Archive | June, 2013

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Sebelius: CT Residents to Benefit From Rebates


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday announced that 47,593 Connecticut residents will benefit from more than $5 million in rebates from insurance companies this summer, averaging $168 per family.

This is all due to the Affordable Care Act, federal officials said in a press release.

According to the release,  77.8 million American consumers saved $3.4 billion up front on their premiums as insurance companies operated more efficiently.  Additionally, consumers are expected to save $500 million in rebates, with 8.5 million enrollees due to receive an average rebate of around $100 per family.

How did this come about?

Created under the Affordable Care Act, the Medical Loss Ratio standard (also known as the “80/20 rule”) requires insurers to spend at least 80 cents of every premium dollar on patient care and quality improvement.  If they spend an excessive amount on profits and red tape, they owe rebates back for the difference no later than August 1, 2013.

“This new standard is increasing transparency and accountability, promoting better business practices and competition among insurance companies, and ensuring consumers receive value for their premium dollars,” Sebelius said.  “Today’s announcement shows that more Connecticut residents are benefiting from the tools created under the Affordable Care Act to keep consumer costs down.”

Officials said that other Connecticut residents will see their value reflected through rebates later this summer.

Connecticut residents owed a rebate will see their value reflected in one of the following:

  • a rebate check in the mail
  • a lump-sum reimbursement to the same account that they used to pay the premium if by credit card or debit card
  • a reduction in their premiums
  • their employer using rebates to improve their health coverage.

Insurance companies that do not meet the standard will send consumers a notice informing them of the rule  The notice will also let consumers know how much the insurer did or did not spend on patient care or quality improvement, and how much of that difference will be returned as a rebate.

For an overview of insurers’ MLR data in 2012, please visit:  http://www.cms.gov/cciio/Resources/Forms-Reports-and-Other-Resources/index.html#Medical Loss Ratio

For more information on the MLR provision in the Affordable Care Act: http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2010/11/medical-loss-ratio.html

 

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CLP to Present Small Business Energy Saving Workshop


HARTFORD —  The Connecticut Light & Power is inviting small business owners from greater Hartford to attend a free workshop to learn about ways to reduce their energy expenses.

The event, presented by Operation Fuel, will be from 6 to 7 p.m. on June 26 at  Vibz Uptown, at 3155 Main St. in Hartford.

Organizers said the workshop will provide an overview of Operation Fuel’s “Project BEST,” which helps small businesses become more energy efficient while offering financial assistance and incentives for implementing energy-saving changes. The program is funded by grants from the Energize Connecticut initiative and Dominion. A wide range of small businesses are eligible to participate in Project BEST including retail stores, restaurants, professional services, and personal care services. Women-owned and minority-owned businesses, in particular, are encouraged to participate.

“Project BEST offers the greater Hartford small business community a great opportunity to make energy improvements now that will continue to save them money and energy month after month, year after year,” said Pat Wrice, Executive Director of Operation Fuel. “Not only does Project BEST provide a much needed financial resource, we have designed the program to be easy and convenient so that businesses can take action quickly and start to see real energy savings.”

Additionally, CL&P Program Administrator Tim McGrew will present information on energy conservation and utility-run programs available to small businesses, including the Small Business Energy Advantage Program which provides energy audits for small businesses. Guests are will have the opportunity to ask questions following both presentations.

Any business that has not received a commercial energy audit in the past year will be eligible for a $250 credit on their CL&P bill upon completion of the workshop and the audit. Any businesses that attended a Project BEST workshop last year is automatically eligible for the $250 credit upon completion of the energy audit.

Additionally, any business owner choosing to install recommended energy efficiency measures as a result of the audit may be eligible for financial incentives to offset the cost of the upgrades. To qualify for special funding toward their project, the business owner must attend a previous Project BEST workshop and submit a completed application to Operation Fuel.

For more information on Project BEST, please contact Operation Fuel’s Small Business Advocate Beth Auerbach at beth@operationfuel.org or 860-243-2345, extension 308.

 

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Adams Selected to Participate in AP Program


NEW YORK – Dr. Ann-Marie Adams of Connecticut was selected to participate in the College Board’s Annual AP Reading in U.S. History. Each June, AP teachers and college faculty members from around the world gather in the United States to evaluate and score the free-response sections of the AP Exams.

AP Readers are high school and college educators who represent many of the finest academic institutions in the world. The AP Reading is a unique forum in which an academic dialogue between educators is both fostered and encouraged. “The Reading draws upon the talents of some of the finest teachers and professors that the world has to offer,” said Trevor Packer, Senior Vice President, AP and College Readiness at the College Board. “It fosters professionalism, allows for the exchange of ideas, and strengthens the commitment to students and to teaching. We are very grateful for the contributions of talented educators like Dr. Adams.

Dr. Adams has been teaching for more than 10 years, most recently at Rutgers University, and Howard University.

The Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies – with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement or both – while still in high school.

Through AP courses in 34 subjects, each culminating in a rigorous exam, students learn to think critically, construct solid arguments, and see many sides of an issue – skills that prepare them for college and beyond. Research indicates that students who score a 3 or higher on an AP Exam typically experience greater academic success in college and are more likely to earn a college degree than non-AP students.

 

In 2012, more than 11,000 AP Readers evaluated more than 3.7 million AP Exams.

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UConn Health to Provide Free HIV Screenings


HARTFORD —  Nearly 1.2 million people are living with HIV and almost one in five do not know they are HIV positive. That’s why an outreach event offering free HIV screenings will be held  June 27, from 3 to 6 p.m. at 2550 Main St. in Hartford.

The Pediatric and Youth HIV Program (a partnership between the University of Connecticut Health Center and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center) in collaboration with the Hartford Youth HIV Identification and Linkage (HYHIL) Consortia are co-sponsoring the event.

Despite improved prevention and treatment efforts, HIV continues to disproportionately impact certain populations and geographiclocations. Although HIV has had a severe impact on all regions of the country, it remains mainly an urban disease.

Blacks/African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV. They represent about 14 percent of the population but accounted for 44 percent of new HIV infections in 2009. Hispanics/Latinos represent 16 percent of the population but account for an estimated 20 percent of new HIV infections in 2009. In addition, many people enter HIV care late in their diagnosis and miss opportunities for improved health outcomes.

The outreach effort set forth by the HYHIL agencies is an attempt to encourage people, especially youth, to “Take the Test, Take Control” to learn their HIV status and be linked into medical care.  “It’s very important for people to learn their HIV status and enter into medical care not only for their own health but for the overall health of their community,” says Nilda Fernandez, coordinator of the HYHIL consortium. HYHIL will be collaborating with Latino Community Services, Hartford Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, AIDS of CT and other community agencies to provide voluntary HIV screenings.

National HIV Testing Day, June 27, is an annual observance to promote HIV testing.  The National Association of People with AIDS founded the day in 1995.

The HYHIL Consortia is made up of agencies across the Greater Hartford area including Latino Community Services, the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective, City of Hartford Health and Human Services Department, and AIDS Connecticut.

The University of Connecticut Health Center includes the schools of medicine and dental medicine, the UConn Medical Group, University Dentists, and John Dempsey Hospital. Founded in 1961, the Health Center pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. More information about the UConn Health Center is available at www.uchc.edu.

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Turning ‘Baby Daddies’ Into Fathers


 By Donny Lumpkins, Richmond Pulse / New America Media

Last week, grateful sons and daughters were hitting retailers around the country in search of that perfect gift for dad – a tie, some socks, a Hallmark card, or maybe just a hug. But for a growing number of youth Father’s Day can be tough, bringing up memories of hard times with dad, or other times when he just wasn’t around at all.

The number of children in the U.S. living apart from their fathers has more than doubled over the last 50 years, from 11 percent to 27 percent, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center.

While there are certainly a number of reasons for the increase, it is also certain that when the pressures and responsibilities of fatherhood get to be too much, some men simply choose to leave, to dip in and out of their children’s lives like a recurring dream or nightmare. We even have a special name for the guys who skip out on their fatherly duties – sometimes, “father” is just too personal a title.

We call them, “baby-daddies.”

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionThe term baby-daddy has its roots in Jamaica, and the Oxford-English Dictionary defines a baby-daddy as “the father of a woman’s child, who is not her husband or (in most cases) her current or exclusive partner.”

Shahad Wright is the director of youth and family programs at the YMCA in South Richmond. Together with Leland Johnson (the dean at Making Waves Academy, a Richmond charter school), Wright runs a workshop there called the 24-7 Dad Program, designed to help men stick with fatherhood.

The program achieves this by redefining the role of fathers in the modern household; challenging the notion that baby daddies can’t also be fathers. An emphasis is put on not running from their responsibilities to their child, to their child’s mother, and on examining their relationships (or lack thereof) with their own fathers in the process.

The fathers he works with, says Wright, want to be active in their kid’s lives in big and positive ways. The program, he adds, gives them the tools to be just that.

“You want to make sure that there is a balance (of) not only being a disciplinarian but also being somebody that cares and really gets involved in their educational path, not just be a cheerleader for sports,” explains Wright.

Being raised by a single parent, the absence of a father figure is something that Wright knows and cares about deeply. And having a son of his own really drove home for Wright how difficult being a father can be.

“It’s like trying to do something you have never seen before, when everyone says it’s suppose to come natural.”

One of the most important roles a father can play, says Wright, is that of teacher to their children. And a father can’t do that, he says, without spending time with them.

“Don’t miss a moment. No matter what the situation was or is, your children are a reflection of you.”

Wright loves to see fathers return to the program with fresh memories of time well spent with their kids.

“I look at dads now that went through the program. They have pictures with their kids, going fishing on trips. Those moments when a kids can say, ‘That’s my dad” – those are the moments you don’t want to miss out on.”

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UW: Power of the Purse Helps Change Lives


HARTFORD — More than 800 guests filled the Connecticut Convention Center on June 3 for United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut’s Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) second annual Power of the Purse Luncheon and Silent Auction. Proceeds from the event totaled more than $180,000, with funds going to support family financial security efforts in the greater Hartford area.

The event kicked off with a silent auction featuring more than 150 items, including designer handbags and accessories, vacation packages, sporting event tickets and more.

Featured speaker Farnoosh Torabi, author of You’re So Money – Live Rich Even When You’re Not, spoke of the need for solid financial planning starting at a young age. Her address challenged guests to visualize one’s financial future, and develop a financial plan to reach those goals.

“The best part of Power of the Purse is the chance to showcase the WLC, who we are and where we want to go,” said Janet Flagg-Rawlins, who co-chaired the event with Susan Christensen Stoner. “It is the energy and excitement of all those women, and a few men, in one room, and knowing that we can achieve anything we decide to tackle.”

The WLC is a network of women who are standing up and taking action to help women and families in our community achieve financial security. Proceeds from thePower of the Purse, enabled the WLC to establish family financial centers at Alfred E. Burr Elementary School and John C. Clark, Jr. Elementary and Middle School, both community schools located in Hartford. Services offered include financial education workshops and one-on-one coaching.

For more information on United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council, family financial stability or the Power of the Purse event, please contact Laura Schmelter at 860-493-6841.

United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut’s mission is to improve lives and change local community conditions. United Way brings together people with the passion, expertise and resources to deliver long-lasting results through Community Investment. That’s what it means to LIVE UNITED.

 

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Hartford to Announce ‘Major’ Program


HARTFORD — City officials on Monday will unveli a new collaboration with the Bushnell and the nation’s first ‘green bank.”

Bushnell President David Fay and Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra  is scheduled to announce what is billed a major Capital Improvement to The Bushnell through the Clean Energy Finance Investment Authority’s (CEFIA) C-PACE Program.

The program will help the Bushnell replace its aging and inefficient 40-year old boiler, dramatically  improving the facility’s energy efficiency and providing significant cost savings, through innovative financing with CEFIA – the nation’s first ‘green bank’ – which has recently launched the statewide Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program, officials said.

Through this program, commercial, industrial and multi-family property owners can access affordable, long-term financing for smart energy upgrades to their buildings, with little or no upfront cost. Leveraging a $20 million fund for use in projects statewide, this program incentivizes capital improvements that are often deferred due to their cost.

Details on how the C-PACE program works, in addition to other incentives, will be provided at the press conference on Monday at 11 a.m. at the Bushnell Theater. 

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Suspect at Hartford Hospital


CROMWELL — A Cromwell man, who allegedly damaged a greenhouse facility and was in an altercation with a police officer early Wednesday, is under State Police guard while an inpatient at Hartford Hospital.

The suspect, Joshua Beaston, 21, of Viki Lane in Cromwell was arrested for second-degree larceny, felony, criminal mischief and criminal trespass. Beaston’s bond is set at $500,000 until he is arraigned in Superior Court Middletown.

According to State Police, the officer, whose identity is being withheld, responded to a report of a person erratically driving a vehicle that damaged a building on West St near New Lane in Cromwell.

Police said the suspect’s car veered off the right side of the road and crashed into the greenhouse building.

Beasley tried to run but the officer caught up with him, and they then had an altercation, police said.

Beasley was later transported to Hartford Hospital, where police said he suffered non- life threatening injury and was in stable condition.

 

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Hartford’s Homa Naficy is a WH Champion


HARTFORD — Born in Paris, a native of Iran and now an American citizen, Homa Naficy  joined Hartford Public Library in 2000 to design and direct The American Place program for Hartford’s immigrants and refugees.  TAP is now a place for new arrivals seeking immigration information, resources for learning English and preparing for United States citizenship.

480341_10151968327384782_1212843066_nThat’s why Naficy, Chief Adult Learning Officer, was nominated by her colleagues as a “champion of change” for Libraries and Museums. Her accomplishment since her arrival at the library in 2010 include securing  two major grants, a citizenship education grant from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (the only library in the nation to receive such funding), and a National Leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services designed to promote immigrant civic engagement.

On Tuesday, the White House honored Nacify, one of twelve people as museum and library “Champions of Change.”  This Champions event focused on libraries and museums who make a difference for their neighborhoods and for our nation.  White House officials said honorees provide powerful learning experiences and are reaching young children and their families with early learning opportunities, offering exciting experiences for teens to develop skills in science, technology, engineering and math, helping immigrants learn English and pursue citizenship and providing services for hard-to-reach populations so that everyone can succeed in school and in life.”

According to www.whitehouse.gov, the Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature groups of Americans – individuals, businesses and organizations – who are doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.

To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program and nominate a Champion, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions.

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Medgar Evers: Legacy Challenges


race and culture By Corey Dade, Contributor

 (The Root) — Wednesday will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, and the timing couldn’t be more significant: Any day now, the Supreme Court could strike down a pair of landmark remedies owed in part to Evers’ activism.Uncertainty hovers over observances that began at Evers’ gravesite at 
Arlington National Cemetery last week, as the civil rights community warily awaits rulings that might fundamentally change, if not outright limit, minorities’ access to college and participation in elections.

medgar_evers-hartford-guardianBefore the end of June, the court will decide the constitutionality of race
 as a factor used inadmissions at the University of Texas. The justices also will rule on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires states and smaller jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to obtain federal approval before changing election procedures.

Some justices on the conservative-leaning court have openly questioned or criticized the continued need for special protections for minority voters. And although the court upheld racially conscious admission policies in 2001, 
multiple lower-court rulings and state laws have narrowed or banned such affirmative action practices at public universities.

Both cases threaten the legacy of Evers, the NAACP’s first field secretary in 1950s’ Mississippi, whose work became a model for many successful
 challenges of Jim Crow laws across the South. He was the first known African American to apply to the University of Mississippi School of Law; he helped James Meredith integrate the university as an undergraduate student; he sued the city of Jackson, Miss., to desegregate its public schools; and he called for equal access to city jobs and accommodations. Evers also registered blacks to vote.

The lawsuit challenging the Voting Rights Act also threatens the legacy of Attorney General Eric Holder, who spoke at the wreath-laying ceremony for Evers at Arlington National Cemetery. Holder is the named defendant in the lawsuit because the Justice Department enforces the Voting Rights Act.

The Justice Department has aggressively used Section 5 to block a wave of
 Republican-led state laws over the past couple of years, such as photo-identification requirements for voters, arguing that the measures would disproportionately harm minorities.

Holder has defended his agency’s efforts and cites as one of his most important accomplishments the rebuilding of the Justice Department’s civil rights division following the Bush administration. At Arlington last week, Holder praised Evers as a pioneer who laid the groundwork for many of the
 civil rights gains of the past 50 years.

“We pledge that we will never forget the man, the foundation that he laid, nor his broad shoulders that made possible the election of the first African-American president and the selection of the first African-American attorney general,” Holder said.

Evers was 37 when he was fatally shot by white supremacist Byron de la Beckwith on June 12, 1963. De la Beckwith was convicted of the murder in 1994, 30 years after two all-white juries deadlocked in previous trials.

Evers’ death drew national attention and acted as a catalyst for the civil 
rights movement. It added urgency to the televised address given by President John F. Kennedy, who just a day earlier had called racial discrimination a “moral crisis” and announced his plan to send Congress a 
desegregation bill.

A year later, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, banning 
discrimination in employment and public accommodations. The Voting Rights 
Act passed in 1965 and is widely regarded as the most effective civil
 rights law in U.S. history.

“The next time you hear people complaining around Washington about what a 
rough business democracy is, we might do well to remember what it was like
 50 years ago and the sacrifices that were made,” former President Bill
 Clinton said at the Arlington ceremony.

In Evers’ home state on Wednesday, a service will be held at the Mississippi Museum of Art. A party to raise money for the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute is scheduled for that evening in Jackson. On Thursday, a statue of Evers will be dedicated at his alma mater, Alcorn State University in Lorman, Miss.

Meanwhile, several civil rights and political groups are working on reaction plans and mobilizing supporters for demonstrations ahead of the Supreme Court decisions.

In Alabama on Friday, state leaders and others, such as Minister Louis 
Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, will lead a caravan in support of voting rights through the state’s civil rights landmarks. Stops will include the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma and Shelby County, where plaintiffs filed the lawsuit challenging Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Corey Dade, an award-winning journalist based in Washington, D.C., is a former national correspondent at NPR and political reporter at the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe and other news organizations.

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