President Barack Obama Talks About Obamacare

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With Republicans set to control both the presidency and Congress in just two weeks, the future of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement — the Affordable Care Act — has been thrown into question, with the law’s repeal looking like a real possibility.

So on Friday morning, Vox’s Ezra Klein and Sarah Kliff sat down with President Obama to talk Obamacare. They asked the president about what he thinks the law has achieved so far, where it’s fallen short, what lessons he’s learned, and the challenges Republicans will face as they make their own attempt to reform the health care system.

What’s more, Ezra and Sarah interviewed the president in front of an audience drawn from Vox’s Facebook community for Obamacare enrollees. These enrollees have shared their experiences with the health law — both good and bad — to help us better understand what’s at stake here.

The policy stakes of this moment in Washington, as Republicans push to repeal Obamacare, are incredibly high. Consequences of decisions made in the next few weeks and months could shape millions of Americans’ lives.

Seven Questions About Health Reform

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On Tuesday, Donald J. Trump said he wanted Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act right away and replace it with a new plan “very shortly thereafter.” But before they abandon all the work that has gone into the health care law since 2010, President-elect Trump and Republicans in Congress owe Americans a detailed explanation of how they plan to replace it. They should not repeal the law until they have submitted their replacement proposal for analysis by nonpartisan authorities like the Congressional Budget Office and the Tax Policy Center to determine how it will affect health insurance coverage, state and federal finances and individual tax burdens.

Vague promises are not enough when we are considering enormous changes in this country’s $3 trillion medical economy. Here are seven important questions that Congress must answer about its replacement plan before repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Tell Your Representative Why Protecting Medicaid is Important!

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~ Sharing this Call to Action from our colleagues at the National Council for Behavioral Health ~

Send a Letter to Congress Today!

Congressional efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act are underway on Capitol Hill and now is the time to make noise. A big thank you to those of you who have met with or plan to meet with your legislators! Now, join us in a letter-writing campaign to educate lawmakers on why protecting Medicaid is critically important to our community.

Call to Action: Write a letter to your Members of Congress urging them to oppose the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which would cost millions of Americans access to coverage through the Medicaid expansion (among other harmful changes).

Taking action is easy:

  • Download the template letter here.

  • Personalize the letter with information about your organization, who you serve, and why the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion are crucial to your clients. Feel free to modify the letter in any way to make it your own! (Not a health care provider? Use this template letter instead).

  • Download the 2017 Health Staffer Directory. Search by your state or Congressional District to find both of your Senators and your Representative. Email each office a separate copy of your personalized letter.

Your Ask: Preserve Medicaid expansion and protect Medicaid from block grant or per-capita cap reforms.

Did your state not expand Medicaid under the ACA? That is okay – we still need you to take action! The repeal of the Medicaid expansion is simply the first salvo in a series of attacks on Medicaid that could result in massive reductions to the federal share of Medicaid. The more noise we make now, the better our chances of delaying or stopping future Medicaid cuts. Take action now to demonstrate the bipartisan and wide-ranging support Americans have for Medicaid!

Thank you for your hard work and advocacy. Together, we’ll bring the message of a strong safety net to Washington!


Chuck Ingoglia
Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Practice Improvement
National Council for Behavioral Health

Funding Available for Indigenous Project LAUNCH

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Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health in American Indian and Alaskan Native Communities, U.S. Territories, and Pacific Jurisdictions Cooperative Agreements - (Short Title:  Indigenous Project LAUNCH)

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) is accepting applications for FY 2017 Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health in American Indian/Alaskan (AI/AN) Native Communities and U.S. Territories and Pacific Jurisdictions Cooperative Agreements (Short title:  Indigenous Project LAUNCH).  The purpose of this program is to promote the wellness of young children from birth to eight years within tribes, territories and Pacific Island jurisdictions by addressing the physical, social, emotional, cognitive and behavioral aspects of their development.  The goal of Project LAUNCH is for children to be thriving in safe, supportive environments, and entering school ready to learn and able to succeed. 

Approximately $8,500,000 is available to fund up to 13 grants at $550,000 each for up to 5 years.

  • WHO CAN APPLY:  Federally recognized American Indian/Alaskan Native tribes, tribal organizations, and consortia of tribes or tribal organizations; U.S. Territories and Pacific Jurisdictions.

  • HOW TO APPLY:  The FOA is available on the SAMHSA websiteat:, FOA # SM-17-004. 

  • APPLICATION DUE DATE: Applications must be received by 03/01/2017. 

PRE-APPLICATION TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE OPPORTUNITIES:  SAMHSA will be offering a series of webinars and conference calls for prospective applicants interested in applying for Indigenous Project LAUNCH.

The webinars will be held on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 and Tuesday, January 31, 2017 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. EST


Dial in phone number: (800) 988-9391


Participant Passcode:  LAUNCH


Direct Web Link:

Alternate Web Link:

Conference number: RWXW2495640
Audience passcode: LAUNCH

NoteRegistration is not required for these events. The phone line and internet link will be live 30 minutes prior to the start of the event.

The conference calls will be held on Thursday, February 2, 2017 and

Thursday,February 9, 2017 from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. EST

PHONE: Dial in phone number:  (888)928-9713

Participant Passcode:  LAUNCH

Applicants with questions on program issues should contact Project LAUNCH staff via e-mail at  For grants management and budget questions contact Gwen Simpson at or (240) 276-1408.

A Peer Recovery Coach Walks The Frontlines Of The Opioid Epidemic

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Charlie Oen’s battle with addiction started when he was 16 and his family moved to Lima, Ohio. It was the last stop in a string of moves his military family made — from Panama to North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas and Germany.

“I went toward a bad group because those were the people that accepted me,” he says. Drugs became a substitute for real friendships.

Radio story by Bram Sable-Smith, KBIA and Side Effects Media

He started drinking, popping pills, cooking meth and shooting heroin. He was homeless for a while when his parents kicked him out of the house. “I would just be wandering the streets of Lima at all hours of the night until I found somewhere, chilled, sat down, fell asleep in an alley,” he says.

By age 19, Charlie was serving a three-year sentence in prison on a burglary charge. That’s where he stopped using drugs. He spent the last five months of his sentence in a community-based correctional facility where he took classes and completed group work to learn about addiction. The lessons stuck.

“I started telling people, ‘I want to be a probation officer,’ and everybody knocked it,” he says. “They were like, ‘You can’t do that, you’re a felon.’ I said, ‘Check it out, I’m going to do something.’ ”

One year later, he started working as a peer recovery coach, using his own experiences to help other people stay in recovery.

2nd picture
Charlie is one of five peer recovery coaches at Coleman Professional Services in Lima, and at age 25, he is by far the youngest. Each coach works with about 20 clients to help remove some of the impediments, big and small, to living a drug-free life. Some clients may need help learning to socialize without drugs or getting a ride to their recovery meetings. Others, like 52-year-old Anna Hershey, need more constant support.

“I texted you last night. I know it was late but I needed someone to talk to right away,” she tells Charlie when they meet in Coleman’s parking lot the week before Thanksgiving. She’d argued with her boyfriend the night before, and anger is usually a trigger for her drug use. Charlie is her first recovery coach in over 30 years of addiction.

“I’m proud of myself because I didn’t leave the house and go do the drugs, and that’s what I usually do when I get frustrated,” she tells him.

Over the course of their 90-minute appointment, Charlie takes Anna to two food banks to pick up donated groceries, and then to check on her application to ring a bell for the Salvation Army this winter. It’s been approved, and despite the previous night’s quarrel, she’s excited to share that news with her boyfriend when Charlie drops her off at home.

Some days Charlie meets with as many as five clients. Today it’s just two: Anna and Shelly Cavinder.

“It’s not been a great day,” Shelly tells Charlie as she gets in his car. She was written up twice in the morning at the women’s shelter where she’s living, which puts her on thin ice for the final two weeks of her stay. She’s moving into a new apartment and bought furniture in anticipation — but the unit where she’s storing the furniture got infested with cockroaches, and today, Charlie is helping her throw it all away.

Shelly is 50. She’s been using drugs since before Charlie was born. Still, she calls him her lifesaver. “If I didn’t have Charlie, I would probably be back on drugs and dead,” she says. “He even talks to me on his days off, you know, after hours when I have an issue.”

“I appreciate that Shelly,” Charlie says. She smiles and pats his leg.

“You’re welcome,” she replies.

The little pick-me-ups and attagirls Charlie gives Shelly every day go a long way to keeping her from becoming a statistic. There were 52,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2015, 18 of them in this small Ohio county alone. Addiction is a tough disease to beat and relapse rates are high.

It can be easy to forget sometimes that Charlie has his own history with addiction, one he still deals with to this day. His first job out of prison was making salads at the Texas Roadhouse. He left the job when he was hired as a peer recovery coach two years ago.

He wants to continue working in the recovery field and plans on going to school to get a social work degree. But last year he started working three nights a week again at the Texas Roadhouse to help pay off his court fees, something he has to do before he can start taking classes. He’s got $2,900 to go, down from $10,000. “This is what I do to get the judicial system off my back,” he says.

After everything is paid off, he says he’ll keep working two jobs for a while, “to build the bank back up a little.”

Every day he makes a point to do something for himself — he’s in recovery, too, so focusing on self-care can be just as important as caring for his clients. Lately he’s been playing soccer at a park near his house, sometimes with friends, other times alone. “Early in the morning there’ll be no cars driving,” he says. “All you hear is your feet and the grass and the ball flying through the sky. It feels good.”

Charlie is five years clean, three years out of prison and has spent more than two years as a peer recovery coach. He has a lot of life to live. But, he says, “When people ask, ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ I’ve never had an answer. Because three years ago I didn’t think I’d be having this interview today.”

“So just as long as I continuously do what I’ve got to do and stay positive, stay out of the way and continue to want to strive, something will come my way. The doors will open.”

Meredith Rizzo, Carmel Wroth, Nancy Shute, Gisele Grayson and Diane Webber edited this story, which is part of a reporting partnership with NPR and Side Effects Public Media.


Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Caplan Foundation for Early Childhood Invites Letters of Intent

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The Caplan Foundation for Early Childhood supports innovative, creative projects and programs with the potential to significantly enhance the development, health, safety, education, and/or quality of life of children from birth through five years of age.

To that end, the foundation provides funding in the areas of early childhood welfare, early childhood education and play, and parenting education.

  • Early Childhood Welfare: Children can only reach their full potential when all aspects of their development (intellectual, emotional and physical) are optimally supported. Providing a safe and nurturing environment for infants and preschoolers is essential, as is imparting to them the skills of living in a culturally diverse world. To that end, the foundation supports programs that identify best child-rearing practices and models that can provide creative, caring environments in which all children can thrive.

  • Early Childhood Education and Play: Research shows that children need to be stimulated as well as nurtured early in life if they are to succeed in school, work, and life. That preparation relates to every aspect of a child's development, from birth to age 5, as well as everywhere a child learns — at home, in childcare settings, and in preschool. The foundation seeks to improve the quality of both early childhood teaching and learning through the development of innovative curricula and research-based pedagogical standards, as well as the design of imaginative play materials and learning environments.

  • Parenting Education: To help parents create nurturing environments for their children, the foundation supports programs that teach parents about developmental psychology, cultural child-rearing differences, pedagogy, issues of health, prenatal care and diet, as well programs that provide both cognitive and emotional support to parents.

Letters of Intent must be received no later than January 31, 2017. Upon review, selected applicants will be invited to submit a full application.

Share Your Story About the Affordable Care Act

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~ Sharing this important message from our colleagues at Families USA ~ 

The Affordable Care Act has touched the lives of every single American—in ways both big and small—since its passage in 2010. 

It is important for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle understand what’s at stake for millions of Americans. We can’t wait—congressional leaders and the president-elect have already said they will take swift action in 2017.

Please, take a minute to share your story and to tell us what’s at stake for you and your family.

Over the years, we’ve heard from thousands of people who were able to get care and coverage because of provisions in the law, including men whose cancer was detected early because they had access to preventive screenings, widows who were able to get grief counseling because of mental health benefits, independent contractors who were denied coverage for decades until the marketplaces opened, and families hit hard by the recession who were able to get affordable coverage for the first time since 2008.

At Families USA, we’re helping to lead the Protect Our Care Coalition. We’ll be working hard to elevate your voices through our work with the media, legislators, and other stakeholders. We’ve already heard from many people across the country, but we can’t stop now. We have to continue fighting, to keep Americans covered and to keep working on making coverage affordable.  

Share Your Story!

A Path Out of Trouble

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~ How one state supports its teenagers while a neighboring state punishes them ~

A worthy story by  and , Huffington Post

  • Latune and Kiara are bright and passionate teenagers. Latune is the more artistic of the two — she plans to become a professional fashion designer. Kiara is the more pragmatic one — she’s set on becoming an anesthesiologist. They both have career plans carefully laid out, and are determined to get out of their neighborhoods and go to college.

    Both girls, who are being identified by only their first names to protect their privacy, also have a history of finding trouble. Last school year, 17-year-old Kiara got into a fight at school, over a Facebook post about a boy. It wasn't her first fight either. Latune, 16, has a past that includes fighting and an arrest for shoplifting from a department store.

    What happened after the girls got caught is where the similarities between them end...

    Their stories highlight a tragic reality of America's youth incarceration system — where you live dictates how you’re treated.
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