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Two Million Children Could Lose “CHIP” Coverage Next Month



Phillip Verhoef speaks at a rally Dec. 14, 2017, hosted by University of Chicago medical students to call on Congress to reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Nearly 2 million children will lose health coverage starting next month if Congress doesn’t renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by Friday, a new report projects.

Already, state CHIP administrators say, parents are panicking and permanent damage has been done to the program, set up to take care of kids who don’t have health insurance through other programs.

CHIP covers 9 million children across the country. Congress failed to authorize funding in September, and some states have already started warning parents to get their last medical visits in while money lasts.

“Our phones are ringing off the wall,” said Cathy Caldwell, director of the Alabama Bureau of Children’s Health Insurance.

“We have panicked families wondering what in the world they have as options. So it is just very, very stressful here in Alabama,” Caldwell told reporters in a telephone briefing.

The crisis puzzles health policy experts, doctors and politicians, who say CHIP is a universally popular program that’s never been made into a political pawn before.

Earlier Wednesday, Democrats in Congress urged their GOP colleagues who control both the House and Senate to act by Friday. “This is the ultimate bad Christmas carol story,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said at a news conference where politicians held lumps of coal.

CHIP has bipartisan support, but Republicans have been focused on passing a tax reform bill — their first legislative victory for 2017.

“Congress must get CHIP done before they leave for the holidays,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Research Center, which issued the latest report.

“Families need the peace of mind that their child’s coverage will not disappear as the new year begins.”

The report finds that 20 states will run short of money in the first quarter of 2018.

“There’s no good options here.” “Never before has congress let CHIP funding lapse for this long a period of time,” Alker said.

The continuing resolution that Congress passed earlier this month shifts around $1.24 billion in CHIP funds so that the states running out the fastest get some 2017 money. But that’s at the expense of states that were not running out as quickly.

“In essence, the patch robs Peter to pay Paul,” the report reads.

“The remaining 31 states will see their share of redistribution funds reduced, and thus the timeline by which they will run out of money is accelerated. Despite the additional funds, the 20 ‘winner’ states will only have sufficient funds to operate their programs through January,” it adds.

“All of them will come up short for February.”

Linda Nablo, chief deputy director of Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services, said her state has even less money than she thought just weeks ago.

“There’s no good options here,” Nablo said.

Caldwell said Alabama is already making contingency plans.

If Congress provides funding by Friday, the state will not have to freeze its programs.

“If it happens after Feb. 1, then we’re looking at rebuilding the program,” Caldwell said.

“Even what’s happened so far, I believe, will cause irreparable damage to the CHIP program. It’s already negatively affecting our credibility.”

The last time Alabama froze enrollment into CHIP, some families stayed away for a decade after funding was restored, she said.

“It will take us years and years to overcome it,” Caldwell said. “But by far the worst is what’s going to happen to the children who lose coverage.”

Pediatricians say when kids don’t have health insurance, their parents skip needed medical care.

“For some conditions, that can be deadly,” said Dr. Sam Bartle, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at the Virginia Commonwealth University/VCU Health System and president of the Virginia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.


NBC News and the American Academy of Pediatrics contributed to this report.

#LeNora Millen     12-21-17

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Allergy Woes



Vocal Tips for the Voice during Allergy Season 

Springtime is here! I don’t know about you, but its one of my favorite seasons. Unfortunately, for professional voice users, it’s also the worst season for keeping and maintaining a healthy voice. Some of us refer to spring as,  the dreaded allergy season. From the blooming flowers, the seemingly invisible pollen that floats in the air and, if you have a  pet, the excessive pet dander is more than enough to cause that itchy, scratchy feeling in your throat and cause your sinuses to go bananas! There are several things you can do to relieve both your voice and sinuses during the spring season. I won’t list everything because we would be here ALLDAY and this article will look more like a dissertation and sweet brown says it best, “Ain’t nobody got time for that”. Don’t worry, I got you, I picked five of my favorite practices that offer me IMMEDIATE relief and it will do the same for you.

1) The first and most important thing you can do is stay hydrated. Drinking the proper amount of water offer a plethora of benefits to your mind, body, and soul. However, water is especially important for professional voice users like you and me. Water helps to naturally flush out allergens and thin mucus. Also, things like caffeinated beverages, allergy pills and a host of other things many people consume daily, immensely dry the throat and sinus cavities. Water not only keep the throat moist, it helps prevent you overworking your voice to produce sound.

2) Consuming local honey will help you develop immunity to the local pollen Keep in mind, if you travel a lot for speaking, singing or both, you should find local honey where you are traveling as well.  You can put in your favorite herbal tea or even take a teaspoon full a day will help you SO MUCH! It might sound weird but I will work and will thank me later.  Note: ( You can find local honey at some farm to table restaurants or local grocery stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts or Adkins).


3) Check the pollen index daily on your local news or weather app. Yes, this is a real thing and is an awesome way to know how to care for your voice and sinuses BEFORE you go outside. How so?!, I’m glad you asked…This helps me decide if I will need to do a sinus rinse, cover my mouth and nose to prevent breathing in so many air born allergens, which cause soreness and vocal fatigue. It also helps me decide what allergy pill I’ll need for the day If any. This is especially important if you have to speak of sing that day.


4) A neti pot or saline rise, used regularly (with distilled water only) will keep your nasal passages clear of things like pollen and other air born allergies. Although seemingly uncomfortable to some, this will give your sinuses instant relief and help significantly minimize post-nasal drip.


5) Last but surely not least a cool mist humidifier next to your bed while you sleep will serve multiple purposes. If you’ve ever experienced waking up with a dry sticky throat, this means you aren’t hydrated enough. The cool mist humidifier will be like you’re drinking water as you sleep. The cool mist you breathe in while you sleep will add much needed moister to vocal cords while you sleep. This will, over a short period of time, eliminate that dry scratchy feeling. A cool mist humidifier will also work against allergens, such as dust while you rest as well. So, you see, its a win, win! I hope these tips we helpful and that you’ll return for more tea, with ya girl Deonna Marie. Remember, If you have a voice to share with the world, you should care for it because it’s your voice that takes care of you. `

That’s all 


-Deonna Marie 


Deonna Marie | The Gift of Voice, Professional Classical Singer, Vocal Coach, and Speaker

Facebook: @thegiftofvoice

Instagram: @thegift_ofvoice


Youtube: Deonna Marie Cattledge

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The “tea” on Vocal Health



Deonna Marie, Vocal Health Editor


How to Care for the Voice as a Professional Voice User

Are you a Professional Voice User? My name is Deonna Marie and I am here to spill the tea on vocal health. A professional voice user can include anything from singers and speakers to religious leaders and vloggers. I too am a professional voice user. I am a classical singer, vocal coach, and speaker. Okay, maybe I might’ve been accused on more than one occasion of being VERY long winded…and maybe I am, but that’s not the topic. Like many of you, I am also a daughter, friend, sibling, and colleague. Some of you might have a significant other or may have children in your life. So you see, we use our voice A LOT!!! On a daily basis professional voice users, use their voices more than two times the average person. This vocal use, if not done correctly, can potentially cause harm to your voice. I aspire to not only help you prevent vocal harm but in addition, I hope to educate you on ways you can maximize your voice while being healthy at the same time.

I’ll be writing about common issues professional voice users have such as preventing hoarseness after rehearsals and speaking engagements, how travel affects the voice, what foods and drinks to avoid, and much more. I will also be sharing vocal health tips such as how to achieve soaring high notes with ease, how to be heard without a microphone, and many other fascinating facts to put in your toolbox as a professional voice user. Think about it, babies can cry for hours without losing their voice, why? Oprah Winfrey’s voice is as youthful today as it was over 25 years ago, why? Professional voice users make their vocal health a priority, treating it as a gift; the gift of voice. My goal is to shed light on a topic commonly overlooked and assist you with improving your vocal health.

Don’t take for granted the gift of voice, you only get one. 

That’s all.

-Deonna Marie


Deonna Marie | The Gift of Voice

Facebook: @thegiftofvoice

Instagram: @thegift_ofvoice


YouTube: Deonna Marie Cattledge



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Question Who You Are and Discover Your Purpose by Rose G. Shelton



From a kid, I was a wondering energy.  Confused about the contradictions in life I saw in the experiences of the beings around me.  The adults, politicians, community leaders, elders and religious heads that graced pulpits, stages and the television waves spoke one thing and lived lives opposing. Friends and neighbors holding onto religious ideologies and at the bottom of the food chain hoping for the truth to one day prove itself to be real and lift them up from the struggles of life.  Never seeing it happen, wishing for it in the bye and bye. And yet, these flawed philosophies were expected to inform me of my own belief system about me. I would find myself questioning humanity, religion, life itself.  The answers to my many questions, I could not find in the divergence of life playing out before my young eyes.  The antagonistic existence and inhumane norms I did not see change much throughout my life. 

So I allowed my mind to give me answers that made more sense than those given to me from the outside. When I say my mind, I mean my spirit.  Also known as God or the Universe.  He nor I care what it is called.  Names are limiting and worthless in context. I will leave the fight of naming to those seeking to be right in the fight of inconsistency. 

I studied this humanity I was a part.  Despite its established hierarchy, I was able to see greatness in the weak and weakness in the great.  I found love in those identified as unlovable and judgment in those considered full of love.  This confusion of this upside-down world led me to study further.  However, the hate and anger toward those that dared be different made me study in silence and not speak of what I assessed.  I did not believe my research findings as a child, would be pleasing to peers or adults alike.  The search outside of my mind for answers and lucidity ceased the older I got and the internal conversation intensified.  This is where I found freedom and my purpose. Inside of me.   No one was able to give it to me. No one was able to discover it for me. No one was able to touch it, no one but me.

I had a hard time accepting my eccentricity in a world that honored compliance and traditionalism.  I held that celebrating originality was not standard.  When discovered, there is always one looking for a way to destroy it in public view and quash all others fire. So, like many of you, I hid it and tried to live a conformed and normal life.  Whatever normal is.   The problem was when you are an idiosyncratic aware of your peculiar individuality; you become as contradictory and complex as everyone else around you.  You become what you are fearful of becoming.  Both you and the world; hiding, conforming, confused. Therefore, not living in authenticity.  Trapped in relationships with illustrious invalidity. 

I realized that I, as others, became defined by experiences, culture, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, tradition and society.  I decided to forsake the game life handed to me and walk in my own identity.  I no longer desired humanities conscious effort to ignore itself and redefine me.  I did not want religion, culture, society, ideology and the like to define, conform or inform me.  I let go.  I instead questioned every part of me and dug through the rubble of my identity to find myself.

There is an intrinsic truth we all hold waiting to be uncovered.  If we allow it to rise to the top, our purpose will become obvious.  Sometimes, your purpose is as simple as I am the one that wipes the eyes of the blind. Maybe you help the lame to walk.  Possibly you are the one that questions man’s intention and action with discerning inquiring.  Despite this likelihood, that unique insatiable vibration that we hold within is killed to be accepted by the blind, the lame and the unquestioned.  While the world remains in constant wanting, waiting for us to arise and shine in the full knowing of who we are.    We fail them because we neglect to ask the question that I ask you to answer today – Man, who are you?

To help you answer this question, I will tell you one of the ways I allowed the answer to come to me.  I close my eyes and stand in the darkness of my mind.  In this secret place of my mind, I have no religion, no family, no country, no ideology.  There is nothing. I am nothing definable.  I am vibration, energy, a movement in the universe that holds an intention that is diminished by words.  Yet, I can detect my place in this vastness.  I examine my intrinsic nature that has remained constant and true despite experiences and life itself.  I apprehend that I am a questioner that questions all things, and yet, I am the holder of answers.  I question because questioning brings me answers that faith cannot clarify or quantify. 

Since I have recognized and accepted this concept of myself, my life has felt freer and has more value.  I am solid in who I am and my purpose.  We all have our place and part to play. Without you playing your part, I and others, cannot fully achieve on our path.  We benefit from your greatness. 

With that said, what are the 8 questions to ask yourself right now to help discover who you are and gain clarity of your purpose.

1.     What informs your definition of who you are? 

2.     Are you defined by life’s stories, traumas, tragedy, money, career, family, religion, race, ethnicity or something intangible? 

3.     Who do you say you are, what is your 15 second elevator pitch of you?

4.     Is your speech about what you do, what you look like or something deeper?

5.     What fear keeps you from being uniquely you? 

6.     What comfort is there in conformity that you believe is not present in arising and shinning as the diamond that you are?

7.     If you could do anything in life for free and money was not an issue, what would it be?

8.     What do you find yourself doing in every area of your life naturally?




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