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    ‘youth’



    Why Healthcare Matters: My Story

    Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

    As a senior in college, there are a few things that have the ability to instantly put me on edge:

    The first is when anyone asks me that burning question, “What do you plan on doing after you graduate?” This one typically earns the inquisitor a blank stare and some made-up, adult-friendly response so that I won’t have to justify my actual plan to take a year off to enjoy my youth, and enroll in Law School in the fall of 2015.  

    The second is when I’m faced with anything that has to do with health and related health care costs.

    For the sake of current event relevancy, and the close of enrollment for Obamacare, this blog post is going to focus on the latter of the two. So here’s my story:

    I come from a midwest, middle-class, single-mother household and I’ve been working since I could legally hold a job– but it wasn’t until my sophomore year in college when my mother retired and I started working more that things became difficult with my health care coverage. Long story short, I got the boot.


    According to my mother’s health care representative, when I became eligible for part-time benefits at my then employer, I became ineligible for coverage under my mother’s plan– the care that I’d depended on my entire life!  But what my mother’s health care provider did not understand was that I had NO intention of enrolling in coverage under my current employer for the following reasons:

    1. I worked at a grocery store and it was just a college job. My focus was on school and I knew that if the two ever came into conflict, work would have to take the back burner.

    2. I wasn’t planning on staying there long term.

    3. My grocery store job didn’t allow me to be fully self sufficient.

    4. Coverage under my current employer was on the pricey side

    5. My mom’s coverage was much better and cheaper. Switching providers would have been…impractical to say the least.

    For a student who was only making $11.40 an hour as a cashier, I soon found myself at a crossroads between personal expenses and health care. Ultimately and ironically, I took the road most traveled by; that of personal expenses which included important everyday things like food, books, incidentals, toiletries, transportation, etc…

    I didn’t have health care but I figured: “I’m young, I’m healthy, I heal fast and I’ll just avoid getting hurt.” And while I was privileged enough to have minimal coverage under my University’s student health service, every “doctor” visit required me to wait for hours upon hours in the unorganized, overcrowded student health center only for me to be prescribed a $10 round of antibiotics or return a few weeks later with another health problem. I did not have a primary care physician, I couldn’t get my teeth professionally cleaned, I couldn’t get vision check-ups, I couldn’t visit my University’s actual hospital, and most of all, I wasn’t receiving quality medical attention.

    Luckily me and my mother discovered a flaw in the system.  My mother’s health care provider had no hesitation removing me from her coverage, but they had not made her aware that despite her retirement and my increased work hours, my full-time student status maintained my eligibility to remain under her coverage. After a long year, my health care was reinstated, and while I to this day lack vision and dental insurance, I am grateful to have at least some of my bearings back.

    People like my father, haven’t been so fortunate.  He has been uninsured for the past 15 years and admits to not being seen by a doctor in 5 or 6 years.  As a freelance carpenter needless to say, he is at constant risk.  I remember growing up and quizzing him on why he would never go to the hospital for his work related injuries (once he drilled a hole through his thumb) only to hear him quickly change the subject and tell me that he was “fine.” Another time, he passed out at work due to high blood pressure but became infuriated with his colleague for calling an ambulance because my dad had to foot an $800 bill. It took me some time to realize, he wasn’t  pretending to be tough, he had to be.  He wasn’t “fine,” he just didn’t have the means to seek medical attention.

    While I only experienced the inconvenience of not having health-care for a year, I got a feel for what it was like to be uninsured. I compare it to walking on ice, while I’m wearing shoes that have no traction– I could make some strategic steps to avoid slipping but a certain degree of my environment was out of my control; similar to how someone can take precautionary measures to protect his/her/zes health, but some elements and risks will always remain out of grasp.

    Yes, our universities and colleges typically cover some health expenses, but said coverage is limited and only lasts while we are enrolled in classes. Many students in college have parents who are retired or nearing retirement, and will be faced with the fear and challenge of losing support after graduation. Many young people are uninsured or have uninsured family members.

    As a working college student, and daughter of an uninsured father, my experiences with the US health care system have been none other than interesting. While it is relatively simple, this is my  family’s story. This is my perspective. I challenge you to tell your own. Make your voice heard. Inquire about what legislators are and are not doing when it comes to your health care. Try to become as well versed as possible on your medical coverage rights because honestly (to quote the academy award winning rap group Three 6 Mafia), “It’s hard out here for a pimp.”

    Saundrea "Drea" Shropshire
    Bio: Saundrea "Drea" Shropshire is currently a senior at Howard University. Majoring in Political Science and minoring in Swahili Studies, she plans to attend law school in the fall of 2015. An avid biker, knitter, painter, movie enthusiast, music junkie, reader and writer, she takes on all tasks with the utmost tenacity and dedication. She also has many leather-bound books, and her apartment smells of rich mahogany.

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    For Young Voters, Money Muzzles Free Speech

    Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

    Written by RTV guest blogger, Steven Aldridge (see bio below)

    When money is voice in politics, American youth can only whisper in a shouting match.

    As a college student, I can easily get involved with politics. I can vote. I can campaign for the candidates I support and join protests. All Americans have these rights under the First Amendment. Unfortunately, billionaires, huge corporations and special interests are looking to use the First Amendment against people like me, who don’t have millions of dollars to throw into politics.

    In just a few weeks, the Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments for McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. Alabama millionaire Shaun McCutcheon is arguing that limits on direct individual political contributions are unconstitutional, after the floodgates on indirect political contributions have already been lifted following Citizens United and related cases.McCutcheon is yet another case poised to muffle the voices of American youth in the political arena.

    The effects of Citizens United have already been devastating. A recent Political Science Quarterly study showed what we’ve all assumed for a while – that politicians are more responsive to big donors than to their constituents. In fact, most Americans feel that politicians care more about the people lining their pockets than their own constituents.

    No matter how hard I protest or campaign for the candidate of my choice, those billionaires and huge corporate interests can quickly drown me out with television ad after television ad. It is hardly surprising that many young Americans see the political system as a hopeless means to accomplishing something.

    Individuals are already able to directly contribute up to $123,200—an amount that is unfathomable to your average American family, let alone a college student living on a steady diet of jumbo slices.  Shaun McCutcheon is claiming that big donors are not allowed to give nearly enough, which is hard to believe after the 2012 election finished with a $7 billion price tag.

    Big money is fighting to become even bigger money, and the youth in America will be the first voices silenced. With record-high student loan debt and tripling interest rates, the campaign donations race is not a strength competition that the youth can win. However, we outmatch corporations in our passion and in our persistence.

    Those in favor of removing limits on individual contribution often state that limits set on contributions are restricting free speech. However, the people actually having their First Amendment rights restricted are those that cannot compete with large donors to have their voices heard. If we are truly concerned with maintaining a democracy where the voices of the youth are just as valuable as the older and deep-pocketed, the Court must side with the people the Constitution was written to protect rather than wealthy interests represented by Mr. McCutcheon.

    We have been highly effective at organizing and energizing our peers around issues we were passionate about in the past. From online privacy, to the Arab Spring and the Defense of Marriage Act, we have been able to use social media and other methods to engage members of our generation.

    We must revitalize ourselves again around the issue of money in politics.  Wealth should not be equated with clout in our political system, and we may prevent this comparison from being strengthened any further if we join together. Join us at https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/5259-stop-big-money-in-mccutcheon and let your voice be heard.

    - Steven AldridgeSteven Aldridge is a student at the University of Maryland and plans to graduate in May 2014 with a degree in Government and Politics. Outside of school, he has researched a variety of political issues with the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies, managed online communications for Cause: The Philanthropub, and advocated for LGBT youth with The DC Center.  
    Guest
    Bio: This is a guest blog account. Have a blog you want to share with the RTV community? E-mail us at streetteam@rockthevote.com and we'll go from there!

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    News Round-Up: Tuesday, July 30, 2013

    Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

    President Obama negotiates on job creation; NC Governor signs abortion bill into law; Israeli-Palestinian peace talks commence; and Zimbabwe youth set to take to the polls. Meanwhile, Lea Michelle reacts to Monteith’s passing; Taylor Swift sings with Carly Simon; and preview for season 3 of Homeland is released.

    - Ally + Maura

    CRUCIAL

    With deficit negotiations at an impasse, Obama offers Republicans a ‘grand bargain’ on jobs, http://rtvote.com/1632bnU
    President Obama’s Tuesday trip to an Amazon.com distribution center prompts a proposal to invest in middle-class jobs. In order to see progress, the President will drop his former insistence on an individual tax overhaul. He will offer corporate tax cuts while demanding job creation.

    More than 100 teens rescued in weekend sex-trafficking raids, FBI says, http://rtvote.com/162Z92V
    Victims as young as age 13 were rescued in a nationwide sex-trafficking crackdown across over 70 cities. More than 100 teenagers were rescued, and 159 “pimps” were arrested. This was “the FBI’s largest action to date focusing on the recovery of sexually exploited children.”

    Pat McCrory Signs Controversial Abortion Bill Into Law, http://rtvote.com/13jIOIM
    After passing the state Senate and House earlier in July, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed an anti-abortion bill into law on Monday. The bill eliminates abortion coverage for those covered by State or Federal health plans, imposes regulations on abortion clinics, and bans sex-selective abortions. During his campaign for Governor last year, McCrory said he would not pass additional restrictions on abortion.

    A guide to the 2013 Israeli-Palestinian peace talkshttp://rtvote.com/1630gQ4
    Peace talks began in Washington last night between Israeli and Palestinian officials. They are expected to last nine months. This article outlines what to expect of the process and outcomes.

    Swiss train crash: Driver’s body recovered after head-on train collision leaves 26 injuredhttp://rtvote.com/162Zt1A
    After two trains collided in Switzerland on Monday, 26 people were injured and one driver was killed. Switzerland is thought to have one of the safest rail systems in the world, but the event is striking, especially following last week’s deadly train crash in Spain.

    Youth, rural voters may hold key to Zimbabwe electionhttp://rtvote.com/19uSsvQ
    The influence of young voters is expected to be significant in tomorrow’s presidential election in Zimbabwe. In the first round of elections, neither candidate won a large enough margin of votes, thus leading to a second vote. Leading up to this second round, nearly 750,000 new voters have been registered (the country’s population is approximately 13 million). A representative of the Election Resource Centre says that “the winner will be whoever captures the new youth voters.”

    CULTURAL

    Lea Michele Breaks Her Silence: “Cory Monteith Will Forever Be in My Heart,” http://rtvote.com/13jJXQs

    Lindsay Lohan to Guest Host Chelsea Lately August 5!, http://rtvote.com/1630maG

    Taylor Swift Brings Carly Simon On Stage To Sing ‘You’re So Vain,’ http://rtvote.com/1630w1N

    1990 Things From The 90s To End The Nostalgia Once And For All, http://rtvote.com/1631jzG

    Homeland Season 3: First Trailer Teases Brody Trying to “Survive,” http://rtvote.com/1631Wcn

    Ally.f@rockthevote.com
    Bio: My name is Ally Filler and I am a Field Intern at RTV this summer! I recently graduated from McGill University where I studied Linguistics. In addition to marveling at the linguistic hotspot that is Montreal and eating many croissants, I assisted hundreds of American students in their quest to vote from abroad. I'm excited to be a part of such an amazing team here at Rock the Vote!

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com