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Equality

Canada’s National Anthem Is Now Gender-Neutral

If you needed another reason to love Canada, look no further.

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On Wednesday, January 31, the Canadian Senate voted to amend the language in ‘O Canada’, the country’s national anthem, to reflect gender-neutral lyrics. Although highly criticized by the Conservative Party, the bill passed its third reading. While bills encouraging gender neutrality have been pushed by various lawmakers in Canada since 1980, this is the first successful attempt to make the anthem gender-neutral.

The law will change the language of the anthem from “in thy all sons command” to “in all of us command.”

In 2016, the House of Commons voted to approve gender-neutral lyrics for the anthem. The original author of the bill, Mauril Belanger, passed away two months later.

Canada is no stranger to gender equality, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has identified gender equality as one of the key goals of his administration. His cabinet gained global attention in 2015 when he appointed an equal number of men and women to advise him in key areas of the policymaking processes.

In an op-ed for Marie Claire, Trudeau wrote, “All of us benefit when women and girls have the same opportunities as men and boys—and it’s on all of us to make that a reality.”

Each day is a new opportunity to progress opportunities for inclusion for people across all sides of the gender spectrum, and Canada continues to lead the way.

Julia is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Riverside, studying Public Policy with an emphasis in Social and Cultural Policy. While she’s currently on a gap year to help with Hurricane Harvey relief, Julia is a 5x author, a contributor for the Los Angeles Times, and frequent visitor of Disneyland. You can contact her at juliaschemmer@gmail.com.

Equality

A $17,850 Bill for a Urine Test? It Happened to This Student

Elizabeth Moreno, then a student at Texas State University, got a huge shock when she opened a medical bill.

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This is the debut of a monthly feature from Kaiser Health News and NPR that will dissect and explain real medical bills in order to shed light on U.S. health care prices and to help patients learn how to be more active in managing costs. Do you have a medical bill that you’d like us to see and scrutinize? Submit it here and tell us the story behind it.

Do you have an exorbitant or baffling medical bill? Join the KHN and NPR’s Bill-of-the-Month Club and tell us about your experience. We’ll feature a new one each month.

 

In her late 20s and attending college in Texas, Elizabeth Moreno suffered from debilitating back pain caused by a spinal abnormality. “I just could not live with the pain,” she said. “I couldn’t get dressed by myself, I couldn’t walk across my house, let alone to class, and nothing, no drug that had been prescribed to me, even dulled the pain.”

Moreno says she also tried chiropractic medicine and acupuncture, but they didn’t make the pain go away. Finally, a doctor at the student health center referred her to an orthopedic specialist who performed tests and concluded a disc was blocking nerves down her legs and needed to be removed. Moreno’s father, a retired Ohio doctor who had seen many failed back surgeries over his career, agreed it was the best course.

In late 2015, Moreno had the operation in Houston, which she described as “a complete success.” She gave it little thought when the surgical office asked her to leave a urine sample for a drug test.

Then the bill came.

Patient: Elizabeth Moreno, then 28, a student at Texas State University in San Marcos.

Total bill: $17,850 for a urine test in January 2016

Service provider: Sunset Labs LLC of Houston

Medical treatment: Moreno had a disc removed from her back in December 2015. Her surgeon prescribed an opioid painkiller, hydrocodone. At a follow-up office visit in mid-January 2016, the staff asked her to leave a urine sample, which she figured was routine. In March 2017, over a year later, the lab sent her a bill for $17,850 for testing her urine for a slew of drugs, including cocaine, methadone, anti-anxiety drugs and several other drugs she had never heard of.

What gives: Urine drug testing has exploded over the past decade amid alarm over rising opioid overdose deaths. Many doctors who prescribe the pills rely on the urine tests to help reduce drug abuse and keep patients with chronic pain safe. Yet the tests have become a cash cow for a burgeoning testing industry, and critics charge that unneeded and often expensive ones are sometimes ordered for profit rather than patient care. Doctors can decide whether to test patients who take opioids for short periods, such as after an operation. Moreno’s surgeon would not discuss her urine test — why he ordered it and why the sample was tested for so many substances.

Three experts contacted by Kaiser Health News questioned the need for such extensive testing and were shocked to hear of the lab’s prices. They said these tests rarely cost more than $200, and typically much less, depending on the complexity and the technology used. Some doctors’ offices use a simple cup test, which can detect several classes of drugs on the spot and could be purchased for about $10. Bills can climb higher when labs run tests to detect the quantity of specific drugs and bill for each one, as the lab did here.

The experts KHN interviewed said that the lab’s prices for individual tests were excessive, such as charging $1,700 to check for amphetamines or $425 to identify phencyclidine, an illegal hallucinogenic drug also known as PCP. They also criticized a charge of $850 for two tests to verify that her urine sample had not been adulterated or tampered with.

Moreno’s insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, refused to pay any of the bill, arguing that the lab was out-of-network and thus not covered. Had it chipped in, it would have covered the service at $100.92, according to an explanation of benefits the insurance company sent to Moreno.

Sunset Labs says its list prices were “in line” with its competitors in the area. It also said doctors treating pain agree extensive urine testing is “the best course of action” and that a lab “is not in the position” to question tests ordered by a doctor.

Related Story: Pain Hits Long After Surgery When Doctor’s Daughter Is Stunned By $17,850 Urine Test

Resolution: Fearing damage to his daughter’s credit rating, Moreno’s father, Dr. Paul Davis, paid the lab $5,000 in April 2017 to settle the bill. A retired doctor, he also has filed a formal complaint about the bill with the Texas attorney general’s office, accusing the lab of “price gouging of staggering proportions.” The lab’s attorney said he was not aware of the complaint. A Texas attorney general’s spokesperson confirmed to KHN that the office had received complaints about the lab, but declined further comment.

The takeaway: When a physician asks for a urine or blood sample, always ask what it’s for. Insist that it be sent to a lab in your insurance network.

Full Story A $17,850 Bill For A Simple Urine Test Stuns Texas Student

Source: AG complaint; interviews

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

 

 

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Equality

Applebee’s Fires Three Employees After Racial Profiling Allegation

Two women were racially profiled and accused of a dine-and-dash at an Applebee’s.

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Three Applebee’s employees were accused of racially profiling two African-American diners at a Missouri mall after a video of the incident went viral on Facebook last week.

Asia Hardy and Alexis Brison were eating dinner at Applebee’s at the Independence Center mall in Independence, Missouri when they were interrupted by a police manager, mall cop, and restaurant an hour into their meal. Hardy and Brison were accused of dining and dashing the day before.

In the video shared by Brison, an Applebee’s employee can be heard positively identifying the two women. However, according to Brison’s post, Brison called the restaurant after she left, and the employees were unable to provide distinguishing characteristics of the thieves. According to the manager, the employee said that the thief was a “skinny girl and a girl who wore makeup.”

Brison shared a video of the event on Facebook, which has been viewed over 3 million times.

Throughout the video, Hardy and Brison continuously tell the officer and staff that they were not at the restaurant during the dine-and-dash. “We have not been here. We have not been here. We have not been here. I’m a student. I live on campus. I have not been here, like, I’ve been on duty at Rockhurst University,” Hardy said. As the incident goes on, Hardy becomes increasingly upset.

When the officer tells the women that the restaurant manager decided that they want Hardy and Brison to pay for their food, leave, and not to return, the women agree, but they are still upset. “We have not been here. Oh my God! We have not been here!” Hardy says again.

The officer then asks, “Is she normally this emotional? Wow. Does she normally talk like this?”

According to Independence Police, they have not received a police report regarding the incident in the video or the dine-and-dash incident the day before.

The employees involved have been terminated for their involvement in the racial profiling, and the restaurant in Independence has been closed. “The franchisee terminated the manager, server and another employee involved in the incident,” an Applebee’s spokesperson wrote in an email to Mic “We do not tolerate racism, bigotry or harassment of any nature, and we have taken additional steps to close the restaurant at this time in order for the team there to regroup, reflect, learn and grow from this.”

Applebee’s also issued a statement on their Facebook page. “We recognize the hurt and pain caused by the recent incident at an Applebee’s restaurant in Independence, Mo.,” the statement reads. “We are reaching out to the guests involved to apologize directly. We know rebuilding trust with those affected by the incident will take time, and we look forward to finding resolution in the coming days.”

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Academics

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Offers new Citizens Free 1-Year Memberships

The Museum of Fine Arts Boston is doing it right.

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Boston is a very progressive city, and in support of new citizens it is offering an innovate perk:

Starting July 1, 2017, new US citizens living in Massachusetts can receive a free one-year family membership to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s newest program enables the Museum to become a place for new Americans to gather, make connections within their community, and create bridges across cultures, making the MFA part of their American experience.

It’s simple too: You can come to the Museum, show a copy or photo of your naturalization certificate at any ticket desk within one year of your swearing-in, and you will get a free Museum membership for one year.

This membership consists of Free admission to the Museum for one year for two adults and unlimited children (age 17 and under), and a Free MFA mobile guide rental for MFA Citizens members (available in 9 languages).

Boom!

 

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