President Obama hugs nurse Nina Pham, who was declared free of the Ebola virus after contracting the disease while caring for a Liberian patient in Texas, during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House
Tanya Edwards: Nikki Reed Gets Personal About Signing Up For Obamacare (The Deadline To Sign Up Is Fast Approaching!)
The deadline to sign up for Obamacare is quickly approaching—and Nikki Reed is speaking out about why everyone needs coverage. She shared with Glamour why she’s so passionate about making sure all women get health insurance. “My experience with the Affordable Care Act is a very personal one. Prior to the ACA, my mother could not afford to have healthcare because of preexisting conditions,” Nikki explains. “…
Aside from her new healthcare policy covering her surgery and physical therapy, it gave my mom a sense of pride. She felt empowered knowing she was able to take care of herself without having to rely on others for help.” Not insured yet? Get over to Healthcare.gov and sign up before March 31st, when everyone must be covered. There will be more time to enroll in the Federal Marketplace if you had trouble with the website, but again, plan for coverage by March 31.
Pete Souza: “Interrupting a Christmas Holiday photo line, the President confers with Rob Nabors, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, about the latest developments in the payroll tax cut extension as the First Lady waits in the background.” Dec. 15, 2011
6:20 EST: The First Family attends Christmas in Washington, National Building Museum
The schedule for the week ahead has not yet been released, but the First Family will depart the White House en route Honolulu, Hawaii on Friday
Friend just found out on Obamacare she will pay $495 less for health insurance! Yeah common sense reform NOT scare tactics.
Many years ago when I was a 23-year-old working as a hostess-with-the-mostess at a fancy seafood restaurant, saving up money to go back to school. I was hanging out in my apartment one night when my vision suddenly tunneled, and an unbearable pain exploded in the left side of my head. I couldn’t make a fist with my right hand. It was super scary. I called my Dad, who said “Go to the hospital right now.” The doctors at the emergency room took great care of me, and determined that no, I was not having a stroke. They took a spinal tap, did some scans, and sent me home a few hours later with ample headache pills. But the headache kept coming back, unbearably painful such that I couldn’t function at work and spent as much time as possible lying down.
I eventually landed back in the ER and even had to be admitted over night, until the doctors figured out that my spinal tap never healed — as 10-20% don’t, causing a slow drip of brain juice out the bottom of your spinal column. And then the hospital bills came.At first I was afraid to open them — and that’s even though I was thankfully still covered by my Mom’s health insurance plan through her job. After all, just walking into the ER cost me $100 in co-pays each time.
Finally, I opened the big envelopes from the hospital and found a bill for $55,000. The amount I owed? $0. That’s right. Zero dollars. Because when I got my freak $55,000 headache, I was covered. No one plans to have emergency medical care — but we can prepare for the possibility of it happening by signing up with healthcare.gov. Of course, now that migraine — and my later gap in health insurance coverage — can’t come back to bite me in the butt later, because thanks to the Affordable Care Act I can’t be denied coverage for “pre-existing conditions” and I can’t be screwed over for gaps in consistent insurance coverage.
I am one of the few people who has good things to say about Obamacare. You probably only hear from those who complain. My daughter has applied on the Internet for health insurance. She had no problem whatsoever linking to the site. Everything worked like a dream. My daughter is self-employed in a small business. She has been paying more than $2,800 every other month for her health insurance. Her entire yearly salary pays for the cost of her current insurance. She received a letter from her insurance company telling her that under Obamacare, this very same policy — without any change — will cost her $625 per month. This is less than half the price of what she is currently paying, which has been highway robbery.
In June 2009, the last auto plant in Detroit was idle, mausoleum-quiet and a symbol of failure. Weeds had grown three-feet tall around Chrysler’s sprawling Jeep factory at the desolate crossroads of Jefferson and Conner as the company went dark during bankruptcy. Among the bills the near-dead automaker couldn’t afford to pay: lawn service. Yet on one Monday morning came the drone of lawn mowers and buzz of weed whackers — sounds of rebirth. Chrysler was emerging from Chapter 11 and something had to be done about the eyesore the plant had become. The Detroit Three also overhauled their lineups to field their best cars in a generation, which now command higher prices than formerly formidable foreign offerings. Ford’s fashionable Fusion, whose looks draw comparisons to Aston Martin, has an average price of $27,444, which exceeds the Toyota Camry by $3,251, according to researcher Kelley Blue Book.
“It’s flipped,” marveled Lutz, 81, who served as a senior executive at all three Detroit automakers over the last half-century before retiring in 2010. “All of a sudden, the Japanese are behind.” Detroit’s new strength is embodied in Chrysler’s reborn Jefferson North Assembly Plant. The Jeep factory has gone from barely breathing to bursting at the seams. Its future was in doubt when it closed during Chrysler’s 2009 bankruptcy. Since then, employment there has more than tripled to 4,500, from fewer than 1,400 when Chrysler went bankrupt, and production has more than quintupled to 325,000 models this year, from 60,584 four years ago. It spits out Jeeps 20 hours a day, seven days a week and still can’t keep up with demand for the Grand Cherokee. Sales soared 21 percent for the hot model last year and are up 15 percent more this year through November. Chrysler said it expects to make as much as $2.2 billion this year.
When the Obamacare exchanges became open for enrollment this fall, I eagerly went online to check out my options for affordable health care in my state. It was exciting to know that I could potentially afford health insurance. I considered how my life would be affected: doctors’ visits, blood tests, checkups, an eye exam,a teeth cleaning—all the things I’ve longed for as an uninsured adult. After wading through a sea of questions about my income and expenses to determine my eligibility, I discovered what I had not considered a possibility: I qualify for Medicaid. Wow. Am I that poor? For so long I made just enough money to not qualify for Medicaid. Now, I do qualify.
While I was relieved to know I wouldn’t need to pay out-of-pocket each month for health care, I felt uncomfortable. I had originally intended to write about my experiences navigating Obamacare, how I’m weighing the options or different health-care plans in my state. But how was I going to write about that now? I couldn’t possibly share my experiences navigating Medicaid in public. My initial thoughts and feelings were rooted in shame. I didn’t want people to know my income is so low that I qualify for Medicaid. Shame is a tool. It keeps people immobilized, silent, and afraid. It keeps people in closets, in hiding, invisible.
And I’m sure this is only one of the reasons why nearly 700,000 people nationwide who qualify for Medicaid haven’t enrolled in the program. Money and time is spent to keep the “welfare queen” mythology alive, not only informing budget cuts, but also the minds of people who qualify for public assistance but decide not to use it. Shame is ridiculous. It will have you believe you deserve nothing—that you don’t deserve the resources you qualify for, resources that can support your livelihood.
Ari Berman: North Carolina Shows Why The Voting Rights Act Is Still Needed
A federal judge in Winston-Salem today set the schedule for a trial challenging North Carolina’s sweeping new voter restrictions. There will be a hearing on whether to grant a preliminary injunction in July 2014 and a full trial a year later, in July 2015. This gives the plaintiffs challenging the law, which includes the Department of Justice, the ACLU and the North Carolina NAACP, a chance to block the bill’s worst provisions before the 2014 election. Earlier this year, in July 2013, the North Carolina legislature passed the country’s worst voter suppression law, which included strict voter ID to cast a ballot, cuts to early voting, the elimination of same-day voter registration, the repeal of public financing of judicial elections and many more harsh and unnecessary anti-voting measures.
These restrictions will impact millions of voters in the state across all races and demographic groups: in 2012, for example, 2.5 million North Carolinians voted early, 152,000 used same-day voter registration, 138,000 voters lacked government-issued ID and 7,500 people cast an out-of-precinct provisional ballot. These four provisions alone will negatively affect nearly 3 million people who voted in 2012. Ironically, it took the North Carolina legislature less than a month to approve the law, but it will take a year before an initial hearing on it and two years before a full trial. That’s because in June 2013 the Supreme Court invalidated Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which meant that previously covered states like North Carolina, with the worst history of voting discrimination, no longer had to clear their voting changes with the federal government.
With her confirmation to the second highest court in the nation very early Thursday morning, Judge Nina Pillard should immediately rocket to the top of the Democratic shortlist of potential nominees to the Supreme Court. Though there are a number ofDemocratic judges who possess the youth, brilliance and legal credentials required from a new Supreme Court justice, Pillard brings something to the bench that is quite rare among judges — she’s won two of the most important civil rights victories to reach the Supreme Court during her career.
Pillard was a member of the legal team in United States v. Virginia, which eliminated the Virginia Military Institute’s discriminatory policies against women and cemented the rule that no law may engage in gender discrimination unless there is an “exceedingly persuasive justification” for doing so. Seven years later, Pillard argued and won Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs, an important case helping women (and men) with families to have a fair opportunity to participate in the workplace.
No amount of live video feeds or news stories can convey the essence of EuroMaidan. The Dec. 11 massive attack by Berkut riot-control police, for example, took people by surprise. Although there was an alert from the leaders of the political opposition that there would be a police raid at 1 a.m., people simply dismissed as ludicrous the idea that a raid would happen that night. I left Maidan around 1 a.m., with no visible signs of an imminent attack, and with just a few handfuls of protesters shivering near the stage. I rushed back to find it completely transformed in a matter of 15 minutes after receiving a tip-off that Berkut is advancing.
When Berkut started crashing through the first barricade, it was truly scary. It was not clear what their plan was, and at that point it seemed that it would be a miracle if no blood got spilled. Now, when we know that only 20 people required hospital treatment after that night, it does seem nearly miraculous. It soon became clear that Berkut was acting under orders to go easy on the protesters, and the resulting scuffle looked like a practice session of police units, not real action. As police broke through the first barricade, the church bells of St. Michael’s started to ring – an ancient and powerful call for alarm and mobilization.
For hours that followed, those watching Maidan saw massive shoving between Berkut and demonstrators, and its footage was top news around the world. But what was even more striking is how quickly Kyiv mobilized and moved into the city center, turning a crowd of a few hundred into a mass of tens of thousands of people in a matter of several hours. There was a lot of dignity in it, and a lot of pride. This was the massive proof that EuroMaidan is not about its leaders, that it’s truly the will of the people.
I’ve watched liberal and right wing commentators alike blame the president for being lynched. They say “he’s not reaching out enough” or “he’s too cold.” It’s the equivalent of assuming that the black man being beaten by a couple of thug cops must have “done something.” I am a white privileged well off sixty-one-year-old former Republican religious right wing activist who changed his mind about religion and politics long ago. Weirdly, I just realized that through all my writing, this has been the first time in my life I’ve personally gone to bat for a black man. It just happens that he’s a president. But my emotional stake in his life is now personal. So I’ve changed from a white guy who used to read news about some black man getting shot or beaten by cops or stand-you-ground types who assumed that the black man must have “done something,” to a white guy who figures that the black man was probably getting lynched. I’ve changed ideology but I’ve also changed my gut intuitive reactions.
I’ve changed because if this country will lynch a brilliant, civil, kind, humble, compassionate, moderate, articulate, black intellectual we’re lucky enough to have in the White house, we’ll lynch anyone. What chance does an anonymous black man pulled over in a traffic stop have of fair treatment when the former editor of the Harvard Law review is being lynched? One famous liberal commentator wrote a book on how Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil could disagree and still be friends. Why, he asked on many a TV show promoting his book, couldn’t President Obama be like that? Because, I yelled at the screen, those two men were white Irish Americans and part of a ruling white oligarchy.
Because, I yelled, you might as well ask why Nelson Mandela didn’t talk his jailers in South Africa into seeing reason. Because, I yelled, the president is black and anytime he’s reached out he’s pulled back a bloody stump. Because, I yelled, liberal white commentators have been as bothered by a black man in the White House, who’s smarter than they are as much as right wing bigots have been bothered. Because, I yelled, President Obama has been lied about, attacked, vilified, and disrespected since Day One. Because, I yelled, this country may have passed laws so blacks can vote and eat in a white man’s world, but in our hearts are stuck in a place more like 1952 than 2013.
First Lady Michelle Obama greets guests in the Grand Foyer of the White House during a holiday party, Dec. 15, 2009 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
President Barack Obama walks from the White House to Blair House in Washington, D.C., to attend a working meeting with business leaders, Dec. 15, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama is joined by First Lady Michelle Obama and Bo, the Obama family dog, as he delivers remarks during a Christmas holiday reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 15, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama descend the Grand Staircase to greet guests at a holiday reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 15, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)