We were very happy to welcome on November 6th Paula Jakub, the CEO of the AFSPA, which administers health insurance as part of the Federal Health Benefits program. Paula is also the Executive Director of the Senior Living Foundation and spoke to us of her learnings from running this non-profit organization that is devoted to helping elderly Foreign Service retirees and survivors. She also answered our questions on Medicare and Medicaid, Essential Health Benefits, long-term health insurance, pre-existing conditions, and the latest on the state of the Affordable Care Act. A special thanks to volunteer Sandra Keegan for having organized the comfortable venue, which helped soften the blow for some of us who realized we might never be able to move back to the US for a simple lack of affordable health care!
To all our members, please take part in the Tiny Action on Health Care - take a selfie in support of Universal Health Care - details on http://www.democratsabroad.org/healthcare_stories.
Thanks to the efforts of our determined GOTV Director, Tiffany Fliss, DAB was at KU Leuven's International Student Orientation Activity Fair on September 20th. Leuven DAB member Kevin Bardool and Chair Pauline Manos helped sign-up a dozen or so American citizens and encouraged all the other curious students (especially attracted by DA Germany's "Make America Gay Again" postcard!) to help us spread the word.
DA Belgium Chair, Pauline Manos, and Republicans Overseas Chair, Mike Kulbickas, spoke on a September 14th panel sponsored by the Université Libre de Bruxelles Extension Program at La Louvière: L' Amérique de Donald Trump....200 jours plus tard! It was a refreshingly civilized discussion (with even a few laughs) that covered a wide range of topics, from the values of each party to the history behind divergent views on issues from health care to foreign policy to immigration, with many thoughtful questions from the 70+ attendees. Our warm thanks to moderators Jean-Paul Renier and Salvatore Ribaudo for allowing us to move out of our "Brussels Bubble".
No pics, but we had a great Pub Social on August 16th - here's what our crowd looked like:
- age range: late 20s to 65+
- time in Belgium: two weeks to 40+ years
- political persuasion: self-proclaimed sort-of anarchist to fiscally conservative
- voting states: CA, FL, NM, NC, OR, and more
And our "Friends of DAB": Wallon, Flemish, Bruxelloise, British, and a couple of D.C. tourists and a vacationing American working in Senegal
THIS IS DAB, THIS IS AMERICA!!!!
Thank you, Paula Romanchak Cagli, for a great intro to Brussels' Art Nouveau treasures...a welcome reprieve from an intense political week!!!
This St-Gilles walking tour was guided by long-time DAB member, Paula Cagli, who holds a BA and an MA in Art History. After the tour, we moved on to a local pub for drinks and eats.
Half of all Americans are insured by the government via Medicare (for the elderly) or Medicaid (for the poor) - that was a surprise for many of us.
Nearly a third of Americans are covered by employer-based health plans, which the ACA mandated for companies of 50+ employees and which need to cover ten Essential Benefits.
20MM Americans gained access to insurance via the ACA; it is virtually the only way for an individual to purchase affordable insurance in the US's group-oriented/profit-driven market.
The AHCA (current House version) allows states to waive Essential Benefits, eliminates low-income subsidies for premiums, and cuts the taxes that were funding those subsidies and other parts of the plan.
The AHCA tax cuts are estimated to transfer $274 BILLION to the top 2% of US taxpayers…a reverse Robin Hood plan that shifts from the poor to the rich.
If we want to hold on to the more critical parts of the ACA, we’ll simply need a Democratic Congress….so stay registered to vote from abroad and make sure your American friends and family do the same ;-)
- Chair - Pauline Manos - email@example.com
- Vice-Chair - Jeffrey Edison - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Secretary - Simone Burger - email@example.com
- Treasurer - Sharon Bronzwaer - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Counsel - Natalie McNelis - email@example.com
- Member-at-Large - Tiffany Fliss - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Member-at-Large - Meredith Tandy-Spangenberg - email@example.com
We hope to see you on April 22nd at the Science March Brussels or at our May 16th US Health Care Discussion (details to follow but pencil in the date). And, given the time of year, you may also want to take a look at the DA Fatca Update that was recently posted on the global website.
In solidarity with those fighting for women’s rights and social justice around the world, join us to light a candle at Place de la Monnaie on January 20th at 5pm. EVERYONE is welcome to this gathering, invite your family, friends and colleagues and help spread the word! Kids and families are very welcome, too, as we will stand with the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, and with the Women’s March in Washington DC. Click on the link above to join the Facebook event for up-to-date information or keep an eye on the DAB site.
We had an energizing "Post-Election Reflection", with many suggestions on how to move into actionable opposition mode. Here are a few:
- January 21st - Solidarity with the Women's March on Washington - we are requesting a permit to gather in Brussels in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington (objective on the event's national website, http://www.womensmarch.com). Pencil in the date (it's open to all, not just women!) and we will keep you posted on the event, particularly as we connect with others working in the same direction. If you'd like to volunteer to help out, let us know.
- Take the Overseas Vote Foundation Survey - http://www.research.net/r/USVote_2016_PostElectionSurvey - literally less than five minutes on a phone, laptop, or desktop. It is important that we get the data to improve our overseas voting efforts and ensure our voices as Americans abroad are heard. And as we discovered in our many Get Out the Vote efforts this past year, the challenges are many.
- Participate in DA's Congressional Call Storm - http://www.democratsabroad.org/congressional_call_storm - this is a targeted effort towards the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to support investigations into Trump's conflicts of interest. It's a great way to act directly and also remind your state officials that they speak for Americans abroad, too.
- Take regular action through our Facebook page - our DAB Facebook Page is becoming our one-stop shop to collect the myriad of ideas that allow us to channel our anger and disappointment into concrete action. Like the page and scroll through for articles and suggestions.
- Volunteer to help out - DAB is in desperate need of an events coordinator, as we've had many suggestions for 2017 events but need the arms and legs to find venues and manage communication - estimated time commitment would be a couple of hours a week in the month leading up to the event. In a similar vein, the DPCA (Democratic Party Committee Abroad, aka DA Int’l) is looking for volunteers who’d be willing to spend at least 3hrs/week on the Communications team on an ongoing basis. Let me know if you’re interested in either.
And with that, I think we have enough to keep us busy through the upcoming holidays! May they be peaceful for you and your friends and family and may we start the new year with the same energy and momentum that we have today.
All the best,
Chair, Democrats Abroad Belgium