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ENEWS: A Week on Health Care & a Tribute to RBG

Date Published: 09/24/2020

Author: Jane Leonard and Erin Wilson

A Tribute: Keep Working Hard for Equity in honor of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg 

We pay tribute to health care this week and next (see Blueprint Breakfast invite below) and most of all to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who helped break through so many barriers for women, and men, from workplace discrimination to education and health care access, and more. Justice Ginsburg's advocacy helped provide the federal government the power to ensure health insurance for all and especially to protect women’s reproductive health. Her passing -- and the now-increasing dangers to health care access and affordability, and to our very democracy -- remind and compel us to make wise and informed choices as we vote through November 3. 

We need to carry on Justice Ginsburg’s unwavering pursuit of equity. Please tell your family, friends, and colleagues.   Remind them of her vision that “We should not be held back from pursuing our full talents, from contributing what we could contribute to the society … because we belong to a group that historically has been the object of discrimination.” 

A recent article in USA Today sums it up well: “Did you know women couldn't open a bank account without a man before RBG? Ruth Bader Ginsburg changed these 8 things for women.” Here are some of the amazing contributions she made for women, and things we could lose if we allow discrimination to fall back into place: 

1. Before RBG: State-funded schools didn't have to admit women. 

2. Before RBG: Women couldn't sign a mortgage, apply for credit cards, or have a bank account without a male co-signer. 

3. Justice Ginsburg helped women make strides toward equal pay. We still need to keep striding. 

4. Her presence on the court preserved a woman's right to choose. We still need to preserve that right. 

5. She pushed to protect pregnant women in the workplace. 

6. Ginsburg argued women should serve on juries. During the 1979 case Duren v. Missouri, jury duty was optional for women in several states because it was viewed to be a burden for women whose role was seen as the "center of home and family life." Ginsburg represented Billy Duren in the case and argued that women should serve on juries on the basis that they are valued the same as men. "Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. … It shouldn't be that women are the exception.” 

7. She was a key vote in granting same-sex marriages. Thank you, Justice Ginsburg! I waited 32 years for the right to marry the woman I love. 

8. Ginsburg made it cool to be a confident, hard-working female leader.  

--A personal thank you from me, Jane Leonard, the first woman to be President of Growth & Justice in its 20-year existence. 

MN COVID-19 cases hit a record high, but testing has also increased 

Minnesota set a single-day record for reported cases on Sept. 18. According to MPR, part of the record-high case numbers can be attributed to Minnesota’s increased testing, which is at the highest it’s ever been throughout the pandemic. The article says that the highest number of cases occurred in people in their 20s, adding to concerns about the virus spreading on college campuses. 

“Regionally, southern and central Minnesota and the Twin Cities suburbs have driven much of the increase in new cases while Hennepin and Ramsey counties show some of the slowest case growth in the state,” the article says. 

Minnesota Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann noted a problem with “apparent reluctance” from MN adults to share if they or their kids were infected, the article says, which increases the risk for spread in common public spaces like school or work. Ehresmann also emphasized Minnesota's need to continually take COVID-19 seriously even if there are signs of “positive trends” in deaths and hospitalizations. 

We must continue to prioritize the health and safety of ourselves and our families, friends, neighbors and communities as the pandemic still holds such a firm grip on our livelihoods, and persist in the fight for affordable, equitable access to health care.   

Racial disparities in MN health care 

This article from the Star Tribune looks into data that shows growing racial gaps in health care, which, like many other issues, have been exacerbated by the pandemic. As an example, the article cites a statistic that states the risk Black people in the U.S. have of getting peripheral artery disease (a condition that can lead to amputation) is two times higher than that of white people, though white people are more likely to receive a medical procedure to treat a severe form of this disease. Calling attention to systemic racism in the health care industry is absolutely necessary, particularly in the midst of a pandemic that disproportionately affects the health and financial stability of people of color.

“As hospitals and clinics now try to rebuild from the financial wreckage wrought by the ongoing pandemic, some doctors and health care officials say there's never been a better time for the health care system to reach out to historically underserved communities,” the article says. 

Health Care Blueprint Breakfast next Wednesday

Join us and folks from Health Care for All MN on Wednesday, September 30th from 8—8:30 a.m. for the next session in our Recipes for Success series, this time on health care. We will hear from Mark Brakke and Kip Sullivan, who will talk about their work at HCA-MN. You can find out more and register here. Bring along a bowl of Cheerios, which were invented in Minnesota, and join us to talk about health care.  


 "I tell law students… if you are going to be a lawyer and just practice your profession, you have a skill—very much like a plumber. But if you want to be a true professional, you will do something outside yourself… something that makes life a little better for people less fortunate than you." - Ruth Bader Ginsburg 

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