Insight News

Mar 31st


Health care reform means middle class tax cuts

They've crunched the numbers and they say it looks good. The health care consumer advocate group Families USA says the new health care reform law will bring a huge tax break for working people - one worth $110 billion by 2014. The tax cuts are fully refundable, which means you get money back even if you don't owe any taxes, according to Kathleen Stoll with Families USA.

"The new premium tax credits in the Affordable Care Act really constitute the largest middle-income tax cut in history. These new tax credits are going to enable hard-working folks in Minnesota to afford health premiums that up to now have really stretched their family budget," said Stoll.

Bike lanes and paths on the increase

Bike lanes and paths on the increaseDear EarthTalk: Are there efforts to increase bike lanes and paths around the nation? I’d like to be able to bike more instead of drive, but I’m concerned about safety. -- John Shields, Minneapolis, MN

Around the U.S. new bike lanes and paths are all the rage, helping cash-strapped cities simultaneously green operations and trim budgets—adding bike lanes is far less costly (to taxpayers and the environment) than building new roads. Also, the nonprofit League of American Bicyclists reports that real estate values increase with proximity to bike paths. “People enjoy living close to bike paths and are willing to pay more for an otherwise comparable house to be closer to one,” the group reports, citing examples from Indiana, California and elsewhere showing that homes near bike trails command a premium upwards of 10 percent.

Dog poop into energy?

Dog poop into energy?Dear EarthTalk: Is there a way to utilize the energy in my dogs’ poop? I have three dogs and lots of poop and would like to dispose of it in a “greener” manner. -- Mary C., Wallace, ID

No doubt creating a way to do so is possible, as large systems called anaerobic digesters (or biogas digesters) are often used in landfills to wring energy out of trash, as well as on some big farms and ranches where large amounts of cow manure provide plenty of feedstock. In such systems microbes generate methane gas—which can be captured and used for power—once they are set free on manure or trash. The economics of putting biogas digesters in landfills or big cattle operations can make the up-front expense tolerable—money can be made or saved by selling or utilizing the resulting power—but doing so in one’s back yard might be a different story.

Call to Action: Children's Defense March for Children

On Sunday, October 10, 2010, the Children’s Defense Fund March for Children was held, and community members marched together at the Minnesota State Capitol for justice, equity and the future of our children. The Children’s Defense Fund sponsored this March in furtherance of its goal to lift children out of poverty; protect them from abuse and neglect; and ensure their access to health care, quality education. As an advocate for children’s rights, this was a monumental moment in Minnesota’s history. It was a time for critical reflection about the current state of affairs concerning our children. It was also a time to take action by asking the question, “Harambee which translates to: How are the children?”

With that being said, we must take a critical look at Minnesota’s systems and policies, when 1 in 8 children are living in poverty. When, the state of Minnesota spends 3.7 times as much per prisoner as per pupil. When, 88,000 of Minnesota’s children have unmet health care needs and are uninsured. These statistics reflect that Minnesota’s children are not doing well and the urgent need for change.

A mother’s cold and fl u concern

We all start out with the potential to be healthy.  Why do we sometimes get sick, experience pain, or have other health problems?  Often the answers can be found in our lifestyle choices.  I am a Doctor of Chiropractic, delivering no drugs, no surgery, believing in the body’s ability to heal itself when negative interferences are removed.  An interesting question I’ve been asked over the course of my career is:

Q: I have two young children returning to school this fall.  Every year they bring colds or the flu home once the cold weather hits and all those children are cooped up inside all day.  Flu shots are not an option in my house.  What can I do to help my children stay healthier through the school year?

October 15 is Latino AIDS Awareness Day in Minnesota

HIV testing opportunities planned for October

Minnesota will join the eighth annual observance of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD) on October 15 to raise awareness of the increasing HIV infection rates among Latinos across the nation.

Since 1982, 643 Latino men, women and children have been diagnosed with HIV infection in Minnesota, including 138 that have died, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Currently, there are 521 Latinos living with HIV in the state, including those who moved to Minnesota after they were diagnosed in other states. Statewide, HIV infection rates for Latinos were five times greater than whites. In 2009, 996 Latinos were also infected with other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.

Personal Care Assistance (PCA) services: Eligibility at risk for elderly and children come July 2011

In 2009, the Minnesota legislature made significant changes to the Personal Care Assistance (PCA) program in order to save money.  An estimated 3000 children and adults who use the program will no longer be eligible for the program, come July 2011.  A significant percentage of these 3000 people are people of color.

The PCA program aids people with disabilities or chronic illnesses who need help with dressing, grooming, bathing, positioning, transferring, mobility, eating or toileting. These are called “activities of daily living.”  The program also aids those who have difficult behaviors such as physical aggression towards self or others, or destroys property that requires an immediate response of another person. These are called “Level 1 behaviors.”
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