Alfred Babington-Johnson

Recent Articles

Communities of color receive 750K to promote MNsure

Website frustrations may have ‘scared off’ some Black enrollees
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Open enrollment for MNsure, the state’s health insurance marketplace, closes March 31. Stairstep Foundation President Alfred Babington-Johnson said, “It’s important for MNsure to be able to reach into communities with a sense of uniqueness of those communities, and not some kind of generic, cookie-cutter application [process]. “The case we made was [that] we have a different story to tell and we need to tell that story,” said Babington-Johnson. “The end result is that African Americans need health care.”

Minnesota State Senator Jeff Hayden told the MSR that $750,000 was allocated by MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange, for navigators training: Stairstep ($100,000), Minneapolis Urban League ($100,000) and Pillsbury United Communities ($80,000-$100,000) were among several local organizations that were awarded funds. Babington-Johnson believes that “the most organic instrument in our community is the African American church — a natural access to our people. Continue Reading →

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The MSR 2013 year in review

The local Black press continues to publish stories “from our own lens”
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

This year, 2013, was historic as well as a year-long full of highs and lows: Two MSR reporters were among the national and international press that covered America’s first Black president’s second inauguration in January. Said Atlanta Daily World reporter Kenya King, a member of the Black press who was covering the Obama inauguration for the second time, “I’m here to capture…the moment of this historic occasion [and] to make sure that the message that should get across, does get across.”

A ‘new Black agenda’ was discussed by the Council on Black Minnesotans and others during the organization’s Lobby Day at the State Capitol on March 19. The MSR asked several Blacks in attendance that day if they felt new voices and perhaps a new message is needed from Black Minnesotans. “I think it is time for new voices to be heard,” believed Greater Friendship Missionary

Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Billy Russell in our March 28 front-page story. The MSR also continued its coverage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the introduction of MNsure, the state’s new health-insurance exchange program and how the new healthcare law will benefit Blacks. Continue Reading →

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White professionals already cashing in on ‘People’s Stadium’ — But promises that construction will benefit communities of color remain unkept as deadlines approach

 

 

 

By Mel Reeves

Contributing Writer

 

While there is much talk about possible delays in the construction of the “People’s Stadium,” it appears that the Vikings and MSFA are still confident it will be built. And according to a recent Associated Press (AP) article entitled, “Many already cashing in on Vikings stadium,” lots of white collar professionals have already profited from the proposed stadium. Incidentally, it appears at this point that the only people who may be left out of the benefits are people of color. Despite lots of compelling testimony last Friday at the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority (MSFA) meeting by several prominent African Americans and Somali leaders, it was all but ignored. Practically all of the media outlets in the Twin Cities were in attendance, but none reported [as of yet] or followed up with the testimony of the Black folks who were complaining that it appears that Blacks may yet again be left out of a major development project. MSFA Board Chair Michelle Kelm-Helgen, who seemed a bit annoyed by the testimony, did respond. Continue Reading →

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Local churches take up fight against diabetes

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Diabetes is the “gateway disease” that often can lead to other health concerns, especially for Blacks. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one of every three Blacks in this country either has diabetes or is pre-diabetic, and nearly 39 percent of Black Minnesotans’ deaths are caused by diabetes. As a result, Stairstep Foundation/His Works United, in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Health, has partnered with 11 local Black churches to host classes to help people avoid becoming diabetic. “My church has been doing this way before other churches,” claims local school nurse Beverly Propes, a member of Friendship Baptist Church. Her church and Wayman AME Church have been partners in this effort for about five years. Continue Reading →

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State’s new health exchange weighs how best to enroll the uninsured

 

 

 

 
 Outreach and education essential to success
 

Open enrollment for the new MNsure health exchange program is slated to start this October. “This process of creating a Minnesota [health] exchange was a lengthy one,” states Stairstep Foundation CEO Alfred Babington-Johnson, a member of the health insurance exchange advisory task force. “The State of Minnesota was one of the first states” to work on developing an exchange since the Affordable Care Act became law three years ago, beginning with the formation of the task force. According to the state website (see below), “MNsure will be a simple, easy-to-use marketplace” for consumers to find the right health plans that suit their needs through a five-step process: 1) access the website for selection; 2) review health plans; 3) select a plan; 4) check to see if you qualify for tax credits or other health programs; and 5) complete the enrollment process. Babington-Johnson says that at least 31 percent of the state’s uninsured are low-income persons and people of color. Continue Reading →

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Minnesota legislators work to finalize State health exchange — Democratic majority doesn’t make exchange a ‘slam dunk’

 

 

By Charles Hallman 

Staff Writer

 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that beginning in 2014, each state either must have a health exchange available that allows qualified individuals to buy coverage, or join with other states to create regional exchanges. Or can let the federal government do it. It is intended not only to offer affordable health insurance to consumers, but also to increase competition among private insurers, giving their prospective consumers the ability to choose from at least four different levels of policies. Minnesota’s new health insurance exchange is now a couple of steps from becoming reality after the Minnesota House last week voted 72 to 58 on a health insurance exchange bill. Minnesota is among 17 states plus the District of Columbia that are setting state-based exchanges. Continue Reading →

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Task force prepares for Affordable Care Act provisions

 

 
Group offers recommendations to ensure health disparities are addressed

By Charles Hallman
Staff Writer

One of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) major provisions is the creation of insurance exchanges or state-based marketplaces for small businesses and people without employer health coverage. Although these exchanges, designed to offer choices of affordable health plans, are not mandated until 2014, Minnesota officials are now meeting to decide how to set them up. Will these insurance exchanges, which must be in place beginning in 2014, address health disparities? This was the oft-asked topic at the January 17 state health insurance exchange advisory task force meeting at Shiloh International Temple in North Minneapolis. Health disparities “are a high-priority issue,” says Task Force Chair and State Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman at the four-hour meeting at Shiloh Temple. Continue Reading →

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