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Increased African-American Enrollment is Key Goal in Year 3 of Affordable Care Act

Many African Americans can receive financial assistance to help them pay for health insurance, Covered California Chief Deputy Executive Director Yolanda Richardson said. Thousands of eligible Californians received an average $5,200 in federal assistance to pay for premiums in 2014.

Many African Americans can receive financial assistance to help them pay for health insurance, Covered California Chief Deputy Executive Director Yolanda Richardson said. Thousands of eligible Californians received an average $5,200 in federal assistance to pay for premiums in 2014.

By Yolanda Richards

Trying to make a 90-day supply of medication helping to control your diabetes last over two years wouldn’t add up for most people. But if you were uninsured, as Kimberly Lenoir-Sanderson once was, you’d learn a new kind of math.

“I’d cut them into threes to make them stretch,” said Lenoir-Sanderson, who resides in Loma Linda. “Some days I wouldn’t take a pill if my blood sugar was normal, but it caused a lot of worry. I didn’t know when my bad days would be, and that was a problem.”

After several false starts that included struggling to enroll online, missing an enrollment deadline and being generally confused about the new health care law, Lenoir-Sanderson finally gained coverage this past August through special enrollment with Covered California, the state agency that administers the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. She now has a Silver plan from Health Net and pays a $364 monthly premium.

“It was a quick process — and easy,” Lenoir-Sanderson said of the person-to-person help she received from a Covered California enrollment counselor. “I paid my premium, and I can start seeing a doctor. I’m a little afraid of seeing a doctor because I haven’t seen one in so long, but knowledge is power.”

Covered California is in the third year of helping millions of Californians gain health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Open enrollment began Nov. 1, 2015, and continues through Jan. 31, 2016. More than 2 million consumers have been enrolled at one time or another since coverage began in January 2014. Millions more have received care through low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal.

Still, hundreds of thousands of Californians don’t have insurance — many of whom are African-Americans like Lenoir-Sanderson. With that in mind, Covered California has launched a new marketing and outreach effort to boost African-American enrollment.

The African-American enrollment initiative will emphasize financial assistance available to help consumers pay for insurance coverage. Covered California is targeting specific ZIP codes across the state where higher numbers of uninsured and subsidy-eligible African-Americans live, work, play and pray.

“Changing our state from a culture of coping to a culture of coverage is a long-term proposition,” Covered California Chief Deputy Executive Director Yolanda Richardson said. “We’ve made great progress in helping African-Americans gain the coverage they need and deserve, but we recognize there is much more to be done in proving to the remaining uninsured the value in having health coverage.”

Of 2.7 million Californians eligible to receive financial assistance under the Affordable Care Act, about 5 percent, or 130,000, are African-American, according to a joint study by the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of California, Berkeley.

Covered California will push enrollment at storefronts in African-American communities where Certified Insurance Agents and Certified Enrollment Counselors will be on hand to assist consumers. With support from Covered California community partners, the agency will sponsor education, outreach and enrollment events at churches on Sundays, at barbershops and hair salons on Saturdays, and at “enrollment block parties” going door-to-door in high-priority African-American neighborhoods.

In addition, enhanced social media and marketing campaigns will be launched to reach African-Americans, and partnerships with local schools, businesses and community-based organizations that serve African-American communities will be expanded.

Nearly 90 percent of Covered California enrollees receive some level of financial assistance to help pay for their premiums, with the average being $5,200 in aid annually.

“We want to stress to African-American consumers that their health and well-being is worth insuring,” Richardson said. “Many Californians are receiving thousands of dollars each year to help with the cost of health insurance premiums — money African-American consumers should not walk away from and leave on the table.”



Dr. Keisha Downey Chats On Helping People Improve Their Lives, Her Career Journey and Future Plans

By Naomi K. Bonman

Throughout life, we are faced with many challenges…some more severe than others, some harder to overcome, and some which we ignore for the moment. When we choose not to face our challenges, it can negatively impact our true being. Therapy allows you to heal from past and/or current hurt and pain and provides you with the tools to grow into the purposeful soul you are meant to be.

Dr. Keisha Downey is a Licensed Marriage and Family Psychotherapist. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with an emphasis in Community Service, a Master of Arts in Marriage & Family Therapy, and a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology. Her office is based in Beverly Hills. As a therapist, she has helped her clients properly cope with depression, anxiety, relationship issues, trauma, substance abuse, parent-child relationships, and crisis intervention, just to name a few. As you can see, Dr. Downey’s clients come from diverse cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, lifestyles, and ethnicities.

 “I have learned that in order to truly meet my client’s needs, I have to meet him or her where they are, listen empathetically, and view their world as they see it,” Dr. Downey explains. “More importantly, I provide an accepting and non-judgmental environment so that my clients can express their inner thoughts regardless of what those inner thoughts may be.”

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Dr. Downey where she dug in deeper of her inspirations in becoming a therapist, how the show VH1’s Couples’ Therapy with Dr. Jenn Mann came about, and her goals for the upcoming year.

“Just Call My Name and…I’ll be there!”

Lou Coleman

Lou Coleman

By Lou Coleman

Michael Jackson sang, “You and I must make a pact. We must bring salvation back… Where there is love, I’ll be there. I’ll reach out my hand to you, I’ll have faith in all you do, Just call my name and I’ll be there. I’ll be there to comfort you, Build my world of dreams around you. I’ll be there with a love that’s strong, I’ll be your strength, I’ll keep holding on. Yes I will! I’ll be there! Let me fill your heart with joy and Laughter, Togetherness, well that’s all I’m after. Whenever you need me, I’ll be there. I’ll be there to protect you…. Just look over your shoulders, Ooh I’ll be there… Whenever you need me, Just Call My Name, I’ll be there…”

I want you to know that Michael Jackson WAS NOT the first one to sing, “I’ll Be There!” Jesus has always song, “You and I must make a pact… We must bring salvation back….” In [Jeremiah 33:3] He said, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee and shew thee great and mighty things… In [Hebrews 13:5] He told you, “He will never leave you, nor forsake you.” He will always be there for you. He will never slumber or sleep. I want you to know that there will never be a time when you call upon Jesus and He’s not available for you. The Bible confirms that He’s there even before you call upon His name [Isaiah 65:24]. I want you to know that there aren’t too many things in this world that we can actually count on… But when it comes to Jesus… we can always count on Him. What a comfort in knowing Jesus. A comfort zone that is indescribable and satisfying, fulfilling and complete. David said the Heavens declare the glory of Him and the firmament showeth His handiwork. No means of measure can define His limitless love. Oh how I wish I could describe Him to you, but He’s indescribable. He’s incomprehensible. He’s invincible. He’s irresistible. I’m trying to tell you the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him, let alone a man, explain Him. You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t out live Him and you can’t live without Him. The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they couldn’t stop Him. Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him. The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree, and Herod couldn’t kill Him. Death couldn’t handle Him, and the grave couldn’t hold Him… Jesus… You can always count on Him!

John 1:1; 14 says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Echoing [I’ll always be there]. In the New Testament Jesus was with His people. In the present, Jesus is with you. You can always count on Him being there in your life even when it doesn’t seem as if He is. He doesn’t change. He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever more.  It means that you can always depend on His commitment to you in all things, at all times, in all ways. Though the world changes, circumstances change, people change, and you change, Jesus never does. I want you to know that when I sought real love for my life, I discovered “Can’t Nobody Do Me like Jesus.” For when my sin was introduced to His salvation, I met and embraced Him as “Love on a Cross!” For “Greater love has no man than this that He lay down His life for His friends. I want you to know that God promises are true.  His Word is above all!  There is none like Him. He will not allow His Word to return to Him void!  Call Him Up!