Thursday, June 24, 2010

Giving Americans Control over Their Health Care

Giving Americans Control over Their Health Care: "

Monday marked the 90 day anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act, the landmark new law that puts consumers, not health insurance companies, in charge of their own health care. We have hit the ground running and, in just three months, significant progress has been made.

To begin with, the new Patients’ Bill of Rights will end the worst insurance company abuses and provide the American people with the peace of mind that their insurance will be there when they need it most. After meeting with representatives of the insurance industry yesterday, President Obama announced this historic regulation that will ban rescission of coverage, discriminating against children with pre-existing conditions, and lifetime limits, as well as place restrictions on annual limits. For additional details about the Patient’s Bill of Rights, read the fact sheet or watch the webchat with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

Another important step we’ve taken is to fulfill President Obama’s promise that “if you like your health plan, you can keep it.” Last week, Secretary Sebelius and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced a new rule that protects the ability of individuals and businesses to keep their current plan. It outlines conditions under which current plans can be ‘grandfathered’ into the system, minimizing market disruption and putting us all on the path toward the competitive, patient-centered market of the future. By providing the stability and flexibility that families and businesses need, Americans will be able to make the choices that work best for them. Learn more about the ‘grandfather’ rule.

You may be aware that increasing the number of primary care doctors and nurses is a key challenge to improving our health care system. Expanding our health care workforce and supporting our nurses, doctors and other providers are top priorities in reforming our health care system. One of the most obvious and important benefits of a strong health care workforce is increased prevention of disease – which can often mean avoiding the costly treatment of a chronic condition. During a speech last week at the American Nurses Association conference, President Obama announced investments in a new generation of primary caregivers. These efforts include increased resources for training, new incentives to physicians for providing primary care to patients, and support for caregivers who choose to enter primary care in underserved areas.

Even if you aren’t a senior, you probably know a few – and few things are more important to their health security than Medicare. That’s why the President and Secretary Sebelius held a tele-town hall to talk directly with America’s seniors, where they addressed misinformation and answered detailed questions about Medicare. It’s important for seniors to know that their guaranteed Medicare benefits are protected -- regardless of whether they are in Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage -- and seniors who have Medicare Advantage can choose to continue to be enrolled in the plan.

In the coming years, seniors can also expect free preventive care services, including annual wellness visits and cancer screenings, and advanced patient-centered care, which will improve coordination of health care resources and ensure that they have access to support in their community. Recently, we also announced the good news that seniors will begin receiving a $250 check from Medicare when they reach the ‘donut hole’ – a term used to describe the gap in Medicare Part D prescription coverage. Until this gap is completely closed in 2020, we will continue to help seniors manage their health care costs.

Finally, everyone likes saving money and we’ve made some big progress in this area. The new legislation includes some of the strongest anti-health care fraud provisions in history and we will continue to act swiftly and aggressively to prevent fraud and take action against those who break the law. Reductions in fraud and abuse will help extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund and provide taxpayers with cost savings. Ongoing activities include implementing tough new rules and sentences for criminals, enhancing screening and enrollment requirements, leveraging new tools and resources to prevent and fight fraud, and enhancing data-sharing among the agencies that are working to eliminate fraud, waste and abuse.

These accomplishments have brought about a number of important new benefits and each day, as we continue implementing the new law, we are working to give Americans greater control over their health care. The Affordable Care Act is laying the foundation for greater stability and giving American families and businesses the flexibility they need to make the choices that work best for them.

Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President for Special Projects


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Senate Democrats push jobs tax compromise - Reuters

Since when did 60 become a majority in the 100 Seat Senate, make the Republican filibuster if they really mean it, then pass the legislation! 51 is a majority in the Senate!

Senate Democrats push jobs tax compromise - Reuters: "

Big Journalism (blog)

Senate Democrats push jobs tax compromise
WASHINGTON, June 23 (Reuters) - In an effort to break a stalemate over a package of unemployment aid and business tax breaks, Senate Democrats on Wednesday offered a compromise that would pare proposed aid to ...
Senate Democrats Trim Tax Bill, Set New VoteWall Street Journal
GOP senators may still block more jobless benefitsThe Associated Press
Unemployment: Outlook Grim For Jobs Bill Ahead Of VoteHuffington Post (blog)
Politico (blog) -Seattle Times -The Hill
all 240 news articles »

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Doug Kendall: We Need to Stop Leaning into Scalia's Punches

Doug Kendall: We Need to Stop Leaning into Scalia's Punches: "

Liberals really need to stop leaning into the punches being thrown by Justice Antonin Scalia. While Scalia claims he follows the Constitution as written and adheres to the values of our founders, the most frequent come back from progressives is: 'Wait, wait, wait, judging is so much harder than that.' Rather than pointing out that Scalia and his conservative colleagues frequently twist the law and depart sharply from the Constitution's text and history, this 'judging is hard' argument just reinforces the public's misperception that conservatives follow the law and progressives make the law up. What progressives must do, instead, is respond to Scalia and his cohorts by offering a different, more inspiring and appealing account of our Nation's charter.

The latest example of this back and forth played out this week in dueling opinion pieces in Thursday's Washington Post. Conservative columnist George Will's 'The danger of a government with unlimited power' rehearses the standard conservative line of attack. Conservatives, Will argues, want to return to the limited government enshrined in the Constitution by James Madison, while progressives want a 'living, evolving document' that 'frees government from limitations' and serves as 'an emancipation proclamation for government, empowering it to regulate all human desires as needs and hence as rights.'
Meanwhile, the progressive response is found in a piece called Souter's Challenge to Scalia by columnist E.J. Dionne, running right above Will's, that says, in effect, that judging is a lot harder than Scalia and other conservatives say it is. Citing a recent Harvard commencement speech by Justice David Souter, in which the former justice is deeply critical of Justice Scalia and his 'originalsim,' Dionne rehearses the progressive argument about how difficult it is for judges to interpret the Constitution's broad and open-ended terms, and chose among competing constitutional values. Dionne suggests that Souter's speech should be' the philosophical shot heard 'round the country,' and he encourages a nationwide debate about 'which approach is more trustworthy.'

With respect to both Dionne and Justice Souter, that's a sure-fire recipe for progressives remaining in second place in a two-team battle over the future of the Supreme Court. It's not that Dionne's (and Souter's) points about the Constitution's broad and open-ended terms and competing values are wrong. They are learned and erudite. But they are not an effective rejoinder to Scalia's vision of the Constitution and the Court's role under it and they can be counterproductive in a political debate framed by the conservative attack on 'liberal judicial activism.'

What's most disappointing about Dionne's piece is that Dionne himself has been among the most influential and forceful proponents of a new and better progressive message about the Supreme Court. In a brilliant series of prior pieces, Dionne has called on progressives to have an 'honest brawl' with conservatives about the future of the Supreme Court, and show that 'the threat of judicial activism now comes from right, not the left.' 'It is conservatives, not liberals,' Dionne adds, 'who are using the courts to overturn the decisions made by democratically elected bodies in areas such as pay discrimination, school integration, antitrust laws and worker safety regulation.'
Now is the time for progressives to have that honest brawl about why the Constitution itself points in a progressive direction. The Court's monumentally wrong ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, giving corporations the right to drown out the voices of We the People in the electoral process, coupled with the fringe ramblings of Rand Paul and the Tea Party crowd, have laid bare the underbelly of the conservative legal project. We need to explain how the Constitution protects ' We the People,' not 'We the Corporations,' how it empowers the federal government to address national problems like health care and civil rights, and how the Amendments adopted by Americans over the past 220 years should be revered for making the Constitution better, not repealed or underappreciated.
We can keep complaining that Justice Scalia is being simplistic and that judging is hard in conversations in faculty lounges and law journals. But when we're fighting publicly with conservatives about the Constitution, we should be loud and firm in asserting why the document itself points to the results we seek.