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Gap year programs

Gap year programs

Watch out for the gap: young Vietnamese take time to gain experience in life

Tran Minh Bach decided to enter an international university in Ho Chi Minh City a year later than his friends to “not waste his parents’ money.”

“The tuition is around 320 million VND ($ 14,050) per year, 10 to 20 times higher than that of public universities, so I was hesitant, afraid of dropping out of my studies,” Bach said. , now in first year.

While reflecting, he asked his parents to let him start his university life a year later to have more time to improve his English and other skills, so that he could be confident in continuing his university program. .

“I also wanted to use the time to think about what I really like,” Bach said.

In Hanoi, Hoang Dung is another student who delayed his studies at the University of Foreign Trade in 2018.

“I ‘gave up’ because I wanted to take the time to find out what I’m good at, what I love to do, discover new jobs and new places,” Dung said, adding he was confused afterwards. have studied at university for two years. .

Bach and Dung are among the many Vietnamese to pursue a gap year, popular among some young Westerners. A sabbatical year typically occurs when students move from high school to college or while studying at university.

Bach before knowing the sabbatical years. Photo courtesy of Tran Minh Bach

Recent research shows that 230,000 18-25 year olds take a gap year each year in the UK, and the trend is only growing as 72% of young people prefer to spend money on experiences rather than material things .

In the United States, 20% of freshmen at Harvard have chosen to postpone their admission to 2020 because students took a year off rather than starting their elite education online amid the Covid pandemic. 19. At MIT, 8% of freshmen differed, up from 1% normally, depending on the university.

Professor Truong Nguyen Thanh, former vice president of Hoa Sen University in Saigon, a lecturer at the University of Utah and some Vietnamese universities, said sabbaticals are not really popular in Vietnam but that they would increase in the times to come.

“The pandemic has made many families unable to send their children to university. Many young people will postpone entering university or book their studies and go to work for a while before returning to school,” he said. Thanh said.

One of the reasons the sabbatical year would gain popularity is the growing awareness of independence among young people. In August 2020, the British Council conducted research on 1,200 young Vietnamese between the ages of 16 and 30 and found that around 40% felt pressured by their families to study or work in particular fields in which they showed little of interest.

At first, Bach’s parents disagreed with their son’s choice, claiming that no one had taken sabbaticals.

Dung also knew that his parents would not support him, so when he announced that he would drop out of school, he asked them not to give him a monthly allowance.

With only 70,000 VND in his wallet, the man from Hai Phong Town had to ask his friends for food and learn that he must live well before pursuing his passions.

According to a 2015 survey by the Gap Year Association and Temple University in the United States, people spending a year away from universities said that the sabbaticals helped them expand their knowledge and acquire the skills needed to be successful in life. .

Postponing admission for a while can also lead to higher grades later, according to a study from the University of Middlebury, United States.

But sabbaticals are a “double-edged sword” as young people can use them as an excuse to quit school, wasting their time and losing motivation for their studies, Thanh warned.

“90 percent of students who took a year off before going to graduate school did not return. Those who took a year off before going to undergraduate courses are at higher risk as their life goal is not clear and they may lose their habit of studying, ”he said. noted.

Dung is now CEO of a company specializing in the recruitment and career guidance of students.  Photo courtesy of Hoang Dung

Dung is now CEO of a company specializing in the recruitment and career guidance of students. Photo courtesy of Hoang Dung

During his gap year, Bach aimed to improve his English to achieve an IELTS score of 6.5. He worked part-time in a cafe and sold shoes and clothes, so he didn’t have to ask his parents for money.

“With a clear purpose, I never felt lost. I learned patience by going to work. And I’m proud to have been able to learn a lot from the talented people I know.”

However, he felt worried early in his student life at the international university.

“The gap year helped me better prepare for challenges and new relationships, I would have been overwhelmed and I would have had a hard time adjusting if I hadn’t taken the gap year”, said said the student from Binh Chanh district, HCMC.

Dung worked as a translator during his sabbatical year. Since 2019 he has worked in education, automotive and insurance sales.

With an initial income of VND 2 million per month, at the end of 2020, he caught the attention of Internet users by revealing his monthly income of $ 5,200.

Having done a lot of work, Dung found that practical experience helped him learn better. The more he worked, the more motivated he was to learn.

Last year, he returned to school to complete his classes before graduation. Currently, he spends up to four hours a day learning new knowledge and sometimes pays for classes given by famous businessmen in Vietnam.

At 23, Dung is CEO of a company specializing in the recruitment and career guidance of students.

“After all, the sabbaticals are not a waste, but a preparation for the acceleration of life,” Dung said, adding that the sabbaticals did not press the stop button when it came to. of university life.


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Minnesota farmers do not have access to federal conservation dollars

Minnesota farmers show great interest in federal incentives to improve their conservation practices, but only a small minority have managed to win the grants.

This is not unique to Minnesota farmers, according to a new study from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. He revealed that between 2010 and 2020, successful demands from farmers across the country declined dramatically in two US Department of Agriculture programs that help farmers pay for equipment and adopt practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help them adapt to climate change.

“This is going in the wrong direction in terms of ensuring that farmers have access to programs that incentivize the fight against climate change,” said Michael Happ, who led the study.

The gap between claims and recipients is particularly marked in Minnesota. Last year, only 17% of Minnesota’s Environmental Quality Assistance Program (EQIP) applicants were awarded contracts, and only 14% were successful in applying to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP ).

As the Biden administration and Congress prepare a federal spending package and Democrats call for significant new investments in combating and mitigating climate change, advocates for the two programs administered by the Natural Resource Conservation Service of the USDA claim that EQIP and CSP are proven and effective. to enlist the farmers directly in the battle.

“If we’re going to talk about how farmers can be part of the climate solution – well, they’re literally asking to do it, all we have to do is fund them,” said Jessica Kochick, policy organizer. federal governments to the Land Stewardship Project.

The Land Stewardship Project and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, both Minnesota-based nonprofits that promote the sustainability of agriculture, are advocating at the federal level for increased spending on both programs as governments Democrats are developing their reconciliation plan.

Kochick said many members of the progressive agriculture movement prefer established agendas that promote beneficial land management, as opposed to carbon market proposals in which companies seeking to offset their own carbon emissions would pay farmers for it. that they adopt more environmentally friendly practices.

But some Democrats in Washington have pushed carbon markets despite these concerns; On Thursday, the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the subject.

Ben Lilliston, director of rural strategies and climate change at the Institute, tweeted during the hearing that he agreed more with Republicans on the panel – “that a larger investment in conservation programs is much better for farmers, that these markets pay farmers little and shut down small farmers, ”he wrote.

Advocates speculated that one of the reasons the rejections from both programs were so high in Minnesota is that the state has been a leader in sustainable agriculture and that many farmers who received the incentives during some time were deemed ineligible.

Of the 1,541 Minnesota farmers who applied for the CSP last year, 223 were awarded contracts. Out of 3,512 who applied for EQIP, 611 were awarded contracts. With 50 states and two eligible territories, that left Minnesota 47th for CSP contracts and 50th for EQIP contracts.

Some other agricultural states had similarly low rates, but this was not universal. Of 3,635 Wisconsin farmers who applied last year, 1,436 got contracts, for example.

The National Resource Conservation Service press office did not respond to a request for comment on the report.

Congress cut funding for programs in the 2018 Farm Bill at the behest of the Trump administration, and Kochick has said that since then incentives have been more likely to be given to new applicants.

Hannah Bernhardt raises grass-fed beef, lambs and pork on pastures near Pine City. At 39, she has worked in agriculture full time for five years after returning from the east coast to Minnesota. Last year, she received approximately $ 30,000 in EQIP funds which enabled her to install the permanent fences and water pipes necessary for a rotating grazing system that promotes soil health and reduces the release of soil. carbon.

“This has allowed us to expand and develop our business,” said Bernhardt, and to grow his herd from 10 to 40 cattle. She said she felt doubly lucky when she learned how few Minnesota farmers qualified last year.

“They figured out how to help farmers,” Bernhardt said. “But if everyone can’t access it, he’s not doing what he could.”


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Investors expect rate hikes with Fed cut plan almost certain

A screen displays a statement by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell following the announcement by the US Federal Reserve as a trader working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, United States United, September 22, 2021. REUTERS / Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK, Sept. 23 (Reuters) – Investors are wondering how an easing of easy Federal Reserve monetary policies could affect asset prices, after the central bank signaled that a slowdown in its bond was closer than ever and suggested it might raise rates at a faster rate than expected.

In what some have described as a hawkish tilt, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday cleared the way to start cutting its monthly bond purchases as early as November, and nine of the 18 U.S. central bank policymakers forecast borrowing costs are expected to increase in 2022. read more

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the US central bank could complete its downsizing process around the middle of next year, as long as the recovery remains on track. Read more

The focus on rate hikes comes as investors assess how markets will react to the unwinding of the central bank’s $ 120 billion-per-month bond purchase program, which has helped the S&P 500 to double by compared to its March 2020 lows.

While many expected the central bank to start relaxing before the end of the year, some investors have said the projected rate hikes could raise concerns about whether the Fed risks tightening its policy. monetary policy at a time when the economy could be significantly weaker than it is today. , which risks undermining the case for equities and other relatively risky assets.

“With this hawkish move, the Fed risks tightening its policy in a context of slow growth,” said Emily Roland, co-chief investment strategist at John Hancock Investment Management.

Stocks held onto their gains after the Fed’s statement, with the S&P 500 closing almost 1% higher.

In Treasury markets, the spread between five-year bonds and 30-year bonds fell below 100 basis points after the Fed declared policy to the lowest level since July 2020. A narrower spread could indicate factors such as economic uncertainty, the easing of inflationary fears and the anticipation of tighter monetary policy.

“The rate market interpreted the Fed’s communications as hawkish,” analysts at BoFA Global Research said in a note. “The more hawkish Fed is a key ingredient in our view of higher rates by the end of the year.”

The fed funds market fully accommodated a rate hike by January 2023 after the declaration, pushing forward planned rate hikes by one month.

TD Securities analysts expect the central bank to cut its asset purchases by $ 15 billion per month from November, which will help increase yields and strengthen the dollar, they said in a report.

The trajectory of the US currency is important to investors because it impacts everything from commodity prices to corporate earnings. Higher yields make dollar-denominated assets more attractive to income-seeking investors. The greenback was up 0.23% against a basket of its peers on Wednesday night.

“Once the dust settles, it appears there are enough hawkish signals to keep the dollar skewed higher, as the market considers a rate hike sooner than expected,” said Joe Manimbo, market analyst senior at Western Union Business Solutions.

Others were optimistic about the Fed’s outlook, saying the more hawkish view reflected the strength of the economy in the face of a COVID-19 resurgence.

Markets are likely to remain more focused on the inference that further rate hikes in 2022 and 2023 suggest a strengthening economy than on the Fed’s cutback plan, said Mark Freeman, chief investment officer at Socorro Asset Management. .

“Powell has made it clear on several occasions (…) that the criteria for reduction are very different from the criteria for increasing rates, which are much higher” and will have more impact on the market, he said. .

Rick Rieder, director of global fixed income investments at BlackRock, said in a note that strong demand for Treasuries would likely minimize the impact of the Fed unwinding.

“With the demand for income and financial assets that we are seeing (…), the modest decrease likely to be observed on the part of the Fed has no consequences for the markets,” he said. declared.

Reporting by David Randall; Additional reporting by Sinead Carew and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Ira Iosebashvili and Leslie Adler

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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Minnesota celebrates its farm educators

To make it clear that Minnesota is committed to closing the gap between and growing demand for agricultural educators, state leaders celebrated Teach Ag Day in Minnesota on September 16.

State proclamation signed by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz marks National Agricultural Education Day, dedicated to the profession of agricultural education and raising awareness of the growing demand for teachers in agriculture.

According to the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council (MAELC), Minnesota has nearly 300 agricultural teachers in more than 200 programs, and more than 35,000 students receive training in Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (AFNR) in grades 7 through 12th grade.

Minnesota has seen continued demand for high school agricultural education programs since 2005, according to the proclamation. 27 school districts added programs and 75 additional teaching positions had to be filled statewide, marking a 13% increase in AFNR programs.

To help bridge the gap between available teachers and demand, agricultural education leaders in Minnesota have worked to develop multiple pathways to become an agricultural teacher. Those interested can earn a four-year undergraduate degree in agricultural education from Southwest Minnesota State University, University of Minnesota-Crookston, and University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Another option is to earn a two-year degree from an institution in the state of Minnesota and move on to one of the four-year programs. A master’s degree is also offered by the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, for those who already have an undergraduate degree in another subject and are considering a career change.

And those with industry experience have a unique opportunity to start teaching in a local AFNR program and earn an alternative license while simultaneously in the classroom.

To learn more about how to become an agriculture teacher in Minnesota, visit learnagmn.org, where you’ll find testimonials from current teachers, as well as links to universities and transfer colleges.


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Many Catholic Students Fill A ‘Gap Year’ With Faith-Based Service

An increasing number of students have taken a one-year school break to gain hands-on learning experience in the world outside of the classroom.

Some call it a “gap year,” which can take place before entering college or later. Often, students take a break after earning a bachelor’s degree, while discerning graduate school or the next steps in their careers.

The Catholic Volunteer Network has been promoting a year of service – especially denominational service – for more than 50 years, long before sabbaticals became part of the college lexicon.

“A gap year is a time to explore the world around you and within you and to get excited about what is really important to you,” says the nonprofit Gap Year, which seeks to expand access to participants in university credits and federal financial aid.

The lure of the sabbaticals has created a booming industry of travel programs, books, and resource guides, and gained momentum last year at the height of the pandemic, when many students decided that they did not want to start their university experience attached to Zoom. About 20% of freshmen entering Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts last year have postponed enrollment due to the pandemic, said the university, which endorsed the idea of ​​sabbaticals. .

At the same time, a growing movement is working to shift the focus of sabbaticals from personal enrichment to civic engagement and national service. The Service Year Alliance, formed in 2016, aims to make one year of full-time paid service a common expectation and opportunity for all young Americans.

The Catholic Volunteer Network has been promoting a year of service – especially denominational service – for more than 50 years, long before sabbaticals became part of the college lexicon.

Founded in 1963 by a Catholic priest from New Jersey whose sister had spent a year volunteering with a religious missionary group, the network’s original vision was to create a “Church Peace Corps”. Today, it is the leading membership organization for Christian volunteer and mission programs, said Yonce Shelton, executive director. About 70 percent of the program’s volunteers are under 25 and 90 percent identify as Catholic, he said.

‘NO INTERNATIONAL TOURISM’

Many of the thousands of students who sign up to volunteer each year have been made aware of faith-based service opportunities at college career fairs or campus ministry; 58 percent of the volunteers went to Catholic colleges. But students also often hear about the programs through word of mouth. “A priest, mentor, or someone on campus has a good experience and talks to people about it,” Shelton said.

Most of the network’s programs aim to attract those 21 and over to work for a year or two after college, although some accept students under the age of 21. Although some organizations send volunteers overseas, “that’s not tourism to be it,” Shelton said. “We are providing visibility to the faith-based services arena to try to get the message across. “

A ‘Choose a Service’ video series on the network’s website shows young people serving in a variety of settings, from education and health care to inner-city social services, prison ministry, agriculture and environmental work. Many share their thoughts on a blog on the site.

A searchable database and recently updated printed directory, RESPONSE 2022, includes volunteer opportunities with over 100 organizations, from the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest to the Christian Appalachian Project in Kentucky and the Red Cloud Volunteer Program on the Indian reservation. of Pine Ridge in South Dakota. About 85 to 90 percent of the programs are Catholic ministries, Shelton said.

COMMUNITY AND SIMPLE LIFE

Most of the programs focus on the values ​​of community, simple living, social and ecological justice, and spiritual reflection, Shelton said. Most also provide volunteers with a small stipend, as well as board and lodging.

One program that is part of the network is L’Arche USA, which has 18 communities across the country where many young adult “helpers” live in family settings with adults with developmental disabilities, called “core members”. L’Arche has two homes in Arlington, which are part of L’Arche Greater Washington, DC

Yuko Gibson, who graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2014, used her two years of work as an assistant in Arlington as an intermediate experience before beginning her medical studies.

Gibson said his time at L’Arche was one of the most joyful and formative experiences of his life. “There was a lot less emphasis on what I was able to produce or do and a lot more on being with people and just slowing down,” she said. “Church was an important part of our weekly rhythm and one of my favorite times in L’Arche was going to mass with the main members on Sunday,” she said. Several members of the L’Arche community attend Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church in Arlington.

Shelton said COVID-19 has made many changes to the programs of network members, but about 85% were able to pivot quickly during the pandemic to keep their programs ongoing and continue to accept volunteers.

“It’s hard to realize how much a global pandemic shapes the very essence of who you are. But discerning what these changes mean for your relationship with God and how you may feel called to respond is important, ”Shelton said.

Find out more

Search the Catholic Volunteer Network for church service opportunities or get a copy of the new RESPONSE 2022 directory at catholicvolunteernetwork.org/.


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Colchester turns 18 to fight climate change ahead of UN summit

A YOUNG activist will spend her sabbatical year fighting climate change.

Sophie Pereira, 18, from Colchester, will spend a year working with children and young people to raise awareness of global issues and the climate crisis.

The A Step into the Gap program run by the Catholic aid agency CAFOD helps people between the ages of 18 and 30 develop their leadership skills through a one-year internship.

Joining seven other Gap Year volunteers, Sophie will work with youth groups to promote Eyes of the World, a creative youth-led campaign that uses ‘eye’ exhibits to urge national and international leaders to support communities. vulnerable people affected by the climate crisis at the COP26 climate conference in November.

On why she chose to dedicate her gap year to the cause, Sophie said, “My mom really inspires me.

“Over the years, she has inspired me to use kindness and love in her daily life, helping those in need and dedicating her life to putting others before her.

“I really admire how kind and caring she is, and I’m incredibly grateful to be her daughter.

“Step into the Gap is a wonderful opportunity to learn about global issues in the world and to fight for global justice, it’s a great way to make a real impact. ”

CAFOD Youth Leadership Team Coordinator Julia Corcoran added, “Our gap year volunteers will be based in their internships working with children and youth to raise awareness of global justice issues and the work of CAFOD.

“This year is such a vital year for the world to respond to the climate emergency we face, and we know it has the most impact on those we work with around the world.

“By volunteering with us this year, volunteers have the opportunity to get involved and know that their actions are making a difference. ”

For more information, visit cafod.org.uk/Education/For-young-people/CAFOD-Gap-year.


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School Spotlight: North View Middle School Connects Students to Goals

4:58 p.m. | Monday, September 20, 2021

North View Middle School is back in session, masks and all, but principals are committed to improving the health of its students, despite COVID.

Vice Principal Alex Berg knows that in order for students to do their best, they need to be feeling their best.

“I’ve always had a lot of Knight Pride myself, but last year especially with COVID and the many societal issues, everything really made that pride stronger. I saw our staff come together, ”said Berg. “We model it, proud knight of our own actions as a staff, we teach it, we relearn it, we encourage it, we recognize it and we celebrate it.”

The Knight Spirit of Pride is bold this school year in the hope that students can be successful no matter what.

It is important to have programs that contribute to lifelong success at North View Middle School. Their AVID program is one of the proven school initiatives still ongoing. AVID connects students from all walks of life to a better future with a thoughtful curriculum designed to help them well beyond college. A handful of grade 8 students who have taken the program since grade 6 say it has helped them with their organizational skills, note-taking skills, and boosted their confidence and determination.

Advantages of the AVID program

Olaide Ajala says, “I want to go to Sanford University after high school, then go to medical school.

His aspirations were echoed by his classmate Ayodimeji Akinrujomu, who is also interested in pursuing a noble career after graduating. “I want to become a family and general medicine doctor,” he said.

Kelly Mulvehille is the compassionate and influential AVID teacher who leads the way in helping students discover their spark.

“In our real world, it’s just about academic skills when you go to work. They are looking for executive functioning skills, so time management, organization, flexibility of thinking, it’s not just about doing the job, the task, but knowing how you do it ”, a- she declared. “I want them to know that I really want the best for them. I want them to see their full potential.

While academic success is important at North View Middle School, principals also want them to know their worth as human beings first.

“It made me feel like I had a safe place to be myself and it also showed me a lot of skills that I would probably use in the future,” said Mia Nguyen.

To ensure that students remain supported throughout their college journey, North View Middle School is also investing in its counseling program.

Their program is one of the first to be nationally recognized. As a RAMP recognized program, they demonstrate best practices to close the achievement gap. Councilors Shanna Schroeder and Kaylee Herlofsky championed the school’s counseling efforts.

“Our district has really invested in our K-12 program for trustees and not all districts have it. Our students have access to a school counselor in Kindergarten, Grade 1, and we are able at every level to continue to develop these skills and really make an impact. Not only on our students, but on our families and our great school community, which is really important to us, especially here in North View, ”Herlofsky said.

Schroeder added: “We know that students can reach high levels with strong support and we know that no meaningful learning happens without a significant relationship. “

Brooklyn park

Spotlight on school


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Orange County’s homeless population increases 40 percent from last year


As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the impact on the homeless is increasing. With the federal moratorium on evictions due to end on October 3, the number of homeless people in Orange County is expected to rise.

Rachel Waltz, Orange County Homelessness Programs Coordinator, said the increase in the number of people living in shelters and homelessness in Orange County was alarming. She said that in January 2021 the number was 176, a 40% increase from the previous year.

“We know these numbers will continue to rise, as homelessness is generally seen as a lagging indicator during an economic downturn as people will do whatever and everything they can to stay in their homes,” Waltz said. .

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the number of people in the homeless system, it is not the only cause. Waltz said residents of Orange County are having difficulty accessing shelter due to a variety of factors.

“There is no overnight shelter in Orange County – they have to operate from a transitional housing model,” Waltz said. “Additionally, we know that there is not enough rapid rehousing which is an evidence-based program that combines with short-term case management financial support for people who are homeless.”

Another gap in reducing the number of people facing housing insecurity, according to Waltz, is the lack of permanent supportive housing. This is housing for chronically homeless people – people who have been homeless for more than a year or four times in the past three years. She said chronic homelessness has also increased over the past year.

“We have more people coming into the homeless system and when they come into the homeless system, they stay homeless a lot longer,” Waltz said.

Corey Root, director of Orange County Housing and Community Development, said these gaps in the homeless system have been around for some time.

“[COVID-19] really pissed them off, ”Root said. “And really exasperated them for the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable. This is what is really alarming and what really worries us incredibly.

Root said the number of people experiencing housing insecurity will not decrease until barriers to accessible housing are removed.

“We need to have more short-term programs and rental assistance. We also need units that people can move into.

According to Root, more than 160 households in Orange County are connected to service providers looking for permanent housing. While many are willing to pay, Root said there just weren’t enough units available.

Housing Help Line Phone: 919-245-2655

Housing Helpline Email: [email protected]


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Democrats push to overhaul healthcare programs for millions of people

Dental care for the elderly with health insurance. The end of the rock bottom prices on prescription drugs. New options for long-term home care. Coverage for low-income people excluded from Medicaid by ideological battles.

These are just a few of the healthcare changes Democrats want to make with President Joe Biden’s massive “Build Back Better” plan. The $ 3.5 trillion national agenda bill touches almost every aspect of American life, from taxes to climate change, but the components of health care are a cornerstone for Democrats, amplified during the COVID-19 crisis.

For the nearly 145 million Americans covered by government health programs, as well as their families and communities, investing in the nation’s services could make a difference in quality of life for decades.

“It’s a holistic look at how health care can be not only expanded, but better geared towards the real needs of people,” said Kathleen Sebelius, Federal Health Secretary to President Barack Obama, of the Bill Biden. “You have a plan that really targets the serious gaps in health care that keep people uninsured or running out of money for their treatments. “

But Democrats can only be successful if they bridge the divides between them. Don’t look for Republicans to help you.

With Medicare’s long-term finances under a cloud, Republicans say now is not the time to add new benefits. They plan to oppose not only the healthcare provisions but the entire Biden package, voting against it as being too big, expensive and a slide towards “socialism.”

Conscious of the politics to come, Democrats are pulling the package together with their weak grip on Congress. Instead of launching new experiments that many progressives prefer, they have chosen to invest more resources in existing programs, from Medicare and Medicaid enacted during the Great Society to the Affordable Care Act of the Obama era.

It’s sort of a compromise, led by Biden’s approach, paid for by taxes on corporations and the wealthy, those who earn more than $ 400,000, as well as savings on prescription drug prices paid. by the government to pharmaceutical companies.

“I have said many times before: I believe we are at an inflection point in this country – one of those times when the decisions we are about to make can change – literally change – the trajectory of our nation. for years. and maybe decades to come, ”Biden said in remarks last week at the White House.

Polls have shown that key healthcare provisions appeal to voters of all political lines. Many Republican voters, for example, generally approve of Medicare negotiating the prices of prescription drugs, even if GOP lawmakers do not. While Obama’s health law was primarily aimed at helping uninsured working-age people and their families, Biden’s coda emphasizes the elderly, who are also reliable voters in mid-election. mandate.

The main healthcare provisions in the mix include:

– Allow Medicare to negotiate the prices of the most expensive drugs, including insulin. Private insurers and employer plans could then access these lower prices. Annual increases in established drug prices would be limited. Elderly reimbursable expenses would be capped.

A RAND Corporation study finds that such an approach could cut U.S. spending on major drugs in half.

Strong opposition from large pharmaceutical companies and major industrial groups has left Democrats divided over the structure of the program.

Four House Democrats opposed the measure in committee votes last week, enough to derail the entire bill. In the past, they had argued to give Medicare the power to negotiate, but they are voicing a series of concerns about the scope of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan. The Senate could take a somewhat different approach.

Medicare’s bargaining power is the backbone of all healthcare, as expected savings would be used to deliver new benefits.

– Expand health insurance to cover dental care, vision and hearing aids for the elderly. This provision, championed by Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Has been a long time coming. Vision care would start at the end of next year and hearing aids in 2023, but in an apparent cost cut, dental coverage would not begin until 2028.

– Relying on Obama’s health law. The idea is to provide health insurance to more than 2 million low-income people in GOP-led states that have rejected “Obamacare” Medicaid expansion. The workaround is a major demand for health equity for black lawmakers, as many of those caught in the coverage gap are minorities in the southern states.

Biden’s plan also calls for making health insurance more affordable for people who buy their own policies by increasing subsidies for Obama’s health law. The richest subsidies are temporarily provided in Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill to people who do not have employer coverage, and the White House wants to make the subsidies permanent. Lawmakers may only be able to meet the president halfway.

– Promote a shift to long-term care in the patient’s home as opposed to care facilities, which have turned into incubators for the coronavirus as the pandemic spreads. Biden had wanted $ 400 billion for this initiative as part of Medicaid, but it appears Congress will give him about half of it.

– Permanently fund the politically popular children’s health insurance program so that it does not face recurring votes in Congress that could disrupt services.

– Improve maternal health by providing postpartum coverage for 12 months through Medicaid.

With key centrist Democrats, including the senses. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, saying the overall price of $ 3.5 trillion is too high, Democrats are looking for ways to cut costs, either by cutting some programs or, more likely, by shaving. some cost or duration of what has been proposed.

Other Democrats, however, have warned that a thinner package could disappoint voters who sent them to Washington on their promises to make big changes.

“My constituents expect and pledge to deliver,” said Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., Whose professional background is in health care policy.

Biden’s approval rating plunged following the chaotic and violent consequences of the United States’ exit from Afghanistan and the resurgence of the coronavirus at home after proclaiming the pandemic was on the wane, and as Democrats in Congress are gearing up for next year’s midterm elections.

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said the healthcare provisions in the budget bill appeal to lawmakers’ own instincts for self-preservation. The proposals resonate with older voters and women, two key groups in the 2022 contests, with Democrats battling to retain the House.

“If you want to protect yourself in your district, you have to double the health care provisions,” she said.

Associated content:

  • Majority says US is more divided since President Joe Biden took office, poll finds


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Gap year programs

Roanoke County Innovates Foster Care Program to Save on Children’s Services Act Costs | Local News

The young woman was taken into care by the Roanoke County Social Services Department in the summer of 2020. And as a teenager in foster care, she was immediately placed in the STARS program, which focuses on families fostering adolescents or fostering children with severe disabilities or emotional needs.

Additional services, such as a foster parent therapist, a mentor for each foster child, and parent support groups, have helped retain and support foster families in the area. This retention and the ability to form its own specialized foster homes saved Roanoke County over $ 1 million in potential costs related to the Children’s Services Act over a two-year period. .

The Children’s Services Act was implemented in the early 1990s and pooled money from different child welfare agencies across the state, including juvenile justice, social services, behavioral health and education. These funds are used to provide services to children at risk, including all children in foster care.

The idea of ​​the legislation was to eliminate duplication and use funds more efficiently to achieve better results for children, but the legislation has sometimes failed.

Recently, the state explored ways to reform the law after costs continued to rise year on year without a commensurate increase in the number of children served. As costs increased, communities were forced to innovate with new programs like STARS to lower their CSA costs and fill gaps in needed services across the state. But these programs can be difficult to replicate in smaller, rural, or resource-limited areas.


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