Posts Tagged ‘Beshear

28
Jul
14

ObamaCare Works – And Kentucky Is Proof

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LEO Weekly: Medicaid Expansion Leads To Booming Reimbursements, Plunging Uninsured Rate In Kentucky

Kentucky’s Department of Medicaid Services has also provided this map that shows how the uninsured rate has plummeted within each county since 2012, assuming that 75 percent of Kynect enrollees did not previously have insurance (as indicated in their Kynect application): While this drop is staggering through the state, it is most pronounced in the four eastern Kentucky counties of Harlan, Letcher, Leslie and Perry, who went from 17-20 percent uninsured to less than 5 percent. These four counties went from some of the highest uninsured rates to the lowest in the entire state. Thanks, Obama.

While rural hospitals in Kentucky still face unique challenges that must be addressed, including how well Medicaid managed care is able to meet the increased demand for providers, the rosy estimates given by Gov. Beshear last year on the effects of embracing the Affordable Care Act appear to be coming to fruition. The question still remains whether Kentucky’s legislature will decide to continue these efforts next year, or whether a possible new Republican majority in the state House will decide to roll back the clock.

More here

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Mary Meehan: Affordable Care Act Refunds Due From Four Kentucky Insurers

Kentucky families will receive $6.2 million in refunds, an average of $43 per family, under a provision of the Affordable Care Act known as the 80/20 rule. The refunds announced Thursday by the federal government are the result of the rule requiring insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of the money paid in premiums on patient care. If the companies don’t reach that amount with spending on bonuses or red tape, it must be refunded to their customers.

According to a news release from the federal Department of Health & Human Services, consumers nationwide will receive $330 million. Four Kentucky health insurance plans will refund money. Anthem Health Plans of Kentucky had by far the largest refund at $4.4 million. Humana Health Plan was at $766,295, Golden Rule Insurance Co., $342,336, and Time Insurance Co., $333,096.

More here

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23
Jul
14

Thanks To ObamaCare, Seeing A Doctor Is No Longer A Luxury

Supreme Court Upholds Obama's Affordable Care Act

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Claire Bolderson: Obamacare In Kentucky

“I am so happy,” says Sizemore as she waits at the Grace Community Health Centre in Clay County, Kentucky, “I’ve not had insurance since I turned 19.” But Sizemore is also nervous. She is seriously overweight and was warned in her teens that she was likely to develop diabetes. Without health insurance she has not been able to afford tests or check-ups to see if she has indeed got the disease.  Sizemore is one of 421,000 people in Kentucky who’ve signed up since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare, came into force last October. Like many, she now qualifies for Medicaid, the government programme that pays for health care for the poorest Americans. Under the new law, the federal government offers states money to expand Medicaid so that many more people on very low wages, like Liberty Sizemore, are covered. Benita Adams may be one of the people the Governor has in mind. The 62-year-old grandmother lives on the edge of the rolling Appalachian Mountains in eastern Kentucky. She owns her home but works two jobs as a dental assistant to make ends meet.

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Adams has had no health insurance since her divorce 30 years ago. A recent heart operation left her with a $67,000 bill. Although the hospital waived around half of that, she still pays $50 a month to clear the rest. “I used to say, if I get hurt just let me be killed because I can’t afford to pay any more hospital bills,” she says. But Adams no longer has to worry. Under Obamacare, she qualifies for a private insurance plan with a hefty government subsidy that covers the monthly payments in full. “Everyone was mad over Obamacare but it’s just wonderful, it’s really helping people,” Adams says as she lists the medical appointments she has been to since getting insured. Liberty Sizemore, waiting for her blood test results at the Grace Community Health Centre, feels the same. “I was so worried,” she says. “But now I can get better because I have a doctor. I have a doctor and that’s a relief off my shoulders, more than you can know.”

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10
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk towards the White House after observing a moment of silence for the victims of the Arizona shooting, on the South Lawn, Jan. 10, 2011 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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Today:

The President has no public events scheduled

12:45: Press Briefing by Jay Carney

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USA Today: Obama to visit North Carolina next week

President Obama will prepare for his Jan. 28 State of the Union speech with a visit next week to North Carolina. Obama will travel to the Raleigh-Durham area on Wednesday for an event on the economy, the White House announced Thursday.

More here

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Steve Benen: December job totals disappoint

…. The new report from Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the U.S. economy added only 74,000 jobs in December, far below economists’ expectations. The unemployment rate dropped to 6.7% – its lowest point since October 2008 – but that appears largely to be the result of people dropping out of the workforce.

…. this is an initial estimate, which will be revised twice more, and may end up looking far less discouraging than it does right now. Indeed, the revisions from October and November showed an additional 38,000 U.S. jobs that had been previously unreported.

…. For congressional Republicans to undermine the economy on purpose by cutting off extended unemployment benefits makes it that much more difficult for the job market to return to where it needs to be.

All told, so far in calendar year 2013, the economy added 2.18 million jobs, while the private sector alone created 2.21 million jobs.

Full post here

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Steve Benen: Putting 2013 job totals in context

December’s job totals were clearly a bitter disappointment, but now that we have 12 months of job data, we can ask a different question: how did 2013 shape up?

In all, the U.S. economy added 2.186 million jobs last year, while the private sector created 2.213 million. Looking back over the last couple of decades, that means when it comes to the overall economy, 2013 was the best year for jobs in the United States since 2005 and the second best year since 1999.

That’s right: last year, the economy created more jobs than seven of the eight years Bush/Cheney was in office….

More here

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Brian Beutler: Most important political news this week: New report kills GOP’s radical agenda

Christie and the bridge is big. But Obamacare driving down healthcare inflation is even bigger. Here’s why.

The furthest-reaching political news of the week has nothing to do with who clogged the George Washington Bridge or what Robert Gates thinks of Barack Obama’s completely justifiable skepticism of David Petraeus and the war in Afghanistan.

It came in a seemingly boring actuarial report from a government agency most people probably have never of, showing that for the first time since the 1990s, total U.S. healthcare spending grew at a slower rate than the U.S. economy at the beginning of the current decade.

This sounds like the kind of thing only wonks and other nerds care about, which is probably why it didn’t become a #hashtag meme on Twitter or whatever, but the implications of the great healthcare spending slowdown are vast, and have thus reignited a long-simmering academic and ideological debate over whether, and to what extent, Obamacare deserves credit.

More here

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Paul Krugman: The Medicaid Cure

Something really interesting is happening on the health-care front: costs are rising much less rapidly than anyone expected. This is good news for the budget; it’s also good news for Obamacare. There was much skepticism about promises that health reform would “bend the curve”, reducing cost growth; well, the curve is bending, and it’s likely that the cost control measures that are part of Obamacare (and have been in effect for several years) are part of the reason.

One thing I haven’t seen mentioned much, however, is that another aspect of recent developments — the rapid rise in Medicaid enrollment, despite Republican efforts to block it — adds to the prospect of continuing good news on health costs.

More here

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Greg Sargent: Steve Beshear: Don’t fear the politics of Obamacare, Dems

The rollout of Obamacare in Kentucky may represent the most interesting experiment in the politics of health care in the country right now. Dem governor Steve Beshear is perhaps the most outspoken defender of the Affordable Care Act in the south. This, in a deep red state where the reform known as “Obamacare” is deeply unpopular; where the leading foe of the President’s agenda is on the ballot this year; and where the need for reform is urgent.

In an interview today, Beshear offered fellow Dems — red state and otherwise — some startling advice: Stand up for Obamacare because it’s the right thing to do. What’s more, Beshear insists, Republicans are wrong: the health law will be a political positive for Dems next fall.

“We’re doing the right thing,” Beshear told me. “That’s the most important point here. The people of America, and the people of Kentucky, deserve access to affordable health care. For the first time in the history of this country, we have a tool that allows us to accomplish this goal.”

More here

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LA Times: Remember the deficit? It’s melting

The capital may be enduring a brief spell of record-low temperatures this week, but the federal deficit continues to melt away.

According to the latest figures from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the red ink for the first quarter of fiscal 2014, which began Oct. 1, dropped by almost 40% compared with the same period a year earlier.

The deficit has gone down so much that the federal government actually ran a surplus for December — a one-time occurrence that resulted from some special circumstances but still an indicator of the rapidly improving state of the government’s finances.

More here

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The New York Daily News isn’t often linked here …. but if you missed it, the editorial on Christie is a bit of a must-read: here

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The Wire: The Four Key Questions Chris Christie Didn’t Answer at His Press Conference

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie held a lengthy press conference on Thursday aimed at answering questions about his administration’s involvement in the sudden decision to close traffics lanes in the town of Fort Lee last September. But a number of critical questions went unanswered.

Background: The closure of most of the on-ramp lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and New York the week of September 9 meant a massive traffic back-ups in Fort Lee, slowing emergency vehicles (with dangerous effect) and delaying commuters. The town’s mayor, Mark Sokolich, wrote a letter on Thursday of that week, suggesting the closures were punitive.

At the time, two Christie appointees ran the Port Authority’s New Jersey arm, both of whom have resigned. One, David Wildstein, had his emails subpoenaed, revealing that Bridget Anne Kelly, deputy chief of staff to Christie, told him shortly before the traffic change that it was “time for traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

Christie’s press conference lasted about two hours, but there remain some outstanding questions….

More here

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Read Steve Benen here on Rachel Maddow’s Bridgegate theory

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TPM: New Jersey Residents File Lawsuit Against Christie Over Traffic Jam

Six New Jersey residents have filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. Chris Christie, the state of New Jersey, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and others over traffic jams in September.

The suit filed in federal court Thursday appears to be the first civil claim over traffic jams that appear to have been caused as political punishment for the Fort Lee mayor.

The plaintiffs want it certified as a class action.

More here

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Charles Pierce: Big Chicken Exposed

…. I spent a couple of hours watching his bop-til-you-drop press conference this morning, and I came to the following conclusion.

What a fking poltroon.

…. The basic theme of the press conference was that Big Chicken was responsible for one thing and one thing only — of trusting people who preyed on his well-known innocence and his extensively documented and deeply held faith in his fellow human beings …. What a world it is when a man cannot trust the hacks whom he appoints to serve him. Jesus H. Christ in the HOV lane, Nixon threw Haldeman and Ehrlichman out the windows with more compassion and fellow feeling than Christie demonstrated yesterday.

…. the simple fact is that Big Chicken remains a bully, and now he stands exposed as a coward, as most bullies are, and an entirely self-centered cad. “You need to understand this,” he said. “I am resolved to do the job, but I am a very sad person today. A person I gave a high public office betrayed me. I might get angry later. But I am a sad person today.”

In so goddamn many ways.

Full post here

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ThinkProgress: All-Male Congressional Committee Considers Imposing Far-Reaching Abortion Restrictions

On Thursday morning, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing on HR 7, the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act.” That subcommittee, which is headed up by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and comprised of 12 other male lawmakers, is deciding whether to advance sweeping restrictions on abortion coverage that would make the procedure less affordable for women across the country.

Abortion opponents are relentless in their efforts to ensure that taxpayer dollars don’t end up financing abortion services. But HR 7 is actually deceptively titled. Under the guise of preventing federal money from covering abortion, it would actually have dramatic consequences for the insurance industry and the tax code as a whole, potentially creating a society in which private insurance no longer includes abortion care.

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MoooOOOooorning!

24
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama await the arrival of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India and his wife, Mrs Gursharan Kaur, for the State Dinner at the White House, Nov. 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Washington Post: World Powers Reach Nuclear Deal With Iran To Freeze Its Nuclear Program

Iran and six major powers agreed early Sunday on a historic deal that freezes key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for temporary relief on some economic sanctions. The agreement, sealed at a 3 a.m. signing ceremony in Geneva’s Palace of Nations, requires Iran to halt or scale back parts of its nuclear infrastructure, the first such pause in more than a decade.

The deal, intended as a first step toward a more comprehensive nuclear pact to be completed in six months, freezes or reverses progress at all of Iran’s major nuclear facilities, according to Western officials familiar with the details. It halts the installation of new centrifuges used to enrich uranium and caps the amount and type of enriched uranium that Iran is allowed to produce.

Iran also agreed to halt work on key components of a heavy-water reactor that could someday provide Iran with a source of plutonium. In addition, Iran accepted a dramatic increase in oversight, including daily monitoring by international nuclear inspectors, the officials said. The concessions not only halt Iran’s nuclear advances but also make it virtually impossible for Tehran to build a nuclear weapon without being detected, the officials said. In return, Iran will receive modest relief of trade sanctions and access to some of its frozen currency accounts overseas, concessions said to be valued at less than $7 billion over the six-month term of the deal. The sanctions would be reinstated if Iran violates the agreement’s terms.

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Laura Rozen: Burns Led Secret US Back Channel To Iran

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns has led a secret U.S. back channel to Iran going back to before the June election of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, U.S. officials told Al-Monitor. Burns was tapped to lead the US diplomatic effort to establish a bilateral channel with Iran, which gained momentum after the exchange of letters between US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Rouhani in early August, US officials said.

Led by Burns, the US’s second highest ranking diplomat and a former lead US Iran nuclear negotiator, the US effort to form direct diplomatic contacts with Iran also includes two officials from the Obama White House: Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, and Puneet Talwar, the National Security Staff senior director for Iran, Iraq, and Persian Gulf affairs, US officials confirmed. Talwar’s role in back channel discussions with Iran was previously reported by the Wall Street Journal.

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LA Times: Iran’s Leaders Call Nuclear Deal A Success

Iran’s leadership Sunday hailed the interim nuclear deal brokered in Geneva between Iranian  envoys and representatives of  the United States and five other world powers. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, thanked President Hassan Rouhani and his negotiating team in a message that called the Geneva talks a “success,”  a crucial sign of support from the nation’s ultimate arbiter of national security issues.

The Iranian president, meantime, gave a nationally televised address labeling the agreement  a breakthrough that could eventually help eliminate the vise of international sanctions, which have put a stranglehold on Iran’s economy in recent years. Rouhani, a soft-spoken cleric and longtime government insider, was elected in June on a pledge to work  toward alleviating the crippling sanctions and heighten Tehran’s engagement with the world. The deal brokered in Geneva represents a major political victory for the new president, who faces opposition at home from hard-liners opposed to any perceived compromise with the West.

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AP: Iran Deal Leaves Israel Few Options

After feverishly trying to derail the international community’s nuclear deal with Iran in recent weeks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now has little choice but to accept an agreement that he has derided as deeply flawed.

Netanyahu believes the six-month deal leaves Iran’s military nuclear capabilities largely intact, while giving Iran relief from painful economic sanctions, undermining negotiations on the next stage. At the same time, Israel’s strongest piece of leverage, the threat of a military strike on Iran, seems to be out of the question despite Netanyahu’s insistence it would remain on the table.

U.S. officials said Sunday’s deal was just a first step and further negotiations aim for a final agreement that would prevent any threat from Iran’s nuclear program. They said the relief from sanctions was minimal and that the most biting economic measures, including sanctions on Iran’s vital oil industry, remained in place and more could be imposed if Iran fails to follow through.

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AP: Secret US-Iran Talks Set Stage For Nuke Deal

The United States and Iran secretly engaged in a series of high-level, face-to-face talks over the past year, in a high-stakes diplomatic gamble by the Obama administration that paved the way for the historic deal sealed early Sunday in Geneva aimed at slowing Tehran’s nuclear program, The Associated Press has learned.

The discussions were kept hidden even from America’s closest friends, including its negotiating partners and Israel, until two months ago, and that may explain how the nuclear accord appeared to come together so quickly after years of stalemate and fierce hostility between Iran and the West. President Barack Obama personally authorized the talks as part of his effort – promised in his first inaugural address – to reach out

The talks were held in the Middle Eastern nation of Oman and elsewhere with only a tight circle of people in the know, the AP learned. Since March, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Jake Sullivan, Vice President Joe Biden’s top foreign policy adviser, have met at least five times with Iranian officials.

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Stonekettle Station: Take Back Your Government

Government of the People. That’s what Abraham Lincoln said at Gettysburg one hundred and fifty years ago this week. Government of the People, by the People, and for the People. Lincoln was, of course, referring to the Preamble of the United States’ Constitution, the bit that goes “We the People of the United States…”

More, Lincoln’s speech reached directly back to the fundamental principles outlined by the grievances in the Declaration of Independence, i.e. the Founder’s demand for a government that does the business of its people first and foremost, one that operates with the consent of the governed, and a government that is directly answerable to its citizens.

That’s the idea, right? That’s how America is supposed to work. We can all of us, left and right, republican and democrat, moderate and progressive, whateverside of America we’ve chosen to plant our flag on, surely we can all at least agree to that basic principle. Right? Right. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And sure, that sounds good. In theory. As a sound bite. There’s just one problem. The people.

More here

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Washington Post: In Rural Kentucky, Health-Care Debate Takes Backseat As Long Uninsured Sign Up

in a state where the rollout has gone smoothly, and in a county that is one of the poorest and unhealthiest in the country, Courtney Lively has been busy signing people up: cashiers from the IGA grocery, clerks from the dollar store, workers from the lock factory, call-center agents, laid-off coal miners, KFC cooks, Chinese green-card holders in town to teach Appalachian students.

Now it was the beginning of another day, and a man Lively would list as Client 375 sat across from her in her office at a health clinic next to a Hardee’s. “So, is that Breathitt County?” she asked Woodrow Wilson Noble as she tapped his information into a laptop Thursday morning. “Yeah, we live on this side of the hill,” said Noble, whose family farm had gone under, who lived on food stamps and what his mother could spare, and who was about to hear whether he would have health insurance for the first time in his 60-year-old life. “All right,” she said. “We’ve got you eligible for Medicaid.”

“Okay, Woodrow, now you get to shop a little bit,” she said, explaining options he’d never had before. “If you go to the doctor, all you’re going to pay is $1,” she began. “If you’re in the hospital for an extended period, you should only be billed $5. . . . If you get medicine, generics are $1 and brand is $4. . . . You can go to the dentist once a month — exams, X-rays and cleanings are covered. . . . Now for your teeth, the plan does take care of having them pulled and does take care of fillings,

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Chicago Sun-Times: Affordable Care Act Counselor Tries Health Insurance Marketplace For First-Hand Knowledge

As one of those people who is supposed to help Illinoisans find new options for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, Joann Boblick figured she should check out healthcare.gov and see how it works.  Glitches with the website have kept many Americans from viewing insurance plans available. But Boblick was able to get through to Illinois’ marketplace on healthcare.gov. She also found an insurance plan that will be cheaper than the one she has.

“The first time, I got nowhere. The site just said come back later. The second time, I decided to come back later because I was waiting too long,” said Boblick, 36, of Western Springs. “The third time was the charm.” Boblick currently pays a premium of $340 a month with a deductible of $6,000. The Blue Choice Bronze PPO 006 that she enrolled in on Oct. 7 costs $185 a month with the same deductible and offers the same doctors, dentists and hospitals she has now. That’s even though Boblick made too much money — about $65,000 — to qualify for a subsidy to pay for a new insurance plan.

For those still waiting to log on at HealthCare.gov, Boblick suggested people think of getting insurance as they would think of getting a new iPhone the first day. “People wait days for an iPhone. Care about it that much,” she said. “Realize it’s more important than the iPhone.”

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BBC: Iran Deal Limited But Important

So how should we rate the interim deal? At first sight it appears to be a good one – certainly from the big powers’ perspective, going further than perhaps many commentators had expected. The chief goal was to prevent Iran from forging ahead with its nuclear activities even as talks were continuing. If fully implemented the deal seems to do just that: All uranium enrichment above 5% is to be halted. The entire stockpile of 20% enriched material to be diluted or converted to a form not suitable for further enrichment. This 20% enriched uranium is the feedstock that Iran could use to “dash” towards weapons grade material.

No more centrifuges (the machines used to enrich material) are to be installed, and large numbers of the existing banks of centrifuges are to be left inoperable. Iran’s stockpile of 3.5% enriched uranium is to remain the same between now and the end of the six-month period. So any excess material will have to be converted to oxide form. In broad terms there will be no further construction or experimental work for the Arak reactor which Western experts fear could be used – once it is commissioned – for its plutonium, giving Iran a second route towards a nuclear bomb

In return Iran has received what the White House insists is “limited, temporary and reversible relief” in terms of economic sanctions.. For a start if Iran abides by the deal there will be no new economic sanctions over the coming six months. Certain sanctions on gold, precious metals, Iran’s auto sector and Iran’s petrochemical exports are to be suspended, providing Iran with about $1.5bn of revenue. Safety-related repairs and inspections are to be sanctioned for some of Iran’s civil airliners. Some $4.2bn from Iranian oil sales will be allowed to be transferred to Iran. Some $400m of Iranian funds can be transferred to educational institutions in third countries to pay the fees of Iranian students studying there

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On This Day:

First Lady Michelle Obama meets with Mrs. Gursharan Kaur in the Yellow Oval Room of the White House, Nov. 24, 2009 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

First Lady Michelle Obama claps during the entertainment portion of the State Dinner for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India (Photo by Pete Souza)

The President and First Lady wait for Indian Prime Minister Singh’s motorcade to depart the White House at the conclusion of the first official state dinner for the Obama administration, Nov. 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama greets the Sinkfield family in the Outer Oval Office, Nov. 24, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama talks with a young customer as he packs and delivers bags of food to area residents at Martha’s Table, November 24, 2010

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Nov. 24, 2011 – Pete Souza: “I photograph a lot of presidential phone calls from the Oval Office. But rarely is the light like this, backlit and reflecting back from a briefing paper. On Thanksgiving Day, the President made phone calls to 10 U.S. military service members — two each from the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy — to thank them for their service in Iraq and Afghanistan and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving.”

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President Obama arrives at ‘One More Page Books’ on Small Business Saturday, Arlington, Virginia, November 24, 2012

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