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The Week in Toons


April 1, 2015


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A Sign of the Times

We all remember President Obama’s first encounter with Stephon


Stephon stood just a few feet away from Barack Obama. The president, busy shaking hands, looked right at him. “It was like he was waiting for me to say something,” he said later. So the 26-year-old Prince George’s Community College student took his cue and spoke to President Obama in his first language: American Sign Language.

“I am proud of you,” Stephon signed.

The president, almost involuntary, instinctively, immediately signed back, “Thank you.”

Another deaf student then signed to the president, “I love you.”

The president smiled back at her and shook her hand.



Stephon later described his encounter


The moment I will never forget was when he looked at me. He gave me a chance to talk to him. It was like he was waiting for me to say something. I took the moment and signed “I am proud of you,” and his response was “Thank u” in sign language back! Oh my gosh! I was like wow! He understood me after I said I was proud of him. It was so amazing…I was just speechless. Right after he thanked me, he smiled at another deaf lady who signed “I love you.” When I shook his hand it did not feel like he was superior to me. He was just a humble man. I am just impressed by him and know that he will have my vote and he will win second term without a doubt. Yeah, I feel safe to have him for another term.


Fortunately for Stephon, this would not be his last time meeting the President


Here is how he described that encounter: “…I want to be able to show the deaf and hard of hearing that our President Obama is a guy who understands us, and have us to be part of the visuals. When I see President Obama start to raise his voice forcefully at the end, with his firm words emphasizing to us to stick with the plan of Obamacare (known as of Healthcare Reform) all of sudden, I thought to ask one of my friends to hold the camera since she did not plan to shake the President’s hand. So, I was like “perfect”. But then the President moved so fast that I had to rush forward to get a chance to get to the front of the fence to talk to him. My GOAL was to ask him “DO you Remember me?” the second question would be “Will you invite us to the Whitehouse for a dinner?” (This is one of my wild dreams–to have a dinner at White House before President Obama ends his term. I do not want to have dinner with any President but HIM! He is the only one I want to have that experience in my lifetime.

When I took the chance to talk to him in ASL, suddenly he thanked me in ASL! I think I know why he thanked me– because he thanked me to be here again! (Laugh) And I signed to him in ASL “do you remember me?” and then he nods his head at me as if “yes” in body language. I quickly asked an interpreter to voice to Obama if he could invite us for a dinner at White House. But unfortunately, the interpreter and Obama could not hear each other, because the people screamed and cheered so loudly. He was hurried past me quickly by his bodyguards, while my friend tried to make the video of our meeting. I am glad to have had this opportunity. My hope is that someone will deliver my request to him. It would mean so very much to me personally, and to my deaf group as well, to make our dream become a reality — to share dinner with him at the White House before his term comes to an end. He is one of the greatest human beings I have ever met.”


Well, President Obama is not the only member of the Obamas that knows sign language!


…and today came the incredible news about the new White House receptionist:

“Anyone wanting to speak to the president must stop by her desk first. Leah Katz-Hernandez, 27, is the new White House receptionist. She is also deaf “It’s a fantastic opportunity and also to show that deaf people can do anything,” she said through an interpreter, who is provided for her at work. With a desk just steps away from the Oval Office, Katz-Hernandez is usually the first to greet anyone — from world leaders to White House staff members — who has an appointment with the president or his top-level aides….



…A former White House intern, Katz-Hernandez worked for President Obama’s re-election campaign before being hired onto the staff of First Lady Michelle Obama, who used sign language the first time they met to introduce herself. “It is a great responsibility to be here as a deaf person and I feel very proud of the opportunities that have been given to me,” she said.


As a man gestures ‘I love you’ in sign language, President Obama replies with the sign for ‘thank you,’ Phoenix, March 13, 2015


What the Affordable Care Act means to me…. coverage for $1/month!

I’m not sure where to begin…so let me go back to a little over three years ago when I had to begin the process of purchasing health care on the individual market.

I was no longer able to stay on my parents plan and my COBRA coverage had run out from my previous employer (somewhat ironically selling Healthcare/Life insurance) and thus began an exhaustive search for an affordable option.

I had several pre-existing conditions due to basketball/tennis related injuries that required several surgeries and had moved backed to Indianapolis to help my father recover from serious heart problems. The job market wasn’t great at the time so I figured I would work part-time and go back to school.

After finally settling on what I thought would be the kind of coverage ideal for me, I purchased a plan from Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield. They are the largest insurance provider in the state and had a decent plan that fit my needs. It was called the Lumina 2500.

The plan was pretty cheap (139/month) considering it was on the individual market. The crux of the plan was I would have no co-pay for doctor visits/ER/pharmacy, but I had to pay the negotiated price between the provider/insurance companies in full.

For example: If I got sick and went to the family physician and the bill was ~ $200 I would end up paying $80, if the medicine was ~ $60 I would pay ~ 25 depending of if there was a generic available (the ~ $85 total all of went toward my deductible of $2500 which was also the maximum out-of-pocket for the year).

This plan worked for me because I knew no matter what happened in a given year I would never have more $4000 in expenses (including my premium). I only got one major cold during the three  following years so I thought this was great. ABBS did jack my rate up ~20% every year (2014 premium was $180) but I  could live with that since the Affordable Care Act would be available shortly.

 To my chagrin, Gov. Pence did not set up a state exchange last year and also didn’t expand Medicaid.

At the end of 2013 I decided to go to school full-time in the hopes to get into a radiology program. At the same time I was hoping to find a better option on the national healthcare marketplace once it was rolled out. I came to find out that Anthem dominated the insurance market here in the state of Indiana (they were essentially the only company that joined the marketplace that had good in-network providers)….. the kicker was being a pseudo monopoly all their comparable plans were actually closer to $400/month. Since I didn’t have enough taxable income, I also didn’t qualify for any subsidies so I was stuck with my current plan & the expectation of a rate hike ever year…. or so I thought.

Around early Nov. 2014, Anthem announced that it was discontinuing my insurance plan and I had to find another one through them or another insurance company. The insurance commissioner of our state was one of only two in the country (according to Anthem, Connecticut was the other) that were not extending the grandfather clause of allowing you to keep your insurance plan if you liked it.

Continue reading ‘What the Affordable Care Act means to me…. coverage for $1/month!’







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