Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices

by Right Care Alliance
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Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
Train 500 Activists to Fight for Lower Drug Prices
RCA members at a potluck in Cambridge, MA
RCA members at a potluck in Cambridge, MA

Right Care Alliance activists are now fighting against a new Alzheimer's drug called Aduhelm. The FDA approved this drug over the summer even though it is failing clinical trials, and it will cost $56,000 per year. This is money that patients and families don't have, especially for a medication that doesn't work! RCA members are organizing at hospitals across the country to stop the use and spread of Aduhelm.

On July 28th we held an Aduhelm Town Hall. We talked with speakers enraged by the FDA's approval of aducanumab or Aduhelm. Dr. Aaron Kesselheim cautioned us that what evidence exists of the drug's improvement of cognitive function is insufficient. Linda Furlini, PhD, an academic researcher on caregivers, shared her lack of confidence in a drug that's own advisory panel was conflicted over accelerated approval. Dr. Peter Whitehouse, member of the RCA Long Term Care Council, talked about the importance of investing in public health, education and communities, instead of wasting money on Aduhelm. After these speakers, we heard from Sharon Moon, a member of the RCA Executive Committee, who shared a powerfu story about her grandfather who had Alzheimer's.

The RCA Executive Committee met in person this summer for a retreat! We deliberated on what aspects the RCA wants to focus on in the upcoming months, including fundraising, increasing our membership, and the Aduhelm campaign. 

RCA chapters have slowly and cautiously held some meetings in person. The Boston chapter had a potluck and read  the RCA Call for a New Health System and discussed our own experiences with the health care system. We heard stories about what happens when dental care is ignored and of members sacrificing their own appointments to care for their families.

Study Groups have also been continuing! The RCA Health Before Wealth Study Sessions have been uniting teen healthcare activists nationwide to mobilize for an equitable healthcare system. Our most recent session was on Disability and Disorder Awareness in Health Care, and upcoming topic is on Environmental Racism and Racial Disparities in Health Care. Health Knights is our group for women that usually meets on the third Monday of each month. Our most recent study group focused on the Commonwealth Fund's annual comparison of US healthcare costs and outcomes to other high-income countries. People shared experiences where emergency medical technicians who arrive with an ambulance after a call to 911 questioned family members or neighbors whether they "really" wanted an ambulance transport, knowing that the person would be charged. 

 

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RCA member Dr. Fred giving vaccines!
RCA member Dr. Fred giving vaccines!

The Right Care Alliance has continued our BFREE Campaign, fighting for Barrier-FREE Covid tests and vaccines. We fight for Covid resources to be fast, reliable, equitable and easy to access.

RCA Chapter leaders worked together to host a national town hall on February 10 to launch our BFREE Campaign. Carleen Sabusap and David Glenn, chapter leaders from Nashville and DC, talked overall about the inequity in Covid testing and other resources. Participants heard from five speakers acoss the country who shared their specific stories about trying to get a Covid test. One student had to drive out of state in order to get a Covid test, and a young woman was unabale to get a Covid test for a few weeks, even though her husband could have gotten one immediately and free - all because he is a student at a local medical school, and she is not. Following the stories, participants broke out into groups to spur action.

The Gainesville Chapter has been working on outreach for and helping seniors register for the vaccine by handing out flyers at senior centers, rotary clubs, and writing letters to the editor. Through phone calls to Publix offices, they are trying to get Publix to allow people to walk into any grocery store and be able to register for the vaccine. They also held a town hall on February 17 called The Truth About the Vaccine, which addressed rumors and popular misconceptions about the vaccine. 

 

The Boston Chapter held a town hall on March 31 to share stories about the structural inequities and racism around vaccine distribution. Speakers included a disabled mom who had to travel across the state to get the vaccine, a teacher who is also in school herself navigating getting an appointment, a young adult who is homebound, and a physician who treats patients and teaches medical students. Participants then went into small breakout groups to share their own experiences. One participant said, "We all need to be sharing and listening to each other's stories more, which is why I loved this event."

If you have not yet had the chance, take some time and read the Covid@College blog that a team of four college students are producing. Together, they are interviewing, editing, and posting the stories of other students across the country. What is clear from reading these blogs is that every school is handling Covid differently. If you are a college student and want to share your experiences of adjusting to student life in Covid, and how that's changed over the past year, reach out to us!

 

Since the start of 2021, study group facilitators have been leading study groups on how the Biden Administration is responding to Covid. They have discussed how and why states are handling Covid testing and vaccine distributions differently, and the inequity within states about who gets the vaccine and when. A recent study group was led by Elizabeth Glowacki and Doly Han to discuss and better understand what's going with health privacy and data, why, and what we can do about it.

We recently launched a study group for teens so that high school students can talk with each other about their interactions and concerns with the U.S. healthcare system. They've met three times so far, and are called Health Over Wealth.

 

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At the BFREE Town Hall
At the BFREE Town Hall

The Right Care Alliance is launching our Barrier FREE Campaign - advocating for covid tests and vaccines to be accessible to all Americans. We believe that all tests and vaccines should be:

  • FAST
  • RELIABLE
  • EQUITABLE
  • EASY

and... of course, free!

We publicly launched this campaign with a virtual town hall on Feb 10 to talk about the state of covid tests, and our plans to advocate for FREE testing sites in Massachusetts, Maryland, Tennessee and Florida.

Meanwhile, over the past few months, RCA members have:

  • collected hand sanitizer for the Nashville Public Schools
  • organized a town hall in Gainesville, FL to teach about the accessbility and shortages of the COVID vaccine
  • hosted a story slam for World Diabetes Day to highlight the voices and stories of people living with diabetes and their allies
  • register voters in the final weeks before the election in October and November
  • launched study groups to help us all understand Biden's plans around COVID tests and vaccines
  • and continued to support each other in the middle of this pandemic
  • created a blog for college students to share stories of trying to attend college in the midle of the pandemic
a storyteller at the Insulin Story Slam
a storyteller at the Insulin Story Slam
a study group photo taken before Covid
a study group photo taken before Covid

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Right Care Gainesville has been busy over the past few months! They held several Town Halls throughout August and September focused on the many ways COVID is impacting their area. One Town Hall was led by pediatricians, and they discussed the many ways that our identities and social determinants of health impacts our COVID experiences. school reopenings - who makes the decisions about whether or not to open schools, and what facts and influences go into that decision. They had some heated conversations about how parents and teachers have not been involved in those decisions! 

The Gainesville chapter has also been involved in voter outreach - registering community members and friends, and are now mobilizing to encourage and support early voting.

Right Care Nashville has officially kicked out! On their kickoff call on Sept 7, the chapter leaders explained their hopes and goals for the chapter, and broke into breakout groups to discuss. Their first project was to convince area beer and liquor distilleries to donate hand sanitizer to Nashville public schools. They planned to organize a longer campaign around this, but the distilleries immediately agreed!

Right Care DC held their first Open COVID Forum focused on the state of COVID in Montgomery County. RCA’s own co-founder and co-chair Shannon Brownlee moderated a panel including local city council members, organizers and teachers. They discussed their frustrations that covid test results were taking up to a month, how undocumented neighbors fear that getting tested could impact their immigration status, how black neighborhoods are those hardest hit by covid, and the experiences of local educators.

They organized a second Town Hall was in partnership with Progressive Maryland and the Montgomery County Education Association, and focused on the basics of covid prevention and testing. A panel of teachers spoke about the dangers of reopening schools too early. They led breakout groups where participants talked about their worries moving forward in terms of both school and community concerns about dealing with covid. These groups together are organizing a petition to demand that all residents of Maryland have access to health care, fight racism and white supremacy in state-wide healthcare and education institutions, increase widespread testing, contact tracing, and housing.

Our organizing continues! The RCA is training activists to gear up for a campaign fighting for COVID tests across the US! We are teaching faciltiators how to run group conversations, practicing recruitment skills, sending out surveys about different experiences with COVID tests across the country, and increasing our study groups to learn more about why this is such a problem.



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Covid Community Town Hall
Covid Community Town Hall

Like so many organizations and networks across the country, COVID sent us scrambling. How would the virus impact our trainings and our actions, which have always happened in person? We quickly realized that the two biggest plagues to our community because of the COVID-19 are confusion and loneliness. Many of our members felt saturated by information coming out about the virus, and didn't know where to turn for updated and accurate information. Many of us are also lonely, since we aren't able to see anybody besides those we live and work with. Even though most states are opening up again, as a community dedicated to public health, and believing in patients over profits, we will continue to be remote for the time being. We decided that the Right Care Alliance should, for now, organize events and digital actions focused on combating confusion with information, and addressing loneliness with building relationships and community.

Starting in early April, we have been holding COVID Community Town Halls aimed on educating how the virus spreads and is transmitted. We talk about epidemiology, early stories of covid and how it spread, and what everybody can do to minimize our risk. These Town Halls evolve as new research comes out, and as people have new and different questions.

Right Care Boston has been organizing Grief Vigils. These are a space for people to share stories of loved ones lost to COVID, to talk about anger and pain at white supremacy and police brutality, and also to discuss feelings that seem less traumatic, but are also important and in our minds and hearts right now. We've talked about missing graduations, weddings and funerals, and the pain of being separated from our friends, families and communities right now.

Meanwhile, Right Care DC realized that COVID tests are not accessible to many people in the city of DC or Montgomery County right now. They have been leading a campaign to get make these tests available to people who live in these places and need them.

We have started a new Elder and Long-Term Care Council, dedicated to supporting residents of these facilities to have access to their loved ones.

We have increased our Study Groups so that we now have 5 teams meeting monthly online to strengthen their understanding of the complexities of health care. Study groups read a section of the RCA Call for a New Health System, a few articles related to a certain theme, and discuss.

If you'd like to get involved in any of these projects, reach out to us at organize@rightcarealliance.org! As always, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support, which makes all of this possible.

Right Care Boston Chapter Meeting on Zoom!
Right Care Boston Chapter Meeting on Zoom!
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Organization Information

Right Care Alliance

Location: Brookline, MA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @RightCareNow
Project Leader:
Stephanie Aines
Brookline, MA United States
$6,780 raised of $20,000 goal
 
134 donations
$13,220 to go
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