From the Editor – April 2017

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Image screen captured from Reuters article by Hannah Brandt.

By Hannah Brandt

The last few weeks many have been focused on healthcare. In a whirlwind of brutality and incompetence, the GOP health plan/Trumpcare imploded before our eyes. It had some of the cruelest policies one could imagine as if these old, white men were trying their hardest to assure the American people, and the world, of their sadism. Of course, it is a very good thing it did not pass, but like so many things the last few years it is disturbing it got as far as it did. And they will try again, creating another version with slightly fewer malicious elements.

Many more people are now advocating for Single Payer or Universal Healthcare. The older I get the more I am baffled that we could ever have anything else. It is inhumane to not provide healthcare to all. It is inhumane to force people to make the choice between feeding themselves or getting medical attention. Between keeping the lights on or purchasing life-sustaining medication. And no matter how our current system is tweaked, there will always be people making these awful choices due to poverty, homelessness and/or mental health conditions.

Republicans in Congress treat healthcare like car insurance and that is preposterous. While it is difficult to get around without a car (I speak from personal experience as I currently do not have one) you can live without one. You ultimately cannot live without caring for your health. I also speak from personal experience about that since I have lived without health coverage for many years when my work did not offer it or I was not able to work outside the home. Many people do. And it is like playing Russian Roulette.

I live on the border of Tower District and Lowell District. Last week I discovered that my zip code has a nine percent rate of lead occurrence in the water. That means that nine percent of children tested in my area have five micrograms or more of lead per deciliter of blood. For reference, five percent of children in Flint tested had these highs amounts of lead in their system. The worst area is just south of me where 14 percent of tested children had these levels. These two Fresno neighborhoods and 27 others in California have higher rates of lead in the water than Flint.

The study was done by the California Department of Health and was reported on by Reuters in the March 22 article titled “Lead poisoning afflicts neighborhoods across California.” There is a map in the article where you can check the percentage of children with lead in their water in your zip code. Every Fresno area zip code has at least some lead presence, but that does not mean that your water has lead in it. Any amount of lead is toxic, so it is important to have your specific water line tested. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-lead-california-exclusive-idUSKBN16T18Y

Of course, that gets back to the issue of access: access to money to pay for lead testing, access to effective water treatments (which are not cheap), access to information about the issue itself. The Fresno Bee published their own report based on the Reuters version, which hopefully people in my neighborhood will see. Or even better, they will see this article. In this day when our President denounces all media as fake news, more news outlets are shutting down or scaling back, and people are bombarded with distractions, reliable, vital information is often missed.

In that light, I encourage you to attend our annual fundraiser on April 9, 4-6 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno. Assemblyman Dr. Joaquin Arambula will be speaking on Valley health and healthcare. It is your opportunity to support independent journalism and to ask any questions you have about health issues, healthcare, and public policies. Please join us! https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2898748