Why Are Conservatives Hating On Obama’s Navigators?

Why Are Conservatives Hating On Obama's Navigators?

Conservatives have been acting messy about an Affordable Care Act program that trains local residents to find uninsured people in their communities and connect them with ACA resources. The program, called “Champions for Coverage,” has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to organizations like the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the NAACP to train and hire so-called navigators who are tasked primarily with helping people of very little income sign up for Medicaid and other ACA benefits. There are over 100 organizations spread across most of the states with this program.

Sounds innocent, right? But since it was launched in August, Republicans at both the state and federal level have tried to peg it as some stealth conspiracy that violates people’s privacy by collecting personal information on potential enrollees.

News reports swirled over the weekend about how the state insurance regulator in Texas is proposing strict rules on the navigator program that would add another 40 hours of trainings to the 20 to 30 hours already mandatory, would cause trainees to have to pay at least $800 to sign up for the work, and would also subject them to a criminal background check and fingerprinting process. This is a far more onerous security check than imposed on a similar navigator program in Texas, but for Medicare (retirees) benefits.

In November, Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio proposed legislation that would require a credit check on top of a criminal background check for navigator applicants. And in December, Rep. Darrel Issa, chairman of the investigative House oversight committee, held a hearing in Dallas that fueled more conspiracy theories around the navigators. All that for a job that’s about just going out to help get people insured?

As navigators sign people up for Obamacare, they may enter people’s information into the portal, when they’re not getting them on the phone with a government representative through the ACA hotline. But the navigators don’t keep people’s personal information on file themselves, as Center for Public Policy Priorities senior policy analyst Stacey Pogue explained to the San Antonio Express-News. 

In an op-ed U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius wrote that those who have opposed Obamacare from the beginning are now trying to “stifle, intimidate and impugn” the navigator program. Among the navigators are organizations like the American Medical Association and the National Partnership for Women and Families. It’d be interesting to see if conservatives would be attacking the program the same if it wasn’t aiding civil rights organizations like the NAACP.

Where the New Jobs Are in 2014

Where the New Jobs Are in 2014

North Carolina, where President Obama will speak about the economy on Wednesday, ranks 11th for job growth in 2014. Texas and California lead nationwide, according to new analysis from Moody’s, the global economic forecasting firm.

While Obama is expected to highlight manufacturing during tomorrow’s N.C. State University appearance, construction, healthcare and retail are where the new jobs are—especially out west and in the south. See how your state fares on Stateline.

New Obamacare Enrollee Gender and Age Numbers Released

New Obamacare Enrollee Gender and Age Numbers Released

While the federal government won’t can’t yet release the numbers of Affordable Care Act enrollees broken down by race, this afternoon they provided the gender and age demographics of those who’ve signed up. Highlights from the new report:

  • Nearly 2.2 million (2,153,421) people selected Marketplace plans from Oct. 1 through Dec. 28, 2013
    • These signups in the state and federal marketplaces represent a nearly five-fold increase from October-November, including nearly 1.8 million (1,788,739) people who selected a plan in December (compared with the previous two-month cumulative total of 364,682 through Nov. 30, 2013).
  • Of the almost 2.2. million:
  • 54 percent are female and 46 percent are male;
  • 30 percent are age 34 and under;
  • 24 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34;
  • 79 percent selected a plan with Financial Assistance.

The report also shows that 60 percent of those who’ve grabbed insurance under Obamacare selected the “Silver” plans, as opposed to “Bronze,” “Gold” or “Platinum” plans, all of which correspond to the quality of the care and the out-of-pocket costs one will incur. The “Silver” plans are basically the iPhone 4 of insurance, compared to the iPhone 3 (Bronze), iPhone 5 (Gold) or that iPhone 5s that literally comes in a platinum case signed by Diddy.

As for the youth numbers, they are well below the 40 percent target that the White House set, as explained by Sarah Kliff over at Wonkblog. We still need that racial data on Obamacare insurance, though, and hopefully when it comes out, we won’t find that African-Americans are least likely to have it … like with the iPhone.  


Beyoncé Lights the Way for All Her Single Ladies

Beyoncé Lights the Way for All Her Single Ladies

Because of her latest proclamation, lots of folks are again trying to figure out Yoncé’s brand of feminism. While that scintillating debate happens however, Bey does her “Single Ladies” a solid and points the way to a fascinating new survey about the needs and wants of ordinary women of color. One eye-opening highlight: Women of color overwhelmingly want society to adapt to the realities of contemporary family structures.  

Nearly 9 in 10 African American women—87 percent—and more than three quarters of Latina women—76 percent—agree with the statement, “Government should set a goal of helping society adapt to the reality of single-parent families and use its resources to help children and mothers succeed regardless of their family status.” 

The survey of 3,500 Americans by the Center for American Progress is noteworthy because it oversamples for African American and Latina views. Check it out, as well as its companion, the third annual Shriver Report about the state of all American women. That’s where you’ll find Bey’s essay, “Gender Equality is a Myth!”

Watch This Toddler Meet Her Dad’s Identical Twin for the First Time

Watch This Toddler Meet Her Dad's Identical Twin for the First Time

Here’s your daily dose of cuteness. 

TAGS: Kids Video

Questlove Reflects on Amiri Baraka’s Legacy

Questlove Reflects on Amiri Baraka's Legacy

Over at the New York Times, Questlove reflects on Amiri Baraka’s constant quest to merge culture and social change.

When he wrote “Blues People” and “Milneburg,” the apogee of American music was bebop. When I read “Blues People” and “Milneburg,” it was hip-hop. But Mr. Baraka was onto something. People sniffing around art that’s trying to change society, and then dabbing on the scent of that art so that they, too, can seem like they’re part of the solution — that’s as much of a danger as it’s ever been.

The Roots recorded with Mr. Baraka once. It was for our “Phrenology” album, in 2002, which was titled for the absurd, discredited science of taking a measure of a man’s character by feeling his head. The album was also about racial profiling, social Darwinism, and hip-hop itself: If you’re a hip-hop head, what can you expect from the world, and what can the world expect from you?

It’s an important tribute from a contemporary black artist who’s grappling with the legacy of another. Read the rest over at the Times.

Watch Video of CeCe McDonald’s Release From Prison

Watch Video of CeCe McDonald's Release From Prison Play

CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman who spent 41 months in prison after stabbing a man who attacked her, has finally been freed from prison. Here’s video that we obtained of McDonald walking from the prison alongside a small group of supporters, including actress Laverne Cox.

Where is the Racial Data on Obamacare Enrollees?

Where is the Racial Data on Obamacare Enrollees?

So, here’s what we know about those who’ve enrolled for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act: As of December 31, over two million people have signed up through the market exchanges, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

This is a huge improvement over the 106,000 who enrolled in the first month the state and federal marketplaces were opened for business, somewhat in haste, in October. 

This progress is credited mostly to the Obama administration’s dogged attempts to fix the many problems with, the primary web portal for health insurance shopping. But there are still many unresolved issues with the website, along with those created by each state for purchasing plans.

But while the number of enrollees are increasing, what we don’t know is how many Africa-Americans, Latinos Asians and Native Americans now have plans. We know that there are millions of uninsured black Americans who qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and other forms of financial assistance, but we don’t know how many of them have been able to actually benefit from them.

When asked for this data, an HHS spokesperson said that this aggregation hadn’t been done yet.

“For our first two reports, we shared metrics which provided the most accurate snapshot available of Marketplace enrollment-related activity. We will provide additional metrics when we are able to do so,” said HHS’s Sherice Perry Dillard by email.

Asked for a timeline on when the racial breakdowns might be available, Dillard couldn’t say, but pointed out that applicants are not obligated to include their race or ethnicity when signing up.

The racial checkbox is voluntary on most, if not all applications. It seems that the government agency could track or collect racial data on those enrollees who at least chose to disclose their race. With over 30 percent of Latinos, almost 21 percent of African-Americans and 18.1 percent of Asian-Americans uninsured, compared to a 11.7 percent uninsurance rate for white Americans, the federal government might want to follow these figures. 

It’s also important to have this information publicly available for advocates who’ve been fighting for better access to adequate healthcare for years. I interviewed with Anita Johnson at KPFA’s “Hard Knock Radio” about this issue in November.  She told me that many uninsured black people in her Oakland and Bay area neighborhoods weren’t reaping the benefits of Obamacare. This is a shame because California is often touted as the state with one of the best functioning Obamacare websites. Racial data would help us determine who the sites are best functioning for. 

TAGS: Obamacare

Lupita Nyong’o Absolutely Stuns on Golden Globe Red Carpet

Lupita Nyong'o Absolutely Stuns on Golden Globe Red Carpet

Lupita Nyong’o may have been snubbed for a Best Supporting Actress award at last night’s Golden Globes, but she stole the show on the red carpet. The breakout star wowed everyone in a stunning red gown by Ralph Lauren.



Bullied Transgender Teen Faces Battery Charges After School Fight

Bullied Transgender Teen Faces Battery Charges After School Fight

Ahead of a February 5 misdemeanor hearing, big sister Valerie Poquiz is trying to get a California district attorney to drop battery charges against 16-year-old Jewlyes Gutierrez. According to Poquiz’s petition:

On November 13, 2013, Jewlyes defended herself against three girls who were tormenting and then physically attacked her. This was captured on video and you can see Jewlyes trying to run away. The students involved were suspended but to our disbelief, District Attorney Daniel Cabral then filed charges against Jewlyes for battery - she’s the only one charged.

The school district disagrees with the prosecution. “It doesn’t seem to be fair,” Charles Ramsey, president of the West Contra Costa district tells Contra Costa Times. “You’re prosecuting a victim here?”

California last year passed the School Success and Opportunity Act to protect transgender students. But opposition is mounting, as mainly evangelical Christian groups are rallying around a ballot initiative to repeal the law this November.

A week before Gutierrez’s November fight, a transgender teen’s skirt was set on fire while the victim slept on an Oakland public bus. The accused firebug is a 16-year-old boy. 

Since last Wednesday, Poquiz’s petition has close to 30,000 signatures of support.

(h/t Contra Costa Times)

‘12 Years a Slave’ Wins Best Drama at Golden Globes

'12 Years a Slave' Wins Best Drama at Golden Globes

Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” won the award for best drama at last night’s Golden Globes. The film has long been considered a top contender for the Oscars, nominations for which will be announced on January 16. Read more at the Los Angeles Times. 

Cleveland Baseball Team Replaces Chief Wahoo Logo

Cleveland Baseball Team Replaces Chief Wahoo Logo

The Cleveland baseball team’s* logo, a redfaced Native-American man named Chief Wahoo, is problematic, to say the least. And it looks like the Major League Baseball team’s owners are inching forward with their slow phaseout of the logo. For the 2014 season the Ohio team is replacing “Chief Wahoo” with a block letter ‘C’ as the team’s primary logo. The cartoon man’s face will become the secondary logo for the team.

Good luck confirming that with the team, though. While first reported by ESPN, the team has actually denied that they are making such a move to avoid alienating people who are emotionally attached to the redfaced caricature, according to ESPN. Still, changes are on the way.

From ESPN:

The Indians have no [uniform] alterations slated for 2014, which means Chief Wahoo will still be on the team’s home cap and on the left sleeve of all the team’s jerseys for at least one more season. In that sense, the impact of the logo redesignations would be more symbolic than practical. But symbolism matters, especially when discussing Chief Wahoo, whose own symbolism has become controversial. Although most of the debate about Native American imagery in sports has centered on the NFL’s Washington Redskins, there’s been a rising chorus of voices calling for the Indians to retire Wahoo. … Moreover, the logo redesignations would have ripple effects because media outlets — including “SportsCenter” and newspapers — would start using the block-C, instead of Wahoo, as their visual shorthand for the team.

No doubt the Major League Baseball team’s owners are aware of the campaign to get Washington, D.C.’s NFL team to change its name.

*Story has been updated since publication

Millionaires Club in Congress Presides Over Additional Food Stamp Cuts

Millionaires Club in Congress Presides Over Additional Food Stamp Cuts

For the first time in history, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, most members of Congress are now millionaires—or pretty close to it. Also announced this week is news that members are finally nearing a deal on the embattled 2013 Farm Bill, which will contain an additional $9 billion in reduced food stamp benefits over the next decade. It’s a compromise deal from $40 billion in cuts initially proposed by House Republicans.

Last November’s $5 billion cut to food stamp benefits hit 47 million Americans. The new reductions target nearly a million residents in 15 states who receive benefits through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Arraignment Set for Critics of Parent Trigger After Adelanto School Vandalism

Arraignment Set for Critics of Parent Trigger After Adelanto School Vandalism

On Monday Chrissy Guzman and Lori Yuan, two Adelanto, Calif., mothers, will be arraigned in Victorville Superior Court on charges that the two vandalized Desert Trails Elementary School just before it was converted to a charter school last June. It’s the most recent development in the saga of the nation’s first parent trigger takeover of a public school.

Guzman and Yuan could face up to three years in county jail for allegedly spraying ketchup, mustard and paint throughout the school and damaging rugs, window coverings and classrooms, San Bernardino County DA spokesperson Christopher Lee told the San Bernardino County Sun. The damage, done days before the school was handed over to a private charter school operator, came to $8,000. The school is now called the Desert Trails Preparatory Academy.

Guzman and Yuan were the most outspoken local critics of the town’s use of the parent trigger, which allows parents whose kids go to a school with chronically low test scores to pull a one-time lever to overhaul their children’s school by choosing from a menu of options, including replacing the principal, firing all the staff, and converting a school to a charter school. Ostensibly a tool of parent empowerment, critics have called the parent trigger a ruse which props up parents as the face of a very specific set of market-driven, test-focused education reforms. The parent trigger has since become an education reform and media darling, but the real-life story of it is complicated, and often ugly.

For more, read Colorlines’ parent trigger coverage.

No Black Artists Had Number One Singles in 2013

No Black Artists Had Number One Singles in 2013

There were a lot of big releases from black artists in 2013 — Jay Z and Kanye West, for starters — but not one had a number one hit single, according to Billboard.  It’s the first time in Billboard’s 56-year history of tracking number one songs that not a single black artist has topped the list.

From WYNC:

The top spot on the Hot 100 — today’s version of the singles chart — was dominated by white acts throughout the past year. Perhaps even more intriguing is the fact that white artists even sat atop the R&B and Hip-Hop Songs chart for 44 out of 52 weeks of 2013. Compare this to ten years ago, when every No. 1 Hot 100 single was performed by an artist of color. 

And in a final interesting twist, there are no living black artists being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 — although Clarence Clemons will be inducted posthumously as part of the E Street Band. That’s only happened once before in Rock Hall history. 

Chris Molanphy writes in more detail over at Slate.

After Toddler Thug Video, Federal Lawsuit Draws More Attention to Omaha Police

After Toddler Thug Video, Federal Lawsuit Draws More Attention to Omaha Police

Days after the Omaha police union helped publicize a shocking video showing a local African-American toddler swearing and being sworn at, Omaha police are back in the news. Two officers have been fired, the latest fallout from controversial arrests stemming from a parking dispute last March. That incident was also caught on video.

“A parking ticket turned into officers storming my house and me being thrown to the ground and put into a chokehold,” Octavius Johnson says, according to a statement released by the ACLU of Nebraska. “When I was on the ground and police ran towards my house, I was worried about the family that raised me. I have seen incidents like this happen to other people. I now know that something like this could happen to not just my family, but any family.”

A call from a tow-truck operator in front of the Johnson family home resulted in Omaha police dispatching at least 20 officers to the scene. After video of the arrests spread via YouTube, OPD immediately fired four officers.

A federal lawsuit filed earlier this week by the ACLU on behalf of the Johnson’s, alleges excessive force and illegal search and seizure. In addition to 32 police officers, the suit names police chief Todd Schmaderer who this week distanced his department from the union’s posting of the toddler video, saying: 

“I strongly disagree with any postings that may cause a divide in our community or an obstacle to police community relations.”

Amiri Baraka, 1934-2014

Amiri Baraka, 1934-2014

Amiri Baraka died today. He was an controversial writer, and is heavily associated with the civil rights and black arts* movements. He is probably best known for his poetry, and was New Jersey’s poet laureate in 2002 and 2003. But Baraka also wrote music criticism and was a prolific playwright. His brilliant play, “Dutchman,” premiered in 1964 and received an Obie Award. Baraka, who was born Everett LeRio Jones, was also a professor who taught at various universities, including Yale and Columbia. 

It’s impossible to find any one piece of work that illustrates the depth of Baraka’s work, but this video, in which Baraka reads “Dope,” gives us an idea of how Baraka was able to connect race, Christianity, economics, and domestic and foreign policy in a historical framework. 

Baraka was hospitalized in December. He died today at the age of 79. 

*Post has been updated since publication.

Outkast, Arcade Fire Headline This Year’s Coachella Line-Up

Outkast, Arcade Fire Headline This Year's Coachella Line-Up

The full line-up for the annual Coachella Music Festival in Indio, Calif. was released on Thursday. Take a look and get excited!


Artist Re-Imagines Hit Black Pop Culture Posters

Artist Re-Imagines Hit Black Pop Culture Posters

Meet Xavier Payne, a 25-year-old graphic designer from Nashville whose re-imagined black pop culture posters were recently highlighted by Afropunk. You can see more of Xavier’s work on Tumblr.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill


Erykah Badu


Poetic Justice


Watch This Woman’s Inspiring Time-Lapse Video of 100 Days at the Gym

Watch This Woman's Inspiring Time-Lapse Video of 100 Days at the Gym

Meet Lakeisha, a Bay Area-based woman who made this incredibly inspiring video of her journey at the gym to lose more than 70 pounds. What’s great about the video is that it’s not just a vain attempt to lose weight and look slimmer, but a glimpse into one woman’s journey toward more self-confidence.

The effort was part of Give It 100, an initiative that challenges participants to try something new for 100 days and make videos of themselves doing it. Another one of my personal faves: the woman who learned how to dance

TAGS: health Video
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