Episode 23 w/Anthony Daniels
Episode 23 Interview w/Anthony Daniels
Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels believes there’s a misunderstanding about Medicaid and who it serves. “Currently children, pregnant women, and the disabled are the only individuals that can receive Medicaid,” he said. “So this idea that individuals are front of their televisions flipping through the channels every day and not working purposely – it’s just not true.”
I’m David Person, host of the Healthy Alabama Podcast. Representative Daniels and I talk about expanding Medicaid and other health and wellness issues on the next episode of the Healthy Alabama Podcast. The Healthy Alabama Podcast streams at WJOU.org , and it’s on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play. The Healthy Alabama Podcast is sponsored by AIDS Alabama and produced in partnership with Oakwood University Radio, Praise. 90.1 FM, WJOU.
The healthy Alabama podcast is sponsored by enroll Alabama a program that enrolls Alabamians in the health insurance Marketplace in rural Alabama is a project of AIDS Alabama for more information visit the website AIDS Alabama dot-org welcome to another edition of the healthy, Alabama podcast sponsored by enroll, Alabama, which is a project of AIDS Alabama a great organization in Birmingham on the front lines of the fight to prevent the spread of the HIV and the and the disease AIDS. This is a first for this podcast to have in the studio and elected official. I’m proud to have my friend Anthony Daniels. He is the minority leader for the Alabama legislature Democrats Anthony great to have you on the healthy Alabama podcast. Thank you. David always good to be with good a good to have you here and
Of course we have, you know, we’ve got some history and so we spent a good amount of time before I turned on the microphones just talking politics. I want to say up front. We’re not talking politics today. We’re here to talk about health and I can think of no better elected official in the state of Alabama on a podcast about health in Alabama to have on than Anthony because I know for a fact that you are concerned about your own personal health. In fact, he actually called me this morning and said now, you know, I’m just coming from the gym. So no pictures right that cracked me up, but I know you do take your you know, all kidding aside. You do take your health seriously, right? Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s you know, you have a family I have a family history of heart disease and diabetes. In fact, a lot of people don’t know it and I risk recently.
Found out I have type 2 diabetes. I was diagnosed in 2009 or 10, but the doctor physician the primary care physician that I’m seeing now said that it’s type one that I’ve had probably since I was a teenager, but just never knew it because I never had a lot of consistent doctor visits. We’re gonna race primary by my grandparents unless something was wrong. You typically didn’t go to the doctor. And so that’s something that you know, I’m paying very close attention to right now. So since you have discovered this and you said you’re paying close attention to it, what does that mean? What do you do? Well right now I’m trying to I’m doing a lot. I’m doing a chat more exercise changing my diet up a whole lot removing a lot of the habits that many of us have you know, when you’re down in the legislature, there’s a lot of or in you know out socially you always you know, you drink
And or you have some social drinking, so just trying to cut back on all of those eliminate those things and also pay attention to my sugar intake. And so it’s a very it’s a lifestyle transformation and getting more exercise and trying to get more or less stress because stress can cause health issues as well. No doubt. Yeah cutting back on the alcohol or eliminating it cutting back on the sugar or some people even go as far as to eliminating it. Those are good things working out is definitely a good thing you touched on you touched on lowering your stress levels. We just had not too long ago had on the podcast Donna green Goodman. She is a 22-year cancer survivor and one of the things that Donna did now Donna when she was diagnosed with breast cancer over.
22 years ago Anthony one thing she did was already doing what she was a vegetarian. Okay, she shifted into what some people call the vegan lifestyle or plant-based diet lifestyle where she just eliminated not only meet but dairy products and eggs from our diet, but the other thing that she did that’s really key in ties into what you just said is Donna decided to confront some of the emotional baggage that she’d been caring for years. She said there were some people that she had to make amends with and some people she had to confront over some things and I think there were also some people she had to get out of her life and so for her, you know, it was it was people in relationships that had been stressors. I would imagine for you one of the biggest stressors, you know, and again, we’re not talking politics today.
But we’re talking about your job. You are the House minority leader you that means you’re the top-ranked Democrat in the Alabama legislature that’s got to be a stressful job. It is a stressful job. And so I’m trying to take really a different approach this time and really engage in delegate and also build a pipeline for other leaders to be able to fill some of those boards because if you don’t see it done is very difficult to know how it’s done and so just really understanding and really empowering other members to be involved in the process and really so that I can be around for my children. And so I realized the stress, you know, the stress that this job is it causes but you know, I’m determined not that this is a cure for stress, but I am determined to take care of more of Anthony, you know making certain that we’re getting ready. I’m getting regular exercise in
I’ve attached new member freshman with making certain that we have a workout group on Tuesdays and Wednesdays while we’re in Miami on Wednesday. And Thursday is why we’re in Montgomery good we’re a group of us go and play, you know, play bass guitar pickup game basketball or workout in the gym together not just for bonding, but also to really have discussions about our health because it’s African-American men, you know, we are you know, some of my best friends that I never knew or on like blood pressure medication and so in fact majority of them are and so but as black men, we very rarely talk about those things. It’s like we were so Macho to where we feel like, you know, we don’t want to you don’t have those discussions. And so I’m just trying to get to that point also incorporate more things that I believe real reduce stress over time and really relax you, you know incorporating more
Meditation and you know getting a monthly or bi-weekly massaged during the session but also doing things to really relax myself and force myself to relax and so have standard appointments. Look, let me tell you I have been a major proponent of massage for probably 30 years. I have over the past two or three years though. I have been religiously getting the bi-weekly massage. I in fact that, you know people that listen to the podcast know not only do I get by Weekly massage but massage literally saved me from surgery at one point in time when I was in the newspaper business and typing, you know frantically every day every workday, you know for hours at a time. I develop carpal tunnel syndrome and it was massage that kept me from having to go to surgery
I told my massage therapist what was going on. She explained to me that carpal tunnel is just the bunching of these nerves here, you know under the wrist. I guess it is and she said we can stretch out those nerves and tendons and whatever else is in there. And that will alleviate the carpal tunnel and she was right when I went back to my doctor. He was amazed that I was no longer needed the medicine no longer needed the hand brace. He just told me God bless you keep doing what you’re doing. And so that’s what I do. I’m a big believer in massage. So I’m glad to hear you say that let’s talk about the state of Alabama for a minute. So you were kind and generous enough to while you’re here to do the interview for this podcast. You also went into the other studio and did an on-air interview a brief on-air interview with our morning host here. WJOU, Donna Baker and you talked to Donna about
Fact that you plan to focus now that you’ve been reelected you plan to focus over the next four years on reducing poverty. When I heard you say that of course I was elated because that’s something that that’s a part of my portfolio addressing poverty issues through my work and I was particularly interested in the connection as I thought about what you were saying Anthony the connection between poverty and health. Do you as a politician as an elected official? Do you see a connection between the high poverty rate in this state and the health challenges that many people in the state have after I think that for the most part it starts with education, you know, if you’re you do what you see oftentimes in our communities, we do what we see at that have been done.
Us and you know, we were kind of you know, we do what our family members have done before us and so we really get all of the we adopt a lot of patterns and traits that are not necessarily our own and so often times, you know historically we’ve been very focused like eating for example, so food is just been sort of something that has been in our DNA and has a race and so we it’s hard to get away from that and so but not really understanding that, you know, the impact that soul food will have on you and your body and your health long-term. And so I think that it starts more with an education, you know, really educating our community focusing more on environmental issues focusing on more gardening getting back to the basics.
Of growing your own vegetables and doing things so that you know exactly what’s in what’s what you’re getting out of your garden as opposed to what you’re getting out of a lot of the these different storage until just doing more of a natural and more organic eating. You know, we got a really focus on that. This is it is more expensive and traditionally when you have a dollar or you wanted to go a long way but often times, you know, it may you may think you’re saving money for the long term, but you’re really hurting its you’re going to that causes going to be eaten up in your health care costs. And so you’re really not saving money on the back end until I think educating our community and yes, there is a direct correlation and we got to do a better job of really educating people in general people that are in poverty in general what regardless of what your race is about healthier eating and ways to really live a better and healthier life, you know, you can spend
I think what three or four dollars on a big family size bag of potato chips, or maybe you can spend, you know, three or four dollars or maybe five or six dollars. Not much more on a bag of apples, you know, and I’m not even saying eliminate the potato chips necessarily even though you probably should and I probably should speaking to myself but the bag of apples is going to take you much further in terms of your of your health and investing in your health. Absolutely. I think you know for me, you know this past week my wife and I started focusing more on juicing and so we’ve been juicing for the last four or five days and so I may eat one solid meal per day and so that the juicing and really focusing more on getting your vegetables. The green juicing is what we primarily focus on and smoothies as well from Earth Fair or we make our own at home. So, you know, we’re trying
That out to kind of see what that does, you know for our health and how we how it makes us feel but for the most part we’re trying to reset our taste buds so that we can start changing our eating habits. And so, you know, those are just some of the things that I think are extremely important, but we also have to look at is you know, we know that we do what others have done before us so often times. We need sort of like a healthy trainer not necessarily a workout trainer but a healthy trainer a peer group that that hold each other accountable and so those are some of the things that we I think we have to start doing as a community and as people because often times, you know, you having that accountability person kind of keeps you from moving off track and when you say something publicly like if I say something publicly, you know, I have to follow through on it and so right
You know how I’m going to start posting things to talk about this workout that I’m doing in the eating that I’m doing which will force people to engage they’ll engage and figure out more and may join you in the journey. And so then it forces me because I don’t want to let them down and then it forces them because they don’t want to let me download will be there with me. So we got to start doing more things like that and it’s a psychological things often times. It’s hard to eat healthy. I’m telling you. It’s very hard. It’s easy to go to McDonald’s. It’s because we live in this microwavable world and we want to get things pretty quick. But you know, it’s but for the Long Haul I think that for me having young kids, you know, I want to be around I want to be able to deal with a few months ago. I was you know, taking my little girl out to to kick the soccer ball. She wants you want to go out and kick the soccer ball or what have you or kicking in the house too. And so, you know getting on the floor with her.
I felt you know how difficult it was for me to really get down there even in the you know, if my agent so I like man I got to do something to try to exchange your young man. You’re still in your 30s. Yes. Yeah, there’s these. Yeah. Yeah, but you know, I’ve had these sports injuries and different things that are really so I’m just trying to turn around and really be there and live a long and a healthier life. I’m 20 years older than you are. So I mean, I’ve you know, I’ve got a lot less time to address some of these things but I’m going to do it and I’m taking it seriously because I understand the need but I think it’s great that you at your age are doing it. That’s phenomenal. That’s good. That’s going to be good for you and your family. It’s going to be really good. Now. Let’s talk about policy for a minute. Do you think that there are ways that government can Institute policies that can help us in this area? I think for the most part
The role of government is very different than one would expect because you also have people that are very resistant to anyone telling them what to do infinite upon their right, but I think that there are things that we can do to encourage that the change I think that we could you know, when you’re dealing with your health insurance and you know some their number of people that are very dependent, especially those below the poverty line which are more likely to have more health issues because they’re unable to get to a physician to focus on the preventative side and so incentivizing government the programs that are government programs like Medicaid and Medicare and others encouraging more of the preventative side. I think that there have been some of that
Undo the Obama care. I think there are some variations of that but from a state perspective start incentivizing people to make better decisions. I think with the snap program, you know food stamp program. I think that really looking at preferred items that and incentivizing individuals to really going and eating more, you know, natural, you know, natural things and really getting certain brands and different things to that’s going to make, you know, make things better for them long-term. And so I think with the current government programs that are out there, I think that there is a way to build a comprehensive plan to encourage individuals and incentivize individuals to eat healthier, but also push them into
Really doing more of a more walking 30 minutes a day and making it easier for them. Like, you know there a lot of people that probably don’t have don’t really build in time to do this. Right and it’s easy to make excuses not to do something that your customers are doing guilty of that myself, but, you know just really forcing myself, you know, you know instead of working out you don’t you want to work out at five o’clock in the morning, you know, it’s hard for someone that go to go to bed at 10 or 11 o’clock. Well this building the schedule to set the routine if you have kids to go to bed at 8 o’clock or 8:30, right? There’s nothing going on at 8 o’clock at 8:30 at night unless you wash the national championship game you from being able to get up earlier. And so I think that those are some of the things that we really need to look at doing and I think
It is not a one-size-fits-all approach often times government. They missed the point, right? They get it right because they’re trying to help people but they end up missing the point and putting implementing or integrating a one-size-fits-all approach to something that needs it needs to be variations of it, you know different because you know understanding different cultures. I mean, if you’re if you are culturally sensitive to the Pearl the policies and the programs that you’re pushing I think that those individuals that are recipients of it. It’ll go a lot further and will be a lot more effective. And so that those are some things that I think that we could do and incentivizing employers and tying all of it together. You alluded to something that I want to explore as we as we begin to wrap up the
Podcast today and that is you alluded to the expansion of Medicare Medicaid rather. That is something of course that is a very hot button political issue many of us in this state Democrats like yourself and myself and candidates have been pushing for the expansion of Medicaid. The Republicans in the state have been very lightly resistant to this now that we’ve gone through another election cycle and Republicans in the state have retained control of the executive branch and the legislative branch. Well, they’ve retained control of all three branches, but I want to focus on those two because that’s really where the policy generation happens. Do you believe that there might be a possibility that
You know, especially also in light of the shift in Congress, you know towards a democratic house. Do you think there is a remote possibility that maybe the state of Alabama might consider expanding Medicaid under this Administration? I think I think that with this current governor
I could see her looking at this because she is a little bit different than most she’s certainly not played as much into the political pandering as most that have run for office in the past. And so I do see and hope and very and somewhat optimistic about her doing some variation of an Alabama base expansion or whatever you want to call. It doesn’t matter how it what you call it. So I do see that possibly happening. I do see an appetite in the legislature. I do see my role as being more of a role of negotiating and being a hard line negotiator on compromise on other items that may lead to movement on this item particular item. And so that’s kind of where I’m shifting my politician to being more.
Dogmatic on things that I think that are as opposed as it relates to policy that we’re not going to budge on but also negotiating on things that we might not necessarily agree with but we get to a point to where if this is if we’re offering if we are offering support for certain items that we in return. These are the items that I think we will want you to consider in want to happen. And so just kind of getting in that posture is what I hoped to move which I hope to move us in. Well, I’ve noticed that you and the governor seemed to actually have a good working relationship. I mean from the time she’s been in office. In fact that if I recall actually you had a pretty decent relationship with the previous government the ousted Governor Bentley as well, even though they’re Republicans in your
You think that just to just to recap and I want to make sure I’m clear on this you’re saying that you think there may be a way for you and the Democrats using political mechanisms and negotiation and some horse trading to get the state of Alabama or get the Republicans to endorse some version of Medicaid expansion. I think so I think that I’m very optimistic about some variations of that and you think that’ll happen in this current election this this year this legislative term. I think that there will be a mechanism put in place to prepare for it. Okay, there will be it will be probably be incremental but I do think that for me the first this this Miss there’s a misunderstanding out there misperception out there about Medicaid, right?
So we have to continue to hit home on who are recipients of Medicaid.
Currently children pregnant women in the disabled are the only individuals that can receive Medicaid.
So this idea that individuals are sitting in front of their television flipping through the channels every day and not working purposely. It’s just not true. And so I think from a branding perspective in order to move the public General Public’s View and perception that Medicaid is a handout.
Not a hand up we have to do a better job of really getting out there and explaining that so that we can shift public opinion that those individuals that may be against it but also tie into it your local hospital and your community.
Has a chance they’re in financial trouble could possibly be closed down if we don’t expand Medicaid but understand that expanding Medicaid is not the magic wand. So if they’re 24 hospitals that are set to close that are in financial trouble.
It’ll save 12 them.
But the mere fact that will save them is is important because you can’t recruit industry in an area that don’t have a hospital have a vibrant education system.
It’s just it’s an in good infrastructure. It’s just a no-brainer. And so if you want your community to grow this is how it broke. If you want your community continue to the poverty rate continue to increase and people continue to move out of that community and it becomes a ghost town. Then don’t accept it or donate don’t support.
You know the way in and I said we weren’t going to get political and I’ve tried not to do that, but I got to say quite honestly as a as a progressive Democrat hearing you articulated the way you just did it just makes me think. Why didn’t we do that last election cycle? Because that you know, that’s so not about the partisan stuff. That’s about the everyday struggle that many people have and also the everyday reality that could be if if we don’t address this because you talked about hospitals closing that’s not hypothetical that’s real that’s happened Leatherman 1111 hospitals doctor practices closing. That’s not hypothetical that’s real and people don’t I don’t think people get it. They don’t
Stand that the flow of money from the fed, you know, a lot of people in this state it and I don’t have to tell you this a lot of people in this state, you know look down their nose at Federal funding and try to act as though we can we could survive without it. No, we can’t ever we can’t and you know, there’s no better example of a community that really, you know, most of it’s the largest employer for this community is the very dependent upon Federal funding so we would not be able to operate our retail stores will be impacted. I you know our entire Community the entire way of life in the in our community and so, you know those individuals that don’t think that you know, it’s not dependent upon the government to really help them and then they’re totally and they’re in another on another planet twilight zone is something no other player.
I am really glad Anthony that you joined us today state representative Anthony Daniels. He represents the 52nd District. I’m sorry 53rd District. Yeah. Yeah 53rd District here in North Alabama and is also the House Majority minority Lee. Well, I wish it was the House Majority Leader, but it he’s the House minority leader in the Alabama legislature Anthony. Thank you very much for joining us today and for your commitment to the health and well-being of all Alabamians. Thank you for having me is always good talking to you and I follow you on Facebook and really keeping to in touch with what you’re doing. So I’m just really hot very inspired that and very appreciative that you’re continuing to really do the things that you’ve done. You know, you may change venues, but you don’t the content is still the same. Thank you. I appreciate that the healthy Alabama podcast is
By enroll Alabama a project of AIDS, Alabama. It is produced in partnership with praise 90.1 FM W Jo you here on the beautiful Oakland University campus? I’m David person the host and producer until now when our theme music has I need to get that in our theme music was produced by DJ Bailey until next time be healthy.