“It’s like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you’re walking down the street minding your own business and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares a little too long, and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin.” – Michelle Obama
Like a tsunami, the highs and lows of the past rush over visitors to the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. It isn’t so much that the information is news to us, but we aren’t used to being hit with so much of it at once.
As one misty-eyed woman visitor put it, “They told it all”—from Black Power to #BlackLivesMatter.
They told the good, the bad, and the downright ugly, but it’s an inspiring kind of sensory overload that makes you want to come back for more. The curators start the story below ground, evoking the feeling of being in the bowels of slave ships that stole our ancestors from Africa. Through a glass wall of a descending elevator, time travels in reverse as the years roll back to the 1400s.
WASHINGTON, DC – Jonathan Gold, Press Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the following statement on 2017 North Carolina health insurance rate changes.
“Consumers in North Carolina will continue to have affordable Marketplace options next year. Among Marketplace consumers, most will be able to select a plan for less than $75 per month. Headline rate changes do not reflect what these consumers actually pay because tax credits reduce the cost of coverage below the sticker price and shopping helps consumers find the best deal. Meanwhile, for people in North Carolina with employer coverage, premiums have grown at some of the slowest rates on record since the Affordable Care Act was enacted. All North Carolina consumers, no matter where they get their coverage, are benefiting from ACA protections like no more exclusions for preexisting conditions, no annual limits on coverage, and no cost sharing for preventive services.”
Since the Affordable Care Act became law, health care prices have risen at the lowest rate in 50 years. Premiums for the 150 million Americans with employer-sponsored insurance have grown at some of theslowest rates on record. And, a recent analysis finds that 82% of Marketplace consumers in North Carolina would be able to purchase coverage for less than $75 per month, even if all rates went up double digits.
The Health Insurance Marketplace is designed for affordability. Two important features of the Marketplace protect North Carolina consumers from the impact of rate increases.
Tax credits go up along with premiums. Tax credits are designed to protect consumers from rate increases and keep coverage affordable, increasing by whatever amount the cost of the second-lowest-cost silver, or benchmark plan increases. So if all premiums in North Carolina go up by similar amounts, 91 percent of consumers will not necessarily have to pay more, since tax credits will increase in parallel. Last year, despite headlines projecting double-digit rate increases, the average premium increased just $4 per month for HealthCare.gov consumers with tax credits, and 7 out of 10 Marketplace consumers could purchase 2016 coverage for less than $75 per month. Even if premiums and tax credits rise, the overall cost of the ACA is still below CBO’s original projections. CBO’s recent projections estimate that for 2019 coverage, ACA coverage will cost $49 billion less than originally predicted.
Consumers can shop around to find the best plan. In 2016, consumers could choose among an average of 10 plans per issuer. Variations in provider network and drug formulary makeup from plan to plan can offer consumers meaningful choice. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, it was almost impossible to shop around for health insurance. Not only were many Americans barred from coverage due to pre-existing conditions, but those who did have insurance through the individual market were often trapped in a plan, since people with even small health problems could be denied coverage or charged an exorbitant price if they tried to switch plans. Today, any Marketplace consumer can purchase any plan during open enrollment, and Marketplaces let consumers compare prices, plan designs, and networks to find the best choice for them. Last year, 43 percent of returning North Carolina HealthCare.gov consumers switched plans. They saved an average of $48 per month.Current Marketplace rates are well below initial Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections.
- Independent researchers recently calculated that 2016 Marketplace rates are anywhere between12 percent and 20 percent below what CBO initially predicted.
- 2017 Marketplace rate increases are subject to a number of predictable upward pressures that will dissipate next year.
- The end of the ACA’s temporary reinsurance program in 2016 puts upward pressure on 2017 rate increases that won’t exist for 2018 and beyond.
- Evidence suggests that some issuers priced below cost for 2014, reflecting the uncertainties of a new market and a desire to offer strongly competitive initial rates. With two full years of experience, many issuers are making one-time adjustments this year to bring premiums in line with observed costs.
- CBO’s projections show that the law is working to cover the uninsured, while costing less than expected. Recent estimates find that the law’s coverage provisions will cost 28 percent less in 2019 than in CBO’s original projections.
Medicaid expansion lowers Marketplace premiums by 7 percent.
- In addition to limiting access to coverage for millions of Americans, the decision not to expand Medicaid also has costs for Marketplace consumers, who pay significantly higher premiums than they would if the coverage provisions of the ACA were working together in their state as intended.
- Economic analysis finds that Medicaid expansion brings down Marketplace rates by 7 percent, even after controlling for differences across states in demographic characteristics, pre-ACA uninsured rates, health care costs, and state policy decisions.
Marketplace and non-Marketplace consumers are benefiting from slow health care cost growth since the enactment of the ACA.
- Since 2010, per-enrollee costs in both public and private health insurance have grown moreslowly than in previous decades – contributing to lower-than-expected costs in the Marketplace.
- Ten times as many people are covered by employers as purchase insurance in the Marketplace and the average premium for families with employer-sponsored health plans grew just 3.4 percent in 2016, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust survey, extending a period of unusually slow growth since 2010.
- The White House Council of Economic Advisers calculates that the average family premium in North Carolina was $2,400 lower in 2015 than if premiums had grown at the same rate as the pre-ACA decade.
- Part of the progress in slowing cost growth is the Administration’s work to develop new,innovative ways of paying for care that align payment with improved outcomes which can help sustain and build on the slowdown in health care costs
- This benefits Marketplace consumers as well. CBO has consistently predicted that Marketplace rates would grow faster than employer premiums for the first few years, but then grow at the same pace as employer coverage.
- That means Marketplace consumers will also benefit if slow health care cost growth can be sustained and the Marketplace advances in its stability and reaches a steady state.
The Marketplace is providing 545,354 North Carolina consumers with coverage they value, because it improves their access to care and financial security.
- Nearly 4 out of 5 Marketplace consumers are very or somewhat satisfied with their health insurance. Importantly, they are just as satisfied with their coverage as people with employer plans.
- Marketplace consumers are accessing primary, specialist, and other care they need at rates similar to people with employer coverage and far higher than the uninsured, thanks in part tomoderate cost sharing.
- The share of families struggling to pay medical bills fell for all income groups between 2013 and 2015, and fell the most for the moderate-income families most likely to have gained coverage through the Marketplace.
- ·Only 11.2 percent of people in North Carolina went uninsured in 2015, new Census data show, down from 16.8 percent in 2010. That dramatic drop means 552,000 more North Carolinians had coverage in 2015.
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Know the Signs
Domestic violence is often more than just physical abuse. It encompasses sexual, emotional, economic and psychological violence. Initially, identifying the signs of an abusive relationship can be difficult, especially if the abuser uses subtle tactics to gain power and control. It is very common for survivors to recognize the beginning of the abuse as the first time the abusers hit them, but really the cycle of violence may have started early on in the relationship. Perpetrators tend to be charming and very convincing when exerting power and control tactics. However, understanding common occurrences or patterns in an unhealthy relationship and being able to begin an informed conversation is a major step to healing and helping others to join in understanding why and how domestic violence occurs.
Have you ever walked into a room and forgot what you went in there for? Perhaps you lost your train of thought mid conversation after being distracted by a noise. Maybe you forgot a name or a number or to buy milk. We’re human! We forget things. However, the more we multitask, the less we focus and the verdict is out on how this affects our brains long term.
So how do we strengthen our brains? Dr. Sanam Hafeez PsyD a New York City based licensed neuropsychologist and teaching faculty member at the prestigious Columbia University Teacher’s College, shares how we can exercise our minds and master our memory.
How do brain activities play a role in strengthening the brain?
Dr. Hafeez explains that just like physical exercise, brain exercises strengthen and keep the mind agile and active. “You have a cognitive reserve, a finite amount of memory, problem solving and visual motor even verbal reasoning skills that declines over time. The more you engage your brain, the longer you can hold on to your cognitive reserve,” explains Dr. Hafeez.
What are some brain-boosting activities someone could do before work?
There are a lot of activities one can do to boost your brain. Research shows that any stimulating activity will “boost” circulation and activate areas of the brain. According to Dr. Hafeez things like writing with your left hand, trying to remember phone numbers, doing mental math calculations, the daily crossword, or looking up a new word in the dictionary on a daily basis, helps your mind stretch in ways you can’t see but certainly feel. “The frustration that you feel when doing something that’s mentally taxing is when you know your brain is getting a workout. It’s good for you,” she says.
How do brain-boosting exercises help when it comes to work life?
There are a lot of websites and computer generated programs that offer memory training and visual spatial exercises. Dr. Hafeez suggests looking for puzzles, numerical sequences, and recall activities that can help boost processing speed, attention and memory. Just like your body, the more you do, the more your brain can stretch and accommodate.
How does doing these exercises before work enhance our performance?
“Doing something stimulating and challenging, before work, gets your brain geared up for the day. If you run two miles in the morning, walking seems like a stroll. Similarly, if you perform math calculations as you’re driving or insist on spelling words backwards for the fun of it will make the stuff you do at work every day seem like a breeze. It’ll make you more aware and vigilant not to mention focused and almost raring to keep moving from one task to the next,” Dr. Hafeez explains.
Can it enhance our performance in other areas of our lives? If so, which areas and why/how?
Mental health practitioners agree that over time, brain boosters such as learning a new language, a sport, a musical instrument, or painting, sewing, arts and crafts, boost the brain in bigger, more long-term ways. “It may even reduce or delay the onset on Alzheimer’s and other mental decline, again by strengthening the cognitive reserve. Brain exercises are good for one’s overall daily health and may actually protect one from more serious ailments. Daily smaller brain boosters can help with mental agility, daily memory, an active work and even social life, by helping increase attention, focus and creative, problem solving skills,” adds Dr. Hafeez.
About Dr. Sanam Hafeez:
Dr. Sanam Hafeez PsyD is an NYC based licensed neuropsychologist. She is a teaching faculty member at the prestigious Columbia University Teacher’s College and the founder and clinical director of the Comprehend the Mind Institutes in Manhattan and Queens. She was a long time child school psychologist. She specializes in providing neuropsychological, educational and developmental evaluations to both adults and children in her practice. She works with individuals who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), learning disabilities, autism, attention and memory problems, trauma and brain injury, abuse, childhood development and psychopathology (bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, etc…) In addition, Dr. Hafeez serves as a medical expert for various news outlets and programs, and as an expert witness providing full evaluations and witness testimony to law firms and courts. Connect with her via twitter @comprehendMindor at www.comprehendthemind.com
North Carolina-based photographer Jenny Warburg was on the floor of the Democratic National Convention this week and captured these images from the historic event nominating Hillary Clinton as the first female candidate from a major party. Continue reading
“While You’re Away” – pet sitting and home care with Diane Areno
After leaving corporate America I decided to pursue work that brings me joy and great pleasure. I connect well to the pets I’ve cared for and love to treat them as if they were my own. With While You’re Away you no longer have to make the decision to board your dog(s), cat(s), or other of your dear animal companions when you are away from home.
I’ll stay overnight ($55.00 per night within 10 miles of area code 28805 , or $65.00 per night outside 10 miles of area code 28805) I will do day and/or evening visits for $20.00 each visit for up to two pets ($10.00/visit for each additional animal over two). I consider a visit to be 30 – 45 minutes spent walking, playing with and relating to your pets as they are willing.
The pets I’m used to are, of course, dogs and cats, but if you have other critters that are out of the norm let me know and we’ll talk (nothing venomous or dangerous please).
I’m also ready to do housekeeping chores including taking out the trash, collecting your mail and paper or watering your plants and small garden spaces for no additional charge while I’m with your pets! For more time-consuming tasks, again, let’s talk.
References provided upon request.
Call or write to reserve your dates; Diane Areno email@example.com or 828.216.2084 Website: www.sheville.org/pethomecare
My Sistah Taught Me That (MSTMT) is a young girl’s developmental program designed to encourage, inspire, educate, and empower young girls ages 11-19 with a special focus on girls growing up in single parent homes without their father. This program was created so young ladies in Buncombe County and surrounding areas in Western North Carolina may have the chance to be exposed to professional leaders in our community who are dedicated to providing opportunities, open dialogue, and exposure to things they wouldn’t routinely do, with the intent of helping them grow and mature.
In its 35th year of existence, the Farming Systems Trial (FST) at Rodale Institute continues to demonstrate, through scientific research data, that organic farming is superior to conventional systems with regard to building, maintaining and replenishing the health of the soil. This is the key to regenerative agriculture as it provides the foundation for its present and future growth.
FST is America’s longest running, side-by-side comparison of organic and chemical agriculture. It was established in 1981 to study what happens to soil health and agricultural productivity when transitioning from conventional to organic agriculture. Organic agriculture practices result in higher soil organic matter (SOM) contents and, in turn, higher nutrient- and water-supplying potential to crops. Read full report!
Last weekend, the Army Corps of Engineers announced they will halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through Standing Rock Sioux tribal land and look for alternative routes. The decision, which came after months of protest by thousands of Native people and supporters, will at least temporarily protect the tribe’s sacred ground and clean water supply. Continue reading
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Morning sickness does not have a stellar reputation. You’d be hard-pressed to find a woman who recalls nausea or vomiting during pregnancy (morning sickness) with fondness. Yet a new study finds that there may be an “upside” to these symptoms: a lower risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.
Researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD) studied a group of approximately 800 women, all of whom had experienced at least one or two prior pregnancy losses, and found that those who experienced nausea (with or without vomiting) had fewer pregnancy losses. Continue reading
This fall, WWD-F is developing some exciting programs at its Hillcrest Resource Center.There will be some practical workshops and classes for the residents, including a course in soap making, a doula training for residents, and GED tutoring classes. We have also partnered with the Manna Food Bank to run a monthly food pop-up for the community that provides fresh produce and other grocery items to families in need.
The HRC is also expanding its Get Fit Hillcrest initiative by offering a variety of workshops and opportunities for residents to get serious about their health through diet and exercise. And new on the horizon is the Hillcrest Youth Initiative, a week-long after-school program for middle school youth.
WNC Birth Center is the first of its kind in our region to provide comprehensive primary and preventive care from adolescence through menopause and beyond to women seeking high-quality, personalized healthcare in a homelike environment. Complete maternity care, from pregnancy planning through childbirth, postpartum and breastfeeding, is an important component of our services and is available to all pregnant women with a low-risk pregnancy.
WNC Birth Center believes:
*Compassionate care for women of all ages is beneficial to the family and society
*Birth is a normal process that is enhanced by a safe, familiar and relaxing environment
*Education, knowledge and evidence-based practices form the foundation of optimal health
*Family participation is an important aspect of quality patient care
*Breastmilk is the optimal food for babies
*Raising awareness about midwifery, normal birth and birth center care is one of our priorities
*Education of medical residents and midwifery students results in better healthcare for many who never enter our birth center
*Everyone deserves respect regardless of age, race, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation or marital status
*All women have the right to quality healthcare and the unique services offered at our center.
For more information visit our website WNC Birth Center
*WNC Birth Center is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
Photo credit: Seana Berglund at Babymoon Birth Services
Recently, I was at a baby shower. I overheard a mother of two teenagers relay the story of her many postpartum surprises to a young woman with no children who wondered out loud what kinds of changes happen to a woman’s body after giving birth. One of the shocks the older mother shared included problems with urinary incontinence that followed her pregnancies and never entirely went away. It may not have been typical party conversation, but as more women dig past their embarrassment to share their experiences with urinary incontinence and other pelvic floor disorders, we chip away at the stigma that prevents women of all ages from seeking help. Continue reading
You and your best friend are free to run, swim and play at Barkwells, where more than 8 acres of fenced meadows and a pond give you lots of room to roam in a safe, secure environment.
Located in the heart of the beautiful western North Carolina mountains, these eight vacation rentals have all the comforts of home, along with special luxuries for you and your people.
You can run your owner all over our meadows and into the pond. You can run (better have them drive you) to Asheville, Hendersonville, Brevard, the Biltmore estate or the Blue Ridge Parkway in just 20 minutes. Tell your folks you want to vacation near Asheville, where you can drink in the mountain air, visit the Biltmore Estate, go hiking and see waterfalls in the Pisgah National Forest and Dupont State Forest, and watch them eat themselves silly at one of the pet-friendly, fabulous independent restaurants in the area. Visit us online at Barkwells. Where you and your best friend are free.
WMC SheSource Experts for Journalists and Media
Women’s Media Center’s SheSource database of women experts is the go-to resource for journalists, bookers, and producers seeking women experts to appear on TV and to quote in print and online media. When you need an expert perspective or a source on the leading issues of the day, come to WMC SheSource and we will connect you to leading experts from every field. Click for SheSource experts
Why do we need WMC SheSource?
‘The sad fact is, gender inequality is so deeply ingrained in our culture, most people don’t realize there’s a problem….No major (issue) can be approached effectively without including the needs, views, and talents of the other half of the population …. We are all responsible for changing the conversation. Not tomorrow, but right now.’
– Jane Fonda, Women’s Media Center co-founder
Transforming Hate is a project comprised of folded origami cranes, photographs, installations, artist books, other image-text narratives, and workshops with local community organizations. In this work, historical elements are used as a framing device to construct the evolution of our shared identity… Origami cranes were folded from pages of white supremacist books.
Women in the World 2012: Meryl Streep’s Tribute to Hillary Clinton – It launched with the sound of a young girl’s voice, calling a hotline for women forced into marriage, her words spanning across the giant stage at New York’s Lincoln Center. The girl was British, but she’d overheard her parents talking about shipping her off to Pakistan—for a forced marriage. “Put a spoon in your underwear,” we hear a woman tell her. The audience is puzzled. “When you go through airport security,” the woman continues, “the alarm will sound, and you can tell the guard your story.”
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