The Affordable Care Act: What Can Teen Pregnancy Prevention and Teen Parenting Organizations Do Now?

Shelby Emmett

The Affordable Care Act is a very complicated piece of legislation. Although the Act was passed in one bill, it does not take effect all at once, and with the controversy surrounding the constitutionality of the Act itself, it can be hard to determine what organizations should be doing to prepare for full-implementation and what organizations should be doing right now to ensure teen pregnancy prevention and support for young families is a top priority as the Act is implemented at the state level.

The United States Supreme Court won’t rule on the future of the Affordable Care Act until June, but in the meantime, Healthy Teen Network will attempt to keep you up-to-date on all the latest developments to ensure if the Act stands as is, our members will know exactly how the law affects their organization, their clients, and the public health field overall.

Each year, more parts of the Act are implemented. For example, in 2010, young adults up to age 26 could still be on their parents insurance and insurance companies were no longer able to discriminate based upon pre-existing conditions. In 2011 the Health and Human Services department began setting up the criteria for the State Exchange program, and now in 2012 we are seeing some states begin to implement their state exchanges—while many others are taking the “wait and see” approach to see if the Act will be upheld first before allocating funds to set up the required exchanges.

Starting January 1, 2014, new health insurance markets called exchanges must be up and functioning in every state. The purpose of these health exchanges is to create a more organized and competitive market for buying health insurance. The exchanges are meant to offer a choice of different health plans, certify plans that participate in the exchange, and provide information to help consumers better understand their health insurance options. Beginning in 2014, exchanges will serve primarily individuals buying insurance on their own and small businesses with up to 100 employees, though states can choose to include larger employers in the future.

As an organization, Healthy Teen Network is tracking progress of the exchange process all over the country and is seeking direct involvement in the state of Maryland, our ‘home’ state. We want to take you through the step-by-step process HTN is following to ensure we are proactive in any and all opportunities coming out of the implementation of the Act, while at the same time helping you understand what you can be doing to ensure teen pregnancy prevention and parenting programs and resources are priority in your states’ exchange program.

We have just released this fact sheet, highlighting states that have already passed state exchange legislation, have pending legislation, or have done nothing regarding exchanges to date. Included in the fact sheet are proposed Action Steps, such as contacting policymakers to ensure you are a voice for teens and young families at the state level.

Shelby Emmett, JD is the Policy and Legal Coordinator for Healthy Teen Network.

A Tale of Twin Cities: Fifteen Fun Facts about Minneapolis

Rita Lassiter

In researching all there is to do and see in Minneapolis, I discovered that it isn’t just a city known for its harsh winter season and abundance of lakes, but Minneapolis is also one of the nation’s biggest little cities, filled with lots to do and plenty of charm. The Minneapolis-St. Paul region is home to nearly 3.5 million people and is a burgeoning metropolis rich in history, culture, and economic growth.

15 Fun Facts about the Twin Cities (gathered from Nokohaha and

  1. Minnesota—nicknamed the “Twin Cities” (together with the neighboring city of Saint Paul), “City of Lakes,” and the “Mill City,”—is the largest city in Minnesota, and is the 47th largest in the United States.
  2. Minnesota is home to 19 Fortune 500 companies—more than any other state. 15 of those are in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region. Notable names among these companies include UnitedHealth Group, Target, and Best Buy.
  3. Fore! Minneapolis has more golfers per capita than any other city in the US.
  4. We can thank Minnesota for birthing such inventions as: Masking and Scotch tape, Wheaties cereal, Bisquick, HMOs (Healthy Maintenance Organizations), and the bundt pan.
  5. Prince, the son of a jazz musician and a singer, is Minneapolis’ most famous musical offspring.
  6. After being expanded to 11 acres in 1992, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden officially earned the distinction of being the largest urban sculpture garden in the country.
  7. Right behind New York and Chicago, Minneapolis is home to the third-largest theater market in the U.S.
  8. The first automatic pop-up toaster, the Toastmaster, was marketed in 1926 by McGraw Electric Co. in Minneapolis. The retail price was $13.50. (Adjusted for inflation, that’s the equivalent to nearly $165 today.)
  9. The nation’s first Better Business Bureau was founded in Minneapolis in 1912.
  10. The climate-controlled Metrodome in Minneapolis is the only facility in the country to host a Super Bowl, a World Series, and a NCAA Final Four Basketball Championship. Pete Rose made the first official hit in the Metrodome during a Cincinnati Reds preseason game.
  11. Minneapolis is tied with Seattle as America’s most literate city.
  12. When the Minneapolis Public Library separated its children’s books from the rest of their collection in 1889, they were the first to do so, setting a trend that became common in libraries everywhere.
  13.  The Mall of America, located in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, is the size of 78 football fields. That’s 9.5 million square feet!
  14. Minneapolis’ skyway system connects 52 blocks of downtown, making it possible to live, eat, work, and shop without ever having to go outside.
  15. A statue of Mary Tyler Moore downtown on the Nicollet Mall pays homage to the legendary 1970s CBS television sit-com, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The statue marks the site where producers filmed the series’ iconic opening sequence in which character Mary Richards throws her hat up high in the air.

We hope that you will join us for Healthy Teen Network’s 33rd Annual Conference, The Power of Youth: Joining Forces to Achieve Positive Outcomes, October 16-19, 2012, in Minneapolis. Many of the city’s sights and sounds are only minutes away from the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, the host hotel for the conference. The hotel is located on a stretch of Downtown Minneapolis called Nicollet Mall, a portion of Nicollet Avenue that serves the cultural and commercial heart of the city.

Please stay tuned to our official conference page for updates regarding our conference program including keynote speakers, plenary sessions, and workshop/roundtable schedules. Online conference registration opens soon! For more information, please contact

Rita Lassiter is the Meeting and Event Planner at Healthy Teen Network.

S-ex E-ducator X-travaganza!

Vanessa Geffrard

The world needs you! The world revolves around you! The world depends on your extensive, strong, long, and ever-thirsty knowledge of SEX!

That’s right, I’m talking to you, sex education teachers, peer educators, facilitators, and all sexual/reproductive health professionals! Today, April 6, 2012, I declare Sex- Educator Day! This is a thank you for all that you do to educate and eradicate all of those misconceptions around the most taboo topic: SEX!

I am thanking you because few others can gracefully withstand the stare of a young person when he or she asks you “How far can a woman ejaculate?” as Genevieve, HTN’s Senior Researcher, was once asked, or regain your composure while a student goes on a rant about her mother’s sex life in front of her 6th grade classmates, as yours truly experienced a little while back.

Your work, tact, and extensive knowledge of sexual health tidbits have withstood the test of time ever since you started giving condom demonstrations at lunch time when you were in high school. There, the journey began when you would lead the crusade to ensure that everyone around you knew how to put on a condom and remind your peers not to leave them in their wallets.

And look at you now—making a difference every day and using every ounce of your creativity to make sex education fun for our young people!

This blog and this day are dedicated to you and your work. The world is a better place because you have dispelled every myth, kept on your game face while you listened to every story and experience, and answered every potentially embarrassing question in hopes of keeping our young people safe from HIV/AIDS, unplanned pregnancy, STIs, and just plain misguided decisions.

As sex educators, we all have our share of experience with questions and stories that keep our work interesting. Some educators recall their own:

“My fondest memory was [when] a classmate gave demonstrations in high school with water bottles at lunch to explain the inner workings of the male and female reproductive anatomy, and how men cannot ejaculate and urinate at the same time,” Ashley remembers.

Ravenna shares, “I always break the misconceptions about how sex in front of a microwave will not keep you from getting pregnant! I’ve also broken misconceptions around how non-beneficial it is for young men to use two condoms if a girl is known to be ‘promiscuous.’ I’ve also had to explain that if your untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea develops into epididymitis and you have swollen testicles, icing them will only result in COLD swollen balls.

“When I show the stats that STIs are higher amongst girls and almost EVERYONE says it’s because girls are sleeping around without protection until we get the one brilliant young lady who volunteers that the girls are usually getting it FROM the boys, but boys don’t go to the clinic unless something’s falling off,” another educator shared.

“I had a young man ask me if he could get HIV from a cat,” Mila recalls. “Once, during a support group meeting, a 16-year old boy who was a homeless, commercial sex worker asked about dating while being HIV positive—I had many young people as the same question. I also had a 19-year old who did not know he had HIV until his mom died. I had a young girl express to me that every time her boyfriend put on a condom, his penis falls off—she was actually trying to tell me her boyfriend’s penis was not erect,” an educator commented.

One of my own most memorable moments was when, at a college testing event, a young man asked me if he could get HIV from eating a hamburger from a HIV infected cow. Another young man once asked me if he could get a STI from an exotic dancer if he was wearing thin shorts while she was dancing on him. I also remember the look of discovery on one of my friend’s face when I told her that women do not urinate from their vaginas—it was a wonderful day!

Keep doing the work that you do and know that you are essential to our lives. To celebrate this sacred day, I would like you to share some of your stories or questions you’ve received in the field! Let’s become each other’s support system and let’s have a chuckle for the questions we’ve gotten asked. Know that you are appreciated and you are not alone in this work. Share your tidbits in the comments section!

Vanessa Geffrard is a Training and Technical Assistance Associate at Healthy Teen Network.

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