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Ed. note: This was originally published on the HHS.gov Blog. See the original post at http://www.hhs.gov/blog/2014/11/13/getting-ready-open-enrollment.html.
With just two days to go until the start of Open Enrollment, I want to share with you what we've been doing at the Department of Health and Human Services to expand access to quality, affordable coverage to more people and to lay the groundwork for a successful Open Enrollment.
First, we're committed to improving the consumer experience. We've listened to feedback and have put that learning into practice. Most consumers who come back to HealthCare.gov to renew their coverage will find about 90% of their application is pre-populated, based on answers from last year. Consumers who are renewing coverage, as well as consumers shopping for coverage for the first time, will have 25% more options to choose from on average. That means consumers can shop and find a more affordable plan that better meets their needs. And we've added 1,000 representatives to our 24-hour call center to answer questions and help consumers get and stay covered.
We also understand that it's our job to protect consumers' security and we take that responsibility seriously. We've tested and retested our systems, putting ourselves through some of the industry's most stringent protocols to ensure we're taking the steps necessary to safeguard consumers' personal information. We've enhanced our cybersecurity team with experts from the public and private sector to raise the bar on security. And we'll be focused every day on what more we can do to improve our ability to respond to cybersecurity events quickly and effectively if needed.
If you signed up for Marketplace coverage during last Open Enrollment: we encourage you to come back to HealthCare.gov, reach out to the call center, or meet with an in-person assister to make sure you choose the plan that's right for you and get the best financial help available.
Starting November 15, if you're renewing your coverage, you should log into your account to make sure your household income and other information is up-to-date, compare your current plan with other plans available in your area, select the plan that best meets your needs and budget, and choose a plan by December 15 for coverage starting January 1.
If you're shopping for coverage for the first time, Open Enrollment runs from November 15, to February 15. Your coverage can start as soon as January 1 if you sign up by December 15.
All consumers should visit HealthCare.gov or reach out to our 24/7 call center with any questions: 1-800-318-2596 (TTY 1-855-889-4325). Information about in-person assistance is available at localhelp.healthcare.gov.
Join the millions of Americans who now have access to quality, affordable coverage: sign up between November 15 and February 15.
Ed. note: This was originally published on the White House Blog. See the original post at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/11/13/expanding-opportunity-and-addressing-unique-challenges-facing-women-and-girls-color.
When President Obama founded the White House Council on Women and Girls (CWG) within the first two months of taking office, he charged us with working to address inequalities and barriers facing women and girls in our schools, workplaces, and throughout American life. And as women’s role in society and our economy continues to evolve and grow, so too has the importance of ensuring that all women and girls succeed, including women and girls of color who often face compounded disparities.
A CWG report released yesterday delves into the inequities and distinct challenges facing women of color, while examining some of the efforts underway to close unfair gaps in educational outcomes, pay, career opportunity, health disparities, and more.
Since its inception, the CWG has focused on issues which disproportionately affect women of color. As part of this ongoing effort, the CWG is convening a Working Group to bring together policy staff from the White House and across the federal agencies, with advocates and experts from around the country. Together, this group will focus on issues including education, economic security, health, criminal and juvenile justice, violence, and research and data collection. By detailing both the progress we have made and the challenges that still remain, this report should serve both as a reminder of what is possible and as a call to action to do so much more.
Today, girls of color still perform lower on standardized tests than their white peers. They are more likely to be suspended from school or drop out. Women and girls of color face higher rates of poverty, receive lower wages for their work than their white peers, and are more likely to become involved in the criminal justice system.
Women of color also face some of the highest rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other serious conditions, while experiencing disproportionately high rates of domestic violence. And when women are the primary or sole breadwinners for nearly half of all households of color, these disparities do not just affect them, but their entire families and communities.
At the same time, this CWG report does highlight some significant bright spots. Between 1997 and 2013, we’ve seen a 258% increase for businesses owned by Black women, 180% for Hispanic women, 156% for Asian American women, and 108% for American Indian/Alaska Native women. Women of color have ascended to the upper ranks of our workplaces and board rooms across industries; teen pregnancy rates for girls of color have plummeted; and high school and college graduation rates have risen. These are important gains, not only for women of color, but for everyone. As these women flourish, their families are strengthened, jobs are created in their communities, local economies grow, and our entire country benefits.
Still, gains such as these should not obscure the challenge ahead. Since taking office, President Obama has made it clear that ensuring equity and opportunity for the nation’s daughters would remain a paramount focus for his Administration. As the President has put it: "When women succeed, America succeeds."
Leaders across all levels of government, the private sector, and academia are in agreement that empowering all women, while understanding and addressing the unique challenges facing women of color, is a social, moral, and economic imperative. In a country that increasingly depends on the strength, creativity, and wisdom of our women -- it is in everyone’s best interest to ensure no one is left behind, and all women are in position to lead and succeed.
Ed. note: This was originally published on the White House Blog. See the original post at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/10/10/improving-fight-against-intersecting-epidemics.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and an important time to draw attention to the alarming prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) among women and girls. This is particularly true for women living with HIV, over half of whom have experienced IPV in their lifetime. An HIV diagnosis can trigger or exacerbate violence, while trauma and abuse can negatively impact management of this illness. Thus, for women and girls affected by the intersecting epidemics of HIV/AIDS and IPV, the consequences for their health and well-being can be devastating.
As physicians who care for women, we see this intersection among our patients all too often; and, both data and experience have shown that women and girls of color are often disproportionately affected. Addressing the violence in our patients’ lives is therefore a critical part of supporting them to achieve optimal health outcomes, including improving their ability to adhere to treatment, achieve viral suppression, and live longer and fuller lives.
In an effort to respond to these complex problems, last year the Interagency Federal Working Group established in 2012 under President Obama’s memorandum released a report titled Addressing the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, and Gender–Related Health Disparities. The report outlined five major recommendations and emphasized the need for cross-agency collaboration to better address how violence against women and girls influences HIV acquisition and negatively affects the health of women living with HIV.
Today, we are proud to announce two major accomplishments stemming from this report. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program have provided an outstanding example of Federal interagency collaboration. This joint effort will specifically allocate funding and resources to support transitional housing for women living with HIV, and who are experiencing violence in their lives. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is also releasing a Trauma-Informed Approaches concept paper that identifies a new framework to address trauma experiences and victimization. This framework aims to help individuals, like women living with HIV, to modify negative behaviors resulting from trauma and ultimately improve health outcomes.
In addition, the Office of National AIDS Policy, in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President and Council on Women and Girls, is releasing a report today with the first annual update on activities taking place across the Federal government in response to these recommendations. Dozens of important cross-agency advances have occurred over the last year in the form of critical dialogue, resource sharing, coordination among agencies, and engagement with community partners. With strategic next steps and a call for continued action and momentum, the report also offers a blueprint for the year to come.
First, screening for HIV and IPV throughout Federal programs is now a greater priority. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are providing integrated training in HIV/IPV screening to their prevention workforce. HRSA is also collaborating with the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to provide HIV/IPV counseling tools to Ryan White, rural health, maternal and child health, and National Health Service Corps programs. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is promoting screening for HIV for all women veterans, and IPV screening pilots in VA facilities are to begin in the next year.
Federal agencies have also focused on enhancing public outreach, especially to more marginalized communities. Futures Without Violence, a community partner, has educated DOJ’s Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) consolidated youth grantees on the intersection of violence and HIV through webinars and educational materials. Moreover, ACF is developing resources on HIV/IPV to assist reproductive health providers in improving prevention, testing, counseling, and safe partner notification for their patients.
Engaging men and boys is another critical strategy highlighted in the update. ACF and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health are collaborating to support the development of resources for domestic violence and HIV providers to assist Black and Latino men and women recently discharged from correctional and inpatient substance abuse treatment programs. Futures Without Violence is also working with OVW on engaging grantees to focus on interventions that involve men.
Finally, the report stresses the importance of continued scientific investigation, community engagement, and partnership to achieve the goals of the initiative. The CDC and National Institutes of Health are both conducting research on HIV/IPV epidemiology and interventions. Another partner, AIDS United, recently hosted a Technical Summit that gathered researchers, local leaders, and activists to generate community recommendations to address trauma among women living with HIV.
The 2014 update demonstrates promising trends and marks the first step toward addressing the needs of women confronted with HIV/AIDS and IPV. In the next year, we look forward to Federal agencies and community partners continuing this momentum. By scaling up effective strategies, incorporating trauma-informed approaches, and expanding outreach to high-risk groups, the Interagency Federal Working Group hopes to witness both individual and broad societal-level impact — and to sustain that impact for the women and girls counting on us.
Violence is one of the most urgent public health problems we face in America. Its tragic consequences run deep and have an especially profound impact on
minority youth and young minority men.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 4,700 young people ages 10 to 24 were
victims of homicide in 2011 -- an average of 13 each day. In this age group, homicide is the leading cause of death for African Americans, the second
leading cause of death for Hispanics, and the third leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Natives.
The CDC also reminds us of the social costs and economic burden of homicides and violent crimes. Youth who are victims of violence also have a higher risk
for many other poor physical and mental health problems, including smoking, obesity, high-risk sexual behavior, asthma, depression, academic problems and
suicide. Additionally, each year, youth homicides and nonfatal assault injuries result in an estimated $17.5 billion in combined medical and lost
A 2014 article in the Journal for Crime and Delinquency also reported that half of African American men have been arrested at least once by age 23.
Overall, African American men were 6 times and Hispanic men were 2.5 times more likely to be imprisoned than White men in 2012.
In support of efforts across the nation aimed at addressing violence, we are leading a new collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), through the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) and the DOJ Office of Community Oriented
Policing Services (COPS Office).
OMH and the COPS Office have come together to announce the Minority Youth Violence Prevention: Integrating Public Health and Community Policing Approaches
(MYVP) initiative, to engage public health organizations, law enforcement agencies, and community organizers in a new effort to curb violence and reduce
disparities in access to public health for at-risk minority male youth between the ages of 10 and 18. Through MYVP approximately $3 million has been
awarded to nine demonstration sites (a partnership between a public health organization and a law enforcement agency) to help strengthen programs that
combine approaches to community policing and violence prevention within a public health framework. Additional funding of $500,000 is being awarded through
the COPS Office to an organization to provide coordination, technical assistance and evaluation across the demonstration sites.
Through this collaboration, OMH and the COPS Office will bring together public health, law enforcement and community groups to address violence as a public
health issue. This new integrated approach to public health and community policing will also promote stronger linkages for young men in disadvantaged
neighborhoods. It will link them to health and other services that are aimed at addressing social determinants of health - the conditions that impact the
environments in which we live, where we work and where our children play.
Because we know that youth violence is not inevitable – it is, in fact, preventable. Everyone can play a role in preventing youth violence. Joint efforts
such as the MYVP program bring us a step closer to building safer and healthier communities. And when community policing becomes the norm, when crime goes
down and public safety goes up, it is the community that wins.
For additional information about the MYVP initiative and grantees visit: www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov and www.cops.usdoj.gov.
Earlier this year, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), in coordination with Payu-ta Inc. (an umbrella organization of non-governmental organizations in the Pacific region), held its first Community Tour and Regional Summit outside the contiguous U.S. at Guam Community College, where I serve as President and Chief Executive Officer. During this convening, community leaders shared stories of their respective struggles and challenges, while federal representatives highlighted programs and technical assistance to address the community’s needs.
We are proud to have convened 200 community leaders and 25 federal officials from agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Small Business Administration, and the Departments of Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, and Veterans Affairs. Federal representatives heard community recommendations regarding next steps on topics such as housing, veterans issues, economic development, education, and health equity, and vowed to tackle those issues upon return to Washington, D.C. and their respective regional offices.
To ensure follow-up on the recommendations from the Guam Regional Summit, today, WHIAAPI, in collaboration with the Office of Insular Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior, is launching a Pacific Island Task Force comprised of officials from the agencies represented at the Summit and members of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs. The Task Force will function for at least one year with the goals of engaging agency officials around the specific needs of Pacific Islanders in order to increase opportunity and access to federal programs, developing capacity building and technical assistance support for non-governmental organizations in the Pacific region, and promoting data disaggregation and generation with federal partners.
The Task Force will issue a comprehensive report regarding their findings next year. The framework of the Task Force will mirror the existing infrastructure of the Initiative’s Regional Interagency Working Group (RIWG), with the goal of promoting effective coordination and engagement efforts across federal offices.
This Task Force and its focus on non-governmental organizations in the region marks a new stepping stone for the Pacific region. This is part of the Obama administration’s ongoing efforts to ensure that the voices, experiences, and challenges of Pacific Islanders are recognized and addressed.
Dr. Mary Ann Young Okada is Vice Chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.