On This Day: President Obama pauses to look back at the scene before leaving the platform following the inaugural swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Today (all times Eastern):
Update: both events canceled due to weather
1:0: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney
2:05: The President and the Vice President meet with the President’s Commission on Election Administration, The Oval Office
NYT: Peace of Mind Is First Benefit for Many Now Getting Medicaid
Sharon Mills, a disabled nurse, long depended on other people’s kindness to manage her diabetes. She scrounged free samples from doctors’ offices, signed up for drug company discounts and asked for money from her parents and friends. Her church often helped, but last month used its charitable funds to help repair other members’ furnaces.
Ms. Mills, 54, who suffered renal failure last year after having irregular access to medication, said her dependence on others left her feeling helpless and depressed. “I got to the point when I decided I just didn’t want to be here anymore,” she said.
So when a blue slip of paper arrived in the mail this month with a new Medicaid number on it — part of the expanded coverage offered under the Affordable Care Act — Ms. Mills said she felt as if she could breathe again for the first time in years. “The heavy thing that was pressing on me is gone,” she said.
…. Last week Ms. Mills used her Medicaid number for the first time to fill a prescription. It was a Wednesday and she walked into Walmart feeling good.
“Now I’ve got insurance,” she said, “and I’m waving that piece of paper all over the place.”
Sean Recchi, a small-business owner in Lancaster, Ohio, was diagnosed with cancer in 2012. The business he and his wife ran wasn’t making a lot money; the family was forced to borrow heavily; and officials at the cancer center where he sought treatment said his insurance was effectively worthless.
Despite these horrific circumstances, Sean’s wife, Stephanie Recchi, told Time’s Steven Brill last fall, “I don’t think Obamacare will help us. I don’t want anything to do with it.” She added, “I hear a lot of bad things about it – that it doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions and it’s too expensive.” Why did she believe this? Recchi said she’d seen “television ads and some politicians talking on the news.”
…. That was a few months ago. Brill published a follow-up report this week…
….. What Stephanie soon discovered, she told me in mid-November, “was a godsend.”
ThinkProgress: Medicaid Expansion Has Already Cut The Number Of Uninsured West Virginians By A Third
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s (D) decision to accept Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion last spring is already paying off in a big way for the large number of poor and uninsured people in the state.
According to the New York Times, about 75,000 Wast Virginia residents have enrolled in Medicaid since Obamacare’s open enrollment season launched in October. While a portion of that consists of people who already had Medicaid benefits and are simply re-enrolling in the program, a sizable number of uninsured residents are gaining health benefits for the first time, thanks to the health law’s expanded eligibility threshold that allows anyone earning up 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to enroll in Medicaid. In fact, the number of uninsured people in the states has already been reduced by a third.
An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) finds that the Medicaid expansion will eventually reduce West Virginia’s uninsurance rate by a staggering 67 percent.
TPM: Obama To Discuss Inequality With Pope Francis In March
President Barack Obama is expected to meet with Pope Francis in March, the White House announced Tuesday.
…. The President will travel to Vatican City on March 27 as part of a swing through Europe that includes visiting the Netherlands for the Nuclear Security Summit and Brussels, Belgium for a U.S.-EU Summit.
It’s been two months since Iranian officials reached an agreement with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) on a six-month nuclear deal. We learned last week that the framework, which garnered international approval, would be implemented starting on Jan. 20.
That, of course, is [yesterday]. And while it’s literally the first day of a six-month process, so far, the agreement is working as intended.
…. the six-month talks between Iran and the P5+1 nations are still underway, with diplomats searching for a permanent deal on Iran’s nuclear future. It’s best to keep expectations in check, but so long as Congress doesn’t sabotage the diplomatic process on purpose, the process will continue.
ThinkProgress: West Virginia Governor On Safety Of Water Supply: ‘It’s Your Decision… I’m Not A Scientist’
Amid growing concerns over whether or not the water is actually safe for 300,000 West Virginians following a massive chemical spill into the water supply, the state’s governor said it was up to each of them to decide whether they use it.
“It’s your decision,” Gov. Tomblin told reporters at a press conference on Monday. “If you do not feel comfortable drinking or cooking with this water then use bottled water.”
“I’m not going to say absolutely, 100 percent that everything is safe,” Tomblin continued. “But what I can say is if you do not feel comfortable, don’t use it.”