Pharmacy technician sees Obamacare working every day

obamacare-loveIf you want to see the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at work, stand behind a pharmacy counter. That’s what Desirae Clayborn does, and she’s seen nothing but positive experiences.

Clayborn is a pharmacy technician and is studying to be a pharmacist. She admits that when the ACA was first being introduced, customers were “freaking out” despite the pharmacy’s efforts to educate them.

I haven’t noticed anything negative about people changing their insurance plans. The medications people were taking before are still covered, at close to the same amount or even less. Some people come in expecting to pay and find there’s no co-pay. Everyone seems incredibly satisfied with how their plans are working.

President Obama To Create His Largest National Monument So Far

OrganMountainsOn Wednesday, President Obama created his second national monument of the year, designating the Organ Mountains in New Mexico a protected area.

The Organ Mountains, located at the southern end of New Mexico, will be the 11th and largest national monument of Obama’s presidency. The White House says that the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument will create $7.4 million in new annual economic activity in the region, a finding that first appeared in a 2013 report. That report also found the monument would double the number of outdoor recreation and tourism jobs in the region and contribute $560,000 in state and local tax revenue.

The monument encompasses a total of 496,000 acres, land which contains Native American petroglyphs in its canyons and is one of the most botanically diverse mountain ranges in New Mexico, home to about 870 vascular (i.e. plants with roots, stems, and leaves) plant species and a recorded 210 species of birds. The monument’s designation will “preserve the prehistoric, historic and scientific values of the area for the benefit of all Americans,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. Cattle ranchers who grazed the land before it was designated a monument will still be able to graze there — a rule that’s typical of new monuments — but all drilling and fracking will be prohibited. The area may have some mineral resources, yet new mining is not allowed in areas designated as national monuments.

Insurers give $1.5B in rebates under O-Care

hcrInsurance companies returned over $1.5 billion in rebates to consumers between 2011 and 2012, according to a report issued on Tuesday.

The reason is an ObamaCare requirement meant to force companies to spend a higher proportion of premiums on medical costs or quality improvements.

The new law states that 80-85 percent of premiums must be used by companies to pay for treatment and medical costs. Companies that fail to meet that ratio must pay rebates.

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How to Save Our Schools: The Arts and Music are No Fairytale

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce upon a time, there was a girl named Kechelle who was raised by her aunt and uncle in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington D.C. Kechelle was smart as a whip but withdrawn in class and she struggled at a school that felt chaotic and overwhelming. The school she attended was Savoy Elementary, which was, for many years, one of the lowest-performing schools in the District.

One day, when Kechelle was in third grade, a new principal began investing in an arts program at her school. He filled the halls with color and life and hired artists to teach dance and music every morning. Something within Kechelle awakened. She began to look forward to going to school. She auditioned for a new performing group, which required good grades and school attendance to participate, and began rehearsing after school and on weekends. In just one year, Kechelle was transformed; she was engaged in school and talkative in all her classes. To see her perform is to witness a young person who has claimed her place in the world and who will never let anyone silence her again.

The End? No. Our tale does not end there, because this story is not hers alone. This is also the story of Kechelle’s school and others like it. Savoy is a place where educators are using the arts as a tool to help turnaround low-performing schools and improve outcomes for all students – not just the stars who light up the stage.

Towson University Debate Team Becomes 1st Black Female Pair to win CEDA National Championship

Towson University Debate Team members Ameena Ruffin ‘15 and Korey Johnson ’16 made history at the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) National Championship in late March.

“Ruffin and Johnson are the first African-American women’s team to win a national tournament,” said Mike Davis, president of the Cross Examination Debate Association. In a sense, it’s a double record. “No [individual] African-American woman has ever won our tournament before,” Davis confirmed.

The Towson team beat Oklahoma in the final round to claim the national title. The competition featured teams from elite schools including Harvard, Trinity, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, Wayne State, Cal State Fullerton, Florida, Bard College, Pepperdine, Sacramento State, Vanderbilt, NYU and others.

Ruffin and Johnson also earned a first-round bid to the 2014 National Debate Tournament, an invitation-only national championship for collegiate policy debate in the United States. The distinction designated them as one of the top 16 teams in the country.

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EPA takes on three villains at once: Pollution, climate change, and racism

smokestack2President Obama’s first Environmental Protection Agency chief, Lisa Jackson, promoted environmental justice to top priority status in the agency’s overall mission in 2009. The resulting strategy, which the EPA began rolling out in March, is called Plan EJ 2014, and its primary goal is to end the culture of entitlement among polluters that dump toxic byproducts into the air, soil, and water of marginalized communities.

Why is this a big deal?

  1. Because if you believe that the health and lives of people of color are no less precious than white people’s, this plan helps bring environmental laws in harmony with those values.
  2. If you think that clean air is Don Sterling (I like black people. I feed them with oxygen and give them wind. I just don’t want them breathing me.), then you want to know who the Adam Silver is who can commission a smackdown.
  3. Because civil rights protections in America have been taking a beating lately. Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, we now have weakened voting rights protections, weakened affirmative actionpolicies, and we were this close to losing valuable housing discrimination protections (which would have had negative implications for environmentalists).

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For Diabetics, Health Risks Fall Sharply

doctor_patientFederal researchers on Wednesday reported the first broad national picture of progress against some of the most devastating complications of diabetes, which affects millions of Americans, finding that rates of heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and amputations fell sharply over the past two decades.

The biggest declines were in the rates of heart attacks and deaths from high blood sugar, which dropped by more than 60 percent from 1990 to 2010, the period studied. While researchers had had patchy indications that outcomes were improving for diabetic patients in recent years, the study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, documents startling gains.

“This is the first really credible, reliable data that demonstrates that all of the efforts at reducing risk have paid off,” said Dr. David M. Nathan, director of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, who was not involved in the study. “Given that diabetes is the chronic epidemic of this millennium, this is a very important finding.”

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