Items filtered by date: Monday, 08 May 2017

How safe are dialysis treatment centers? Bill to protect patients and improve care advances in California Legislature


FilAms supporting reform to keep patients safe, from left: Isaac Lubag, Vicky Santos and Daisy Dizon Reyes. 

Patients and caregivers listen to a panel of speakers, from left: FilAm Cass Gualvez, Dr. Randall Maxey, Joan Allen, Megallan Handford, and Vince Gonzales.

Text and photos by Lydia V. Solis


COMMERCE, CA – Patients and caregivers (a large number of whom are Filipinos) support passage of SB 349, the Dialysis Patient Safety Act, introduced on February 14, by State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) to protect dialysis patients and improve care at 562 California dialysis clinics. The Senate Health Committee voted 7-2 in favor of the measure. 

“I was born with kidneys that make stones all the time which disintegrates my kidneys,” said Isaac Lubag, 42, when interviewed on May 4, at the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West office here. “Only 60 percent of my kidneys work, he continued, “and I fear that one day I will be a dialysis patient myself, and after hearing my father’s horror stories about mistakes committed at the dialysis facility where he works, I’m really worried, unless reform happens, and soon.” The former Navy corpsman from Bulacan, lives with his wife and two pre-teen kids in Hacienda Heights, CA,  He said his mother and grandmother have ‘polycystic kidney disease’ (an inherited disease that causes many cysts to form in the kidneys). “Only 20 percent of my mom’s kidneys work, said Lubag. “And the disease runs in the family – my tita’s, siblings, and cousins all have it.” Lubag receives care from Kaiser Permanente, regulating his blood pressure and blood sugar. “They remove stones every time I pass them,” he noted.

The problem: According to SEIU-UHW, the United States has one of the worst dialysis patient outcomes in the industrialized world. An American dialysis patient is three times as likely to die within the first year of starting dialysis as a patient in Japan or Europe. Only one in three American patients on dialysis survives for five years. 

The solution: To ensure enough patient care staff is available to warrant patient safety. SB 349 establishes minimum staffing ratios at dialysis clinics of one registered nurse per eight patients; one patient care technician per three patients; and one social worker per 75 patients. 

SB349 will improve safety and care for dialysis patients receiving treatment at outpatient clinics by requiring safe staffing levels; increasing the frequency of inspections; and requiring adequate time between patients to clean the dialysis machines, and allowing patients to rest after finishing treatment.

   Vicky Santos, a technician at DaVita clinic, one of two for-profit companies (the other is Fresenius), supports SB 349, “not only for patient safety,” she says, “but also for the worker. If SB 349 passes, technician-patient ratio will be one to three, unlike where I work… one to five.” Santos said she’s a School of Business graduate in Manila, “but ended up working for DaVita for 15 years now. We also need longer than 15 minutes between patients to clean and disinfect,” she added, “at least 45 minutes, so we don’t rush patients out when they are not stable yet, when they still feel woozy.” (SB 349 establishes a minimum 45 minute transition time after one patient finishes treatment and before the next patient begins treatment using the same dialysis equipment. The transition time includes the time that the previous patient rests and recovers in the dialysis chair after their treatment.) 

Almost three-quarters of California’s clinics are owned by DaVita and Fresenius, companies that earn billions of dollars in profits, according to SEIU-UHW, yet fail to invest in adequate staffing and quality care.  Patients have been exposed to TB and HIV, and many centers have been found with dried bloodstains, pests, and bed bugs. State Inspectors have found that some clinics reused bloodlines and tubing, which creates a serious infection risk for dialysis patients. Inspections are only required every six years. (SB 349 requires annual inspections of more than 562 dialysis clinics.) 

Registered Nurse Daisy Dizon Reyes works at DaVita Norco. An FEU graduate, she was a medical doctor in the Philippines, who decided to take up nursing. She and a few other physicians took the local nursing board exams given in Manila, and successfully passed.  

“I open the clinic at 4:30 a.m.,” said Reyes, “and already there are 15-18 patients waiting during the first hour before another nurse comes at 5:30 a.m. I’m not able to give all of them safe and quality care; at most, I can attend to 10 patients.” (SB 349 will establish minimum staffing ratios at dialysis clinics of one registered nurse per eight patients.)


Audience members heard from the following speakers: Dr. Randall W. Maxey, nephrologist in private practice in Los Angeles, and past president of the National Medical Association; Cass Gualvez, daughter of Filipino immigrants, an SEIU-UHW organizing director who has, for the last 17 years, worked with staff and union members to organize 30,000 hospital workers into SEIU-UHW at various major chains; Joan Allen, SEIU-UHW government relations advocate, specializes in health care policy and advocates for legislation to improve California’s health care system for patients and healthcare workers; dialysis worker Megallan Handford, RN; and Vince Gonzales, a dialysis patient.

Both Cass Gualvez and Joan Allen expounded on healthcare justice for dialysis patients and workers. 

Dr. Randall Maxey feels there is a need for “more funding (from the government) for staff, and less money to take people’s oil.” His statement “nobody cares for the patient… very few people are interested in patient care” met opposition from Megallan Handford, a 15-year LAPD veteran-turned-nurse. “I care,” he asserted, “it’s not about pay, we know we deserve better. How many have to die before we say patients first.” There were testimonies from Handford and other workers that they care for their patients; that they have established a bond with their patients; that they are invited to patient family’s milestones; and that patients call their cell phones if they have questions. 

Handford admitted that workers had a hand in putting SB 349 together. “We drafted this collectively,” he said. They also have plans to unionize.

“Yes,” said Allen, “we’re open to unionize workers.” She feels that until workers have a voice and claim their power, changes won’t happen.  

The last speaker is a dialysis patient, who said he has seen “numerous things that need to be looked at. It’s a wake-up call,” said Vince Gonzales. He lamented that because of lack of staffing – “there were 16 patients, two technicians, and one nurse” in the treatment room when a patient collapsed. “He died,” added Gonzales, “but they left him there unattended while we continued our dialysis treatment.”

The Dialysis Patient Safety Act is sponsored by SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, SEIU State Council, and United Nurses Associations of CA/Union of Health Care Professionals, which are supporting dialysis center workers who want to improve patient care.

“This legislation will improve patient care by holding these corporations (for profit companies) accountable to patients and workers – not just their oversized bottom line,” stated Handford.


US, PH shoulder-to-shoulder during Balikatan 33 opening

Manila — U.S.Ambassador Sung Kim, Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana, Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ariel Y. Abadilla, and representatives of theArmed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and US military officially opened Balikatan 33 this week at Camp Aguinaldo. The 33rd iteration ofBalikatan, scheduled from May 8 to 19, will take place at multiple locations inLuzon and the Visayas region.

Balikatan 33-2017 incorporates high value training events designed to enhance the capabilities of both AFP and US armed forces. The training focuses on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and counterterrorism operations in order to improve response effectiveness and speed in the event of natural disasters and other crises that endanger public health and safety.

Philippine and US forces began work in mid-Aprilfor Balikatan 33-2017 through community engagement activities in Panay, Leyte,and Samar, including the renovation of five schools and community medical engagements with local residents.

“No nation can face today’s challenges alone,” saidAmbassador Kim. “Whether a natural disaster ravages part of the world ora man-made crisis shocks a community, our two militaries can deliver much stronger responses together.”

This year’s exercise will have AFP and US forces partnering to improve their counterterrorism capabilities in order to build safer communities and work towards the eradication of global terror networks. During Balikatan, US and Philippine forces will conduct operational and counterterrorism training exercises in diverse areas of expertise, including live fire advanced marksmanship, counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs),maritime interdiction, and amphibious raids.

In this year’s Balikatan, the Philippines and theUnited States will continue to collaborate with regional partner nations, and the AFP has invited military forces from several other nations to be part of the International Observers Program, including South Korea, East Timor, Brunei,Thailand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.


TheHealth-Care Act as a continuing triumph of the Obama era

From all indicators in today's Trumpism, one boast that has been set aside is the Health CareAct. The latter legislation has been ferociously and desperately degraded not only by Trump himself, but a number of members of the RepublicanParty.
Currently, repealing the foregoing legislation has just passed the House (but is seen to face a tougher time at the Senate).
Recent history tells Americans that before Trump appeared prominently on the scene, a lively debate in the Republican Party emerged: what was the best way to appeal to the working-class voters of America?
All kinds of proposals arose.
What would be attractive to the voters coming from the working class, the query was heard prominently among the Republicans.
What Trump, the candidate proposed, was held close to those who voted in the 2016 presidential primaries: the vigorous offer that he would not touch Social Security and Medicare.
Weeks went by. With a 'new' transformation of the AffordableCare Act from Speaker Paul Ryan, Trump promised a health-care plan that would "provide insurance for everybody."
Trump flattered himself no end. He told the media that the White House was writing its own bill that would represent a dramatic break which would totally make the difference with what was known since 2010 as Obamacare.
None of the Trump statements were ever able to reach fruition.
Of course, it became well-proclaimed that whatever Trump backed, health-wise, was written by Ryan.
Definitely, it does not provide insurance for everybody.
Under that Ryan bill, millions of Americans (who have insurance currently) are bound to lose it because they will no longer be capable in paying for it.
As publicized, the Republican health-care plan would actually hurt the Americans who put Trump where he is today: as president.
The plan, which mentioned large tax cuts for the wealthy, has been adjudged by health providers who are extremely knowledgeable about Obamacare, (on perusal), would make numbers ofAmericans in the rural states find themselves (particularly the older ones) poorer and sicker, where premiums would have the
tendency to rise, owing to the absence of competition in the ranks of the individual insurance market.
Considered the hardest hit, are those eligible for at least $5,000 less in tax credits under the Republican plan, they who supported Trump by a record margin to59 percent to 36 percent, per election figures.
Furthermore, that assistance that the government provides to assist Americans to purchase insurance would be entirely changed: the House bill would cut back on Obama's expansion of Medicaid funding. The outcome would be telling: it would result in many Americans just over the poverty line, losing access to the program.
TheWhite House, from all publicized indications, never really considered writing its own bill, and left the huge job to Speaker Ryan.
It was revealed that there is no constituency in the G.O.P. Congress that sided with the Trump promise, one of the very first self-proclaimed assurances that crowded the campaign atmosphere of the then Candidate Trump.
TheTrump aggressive stance was at defining a new populist nationalism touching mainly on immigration, i.e.,scapegoating Mexican immigrants and Muslims, and trade, by cancelling theTranspacific Partnership and a promise to renegotiate NAFTA.
What does the dismal failure of Trump's vow to repeal Obamacare prove?
When it touches on domestic policy, neither Trumpism nor the Reformists from the GOP have done anything close to accomplishment to prove to the American citizenry what has been defined as bragging at its maximum.
TheAmerican Affordable Act continues to remain.
TheAmerican people who have been on the receiving end of the AAC represent the best judgment; unfortunately, those who voted for Trump
did not weigh the impact of the loss of health care that came to them through painstaking measures under the leadership of the Democratic Party and above all, a realization of what previous administrations were unable to do: affordable health care for everyAmerican.


Request for obit from Val Abelgas

Dominador Banzuela Vibal of Rowland Heights and formerly of Legazpi City in the Philippines passed away last April 22. He was 85.
Vibal was born on July 27, 1931 in Sto. Domingo, Albay, Philippines, to farmers Reymundo Vibal and Alejandra Banzuela.
The youngest of 11 siblings, he had no interest in farming and worked his way through high school as an assistant librarian at Legazpi Junior Colleges in Legazpi City at age 16. He went on to Far Eastern University in Manila and graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Commerce made possible through part-time jobs as advertising solicitor for several magazines in Metro Manila, including Vibal Publishing House where he met his future wife, Ester Elba Gray, the company's accountant. They were married on December 8, 1962.
He joined Marsman & Company, Winchester Philippines and Scott Paper, Philippines after his marriage. At his request, he was assigned to the Bicol Region where he finally decided to make Legazpi City their home. He left employment and engaged in trading and transportation. He became president of Mayon Lions Club of Legazpi City, and was
Worshipful Master of Mayon Lodge # 61 of Free Masonry in Albay, where he was an active member up to his death.
After residing for 34 years in Legazpi City, he migrated with his wife to the United States on December 25, 1999, and made California their home. He joined Securitas Security and Investigation Agency as a Security Officer and retired after 10 years.
Realizing that heavy smoking for 40 years extensively damaged his lungs, he advised smokers to quit immediately and non-smokers never to start. He quit 35 years ago but the damage had been done. He succumbed to emphysema and lung cancer on April 22, 2017.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, children Joy Concepcion, Donna Dee (married to Dindo Haluag), and Ador Ben, (married to Sarah Latinazo), 13 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.
He will be brought to Legazpi City on May 15 and interred at Bicol Memorial Park in Legazpi City on May 20.


ABS-CBN files lawsuit against 22 pirate sites for copyright and trademark infringement

Daly City, CA – In a continuing effort to protect its intellectual property from global piracy, Filipino media and entertainment network ABS-CBN recently filed a Complaint and a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order in US Federal District Court against 22 pirate websites for damages of over $40 million.  On May 1, the federal judge in the case granted a preliminary injunction order.  All of the domains are currently blocked and shut down.  

“As mentioned before, we are committed to implementing the zero tolerance policy on piracy of ABS-CBN Global COO Raffy Lopez.  We know that over ninety percent of these pirate sites contain malware which can harm people by stealing the banking and personal information from their computers or phones.  We will continue to shut down these pirate sites to protect the public from harm. There is only one genuine ABS-CBN internet subscription service that is safe for our fans to use and that is TFC and,” said ABS-CBN AVP & Head of Global Anti-Piracy Elisha Lawrence.

The domains are listed below, along with their current status:

Subject Domain Name

Current Status





Options If You Do Not Win The H-1B Lottery 




By Attorney Devin M. Connolly



President Donald Trump has been highly critical of the H-1B program since taking office. Despite these criticisms and vows the change the program though, there was no shortage of foreign-born college graduates with potential employers willing to submit petitions to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). These foreign-born college graduates are now experiencing another difficult part of the process – the waiting to see if their petition is selected in the H-1B lottery.
For the last several years the USCIS has conducted what is commonly referred to as the “H-1B lottery.” This is necessary because there are far more applicants than there are available visa numbers. The USCIS is only permitted to grant 85,000 H-1B visas per year. A portion of those 85,000 visas, 20,000 to be exact, are reserved for people who have earned Master’s degrees from U.S. universities. That leaves a mere 65,000 for those with Bachelor’s degrees hoping to lawfully work in a specialty occupation. While the number 65,000 may seem high, the demand has far exceeded the supply in recent years. The USCIS announced that they received approximately 199,000 H-1B petitions this year. With that many petitions, there are sure to be a lot of disappointed people after the lottery results are announced.
What should a person do if their petition is not selected in the lottery? Do they have to return to their native country, even though many of them may consider the U.S. to be their home? Do they have to abandon their dreams of lawfully working and living in the U.S., thereby potentially making them feel as if their education and/or work experience is somehow not valuable? These concerns and feelings are valid. However, they must be set aside before too long so that a viable solution can be found. It is necessary to find an alternative so that you can lawfully remain in the U.S.
There are many potential ways of obtaining lawful status in the U.S., either permanently or temporarily. While permanent resident status is often preferred, it is important to remember that a temporary visa may still be valid for several years.
One possibility is an ‘L’ visa. The ‘L’ visa is a temporary visa available to foreign-born citizens who have been working for a U.S. corporation’s parent or subsidiary company for at least one year out of the last three years. It is available to employees working as an executive or manager, or to employees with specialized knowledge. This obviously requires experience within a certain company and a particular background, but if these things do exist, it is certainly possible to obtain a visa allowing a person to work in the U.S. for three years. This permission to live and work in the U.S. may also be extended at the end of that three-year period.
There is also an ‘E’ visa. The ‘E’ visa is available to traders and investors who come to the U.S. pursuant to a treaty of commerce and navigation between the U.S. and a foreign country, including the Philippines. On a basic level, the applicant must carry on substantial trade between the U.S. and the foreign country, or direct the operations of a company in which they have invested a substantial amount of money.
In addition, do not overlook the possibility of an employer petitioning you for a green card. The route to a green card through employment is a multi-step process and can take anywhere from 6 months to many years to complete. The petitioner, who is the employer or prospective employer, files a labor certification request with U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), conducts necessary recruitment for the position, files an “Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker” with the USCIS, and before you know it, you are eligible to apply for permanent resident status. Though this may sound simple and straight-forward, obtaining a green card through employment is one of the most complex areas of U.S. immigration law.
Many people are hesitant to seek permanent resident status through an employer because they believe it will take years. And it might, depending on your country of birth, education, employment background, etc. However, it might also be faster than you would expect.
It is surely disappointing to not be selected in the H-1B lottery. Yet, lawfully working and residing in the U.S. may still be possible. Consult an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney to explore your options.


Depression is great risk factor in suicide

Depression is a most significant risk factor in suicide. In today’s busy, impatient, materialistic, and fast-paced society, people are subjected to various stressors in life everyday. Encumbered by their personal circumstance, some are unable to adjust and cope, and develop depression. Suicide is a senseless option and a preventable alternative.

What is depression?

Depression is a state of emotion where the individual has some or all of the following senses, feelings, or moods: downhearted, unhappy, anxious, irritable, unable to concentrate, socially withdrawn, empty inside, has inordinate fatigue and reduced interest in activities which used to be fun, hopelessness, indecision, impaired sleep, misery, helplessness, confusion, monosyllabic speech or abnormally quiet.

What is the prevalence of depression?

In the United States, about 9 percent, or 28 million American adults “have feelings of hopelessness, despondency, and/or guilt that generate a diagnosis of depression,” according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three percent or 9.6 million of adults have major depression, a chronic and severe form of depression. In the Philippines, the rate is about 5.3 percent. Worldwide, the rate is between 2.6 percent to 29.5 percent, a pandemic, actually, according to an international study conducted by the World Health organization. In general, women are 70 percent more prone to develop depression, in part due to hormonal changes, especially during menstruation, after pregnancy, and menopause. In the past 50 years, the rate has catapulted from 3.33 percent to 7.06 percent, from 1991 to 2002. The rate for the various types of depression in the United States are: Postpartum – 10 to 15 percent; SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) – 4 to 6 percent; Bipolar – 2.6 percent; Dysthymia (minor depression that lasts 2 years or longer) – 1.5 percent; Psychotic depression (most severe form) – 5 percent.

Are there screening tests for depression?

Yes, there are. Mental health specialists can administer preliminary tests such as the BDI (Beck Depression Inventory), or the HRS (Hamilton Rating Scale), which is composed of 20 questions to screen the patient. Today, computerized phone interviews are gaining effectivity as a screening tool. These tests are only a small part of the evaluation process, because the specialists have the symptoms of the patient and other criteria to aid them make the correct diagnosis.

Don’t we all get depressed sometimes?

To some degree, some situations in life trigger depression, and normal people develop a mild form of depression, which is transient, self-terminating, and not a disease. As long as the resultant symptoms are trivial and temporary, and do not debilitate the person, the condition is not clinical illness and does not need any medical treatment

What foods relieve depression?

Foods that are high in tryptophan, an amino acid involve in serotonin production, provide relief to some people with depression. Niacin (Vitamin B3), which is essential in the production of tryptophan, can be found in dried peas, beans, whole grains, dried fortified cereals, and especially in oily fishes like salmon and mackerel. It is reported that Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish oil may actually reduce depression. PMS Escape, a high carbohydrate drink, was claimed to increase tryptophan level and would control the depression related to pre-menopausal syndrome has been found to have impurities by the FDA and subsequently withdrawn from the market. Calcium supplements and Vitamin B-12 have been reported to reduce pre-menstrual depression. Also, some studies showed that among depressed people who drink caffeinated beverages have a lower incidence of suicide, which seems to suggest that coffee or tea reduces depression.

How about exercises?

Believe it or not, physical exercises may be as effective as psychotherapy in the management of mild to moderate depression. Prolonged aerobic workouts lead to higher levels of serotonin, adrenalin, endorphins and dopamine in the brain (producing the popular term “runner’s high”). Physical exercises, brisk walking, ballroom dancing, yoga, tae-bo, etc. lead to better emotional health. As an extra bonus from physical exercises, weight loss and improved muscle tone lead to the sense of well-being and higher self-esteem. Those individuals with strong spiritual faiths have a relatively lower predisposition to depression. These people might benefit from meditation, yoga, and other techniques for obtaining spiritual security, inner peace and happiness. Severe depression need medical treatment.

Does depression play a role in suicides?

Yes, very significantly. Depression is present in about 90 percent of the more than 40,000 suicides that take place in the United States annually, and for every two homicides, there are 3 suicides. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States overall and the second leading cause of death in the age group 10 to 34. According to CDC, 1.3 million adults attempted suicide in 2014. About 78 percent of them are men, more than 4 times the rate for women. Depression lowers the mental threshold for self-destruction.

Do you have depression?

If you do, it is most prudent to seek medical help, not necessarily psychotherapy. The first thing to do it to consult your family physician, who can help guide you. With early proper medication and/or advice, depression in most cases can be managed effectively and eliminated faster than one can imagine. Physicians today have invaluable tools in their armamentarium for the diagnosis and treatment of depression. Many individuals with depression, who have sought medical care, are so “cured” with simple oral medications that they look, behave, function and live as normally and happily as anybody else, lost in the sea of anonymity.
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Motion for bifurcation (getting divorced sooner))

Divorces could take years and in California, at least six months minimum would be required. If you want or need to get divorced sooner, there is a Motion for Bifurcation in which a party asks the court to terminate the marriage and restore each spouse to their single status.

In some situations, the parties’ or the judge may order a trial to be bifurcated (an issue is “tried” separately). For example, if there is no agreement on, the court may require that legal and physical custody be determined immediately and separate these issues from the rest of the divorce case.

As for getting the divorce sooner—as noted above, six months minimum is required in California from the filing of the Petition to the status of being single (being divorced). Even with a bifurcation, you cannot divorce any sooner than six months after your separation date.

Why do this? One of the most prevalent reasons are that one or both of the spouses are remarrying or if one or both of the spouses wants to file as a single person on their taxes. If your divorce case has been open for a significant period of time and no resolution seems to be near, filing for a bifurcation of marital status will allow you to return to your status as a single person but it will not resolve all the other issues that are still contested in your divorce.

For a spouse who is paying any kind of support (child or spousal) this is beneficial. The support is 100% deductible on income taxes, but only if you are filing as a single person and the person receiving the support must then list the payments as income on their taxes.

Even if the request is granted, you or your spouse may still need to meet certain conditions:

If one spouse maintains medical insurance, he/she must continue to do so;
If either spouse has a pension plan through their employer, the other spouse receives indemnification for the loss of death benefits;
The opposing party must be reimbursed for any tax consequences of the loss of the right to claim probate homestead or family allowance.

If you want to take advantage of a bifurcation, be sure to file the necessary paperwork as early in the year as possible and no later than November 15, of that year.

Additionally, before you can file this motion, a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure consists of serving a completed Schedule of Assets and Debts and Income and Expense Declaration on your spouse.

The effects of a bifurcation are that your marital status will be terminated, you can remarry without having to wait for a final judgment on the remaining issues, your name can be restored to your maiden name, and you will be able to file your income taxes as single or head of household.

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to call my office at 310-601-7144 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


What is Trumpcare for?

Life is not fair, as they say. I believe that this also goes true when we talk about the present threat to Obamacare and access to quality and affordable health care in the United States.
The “broken” healthcare system before President Barack Obama was voted into office needed sweeping reforms because compared to what European countries and
Canada have, the U.S. lagged behind in terms of providing affordable health care to its people.
This was one of the more important missions of President Obama when he assumed office. Immediately he took the lead in having the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) and Obamacare, passed into law. And on March 23, 2010, the 111th U.S. Congress responded positively and passed the ACA.
The ACA which took effect on January 1, 2014 has a noble purpose--- to provide affordable health coverage to more Americans. And consistent with President Obama’s “change we can believe in” mantra, the ACA also hopes to change the way health insurance companies provide coverage (as well as the way consumers purchase their policies).
By giving more Americans access to affordable and better health coverage, the ACA also aims in the long term to reduce the U.S. government’s health care spending.
So far, ACA has enrolled and has given health care access to more Americans and it has been widely accepted and supported. Just look at the favorable surveys that it has been receiving (including from people and Republican voters who were opposed to it earlier). But after the electoral victory of President Donald Trump and the Republicans gaining control of Congress, sweeping policy changes in healthcare are again expected. It is clear that Republicans will repeal one of President Obama’s major accomplishments as president.
Indeed Republicans in the lower house acted swiftly and fast following the lead of President Trump. They fast tracked and recently passed the legislation to repeal and replace major parts of the ACA.
Why? Is there something wrong with President Obama’s Affordable Care Act?
Whatever happened to “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” ACA is only on its third year. It is not perfect but it works. Certainly there is room for improvement and there are parts that can be enhanced to make it better. So why the need to repeal and replace it?
To repeal and replace ACA is beyond my comprehension and most Americans should feel the same way too. The last “major health care law” before ACA, the federal law for the health care of those who are 65 years old and older (the Medicare and Medicaid programs) was passed on July 30, 1965 under President Lyndon B. Johnson. This 1965 health care reform law was an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935.
ACA became law in 2010, almost 45 years after the Medicare and Medicaid programs were put into place. During the 50th celebration of the anniversary of this amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935, the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services marked the anniversary of the programs by recognizing the ways in which Medicare and Medicaid have transformed the nation’s health care system over the past five decades.
Notice that in the five decades after the Medicare and Medicaid law was passed, Republicans never moved nor succeeded in “repealing and replacing” Medicare and Medicaid. It makes perfect sense. Why oppose these programs that have been protecting the health and well-being of millions of Americans for the past 50 years? These programs aside from saving lives have also improved the economic security of the U.S.
In President Obama’s ACA, health care access and coverage expanded to reach working class citizens who now can afford and enjoy having health coverage benefits.
Also, a past Republican president, President George W. Bush, even signed into law the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) which added outpatient prescription drug benefits to Medicare recipients.
The ACA was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 28, 2012 after a strong challenge from the Republicans. So why repeal and replace it now? Why not just expand and improve it? Really, what is Trumpcare for?
Until next week.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at


Palace: No deal forged between Duterte, Napoles

MANILA – Expecting a potential backlash over the acquittal of Janet Lim Napoles in her serious illegal detention case, the Palace insisted the government did not strike a deal with the alleged pork barrel mastermind.

“Government is clear that there is no policy shift on how we deal with Napoles. Neither there is an agreement forged between the Duterte administration and Napoles,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement Monday.



Abella said Duterte respects the independence of the court and “has vowed not to interfere with the decisions of the judiciary or legislature.”

Citing reasonable doubt, the Court of Appeals reversed a Makati Regional Trial Court ruling and ordered Napoles' immediate release. Napoles in April 2015 was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly detaining her second cousin, pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.

Napoles is however facing other non-bailable cases in connection to the pork barrel scam.

CA's decision comes two months after Solicitor General Jose Calida claimed a local court “erred” in handing a guilty verdict on the alleged pork barrel mastermind in her serious illegal detention case.

In February, Duterte backed Calida’s call to acquit Napoles in her serious illegal detention case.

“I think he’s right. I agree with the -- because your job even if you are a prosecutor -- I’ve done that several times. I myself would move for the dismissal of the case,” Duterte had said.

Luy, who was employed by Napoles’ JLN Group of Companies, had testified Napoles detained him in two places to prevent him from revealing to authorities how she used bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) to get billions of pesos of pork-barrel funds from dozens of lawmakers, for fake projects. Napoles has repeatedly denied having Luy kidnapped.

OSG’s manifestation before CA prompted critics and observers to allege that the Duterte administration may have already reached a modus vivendi with Napoles.

Calida then said his office’s move to ask for Napoles’ acquittal was done in the interest of justice and Duterte "has nothing to do with this decision."

Duterte’s chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo also said that Napoles’ acquittal in the detention case will have no impact on her pork barrel cases, where Luy stands as a primary witness.

“In the plunder cases, it’s not only him that is being presented. Meaning to say, there will be corroborative evidence in the form of documents or corroborative witnesses,” Panelo told reporters.

“If Benhur Luy would testify in court and that can be corroborated by other witnesses and supported by documents, then it becomes credible.”

Panelo also dismissed talks the government will use Napoles to go after perceived political enemies who have not been charged with pork barrel cases.

“For as long as there is corruption and there is evidence to establish a criminal case, we will pursue the case,” he said.

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News



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