Congress needs to act so people in poverty can have housing stability
Thank you for featuring the May 29 Beth Fetzer-Rice opinion piece “Housing stability can lead to better health for pregnant women and their babies.”
The data presented supports two key priorities the Biden administration has highlighted in the proposed economic recovery package that will ensure a “safe and steady roof overhead,” the expansion of rental assistance to all eligible renters, also noted as universal housing (only one in four eligible receives this assistance now) and the permanent inclusion of two of our most effective tools at reducing poverty, the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which at this time are only proposed for one year.
For far too long, the numbers of all those living in poverty have risen to new heights, long before the pandemic exacerbated them even further. However, the statistics for children living in poverty is even more staggering. In nine Ohio cities, more than half the children live in poverty. In another 39 cities, the poverty rate for children is at least 30%. In addition, on any given day, an estimated 10,655 individuals are experiencing homelessness in Ohio.
Fetzer-Rice’s work has demonstrated that state and federal programming can dramatically change lives — especially for our children. Through the expansion of rental assistance to all eligible renters, along with the permanent expansion of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, these policies will create a generational leap for millions of low-income Americans. A leap that will ensure a roof over their heads and the additional resources to thrive. Congress, we are counting on you to do the right thing.
Mary Casey, Columbus
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It’s time to get serious about oral health and its importance to our well-being
I was pleased to see the May 27 editorial “Having a child too often a life, death struggle” regarding the importance of oral health as it relates to pregnancy outcomes and overall health.
In a limited space, the authors did an excellent job of describing how poor oral health and the lack of routine dental care can lead to very serious health and life consequences, which disproportionately impacts the health and well-being of low-income women, women of color and their families. The information provided was to support the extension of Medicaid benefits, including dental benefits, beyond 60 days postpartum and finally to integrate medical, dental and behavioral health.
So here’s the problem.
Only a very small percentage of Ohio dentists provide care to a significant number of Medicaid enrollees. Most take none. Many low-income folks live in communities with few or no dentists. Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC’s), though they provide wonderful care, are often not sufficiently funded or staffed to meet the dental needs of the communities they serve. So even if Medicaid is extended, and/or if dental benefits ever get included in Medicare, how will we meet the new demand?
One response that has already been proven to work and adopted in 12 states — with legislation newly introduced in eight since January — is adding dental therapists to the dental care team. They work in a similar fashion in dentistry as nurse practitioners, who have greatly increased access to medical care. Dental therapists receive extensive training and provide high quality, cost-effective care under the supervision of dentists. They can work alongside their supervising dentist or work remotely, providing basic dental disease prevention and treatment in communities or to populations not served by dentists. Dental therapists are not the only response to the problem, but they have been clearly demonstrated to be an important piece of the puzzle. It’s time for the very few opponents in Ohio to get out of the way and open up care to those not being served by the current system.
After year we just overcame, we’re up to fighting global poverty
With issues like systemic racism and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Americans have had little time to focus their attention elsewhere over the course of the past year. No one could blame them for prioritizing their own family’s well-being during such an unprecedented time; the effects of the pandemic have been emotionally straining on everyone.
But now as Americans are beginning to see a light at the end of this dark tunnel with more and more people getting vaccinated every day, it’s time to shift our focus to another threat: global poverty. To many Americans, a problem such as global poverty seems insurmountable even during more stable periods. While tackling such a multifaceted issue is certainly an ambitious goal, much progress has already been made the past few decades. With the help of organizations such as The Borgen Project, malnutrition has been cut in half the past 20 years, and diseases like smallpox and polio have been very nearly eradicated. For this reason, we must stop viewing the eradication of global poverty as something that is out of reach. If we continue to devote resources to the problem of global poverty, similar strides will continue to be made.
Jenna Butler, Columbus
Learning history of Black people in this country was eye-opening experience
Interesting, those on the political right who decry “cancel culture” want others to have no part of critical race theory or the Nobel Prize-winning “1619 Project.” They include Ohio legislators who’ve joined other states in introducing bills to block schools from teaching what I’d consider a holistic, unsanitized approach to American history.
As a young man in high school and college, I was fortunate to be able to include as “electives” Black history courses of the time. Great supplements to the required American history courses. I learned more about the history of Black people in this country and some of the African diaspora.
To former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken, state legislators and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, all who allege this nation is not racist and so downplay systemic racism, I offer myself as exhibit 1B. I am an African American whose DNA suggests my family may have originated in Ghana.
I cannot confirm it.
How did we arrive? In whatever way history is taught, that fact cannot be ignored.
The fact that the indigenous people of this land were diminished in number through genocide and are now primarily my “far west” neighbors is exhibit 1A.
Michael G. Whitfield, Reynoldsburg
Writer, and all of us, should be grateful government intervenes in our health
“Be careful what you allow government to do when it tells you it is looking out for your health,” is the ominous warning of Robin Somers in her Tuesday letter (“Beware of giving government more control”), as if addressing disease, racism and gun violence are somehow an anathema to society. Perhaps Ms. Somers would prefer that no American should ever be vaccinated against any disease, ever — because that means the government is invoking its powers over us. Perhaps she would like to eliminate Medicare, because the government should stay out of people’s business when it comes to their health. Maybe she’d like to shut down the FDA, the CDC and the NIH, because God knows, making sure our food and drugs are safe, and researching the causes and cures for diseases, is just too much government control over people’s lives. Yes, our “big, bad government” needs to be stopped from caring for the health and well-being of its citizens, because doing so allows people like Robin Somers to live longer, healthier lives, and to write letters complaining about it!
Anne Neiwirth, Bexley
Ohio House has every right to remove Householder from office
Tom Suddes (May 30 Dispatch “Will Householder be bounced from the Statehouse?”) has a point about Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder being innocent unless and until he is proven guilty in a court of law. The other side of that coin is the Ohio House of Representatives is not a court. It is a representative body elected to conduct the peoples’ business.
HB 6 used Ohioans’ money for corruption, and Householder is at the center of that fraud. As our elected representatives, the Ohio House has the legal and moral obligation to remove the taint of HB 6. Householder’s expulsion from the house will be an important step toward cleaning up our statehouse.
Dick Graham, Worthington
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