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St. Louis churches found a brilliant way to eliminate $12.9 million in medical debt for more than 11,000 families
via Wil C.Fry / Flickr

Medical debt is a huge problem in America. It's estimated that 43 million Americans owe $75 billion in past-due medical bills.

Medical debt is highest in states that refused to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare).

Studies show that in states that expanded Medicaid through the ACA, the percentage of nonelderly, low-income adults with medical debt dropped from 43% to 30% from 2012 to 2015. In states that did not, the number only fell 7%.


Missouri has the seventh-highest number of adults 18 to 64 who have past due medical debt, with 30.6%. The state is one of the 14 that refused to expand coverage under the ACA.

Should the state continue to refuse expansion, it will miss out on $17.8 billion in federal funding from 2013 to 2022.


via BCNN / Twitter

The United Church of Christ and the Deaconess Foundation found a brilliant way to wipe out $12.9 million in medical debt for low-income families in the St. Louis area. They partnered with RIP Medical Debt, a New York-based nonprofit organization, to buy the debt that would have been purchased by a debt collection agency.

Hospitals and other health organizations sometimes sell off debt they deem uncollectible to collection agencies for pennies on the dollar. The debt collection agencies then profit off the payments they receive from the outstanding debt.

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Fourteen UCC congregations raised about $60,00 for the program and the Deaconess Foundation contributed $40,000 to the campaign. Altogether, the organizations spent around $100,000 to eliminate nearly $13 million in debt.

"How better could our $40,000 have been invested in campaigns in this community?" Rev. Starsky Wilson, president of the Deaconess Foundation, told St. Louis Today.

"How better could the churches of the United Church of Christ have spent the more than $60,000 that they have invested in this campaign? How better could $12.9 million be put on purpose in our community so that our children live in a better world?" he continued.

In the coming days, 11,108 families will receive notices in the mail that their debt had been paid off by the churches.

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"I feel like it's going to be a life-changer for me and my family," Teara Norris, 34, one of the recipients, told St. Louis Today. "I am going to be able to not worry and stress about the medical bills that I have. … It's going to prepare me to take care of my family."

via OhioMHAS Public Affairs / Flickr

The effort was also a push for the state of Missouri to expand Medicaid coverage throughout the state. Missouri's Republican Governor Mike Parsons has refused to expand coverage in the state calling it a "massive tax increase that Missourians cannot afford."

There is a petition to get a ballot measure that would expand Medicaid on the November 2020 ballot. If approved, the Missouri Medicaid Expansion Initiative would require the state government to provide Medicaid for persons under the age of 65 whose incomes are equal to or below 138 percent of the official poverty line as set forth in the ACA.

via FIRST

FIRST students compete in a robotics challenge.

True

Societies all over the world face an ever-growing list of complex issues that require informed solutions. Whether it’s addressing infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, supply chain issues or resource scarcity, the world has an immediate need for problem-solvers with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Here in the United States, we’re experiencing a shortage of much-needed STEM workers, and forward-thinking organizations are stepping up to tap into America’s youth to fill the void. As the leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education, FIRST is an important player in this arena, and its mission is to inspire young people aged 4 to 18 to become technology leaders and innovators capable of addressing the world’s pressing needs.

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The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

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Brando was a shoo-in for Best Actor at the 1973 Academy Awards, so the actor decided to use the opportunity to make an important point about Native American representation in Hollywood.

Instead of attending the ceremony, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Yaqui and Apache actress and activist dressed in traditional clothing, to talk about the injustices faced by Native Americans.

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1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.