Tag Archives: Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt transgender surgery coverage berated by Black

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt University officials say the school’s student insurance will start covering transgender-related surgeries in order to make the campus a more inclusive environment for students who previously had gone without necessary care.

Vanderbilt Vice Provost for Learning and Residential Affairs Cynthia Cyrus tells The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/1XEOLNvA ) that the change was made after a routine annual review of the university’s health care plan for students.

Vanderbilt’s plan has covered hormone therapy for transgender students for several years.

Nonprofit advocacy group Campus Pride says 71 universities across the country already offer the coverage.

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s insurance policy covers neither transgender-related surgeries nor hormone therapy.

Press release from U.S. Rep. Diane Black:

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06) responded to Vanderbilt University’s decision to add hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery to its student insurance policy. Black released the following statement:

“Let’s be honest, this decision is not about the health and wellbeing of Vanderbilt University students, it is about the political agenda of liberal university administrators,” said Congressman Diane Black. “Our institutions of higher learning exist to graduate students who are career ready and are prepared to compete in the global economy, not to play politics by providing insurance coverage of medically unnecessary procedures while raking in federal grants. With this stunt, Vanderbilt University has shown itself to be completely out of touch with the values of most Tennesseans and has surely alienated more than a few students, parents, and donors. I’m especially concerned that, by the university’s own admission, this decision was ‘not deeply debated in any way’ – showing just how little thought went in to such a far-reaching policy. For all the advanced degrees that exist among Vanderbilt University’s senior administration, there is a painfully obvious lack of commonsense.”

Blackburn criticizes Vandy Planned Parenthood polling

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., has accused Vanderbilt University of trying to advance a political agenda through the handling of a question on Planned Parenthood, reports The Tennessean.

According to the survey, Tennesseans support the state funding many of the health care services provided by Planned Parenthood. Blackburn says the poll is flawed because it doesn’t mention that abortion is also funded by the organization as part of the questioning of those surveyed.

“I am disappointed that an institute such as Vanderbilt is publishing a poll that has such a thinly veiled agenda. Vanderbilt has a responsibility to educate women, men and children about access to quality health care,” Blackburn said in a statement to The Tennessean.

“Our community health centers provide the services mentioned and many more important health care services, including dental, mental health care, and coordination of health care — many of those services are provided at no cost or low cost to Tennesseans. Vanderbilt missed an opportunity here.”

Blackburn was recently named leader of the “Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives,” a congressional panel investigating abortion providers.

The Vanderbilt Poll found at least two-thirds of the 512 people surveyed support the Tennessee state government giving Planned Parenthood funding for the following services:

Preventative care screenings, such as breast exams
HIV testing or counseling
Testing or treatment of other sexually transmitted diseases
Limited primary care, such as flu shots
Pregnancy testing
Pregnancy counseling
Birth control or contraception.

…John Geer, co-director of the poll, said some of the results “absolutely” would have been different if people had been asked about Planned Parenthood in the context of abortions.

The Vanderbilt Poll also asked a separate sample group of 501 people the same questions related to services, referencing health care organizations in general, as opposed to Planned Parenthood in particular. The results showed slightly more support for funding the same services listed above. Overall, though, support didn’t really differ too much when people were asked about a generic health care organization or Planned Parenthood specifically.

Poll: Most Tennesseans support gas tax increase

A new Vanderbilt University survey shows a majority of Tennesseans are open to a state gas-tax increase for transportation needs to a point, reports Andy Sher.

It comes as Republican Gov. Bill Haslam seeks to make a case that Tennessee’s road program…needs more money to keep up the pace. ..A number of his fellow Republicans in the General Assembly (are) balking.

…A majority of the 1,013 registered voters surveyed voiced a willingness to pay an additional 2 to 8 cents per gallon at the pump. The state gas tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1988, is now 21.4 cents per gallon.

Two out of every three poll respondents — 66 percent — said they are willing to pay an extra 2 cents per gallon at the pump. Thirty-three percent were opposed. A majority — 54 percent — still said they were willing to pay an additional eight cents per gallon while 45 percent said they weren’t.

But the majority evaporates like so much spilled fuel on a 15-cent hike. Only 46 percent said they could back that while 53 percent were against it.

Josh Clinton, a Vanderbilt political science professor and co-director of the poll, said… The survey underscores that “when you ask if they support an increase in sales tax on gasoline and don’t specify an amount, people are going to assume the increase will be high and they respond negatively…”But if you give them a tangible amount, you could get quite a bit of support for an increase.”

…Haslam said the poll results didn’t surprise him.

“I think people out there get it and get the need,” Haslam said. “And I think if you tie that to specific projects, you’d even see more positive reaction.”

The governor added, “Part of our mission right now is to complete the road plan that everyone can agree on, then hopefully, that will be encouragement to our legislators that this is something that people really do want to see happen.”

A number of Haslam’s fellow Republicans in the Legislature, including House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Tracy, have balked at doing anything in 2016.

Asked whether an 8-cent increase would help, Haslam replied, “Oh yeah. Again, we need to decide what we’re going to do, but sure, 8 cents would make a difference.”

TN Poll: Trump 29, Carson 25, Cruz 14, Rubio 12

Richard Locker has transcribed the Vanderbilt poll results for the two presidential primaries:

If Tennessee’s presidential primary elections were held today, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton would win their respective party primaries, according to the newest Vanderbilt University poll released Friday.

Among Tennessee Republican voters, the billionaire New York businessman would win a 29 percent plurality, followed by neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson at 25 percent, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 14 percent, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 12 percent, former Florida governor Jeb Bush at 6 percent and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina at 2 percent, the poll indicates.

…The Vanderbilt poll found Trump’s highest support among people who identify themselves as tea party Republicans: 33 percent of those voters favor Trump, while 21 percent said they would vote for Carson, 18 percent for Cruz, 12 percent for Rubio and 5 percent for Bush. Among non-tea party Republicans, 28 percent favored Carson, 27 percent Trump, 13 percent Rubio, 10 percent Cruz and 7 percent Bush.

Among Tennessee Democratic voters, 48 percent said they would vote for Clinton…28 percent said they favor U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, 10 percent said they don’t know yet, 3 percent favored former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, 4 percent said none of the candidates or that they wouldn’t vote, and the remainder named someone else.

The poll questioned 1,013 registered voters Nov. 11-23 and overall has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent. The poll included 495 registered voters who identified themselves as Republicans — that portion of the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 percent — and 346 who identified themselves as Democrats — and that portion has a margin of error of plus or minus 6.7 percent.

New Vandy poll: More Tennesseans fret about immigration, most open to gas tax hike

Excerpts from the news release on Vanderbilt University’s new poll of Tennesseans, released Friday:

Results from the latest Vanderbilt Poll-Tennessee show the number of voters who consider immigration a top priority nearly doubled since May – from 7 percent to 13 percent. For registered voters in the state, immigration remains the fourth highest priority, behind the economy (31 percent), education (24 percent) and health care (17 percent). But that was not the case for Tea Party members; it was the second most important issue for them (26 percent) with the economy first (30 percent). Tea Party members exhibited other differences. When asked if they felt angry at the government, 39 percent of Tea Party members said “Yes,” compared to 26 percent of Republicans. Overall, 23 percent of Tennesseans were angry. These data are in response to a new poll question about voters’ feelings toward the political system.

The Vanderbilt Poll-Tennessee went into the field Nov. 11, just two days before the Paris attacks, and ended Nov. 23. Pollsters questioned 1,013 registered voters. The survey has a percentage of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.

Religious Freedom

A large majority of Tennesseans (75 percent) believe Muslims who want to practice their religion peacefully should have the right to do so. “Tennesseans, like all Americans, strongly support religious freedom. Not even the Paris attacks changed this commitment,” Geer said.

At the same time, a sizeable majority also believe government workers should be required to enforce a law, even if it conflicts with religious or personal points of view, reflecting what the researchers call “the pragmatic side of Tennesseans.”

“We are a nation of laws,” Geer said. “Some politicians can applaud people like (Kentucky Court Clerk) Kim Davis, but citizens of this state want laws enforced.”

Presidential favorites

Asked to select their favorite Democratic candidate for president, poll respondents put Hillary Clinton ahead with 48 percent of the vote, trailed by Bernie Sanders at 28 percent. On the Republican side, Donald Trump led Ben Carson by 4 percentage points, (29 to 25 percent). Jeb Bush trailed Ted Cruz (14 percent) and Marco Rubio (12 percent) with 6 percent.

But the presidential nomination process on the Republican side remains quite fluid, according to the researchers.

Gas taxes

Voters were open to raising taxes on gasoline to fund road and bridge maintenance. A substantial majority of 66 percent said they would be willing to pay a 2-cent increase in gas tax, with only 33 percent unwilling. Even a 15-cent tax garnered 46 percent approval. The researchers suggested that this increase might be thought of as the “the gas tax threshold.”

“When you ask if they support an increase in sales tax on gasoline and don’t specify an amount, people are going to assume the increase will be high and they respond negatively,” said Josh Clinton, Abby and Jon Winkelried Professor of Political Science and co-director of the Vanderbilt Poll-Tennessee. “But if you give them a tangible amount, you could get quite a bit of support for an increase. We thought voters might respond negatively either way, so we were surprised by the results, which indicate policymakers could get quite a bit of support for even a 10-cent increase in the gas tax.”

Same sex marriage

Support for same-sex marriage has increased among Tennesseans over the last year from 23 percent to 32 percent.

Gun control

A majority of Tennessee voters said gun control laws should remain the same, while 40 percent wished it would become harder in the state to buy a gun. Just 5 percent wanted it to be easier to purchase a gun.

Right to Die

Tennesseans are open to the entreaties of right-to-die activists, with 59 percent agreeing that doctors should be allowed to help patients painlessly end their life if they have a disease that cannot be cured and are living in pain. Thirty-five percent are opposed to it.

Note: The full release is HERE.

Vanderbilt among universities getting fetal tissue research funding

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt University is one of nearly 100 research institutions to receive federal funding for fetal tissue research between 2011 and 2014 — a practice that has unleashed a furor on Capitol Hill after anti-abortion activists recently released undercover videos pertaining to such research.

The private Tennessee university received $10 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health for fetal tissue research in 2011 and 2012, most of which funded a diabetes study that won a national award for its director last year.

Anti-abortion activists’ release of undercover videos of Planned Parenthood discussing the sale of fetal tissue has spurred a backlash among some politicians on Capitol Hill and on the Republican presidential campaign trail.

University laboratories defend their research, saying tissue that would otherwise be thrown out has played a vital role in lifesaving medical advances and holds great potential for further breakthroughs.

Fetal cells are considered ideal because they divide rapidly, adapt to new environments easily and are less susceptible to rejection than adult cells when transplanted.

The Associated Press reported this week that 97 research institutions — mostly universities and hospitals — received a total of $280 million in federal grants for fetal tissue research from the National Institutes of Health between 2011 and 2014.

Vanderbilt Poll says 64% back Insure Tennessee; Ramsey dismisses finding

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — An overwhelming majority of Tennesseans support Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s failed proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income residents, according to a new Vanderbilt University poll released Wednesday.

The results also show that about two in three voters think the state Legislature does not spend enough time on issues they care about. Still, the General Assembly’s 55 percent popularity rating remained unchanged from the university’s last poll in November.

Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal was defeated twice in Senate committees during the recently concluded legislative session. But the poll of 1,001 registered voters finds that 78 percent want the full Legislature to vote on the proposal. Sixty-four percent said they support Insure Tennessee, while 19 percent said they oppose it.

The poll also suggests that Haslam will face a tough path in trying to build support for a gas tax increase in Tennessee. Just 25 percent said they support increasing the tax for the first time in 25 years. Forty-six percent said they would oppose an increase.

Asked later about the poll, Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville jokingly asked his aides “Did you get that out of the trashcan yet?”

“All I know is I want to try to create the best policy for the state of Tennessee, and I’m not going to do it literally on polling,” Ramsey said.

“On both of these issues, whether it’s Insure Tennessee or on the gasoline tax, all of us as legislators usually have more information that the general public,” he said.
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TN police, college officials holding two-day meeting on campus sexual assault

Police officers, counselors and educators from 76 public and private colleges across the state will descend on Tennessee State University in Nashville on Tuesday for a two-day summit on campus sexual assault, reports the News Sentinel.

Combining their efforts will allow the schools to learn from each other while also attracting national speakers and sharing the event’s roughly $40,000 costs, leaders from each of the state’s major higher education systems said last week.

“We believe students have every right to expect to be safe on our campus,” UT President Joe DiPietro said Thursday in a conference call with reporters. “We want to do everything we can to be there and support our students when they need us most.”

More than 400 higher-education staffers are expected to turn out for training on issues like defining consent, student disciplinary hearings, complying with changing federal laws and sexual assault prevention.

The event, officially titled the Tennessee Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Summit, comes on the heels of revisions to federal standards and laws on how schools should respond to and report assaults.

At the same time, campuses around the country have come under fire for mishandling assault cases. The U.S. Department is currently investigating nearly 100 schools, including Yale, Princeton and the University of North Carolina, for violations of Title IX, the gender equality statute governing schools that receive federal funding.

The trial of two Vanderbilt University football players accused of raping an unconscious student in a dorm room continues this week in a courthouse three miles from the Tennessee State campus.

In Knoxville, the district attorney’s office is still considering whether to charge two former UT football players accused of raping a fellow student. This week’s event does not specifically include sessions on athletes and sexual assault, but that would not prevent participants from discussing the topic, DiPietro said.

Vanderbilt Poll finds most Tennesseans support Medicaid expansion, like Haslam

News release from Vanderbilt University:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Though still unconvinced of the overall merits of the Affordable Care Act, registered voters in Tennessee continue to say they favor accepting federal dollars to expand the state Medicaid program.

Fifty-six percent of those asked by the Vanderbilt Poll Nov.10-20 said they strongly or somewhat support expanding Medicaid to provide medical care for people living on low incomes. This support is not new, since a majority of the public was also supportive of Medicaid expansion a year ago in the December 2013 Vanderbilt poll.

Gov. Bill Haslam has been negotiating with federal officials about expanding Medicaid, despite resistance from Republicans in the state legislature who have stated they will not support any such plan. Legislation was enacted this year requiring the governor to get approval from the General Assembly on any Medicaid expansion plan.

The ACA itself continues to be unpopular among Tennessee voters, but nearly one-third of registered voters remain unconvinced one way or the other. Forty-four percent of registered voters say they generally feel unfavorable to it. Twenty percent felt generally favorable toward it, but 35 percent said they haven’t heard enough about it to form an opinion.

The Vanderbilt Poll is conducted just prior and then after each session of the Tennessee General Assembly, in order to gauge how closely the concerns of citizens align with their representatives in Nashville. The November 2014 poll surveyed 949 registered voters.
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Tennesseans like the ‘Tennessee Promise’ idea of free college tuition, poll shows

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A majority of Tennessee voters support Gov. Bill Haslam’s program to cover a full ride at two-year colleges for any high school graduate, as well as higher education standards, according to the latest Vanderbilt University poll released Wednesday.

“It speaks to the importance of education,” said Josh Clinton, professor of political science and co-director of the poll, which surveyed 1,245 registered voters between April 28 and May 14.

Vanderbilt conducts its poll twice yearly, bookending the legislative session in an attempt to determine how closely lawmakers’ actions mirror voter attitudes and priorities.

According to the poll, 86 percent of voters support Haslam’s free tuition plan, and 58 percent are for the Common Core education standards, which are intended to provide students with the critical thinking, problem solving and writing skills needed for college and the workforce.
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