The President travels to Manila, Philippines, and participates in an arrival ceremony at Malacanang Palace
Later that afternoon, President Obama meets with President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines
President Obama participates in a joint press conference with President Aquino
The President greets members of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines
Later that evening, the President attends a State Dinner with President Aquino at Malacanang Palace
Tuesday, April 29
In the morning, President Obama delivers remarks at Fort Bonafacio
Later that morning, the President participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Manila American Cemetery
The President travels back to Washington, D.C.
Text of the President’s remarks on Donald Sterling
With respect to the statements by the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers — for our Malaysian audience, this is a sports team, basketball team in the United States. The owner is reported to have said some incredibly offensive racist statements that were published. I don’t think I have to interpret those statements for you; they kind of speak for themselves. When people — when ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk. And that’s what happened here.
I am confident that the NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, a good man, will address this. Obviously, the NBA is a league that is beloved by fans all across the country. It’s got an awful lot of African American players. It’s steeped in African American culture. And I suspect that the NBA is going to be deeply concerned in resolving this.
I will make just one larger comment about this. The United States continues to wrestle with a legacy of race and slavery and segregation that’s still there — the vestiges of discrimination. We’ve made enormous strides, but you’re going to continue to see this percolate up every so often. And I think that we just have to be clear and steady in denouncing it, teaching our children differently, but also remaining hopeful that part of why some statements like this stand out so much is because there had been — there has been this shift in how we view ourselves.
And like Malaysia, we constantly have to be on guard against racial attitudes that divide us rather than embracing our diversity as a strength. And I know that the people of Malaysia are committed to wrestling with those issues as well. We have to make sure that we stay on top of it — and we will.
A poll released Wednesday offers yet another data point showing the politics of Obamacare aren’t as set in stone as the conventional wisdom would have you believe. Embracing Obamacare isn’t necessarily a political loser, and obstructing it isn’t necessarily a winner. The New York Times/Kaiser Family Foundation poll surveyed four Southern states that will help determine control of the Senate this fall. It earned headlines for finding the Democrats in better shape in the Senate races than most would have expected. But it also assessed the popularity of four governors who have taken vastly different approaches to Obamacare — and the findings are a direct contradiction of the narrative that the law is a loser, plain and simple, especially in states like these.
The poll showed Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D) and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D), who expanded Medicaid under the law, are hugely popular. Their approval ratings are more than 20 points higher than their disapproval ratings; Beebe holds 68 percent approval, and Beshear is at 56 percent. But Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) are at best treading water with their constituents after they declined to expand the program to cover low-income residents.
NYT: Slavery Nostalgia Is Real, And It’s Dangerous
Northerners may be a little shocked that anyone could feel a bit nostalgic for slavery, in the manner of the government-hating Nevada rancher, Cliven Bundy. But in the South, such sentiments are hardly unheard of, even if they are usually muttered in private over a few bourbons rather than spoken at a news conference. Occasionally, in fact, they are expressed or embraced by public figures. A particularly relevant case started about 14 years ago, when Maurice Bessinger, owner of a chain of South Carolina barbecue restaurants called Maurice’s Piggie Park, began distributing pro-slavery tracts in his stores. One of the tracts, called the “Biblical View of Slavery,” said the practice wasn’t really so bad, because it was permitted in the Bible. It argued that many black slaves in the South “blessed the Lord” for their condition, because it was better than their life in Africa.
When the tract was discovered, Mr. Bessinger was denounced and his restaurants boycotted. Many retail stores pulled his distinctive (to be kind) yellow mustardy barbecue sauce from their shelves. But one prominent South Carolinian decided to stand up for Mr. Bessinger. Glenn McConnell, then a state senator from Charleston, stocked the sauce in his Confederate “art gallery,” which was loaded with secessionist flags and uniforms, as well as toilet paper bearing the image of Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. When a local power utility banned its trucks from the parking lots of Piggie Park, Mr. McConnell threatened a legislative vendetta against the company. Mr. Bessinger died in February. Mr. McConnell is now the lieutenant governor of South Carolina.
Jackie Calmes: In Poorest States, Political Stigma Is Depressing Participation In Health Law
Inside the sleek hillside headquarters of Valley Health Systems, built with a grant from the health care law, two employees played an advertisement they had helped produce to promote the law’s insurance coverage for young, working-class West Virginians. The ads ran just over 100 times during the recent six-month enrollment period. But three conservative groups ran 12 times as many, to oppose the law and the local Democratic congressman who voted for it. This is a disparity with consequences. Health professionals, state officials, social workers, insurance agents and others trying to make the law work for uninsured Americans say the partisan divisions and attack ads have depressed participation in some places.
the GOP must be very proud to have convinced some uninsured that the ACA comes with tracking chips and death panels. nytimes.com/2014/04/27/us/…
They say the law has been stigmatized for many who could benefit from it, especially in conservative states like West Virginia that have the poorest, most medically underserved populations but where President Obama and his signature initiative are hugely unpopular. Steven L. Shattls, chief executive of Valley Health, a network of 28 health centers, said his organization would like to rerun its ad before November, when enrollment resumes. But he also conceded, “We have limited resources.” Republican candidates and the so-called super PACs supporting them have made assailing the Affordable Care Act their No. 1 issue for the midterm elections
Koritha Mitchell: Supreme Court Agrees With Michigan Voters: Affirmative Action Must Remain For Whites Only
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Michigan’s voter-approved ban on affirmative action in admissions to the state’s public universities reinforces an ugly reality: that most Americans support affirmative action only when it is for whites and no one else. Nearly every time American rhetoric privileges states’ rights, it leaves marginalized groups open to even bolder discrimination than they already encounter. Michigan is simply reminding us that the South has never been the only place where Americans believe that whites are the only ones who should enjoy equal protection. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s 58-page dissent is a painfully necessary document that asks the nation to live up to its creed, but we desperately need to take this conversation in another direction. Rather than focus on the disadvantages of groups hurt by this decision, Americans must confront the unearned advantage of whiteness that inspired Michigan’s Proposal 2 in the first place. In short, Proposal 2 — and every instance of the sort of rhetoric that aligns with it — amounts to a declaration that setting a quota for whites of at least 75 percent is the American way.
The nation’s most effective, and palatable, affirmation action has always been for whites. In the early days of the republic, how else could land have been distributed to whites and not to Native Americans? The requirement for land was being white; the government set it aside for whites. How else could whites have secured the vast majority of land in the South (where blacks often outnumbered them) after Emancipation? The Homestead Act of 1863 and other government programs ensured that land was set aside for whites. How else did 98 percent of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans granted between 1932 and 1962 go to whites? Numerous historians have shown that the federal government sanctioned discriminatory practices that ensured that access to home ownership was set aside for whites. And those homes not only enabled whites to build wealth; they also provided access to public schools that prepared their children for college. The same principles shaped the years after World War II. Thus, while G.I. Bill benefits yielded college degrees and small businesses for whites, black and brown veterans more often returned home to collect insult and injury.
Jonathan Cohn: Obamacare Cancelled Policies: Study Says Impact Was Actually Small
“Five million people lost their coverage around the country.” That quote comes from John Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Republican Party Committee. But if you’ve heard Republicans and their allies make the case against Obamacare, then you’ve inevitably heard some version of this. In some tellings, the number is 6 million. Sometimes conservatives cite this figure as proof that, on net, the number of Americans with insurance will decline because of the Affordable Care Act. That’s almost certainly not true, as a recent series of surveys have shown. The study, which appears online at the journal Health Affairs, is by Benjamin Sommers, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. Using data from the Census Brueau’s Survey of Income Program and Participation, or SIPP, Sommers found that, historically, the non-group insurance has tended to have lots of churn.
Yesterday my insurance cost dropped $269/month under the ACA. Thank you to everyone who voted for Obama, & screw you to those who didn't.
In English, that means few people hold onto non-group policies for very long—typically, it’s just a transitional phase, while they are between jobs that provide insurance directly. In the sample that Sommers examined, the number of people who still had the same policy after just four months was already less than than two-thirds; after one year, it was down to 42 percent; after two years, it was down to 27 percent. So what does that tell us about Obamacare? According to Sommers, it suggests that most of the people who got those cancellation notices probably would have dropped existing coverage within a short time anyway. Sommers says that 65 percent of the people in his study had incomes below 400 percent of the poverty line, which means they’d be eligible for tax credits that make non-group insurance less expensive than the sticker price. That makes him skeptical about the extent of “rate shock”
Come on, fellow liberals. Calm down. I guess maybe it’s fair to call Cliven Bundy a racist. That “picking cotton” business put it over the top, and wondering whether they were better off under slavery. Even Sean Hannity, Bundy’s greatest media champion, threw in the towel last night: He wanted it to be “abundantly clear,” Hannity said at the top of his show, that he found the remarks “downright racist,” “repugnant,” “beyond disturbing,” and so on. OK, so Bundy’s a racist. It’s fine to point that out. But point up the fact that he’s a registered Republican? That’s where I draw the line, friends. I mean, come on. That’s just a coincidence. Total cosmic coincidence.
Just like it’s a coincidence that one federal judge who sent an email around to friends saying that Obama’s father was a dog happened to be a Republican. Complete and utter accident of fate, the puny matter of his voter enrollment. Those rancidly racist T-shirts and posters one sometimes sees at Tea Party rallies? They’re just a coincidence, too. I mean, Tea Party people might not be Republican, strictly speaking, and it’s totally unfair to assume that! OK, Tea Party candidates run in Republican primaries, not Democratic ones, and the Tea Party caucus in the House doesn’t include one Democrat. But still. Guilt by association!
There is no more birth control at the flea market. And if there ever were abortion pills, they’re long gone, too. At the Rio Grande Valley’s biggest outdoor market, known as la pulga, locals can buy car parts and fertilizer, watermelons out of a pickup, a parakeet, an iPhone case or stickers from their favorite Mexican fútbol team. But since this flea market was among several raided last August over suspicion it was selling abortion pills, if you even ask for birth control you’ll hear voices lower to a fearful whisper. You’ll be sent to the vendor who sells nuts, or the women selling jewelry. On a recent afternoon, all those destinations were a dead end. “Not anymore,” a woman whose table bore aspirin and homeopathic remedies said in Spanish. She shrugged. “Obama wants us to have more babies.” In fact, it wasn’t the federal government that raided four flea markets’ thriving illegal pharmaceutical trade, making undocumented residents that much more terrified to shop in them. The Sheriff of Hidalgo County, who took the lead, didn’t find any abortion pills, but he did charge nine people with selling prescription-drug contraband like diet pills and Viagra from Mexico.
We've reached a truly remarkable moment: a Koch Bros group is attacking Obamacare for not being liberal enough on.msnbc.com/1mDTI6m
The arrests came a month to the day after a front page New York Times story about how the state’s new omnibus law restricting abortion – the one Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis famously tried to block – was expected to close the Rio Grande Valley’s two abortion clinics.The combined crackdown by state and local authorities in Texas has done more than make it harder for the women of the Valley to get an abortion. They’re now having trouble getting any reproductive health care at all, since the same state legislature that shuttered the abortion clinics also slashed family planning funds and closed family planning providers. And Texas’ refusal to expand Medicaid means its distinction as the uninsured capital of the United States isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, making the state’s broader health care crisis even worse.
Ian Millhiser: Court Declares Arkansas Voter Suppression Law Unconstitutional
Voter ID laws, which require voters to show a photo ID at the polls, reduce voter turn out among young voters, low-income voters and people of color — all of whom are groups that tend to prefer Democrats to Republicans. Arkansas’ voter ID law is also unconstitutional, according to a state trial court’s decision handed down on Thursday. As Judge Timothy Davis Fox lays out the controlling law in this case, the constitutionality of Arkansas’ voter ID law isn’t even a particular difficult question. The Arkansas Constitution provides that “[n]o power, civil or military, shall ever interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage; nor shall any law be enacted whereby such right shall be impaired or forfeited, except for the commission of a felony, upon lawful conviction thereof.” This law impairs the free exercise of the right of suffrage.
LEO Weekly: Mitch McConnell Enters A High-Risk Pool On Kynect Opposition
Gov. Steve Beshear announced the almost-final enrollment numbers for Kentuckians gaining access to health care coverage under Kynect before the spring deadline, in which a staggering 413,410 people — 9.6 percent of all Kentuckians — now have health insurance. Roughly 300,000 of these people previously did not have health insurance, and 52 percent of Kynect enrollees are under the age of 35. Sen. Mitch McConnell is beating the drum of repealing Obamacare “root and branch,” though he occasionally slips up and talks about a “fix.” Where this stance becomes dicey for him is when he’s asked what he would do for those 413,000 Kentuckians who have health insurance through Kynect, 300,000 of which were previously uninsured, if he succeeds in repealing the ACA. When cornered with this question, McConnell usually goes into talking points mode to avoid specifics, but last week His Swaggerness got McConnell to bite. Asked what he would do for terminally ill Kentuckians who would lose their new insurance if the ACA is repealed, McConnell actually presented what appears to be a specific answer
Thinking about friend who died waiting to be approved for Medicaid. She could have lived. That won't happen to folks now. Thank you #ACA.
McConnell is referring to here is Kentucky Access, the state’s former high-risk pool that helped provide insurance on the private market for Kentuckians who were otherwise turned down by insurance companies due to their pre-existing condition. The program operated from 2001 until the end of last year, when it was rendered moot by the ACA. However, Kentucky Access was not very popular, as it was still too expensive for people to buy insurance. In 2013, only 3,988 Kentuckians gained coverage through the program — which did not provide the same consumer protections under the ACA — with the average basic premium for an individual being $680 a month, and the most popular plan with a pharmacy rider having a monthly premium of $1,118 for a male aged 64.
On the other hand, these same people — and hundreds of thousands more — can now gain coverage through Kynect, along with a subsidy to reduce their premium cost and new consumer protections that make their insurance more valuable if they have a medical emergency and cover the costs of basic check ups and screenings. What McConnell is essentially saying is that we should just go back to the way it was before, with vulnerable Kentuckians having to rely on expensive insurance through an unpopular program that did not provide the same protections they have now. Kynect? 413,000 Kentuckians signing up for insurance in the exchange shows you what a popular insurance pool looks like. And yes, 413,000 is greater than 4,000.
President Obama poses for a photo with a patron at Jerry’s Family Restaurant, a diner in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, April 27, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama tours MogoOrganic farm with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, right, and Morgan Hoenig, left, in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, April 27, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama visits with patrons who were playing bridge in a backroom at Jerry’s Family Restaurant in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, April 27, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama hugs children of Executive Office employees at the White House’s annual “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work” day, April 27, 2011
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk across the South Lawn of the White House as they depart for Chicago to film a segment on the Oprah Winfrey Show, April 27, 2011
President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Marian Robinson walk with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley from Air Force One to Marine One at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Ill., April 27, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama chat with Oprah Winfrey during a taping of the Oprah Winfrey show, April 27, 2011, at Harpo Studios in Chicago
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk across the South Lawn before boarding Marine One at the White House April 27, 2012
President Obama and wife Michelle share a moment while meeting with military families at the headquarters for the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division in Fort Stewart, Georgia to sign changes in the GI Bill, April 27, 2012
President Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington, DC on April 27, 2013
On This Day: President Obama looks out the window in the Blue Room of the White House before holding a press conference, Nov. 3, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Today: President Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe at 2PM ET.
The Week Ahead:
Monday: The President will welcome the five-time Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks, to the White House to honor the team and their 2013 Stanley Cup victory. Following the visit, he will deliver remarks at an Organizing for Action event.
Tuesday: The President will travel to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and visit with wounded warriors who are being treated at the hospital and with their families. He will also visit the Fisher House, a program that supports military families by welcoming them to stay at the house while their loved ones receive specialized medical care.
Wednesday: The President will travel to Dallas to participate in DSCC events.
Thursday: The President will attend meetings at the White House.
Friday: The President will travel to the New Orleans area for an event on the economy. Later that day, he will travel to Miami, Florida to participate in DNC and DSCC events.
President Barack Obama says budget negotiations in Congress are about choices and priorities. In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama urges Congress to pass a budget that includes spending on education, infrastructure and research. Obama says there’s an obsession with cutting spending just for the sake of cutting. He says it’s not helping grow the economy. He’s pointing out that deficits are falling fast on his watch.
The way the program to provide the poor with the bare minimum of daily nutrition has been handled is a metaphor for how the far right in the House is systematically trying to take down the federal government. The Tea Party radicals and those who either fear or cultivate them are now subjecting the food-stamp program to the same kind of assault they have unleashed on other settled policies and understandings that have been in place for decades. Breaking all manner of precedents on a series of highly partisan votes, with the Republicans barely prevailing, the House in September slashed the food-stamp program by a whopping $39 billion and imposed harsh new requirements for getting on, or staying on, the program. The point was to deny the benefit to millions.
Food stamps are largely responsible for the near-elimination of the severe hunger and malnutrition that was widespread in many poverty-stricken areas,” says Bob Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Food stamps are far from an extravagant benefit. The average allocation is $1.40 per person per meal. (Try it some time.)
Far more serious is the kind of catastrophe facing people like Richard Streeter, 47, a truck driver and recreational vehicle repairman in Eugene, Ore. His problem isn’t Obamacare, but a tumor in his colon that may kill him because Obamacare didn’t come quite soon enough. Streeter had health insurance for decades, but beginning in 2008 his employer no longer offered it as an option. He says he tried to buy individual health insurance but, as a lifelong smoker in his late 40s, couldn’t find anything affordable — so he took a terrible chance and did without.
By September, Streeter couldn’t stand the pain any longer. He went to another doctor, who suggested a colonoscopy. The cheapest provider he could find was Dr. J. Scott Gibson, a softhearted gastroenterologist who told him that if he didn’t have insurance he would do it for $300 down and $300 more whenever he had the money. Streeter made the 100-mile drive to Dr. Gibson’s office in McMinnville, Ore. — and received devastating news. Dr. Gibson had found advanced colon cancer.
“It was heartbreaking to see the pain on his face,” Dr. Gibson told me. “It got me very angry with people who insist that Obamacare is a train wreck, when the real train wreck is what people are experiencing every day because they can’t afford care.”
Advocate: How Obamacare Will Affect Trans Folks And Families
Anand Kalra: Yes. First, the Affordable Care Act opens the door to coverage for a group of people that have been held outside. The ACA makes it illegal for an insurance company to refuse to sell an insurance plan to someone because they have “pre-existing conditions.” Historically, health insurance companies have considered gender identity disorder, the psychiatric diagnosis used to enable access to transition-related care, such as hormone replacement therapy, a pre-existing condition. So, if anywhere in your medical record you had been diagnosed with GID, an insurance company could use that against you, and refuse to insure you. Starting on January 1, 2014, that practice is prohibited for any diagnosis, including gender identity disorder.
On their last night in Dallas, the ramen noodles and microwave popcorn were finished. The money for the motel had run out too. So on a hot August night Jessica and Erick Davis and their three young kids slept in the Mazda rented for the trip. It had only been a few hours since Jessica’s abortion. Because the procedure needed to be performed later in her pregnancy, it stretched over three days.
Earlier that month, at home in Oklahoma City, the Davises were told that the boy she was carrying had a severe brain malformation known as holoprosencephaly. It is rare, though possible, for such a fetus to survive to birth, but doctors told them that he would not reach his first birthday. “He would never walk, lift his head,” Jessica, 23, recalled in an interview. “I could let my son go on and suffer,” she said. Or she could accept a word she didn’t like – abortion – “and do the best thing for my baby.”
The Davises’ ordeal was always going to be painful. But the grim path that led them to a night in the car was determined, nearly every step of the way, by a state that has scrambled to be the most “pro-life” in the nation. There are no exceptions for families like the Davises. Oklahomans brag that theirs has become the reddest state.
I would ask the Scrooge McDucks of the world who so vehemently criticize what they consider to be counterproductive, even crippling taxation of the wealthy in the midst of historically high corporate profits and personal income, to consider this: Instead of approaching the tax reform argument from the standpoint of what an enormous percentage of the overall income taxes the top 1% pay, consider how much of the national income you’ve been privileged to make. In the United States, the share of total pre-tax income accruing to the top 1% has more than doubled from 10% in the 1970s to 20% today. Admit that you, and I and others in the magnificent “1%” grew up in a gilded age of credit, where those who borrowed money or charged fees on expanding financial assets had a much better chance of making it to the big tent than those who used their hands for a living.
Yes I know many of you money people worked hard as did I, and you survived and prospered where others did not. A fair economic system should always allow for an opportunity to succeed. You did not, as President Obama averred, “build that,” you did not create that wave. You rode it. And now it’s time to kick out and share some of your good fortune by paying higher taxes or reforming them to favor economic growth and labor, as opposed to corporate profits and individual gazillions. You’ll still be able to attend those charity galas and demonstrate your benevolence and philanthropic character to your admiring public.
LOL GOP: Obamacare ‘Horror’ Story Turns Out To Be Obamacare Success Story
This week Diane Barrette was briefly the poster woman for the estimated 3% of America in the private insurance market who will lose their insurance and pay more to get coverage that meets the new minimum standards laid out by the ACA. It turns out that she was paying $56 a month for a plan that covered — according to Yiddish experts — bubkis.
“She’s paying $650 a year to be uninsured,” Karen Pollitz, an insurance expert at the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, told Consumer Reports. “I have to assume that she never really had to make much of a claim under this policy. She would have lost the house she’s sitting in if something serious had happened. I don’t know if she knows that.”
Ian Millhiser: What You Need To Know About The Severely Conservative Judge Who Just Ruled Against Birth Control
Nine years ago, the California Supreme Court upheld a state law similar to the Affordable Care Act’s rules requiring most employers to include birth control coverage in their employee health plans. The sole dissent in that case was Justice Janice Rogers Brown. Nearly a decade later, Brown got her revenge. Though no longer a member of California’s highest court — President George W. Bush appointed her to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit over the strenuous objections of Democrats
Judge Brown is now the author of a 2-1 opinion holding that religious employers can ignore the federal birth control rules. What was once a fringe view held by a lone holdout is now the law in the second most powerful court in the country. There is a lesson here for Democrats trying to decide whether to invoke the nuclear opinion in the D.C. Circuit fight that Senate Republicans started this week. When Republicans had the courage to demand what they wanted and put a serious threat behind it, they got two of the most conservative judges in the country.
Former House Speaker Jim Wright was denied a voter ID card Saturday at a Texas Department of Public Safety office. “Nobody was ugly to us, but they insisted that they wouldn’t give me an ID,” Wright said. The legendary Texas political figure says that he has worked things out with DPS and that he will get a state-issued personal identification card in time for him to vote Tuesday in the state and local elections.
But after the difficulty he had this weekend getting a proper ID card, Wright, 90, expressed concern that such problems could deter others from voting and stifle turnout. After spending much of his life fighting to make it easier to vote, the Democratic Party icon said he is troubled by what he’s seeing happen under the state’s new voter ID law.
President Obama was in Boston on Wednesday—not to watch a baseball game, but to send a message about health care reform: The idea really works. Given all the news about Obamacare lately, it’s a message the country very much needs to hear. The template for the Affordable Care Act is the reforms that Massachusetts officials enacted in 2006. As almost everybody knows by now, the Red Sox organization promoted the Massachusetts health reforms, sponsoring efforts to enroll people and even having players appear in ads directly addressing the young, healthy people who might think insurance was unnecessary.
That spirit still exists today, all across the country, although you might not have noticed. Leaders of the health care industry have been generally supportive of reform. You can see this clearly in the hospital industry, which rather than screaming publicly about payment changes in Medicare is quietly reinventing itself in ways that will, hopefully, make health care efficient. You also see it with the insurance industry, which rather than use website problems to endorse repeal has instead been lending the federal government technical assistance to get things working. Like everybody else in the health care business, these groups have plenty of financial incentive for playing nice. More people insured means more people paying bills.
That attitude has not prevailed in politics, obviously. At both the state and national level, Republicans have been at best indifferent and at worst hostile to implementation of the law—in some cases, openly wishing for its failure and urgingpotential partners with or surrogates for the federal government not to help enrollment.
Since insurers have begun informing beneficiaries that their health care plans do not meet the new federal requirements of Obamacare, and will be either cancelled or significantly altered, the media has profiled countless middle class Americans who claim that the new health care law will force them to pay more for coverage.
Deborah Cavallaro, for instance, a real estate agent from Los Angeles, was enrolled in an individual plan that cost her just $293 per month. Under Obamacare, Cavallaro says she’ll have to pay over $400 for coverage she doesn’t need or want. But a higher premium doesn’t tell the whole story: while Cavallaro may spend more each month, she’ll be buying more comprehensive insurance with fewer out-of-pocket costs, better benefits that will cover more and cost her less if she actually falls ill, and much more robust consumer protections.
So before you buy into the sticker shock hysteria, here are four questions you should ask….
If the Republican National Committee had written the script for the week, it wouldn’t have gone quite this well for the right. The political world took a relatively obscure element of the debate over health care – insurers informing consumers about replacing poor, outdated coverage plans with new, better plans – and turned it into a “controversy.”
In an amazing twist, conservative Republicans who are desperate to take away coverage for millions of Americans are pretending to be outraged on behalf of Americans whose plans are being upgraded.
As we talked about earlier in the week, I’m not terribly impressed by the sudden apoplectic outburst from reporters and Republicans, but let’s consider the above pie chart and get a little more specific.
Media Matters: Called On To Explain Big Story, Media Botches Obamacare
The rocky rollout of Obamacare has prompted commentators to attack the president and his team for having three years to plan for the launch and still not getting it right. That’s a legitimate critique as problems persist. But the same can be said for an awful lot of reporters doing a very poor job covering Obamacare. They also had three years to prepare themselves to accurately report the story.
So what’s their excuse?
The truth is, the Beltway press rarely bothers to explain, let alone cover, public policy any more. With a media model that almost uniformly revolves around the political process of Washington (who’s winning, who’s losing?), journalists have distanced themselves from the grungy facts of governance, especially in terms of how government programs work and how they effect the citizenry.
But explaining is the job of journalism. It’s one of the crucial roles that newsrooms play in a democracy. And in the recent case of Obamacare, the press has failed badly in its role. Worse, it has actively misinformed about the new health law and routinely highlighted consumers unhappy with Obamacare, while ignoring those who praise it.
LA Times: Obamacare hysteria: Don’t believe the canceled insurance hype
Obamacare’s critics are going to town on the cancellation letters millions of Americans are receiving from their health insurers, informing them that their health plans won’t conform to the new federal standards for health coverage as of Jan. 1.
We’re supposed to be scandalized by this, since President Obama himself assured everyone that if they liked their insurance they’d be able to keep it. And people just love plans that in some cases cost just $50 a month. At that price, what’s not to love?
Back in March, Consumer Reports published a study of many of these plans and placed them in a special category: “junk health insurance.” Some plans, the magazine declared, may be worse than none at all.
…. It’s time to tamp down the breathless indignation about these health plan cancellations. Many of the departing plans are being outlawed for good reason, and many of the customers losing them have no idea how much financial exposure they were saddled with in the old days. That’s the real scandal in American health insurance, and Obamacare is designed, rightly, to fix it.
WH.gov: Karmel’s Story: I No Longer Fear My ‘Pre-Existing Condition’
I do not have a pre-existing condition. But I have a pre-existing condition in-waiting that has caused me to live in fear for years.
A pre-existing condition. What does that mean, anyways? I am a type 1 diabetic, but that diagnosis certainly does not pre-exist me. No – pre-existing is not a medical condition; it is a legal one. Before the health insurance marketplace opened in my state, if I were to seek health insurance, my type 1 diabetes would be a pre-existing condition, and sufficient reason for most insurance companies to shut the door in my face.
… Without insurance, the medication required to keep me alive for more than a few months easily proves untenably expensive – never mind the medication and devices required to keep me healthy and free of long-term complications.
That is the frame of mind I have lived with for the past twenty years, and that was the frame of mind with which I approached CoveredCA.com, my state’s healthcare exchange, last month …. And suddenly I was free….
What does the Affordable Care Act mean for me? It means that I can finally take off the scarlet letter D that has marked me as a pre-existing diabetic, and I can shop for health care knowing that I am protected by American law.
OFA: Obamacare helped me keep my doctor of 27 years
After being denied insurance, I signed up for Obamacare on Day One.
When I was less than one year old, my mother noticed something strange. My hands and feet were a little blue and a little cold, so my mother took me to the hospital. Turns out, my aorta was narrow (called a coarctation of the aorta) and I required surgery right away.
… It was strange being denied health coverage for something that happened before I was born. Not being able to visit my cardiologist, a doctor I have relied on for 27 years, was extremely unnerving.
That’s why I signed up for Obamacare on Day One.
Thanks to the new law, I will no longer be denied coverage, and I can keep my doctor of 27 years…
Steve Benen: Court re-imposes Texas abortion restrictions
Earlier this week, reproductive-rights proponents appeared to have won a partial legal victory. A federal court in Texas blocked implementation of parts of a sweeping new law, signed by Gov. Rick Perry over the summer, which imposed some of the nation’s most severe restrictions on women’s health choices.
Last night, however, the success in the courts was short lived:
A federal appeals court ruled late Thursday that Texas’ abortion restrictions could immediately go into effect, overruling a Monday order from a lower court that found parts of the law unconstitutional. The decision may close the doors of one-third of Texas abortion clinics, many which will likely be unable to meet the requirement of hospital admitting privileges. Of course, that was the point of the law. “Today’s decision affirms our right to protect both the unborn and the health of the women of Texas,” said Governor Perry in a statement responding to the ruling. “We will continue doing everything we can to protect a culture of life in our state.”
…. We’re occasionally reminded that fights over judicial nominees matter. Last night offered a refresher for those who may have forgotten.
TPM: If We Can’t Have It, You Can’t Have It Either
There’s a lot of backstory to today’s showdown in the Senate over President Obama’s nominees to DC Circuit Court of Appeals …But there’s more to this particular face-off than the usual opposition to judicial nominees or the fight over whether the use of the filibuster has crippled the Senate. In this case, the underlying battle is just as if not more important than the supposedly larger issues it implicates.
What’s happening in this case is Senate Republicans are blocking wholesale the confirmation of any new judges to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The reason is simple: The D.C. Circuit tilts conservative right now and so long as the empty seats on the bench remain empty, that conservative tilt remains.
Republicans – and the anti-regulation crowd they represent – are particularly concerned about the D.C. Circuit because it has jurisdiction over many of the rules and regulations that the federal government writes. That makes it the front line in the battle between regulators and the regulated, between consumers and business, and between the liberal and conservative legal establishments over the scope and power of the administrative agencies who implement the laws Congress passes.
President Obama kisses a baby on the tarmac following his arrival at Denver International Airport, Nov. 1, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Janet Kavandi, Director of Flight Crew Operations at Johnson Space Center, presents President Obama with a jacket during a drop by with the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis in the Oval Office, Nov. 1, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
VP Biden in Muscatine, November 1, 2012 (Photo by Christopher Dilts for Obama for America)
Las Vegas, November 1, 2012 (Photo by Scout Tufankjian)
Boulder, November 1, 2012 (Photo by Scout Tufankjian)
Boulder, November 1, 2012 (Photo by Scout Tufankjian)
Boulder, November 1, 2012 (Photo by Scout Tufankjian)
On This Day: New Hampshire, October 27, 2012 (Photo by Scout Tufankjian)
The Week Ahead:
Today: The President has no public events scheduled
Monday: The President will attend the installation of FBI Director James Comey at FBI Headquarters in Washington
Tuesday: Attends a memorial service for former Speaker Tom Foley at the Capitol
Wednesday: Travels to Boston where he will speak on the importance of quality health insurance. The President will also attend a fundraiser for the DCCC
Thursday: Hosts and delivers remarks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit. In the evening, the President and the First Lady will welcome local children and children of military families to trick-or-treat at the South Portico of the White House
Friday: The President will host Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the White House
NYT: Insurers’ Stocks, Unhurt By The Dawn Of The Health Care Law
From the financial perspective of the health care industry, Obamacare, as the law is often known, doesn’t seem much of a hindrance. In fact, it may even turn out to be positive. Consider the situation of health insurance providers. Because they face new regulations intended to broaden coverage and limit profit-taking, some analysts have been concerned that profits will suffer. But in the run-up to the Affordable Care Act, stock market prices have told a different story.
Over the last 12 months, shares of the top five publicly traded health insurance companies — Aetna, WellPoint, UnitedHealth Group, Humana and Cigna — have increased by an average of 32 percent, while the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index has risen by just 24 percent. Strong profits in the current year, as growth slowed in overall health care costs, is one probable explanation for the outperformance by the group.
HHS.Gov: What’s Working In The Marketplace: The Data Services Hub
To give Americans a better way to shop for health coverage, the federal government and states recently launched Health Insurance Marketplaces. Yesterday, we announced a clear path forward so that by the end of November, HealthCare.gov will work smoothly for the vast majority of consumers. But you probably haven’t heard about the Data Services Hub which serves as a critical resource for the Marketplaces, both state and federal.
The Hub is a tool to help you and your family get affordable, quality health care. As of yesterday, nearly 700,000 Americans had completed an application through the Marketplaces – more than half of them through the federal Marketplace. This does not count applications directly to Medicaid and CHIP agencies that also can use the Hub.
Think Progress: ObamaCare Got Some Promising News From The Medical Community Today
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) announced that a record number of students applied to American medical schools in 2013 and that a record number of first-year students has enrolled in medical schools this year. Experts say that’s an encouraging sign in the face of a primary care doctor shortage that will likely be exacerbated by an influx of newly insured Americans seeking medical treatment as the Affordable Care Act goes into effect.
“At a time when the nation faces a shortage of more than 90,000 doctors by the end of the decade and millions are gaining access to health insurance, we are very glad that more students than ever want to become physicians,” said AAMC president Dr. Darrell G. Kirch in a press release. A total of 48,014 students applied to medical schools in 2013, surpassing the previous record that was set in 1996. The number of students enrolled as first-year students also rose above 20,000 for the first time ever.
First lady Michelle Obama hit the fundraising circuit Friday to help give her husband the Democrat-controlled Congress that could help him further his agenda, and didn’t shy away from blasting her husband’s opponents for shutting down the government in an ultimately fruitless attempt to stall or stop the Affordable Care Act Friday.
“So when a small group of folks in Congress shuts down our government to try to shut down Obamacare, and we watch as our president stands strong, that’s not just some political fight in Washington,” she said at the Women’s Leadership Forum Conference in DC. “It is a battle about our most fundamental values and aspirations.”
President Obama chats with Personal Aide Reggie Love, Senior Advisor David Axelrod and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs outside the Oval Office after taping an interview for the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Oct. 27, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Eva Longoria visits an OFA office in West Palm Beach, Florida, Oct 27, 2012
President Obama at a campaign rally at Elm Street Middle School in Nashua, NH, October 27, 2012
New Hampshire, October 27, 2012 (Photos by Scout Tufankjian)
President Obama laughs with Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Nancy-Ann DeParle and Traveling Aide Bobby Schmuck prior to an event at the Elm Street Middle School in Nashua, N.H., Oct. 27, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama talks with Carol Burnett, the 2013 recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and her husband Brian Miller, in the Oval Office, Oct. 21, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Obama administration officials said on Monday that they expect to meet their targets for enrolling the uninsured in Obamacare despite the well publicized glitches in HealthCare.gov — the federal government’s online portal for buying health care coverage in the law’s new marketplaces.
Speaking to reporters after President Obama publicly addressed the law’s rocky roll out from the White House, senior administration officials expressed confidence that the public’s enthusiasm for obtaining coverage and the alternative pathways for signing-up for insurance will ensure that the law is successful. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts that seven million people will sign up for insurance in the health care exchanges between October and March, including 2.7 million young and healthy people.
Sy Mukherjee: South Dakota Doctors Urge Their Governor To Expand Medicaid Under Obamacare
South Dakota doctors are urging Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, warning that a failure to do so will hurt hospitals financially and raise health care costs for people with private insurance. Current Medicaid eligibility thresholds in most states — including South Dakota — are so demanding that they disqualify even the poorest working adults from receiving coverage through the program.
In South Dakota, 15 percent of the adult population lives at or below 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which works out to be about $11,500 per year for an individual. But justeight percent of adults are covered by Medicaid. Under Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, any adult making up to 138 percent FPL would be able enroll in the public health insurance program. That would end up cutting South Dakota’s uninsurance rate by more than half. Without the expansion, on the other hand, South Dakota’s poorest will have to continue relying on the emergency room for their medical services.
Republicans have pulled out all the stops to kill Obamacare, the president’s landmark health care law that requires every American to purchase health insurance by 2014. There have been lawsuits; there have been bills (40 in the House so far); there has been a Supreme Court case—all aimed at rolling back a law that that the GOP says is an assault on individual liberty. Now, with only a few more months to go until the individual mandate—the requirement that we all have coverage—kicks in, Republicans are frantic; some are eventhreatening to force the United States to default on its debts if Democrats don’t agree to delay the law.
This is odd because the individual mandate, the cornerstone of Obamacare, was originally a conservative idea. It was first proposed by the Heritage Foundation in 1989. And scores of Republicans—not just Mitt Romney—have backed the idea in the past couple of decades. Here are some of the GOPers who supported Obamacare before Obama
CBS: Obama Orders Release Of Report Justifying Syria Strike
President Barack Obama called his national security team together Saturday to talk about the next move in Syria. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper led off the three-hour White House meeting with detailed analysis of the evidence about the chemical weapons attack, the disposition of victims and what the administration now believes is a near air-tight circumstantial case that the Syrian regime was behind it.
Obama ordered a declassified report be prepared for public release before any military strike commences. That report, top advisers tell CBS News, is due to be released in a day or two.
The world’s focus is currently on Syria and how the United States will respond to last week’s reports of a massive chemical weapons attack against civilians … President Obama has been meeting with his top national security advisors to come to a conclusion on how to move forward in Syria. Just over a year ago, Obama called the use of chemical weapons a violation of a “red-line” that would change U.S. calculations. With that in mind, here are details of at least three of the options that Obama has before him:
Stay The Course: Contrary to at times heated rhetoric, the United States has not exactly been sitting on its hands over the past three years with regard to Syria. So far, the U.S. has provided more than one billion dollars worth of humanitarian aid …. sticking to the current strategy of limited direct engagement has the added benefit of not introducing U.S. forces and assets directly into an unknown theater…..
Limited Strikes: …. in the form of cruise missile strikes from naval ships or air strikes from one of the U.S. nearby military bases, aimed at taking out Syria’s remaining chemical weapons facilities and possibly other government targets….
The ‘Kosovo Model’ and No-Fly Zone: …. a lengthier air engagement, designed to break the Syrian government’s momentum and aiding in the eventual overthrow of Assad’s government….
Chicago Tribune: First Lady To Pay Tribute To Whitney Young During Civil Rights Documentary
First lady Michelle Obama, an alumna of Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in Chicago, will pay tribute to the school’s namesake Tuesday at a screening of a documentary film depicting his crusade for civil rights.
Obama will make remarks at the screening of “The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights” ….. The film chronicles Young’s civil rights battles during the 1960s and his journey from segregated Kentucky to the leadership of the National Urban League, aides to the first lady said. He lived from 1921-1971.
This week, as many students head back to school, the sequester’s Head Start cuts mean that 57,000 low-income kids will not. Wahpeton, ND illustrated Head Start spots that fell victim to the sequester with empty seats and a sign that reads “these 12 chairs represent the 12 children who will not be able to attend Head Start due to budget cuts from Sequestration.”
‘Do you see the harm in sequestration?’
Head Start programs aren’t the only area where the sequester’s impact continues to sink in — see stories on scientific research, overburdened justice systems, low-income housing, economic growth and more below. As policymakers move into a fall season laden with budget battles, they’d do well to remember what’s at stake and consider replacing sequestration with a backloaded deficit-reduction plan balancing cuts with new revenues.
Remember what we say here at OTE — those who forget the sequester are doomed to repeat it.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is scheduled to deliver her farewell address Tuesday to reflect on the past four-and-a-half years in the Obama administration before she begins her next chapter as head of the University of California system.
The speech is expected to begin at 10 a.m. ET at the National Press Club in Washington (C-Span)
Texas Tribune: Documents Still Show No Evidence of Excrement at Abortion Debate
Documents released Monday by the Texas Department of Public Safety’s provided no new evidence that officers found one jar of urine and 18 containers of feces at the Capitol before a July 12 debate on a controversial abortion bill.
DPS released a press statement the day of the debate that said officers had discovered one jar suspected of containing urine and 18 jars suspected to contain feces. After initially resisting requests for additional information about the reported discoveries, DPS on Monday released 144 pages of documents about the alleged incident. But the documents contain no official reports of the findings, and several DPS officers said they had not seen any of the suspected items.
Mother Jones: Talib Kweli: “We Send Young White Boys To The Army. We’re Sending Young Black Boys To The Prisons.”
MJ:What are your thoughts on the recent court ruling that New York City’s stop-and-frisk policies are tantamount to racial profiling—and the fact that Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city would appeal?
TK:He also said that if it was is his son, he might feel different.Bloomberg is a sensible guy. He’s just privileged. He’s a goddamn billionaire, and he or his family members have never had to deal with anything as remotely degrading as stop and frisk. So he has no point of reference.
MJ:New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said people in minority communities want more stop and frisk.
TK:That’s all propaganda and it’s bullshit. No one likes to be treated like that. For him to make that statement is ignorant. What it’s saying is that because you’re poor, because you live in a neighborhood that deals with oppressed conditions, you deserve to be treated like a criminal. In our Constitution it says you have the right to live without illegal search and seizure. What else is stop and frisk? These neighborhoods are unsafe not because there’s not enough cops illegally frisking people. They’re not safe because of economic conditions. They’re not safe because of all types of things in the government that people like Bloomberg and Ray Kelly should be looking to fix instead of randomly searching kids in the hood. If you go to a college campus and you do stop and frisk, you’re going to find a lot of drugs there, too.
MJ:Do you see any connection between this debate and the one over the NSA snooping?
TK:Well, I think the biggest problem in our country is mass incarceration and the prison-industrial complex. From the Rockefeller drug laws to stand your ground to stop and frisk, all these are pointing people, especially and disproportionately black and brown people, towards the criminal-justice system. It’s depleting whole generations of people. We send young white boys to the Army, we’re sending young black boys to the prisons. And you have people at the top who don’t have to deal with any of that degradation getting rich off of this.
The amazing Sen. Wendy Davis challenging Sen. Hegar for his non-factual testimony on HB2. Hegar’s response? “Umm..I don’t know..I really don’t know.” Wendy’s response: “I would suggest that you read a little bit.” Message to all Republican men.