March 20, 2009

Beyond Bread: This Week's News

~The New York Times says that New York City is seeing an influx of volunteers as people who are laid off get out of the house and do something with their free time. Unfortunately, they also write that the increase in volunteers is coming just as donations are going down and programs are being forced to scale back their efforts. An interesting problem to have, and one we are also dealing with here in DC.

~Remember last year when “Forced Out,” a series by Washington Post reporters Debbie Cenziper and Sarah Cohen, brought to light some of the tactics used by DC landlords to evict low-income tenants? We do too, and we’re happy to hear that they recently won the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Journalism! Debbie Cenziper does a great recap of the series that is very insightful.

~One Saturday a month, volunteer lawyers from local firms partner with the DC Bar Pro Bono Program to run advice and referral clinics out of Bread for the City’s two locations. Since I’m always here on those Saturdays with my own volunteers, I see the outstanding work they do. People flood into Bread for the City for all kinds of legal needs. The Pro Bono Program’s website has an incredible story this week about how they helped a teenager who recently lost her mother.

~We have a new friend! Martha’s Table launched their blog, “Tidbits from the Table,” today! They have a really nice-looking site and pictures of adorable kids. Who doesn’t love that stuff?

~Former Majority Leader Tom Daschle wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post about how he is not essential to health care reform. His main point is that reform will happen this year no matter who is in the position of HHS Secretary because the climate is right for it. Well, that's certainly good news for the uninsured, but reform takes a number of different forms. Ultimately the type of reform we get will depend a great deal on who has a seat at the drafting table, and that's where I think Mr. Daschle's argument falls apart. For many, many years Mr. Daschle supported plans to expand the community clinic infrastructure--a specific plan that will save money while increasing care in underserved communities. He also called current community health centers a godsend, emphasizing the need to champion primary care. A true "reform" in health care will mean more than getting insurance cards into the hands of citizens. It will mean giving them a place to go once they have it, and that's where I think Mr. Daschle showed his stars. Though not essential, I still maintain he certainly would have been helpful.

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