Our Top Stories
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusJuly 08, 2010
04:36 PM EDT
If you or a loved one are one of the millions of seniors who fall into the “donut hole” every year, help is on the way thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
Most Americans know about the “donut hole” – the coverage gap in Medicare Part D where beneficiaries have to pay all their drug costs. Seniors in the donut hole often must choose between their prescriptions and basic living expenses.
This year, as qualifying seniors enter the “donut hole,” Medicare will send them a tax-free, one-time rebate check for $250.
The second round of checks was mailed this week, helping more than 300,000 seniors struggling to pay their prescription drug costs thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
Secretary Hilda SolisJuly 08, 2010
03:44 PM EDT
If you want to get a glimpse of the future, talk to Riki Escamilla.
This super-energetic Denver woman has big dreams for a “prosperous future for me, and my family.” I have no doubt she’ll get there.
Riki is participating in the Denver Green Jobs Initiative, a terrific program that provides free green jobs training to the unemployed, underemployed, veterans, women, and minorities. Its goal is simple: create a career path in high-growth green industries including solar energy technology, green construction, energy efficiency and weatherization, and green job administration and sales.
July 08, 2010
03:02 PM EDT
Today, President Obama spoke with workers at Smith Electric’s new factory in Kansas City. Missouri. With a $32 million grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act coupled with $36 million in private capital, the electric vehicle company is building up to 500 all-electric trucks.
While he was there, the President also had the pleasure of announcing the company was hiring its 50th worker at the plant. By September, that number is expected to grow to 70, and at the project’s peak, Smith tells us the project will create more than 220 direct and indirect jobs. As the President said:
[T]he reason I’m here today is because, at this plant, you’re doing more than just building new vehicles. You are helping to fight our way through a vicious recession and you are building the economy of America’s future.
The story of Smith’s factory shows the direct and measurable impact of the Recovery Act. Smith’s factory is re-purposing an 80,000 sq. ft. jet engine overhaul facility at the Kansas City International Airport, a space that was not being utilized or creating jobs is now a fully operational plant.
Peter OrszagJuly 08, 2010
06:00 AM EDT
[UPDATE: Voting has now been extended through July 29th to accommodate continued participation.]
The President believes that often the best ideas come from outside Washington and from those who work day in and day out on the frontlines. That was the thinking behind the SAVE Award we launched last year – a way to get ideas directly from federal workers all over the world about how to cut waste and save taxpayer dollars.
In just three weeks, federal employees submitted more than 38,000 ideas identifying opportunities to save money and improve performance. After these were winnowed to a final four, the top idea was voted on by tens of thousands of Americans, and the winner – Nancy Fichtner from Loma, Colorado – came to the White House to present her proposal to save money in how the VA uses prescription medication.
As we head into the FY 2012 budget season, the President today kicked off the second annual SAVE Award, asking workers on the frontlines to take a hard look again and to share their ideas and insight at SAVEAward.gov.
In a change from last year, we also are asking federal employees to help rate the submissions from their fellow workers. This new feature will allow employees to apply their insight to the evaluation process, making sure the best ideas make it into the FY 2012 Budget.
In line with the spirit of the contest, the reason SAVE is back for a second year is that it works. I’ve written previously about some of the great ideas that came out of the first year’s SAVE contest. In March, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made a shift from paper to electronic payroll statements, helping save on printing, shipping, and distribution costs that add up quickly. More recently – thanks to the SAVE Award – the Air Force changed its cellphone arrangement, saving taxpayer dollars by tailoring plans to actual usage patterns.
These ideas represent small, but powerful, examples of how federal employees can use their experience and knowledge to streamline what works and help identify what doesn’t. If you’re a federal employee reading this blog post, go to SAVEAward.gov now and send in your idea now. You’ll be helping to modernize our government, and just may end up in the White House briefing the President about your idea.
Peter Orszag is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget
Nancy SutleyJuly 07, 2010
04:24 PM EDT
Occasionally, I get the chance to see some of the work underway in communities across the country that will help to propel the United States toward a thriving clean-energy economy. Yesterday was one of those days in the clean tech hub of Silicon Valley, California, where I toured Nanosolar, Cisco Systems, and SunPower - companies on the forefront of solar and smart-grid technology.
Jen PsakiJuly 07, 2010
04:13 PM EDT
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared on PBS NewsHour last night to discuss, among other items, the financial reform bill that is awaiting final passage by the Senate when they return from recess next week.
In his conversation with NewsHour host Jim Lehrer, Secretary Geithner expressed confidence that the Congress will soon deliver a strong bill to President Obama’s desk:
LEHRER: The financial reform legislation: Is there any question in your mind this could eventually pass the Senate and be signed by the president?
GEITHNER: No, it looks like it's going to pass. And it should pass, again, because all Americans have a stake in this financial reforms. Remember, think what it was like 18 months ago. You know, people saw worst financial crisis in generations, the value of their savings fall by 40 percent, on average. Millions of people lost their jobs, lost their homes, saw businesses fail. This crisis touched everybody, and it demonstrates why all Americans have a stake in reforms that are going to give better protections for Americans and make sure that the financial system goes back to the business of helping Main Street businesses get access to credit so they can borrow to invest and expand.
Stephanie CutterJuly 07, 2010
03:45 PM EDT
When you are sick and have to go to the hospital, you want to know that you’re getting the highest quality care. And if you’re choosing between hospitals, you should be able to make an informed choice and compare the quality of hospitals in your area. That’s where HealthCare.gov comes in.
By visiting HealthCare.gov, you can quickly access the Hospital Compare tool which analyzes and compares data about the quality of care at more than 4,700 hospitals across the country. Simply type in your zip code or city and state to access a wealth of information, including data on 44 quality measures such as how well your local hospitals handle conditions like heart attacks and diabetes.
Hospital Compare has long been an important resource for patients and it’s only getting better. This year, Hospital Compare includes new data on the use of medical imaging equipment like MRI machines, new information about the quality of care patients with suspected heart attacks receive, and data about infection rates following outpatient surgeries.
Click here to read more about the information about the new Hospital Compare data.
July 07, 2010
02:46 PM EDT
The health care debate featured no shortage of rumors designed to misinform the American people about the Affordable Care Act. And while the debate has ended and implementation of the new law has begun, the rumor mill hasn’t slowed down. The latest rumor is the unfounded charge that “America's wounded warriors face a new tax on prosthetic limbs and other vital medical devices.” Nothing could be further from the truth. While the new law includes a tax on big medical device manufacturers, the tax won’t be passed on to veterans and wounded active duty military personnel and veterans will continue to receive prosthetic devices at no cost from the VA and TRICARE.
Here’s the truth behind the latest unfounded claim:
- Today, wounded veterans and active duty military receive prosthetic devices from the VA or TRICARE at no cost. That won’t change under the Affordable Care Act.
- We know medical device manufacturers will prosper under the new law -- the Affordable Care Act expands health insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans and these newly insured individuals will use products made by the medical device industry. This is already a large and profitable business; sales in the medical device industry even before the Act takes effect are estimated to be $138 billion for 2010. The new tax applies to this industry and will help ensure we provide more Americans with affordable coverage choices.
- This is not a tax on consumers and claims that the tax will result in higher prices for prosthetics or other medical devices are wrong. Prices and reimbursements for medical devices will continue to be negotiated between the device industry and insurance companies, retail establishments, and the federal government, in the case of veterans and active duty service members. And the full cost of prosthetics for veterans will continue to be borne by the government.
Jesse LeeJuly 07, 2010
01:39 PM EDT
The President began his remarks today on familiar themes. He recounted the stark turnaround from the first half of last year when he first came into office and which saw the economy shed nearly 3 million jobs, to the first half of this year which saw the creation of nearly 600,000 private sector jobs. He also spoke about his focus on creating a new economic foundation for America that would withstand the cycle of boom and bust that has plagued our economy for so long – from reforming our health care system, to catalyzing the clean energy economy, to investing wisely in education, to rebuilding America’s infrastructure from highways high-speed rail to high-speed internet.
It was in this context that he spoke about the progress being made on the National Export Initiative:
But this isn’t just about where jobs are today; this is where American jobs will be tomorrow. Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers and fastest growing markets are beyond our borders. So if we want to find new growth streams, if we want to find new markets and new opportunity, we’ve got to compete for those new customers -– because other nations are competing for those new customers.
The goal of the initiative is to double exports and support several million new jobs over five years. In short, it is on track, and exports in the first four months of 2010 grew almost 17 percent from the same period last year.
Brian LevineJuly 07, 2010
12:15 PM EDT
Back in March, the President signed the historic Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act and we blogged about how it would help college students and their families. Some major parts of that legislation took effect on Thursday, July 1st.
From now on, all new federal student loans will be made through the Direct Loan program. The Department of Education provides the capital for new loans and private companies selected through a competitive process service and collect them. This means the federal government won’t be subsidizing banks anymore.
The transition to direct lending will save the government billions of dollars a year. These savings make another one of Thursday’s changes possible. The maximum Pell Grant award for 2010-2011 is increasing to $5,550. This is $800 more than when President Obama took office.
July 07, 2010
10:53 AM EDT
Picture a neighborhood block somewhere in your town. It might have single-story homes for 10 families -- complete with front porches, sidewalks and green lawns. Or instead that block might have a single apartment building that houses 50 families over five floors. What we know is that each of the families -- whether they're living in a detached house or a mid-rise apartment -- pays away some of their hard-earned dollars to pay for energy. And for many low-income Americans, these energy bills absorb a significant amount of the family income.
Now imagine that teams of trained experts come down that block and install measures to help those families save energy. Insulation, caulking, weatherstripping, windows, better furnaces or water heaters. So families' energy bills go down and their comfort goes up. We call this 'weatherization' -- and it's happening in more than 82,000 homes as part of the Recovery Summer.
July 07, 2010
06:00 AM EDT
For many people, a credit report is the most important document in their financial life. It helps determine everything from whether they can get a loan, lease a car, find a job, purchase insurance, or even buy monthly cable television or cell phone service.
Despite these far-reaching impacts, credit reports are sometimes riddled with errors. And those errors can have a real effect on your financial future. Something as simple as having the same name as another individual who failed to pay their bills on time can prevent you from receiving a loan or the lower interest rate for which you’re eligible.
Unfortunately, trying to correct those errors can often become a bureaucratic nightmare. Many consumers complain that they cannot get credit report mistakes fixed, or that errors are removed only to reappear later, sometimes when credit portfolios are sold.
This isn’t a small problem. Consumers have filed almost 150,000 complaints about their credit reports in the last four years, and even conservative estimates suggest that 6 million Americans have errors on their reports serious enough to result in a denial of credit.
Dan PfeifferJuly 06, 2010
07:42 PM EDT
In April, President Obama nominated Dr. Donald Berwick to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Many Republicans in Congress have made it clear in recent weeks that they were going to stall the nomination as long as they could, solely to score political points.
But with the agency facing new responsibilities to protect seniors’ care under the Affordable Care Act, there’s no time to waste with Washington game-playing. That’s why tomorrow the President will use a recess appointment to put Dr. Berwick at the agency’s helm and provide strong leadership for the Medicare program without delay.
CMS has been without a permanent administrator since 2006, and even many Republicans have called on the Administration to move to quickly to name a permanent head.
There’s no question that Don Berwick is the right choice to be our next CMS administrator: he’s the founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and has spent decades as a practicing physician and a Harvard professor. He’s dedicated his career to finding ways to make our health care system work better for patients and cost less for taxpayers.
Jesse LeeJuly 06, 2010
04:12 PM EDT
The President welcomed Prime Minister Netanyahu today for some intensive work – a one-on-one meeting and a working lunch. Between the two, both men addressed the press briefly from the Oval Office. Both exchanged kind words for each other, and pledged unequivocally to “work together in the coming months and years to protect our common interests, our countries, our peoples, against new threats,” as the Prime Minister put it. He added that "the President said it best in his speech in Cairo. He said in front of the entire Islamic world, he said, the bond between Israel and the United States is unbreakable. And I can affirm that to you today."
In the President's opening remarks, he touched on the events in Gaza:
During our discussions in our private meeting we covered a wide range of issues. We discussed the issue of Gaza, and I commended Prime Minister Netanyahu on the progress that's been made in allowing more goods into Gaza. We've seen real progress on the ground. I think it’s been acknowledged that it has moved more quickly and more effectively than many people anticipated.
Obviously there’s still tensions and issues there that have to be resolved, but our two countries are working cooperatively together to deal with these issues. The Quartet has been, I think, very helpful as well. And we believe that there is a way to make sure that the people of Gaza are able to prosper economically, while Israel is able to maintain its legitimate security needs in not allowing missiles and weapons to get to Hamas.
Stephanie CutterJuly 06, 2010
03:25 PM EDT
Today, the Associated Press takes a look at the first stages of the Affordable Care Act and finds that millions will benefit from the new protections in the new law. The story notes:
“The first stage of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is expected to provide coverage to about 1 million uninsured Americans by next year, according to government estimates… Many others - more than 100 million people - are getting new benefits that improve their existing coverage.”
And, here are a few of the provisions identified by the Associated Press that they’ll benefit from:
Sarah BernardJuly 06, 2010
11:59 AM EDT
Do you have questions about the Affordable Care Act, finding options for health insurance coverage, your new consumer rights, or the newly-launched HealthCare.gov website?
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will answer your questions directly during a live event at the White House moderated by WebMD's Kristy Hammam. Submit your questions now, and vote your favorite ones to the top of each category. Then watch the event tomorrow, July 7, at 12pm EDT at WhiteHouse.gov/Live.
Kori SchulmanJuly 05, 2010
02:00 PM EDT
Watch a video from yesterday's Independence Day celebration on the South Lawn of the White House. The event honored troops and their families with a special USO show featuring Cedric “The Entertainer,” The Killers, Brandi Carlile and a viewing of the fireworks over the National Mall.
Dr. Jill BidenJuly 05, 2010
11:38 AM EDT
[Ed. Note: Read Dr. Biden's post about celebrating Independence Day with troops in Iraq yesterday here]
Today I started my day off at a breakfast event with civilian volunteers from the U.S. embassy here in Iraq. Just like our soldiers, these individuals are sacrificing a tremendous amount on behalf of our country. This post is particularly challenging, and we owe them a great deal of gratitude for their service.
Kori SchulmanJuly 04, 2010
11:15 PM EDT
Tonight, the President and First Lady hosted service heroes and military families for a Fourth of July celebration on the South Lawn of the White House. See the Independence Day event through the lens of Pete Souza, Director of the White House Photo Office.
Kori SchulmanJuly 04, 2010
05:00 PM EDT
[Ed. Note. In case you missed it, watch First Lady Michelle Obama’s video message about supporting our military families on Independence Day and read a blog post by Dr. Jill Biden who is celebrating the Fourth of July with our troops in Iraq.]
Today, the President and First Lady are hosting more than 1,200 military heroes and their families for an Independence Day celebration at the White House. The event includes performances by The Killers, Cedric “The Entertainer,” and Brandi Carlile, but you don’t need to be on the South Lawn to enjoy the show. You can watch the “Salute to the Military” USO Concert and the fireworks over the National Mall right here on WhiteHouse.gov/live or on your iPhone with the White House App.
Here's the full schedule: