Archive for March, 2014

31
Mar
14

Picture Of The Day

Pete Souza: 5-month old Vann Carroll grabs the President’s nose during a wounded warrior visit in the East Room today.

31
Mar
14

You Think You’re Hurting President Obama? Be Smart. Get Covered

His wife responded.:)

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Continue reading ‘You Think You’re Hurting President Obama? Be Smart. Get Covered’

31
Mar
14

A Beautiful Day

People line up to enroll for health insurance at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas on Monday, March 31

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Shuxun Yu, right, 19, of Oakland, gets assistance filling out an application form during a health care enrollment event at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center Monday, March 31, in Oakland, Calif.

31
Mar
14

Celebrity Or Everyday Person? ObamaCare Is There For You

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Continue reading ‘Celebrity Or Everyday Person? ObamaCare Is There For You’

31
Mar
14

ObamaCare In Action

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San Antonio, Texas

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Noam N. Levey: Obamacare Has Led To Health Coverage For Millions More People

As the law’s initial enrollment period closes, at least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage. Some have done so through marketplaces created by the law, some through other private insurance and others through Medicaid, which has expanded under the law in about half the states. The tally draws from a review of state and federal enrollment reports, surveys and interviews with insurance executives and government officials nationwide. The millions of newly insured also create a politically important constituency that may complicate any future Republican repeal efforts. Precise figures on national health coverage will not be available for months. But available data indicate: • At least 6 million people have signed up for health coverage on the new marketplaces, about one-third of whom were previously uninsured.

A February survey by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found 27% of new enrollees were previously uninsured, but newer survey data from the nonprofit Rand Corp. and reports from marketplace officials in several states suggest that share increased in March. • At least 4.5 million previously uninsured adults have signed up for state Medicaid programs, according to Rand’s unpublished survey data, which were shared with The Times. That tracks with estimates from Avalere Health, a consulting firm that is closely following the law’s implementation. • An additional 3 million young adults have gained coverage in recent years through a provision of the law that enables dependent children to remain on their parents’ health plans until they turn 26, according to national health insurance surveys from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 • About 9 million people have bought health plans directly from insurers, instead of using the marketplaces, Rand found. The vast majority of these people were previously insured. Rand has been polling 3,300 Americans monthly about their insurance choices since last fall. Researchers found that the share of adults ages 18 to 64 without health insurance has declined from 20.9% last fall to 16.6% as of March 22. The decrease parallels a similar drop recorded by Gallup, which found in its national polling that the uninsured rate among adults had declined from 18% in the final quarter of last year to 15.9% through the first two months of 2014. Gallup’s overall uninsured rate is lower than Rand’s because it includes seniors on Medicare.

More here

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McAllen, Texas

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Peggy O’Hare: Officials Ready For 1,000 At Alamodome Health Sign-Ups Monday

Organizers are bracing for as many as 1,000 people to show up at a daylong health insurance enrollment event at the Alamodome on Monday, the deadline to apply for 2014 coverage. Public interest in health plans on the federal marketplace has surged markedly, say local navigators and others assisting with enrollment. The last-minute rush has been apparent nationwide. More than 6 million Americans have signed up for private health plans through government-run marketplaces, meeting the target number established by the Congressional Budget Office.

Updated enrollment numbers for Texas and Bexar County were not available Thursday. But community groups are on track to meet the goal of enrolling 47,000 San Antonio residents by deadline, health officials said. Local offices said they’ve also seen a surge in public interest. “This week, it’s just kind of skyrocketed,” said Donna Teall, a health insurance marketplace navigator with the Alamo Area Council of Governments.The largest turnout is expected Monday. EnrollSA will have 150 workers and volunteers on hand to assist with the mass sign-ups at the Alamodome that day. That event, scheduled for 9 a.m. until 8 p.m., could draw 1,000 people seeking health coverage, said Andrea Guajardo, an EnrollSA official who helped plan the event.

More here

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Las Vegas, Nevada

Continue reading ‘ObamaCare In Action’

31
Mar
14

A Tweet or Two #GetCovered

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Continue reading ‘A Tweet or Two #GetCovered’

31
Mar
14

Rise and Shine

@BarackObama

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The Week’s Schedule

Today: The President will attend meetings at the White House.

Tuesday: Welcomes the Boston Red Sox to the White House to honor the team and their 2013 World Series Championship.

Wednesday: Travels to Ann Arbor, Michigan for an event on his proposal to raise the national minimum wage. Following this event, he will travel to Chicago, Illinois to attend DNC events

Thursday: The President and First Lady will host members of the United States teams and delegations from the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games at the White House.

Friday: The President will host Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa of Tunisia at the White House.

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LA Times: Obamacare has led to health coverage for millions more people

At least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gotten health insurance since Obamacare started, surveys and reports show.

President Obama’s healthcare law, despite a rocky rollout and determined opposition from critics, already has spurred the largest expansion in health coverage in America in half a century, national surveys and enrollment data show.

As the law’s initial enrollment period closes, at least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage. Some have done so through marketplaces created by the law, some through other private insurance and others through Medicaid, which has expanded under the law in about half the states.

More here

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Huffington Post: Obamacare Success Story: Man With HIV Thought He’d Be ‘Dead Within 6 Months,’ Now Has Awesome, Cheaper Insurance

Dan is a gay man from Michigan who called my radio program on SiriusXM Progress on Oct. 23. He sounded frantic. He’d received one of the infamous cancellation letters from his insurance company, he said.

.”… I am going to be one of the people who are going to be screwed by Obamacare. And I really support the president….”

…. Last week Dan called back again … he just kept looking until he found his perfect policy on the Michigan exchange.

… Dan was paying $1,485 per month for his old plan with the $1,000 deductible. His new plan under Obamacare, which includes coverage not only for all his prescriptions but for dental and vision – which his old plan did not – is costing him over $500 less per month, at a total cost of $914, with the same deductible. That’s not to mention that he got it with the pre-existing condition of HIV…..”

.”… I want to say to all your listeners: I was terribly wrong,” he said. “Now I’m going to push myself as a huge Obamacare success story. I’m bragging it to everyone.”

Full post here

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WH.gov: Photos: This is What an #ACASurge Looks Like

The line started forming at 5 a.m. in front of an enrollment center in Miami — where trained workers have signed up 25,000 of their fellow Floridians since November. It was standing-room-only at a center in Houston yesterday.

The final deadline to get covered in 2014 is in just two days, and Americans are literally lining up at grassroots events across the country to make sure they’re covered.

This is what momentum looks like.

Take a look at some of the photos folks are sending in from events around the country…

More here

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Paul Krugman: The ACA Surge Blackout

… I’m somewhat amazed by what amounts to a de facto blackout by major news media on a developing story that’s really obvious if you read the invaluable Charles Gaba, or even the White House blog: a huge surge in Obamacare enrollments in the final days of the signup period….

…. where I think this does matter is that it shows a persistent slant in much reporting toward emphasizing the negatives about health reform. The website woes were, and deserved to be, a big story; the quite amazing comeback somehow doesn’t fit the preferred narrative….

Full post here

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Ashwani Talk: The Final Countdown

…. Thanks to this law, I won’t have to worry.

Thanks to this law, 129 million can’t be denied coverage due to a preexisting condition.

Thanks to this law, 3 million young adults can stay on their parents’ plans until 26.

Thanks to this law, 6 million people are covered for the first time in their lives.

Thanks to this law, insurers must spent 80% of your premiums on actual care.

….[Today] is the deadline for open enrollment. There’s no reason not to sign up, or at least take the time to view all the options.

…. If you’re anything like me or my family, I can ensure you that it’s the right thing to do, and the best time to support it. Laws like this do not come around that often. But when they do, we all need to stand together.

Full post here

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Steve Benen: GOP struggles with Obamacare surge

As much of the country has probably heard, today marks the end of the open-enrollment period in the Affordable Care Act, and consumers who don’t get coverage are likely to face a tax penalty. ACA proponents have long predicted there’d be an 11th-hour surge in folks signing up, and right now, those predictions are holding up nicely.

…. Congressional Republicans, who are making no effort to hide the fact they’re rooting against the U.S. health care system, aren’t taking the news well.

… “I don’t think it means anything. … I think they’re cooking the books on this,” said Sen. John Barrasso on “Fox News Sunday.”

Even by GOP standards, this was a rather extraordinary moment. A member of the Senate Republican leadership – indeed, the chair of the Senate Republican Policy Committee – went on national television to accuse the White House of perpetrating a fraud based on nothing but his own hopes.

More here

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Jonathan Cohn: That Good News on Obamacare? Republicans Insist It’s Not Real

Americans are signing up for the Affordable Care Act. And they appear to be doing so in really big numbers. As of the latest official update, last week, more than 6 million people had selected a private insurance plan through one of Obamacare’s new state marketplaces. But that was before a weekend of huge traffic to healthcare.gov and state-run websites, record call volume to telephone help centers, and queues outside outreach offices in California and even Texas. Charles Gaba, the Michigan-based analyst who runs the website ACASignups.net, now projects that 6.72 million people will sign up for private insurance by the time open enrollment ends.

… Republicans are challenging the statistics — primarily, by suggesting that most of the people getting insurance already had coverage. Some, like Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, say the administration is “cooking the books.” Others, like Senator Ted Cruz, say that the number of people without insurance is actually rising.

Sorry, but that’s nonsense….

More here

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Meanwhile:

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ThinkProgress: This State Is Quietly Becoming One Of The Worst For Women’s Health (And No, It’s Not Texas)

Thanks to the high-profile battle over new abortion restrictions in Texas this past summer, the national media typically associates the Lone Star State with harsh abortion laws. The dire situation in Texas is certainly alarming for reproductive rights activists — but it’s hardly the only state where women’s access to abortion is under siege.

Ohio has recently dramatically tightened its restrictions on abortion, and the number of clinics in the state is dwindling. State lawmakers haven’t shown any signs of ceasing their politically-motivated attacks on reproductive health care. Yet unlike Texas, Ohio women’s fights haven’t garnered much widespread attention.

More here

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Still all teary:

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Jim Stuart: The Obama Doctrine

Nancy LeTourneau was the first to frame what the President said in this big policy speech last Wednesday in Brussels, Belgium as an Obama Doctrine. I believe this framing is very appropriate…

…. In a nuclear age, military conflict between the great powers is unthinkable. So what happens when a great power wants to eat up its neighbor? Are we pretty much helpless? Until now, the answer was pretty much – Yes. Nobody could stop us from invading Iraq, and nobody did. Nobody could stop NATO from bombing Kosovo, and nobody did. So Putin says to himself, “Since the US won’t use military force, no one can stop us from invading the Crimea, and probably the Ukraine, and nobody will.” Until Obama did.

…. This may take a week, a month, a year, or more. But starting with Wednesday’s speech, we are watching our President lead us …. He is leading the world in establishing certain norms that say all of us have value; that we all deserve to be heard; and that the more powerful should not be allowed to run roughshod over us.

These are norms worth fighting for.

Full post here – follow Jim on Twitter here

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Still laughing:

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On This Day

Sen. Barack Obama hugs Jean Hockenbrocht as fellow workers look on during his visit to Wilbur Chocolate Company March 31, 2008 in Lititz, Pennsylvania

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President Obama walks with First Lady Michelle Obama as they depart the White House for a week long trip to Europe, in Washington on March 31, 2009

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President Obama, surrounded by the family of Cesar Chavez and leaders of the United Farm Workers that Chavez co-founded, signs a proclamation in the Oval Office designating March 31, 2010, which would have been his 83rd birthday, as Cesar Chavez Day (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama, White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass and students from Bancroft and Hollin Meadows elementary schools do a dance intended to help the rhubarb they just planted to grow in the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on March 31, 2010

President Obama practices his pitching with trip director Marvin Nicholson in the Rose Garden of the White House, March 31, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama practices his pitching form with personal aide Reggie Love and Jake Levine in the Rose Garden of the White House, March 31, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Bo stands in the Rose Garden of the White House, March 31, 2010 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office, March 31, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets an audience member prior to delivering remarks on energy security at Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility in Maryland on March 31, 2010

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President Obama smiles during the filming of a campaign video, March 31, 2011 (Photo by Christopher Dilts for Obama for America)

President Obama meets with FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, March 31, 2011. Flanking Commissioner Hamburg are Vicki Seyfert-Margolis, Senior Advisor to the FDA Commissioner for Innovative Strategy, left, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, right (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters, Sasha and Malia, tour the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton before the ship’s commissioning ceremony in Alameda, Calif., March 31, 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters Sasha tour the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton

U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp speaks during the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton’s commissioning ceremony in Alameda, Calif., March 31, 2012. First Lady Michelle Obama is the official sponsor of the Stratton and is the first First Lady to sponsor a Coast Guard cutter.

First Lady Michelle Obama congratulates Melinda Cook, the grand niece of U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Dorothy Stratton, during the commissioning ceremony of the Cutter Stratton on Coast Guard Island in Alameda, Calif., March 31, 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama with Taylor Swift at Nickelodeon’s 25th Annual Kids’ Choice Awards, March 31, 2012

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On This Day: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk with their daughters Sasha and Malia, right, to attend an Easter service at St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C., Sunday, March 31, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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MoooOOOooorning!

31
Mar
14

Early Bird Chat

On This Day: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk with their daughters Sasha and Malia to attend an Easter service at St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C., Sunday, March 31, 2013

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MoooOOOooorning Early Birds – Happy Monday!

30
Mar
14

#Obamacare has the funk: Turn this mother out!

Chat on, night owls!

30
Mar
14

GIFs Are Fun. Accidents Aren’t. Get Covered.

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Everyone loves a good deal. About 6 in 10 uninsured individuals could pay $100 or less per month for coverage, thanks to tax credits to help them buy a private health plan through the Marketplace or because they are now eligible for Medicaid. And nearly half of single young adults who are uninsured can get coverage for $50 or less in 2014. That could be less than your cell phone bill.

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The White House: 7 Reasons Why Vice President Biden Thinks You Should Get Covered By March 31

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Get covered and take care of yourself so today’s injury — a bum ankle, a bad back, or a spider bite — doesn’t become a chronic condition that dogs you for the rest of your life. Signing up for health insurance today could save you from a lifetime of medical debt.

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Your folks probably told you that “you can be anything you want to be.” Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you’re one step closer. You no longer have to hold back from pursuing a new or different job for fear of losing your health insurance plan. If you don’t get coverage through work, you can now sign up for quality, affordable coverage at HealthCare.gov that gives you the freedom to follow your dreams regardless of the work you do.

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There are three main ways you can sign up by March 31: 1) online at HealthCare.gov or Cuidadodesalud.gov; 2) on the phone at 1-800-318-2596, available 24/7 in 150 different languages; or 3) in person at locations like libraries and community health centers — visit LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov to find places near you.
After you enroll, spread the word to your friends.

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Vice President Biden’s got a reputation for always meaning what he says — especially about health care. But as the Vice President likes to point out, for 100 years — since Teddy Roosevelt was President — we’ve been trying to make health care more accessible and affordable in America. Well, we’re getting it done right now, and that’s a big deal. Now we’ve got to finish what we started.

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30
Mar
14

ObamaCare: Just For Moochers And Freeloaders. Right?

Go to Healthcare.gov or find local help here or call 1-800-318-2596 and Get Covered

30
Mar
14

Pete Souza: Genius

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President Obama shakes hands with a young boy while greeting audience members during a U.S. Embassy meet and greet at the Ritz Carlton Riyadh (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama looks at Rembrandt’s “Self-portrait as the Apostle Paul” during a tour of the Gallery of Honor at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Um.

President Obama signs items backstage next to a sculpture of a giraffe in a shipping crate, following remarks at the Palais Des Beaux Arts in Brussels (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama points to writing on a wall during a tour of the Colosseum with Barbara Nazzaro, Technical Director & Architect of the Colosseum (Photo by Pete Souza)

People line the street to wave at President Obama as the motorcade passes by en route to the World Forum, The Hague (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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President Obama delivers remarks during a meet and greet with the U.S. Tri-Mission to Italy, The Holy See, and the U.N. Agencies in Rome (Photo by Pete Souza)

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See lots more photos from the President’s trip to Europe and Saudi Arabia here

30
Mar
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama enters the South Portico of the White House following his arrival aboard Marine One on the South Lawn, March 30, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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The Week Ahead:

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Addicting Info: Ted Cruz Tries To Use Facebook To Prove No One Likes Obamacare And It Blows Up In His Face

The Tea Party crusade against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) hit a huge snag this week. On March 24, 2014, Texas Tea Party Senator, Ted Cruz, decided to put up a ‘quick poll,’ about the ACA on his facebook page. Problem? The Koch brothers don’t control the conversation on social media, the people do.

Ask a question, get an answer. The question Rafael ‘Ted’ Cruz asked on facebook was simple. Are you better off now than you were before the ACA, also called Obamacare, was signed into law, four years ago? Nearly 40,000 comments later, the resounding answer from people all across the country was YES.

More here

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NYT: New G.O.P. Bid To Limit Voting In Swing States

Pivotal swing states under Republican control are embracing significant new electoral restrictions on registering and voting that go beyond the voter identification requirements that have caused fierce partisan brawls. The bills, laws and administrative rules — some of them tried before — shake up fundamental components of state election systems, including the days and times polls are open and the locations where people vote. Republicans in Ohio and Wisconsin this winter pushed through measures limiting the time polls are open, in particular cutting into weekend voting favored by low-income voters and blacks, who sometimes caravan from churches to polls on the Sunday before election.

Democrats in North Carolina are scrambling to fight back against the nation’s most restrictive voting laws, passed by Republicans there last year. The measures, taken together, sharply reduce the number of early voting days and establish rules that make it more difficult for people to register to vote, cast provisional ballots or, in a few cases, vote absentee.In all, nine states have passed measures making it harder to vote since the beginning of 2013. Most have to do with voter ID laws. Other states are considering mandating proof of citizenship, like a birth certificate or a passport, after a federal court judge recently upheld such laws passed in Arizona and Kansas. Because many poor people do not have either and because documents can take time and money to obtain, Democrats say the ruling makes it far more difficult for people to register.

Last year, the Supreme Court struck down a central provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The decision allowed a number of mostly Southern states to alter their election laws without the prior approval once required from the Justice Department. A few weeks later, free of the mandate and emboldened by a Republican supermajority, North Carolina passed the country’s most sweeping restrictions on voting.

More here

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Tara Culp-Ressler: Survivors Of Domestic Violence Now Have Better Access To Obamacare Benefits

Survivors of domestic violence who are living separately from an abusive spouse will now be able to claim tax credits to help them afford an Obamacare plan, thanks to new rules being developed by the federal government. Before the change, these individuals were locked out of federal assistance for health care unless they filed joint taxes with their abuser. Obamacare’s tax credits are intended to ensure that insurance plans on the new marketplaces are affordable for the Americans who may otherwise struggle to pay for health care. But in order for married people to qualify, the health law requires them to file their taxes jointly. If they file separately, they lose out on the federal assistance altogether. Domestic violence prevention advocates argue that policy ends up harming victims of abuse —

particularly because domestic violence is more concentrated among low-income households, and the victims who are financially dependent on their abusers are less likely to be able to extricate themselves from the relationship.  Last week, a group of 79 lawmakers, led by Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), urged the Treasury Department to change this policy and safeguard victims of domestic violence. It only took a few days for Treasury officials to agree. “For victims of domestic abuse, contacting a spouse for purposes of filing a joint return may pose a risk of injury or trauma or, if the spouse is subject to a restraining order, may be legally prohibited. Your concerns are consistent to those expressed to us by numerous others in public comments and meetings,” the Treasury Department acknowledged on Wednesday in a written response to Slaughter and Doggett, explaining that the administration will work on finalizing a new rule on this issue.

More here

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Pete Souza: Pres Obama talks on phone to Pres Putin from Saudi Arabia Friday night

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Fareed Zakaria: Obama Pursues The Right Response To Russia’s 19th-Century Behavior

This is not an academic debate. The best way to deal with Russia’s aggression in Crimea is not to present it as routine and national interest-based foreign policy that will be countered by Washington in a contest between two great powers. It is to point out, as Obama did eloquently this week in Brussels, that Russia is grossly endangering a global order that has benefited the entire world. Compare what the Obama administration has managed to organize in the wake of this latest Russian aggression to the Bush administration’s response to Putin’s actions in Georgia in 2008. That was a blatant invasion. Moscow sent in tanks and heavy artillery; hundreds were killed, nearly 200,000 displaced.

Yet the response was essentially nothing. This time, it has been much more serious. Some of this difference is in the nature of the stakes, but it might also have to do with the fact that the Obama administration has taken pains to present Russia’s actions in a broader context and get other countries to see them as such. You can see a similar pattern with Iran. The Bush administration largely pressured that country bilaterally. The Obama administration was able to get much more effective pressure because it presented Iran’s nuclear program as a threat to global norms of nonproliferation, persuaded the other major powers to support sanctions, enacted them through the United Nations and thus ensured that they were comprehensive and tight. This is what leadership looks like in the 21st century.

More here

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@GOPIsPoverty

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Guardian: Kerry To Meet Russia’s Lavrov For Ukraine Talks In Paris On Sunday

Halfway home from Saudi Arabia, US secretary of state John Kerry has abruptly changed course. He will now stay in Europe for talks on Ukraine. The news followed reports from Russia that Kerry had spoken to the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, by phone, a day after President Vladimir Putin called President Barack Obama. The Russian foreign ministry said Washington had initiated the call between Kerry and Lavrov, adding that they discussed Ukraine and plans for further contact.

Flying from Riyadh to Ireland for a refuelling stop, Kerry decided to turn around after speaking to Lavrov from the plane. State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki confirmed on Saturday that Kerry had arrived in Paris and that the meeting would be held on Sunday.

More here

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Kate Nocera: Univision Works Overtime To Get Latinos Enrolled In Obamacare

The Obama administration has been working overtime in recent months to enroll uninsured Latinos — one of the groups most likely to be uninsured — but it’s not just the White House making a concerted effort. For more than a year, the Spanish-language television network Univision has embarked on their own company-wide effort to get Latinos signed up on the exchanges, working through newscasts, special programming, advertising partnerships, and a dedicated health care website. Univision has not only been providing information to their viewers as to how to sign up but openly encouraging them to do so.

The network’s “empowerment initiatives” team — which focuses primarily on health and educational programming — began looking for partners to help their audience find coverage last year. Univision ultimately went with the California Endowment and the Ford Foundation, launching in earnest last April. The company makes no bones about what they were trying to do. Empowerment Initiatives Director Stephen Keppel told BuzzFeed that the company thinks “it’s better to have health insurance than not to have it” and because of the high number of uninsured Latinos, it was an important initiative for them to take on.

More here

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BBC: Vladmir Putin: The Rebuilding Of ‘Soviet’ Russia

On 16 August 1999, the members of Russia’s parliament – the State Duma – met to approve the candidacy of a prime minister. They heard the candidate’s speech, they asked him a few questions, and they dutifully confirmed him in the position. This was President Boris Yeltsin’s fifth premier in 16 months, and one confused party leader got the name wrong. He said he would support the candidacy of Stepashin – the surname of the recently sacked prime minister – rather than that of his little-known successor, before making an embarrassing correction.

If even leading Duma deputies couldn’t remember the new prime minister’s name, you couldn’t blame the rest of the world if it didn’t pay much attention to his speech. He was unlikely to head the Russian government for more than a couple of months anyway, so why bother? That man was a former KGB officer, Vladimir Putin, and he has been in charge of the world’s largest country, as president or prime minister, ever since. Few realised it at the time, because few were listening, but that speech provided a blueprint for pretty much everything he has done, for how he would re-shape a country that was perilously close to total collapse.

More here

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Scott Keyes: It Saves Millions To Simply Give Homeless People A Place To Live

It is cheaper to give homeless people a home than it is to leave them on the streets. That’s not just the opinion of advocates working to end homelessness, nor is it the opinion of homeless people themselves. It is a fact that has been borne out by studies across the country, from Florida to Colorado and beyond. The latest analysis to back up this fact comes out of Charlotte, where researchers from the University of North Carolina Charlotte examined a recently constructed apartment complex that was oriented towards homeless people.

Moore Place opened in 2012 with 85 units. Each resident is required to contribute 30 percent of his or her income, which includes any benefits like disability, veterans, or Social Security, toward rent. The rest of the housing costs, which total approximately $14,000 per person annually, are covered by a mix of local and federal government grants, as well as private donors. In the first year alone, researchers found that Moore Place saved taxpayers $1.8 million. These savings comes from improvements in two primary areas: health care and incarceration.

More here

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Sara Fischer: Biden: Undocumented Immigrants ‘Already American Citizens’

Vice President Joe Biden echoed the West Wing’s “we can’t wait” mantra Thursday, telling a crowd at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Summit that “undocumented aliens” are already American citizens. “You know, 11 million people that are living in the shadows. I believe they’re already Americans citizens,” Biden said. “These people are just waiting, waiting for a chance to be able to contribute fully. And by that standard, 11 million undocumented aliens are already Americans in my view.”

Citing the contribution Hispanics have made to the American economy, Biden stressed the importance of passing immigration reform sooner rather than later, arguing, “It’s the single most significant thing we can do. It’s a game-changer financially for the country.”“Just this one act alone, if we pass the Senate bill, can extend Social Security solvency by two years.” Biden said. “Even Republicans think we should pass the Senate bill,” he later added.

More here

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Chris Geidner: Federal Appeals Court Rejects Challenge To Texas Abortion Restrictions

A federal appeals court rejected Planned Parenthood’s challenge to Texas’ restrictive abortion law passed last summer, save for one small exception. Thursday’s unanimous decision of a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a trial court decision from October finding two provisions in the law unconstitutional.

Planned Parenthood challenged two provisions: One required physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges “at a hospital no more than thirty miles from the location where the abortion is provided.” The second provision limited medication abortions by requiring that, with few exceptions, abortion-inducing drugs only be used when they “comply with the protocol authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

More here

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Michael Cohen: Obama’s Not-Another-Cold-War-Vision: Don’t Hate The Players – Play The Game

From the day Barack Obama took office, his approach to American foreign policy has vacillated between a seemingly irreconcilable set of impulses. There’s been the sentimentalist agitating for reductions in nuclear weapons, calling for a more modest approach – and the commander-in-chief ramping up the US drone war, surging in Afghanistan, going far beyond his mandate to affect regime change in Libya. There was the lawyer and internationalist drawing a redline on Syria’s use of chemical weapons – and the hard-headed realist who, to date, has assiduously avoided any policy that would risk miring the US in that country’s bloody civil war. Yesterday in Brussels, as Obama spoke about the proper response to Russia’s seizure of Crimea, those contending instincts were once again on stark display.

Yet rarely has Obama so effectively navigated the middle ground between them – or quite so lovingly embraced Europe as he cast a distinctly icy glare at Vladimir Putin. In the process, the American president offered perhaps the clearest sense of his own vision on international relations: one that upholds the international system for its role in creating a world of greater peace and security – and explaining why, in an era of retrenchment, that system matters more than ever.In Obama’s formulation, peace is a product of universalist ideals, yes. But it is sustained and reinforced by an international system of laws and norms.

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Betsy Phillips: Creationism Is Not Being Ignored On ‘Cosmos’ — It’s The Focus

Danny Faulkner, a “scientist” working for the same group that runs Kentucky’s creation museum was complaining last week that Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey doesn’t address creationism.Actually, Tyson is deliberately and straightforwardly giving a whole lot of time to creationism. Why did we have to sit through the history of the eyeball? Creationists love to argue that the complexity of the eyeball disproves evolution. Note how he talked specifically about how the eyeball isn’t actually this perfect mechanism, but something that works well enough for what we need it for, but not as well as it does in fish — the whole idea that the eyeball is a perfect, too-complex thing is a creationist argument.

 Another example: Why did Tyson spend so much time explaining the similarities and differences in how polar bears have evolved through natural selection vs. how dogs have changed in the time we’ve been breeding them for certain traits? Because creationists acknowledge that changes within species happen. They just like to pretend like one kind of organism couldn’t really have brought forth another kind of organism. Tyson isn’t ignoring creationism. Creationists wish Tyson were ignoring creationism. Tyson is instead standing on creationism’s home turf and playing by their rules.Tyson is taking creationists’ claims deadly seriously, and showing all the ways they’re wrong.

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Jon Emont: Can Israeli Business Leaders Push Netanyahu Toward A Palestinian Peace Deal?

In late January, the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began to appear on scores of billboards in Tel Aviv. The caption read: “A strong state signs the deal. Bibi only you can do it!” The message—to work out a peace agreement with the Palestinians—was idealistic. But the money was all business. The 1 million shekel (around $300,000) advertising campaign was paid for by the Israeli wing of Breaking the Impasse, an alliance of more than 150 Israeli corporate executives. The campaign comes at a crucial time. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is one month away from his April 29 deadline to release a framework agreement that will establish the U.S. government’s principles for a final deal.

After nine months of discussion there is widespread worry that the framework agreement will be dead on arrival. Kerry’s demands from the Palestinians might cause Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to withdraw from talks or lose his authority to negotiate. At the same time, Kerry’s demands for Israeli concessions over settlements or East Jerusalem might lead the Israeli right to pressure Netanyahu to withdraw from the talks. Israelis are pessimistic about the peace process, and Netanyahu has little domestic incentive to make concessions to spur negotiations. This worries Israeli business executives. They’re concerned that Israel will face increasing international isolation, including an expanded boycott campaign, if the talks founder. BTI represents these business people. It’s planning a well-funded public campaign to pressure Netanyahu to make concessions and sign a deal.

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Katie Zezima: Just How Popular Was Michelle Obama’s Visit To China?

According to a tally by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, photos, videos and stories about Michelle Obama’s visit to China garnered more than 1 billion page views. Yes, that’s billion with a B.It’s probably not too far-fetched of a notion, according to Cheng Li, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution. “This is really Michelle fever in China,” he said.Cheng said Obama and her family —

her mother, Marian Robinson, and daughters, Malia and Sasha, traveled with her — showed respect for Chinese traditions and deftly weaved in diplomacy with lighter moments in a way that made the Chinese want to see what she was doing and where she was going. “Chinese do not only see this leader to leader. They see it family to family and in a broader context the respect of the two great countries,” he said. “This is why people got so excited.”

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Get Covered Illinois: #GCISuccess Stories

Rebecca S.: Rebecca, a 27 year-old Chicago resident, was denied coverage in 2012 because of her pre-existing condition. Upon being rejected in the private market, Rebecca enrolled in a plan for high-risk individuals that was beyond her price range and didn’t cover many of her health care needs. Now, Rebecca is enrolled in a Silver plan that saves her $1,600 per year compared to her previous coverage and covers the majority of her needs. Rebecca sees her new health insurance as more than just comprehensive coverage at a fair price. She believes enrolling in affordable health care is her chance at the American dream to be young and hardworking without the fear that an accident or illness will derail her dreams.

Joe Z.: Joe, a 55 year-old self-employed realtor from Chicago, previously had a COBRA plan that ended in 2013. Preparing for the New Year, Joe enrolled in a Silver plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield through the Marketplace. He was amazed to learn that his premium would be reduced by over 50% and that his new plan offered more extensive coverage. Joe is thankful that he was able to find affordable coverage on the Marketplace, especially with his pre-existing condition. In 2005, Joe underwent open heart surgery and said it was nearly impossible to find reasonable coverage with his medical history until the Affordable Care Act. Since enrolling, he has already used his insurance at his annual checkup with his cardiologist. Joe can rest easy now knowing his medical history will never dictate the type of coverage he can get again.

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On This Day

 Standing on the Colonnade with Phil Schiliro, assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, prior to the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act Bil signing ceremony in the Red Room of the White House, March 30, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

 President Obama walks to a podium in the Cross Hall, Grand Foyer of the White House, before making a statement regarding the American auto industry, March 30, 2009 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

President Obama walks away from the podium after delivering a statement regarding the American auto industry in the Cross Hall, Grand Foyer of the White House, March 30, 2009 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

 President Obama and Staff Secretary Lisa Brown on the Colonnade prior to the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act Bill signing ceremony, March 30, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

 

 President Obama conducts interviews in the Map Room of the White House, March 30, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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 President Obama walks towards the Oval Office, after returning to the White House from Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Va., March 30, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with advisors for a health care implementation meeting in the Oval Office, March 30, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama greets actress Hilary Swank and other guest mentors in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House during an event celebrating Women’s History Month, March 30, 2011 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama shakes hands with members of the audience following his speech on energy security at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., March 30, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

 President Obama greets James Brady in Press Secretary Jay Carney’s West Wing office at the White House, March 30, 2011. Brady, former President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, was wounded during the assassination attempt on President Reagan 30 years ago. Brady’s wife Sarah, right, and son Scott, center, joined him for the meeting (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with White House correspondents Bill Plante, CBS News, and Savannah Guthrie, NBC News, in the Upper Press Office of the White House, March 30, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama looks out the window of Marine One as he departs the White House South Lawn en route to Joint Base Andrews, Md., for a trip to Vermont, March 30, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Marcelle Leahy aboard Air Force One en route to Burlington, Vt., March 30, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama is reflected in sunglasses as he greets people on the tarmac following his arrival at Portland International Jetport in Portland, Maine, March 30, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

 

30
Mar
14

Early Bird Chat

On This Day: First Lady Michelle Obama greets a student during a mentoring event at Ballou High School in Washington, D.C., March 30, 2011. (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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MoooOOOooorning Early Birds – Happy Sunday!

29
Mar
14

The First Lady in China: A Photo Essay

First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia visit the Great Wall of China, March 23, 2014 (Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

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Day One: Thursday, March 20

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First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and Marian Robinson are greeted upon arrival at Xi’an Xianyang International Airport in Xi’an, China, March 24 (Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

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Day Two: Friday, March 21

Greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan the Diaoyutai State guest house

Visiting the Forbidden City

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….. greeted by Peng Liyuan upon arrival for a visit to the Beijing Normal School

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Continue reading ‘The First Lady in China: A Photo Essay’

29
Mar
14

The Week Ahead

President Obama boards Air Force One at Ramstein Air Base, Saturday, March 29, in Germany. Air Force One was making a scheduled refueling stop in Germany and he was using the opportunity to meet with US members of the military.

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The President is scheduled to arrive at Andrews tonight at 8:25 EDT

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The Week Ahead:

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Let’s hope he gets some of this tomorrow:




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