Insurers’ dirty tricks undermine promise of Obamacare

Thanks to President Obama’s landmark healthcare law, insurance companies are no longer allowed to turn away patients with pre-existing health problems. This “guaranteed issue” mandate enables millions of sick Americans to buy affordable insurance and access vital medications.

Unfortunately, insurers have discovered a sneaky way to undermine this requirement. They’re structuring plans to heap huge costs and bureaucratic burdens onto high-risk patients, leaving insured patients without real access to medical care.

Federal officials must halt such discriminatory practices. Fortunately, David McKinley (WV-01) and Lois Capps (D-CA) recently introduced the Patients’ Access to Treatments Act (PATA) to do just that. Lawmakers should pass it immediately.

Insurers strap sick patients with big bills by putting expensive medications into the highest “tier.” Insurers typically divide their drug benefits into different tiers, with the lowest providing the most financial support and the highest providing the least. The higher the tier— the higher the patient’s out-of-pocket expenses.

For example, in the state-level insurance exchanges established by Obamacare, more than half of the popular “Silver” plans place all multiple sclerosis drugs in the top tier. Patients suffering from this devastating condition are getting hit with huge costs. Many are forced to forego needed treatments.

PATA ensures that patients can afford these life-saving medications. The bill prohibits insurers from grouping specialty drugs in higher cost sharing tiers than the ones used for regular medicines.

Many health insurers also have a “fail first” policy. Patients must first take drugs that are less effective and often less safe— and only when these fail can they receive needed medicines. In other words, insurers force people to get sicker before offering them lifesaving treatments.

A new Harvard study suggests insurers are deliberately offering thin coverage for high-cost therapies to dissuade chronically ill patients from signing up in the first place. When people who need costly drugs see treatments’ price tags, they look elsewhere for coverage— which is what insurers want.

Insurers justify such discrimination by claiming it helps contain healthcare costs, keeping premiums affordable. After all, those with serious illnesses disproportionately rely on expensive, specialty medicines. They’re the one percent of patients— often referred to as “super spenders”— that account for more than a fifth of the nation’s annual health expenditures.

However, this argument is misleading. Expanding access to prescription drugs actually helps bring down long-term healthcare costs— and denying sick patients needed medications drives costs up.

Cancer drugs, for instance, help keep patients healthy and out of the hospital. As a proportion of total cancer treatment costs, drug spending nearly tripled from 2001 to 2011. Over that same time, the share of total costs spent on hospital stays dropped by 25 percent. Spending more on better medications has improved cancer patient health and saved money.

Restricting drug access to trim healthcare expenses usually backfires. The average patient will skip prescribed medications if her monthly out-of-pocket costs exceed $200. Such “non-adherence” typically causes a patient’s condition to worsen to the point where she requires much more expensive medical interventions.

One of Obamacare’s central promises was that sick patients would no longer suffer from discrimination. Insurers are breaking that promise by strapping vulnerable patients with huge costs and forcing them to fail on less effective treatments. Lawmakers must stop these abuses— and the Patients’ Access to Treatments Act is a good place to start.

Robert Goldberg is vice president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Goodridge of Baltimore participates in humanitarian efforts

— Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Goodridge, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and family nurse practitioner assigned to Naval Branch Health Clinic New England, Conn., examines a patient at a medical site established at the Centro Escolar Lisandro Larin Zepeda in support of Continuing Promise 2015.

Continuing Promise is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet-conducted deployment to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian-civil assistance, subject matter expert exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support and disaster response to partner nations and to show U.S. support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean.

New workbook helps teens ‘Play Up’

Since the release of the wildly popular book “Playing Up,” Vaughn McKoy and his wife, Marnie McKoy thought of ways in which they could make the lessons found in the book practical in ways that could drive behavior and complement academic learning.

In the follow up titled, “The Coaches’ Playbook,” the authors have created a tool that can be used to teach character education through literacy programs for grades six to 12.

“It [also] empowers young adults with the mindset and tools necessary to overcome obstacles and build meaningful relationships,” said Vaughn McKoy, whose life is the subject of the first book. “Playing Up: One Man’s Rise from Public Housing to Public Service Through Mentorship.”

McKoy, whose professional accomplishments include becoming a litigator, assistant United States attorney and the head of the criminal division for the New Jersey Attorney General, grew up in poverty and at 17 while a junior in high school, he became a father.

He was able to escape the many pitfalls that come with being a teen dad and living in the projects after meeting business mogul Arthur M. Goldberg, who mentored him.

His autobiography notes ways in which McKoy said others can overcome such adversity including finding a mentor and how time becomes more valuable than money when it comes to a mentorship.

“Overall, ‘Playing Up’ has been well received among diverse readers as a truly inspirational story of triumph over challenges through hard work, education and mentorship,” McKoy said, noting that his wife and co-author Marnie McKoy is a Baltimore native who also attended Rutgers University in New Jersey, where McKoy graduated.

“’Playing Up’ has been incorporated into a high school English course, a middle school course, academic enrichment and summer reading programs for traditional and public charter schools, as well as juvenile justice programming,” he said.

In connection with the launch of “The Coaches’ Playbook,” McKoy donated .

McKoy is also facilitating a book study with young adults who are residents of juvenile justice programs.

Discussions with other school districts and education officials – including locally – are ongoing and they are developing an assessment tool to determine the impact of the book and curriculum on students’ academic achievement and social-emotional development, he said.

The authors notes that “The Coaches’ Playbook” is an effective resource because it is interdisciplinary, prompts critical thinking and problem solving and includes mini-writing lessons to help students improve their writing skills while reading the book.

It can also be scaffolded to meet varying skill levels and contains diverse question types, including true/false, multiple choice and short answer, said McKoy, who is also working to complete another new book, “Rookie,” a sports-themed allegory that illustrates a successful mentoring relationship between “Rookie” and his new mentor, an effervescent business mogul known as “Doc.”

Through “Rookie” and the action steps that follow each chapter, readers/mentees develop twelve key “success plays” to build valuable relationships with mentors to enable them to triumph in both work and life, according to McKoy.

“The uniqueness of ‘Rookie’ is that it emphasizes the mentee’s responsibility and provides the mentee with the tools necessary to best leverage the relationship,” he said.

The former teen father also has advice for young individuals.

“For the teen fathers, love your kids and be present for them, regardless of a temporary inability to provide for them,” McKoy said. “For those teenagers who are not fathers, don’t strive to become one. Being a teenager in the twenty-first century is a challenge within itself,” he said.

“Playing Up” can be purchased at and “The Coaches’ Playbook” is available in e-book format at To purchase hard copies or bulk supply of “The Coaches’ Playbook” call 908-420-6056.

Port Discovery and NASA invite children, families to learn about light, optics

— On Sunday, August 2, 2015, Port Discovery Children’s Museum will host its second of four NASA Sunday Experiments, a series of hands-on, inquiry-based activities focused on specific NASA missions from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m.

The upcoming Sunday Experiment will feature activities to help visitors learn about lights and optics. At NASA, researchers look far, far away to learn about the structure of our universe to understand how stars form and if they have planets that could support life. They also study Earth to see how it is changing. Much of what is known about these things comes from light traveling from these objects to NASA’s optical instruments.

Hands-on activities will teach children how instruments built at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland use optics to unlock the secrets carried in this light.

These instruments help NASA answer the important questions about an object: “what does it look like?” (with imagers, that operate using reflection and refraction), “what is it made of?” (with spectrometers, which spread light into a rainbow using dispersion & diffraction), and “what can we learn about the structure?” (with polarimeters, measuring the light’s polarization).

NASA Sunday Experiments are free with museum admission. Additional Sunday Experiment dates are scheduled for Sunday, August 23, 2015 and Sunday, October 11, 2015.

RAMBLING ROSE: Rosa Pryor Scholarship Fund announces its last year!

Hello my dear friends, this will be a heavy duty week as far as fun, activities, live entertainment, cookouts and festivals. I first want to tell you all about the “Ruth Kirk Family Fun Festival,” which is celebrating their 20th year. Even though our dear friend, Ruth Kirk has passed on, her legacy in the community has

Cleveland Brister, Community advocate & Promoter

Cleveland Brister, Community advocate & Promoter

remained thanks to Cleve Brister. Vendors with food, jewelry, clothing, arts and crafts will be available, as

well as health, education and community information. For two days Saturday and Sunday, August 8 and 9 from noon until 8 p.m. there will be fun for the whole family. Live entertainment includes; local group Simple Black, Bobby Rucks Band, and The Spindells. Rosa Pryor’s dynamic Motown group, Signature Live, will set your soul on fire. I also will be doing a book signing. Come on out and enjoy.

JB Brown announces “JB Brown, playing the best music of the 50’s, 60’s & the 70’s since July 20, 2015. Listen to interviews of some of the “Living Legends” of Rock & Roll as well as some of Americas’ greatest Radio Personalities. For more information, call 410-425-8739.

JB Brown announces “JB Brown, playing the best music of the 50’s, 60’s & the 70’s since July 20, 2015. Listen to interviews of some of the “Living Legends” of Rock & Roll as well as some of Americas’ greatest Radio Personalities. For more information, call 410-425-8739.

The other thing I want to discuss with you is that The Rosa Pryor Music Scholarship Fund, INC. (non-profit 501(c) 3 organization is celebrating 24 years and the last year of the organization. Yes, that is right! I am closing down the organization by the first of the year. I thank you all who have supported me through the years and believe in my mission of giving underprivileged children a chance to explore their musical talent. Children that would normally go unnoticed. To date, I have honored over 110 musicians and have given 104 children scholarships. So my dear friends and readers from all walks of life, for one last time, I am calling for the support of all my friends, fans, musicians, club owners and organizations who I have helped in some way. You can buy tickets, send a donation and/or, purchase ads in our souvenir journal for the final Rosa Pryor Music Scholarship Black & Gold Scholarships and Awards Ball, which will be Sunday,

MJ Productions (Mike Jones) celebrates Jim “Magic” Johnson Birthday at his Black & White Cabaret on Saturday, August 1, 2015 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Pikesville Community Center located at 40 East Sudbrook Lane in Pikesville, Maryland. The Rollex Band and DJ TC Flash & DJ Mike Jones will be featured. BYOB and free set ups. For ticket information, call 410-744-9595.

MJ Productions (Mike Jones) celebrates Jim “Magic” Johnson Birthday at his Black & White Cabaret on Saturday, August 1, 2015 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Pikesville Community Center located at 40 East Sudbrook Lane in Pikesville, Maryland. The Rollex Band and DJ TC Flash & DJ Mike Jones will be featured. BYOB and free set ups. For ticket information, call 410-744-9595.

October 25th from 4-8 p.m. at the Forum Caterers. It will be a formal black tie, red carpet event. Please contact me by email; or call me at 410-833-9474 and let me know how you will help us and to get information. Also, we have spots available for at least 10 more children who are gifted or talented in playing an instrument or singing to audition by August 8th. Please go to my web site to get an application.

Okay folks, check out the photos to see what is coming up, I am out of space and time. Remember if you need me, call me or send an email to the phone number and email address above. UNTIL THE NEXT TIME, I’M MUSICALLY YOURS.

Family workouts that strengthen bodies and bonds

Busy is the operative word for many modern families. Between school, work and extracurricular demands, every day has family members scattered, doing their own things. Too often, home becomes the place for decompressing in front of a screen — many times, in separate rooms and for hours on end.

Declining opportunities for family interaction and increasing sedentary time at home represent a significant threat to our children’s health and wellness. The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration points to a connection between the quality of family bonding and future mental health. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that obesity rates having tripled for children and quadrupled for adolescents during the last 30 years.

Designating time for quick, fun family workouts is an efficient way to foster bonds and boost activity levels simultaneously. My husband and I have been working out with our children every Sunday for years.

Cue the excuses: But we don’t have a gym membership. We don’t have space at home. We can’t afford a trainer and don’t know what or how to design a family workout.

You don’t need a trainer or a gym. If you have a driveway or sidewalk, or access to a small playground or park, you have enough space. And creating a simple, effective workout doesn’t require a personal training certification.

“There are basic human movements that serve as the foundation of everything we do in our daily lives — regardless of age or training level. If you focus on these fundamentals, you’ll improve the quality of your life,” said fitness expert Dan John, author of “Can You Go? Assessments and Program Design for the Active Athlete and Everyone Else.”

Our family workouts are based on four of John’s fundamental movements: pushing, pulling, hinging and squatting.

Using a plug-and-play format to address the four movement categories, we simply add a quick warm-up and cool-down to create endless workout sequences appropriate for everyone in our family.

Try the sample workout sequence below. Once you’re comfortable with it, you can easily create your own family workout using the same blueprint.

Getting started

Remember always to consult your physician before starting any new exercise program. Use caution and stop if you feel any pain, weakness or lightheadedness.

Everyone does the warm-up and cool-down together at the beginning and end of the workout. The fundamental movement exercises serve as a sequence of stations that each family member cycles through multiple times, depending on how long and intensely you want to work out. We usually go through ours three times. Exercises can be for five to 20 reps, depending on current fitness levels and goals. Higher weights with lower reps build muscle size and strength, while lower weights with higher reps build muscular endurance.

Preadolescents shouldn’t worry about increasing weight or reps; instead focus on movement with good form. When form breaks down, stop — regardless of rep count.

Although this is a workout, it’s meant to be fun family time. No one should act like a drill sergeant. Worry less about sticking exactly to the exercise plan and focus more on safely moving your bodies while enjoying spending time together.

Workout preparation

Ensure everyone has water and shoes are tied.

Set up your supplies in “stations” for your workout sequence. In this sample workout, we use foam rollers for warm-up; sidewalk chalk for an agility ladder (drawing a simple 10- to 12-foot chalk ladder with each “rung” about a 10 to 12 inches apart); appropriate weights or kettle bells for squatting and deadlifting; mats for push-ups, warm-up and cool-down; and a TRX suspension system for rows from the tree.


Myofascial release

This is intended to relieve tension and increase blood flow in muscles.

You can roll virtually every part of your body, but in the interest of time during family workouts, we stick to the major muscles of the legs and back. Roll up and down for about 30 seconds each. This can also be used as a cool-down.

Mobility warm-up

This warm-up promotes mobility in the hips, shoulders, back and legs.

Walking low lunges with arm reaches are great for getting your whole body moving. Step forward in a lunge position and put both hands down on either side of your front foot. Reach one arm up at a time and then return to standing. Repeat on the other side, alternating for a set of eight to 12 lunges.

Agility drills

These drills raise the heart rate and enhance proprioception and balance.

Chalk ladder agility exercises are fun and invigorating. You can do any number of hopping, sidestepping or skipping exercises. Our family likes to play “Follow the Leader,” with each member getting the opportunity to lead an exercise of his or her choice up and back on the ladder. If you don’t have sidewalk chalk, you can do any of the suggested exercises without drawing a ladder.

Pushing movement


Plank hold or downward dog pose are suggested modifications for younger children.

Begin in a plank position with feet hip distance apart and your wrists aligned under your shoulders. Keep your core engaged to avoid the lower back arching and your belly sagging toward the ground. Bend your elbows, lowering your body in one solid piece down until your elbows and shoulders are parallel. Your head should stay in line with your spine. Push your body back up to your starting plank position.

Pulling movement

TRX rows

It’s important to follow the directions that come with your TRX training system to hang it safely from a tree, playground equipment or other appropriate fixture. Always supervise younger children while using suspension training.

While standing, hold TRX handles with a neutral grip. Lean your body straight back so that your arms extend at chest height. Make a rowing motion by bending your elbows and pulling your chest toward the handles. Keep your body aligned and core strong throughout the motion. Don’t bend from the waist.

You don’t need a TRX for pulling movements; we just happen to use one. If you don’t have one, you can do any number of pulling movements, such as bent-over dumbbell rows or pull-ups.

Hinging movement

Single-leg dead lifts

Yoga airplane or warrior three balance are suggested modifications for younger children.

From standing, hold a moderate-weight kettle bell or dumbbell at your side in your left hand. Begin a single-leg hip hinge by reaching back with your left leg and hinging forward over your right leg to let the weight come down to the ground in front of you. Slowly hip hinge and stand back up with both feet on the ground and the weight held at your side. Repeat this movement for the desired repetitions and then move to the other side.

Squatting movement

Goblet squat

Squatting without weight or with a water bottle are suggested modifications for younger children.

Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip distance. Hold a kettle bell or dumbbells close to your chest. Select a weight that is heavy enough to be challenging but light enough to enable you to maintain form throughout all of your reps. Squat down between your legs as deeply as possible without pain; ideally, your elbows should touch your legs. Keep your chest and head up with your back straight. Return to the starting position. Repeat for desired number of reps.


Twisting stretch cool-down

This cool-down stretches chest, leg, hip and back muscles used during your workout.

From a seated straddle, fold your right leg in toward your groins. Rotate to line your chest up with your straight left leg. Exhale as you stretch over that leg, reaching your right hand under the outside of your left calf. Inhale as you twist to the left, reaching your left arm straight back behind you. Hold for five long, deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Family high-five

What better way to close out your workout than with a celebratory family high-five?


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Wrongful Death: What happened to Sandra Bland?

Special to the NNPA from the Houston Forward Times

It is still unknown whether 28-year-old Sandra Bland was murdered by Waller County law enforcement officials or whether she committed suicide, but whatever the cause of death there is one thing for certain – it was a wrongful death.

Concerned citizens and community activists from all across the Greater Houston area have been up-in-arms and gravely concerned after receiving the news that Bland, an African-American female, was found hanging in a jail cell by a plastic bag on Monday, July 13th.

Authorities immediately released reports saying Bland hanged herself in her Waller County jail cell – which is about 60 miles northwest of Houston – three days after having her head slammed to the ground and being arrested for allegedly getting into a physical altercation with an officer during a routine traffic stop – Bland supposedly failed to signal a lane change.

Bland had recently come back home to Texas to take a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University, and was stopped on Friday, July 10, by a Waller County state trooper. Another driver recorded cell phone video of the incident is her telling the officers she is in pain and cannot hear after her head was slammed on the ground by the male arresting officer.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has identified the law enforcement official who made the initial traffic stop of Bland as Brian Encinia. According to state records, Encinia, 30, has served at the department for one year and one month after earning his peace officer license in June 2014 and after receiving 1511 hours of training from the agency.

This past Monday, the Waller County Sheriff’s Office released a three-hour surveillance video taken from outside of Bland’s jail cell on the morning she was found dead in her cell.

Although the video released was three hours long, the video itself only covers 9 minutes and 26 seconds of actual footage because the camera is motion-activated.

At 7:17 a.m., the video shows an officer stop by Bland’s cell for several seconds and according to investigators, Bland told the officer that she was fine. Less than an hour later, another officer – a female officer – checked on Bland and you see the officer bend down, stand up and then start running for help.

According to Captain Brian Cantrell of the Waller County Sheriff’s Office, “the jailer looked through the window and observed Miss Bland hanging from her privacy partition in her cell.”

Cantrell stated that Bland was then placed on the floor for jailers to perform CPR and then five minutes later, paramedics went in but she was already dead.

According to the Harris County Medical Examiner, her death was ruled a suicide.

So far, authorities said they see no sign of foul play, but Bland’s family and supporters don’t believe she committed suicide and believe foul play may have been involved.

“The family of Sandra Bland is confident that she was killed and did not commit suicide,” the family’s law firm wrote in a statement. “The family has retained counsel to investigate Sandy’s death.”

Pastor Jamal Bryant, of the Empowerment Temple AME Church of Baltimore, has been in Hempstead at the Bland family’s request and believes Bland was murdered.

“This was not a case of suicide, but homicide,” said Bryant. “I stand in solidarity with the family, but we have to enlarge the narrative. This issue is bigger than Sandy. There is an attack on Black people in America and it must be acknowledged and dealt with immediately.”

Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said the Texas Rangers, along with the FBI, are analyzing the video to make sure it has not been altered and are investigating the death of Bland.

“It is very much too early to make any kind of determination that this was a suicide or a murder because the investigations are not complete,” said Mathis. “This investigation is still being treated just as it would be in a murder investigation. There are many questions being raised in Waller County, across the country and the world about this case. It needs a thorough review.”

Mathis has asked the Texas Rangers to do extensive scientific testing for fingerprints, touch DNA and use any other valid investigative techniques in an attempt to “figure out and say with certainty what happened in that cell.”

Bland’s sister, Shante Needham, said that Bland called her from jail the afternoon after her arrest, informing her that she had been arrested for unknown reasons and disclosed the details surrounding her accounts that an officer had placed his knee in her back and she thought her arm had been broken.

According to the Department of Public Safety, Bland “became argumentative and uncooperative” during the routine traffic stop; was arrested for assault on a public servant; and that paramedics were called to the scene to offer Bland a medical evaluation, but she refused.

Video footage captured by another driver who was passing by the incident was released, which shows Bland being forced on the ground and protesting her treatment and subsequent arrest.

The public had been awaiting the release of the dash cam footage from the police car of the officer who pulled Bland over, but according to Cannon Lambert, the attorney representing Bland’s family, you can see Bland arguing with the officer and the officer pulling out his Taser. The dash cam video was released on Tuesday.

Lambert said the dash cam video and the footage from the jail does not provide a full picture of what actually happened to Bland, during the traffic stop or what led to her death, but Lambert shared more details about the dash cam video that should lead to a more detailed investigation.

According to Lambert, the dash cam video shows the following:

Officer approaches Bland’s vehicle and obtains her license and registration;

Officer returns to his police car;

Officer comes back and asks Bland to put out her cigarette, to which she refuses;

Officer orders Bland to get out of her car and then opens her door;

Bland protests and reaches for her cellphone to record the incident;

Officer steps back and pulls out his Taser;

Bland complies with officer by getting out of the car on her own;

Officer tells Bland to put down her cellphone and tells Bland she is going to jail, to which she questions why

Then the two move behind Bland’s vehicle to the passenger side of the car, and are out of view for the rest of the footage

Out of view, Bland can be heard protesting her arrest

Video footage reportedly captured by a passer-by released last week appears to show Bland on the ground and protesting as she is being taken into custody.

State Senator Rodney Ellis sent a letter to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards – which monitors county jails across the state – asking for a thorough inspection of the jail.

“The family and the community deserve to know how this unfortunate loss of life occurred, whether there were any violations of procedures and protocols, and how this could have been prevented,” said Ellis.

U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee stated that she was contacting the U.S. Department of Justice to ask officials to look further into the death of Bland.

“Hopefully we will be pursuing this to get an understanding how this young lady lost her life,” said Jackson Lee.

Several community activists, ministers, students and concerned citizens have been holding protests, rallies and marches in the area and more are planned.

In the meantime, DPS has said the officer who stopped Bland violated traffic stop procedures and department policy and is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

The family is awaiting the results of an independent autopsy and the results of the investigation surrounding the death of their loved one – Sandra Bland.

The Houston Forward Times will continue to follow this story and provide updates as they arise.

Ravens rookie WR Breshad Perriman focused on weaknesses off season

— The Baltimore Ravens welcomed their veteran players to training camp on Wednesday. First round draft pick Breshad Perriman has been in Owings Mills for a week. He spoke to the media for the first time on Wednesday. Losing Torrey Smith to the San Francisco 49ers created an opportunity to step in and be a starting receiver opposite of Steve Smith Sr. Perriman is certainly a candidate to be the guy but there are a few others that would like that role as well.

The first order of things for Perriman is to learn the playbook. A fast receiver isn’t fast if he doesn’t know where he is going. Perriman said that he has made a tremendous amount of progress when it comes to learning the playbook. Needless to say, he spent plenty of time getting better acclimated to the playbook over the off season.

There have been some grumblings about Perriman being a raw prospect. He is aware of his areas for improvement and attacked them during the offseason. The biggest question that many raised about Perriman focused on his catching ability. One of the big contributors to dropping the football is being fatigued. Fatigue makes it more difficult to focus, which causes a receiver to not do the basic things such as look the ball into the tuck.

Perriman said that cardio, which will help reduce fatigue was a big time focus for him as he trained for the season. “The main point of my training for the most part was fighting fatigue. I feel like when you get tired, your mind starts wandering and things could start to get less consistent.” Perriman said.

Playing in the NFL requires a lot more attention to detail. Everyone is fast and everyone has extraordinary ability. It’s the little things that make the difference. Getting into his stance properly is an area of improvement for Perriman. He acknowledged that he didn’t place an emphasis on that in the past.

“My dad would always talk about how your stance is so important. I go back and look at college film now and see my stance and say; ‘wow that’s pretty bad.’ It will help me a lot.” Perriman continued; “Your stance is what helps you fire off of the ball. The stance starts it all. It plays a vital part of being a good receiver.”

Working with Ravens receivers coach Bobby Engram helped Perriman find balance in his stance. This creates a more explosive release at the line of scrimmage. Coach Engram has helped Perriman become more powerful off of the ball.

Defensive backs in the NFL play a lot differently from the ones that Perriman faced in college. There is a lot more press at the line. For that reason, the young receiver will need to continue to work on beating the press. The defensive backs also make it harder to get open. They can read a receiver and predict their routes. They are also a lot faster.

The differences jumped out to Perriman immediately when he first went against NFL defensive backs. “For the most part, the speed of the game really surprised me. I didn’t realize that they would be that fast.” Perriman said. “The way that everyone gets to the ball in the NFL is very fast and how they try to strip the ball is a lot different.”

Running better routes is something that Perriman has worked on and will allow him to utilize the speed that he has been blessed with. He said that he has been working on his technique, specifically getting in and out of his breaks.

From the sounds of it, Perriman seems to have an idea of what will help him become a better route runner. “I wanted to work on just dropping my weight. Some people say that I am a bigger receiver and it’s supposedly hard for us to bend. I don’t use that excuse for myself so I’ve been working on dropping my weight more so that I could focus on coming in and out of my routes faster.”

Even though blacks borrow more for college, enrollment declines

— Recognizing that a college degree is one of the surest paths to a job and economic security, Black families are taking on more student loan debt than White and Hispanic families, according to a new report by Wells Fargo.

According to the report, student loan debt increased by roughly 97 percent between the 1995-1996 school year and 2015 and Black undergraduates that started school during the 2011-2012 school year can expect to borrow $28,400 for a four-year bachelor’s degree compared to Hispanics who will borrow $27,600.

The total price of attendance for Black full-time students increased 115.4 percent during the 2011-2012 school year compared to the 1995-1996 school year and White students experience 113.6 percent jump over the same time period.

The report stated, “The average out-of-pocket net price (which is the price after aid plus student loans) increased 88.7 percent for Blacks, 80.8 percent for Asians and 74.7 percent for Whites between the 2011 and 2012 school year compared to the 1995 and 1996 school year.”

In addition, the report found that more than 60 percent of Black undergraduate students qualify “for some type of aid from the federal government” compared to 50 percent of Hispanics and 34 percent of Whites and Asians.

John Rasmussen, the president of personal lending and the head Education Financial Services at Wells Fargo said that two primary realities often frame the conversation about higher education: student loan debt and the growing costs associated with earning a degree.

“The outstanding amount of student loan debt has now exceeded $1.2 trillion,” said Rasmussen. “That is larger than credit card debt and automobile debt.”

He also noted that the cost of college over the past 20 or 25 years has increased at a pace that is significantly faster than inflation.

“Families are trying to be really practical,” said Rasmussen. “Trying to keep costs down now, staying in state more, exploring community college options, and asking tough questions like, ‘Are my kids ready to go to college?’”

Rasmussen added that students and families want federal loan programs that are easier to navigate, better information about the true costs of federal loans and what families can expect for outcomes like graduation rates, job placement rates and salary and earnings and the repayment performance of students.

Even though Blacks are taking on more student loan debt, in recent years that increased burden has delivered mixed results on enrollment rates.

A 2014 report by the Wells Fargo Securities, LLC Economics Group, that linked educational attainment to economic success, found that Black enrollment in degree-granting institutions has increased considerably since the Great Recession, but that enrollment rate “slowed down noticeably in 2011 and 2012.”

The report said, “This slowdown in Black enrollment in degree-granting institutions plus the strong increase in the enrollment of Hispanics has helped push the Hispanic rate above the Black rate for the first time since the early part of the 1970s.”

Still, economists and education advocates agree that a college education continues to be a sound investment, despite the cost.

“Not only do you have the ability to improve your earning potential over your life, you also are employed over a longer period of time and you’re more likely to keep your job during a recession,” said Eugenio Alemán, a senior economist with Wells Fargo.

The 2014 report cited research that showed that individuals that obtained a bachelor’s degree earned a median income of $50,360, compared to people who finished high school that earned $29,423.

“An associate’s degree leads to a median income of $38,607, more than $9,000 higher than a high school diploma. Those with a graduate degree have a median income of $68,064, 35.2 percent more than those with a bachelor’s degree,’” the 2014 report said.

Even though Blacks 18-24 years old ranked last in enrollment at degree-seeking institutions in 2012 (36.4 percent vs. 42.1 percent of Whites and 37.5 percent of Hispanics), Blacks 18-26 years-old who earned bachelor’s degrees or more, were unemployed just 4.6 percent of weeks from 1998-2011. Blacks (18-26 years-old) who only earned a high school diploma were unemployed nearly three times as long (12.6 percent of weeks) during that time period.

Whites 18-26 years old, who entered the labor market with bachelor’s degree or higher, were unemployed 2.8 percent of weeks between 1998 and 2011, compared to White high school graduates with no college experience who were unemployed 6.8 percent of weeks.

Rasmussen fears that all of the noise in the mainstream media questioning the value of college will have a negative effect on the Black community.

“We need to be really careful on our messaging around the costs, so that kids and families don’t give up hope,” he said. “It takes work and effort and if people view that it’s not worth the effort, then we will have this unintended consequence of underrepresentation of kids of color going to school.

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., the president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, agreed.

“If the message in high schools is consistently ‘Don’t go to college, because it’s too expensive and you’re going to take on all of this debt and you should just go and get a job,’ America is going to have a real challenge as it browns and grays at once,” said Taylor. “Twenty years from now, when you look around and say, ‘There are no African Americans in leadership roles within industry, within government, within any job that requires a bachelor’s degree,’” it will be because people who criticized the high costs of college talked the Black community out of going to college.”

Taylor continued: “The reality is that college is still a great investment.”

Ravens 2015 Training Camp positional preview: Defensive Backs

— The Baltimore Ravens faced an unprecedented amount of injuries to the cornerback position during the 2014 NFL season. As a result, the secondary only had six interceptions last year. Many thought that the Ravens would address the cornerback position with an early selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. The secondary will benefit from having some key players returning from injury.

Starters: Jimmy Smith, Will Hill, Kendrick Lewis, Lardarius Webb

Jimmy Smith signed a four year extension with the Ravens during the off season. He worked to return from a foot injury that cost him most of the 2014 season. Smith was active in offseason activities but was not a full participant during team periods. He should be ready to go for training camp and will be looking to continue to establish himself as one of the game’s best young corners.

Will Hill was a solid addition during training camp last season and is back after signing a one year deal. He took over as a starter at safety last season and has worked primarily with the first team so far. Hill is an aggressive safety that will lay big hits on the ball carrier. He also presents a good match up for tight ends that teams get heavily involved in the passing game.

Kendrick Lewis showed some range and ball skills during offseason workouts. He will be the first team free safety when training camp starts. Lewis brings a much needed veteran presence to the Ravens secondary.

Lardarius Webb looked like he was fully back after fighting a few injuries last season. He continues to be an anchor in the secondary because of the fight that he has in him. Webb will battle taller receivers in jump ball situations and has the agility to stay with the smaller, quick slot receivers.

In the rotation: Kyle Arrington, Matt Elam, Asa Jackson, Anthony Levine, Tray Walker

Arrington is a hometown kid that will be a valuable option in nickel packages. He comes to the Ravens after winning a Super Bowl last season with the New England Patriots. Arrington struggled against the Seahawks 6-5 wide receiver Chris Matthews during the Super Bowl before being benched for Malcolm Butler. It is unlikely that the Ravens put him in matchups on the outside. They’ll probably use him exclusively in the slot.

Asa Jackson was the Ravens nickel option prior to getting injured. Injuries have unfortunately been an ongoing issue with Jackson. When healthy, he can cover pretty well against slot receivers. Last year he worked on being able to hold his own out there on the island that the Ravens man coverage scheme puts their corners on. He will need to continue to progress in that area in order to wrestle playing time away from Arrington.

Matt Elam is surely on the hot seat this year. General manager Ozzie Newsome said that he expects to see a better performance from the former first round draft pick. Elam needs to cut down on the large amount of missed tackles last season. To his credit, Elam did look much better during offseason workouts. The truth will come out once the pads go on.

Anthony Levine was pressed into action at corner when the team suffered a rash of injuries last year. He played well and showed that he could be a reliable option at either corner or safety. The Ravens like versatility so Levine is someone that they’ll give every chance to prove his worth during training camp.

Walker is a fourth round pick that the Ravens personnel department really liked. He is a long corner that really likes to press at the line of scrimmage. Walker is lean but has very good movement skills and can play corner or safety.

On the bubble: Tramain Jacobs, Rashaan Melvin, Brynden Trawick

Special teams could be the saving grace for Jacobs, Melvin or Trawick. The same could be said for Asa Jackson. The Ravens have a large number of quality defensive backs which will make it hard for these players to get the snaps to secure a spot on the roster.

Longshots: Chris Greenwood, Nick Perry, Quinton Porter, Cassius Vaughn Physically Unable to Perform: Terrence Brooks