ObamaCare Is Helping Pennsylvanians

The Affordable Care Act, popularly known as ObamaCare, is helping Pennsylvanians as the Supreme Court readies a major decision which could eviscerate the health program.  Congressional Republicans filed suit and SCOTUS is prepared to rule on that litigation before the end of this month.  If it rules that subsidies are illegal millions of people could lose the coverage they’ve now had for a year and a half.

This is such a stupid lawsuit even GOP Sen. John Thune saw fit to condemn and end to the subsidies as he condemned the ACA.  He got pilloried on Twitter for his stupidity but stupidity hasn’t prevented millions of Americans from voting these morons into office.  Perhaps what we really need is a plan which prohibits stupid people from running for office.  With all this talk of bringing literacy tests back for voters we should require one for office seekers.

The White House sent this fact sheet today showing how ObamaCare has helped Pennsylvania:

After Health Reform: Improved Access to Care

·         Gallup recently estimated that the uninsured rate in Pennsylvania in 2014 was 10.3 percent, down from 11.0 percent in 2013.

·         Prohibits coverage denials and reduced benefits, protecting as many as 5,489,162 Pennsylvanians who have some type of pre-existing health condition, including 656,877 children.

·         Eliminates lifetime and annual limits on insurance coverage and establishes annual limits on out-of-pocket spending on essential health benefits, benefiting 4,582,000 people in Pennsylvania, including 1,769,000 women and 1,136,000 children.

·         Expands Medicaid to all non-eligible adults with incomes under 133% of the federal poverty level.  153,468 more people in Pennsylvania have gained Medicaid or CHIP coverage since the beginning of the Health Insurance Marketplace first open enrollment period.

·         Establishes a system of state and federal health insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, to make it easier for individuals and small-business employees to purchase health plans at affordable prices through which 427,454 people in Pennsylvania were covered in March 2015.

·         Created a temporary high-risk pool program to cover uninsured people with pre-existing conditions prior to 2014 reforms which helped more than 7,106 people in Pennsylvania.

·         Creates health plan disclosure requirements and simple, standardized summaries so 7,586,200 people in Pennsylvania can better understand coverage information and compare benefits.

After Health Reform: More Affordable Care


·         Creates a tax credit to help 348,823 people in Pennsylvania who otherwise cannot afford it purchase health coverage through health insurance marketplaces.

·         Requires health insurers to provide consumers with rebates if the amount they spend on health benefits and quality of care, as opposed to advertising and marketing, is too low.  Last year, 90,485 consumers in Pennsylvania received $5,198,874 in rebates.

·         Eliminates out-of-pocket costs for preventive services like immunizations, certain cancer screenings, contraception, reproductive counseling, obesity screening, and behavioral assessments for children.  This coverage is guaranteed for more than 6,127,383 people in Pennsylvania including 2,511,285 women.

·         Eliminates out-of-pocket costs for 1,801,768 Medicare beneficiaries in Pennsylvania for preventive services like cancer screenings, bone-mass measurements, annual physicals, and smoking cessation.

·         Phases out the “donut hole” coverage gap for 297,058 Medicare prescription drug beneficiaries in Pennsylvania, who have saved an average of $948 per beneficiary.

·         Creates Accountable Care Organizations consisting of doctors and other health-care providers who share in savings from keeping patients well while improving quality, helping 289,927 Medicare beneficiaries in Pennsylvania.

·         Phases out overpayments through the Medicare Advantage system, while requiring Medicare Advantage plans to spend at least 85 percent of Medicare revenue on patient care.  Medicare Advantage enrollment has grown by 152,265 to 1,009,759 in Pennsylvania since 2009.

After Health Reform: Improved Quality and Accountability to You

·         Provides incentives to hospitals in Medicare to reduce hospital-acquired infections and avoidable readmissions.  Creates a collaborative health-safety learning network, the Partnership for Patients, that includes 157 hospitals in Pennsylvania to promote best quality practices.

We’re not done.  Other legislation and executive actions are continuing to advance the cause of effective, accountable and affordable health care.
This includes:

·         Incentive payments for doctors, hospitals, and other providers to adopt and use certified electronic health records (EHR).  In Pennsylvania more than 53.2 percent of hospitals and 41.8 percent of providers have electronic health records systems.

·         A new funding pool for Community Health Centers to build, expand and operate health-care facilities in underserved communities.  Health Center grantees in Pennsylvania now serve 680,017 patients and received $189,115,545 under the health care law to offer a broader array of primary care services, extend their hours of operations, hire more providers, and renovate or build new clinical spaces.

·         Health provider training opportunities, with an emphasis on primary care, including a significant expansion of the National Health Service Corps.  As of September 30, 2014, there were 208 Corps clinicians providing primary care services in Pennsylvania, compared to 62 clinicians in 2008.

 

AIDS Advances May be Compromised by Legislative Inaction

by Walter Brasch

Researchers at Temple University in Philadelphia may have found an entry-way to the cure for AIDS.

Once the HIV virus enters the body it can lie dormant for years. It can also evolve into AIDS.  But, until now, it could never be removed.

It’s far too early to claim an AIDS cure-there still has to be several years of clinical trials- but this may be as close to a solution as scientists have come.

There can be a lot of politics in medical science, but the researchers at least have the wisdom to know they must work together and focus upon the people not the politics.

Even if there is a cure for AIDS, even if there are significant advances in the treatment and cure of other communicable diseases, it may not mean much if patients can’t get the medical treatment they need because obstructionists are doing their best to separate the people from the solution.

Two hours west of Philadelphia is Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania state capital. This is where Gov. Tom Corbett and his well-oiled legislature shut down 15 of 60 public health clinics, have plans to shut down nine more to “save” about $3 million a year, and laid off 73 nurses and support staff. In July, the state Supreme Court issued an emergency injunction to prevent the state from shutting down more health clinics, and is reviewing a petition to force the administration to reopen the other clinics. Under the Corbett administration, Pennsylvania ranks 43rd of 50 states in per capita public health spending, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The governor also vetoed a budget item to spend $2 million a year from tax revenue generated by oil and gas companies to do research about the effects of fracking upon the people’s health, to provide health care information, to treat those who may have been affected by air and water pollution from fracking, and to establish a health care registry that would help identify problems. But he was more than willing to give all kinds of tax breaks to oil and gas companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, a foreign corporation, which he handed a $1.7 billion tax credit. If the state taxed gas extraction companies at a rate at least that of other states, there would be at least another $500 million a year that could be used to help protect the people’s health and their environment.

More than 50 times, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has tried to wipe the Affordable Care Act (ACA) off the books. This quixotic mission will continue to fail for two reasons. First, the Supreme Court of the United States, which has a majority of conservatives, ruled the Act is constitutional. Second, all evidence shows the Act has led to better health care and at least 2.3 million Americans covered who couldn’t get insurance prior to the passage of the ACA. More than eight million Americans have already signed up for ACA coverage, and are now receiving better health care at lower insurance rates.

Further, because of the ACA, more than 5.5 million senior citizens and disabled have saved about $4.5 billion on prescription drugs in the past three years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Fourteen “red” states have chosen not to be a part of the ACA, their legislatures adamantly refusing to agree to anything that President Obama has proposed, even if it means the people suffer. The impartial Rand Corp. estimates these states will spend about $1 billion more taxpayer funds than if they expanded Medicaid under ACA provisions. Because of their refusal to agree to the ACA, almost four million residents of their states will continue to be uninsured, forcing the state and hospitals to pay for emergency medical care for low-income individuals. (In Pennsylvania, with a Republican governor and legislature, if the state agreed to implement the ACA, the savings would be about $600 million the first year.) However, the rabid Right Wing has continued to sling a barrage of lies and half-truths, usually picked up, channeled, and reported by the mass media. The time and money devoted to this political gesturing by Right Wing politicians could better be spent on funding research to find cures for Ebola, multiple sclerosis, numerous forms of cancers, and dozens of other life-threatening diseases.

This is the same Congress that had blocked funding to improve the VA system, while spending $3 million this year alone to investigate what they have created as the Benghazi Scandal. It’s already been investigated and re-investigated. Senior military commanders and impartial diplomats have already told the truth, but the House still wants to throw out its chest and throw a junior-high tantrum. Think of what that $3 million can do to help the nation’s homeless, about one-fourth of them veterans.

Members of Congress believe they have to travel all over the world on what they call “fact-finding tours.” These tours often find facts in tropical island nations.  And now, thanks to a decision by the apparently misnamed House Ethics Committee, members of Congress don’t even have to report if their trips were funded by lobbyists. Think of what several million more dollars can do to help improve the health of the impoverished rather than help members of Congress get sun tans.

It’s just politics. But, how many more will suffer and die from our misguided priorities.

Dr. Brasch’s latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania, which looks at the health, environmental, economic, and political effects from fracking.]

 

Corbett Is Denying Veterans Health Care Under ACA

Gov. Gasbag’s refusal to adopt Medicaid Expansion under the ACA is denying Pennsylvania veterans with needed health care.  An estimated 500-600,000 residents of our Commonwealth could be covered if the Governor accepted the federal funds for two years to fully fund the expansion.  This Memorial Day we should focus on how conservative ideology is costing people their lives.

We’ve already see the awful effects of sequestration cuts on the VA and how that agency is failing veterans.  Republicans and many Democrats were all too eager to go to war over lies they knew to be so but then refused to allocate the funds to properly treat our wounded and ill veterans.  One solution was to expand Medicaid for those vets too poor to pay for their own insurance.  Gov. Corbett continues to have the authority to do so but refuses because his ideology is in the way.  That’s peculiar for someone who professes to be “pro life.”

ObamaCare Is Succeeding

Enrollment figures for the Affordable Care Act are up 53% this year as over 3.3 million Americans have enrolled and are now covered.  Another 9 million have been enrolled in Medicaid expansions under ObamaCare.  The Department of Health and Human Services announced the following statistics:

Key findings from today’s report include:

·        Nearly 3.3 million (3,299,500) people selected Marketplace plans from Oct. 1, 2013, through Feb. 1, 2014, including 1.4 million in the State Based Marketplaces and 1.9 million in the Federally-facilitated Marketplace.

·        Of the almost 3.3 million:

o   55 percent are female and 45 percent are male;

o   31 percent are age 34 and under;

o   25 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34;

o   62 percent selected a Silver plan, while 19 percent selected a Bronze plan; and

o   82 percent selected a plan and are eligible to receive Financial Assistance, up from 79 percent during the Oct. 1 through Dec 28, 2013 reporting period.

 

Keystone Progress: Corbett Killed Four People Today

Gov. Corbett has thus far refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare.  Because of that Pennsylvanians are dying, every day, because they lack access to health care.  Add to that the 200,000 state residents he’s kicked off other health care programs like Adult Basic in his three years in office and we have ourselves a crisis.  Keystone Progress is focusing on this with its headline that “Tom Corbett Killed Four People Today.”  He may as well have done it with his own hands since it happened by his own hand signing legislation cutting people off from health care and by NOT signing legislation expanding Medicaid.

Nationwide 6 million Americans have gained coverage under Medicaid expansions in the 25 states taking advantage of the opportunity.  25 states, all with Republican Governors, have refused to expand the health care program and this failure, permitted by the Supreme Court, is costing lives and making ObamaCare less effective.

Tomorrow Tom Corbett will kill four more Pennsylvanians.

Obama Hails SCOTUS Victory

I adopted the righteous right’s nomenclature of ObamaCare because I think he rightfully ought to take credit for the first major reform of our broken health care system in decades.  The last major victory was enactment of Medicare in the mid-sixties.  Did you watch Michelle Bachmann’s bizarre rambling on CNN?  I kept asking myself what planet she came from…

The Obama-Biden campaign weighed in on this morning’s momentous decision by the Supreme Court:

“Mitt Romney had an opportunity to rise to the occasion today and tell the American people specifically how he would move the nation forward on health care and ensure people get the care they need.   Yet, once again, he squandered that opportunity.   Instead of explaining how he would ensure costs don’t go up and health benefits are protected, Romney promised to repeal the President’s health reform law and take America back to the same old political battles of the past.     He is completely unmoved by what that would do to millions of middle-class families, women, seniors and young Americans who are today benefiting from the law.   Romney’s promise to repeal the law would give insurance companies free rein to exploit Americans through the worst industry abuses, strip 86 million Americans of often life-saving preventive care, cost 3.1 million young Americans of their coverage by kicking them off their parents’ plans, allow insurance companies to discriminate against kids with preexisting conditions, and increase prescription drug costs for seniors on Medicare.  

Just six years ago, before Mitt Romney decided to run for president, he passed a law in Massachusetts that achieved universal coverage for the citizens of that state through an individual mandate and tax penalty.  That law became the model for the President’s health reform law.  Now, as he is running for president, Romney has run away from his accomplishment in Massachusetts, callously promising to repeal national reform and “kill it dead.”  He owes the American people a clear, non-parsed explanation of why he believes his decisions in Massachusetts are wrong for the country, and exactly what he would do to help the American people get the health care they need.” – Jim Messina, Campaign Manager, Obama for America

The President’s comments from the White House:

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

ON THE SUPREME COURT RULING

ON THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

East Room

12:15 P.M. EDT

    THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  Earlier today, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — the name of the health care reform we passed two years ago.  In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed a fundamental principle that here in America — in the wealthiest nation on Earth – no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin.

I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost.  That’s how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington.  But that discussion completely misses the point.  Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.

And because this law has a direct impact on so many Americans, I want to take this opportunity to talk about exactly what it means for you.

First, if you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance — this law will only make it more secure and more affordable.  Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive.  They can no longer discriminate against children with preexisting conditions.  They can no longer drop your coverage if you get sick.  They can no longer jack up your premiums without reason.  They are required to provide free preventive care like check-ups and mammograms — a provision that’s already helped 54 million Americans with private insurance.  And by this August, nearly 13 million of you will receive a rebate from your insurance company because it spent too much on things like administrative costs and CEO bonuses, and not enough on your health care.

There’s more.  Because of the Affordable Care Act, young adults under the age of 26 are able to stay on their parent’s health care plans — a provision that’s already helped 6 million young Americans.  And because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors receive a discount on their prescription drugs — a discount that’s already saved more than 5 million seniors on Medicare about $600 each.

All of this is happening because of the Affordable Care Act. These provisions provide common-sense protections for middle class families, and they enjoy broad popular support.  And thanks to today’s decision, all of these benefits and protections will continue for Americans who already have health insurance.  

Now, if you’re one of the 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance, starting in 2014 this law will offer you an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from.  Each state will take the lead in designing their own menu of options, and if states can come up with even better ways of covering more people at the same quality and cost, this law allows them to do that, too.  And I’ve asked Congress to help speed up that process, and give states this flexibility in year one.

Once states set up these health insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against any American with a preexisting health condition.  They won’t be able to charge you more just because you’re a woman.  They won’t be able to bill you into bankruptcy. If you’re sick, you’ll finally have the same chance to get quality, affordable health care as everyone else.  And if you can’t afford the premiums, you’ll receive a credit that helps pay for it.

Today, the Supreme Court also upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance.  This is important for two reasons.

First, when uninsured people who can afford coverage get sick, and show up at the emergency room for care, the rest of us end up paying for their care in the form of higher premiums.

And second, if you ask insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions, but don’t require people who can afford it to buy their own insurance, some folks might wait until they’re sick to buy the care they need — which would also drive up everybody else’s premiums.

That’s why, even though I knew it wouldn’t be politically popular, and resisted the idea when I ran for this office, we ultimately included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that people who can afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so.  In fact, this idea has enjoyed support from members of both parties, including the current Republican nominee for President.

Still, I know the debate over this law has been divisive.  I respect the very real concerns that millions of Americans have shared.  And I know a lot of coverage through this health care debate has focused on what it means politically.

Well, it should be pretty clear by now that I didn’t do this because it was good politics.  I did it because I believed it was good for the country.  I did it because I believed it was good for the American people.

There’s a framed letter that hangs in my office right now.  It was sent to me during the health care debate by a woman named Natoma Canfield.  For years and years, Natoma did everything right.  She bought health insurance.  She paid her premiums on time.  But 18 years ago, Natoma was diagnosed with cancer.  And even though she’d been cancer-free for more than a decade, her insurance company kept jacking up her rates, year after year.  And despite her desire to keep her coverage — despite her fears that she would get sick again — she had to surrender her health insurance, and was forced to hang her fortunes on chance.

I carried Natoma’s story with me every day of the fight to pass this law.  It reminded me of all the Americans, all across the country, who have had to worry not only about getting sick, but about the cost of getting well.

Natoma is well today.  And because of this law, there are other Americans — other sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers — who will not have to hang their fortunes on chance.  These are the Americans for whom we passed this law.

The highest Court in the land has now spoken.  We will continue to implement this law.  And we’ll work together to improve on it where we can.  But what we won’t do — what the country can’t afford to do — is refight the political battles of two years ago, or go back to the way things were.

With today’s announcement, it’s time for us to move forward — to implement and, where necessary, improve on this law.  And now is the time to keep our focus on the most urgent challenge of our time:  putting people back to work, paying down our debt, and building an economy where people can have confidence that if they work hard, they can get ahead.

But today, I’m as confident as ever that when we look back five years from now, or 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, we’ll be better off because we had the courage to pass this law and keep moving forward.

Thank you.  God bless you, and God bless America.

 

Confusion Reigns on SCOTUS ObamaCare Ruling

The Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act known as ObamaCare is confusing.  Some are saying the individual mandate was struck down while others are saying the ability to tax saved it.  Chief Justice wrote the decision in a 5-4 case.   The fact Scalia and Thomas are in the minority seems to be a positive sign.

The mandate MAY be upheld by Congress under its taxing authority according to CNN just now.  If those who can purchase health insurance are penalized, is this a tax?  if so the mandate is upheld, if not it is struck down.

The decision  is a huge victory for Barack Obama.

SCOTUS Ruling on ObamaCare Imminent

The Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as ObamaCare, is imminent.  No one knows how the court will decide, if it will uphold the bill, tear it down or declare it entirely unconstitutional.  Regardless HHS is moving forward granting funds to community health centers to prepare for the expected influx of new patients expected to have health coverage.

The individual mandate will apply to only 8% of Americans but will bring them back into the system.  Those who supply these services must be ready to handle them.  Over $3 million has been dedicated to community health centers in Allentown, Kennett Square, Pottsotwn, Reading and Williamsport.

Pennsylvanians are in line to save $51.6 million in rebates to 576,000 health care consumers under the ACA.  The bill requires health insurers to spend at least 80% of their revenues on actual health care rather than executive salaries, perks and doctors whose jobs are to deny you the care you need and deserve under your contract.  Because they have failed to meet the standard the rebates are in order.

Keystone Progress will host a news conference the day of the Supreme Court decision, either way.  They will also hold rallies (all at 3PM) the following day at these locations:

Allentown – 12 Noon

Harry A. Roberts Plaza, Union Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Allentown, PA 18102 (at the MLK, Jr. & Coretta Scott King statue)

Bucks County – 12 Noon

Outside State Rep. Tina Davis’s District Office, 3611 Green Lane, Levittown, PA 19057

Lancaster – 12 Noon

Binns Park, 100 Block N. Queen Street, Lancaster, PA, 17603

Philadelphia – 12 Noon

Governor Corbett’s Regional Office, 200 South Broad Street, 11th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19102

Pittsburgh – 12 Noon

Governor Corbett’s Regional Office, Piatt Place, 301 Fifth Avenue, Suite 240, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Reading – 12 Noon

U.S. Post Office, at corner of 5th & Washington Streets, Reading, PA 19601

Scranton – 3 p.m.

200 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18503 (between Spruce & Linden Streets)

Wilkes-Barre – 3 p.m.

Public Square, 15 WB Public Square (Between South Main & Market Street), Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701

News & Notes May 25, 2012

Walter Brasch’s day 5 Memorial Day protest song compilation has three songs by Tom Paxton today:

Mitt Romney came to Philadelphia and got an earful at a charter school.  Did he really say smaller class sizes don’t lead to better outcomes in education?  This man has led a sheltered life.  Perhaps he really meant larger groups of bullies lead to shorter hair for gay classmates.  Or that smaller cars mean better rides on the roof for Golden Retrievers.

The prosecution of Catholic Church priests for hiding predatory priests and shuffling them around to molest more kids is still underway in Philadelphia.  Meanwhile the Church is initiating politically motivated lawsuits against the President’s contraception mandate.  They’d rather let people die than get birth control?  So says this article.  Remember, this is the moral authority many Democrats cite as their guidance on many crucial policies in Harrisburg.  Jo Ann Nardelli would be impressed.  Church hospitals are, in some communities (like Santa Fe) the only hospital in the area.  The Church should NOT be tax exempt.

Controversial Congressman Allen West says stay at home Moms are working Moms (we all know that) unless they’re on welfare.  Then they’re leeches on the public teet.  Oh my, what bigotry.

Maternity leave is a given in almost every country but America.  How is it we dare call ourselves civilized?  We let people die rather than provide universal health care, our child mortality rate is bad, our life expectancies are decreasing yet we pay twice as much for health care as socialist countries.  That’s yet another failure of capitalism.  If Mexico can afford to give 12 weeks of paid maternity leave maybe the U.S. can spare two?

Since the state has taken over the City of Harrisburg (canceling democracy for those citizens) they’re anxious for more.  Now, after slashing funding, they are out to take over school districts.  The Reading School District is set to fire 170 teachers, close five schools and shred hundreds of support personnel including teachers aides and security.  One thing you can say for Gov. gasbag:  he isn’t doing anything he didn’t say he was going to do.  Corbett did point to Chris Christie as his mentor during the campaign after all.  That was a strong clue he’d gut public education.

Unfortunately for the Governor he’s taking a huge amount of heat for his stubborn policies.  The fact he’s more loyal to Grover Norquist than the children of Pennsylvania tells us where his priorities lay.  Thousands took to the streets Wednesday across Pennsylvania protesting his policies.  is he listening?

He’s listening to his “kitchen cabinet,” those high ranking GOP operatives who told him he needs to do a better job of selling his austerity budgets.  Not, mind you, changing his failed policies but in how he and his staff sell them to the public.  As such he has decided to nominate his chief of staff to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.  This isn’t a staff shake-up mind you (I still have that ocean front property in Kansas for sale), just kicking the guy upstairs to make room for new blood.

Meanwhile the Harrisburg overseer named Corbett in court testimony as interfering with his work.

Questions are also being asked about David Unkovic’s successor and his cozy relationship with one of the Governor’s Cabinet members.  Something smells and it isn’t pleasant.

Jane Orie doesn’t want to reimburse taxpayers for her legal defense or the money she stole by using our offices, staffers and equipment to run her sister’s Supreme Court campaign.  Just because Tom Corbett allowed legislators to get away with it doesn’t mean Allegheny County should.  Pay up.  We want our money back.

It’s bad enough these public officials stole from us but we’re also paying for their legal bills?

The Susquehanna River is part of a new initiative by the Department of the Interior called America’s Great Outdoors Rivers Initiative.  As you readers know I’m an avid kayaker and the Lower Susquehanna is a beautiful place.  The Conewago area is full of eagles and other raptors.

Pennsylvania: Susquehanna River – Lower Susquehanna River Conservation Landscape Initiative

The National Park Service, other federal, state, and local agencies, and non-governmental organizations are expanding and improving and recreation and education opportunities and public access along the Susquehanna River, which is an important link to Pennsylvania’s natural and cultural heritage. On May 16, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar designated the Susquehanna River as a historic connecting trail and integral part of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

The White House will be doing a Community Action Summit in early June to focus on the Hispanic community at Temple University.  I will be participating in my capacity as a Planned Parenthood Board member.

From HHS:  

In The First Four Months Of 2012, More Than 416,000 People with Medicare Saved an Average of $724 on Prescription Drugs and 12.1 Million Used a Free Preventive Service

Under the new health care law – the Affordable Care Act —  seniors and people with disabilities in Medicare have saved a total of $3.5 billion on prescription drugs in the Medicare drug benefit coverage gap or “donut hole” from the enactment of the law in March 2010 through April of 2012.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released data today showing that, in the first four months of 2012 alone, more than 416,000 people saved an average of $724 on the prescription drugs they purchased after they hit the prescription drug coverage gap or “donut hole,” for a total of $301.5 million in savings.  These savings build on the law’s success in 2010 and 2011, when more than 5.1 million people with Medicare saved over $3.2 billion on prescription drugs.

In addition, CMS announced that this year, from January through April, 12.1 million people in traditional Medicare received at least one preventive service at no cost to them – including over 856,000 who have taken advantage of the Annual Wellness Visit provided in the Affordable Care Act.  In 2011, over 26 million people in traditional Medicare received one or more preventive benefits free of charge.

Pennsylvania Greens endorsed Dr. Jill Stein for president at their recent state meeting in State College.  She’ll likely be my vote in November assuming she wins the national nomination.

News & Notes December 3, 2011

Channel 69 News picked up my story about Tom Herman.  No one will yet comment about their resignation.  I’ve downloaded the fall dinner video done by Mr. Herman to pull out the section where he rants against blogs, email listers and progressives.  This is someone who co-founded a “progressive PAC (which gives to non-progressives) and who calls himself a progressive when it’s in his interest.  BS as we saw in his rant.

Donald Trump will moderate a GOP debate.  This is now, officially, a reality show combined with book tours.  At the end of the debate he should fire one of the candidates.  You cannot take seriously anything in which The Donald is involved.

Newt Gingrich claims people use their food stamp card to go to Hawaii.  This is shocking in that it illustrates the disconnect the 1% have with poor people.  Newt doesn’t have a clue how food stamps work.

The Milton S. Hershey School barred a boy from enrolling because he has HIV.  It’s been a long time since we witnessed HIV hysteria.  I thought the Ryan White days were passed us.  The only potential threat from others is the slight chance the boy would be subjected to a predatory sex offender hiring Hershey boys out for sex to older men.  Since the Hershey School has actually had that happen recently with one of its adult employees perhaps they shouldn’t be trusted with any children.

Michele Bachmann says she’d close the American embassy in Iran.  There hasn’t been a U.S. embassy in Tehran since 1979.  Shouldn’t candidates for president have some minimum sense of history and information?   Maybe, at a minimum, pass a basic civics test?

House Speaker John Boehner says the middle class payroll tax cut is “chicken shit.”  I think he has this confused with the way Republicans view the entire 99%.  Perhaps he should spend less time protecting billionaires’ incomes and rolled around in some chicken shit.  It’s right there in the GOP caucus room.

Penn State isn’t subject to the state Open Records Act and is using that shield to suppress requests for information about the Sandusky scandal.  They also used it to fight grand jury subpoenas.  As I recall the original controversy was around disclosing JoePa’s salary.  Penn State is just making itself look worse and worse by concealing what should be public information.  This is yet another disgrace.

Gov. Corbett ordered DPW to cut $470 million from its budget and social workers are now telling tales about poor women and children being cut from Medicaid.  All this, of course, is to fund tax breaks for corporations and allow energy drillers to NOT pay for extracting OUR natural gas.

Congressman Mike Kelly (PA-03) lambasted Obama for not taking responsibility for Republican failures.  It sounds like something you’d hear from a car salesman.  Kelly is a car dealer in Erie.

Rick Santorum says you shouldn’t get health insurance if you have pre-existing conditions.  It’s an excellent argument for single payer.