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Plan Parenthood to Host Men’s Health Program


MIDDLETOWN — June 9  to  June 15 will be Men’s Health Week. So Planned Parenthood of Southern New England is highlighting the need for regular checkups — and, if they are sexually active, regular testing for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV — as a critical part of staying healthy for men of all ages.

Men are less likely to visit the doctor until they are experiencing the symptoms of a serious ailment. Twenty-four percent of men do not have a usual source of health care, and twenty-one percent of men did not have a health care visit at all in 2012, according to research.

“PPSNE is proud to be a source of care for men in Connecticut and Rhode Island and to answer any questions they may have about their health,” said Dr. Timothy Spurrell, Medical Director of PPSNE. “A visit to a health care provider is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions you might have — nothing is off-limits. We are here to give you accurate, nonjudgmental information and advice.”

Planned Parenthood provides basic health care for men, including testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV testing, and sexual health information and education. For more information, go to Planned Parenthood’s online tool The Check.

It offers guidance and tips about STDs and helps direct people to a local health center. To find the health center nearest you call 1 (800) 230-PLAN (7526) or visit ppsne.org.

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Stop & Shop Launches New PickUp Locations


HARTFORD — Greater Hartford residents looking to shop from home and then pick up groceries can now do so with Stop & Shop’s sister company Peapod, which launched pick up locations in Bloomfield and Middletown.

Store representatives said that the combination of shopping online from a computer or smartphone and picking up groceries from a local Stop & Shop is “another convenient option to help fit the needs of busy shoppers.”

Shoppers can now order their groceries online for easy pick-up at their local Stop & Shop store and choose a convenient one-hour pick-up time from morning through evening. There are no fees associated with the service, no minimum order, and no need to get out of the car.The attendants load groceries right into their vehicle.

Pick-up shoppers can also create personal lists, read nutrition information online, sort products rapidly by price or by nutrition criteria and take advantage of thousands of weekly specials.

For more details about Pick-up in Stop & Shop stores, please visitwww.stopandshop.com/pick-up.

 

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New Britain Rock Cats Teams with ‘Strike Out Smoking’


NEW BRITAIN – The New Britain Rock Cats have announced a brand new art contest, Strike Out Smoking, a partnership with the American Lung Association of the Northeast.

All children between the ages of 3 and 16 are eligible to participate in the Strike Out Smoking art contest.  Entries must be received no later than May 15.

“The American Lung Association is one of the leading organizations working to reduce the burden of tobacco use, especially on children,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “We are grateful to the New Britain Rock Cats, our partners in this fight, for hosting this contest so that Connecticut children may get involved in our fight as well. We are excited to see all of the artwork and what the children come up with.”

Artwork must convey the theme of no smoking and can incorporate baseball as well; entries must be original in concept, design, and execution. All mediums are acceptable (pastels, watercolor, oil, charcoal, etc.).

“Helping to involve children in an initiative as important as striking out smoking is a top priority for the Rock Cats,” said Tim Restall, General Manager of the New Britain Rock Cats. “We are thrilled to work closely with the American Lung Association of the Northeast on this creative campaign that is sure to engage young fans from all over the Greater Hartford community.”

Nearly 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking at or before the age of 18 and if someone has not started smoking by the age of 21, it is likely they never will.  Each day in the U.S. 3,500 youth under the age of 18 try their first cigarette and one-third of today’s youth will eventually die prematurely from smoking–caused diseases.

The winning entry will be printed and distributed to the first 1,500 children at the 10:35 a.m. game on Thursday, May 22, 2014.

Completed artwork can be submitted to Lisa Wrubleski at the American Lung Association of the Northeast, 45 Ash Street, East Hartford, 06108 or to Rock Cats Stadium, PO Box 1718, New Britain, 06050. Entries may be scanned and sent electronically to Lisa at lwrubleski@LungNE.org as well. All artwork must be received by close of business on Thursday, May 15, 2014.  The winner will be chosen and notified by Tuesday, May 20, 2014.

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CT Reports Final Tally for Obamacare Enrollees


HARTFORD — The final tally is in for the number of enrollees under the Affordable Care Act through Connecticut’s website.

According to Access Health CT officials, 208,301 people enrolled in under the ACA or Obamacare between Oct. 1 2013 and March 31, 2014.

State officials report that of the total amount,  78,713 have enrolled in a private insurance carrier, Qualified Health Plan.

Additionally, the number of enrollees surged on the deadline, March 31. AHCT received 5,365 voicemail messages from consumers with questions regarding their application and collected contact information from approximately 5,000 individuals who attempted to enroll in person or online and encountered some difficulty.

“Over the past two weeks, our team has made follow up calls to each of those individuals to assist them through the enrollment process, and we have now completed all open enrollment applications,” said Kevin Counihan, Access Health CT CEO.  “We’re honored to have worked with so many organizations throughout our State and helped tens of thousands of previously uninsured or underinsured residents obtain the care they deserve.”

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services projected that Connecticut would enroll 33,000 consumers in private insurance plans, a target that was exceed in December 2013, and more than doubled in the final tally. Of the 208,301 enrollees, 78,713 enrolled with a private insurance carrier and 129,588 enrolled in Medicaid.

Of the 78,713 residents who enrolled with a private insurance carrier, 78 percent received a tax subsidy and 22 percent did not.  These final enrollment numbers were calculated after redeterminations, duplications and cancellations from insurance carriers.

“These final enrollment numbers highlight Connecticut’s success in implementing the Affordable Care Act,” said Governor Dannel Malloy. “Thanks to the hard work of AHCT, state agencies, community health centers, and faith-based organizations, we far exceed our goal and as a result more people have access to more affordable healthcare.”

State officials also plan to do follow up work to “help us understand the extent of the impact we’ve had so far, build on this success,  and continue efforts to make Connecticut a healthier place to live and work,” said  Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, co-chair of the Access Health CT Board. 

Until open enrollment begins on Nov. 15, 2014, residents will only be able to shop for coverage through Access Health CT under special circumstances, such as marriage, divorce, birth, adoption or loss of insurance coverage from an employer.

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Marijuana Center Now Available in Hartford


HARTFORD – Hartford now has its own Medical Marijuana Program.

Arrow Alternative Care, Inc has been authorized by the state’s Department of Consumer Protection to  legally dispense Connecticut-produced marijuana products to seriously ill patients, Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said.

He announced the list of names and locations of the first six dispensary facilities on Thursday

Patients must have been certified by their physicians as potentially benefiting from the use of medical marijuana, and who have registered with the state’s Medical Marijuana Program.

Like the four producers that were awarded licenses in January, the six dispensary facilities were chosen through a competitive process, from 27 applicants that responded to a Request for Applications in November 2013.

The selected dispensary facilities are:

Arrow Alternative Care, Inc. 92 Weston StreetHartford, CT
Bluepoint Apothecary, LLC 469 East Main StreetBranford, CT
D & B Wellness, LLC 2181 Main StreetBridgeport, CT
Prime Wellness of Connecticut, LLC 75 John Fitch BoulevardSouth Windsor, CT
Thames Valley Apothecary, LLC 1100 Norwich-New London Turnpike (Route 32)Uncasville, CT
The Healing Corner, Inc. 159 East Main StreetBristol, CT

 

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Choose One America: Obamacare or Reparations


By Ann-Marie Adams

With only one day left to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, opponents are still removing logic and common sense from arguments that tout the ACA as unsound. Basically, they don’t want to subsidize insurance premiums for Americans on the government exchange.

This debate, seen as another attempt to gut the law, comes weeks after the Congressional Budget Office released a report that says the ACA, or Obamacare, would nix 2.3 million jobs. According to some, this would shake the foundation of the American economy.  Most recently, a divided federal appeals judge said it was “an unmitigated disaster.”

Really?

Dr_AnnMarie_AdamsBefore we move into hyperbole, we should examine the drawn-out brouhaha (more than 50 attempts to repeal it) over the ACA in an uncomfortable context.

the-hartford-guardian-OpinionThe health care law, otherwise known as Obamacare, allows uninsured people—mostly poor whites, the elderly and people of color—access to health insurance. The main arguments against it are that universal healthcare—found in other developed countries, is too costly for America—the richest nation on the planet. And Americans will become lazy and work less because they have access to healthcare.

Sounds ludicrous? It is.

But I would urge some opponents of universal healthcare to consider the life of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman whose cells were taken without her consent and then used to develop cures for polio, vitro fertilization and other vital scientific breakthroughs in science.

This fascinating topic was recently discussed at the Avon Free Public Library. Two of the Lacks family members participated in the discussion. The series offered an opportunity to explore not just health, ethics and race but the healthcare industry itself.

For more than 60 years, the healthcare industry made billions from Lacks’ cells. And today the Lacks family still wonders why their mother’s immortal cells did so much for science, and they can’t afford health insurance. After all, some in the Lacks family argue, their mother’s He-La cells benefited “the whole world and all they got was her Bible and medical records.”

The story of Henrietta Lacks’ immortal cells is both amazing and unsettling. And the question of how race played into her healthcare is not difficult for some of us to answer. That’s because we know that race is a central theme in America. And it is well established that race affects healthcare delivery and outcomes.

This is not an attempt at what some people would call “race hustling.” It’s about highlighting certain facts in American history. I’m aware that many Americans have not studied U.S. history. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us who did should acquiesce to them.

Consider this: In 1951, a scientist at Johns Hopkins took slices of the woman’s tumor and decided to grow them, so he could “figure out the causes of cancer.” This is long after doctors found a dime-size tumor on her cervix. They kept sending her home until she protested and begged for admittance, so she could be treated. By then, her body was riddled with cancer.

UnknownThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a book based on the Lacks family, details the encounter.  And people are rightfully asking whether this family is owed something for thier contribution to humankind. This is a good conversation to have amid the tired healthcare debate over whether to repeal Obamacare.

I think giving access to healthcare for the Lacks family and others in similar situations should be favorable over reparations. At least, this is one way of looking at it. Or perhaps it’s time Americans opposed to Obamacare choose: universal healthcare or reparations?

Some would argue for both.

Interestingly and ironically, the same argument used for not paying reparations has been used in the Lacks family’s case. Many are quick to offer statements and questions like: It’s impossible to calculate how much money is owed. Those who did the crime did their time on earth and died. And who would pay?

In both cases, the consequences of those past actions by individuals and institutions still linger. The Lacks story, among many, illustrates the need for universal healthcare in America.

Americans should consider universal healthcare as a human rights issue, or think of universal healthcare as payback for all the historical wrongs done not just to the Lacks family for “the good of humankind” but to all those other wrongs done in the name of science.

The most famous one in public memory is the Tuskegee Syphilis study, which began in 1932 and ran until 1972. In this study, the United States Public Health Service conducted an experiment in watching black men died from syphilis. The doctors didn’t tell these men they had syphilis. And they didn’t get healthcare. This story, like many, illustrates black oppression and medical neglect.

The Tuskegee case is more prominent, however, because it happened to black men. But there are other lesser-known atrocities, which happened to black women. Besides the Lacks case, we have the notorious J. Marion Sims, the so-called father of gynecology who used enslaved African women as experimental subjects.

These stories are known because the records exist. And unless we want to have more reasons to dig up America’s past medical atrocities, we should perhaps silence the chatter about repealing Obamacare.

If talk about a repeal of Obamacare persists, we should juxtapose that discussion with a public debate about reparations.

I’m so ready for that.

Dr. Ann-Marie Adams is the founder of The Hartford Guardian. Follow her on twitter @annmarieadams.

Photo: Ann-Marie Adams/The Hartford Guardian: ( l to r): Shirley Lacks, Victoria Baptiste, Dr. Robbin Smith.

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Hartford PPSNE to Help With ACA Enrollment


HARTFORD —  With about a week left in the Affordable Care Act open enrollment period, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England will be offering opportunities for city residents to get new health insurance before the March 31 deadline.

Planned Parenthood certified application specialists will be hosting Affordable Care Act Education & Enrollment Fairs to help residents get covered. Additionally, two dedicated Outreach and Enrollment Specialists are scheduling private appointments with Connecticut residents, so they may sign up for new health insurance.

“With the enrollment deadline less than two weeks away, Planned Parenthood is resolute in our efforts to help as many uninsured women and men obtain health insurance as possible,” said Judy Tabar President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. “Preventive services are expanded under Obamacare and women can no longer be discriminated against for having a preexisting condition. The new health care law ensures women can take charge of their health and well-being and PPSNE experts are here to make that process easier.”

Expanded preventive services include birth control, which is now treated like all other preventive care, meaning it is available without a co-pay. Ninety-nine percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are sexually active have used birth control at some point, and nearly 60 percent of women who take the birth control pill use it for medical reasons other than contraception, such as treatment for ovarian cysts, hormone replacement after chemotherapy, endometriosis and more. Birth control is just one example of the many benefits provided under the ACA.

Certified application counselors will help people sign up for new health insurance on the following dates and Planned Parenthood locations:

Monday, March 31, 10:30 AM – 6:30 PM

Hartford North Health Center

1229 Albany Avenue

Hartford, CT 06112

Saturday, March 29, 11 AM – 4 PM

New Haven Administrative Office

345 Whitney Avenue

New Haven, CT 0651

Wednesday, March 26, 4 – 7 PM

Bridgeport Health Center

211 State Street

Bridgeport, CT 06604

Tuesday, March 25, 4 – 7:30 PM

Torrington Health Center

249 Winstead Road

Torrington, CT 06790

 

 

 

 

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Don’t Believe the Hype Against Obamacare; Sign Up for Insurance


If you are uninsured and live in the Greater Hartford area, all roads should lead to Community Health Services on Albany Avenue to sign up for the Affordable Care Act.

Don’t believe the hype against so-called Obamacare. That’s because your insurance premium could be less than $100. And if you are eligible for Medicaid, your insurance premium could definitely be $0.

editorialbannerthumbAt this point, responsible individuals would have done research and found out the facts for themselves before they let people give them all kinds of cock and bull stories. And check this out: The people who are discouraging, or sabotaging other people’s effort to sign up, have insurance themselves. Yes, people. They have insurance.

If you want to be covered by health insurance this year, the deadline to sign up is March 31. Appointments are available for next week. If you miss this deadline, you have to wait until November to sign up for the following year. But for now, any individual could try the service for one year and judge for herself whether there are drawbacks to being on this particular insurance. Duh!

For many, it takes less than 30 minutes, with the help of a staff person, to sign up. And it’s best to go before crunch time because even now the state’s website, accesshealthct.com, occasionally malfunctions. And CHS workers and others have to call in to AccessHealthCT to sort out kinks in the system.

To date, more than 5 million people across the nation have enrolled.  And in Connecticut, more than 160,000 have enrolled, surpassing the state’s targeted goal of 100,000.  We can only think more people are not enrolled because anemic strategies have been employed to reach the people who need the insurance the most.

That’s unfortunate.

But with 10 days left to go, uninsured people should embrace the unknown and sign up today. With uncertainty, it is indeed better to be safe than sorry. And as we have seen on numerous occasions, ignorance coupled with an unexpected medical condition, can be extremely expensive.

Get to it.

 

 

 

 

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Officials Urge Sign Ups for Insurance


HARTFORD – Gov.  Dannel P. Malloy and L.t Gov. Nancy Wyman on Thursday made a final push to get more Connecticut residents signed up for health insurance.

Both Malloy and Wyman asked leaders of Connecticut’s faith community to talk with their congregants this weekend, in advance of the final week of open enrollment for Access Health CT.

“Connecticut is leading the nation when it comes to providing residents with affordable health care.  In fact, other states are now beginning conversations on how to adopt our model because of the tremendous work being done by Access Health CT,” Malloy said in a release to the press.  “With the final weekend approaching, I am asking leaders of our faith community to talk with their members about not letting this opportunity pass them by.  Obtaining health care is too important, and the more people that sign up, the better off all of us will be.”

Wyman, who heads the AccessCT Health Commission said signing up for health insurance is easy on the state’s website.

To date, Access Health has enrolled 165,091 residents since its launch on October 1, 2013.

In a letter to the faith community send in February, Chief Executive Officer of Access Health CT Kevin Counihan said, “With the end of the open enrollment session fast approaching, we want to make sure that every Connecticut resident in need of health care coverage is aware that the deadline to enroll is March 31, 2014. I hope that you will take advantage of one of the many options available to you, such as enrollment fairs and retail stores.”

All consumer support is free, and provided by people who have been trained and certified by Access Health CT.

For a listing of these fairs click here: http://learn.accesshealthct.com/events/

Residents can continue to compare plans and shop for coverage online at:www.accesshealthct.com or call 1‐855‐805-HEALTH (4325) to speak with an AHCT representative.

A list of upcoming enrollment fairs and a link to locate an in-person assister are available at http://learn.accesshealthct.com.

 

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Health Foundation Seeks Proposals


HARTFORD – The Connecticut Health Foundation announces a new funding opportunity that aims to prioritize the needs and preferences of people of color while implementing health reform.

The “Diverse Advocacy and Consumer Engagement in Health Reform” initiative will invest in nonprofits led by and serving people of color to ensure health reform truly benefits all the residents of our state.

Under the “Diverse Advocacy and Consumer Engagement in Health Reform” initiative, CT Health will award four to six grants ranging in size from $25,000 to $50,000 each to nonprofit organizations that use advocacy and consumer engagement strategies to advance their work.

Beyond the grant funding, this initiative aims to expand the organization’s work, and to connect with the growing network of groups involved in advocacy and consumer engagement strategies in health reform.

This Request for Proposals (RFP) is open to Connecticut-based, nonprofit organizations led by a person of color that serve people of color.

CT Health will be holding two information sessions for interested applicants.

  • Tues., March 18 3:00 – 4:30 p.m., Location:  Mt. Aery Baptist Church, 74 Frank Street, Bridgeport, CT
  • Wed., March 26 – 10:30 a.m. – 12 noon, Location:  Hartford Public Library, 500 Main Street, Hartford

More information about the RFP can be found here.

 

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