repeal the worst parts of Obamacare and fix the rest has already started circulating around Washington.  As the Heritage Foundation so aptly pointed out in a letter to Speaker Boehner, if this idea is allowed to take hold, then Obamacare is likely here to stay.  This would be completely unacceptable.

Congress holds the future of health care for millions of Americans in their hands and they cannot falter.  Obamacare must be repealed in its entirety.  Contact your legislators and let them know that a full repeal is the only way forward.

If Obamacare Is So Great, Why Is Everyone Opting Out?

The Obama administration approved 204 new waivers for the Obamacare law in April.  38 of those were for upscale restaurants and nightclubs and fancy hotels in Nancy Pelosi’s district, 27 were for health care or drug companies, and another 31 were for unions.  That brings the total number of waivers so far up to 1,372.

The administration claims it reviews waivers on a case by case basis and only grants waivers to those companies or businesses on whom it will be too much of a financial burden to meet the law’s first year requirements.  Given the nature of some of the businesses chosen to receive waivers, one has to wonder what criteria they are using to judge the financial burden and the company’s ability to pay.

All of this begs the question, if Obamacare is so great and going to do wonderful things for health care in America, why is everyone opting out?