Recently in State and Local Category
Sep 05 2013Before You Head to Purellistan, Head to the Marketplace
"America's uninsured, take personal responsibility. If you can't afford #insurance, move some place without bacteria." --@ColbertReport, 8:03pm on Sun, Sep 01, 2013.
Despite a gigantic amount of policy, political, and media attention over the past several years, Kaiser Family Foundation reports that half the public (51%) say they don't know enough about the Affordable Care Act to understand how it will impact them and their family. This is a particular shame when it comes to young adults, many of whom say they want health insurance but are concerned about how to pay for it.
The good news according to a recent Commonwealth Fund survey is that more young adults are now aware of, and benefiting from, the Obamacare provision allowing them to stay on their parents' insurance. More good news: many women with insurance are now able to get a birth control method that works best for them without cost being a barrier.
But, not everyone has insurance (young adults aged 19-34 make up 40% of the uninsured), and not everyone knows how to get it. For example, Commonwealth also found only 27% of 19 to 29 year olds are aware of the new health insurance marketplaces (or exchanges) where they could get insurance.
With enrollment in the health insurance marketplaces opening up on October 1st, it's time to pay attention folks. There are many creative efforts underway to help educate consumers about how all this will work.
Bedsider is doing its part to help. Check out this new article that breaks down as simply as possible (given that this is pretty complex stuff) how the Affordable Care Act can help people who don't currently have insurance get access to birth control, not to mention other important health care. Then share it with a friend or two, or with anyone who is in touch with young adults.
No, it isn't all easy or simple--important things rarely are. Yes, it is better in some states than others. But, give it your best shot and take responsibility to get informed. Believe me, that beats Stephen Colbert's advice.
Aug 19 2013Making it Harder for Teens to Be Responsible
$54? $54? This was my friend Suzanah, dumbstruck, at the pharmacy last week.
Our small, local Planned Parenthood closed its doors in June, having struggled valiantly to stay open despite year after year of budget cuts. Losing this Planned Parenthood leaves thousands of teens and adults with low incomes without a place to get contraception and STD testing and treatment. It is a huge, and inevitable, loss as state and federal funding are cut. The loss is most acute for teens because the Title X-funded Planned Parenthood that closed was the only place in our town where they could go to confidentially seek out birth control, save buying condoms at the grocery store. Adults with low enough incomes might be able to receive services at our community clinic (which is not funded by Title X), but a teen must have a parent or guardian along to apply at that clinic.
Suzanah was able to get the birth control patch at our Planned Parenthood for free. She also appreciated the kindness and professionalism with which she was always treated at Planned Parenthood. Suzanah went to the clinic during its last week, and was told that they would write a prescription for her to take to the pharmacy to get next month's patches. When she arrived at the pharmacy, she was charged a $54 co-pay for the item that she used to get for free, because Planned Parenthood is not a part of her health insurance network. For a teenager who goes to school full-time and works about 12 hours a week, this was a pricey leap.
Suzanah was lucky. She was able to schedule a visit to her mom's gynecologist and get a new prescription for the patch. Many of her friends aren't so lucky; either they are hesitant to talk to their parents about birth control* or their parents do not have health insurance coverage. With cuts to the Title X Family Planning Program, and the subsequent closure of our local Planned Parenthood, teens find themselves limited to condoms for birth control and without a place to get confidentially tested and treated for STDs.
As a society, we encourage teens to act responsibly, but we are cutting off avenues through which they can do so. We have seen a tremendous reduction in teen pregnancy rates during the last two decades, but I wonder if the political choices that are being made now will wipe out some of that progress?
*NOTE: For some young people on their parents' health insurance, it may be possible to call their insurance company to request that their health care expenditures be kept private.
"Closed" image by Khairil Zhafri.
Jul 25 2013Check Out Our New Foster Care Resource!
When determining the best way to support youth to prevent pregnancy, one of the best starting points is to ask the youth themselves. Last year, the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential (GCAPP) commissioned Messages of Empowerment (TEAM-MOE) to lead an interview project of youth in foster care to hear their thoughts and ideas on teen pregnancy, sex ed, and prevention methods. One of the unique aspects of the effort is that TEAM-MOE trained current and former youth in foster care to interview their peers and essentially be the researchers in the field. Thirty-nine youth in care participated in the interviews and shared their opinions about life in foster care, risk factors they believe youth in care face when it comes to teen pregnancy, and the kinds of support and services they think would help them prevent a pregnancy at this point in their lives.
While GCAPP's findings are specific to youth in care in Georgia, the opinions and feedback from these youth mirror national findings. This is why The National Campaign and GCAPP partnered to create the new publication Help Me to Succeed: A Guide for Supporting Youth in Foster Care to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Throughout the resource are direct quotes from GCAPP's youth participants to provide further insight and guidance to adults on ways they can best support the youth in their lives to prevent pregnancy.
To order free copies of the publication, visit The National Campaign's store. And just to give you a little taste, I'll leave you with a quote from a youth in foster care.
"I would say it's going to take time. It's going to take more than one organization. I think it's got to be an effort where everybody has to be on the same page. And you have to want to help....Don't come as if you're going to get something out of it, because then it's not going to be right. Show that you're actually trying to help us."
Jul 03 2013Introducing the latest box-office hit from our partners: Keep It Simple
"Keep It Simple," a motion graphic, aka short animated movie, is a cool new resource for linking teens to sexual health services. It provides an overview of birth control methods and tells teens how to access them--in an entertaining and eye catching format. The animation--which is also available in Spanish--is a great tool that can be shared with teens and educators alike. The goal of the film is to improve awareness of birth control methods available to teens, and promote linkage to care.
The animation was developed "for teens by teens" in collaboration with The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy's DC Teen Advisory group, and with leadership from CAI and Healthy Teen Network.
The film is meant to accompany a 45-minute lesson plan that reinforces its key messages and directs teens to youth friendly clinical providers in their area. The highly customizable lesson plan will be released soon. The lesson can be delivered in a variety of settings and the film can be shared online as a stand-alone product.
May 28 2013The PPSAE Act: Important Legislation--and a Great Reminder About Prevention
Ahh Spring. Birds chirping, flowers blooming, and people sneezing and complaining about allergies. It's also that time of year when high school students are busy studying for exams and dreaming of moving up a grade and inching that much closer to being seniors. Seniors are reveling in the prospect of finally graduating from high school and spending a care-free summer with friends before going off to college and being on their own, more or less. At least that's how it's supposed to work.
But what about pregnant and parenting students? What's in store for them and their children? How will they juggle schoolwork with parenting responsibilities? What education and job prospects will they have?
Providing support for pregnant and parenting students can go a long way toward improving their chances of graduating from high school. The Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education (PPSAE) Act of 2013--S. 870 introduced by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) along with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI); and H.R. 1845 introduced by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA)--is a bold step forward in this direction. This legislation would provide grants to state education agencies and competitive sub-grants from states to local educational agencies to provide academic and support services. It would remove some of the barriers pregnant and parenting students encounter when trying to continue their education by providing services, such as academic counseling, child care, and transportation assistance. It would also provide referrals for health and social services, including family planning services that will help teens prevent a subsequent unplanned pregnancy and improve the lives of their children.
The PPSAE is important and much needed legislation--and it's a reminder that, given the close association between teen pregnancy and educational attainment, we also need to be thinking about how we can help teens avoid too-early pregnancy/parenthood in the first place. As noted in PPSAE, fully 30 percent of teen girls who have dropped out of school cite pregnancy or parenthood as a key reason. Only about half (51 percent) of teen mothers earned a high school diploma by age 22 compared to 89 percent who did not have a teen birth. Less than two percent of young teen mothers attain a college degree by age 30. Public opinion research shows that eighty-six percent of teens and 83 percent of adults agree that reducing teen pregnancy is a very effective way to reduce the high school dropout rate and improve academic achievement.