Meet Our Intern, Grace Ferguson

You’ve (hopefully) noticed that our blog has been a bit more active in the past few months.  A large part of that is due to our fabulous intern, Grace, who has been contributing articles on a whole range of topics.  I’ve asked her to change things up a bit and introduce herself.  So without further ado, here’s Grace!

Hello Wellness Times Readers! It is about time that I introduce myself. My name is Grace Ferguson and I am the Ohio AIDS Coalition’s intern. As a Public Health Major at THE Ohio State University, I wanted to expand my learning beyond the confines of a lecture hall and into the practical world of public health implementation. I came across OAC and the AIDS Resources Center Ohio in a Google search while I was looking for public health organizations in the Columbus Area.  The mission that OAC supports, Health Education and Prevention, stood out to me immediately, this was where I wanted to learn how to implement the tools I was hearing about in the classroom.

I started working for OAC in February of 2014 (almost nine months now!). The first project I was placed on was daunting, but I loved every minute of it. I was asked to call all of the HIV/AIDS healthcare providers in the state of Ohio and figure out which Healthcare programs they contract with. It took me months to complete, but introduced me to the hard work, dedication, and perseverance that is the Non-Profit world.

OAC has introduced me to an entire world of health care and HIV/AIDS health management that I had never even heard of before. It wasn’t until I started working for OAC that I heard of PrEP or the fiery debate behind it. Because of my research and work with PrEP at OAC I have continued to research PrEP and share my knowledge about it with fellow public health students. I was recently able to attend a community discussion, hosted by OAC and Columbus Public Health, led by leaders in the HIV field. The discussion featured proponents, opponents, and medical experts in the PrEP field and opened my eyes to some of the pros and cons circulating PrEP.  I have also had the opportunity to learn about the ins-and-outs of the insurance field. Working at OAC throughout the Affordable Care Act roll out was a very exciting time. I have been able to learn about the details of the insurance world, from enrollment, to appeals. OAC has taught me things about public health implantation that a classroom could never come close to.

When I am not researching the Medicaid appeals process, or reading clinical trial abstracts on experimental drugs, I enjoy cheering on my buckeyes on the football field. I spend the spring at Huntington Field watching the Clippers and dreaming of days when the Philadelphia Phillies are in the Post-Season again. As a Philadelphia native I miss the East Coast every day, but after spending eight years of my life in the state up north I am happy to be a resident of Ohio. My parents raised me on the coast of the Outer Banks surfing, swimming, and sharking (I like to consider myself a shark enthusiast), and I considered Kitty Hawk, North Carolina my true home. I am also proud to call myself a sister of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority and an active member of OSU student life, participating in Health Science Scholars and the OSU Sportsmanship Club. While I’m on break from school I occupy my time by hanging out (annoying) my 14 year old brother Andrew, and parents, who live in Baltimore, Maryland.

After finishing my degree (hopefully on time) I hope to pursue a Master’s in Public Health and a Law Degree. In the distant future, I hope to work in government promoting healthy behavior and disease prevention, while keeping in mind my Public health background that OAC has rooted in me so strongly.

The Affordable Care Act is Working

From HHS.gov Blog

Remarks by Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell "The Affordable Care Act is Working"On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to talk about the Affordable Care Act Exit Disclaimer at the Brookings Institution.

When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, it’s our belief that the three most important measures are affordability, access, and quality – and that when you consider the law through this lens, the evidence points to a clear conclusion: The Affordable Care Act is working – and families, businesses, and taxpayers are better off as a result.

Four years after President Obama signed the law, middle-class families have more security, and many of those who already had insurance now have better coverage. Fewer Americans are uninsured. At the same time, we’re spending our health care dollars more wisely, and we’re starting to receive higher quality care. 

As a country, we’ve been wrestling with the question of how to cover the uninsured for more than a century. By the time the Affordable Care Act was passed, tens of millions of Americans were uninsured, millions more had coverage that wasn’t there when they needed it, and everyone felt the effects.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, things are changing for the better: In just one year, we’ve reduced the number of uninsured adults by 26 percent. Said another way, 10.3 million fewer adults are uninsured today than in 2013.

This represents historic progress on an issue that has eluded our country for more than a century. There isn’t a business in America that wouldn’t be ecstatic with this kind of growth.

Those who already had insurance are better off too. If you think about a mom and dad sitting at their kitchen table, working out a family budget – it’s a big deal that they’re saving money and still getting better coverage and more financial security.

Meanwhile, millions of seniors are saving billions of dollars on their prescription drugs as we phase out the donut hole. More than 8.2 million seniors have saved more than $11.5 billion since 2010.

Ultimately, a healthier and more financially secure middle class is good for businesses, who benefit from a healthy workforce and consumers with more disposable income.

Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, there is evidence that we have bent the cost curve when it comes to health care. Across the board, we have now held down health care price inflation to the lowest rate in 50 years.

I also wanted to tell you about a couple of big announcements we made this week regarding the health care law.

First, in 2015 there will be a 25% increase in the total number of issuers selling health insurance plans in the Marketplace. More choice and competition is a great thing for consumers, and it has an effect on affordability, access, and quality alike.

Secondly, we announced that because of the Affordable Care Act, we project hospitals will save $5.7 billion in uncompensated care costs this year. Hospitals in states that have expanded Medicaid are projected to save up to $4.2 billion, and to receive about 72 percent of the total savings nationally.

Taken together, I believe the evidence points to a clear conclusion: The Affordable Care Act is working. My job as Secretary is to lead our efforts to make sure it continues to work and to work better.

We have a four part strategy for moving forward: improving access and affordability through the Marketplace; improving quality for patients and spending every dollar wisely; expanding access by expanding Medicaid; and helping consumers understand how to use their coverage – including the role of prevention and wellness.

Today marks the 50 day countdown to the beginning of Open Enrollment. Join the millions who’ve already gotten covered. Get more information at HealthCare.gov.