My name is Mika Covington and I am a first generation Iowan. I grew up in a small town in Nebraska in a middle class family with three siblings. Life was difficult for my family because I was born with a rare disease called Cystinosis. Cystinosis is a rare metabolic disease that causes early cell death and it slowly destroys my organs including my kidneys, liver, and eyes. There is no cure for Cystinosis, however there is some amazing research being done at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) with stem cells. Because of having this disease my parents always were worried about how to pay for my medical care and still pay for all the other bills. It was always a struggle for them.
I am now 22 years old and live in Council Bluffs, Iowa where I am working on getting some college classes done at Iowa Western Community College while recovering from a kidney transplant that I had last year at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC). Because of my disease and having the kidney transplant, I cannot work and so I am on disability. Luckily, because of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), my insurance cannot put a lifetime cap on my coverage and when I am able to work, again I cannot be denied coverage because of having a pre-existing condition.
This spring I volunteered to be an organizing fellow with Organizing for Action because I believe that healthcare is a human right and I want to be sure that as many people as possible can get covered through the ACA. I believe it is important to make sure Iowans are educated about what the ACA is and how it is already benefiting them. Unfortunately, many Congressional Republicans want to repeal and defund the ACA. They refuse to help kids and young adults like me to get the lifesaving healthcare services because their plan is to let insurance companies put lifetime caps on insurance and deny people like me coverage because of having a pre-existing condition.
As an organizer with OFA my goal is to make sure that doesn’t happen and make sure everyone understands what the ACA is and how they can get covered through it. I want to stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves and to stand up for the least of these.
Laura is 17 years old and is fighting for her life. She like me lives with Cystinosis and as of June of 2013 needed a kidney transplant.
Laura has a living related donor, her brother Chris. They have been through testing at the Emory Transplant Center. However the center still hasn’t scheduled a date for her kidney transplant and staff has been rude and disrespectful to Laura and her family. She is trying to work with the center to get her transplant as soon as possible to save her life but they seem to continue to stall.
It seems to me that Laura is being treated quite like I was when I was trying to get a kidney transplant. This is completely unacceptable. If transplant centers don’t understand Cystinosis then they need to contact some that does like Dr. Gahl at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This isn’t the first time I have heard of other Cystinosis patients being treated in this manner. If the transplant center is more worried about their outcomes and their numbers with national rankings then they need to be honest and loose the UNOS credibility. Transplant Centers should be in the business of saving lives not making money.
I call on all of you to please share Laura’s story and ask your friends to sign the petition asking the Emory Transplant Center to please schedule the transplant to save Laura’s life.
Go here to sign the petition: Emory Transplant Center Schedule the Transplant
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,400 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.
Unions are important to the working class and here’s why. We do not work for ourselves or for one another; we work for our employers who organize the workplaces so that we (the worker) cannot exert control by our actions. We do not work for the fun of it. We work because we need to, to survive, to pay our bills and to support our families.
In our nation, the ability to access money is life or death matter and the employers will exploit that to their benefit. They will objectify us, so that they can make more money. All they care about is their bottom line (profits). (Michael D. Yates, Why Unions Matter, Monthly Review Press New York. 1998)
We need unions because of the decline of the middle class, which began, with the decline of union membership according to a 2011 study in the American Sociological Review by Bruce Western of Harvard University and Jake Rosenfeld of the University of Washington. This is seen every day, as more Americans are working in low-wage jobs and little to no benefits. (Politico)
Legally, without unions, workers are just “at-will” employees. This means that they can be fired, demoted, or transferred for any reason and sometimes without a reason. Without unions, the employers are free to treat us as they wish, which includes cutting our pay and even eliminating our benefits.
Currently many of our workplaces are factories of authoritarianism destroying our democracy. This authoritarianism diminishes our standing as a democracy in the world. This is why workers who spend 8 or more hours a day obeying their employers demands with no rights, or to participate in workplace decisions that affect them, do not participate in most of our civil society outside of the workplace because of being trained to just obey. Basically, the rule of most workplaces is that the management dictates and the workers obey or they are fired. Because of authoritarianism in the workplace, workers have no right to freedom of speech, which is one of our nation’s most cherished freedoms. Nevertheless, that freedom is not granted in the workplaces because the United State Constitution’s First Amendment only applies to the encroachment by the government on the citizens’ speech not private employers. Thus, the employers teach the workers every day that democracy and their civil rights stop at the factory, store, or office door. (Why Unions Matter, Elaine Bernard, Executive Director of the Harvard Trade Union Program)
Unions are our tool to secure better wages and benefits, safer working environments, right to fair hearing for complaints against the employer, and give us a voice. Unions give us the ability to take action against employers when the employer violates their rights or discriminates against us. Simply, the union gives us a voice in our workplaces and makes us more equal with the employers.
This is why I support unions and why I believe that unions are vital to the betterment of the United States and will assist in ending economic injustice in our great nation. Not only will unions help but so will a fair minimum wage. I support HR. 1010, the Fair Minimum Wage Act. I understand that this bill will not fix our nation’s labor laws to insurance union rights but I believe is a major step that our government can take to help the working class. I believe that the our Congress should pass a bill giving every worker the right to paid sick and holiday. These are just a couple of the steps that Congress can take to help the working class. However, there is one step that each individual can take to help better their lives and their employment environments, they can join a union or begin to organize their own places of work.
The Fair Minimum Wage would:
- Restore the minimum wage to its historic level, making up for decades of erosion.
- Would increase the minimum wage to $10.
How a Fair Minimum Wage would Affect us:
- 30 million workers would receive a raise.
- 88% of those are adults over the age of twenty, 56% are women, nearly half are workers of color, and over 43% have some college education.
- 17 million children have a parent who would get a raise.
- 71% of tipped workers getting a raise would be women. (ForwardEquality)
The following are some of the unions that I personally support:
- AFL-CIO: “We are the umbrella federation for U.S. unions, with 57 unions representing more than 12 million working men and women. We work to ensure that all people who work receive the rewards of their work—decent paychecks and benefits, safe jobs, respect and fair treatment. “
- NEA (National Education Association): “ the nation’s largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA’s 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs.”
- SEIU (Service Employees International Union): “an organization of 2.1 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide and dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society.”
- AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees): “AFSCME is the nation’s largest and fastest growing public services employees union with more than 1.6 million working and retired members. AFSCME’s members provide the vital services that make America happen. We are nurses, corrections officers, child care providers, EMTs, sanitation workers and more. With members in hundreds of different occupations, AFSCME advocates for fairness in the workplace, excellence in public services and prosperity and opportunity for all working families.”
- IWW (Industrial Workers of the World): “The IWW is a member-run union for all workers, a union dedicated to organizing on the job, in our industries and in our communities. IWW members are organizing to win better conditions today and build a world with economic democracy tomorrow. We want our workplaces run for the benefit of workers and communities rather than for a handful of bosses and executives.”
Contact Congress and tell them to pass a Fair Minimum Wage: Contact Info
*Some information was from Think Progress.
This is awesome! Too bad that the Nebraska Medical Center still isn’t inclusive.
Originally posted on Forward Equality:
In Nebraska, hospitals are beginning to offer health insurance benefits to all couples equally regardless of their gender. These hospitals include Alegent Creighton Health/Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) of Nebraska, the Methodist Health system and the Omaha VA Medical Center starting in January of 2014. The Alegent Creighton Health CHI network has 16 hospitals and two inpatient behavioral health centers in Nebraska and Iowa, and they have over 15,000 employees. The Methodist system has two hospitals in Nebraska and one in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and has over 3,000 employees. The VA Medical Center has over 1,000 employees.
Alegent Creighton/CHI said,
“Because access to decent and affordable health care is a basic human right.” “CHI reviewed the IRS definition of individuals eligible to be claimed as a dependent on a federal tax return and used that definition as the basis for a new dependent classification, an adult dependent, to be eligible for CHI medical, dental and vision plans.”
There is so much to celebrate about 2013! Where do we start?
Originally posted on Forward Equality:
2013 was a year to remember for progressive issues and values! Nationwide, progressives and progressive values won!
This was the year that the Hawaii legislature passed equal marriage. Ho’omaika’i ‘ana (congratulations) Hawaii! LGBTQIA couples this month are able to legally marry. (USAToday)
Obamacare is working, except the Republicans and Republican control media don’t want you to know that. Media outlets such as Fox continue to censor all positive stories about how Obamacare is working and helping millions of Americans.
Nearly 365,000 people in the country has already bought private health insurance plans through the Marketplace and more than 800,000 people are able to finally get health insurance through the Medicaid expansion in the states. And thousands of Americans are signing up for healthcare insurance everyday. (WhiteHouse)
Because of the healthcare law, up to 105 million Americans can’t be subject to lifetime caps. And up to 17 million children with pre-existing conditions can’t be denied coverage or charged more. Specifically, in Iowa the healthcare law has allowed over 800,000 Iowans to receive at least one preventive service at no out of pocket cost. (WhiteHouse)
In addition, the healthcare law adds protections for the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual) community by prohibiting insurance companies from denying LGBTQIA people coverage. The healthcare.gov website has even been designed to help consumers find the health insurances that cover domestic partners. Obamacare also provides access to evidence-based interventions addressing tobacco control, obesity prevention, HIV-related health disparities, better nutrition and physical activity.
As I continue to report, I have Cystinosis and because of living with this terminal illness I visit lots of doctors and hospitals. Thus, I rack up tons of medical bills. I also recently, had a living donor kidney transplant at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. However, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) insurance companies cannot deny me coverage because of my pre-existing illness and they cannot deny me coverage because of a lifetime cap. In addition, because of the healthcare law my premiums and co-pays are lower and preventive services such as flu shots were free of charge.
Obamacare is working and is saving lives. The Republicans and conservatives don’t want you to know this because they don’t want to admit that they are wrong and their plans will only hurt the American people but vastly benefit corporations and their CEOs.
I recommend that if you don’t have health insurance or you do but the plan is too costly, then go to the health insurance Marketplace at www.HealthCare.gov and sign up. If you qualify for subsidies or Medicaid it will help you get those.
26, the number of mass-shootings since Sandy Hook which took the lives of 20 children and 6 teachers. The FBI defines a mass-murder as the killing of four or more people without an extended period of “cooling-off” by the perpetrator.
Yesterday, marked the 1 year anniversary of the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. With that said, Congress has yet to pass universal background checks (Senate failed to pass the bill by 3 votes), assault weapons and high-capacity magazines ban, or pass a bill making gun trafficking a federal crime.
Many of these measures are supported by the vast majority of Americans and yet the NRA and the Republicans continue to filibuster and block all of the measures. While, in the U.S., about 40% of gun transfers happen without a licensed dealer, using the loopholes of online and gun shows. Which means about, 6.6 million guns are sold without background checks. This means that even people who are prohibited from buying a gun can do so by using these loopholes.
Locally, we have seen our own school shooting at Millard South High School (where I graduated from the year before), and yet, the local Republicans refused to allow any discussion of local measures to help stop gun violence. For this local shooting, I believe a way that could have helped prevent the shooting would be adequate help for all students instead of just expelling or suspending them. Work with the students, don’t just label them and leave them for the wolves.
I stand with President Obama and the families of Newtown in calling on Congress to pass gun violence prevention measures including universal background checks, assault weapons and high-capacity magazines ban, or pass a bill making gun trafficking a federal crime, and adequate mental healthcare funding.
Go here to contact your U.S. House Rep and U.S. Senators (Iowa, Nebraska): Contact Info
Please take a couple minutes of silence for all the victims of gun violence locally and nationally.
Originally posted on New Day:
In today’s edition of the “Good Stuff,” a hand of applause for kindergartner Claire Koch, who shows the so-called sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial how it’s done. And she’s only five.
In the video above, she’s signing for a very important reason; both of her parents are deaf.
She did it as a surprise so her folks could enjoy her Christmas concert– and, boy, were they surprised.
At age ten months, I became very ill and was rushed into the emergency room (ER). The doctors diagnosed me with dehydration and failure to thrive. In the following months, I went through many tests including bone marrow taken from my hip. The doctors concluded from these tests that I had Nephropathic Cystinosis. This was a very scary moment for my family, they had no idea what Cystinosis was.
I owe my life to Dr. William Gahl from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I began seeing him in 1992. Dr. Gahl shortly before meeting me he discovered that Cystagon and some other medications are successful in treating Cystinosis. I started the Cystagon treatment in 1992, during my first visit to the NIH. It is because of his research and those medication that I am still living. The first group of doctors, I saw at the University of Nebraska Medical Center were useless, they told my parents that they did not believe I would live to be six years old because they didn’t wish to go out of their way to really figure out what was wrong with me. Nevertheless, they were right, if I would not have started the Cystagon I would have died.
Cystinosis has become part of my life. Cystinosis had done many great things for me. I look at Cystinosis as some sort of tool. I have been able to educate myself on many things that most people do not understand because of this illness. I understand most if not all of what many of my medications do and how they work. I understand what Cystinosis does and what Cystinosis is; I know the many different functions of the body especially the kidneys and what levels should be. I am able to travel to many different places. For instance, I go to the NIH once every other year, which is located in Bethesda, Maryland just outside of Washington, D.C. It has given me the opportunity to travel to California where I took part in a psychology study in San Diego. Cystinosis has also made me become more mature then many people my age and thus, I look at the world much differently.
Nonetheless, there are many negative aspects of living with Cystinosis, such as I have been to so many hospitals that I have lost count of them. The hands of so many medical professionals have touched me, which has led to me trying to tell them what to do, when they draw blood and start IVs. I have had so many different scans and X-rays that now, I have been exposed to more radiation then an average Iowan. I also take many different medication, which have many different side effects. Some of those side effects including vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and bad breathe. Thus, the medications are another negative aspect of Cystinosis. But, I guess the most negative aspect of living with Cystinosis is that it will eventually kill me.
Today, living with Cystinosis is much easier because I finally after 3 years of waiting and the first transplant center refusing to do the transplant after scheduling it twice in the same year, I got my kidney transplant. I am doing much better and continue to improve. I owe that to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and Dr. Reed who did my kidney transplant. Oh and I guess Jon the donor. But, he didn’t have a huge roll in it, he only had to lay on a table and give up his kidney. Thanks Jon!
The following are graphs of my blood levels post kidney transplant.