There will be a chance to vote for “one person=one vote” during the upcoming special election of August 8, 2023. The last-minute passage of HJR1/SJR2(Now Issue 1) by state legislators was a set-back for the principle of “one person = one vote! But there is another chance! It still has to be passed at the August Special Election. So it’s REALLY important that people vote then!

In addition to changing the passage requirement from 50% to 60%, Issue 1 will increase the signature requirement for citizen-initiated ballot initiatives from 44 counties to all 88 counties. Requiring signatures from all 88 counties allows one county to prevent the rest of the state from having an opportunity to vote on an issue. Citizen initiatives to stop gerrymandering in Ohio, support responsible environmental policies or fix public school funding etc., will be nearly impossible to put on the ballot if Issue 1 passes in August. An article in the Oxford Press of May 14 by the League of Women voters gave a good description of this proposal from the General Assembly.

Save the date of August 8 to vote. Or better yet, vote early starting July 11 ! You can request a mail in-ballot now.

Social Justice Update

Hopedale’s Second Sunday Collection in May for Reproductive Rights in Ohio brought in over $500!  The money will be split between Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom and Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights. Thank you so much for your part in helping to defeat the efforts of Statehouse extremists.

The Social Justice Committee, HUUC, works to promote the values of the Green Sanctuary and the Welcoming Congregation. Our interests include, but are not limited to:

• Climate and Environmental Justice         
• Democracy and Electoral Justice
• Decriminalization                                           
• Economic Justice
• Ethical Eating                                                  
• Immigration
• LGBTIQ+ & Gender Justice                           
• Reproductive Justice

The Social Justice Committee, HUUC, meets monthly on the 2nd Thursdays, 7:00 pm usually via Zoom. Contact Liz Woedl, Chair, for the Zoom link if you’d like to attend, We welcome new participants! You can find more information about our activities at

Upcoming Dates:

•Sat, June 3- Hamilton Pride. We’ll be helping at the PFLAG booth, 1 – 3:30pm.
• Fri, June 9- Pride Celebration. Oxford Community Arts Center. PFLAG will have a table at the 2nd Friday event. Artists’ reception inside the OCAC at 6:00 pm. Then, PanVibe Jazz Quartet concert outside at the Pavilion, 7:30 pm. 
• Wed-Sun, Jun 21-25 – UUA General Assembly, Pittsburgh or Zoom.
• Sat, Jun 24- Pride Parade and Festival, UU Council of Greater Cincinnati will have a booth.

Notes From the Social Justice Committee, Hopedale UU Community

Our Second Sunday Collection on May 14: Reproduction Rights
Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom and Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights are the organizations planning a ballot issue in 2023 that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. Now the anti-choice majority in the Ohio legislature is planning to replace the 50% + votes needed to pass a ballot issue with a 60% + requirement! Let’s help these organizations beat the extremists in the Statehouse. For more information go to: &

To donate for the Second Sunday collection, make checks payable to “HUUC” and put “Freedom” in the memo space. Donations can be placed in the rainbow basket on May 14th or sent to the Hopedale Treasurers.

Issues on the Ballot at the Ohio Legislature
The Ohio Representatives and Senators may have a gerrymandered advantage to bully higher education, but college students, university faculty and staff, and advocates ae turning out to voice concern over how SB 83 will force authoritative state laws that threaten freedom and diversity on college campuses. Go to:

There is so much going on. To better keep an eye on what’s going on in the Legislature, set up notifications of your favorite issue at:

Upcoming Social Justice Dates (denominational events in bold)

Thursday, May 11 HUUC Social Justice Zoom meeting 7:00 (contact Liz Woedl for link)

Saturday, May 13 UU Council of Greater Cincinnati Meeting, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Thursday, May 17 International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia.

Thursday, May 17 PFLAG Community Meeting, 6:00 pm at Lane Library (Legal Takes with Scott Knox, attorney)

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia is observed on May 17. It aims to coordinate international events that raise awareness of LGBT rights violations, and stimulate interest in LGBT rights work worldwide. Phobia refers to fear of something. People tend to be more fearful when they lack knowledge, experience or a relationship with someone or something. Thus, raising awareness of the humanity of all people, and the importance of acknowledging everyone’s dignity as someone who is straight, homosexual, gay, lesbian, pansexual, asexual, bisexual, cisgender, nonbinary, or transgender is important.

Commemorations have taken place in over 130 countries. Observance is necessary because, as of 2019, 69 countries criminalized same-sex relationships. Also, in 26 countries, transgender individuals are subjected to punishments, and they are disproportionately at risk of violence across the globe. In 2021, United States president Joe Biden used IDAHOBIT to highlight efforts to alleviate LGBTQIA+ discrimination and to call on Congress to pass the Equality Act.

The founders of the International Day Against Homophobia, as it was originally known, established the IDAHO Committee to coordinate grass-roots actions in different countries, to promote the day and to lobby for official recognition on May 17. That date was chosen to commemorate the decision to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1990. -A. Fuehrer

International Transgender Day of Visibility

Each March 31 for the last 15 years, we have recognized International Transgender Day of Visibility. The day is dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide, as well as a celebration of their contributions to societies. The day was founded by transgender activist Rachel Crandall of Michigan as a reaction to the lack of LGBTQ+ recognition of transgender people, citing the frustration that the only well-known transgender-centered day was the Transgender Day of Remembrance, observed on November 20 each year. That day mourns the murders of transgender people, but does not acknowledge and celebrate living members of the community. Day of Visibility isspearheaded by the U.S.-based youth advocacy organization Trans Student Educational Resources.

​Our local chapter of PFLAG, Parents, Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays, is putting together directories of local resources for parents of transgender youth, who are particularly targeted, and who need affirming medical, mental health, and educational services.  Transgender youth are overrepresented among youth who cannot live at home, who are living independently and, unfortunately, overrepresented among people who are homeless.  We who believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all people have responsibility for communicating our desires to national representatives.  A Transgender Bill of Rights resolution will be introduced next week by Rep. Pramila Jayapal from the state of Washington, who is Co-Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus’s Transgender Equality Task Force. You can make a positive statement ahead of Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) on Friday.  Thank you.

-A. Fuehrer

Environmental Corner, March 2023

Reducing Carbon Emissions

Several newer federal laws (especially the Inflation Reduction Act, IRA) include programs to help homeowners and others reduce their own carbon dioxide emissions in response to the climate crisis. If you are considering even smaller household changes, such as getting new appliances, new windows, insulation, as well as my favorite, rooftop solar, it is worth your time to look at these. Some of the tax rebates are for 30% of the purchase price  –  a significant amount of money. In addition to rebates for individuals, there are also block grants to states and local governments and non-profits.  Some of these are still in the process of being rolled out. 
Here are some resources to help get you started:
From the New York Times, an interactive guide to the IRA
From Rewiring America, a downloadable guide to everything IRA
From Natural Resources Defense Council, a Consumer Guide to the IRA

The House Bill 6 Trial
There have been very interesting reports in some local papers about the ongoing trial in Cincinnati of Larry Householder, former speaker of the Ohio House, who is charged with racketeering involving a $60 million bribe for pushing through House Bill 6 in 2018. HB 6 is the law that collects $80,000 every day in electric surcharges on consumers’ bills to subsidize two obsolete coal-fired power plants left over from the 1950s.  The nuclear bail-out portion was repealed, but the rest is still in effect. 
Apparently one of the ways that bribery money was used was to buy those sinister ads in the summer of 2019 warning people that China was trying to take over the Ohio Electric grid by circulating ballot petitions. It worked, because the effort to put HB6 on the ballot for voters to decide did not get enough signatures. Signature collectors were also harassed and paid to stop work. So you never got a chance to vote on HB 6.
For more information, Common Cause has a YouTube video. It is worth watching if you have any interest in legislative shenanigans!  The recording of the program,
If you are part of the Oxford Electric Aggregation program (as most of us in Oxford are!) it is worth noting that our electricity provider is Energy Harbor. After the bad publicity surrounding the HB 6 scandal, First Energy reorganized and became Energy Harbor! So all this hits very close to home! The contract is up for renewal in the near future.

-P. Branstrator

Social Justice Update for March 2023

Our Second Sunday collection on March 12:  Oxford Area PFLAG
– Liz Woedl

The Oxford Area PFLAG serves the community through education, support and advocacy for families, allies, and people LGBTQ+. Visit: for more information. To donate, please make checks payable to “HUUC” (with “PFLAG” in the memo line), and place contributions in the “rainbow basket” on March 12 or send them to the Hopedale Treasurers.
Update on Issues Relating to Actions of Immediate Witness 
-Libby Earle
We Do Not Consent:  Rejecting Legal Challenges to Abortion
Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom and Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights recently announced that they are putting final touches on a ballot issue in 2023 that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. They have described it as similar to the abortion rights measure voters approved in Michigan last November. There will be opposition, and the threat of the legislature adopting the 60-percent-in-every-county rule for citizen ballot initiatives. Get your clip boards ready! For more information about the proposed amendment go to
Stop the Privatization of Medicare 
Previously we have written of the threat to traditional Medicare posed by the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Realizing Equity, Access and Community Health (REACH) program, acting as administrators of Medicare funds. Physicians for a National Health Plan announced that REACH is capping the number of participating entities. But organizations with histories of dubious insurance practices already have been accepted as intermediaries.  For more information go to:  

The Dangers to Traditional Medicare from Medicare Advantage and ACO-REACH

-Libby Earle 12/14/22

If you are a senior citizen on Medicare, you are probably getting bombarded by phone calls from telemarketers implying they represent Medicare and they want to tell you about additional benefits.   What they are really doing is promoting Medicare Advantage (MA) which is no advantage to seniors or the health care system. What is now being promoted at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), an agency within HHS that tests and implements health payment models without congressional approval, is the transformation by 2030 OF all Traditional Medicare (TM) to a Medicare Advantage (MA) inspired private insurance-publicly funded program administered through a middleman? The program was initially piloted during the Trump administration and called a Direct Contracting Entity (DCE). The Biden Administration has rebranded it as ACO-REACH (Accountable Care Organization Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health) but it is still a direct contracting entity.

Originally Medicare Advantage promised to fill the gaps of Traditional Medicare: services not covered, monthly premiums, deductibles, and cost sharing. However MA plans are private for profit entities receiving public funding.  MA plans can offer additional benefits not offered by traditional Medicare; however, the insured has a limited choice of providers and once switched they have difficulty getting out of a MA plan. If they do switch back, it is difficult to get supplemental insurance to fill in the gaps of traditional Medicare. 

These programs enroll 45% of Medicare eligible persons. Medicare overpaid these private health plans by more than $106 billion from 2010 through 2019 because of the way the private plans charge for sicker patients (Richard Kronick, the University of California-San Diego). MA insurance companies maximize their profits by how they construct reimbursements and utilization.

While Traditional Medicare must spend 98% of its budget on patient care and Medicare Advantage must spend 85% of the money received from the government Medicare Trust Fund, DCE and REACH middlemen are only required to spend 60% of the government money on patients realizing 40% as income. Both MA and DCE are paid based on an estimate of their potential needs.  They inflate the projected need by up-coding—increasing the patient’s risk score, including every possible diagnosis at the highest level possible regardless of the care given.

A landmark paper in 2017 reported that “Medicare Advantage (MA) insurer revenues are 30 percent higher than their healthcare spending. Healthcare spending is 25 percent lower for MA enrollees than for enrollees in Traditional Medicare (TM) in the same county with the same risk score. Spending differences between MA and TM are similar across sub-populations of enrollees and subcategories of care, with similar reductions for “high value” and “low value” care. Spending differences primarily reflect differences in healthcare utilization [with the most aggressive adjustment, the spending deference between MA and TM was 8%].”  There is suggestive evidence that MA restricted utilization for sicker individuals by discharging to home rather than post-acute care facilities, substituting less expensive types of care such as specialist visits and higher outpatient surgery rates.  [Healthcare Spending and Utilization in Public and Private Medicare Vilsa Curto, Liran Einav, Amy Finkelstein, Jonathan D. Levin, and Jay Bhattacharya NBER Working Paper No. 23090 January 2017 JEL No. H11,H42,H51,I11,I13]

Medicare Advantage programs have not saved money nor are they superior to traditional Medicare.  A report in JAMA “found no meaningful differences in the characteristics of patients or the quality of care received between those enrolled in MA vs those enrolled in FFS Medicare” but cautioned that utilization management strategies should not become factors that  adversely affect care. [JAMA Cardiol. 2020;5(12):1349-1357. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.3638]

Additionally, the Office of the Inspector General found that nearly one in seven (13 percent) Medicare Advantage prior authorization denials were inappropriate. Medicare Advantage plans frequently denied requests for care that met Medicare coverage rules. Of the claim-payment denials in the study sample, 18% met Medicare coverage rules and Medicare Advantage plan billing rules. [AMA]

While MA as an accountable care organization was supposed to save money, at best these entities have either lost money or only saved Medicare a few tenths of a percent. [Promise vs. Practice: the Actual Financial Performance of Accountable Care Organizations J Gen Intern Med DOI: 10.1007/s11606-021-07089-6 © Society of General Internal Medicine 2021]

There is a close association between the middlemen who administer the direct contracting entities and Medicare Advantage insurance organizations. Many of the DCE are investor-owned startups or commercial insurers who also run Medicare Advantage plans.

Part of the strategy to move traditional Medicare to DCE is to switch Traditional Medicare patients to Direct Contracting Entities. Medicare can automatically transfer a client to MA by searching two years of each senior’s claims history to see if the senior has gotten care from a primary care provider who is aligned with a DC or REACH middleman. 350,000 seniors were in DCE plans as of January 2022 — none of whom elected to sign up voluntarily (Rep. Pramila Jayapal). 

Rebranding DCE does not remove the incentive for Wall Street investors and insurance companies from profiteering. There are major conflicts of interest existing within the CMMI, the architect of direct contracting. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is a department within the Department of Health and Human Services. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation ((CMMI) exists as an agency of the DHS charged with piloting new programs but is outside of congressional control. The CMMI leaderships’ connections with health care insurance, lobbying and venture capital is alarming:

CMMI Leadership:

Adam Boehler (2020)

  • 2020 Previous position: startup company, Landmark Health which was awarded contract to be a DCE under Boehler.
  • Former roommate of Jared Kushner.
  • 2021 left to form Rubicon Founders, a new firm based in Nashville, Tennessee, focused on growing “transformational” health care companies

Brad Smith, former Anthem Executive (2021)

  • 2021, leaves to be executive chairman of CareBridge, a home- and community-based services company.
  • 2021, Forms “Russell Street Ventures, “an innovative healthcare firm focused on launching and scaling companies that serve some of our nation’s most vulnerable patient populations” and “Main Street Health,” a new company “focused exclusively on delivering value-based healthcare in rural America.”

Liz Fowler, director  (2022)            

  • Past employment: Johnson & Johnson; Former Sp Asst to President-Health/Econ Policy, National Economic Council
  • She predicts Traditional Medicare will transition to payments through Direct Contracting Entities by 2030.    

Nor does direct contracting insure any cost saving, improvement in health outcomes or equitable access to care.  The current group of DC middle men, with all their entanglements with investors and insurance companies, do not have to re-apply for the new (rebranded) program. And REACH allows any company to apply, including private equity and commercial insurers.  Penalties for middlemen who increased costs or significantly reduced quality have been reduced.

The focus on improving health equity is encouraged by using incentives.   Middlemen receive financial bonuses simply for reporting enrollee’s demographic data, like race and income, giving a bonus of $360 per year for each senior that is considered underserved (based on residence and income), regardless of how much care that senior receives.  Also middlemen are allowed to use demographic factors like race and income to increase enrollees’ risk scores regardless of how much care provided.  These incentives provide invitations for profiteering as much as the practice of up-coding.

This is not a Republican or Democratic issue.  Both parties are heavily influenced by campaign donations.  “In 2020, the leadership of DCE contractor Clover Health donated $500,000 to the main super PAC for Senate Democrats, while the company’s financier Chamath Palihapitiya donated $750,000 to the same super PAC plus $250,000 to the Biden Victory Fund. ( Mar 24, 2022•Matthew Cunningham-Cook

Healthcare consumers are confronted with confusing information about health insurance.  If the cost of health care is going to be controlled, the driving force of an unregulated health care industry must become the responsibility of Congress backed by an informed electorate.

Social Justice December Update

Second-Sunday Collection on December 11 will benefit Oxford Citizens for Peace and Justice. Since 1979, OCPJ has worked to construct a world of peace with social, economic, and environmental justice. They organize speakers, public education forums, demonstrations, and other community events in response to important issues and to their commitment to support peace and justice. OCPJ has a community forum at For this collection, please make the checks out to HUUC and put “OCPJ” in the memo line.

Oxford Citizens for Peace and Justice Bread Not Bombs community dinner is on December 3 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Holy Trinity Church in Oxford. The event features delicious homemade food, live music, presentation of the annual Peace and Justice Award, and a Holiday Peace Market. Tickets are $10 for adults; $5 for students and those with limited income. Children under 12 are FREE – no reservations needed.

The UU Council of Greater Cincinnati elected Hopedale’s Genevieve O’Malley Knight to a two-year term as Secretary.

“Transgender Inclusion in Congregations” is an online course by the Transforming Hearts Collective ( facilitated by Hopedale’s Social Justice and Religious Education Committees. Members and Friends of Hopedale are invited to join the course and participate in person during the final session on January 29, 2023 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. This class is part of our efforts to renew our Welcoming Congregation status.

Next meeting of the Social Justice Committee – over Zoom – will be Thursday, January 12th 7:00 – 8:00 pm. Contact Liz Woedl at for the Zoom link.


November 13-19 this year has been Trans Awareness Week.  This week honors and celebrates the achievements and resiliency of transgender individuals and communities.  In March of 2021, President Joe Biden signed an historic proclamation on Transgender Day of Visibility, recognizing the struggle, activism, and courage of trans*, transgender and gender non-binary people in the United States and around the world to live openly and authentically.  

Trans Awareness Week culminates today, November 20, with a Trans Day of Remembrance vigil at 6:00 at the outdoor seal at Miami University.  The annual TDOR honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost this year to acts of anti-transgender violence.  All LGBTQIA+ community and affirming allies are welcome to attend.

Sadly, 2022 has already seen at least 32 transgender people fatally shot or killed by other violent means.  The Human Rights Campaign says “at least” because too often these stories go unreported—or misreported.  In previous years, the majority of these people were Black and Latinx transgender women.  In 2021, the Campaign tracked a record number of violent fatal incidents against transgender and gender non-conforming people—with 50 fatalities tracked.  These victims, like all people, are loving partners, parents, family members, friends and community members.  They worked, went to school and attended houses of worship.  They were real people—people who did not deserve to have their lives taken from them.