Our Top Stories
Megan SlackNovember 17, 2011
03:28 PM EDT
November 17, 2010 was a big day for anyone ever denied access to a sick spouse, partner, or loved one due to discrimination.
On that day, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that all patients in hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding must be allowed to decide who they want to be at their bedside when they are sick—regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
President Obama asked Health and Human Services that visitation rules be amended the previous April:
There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital. In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean -- a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them.
Yet every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides -- whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay. Often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the support and comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders are sometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives -- unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.
For all of these Americans, the failure to have their wishes respected concerning who may visit them or make medical decisions on their behalf has real consequences. It means that doctors and nurses do not always have the best information about patients' medications and medical histories and that friends and certain family members are unable to serve as intermediaries to help communicate patients' needs. It means that a stressful and at times terrifying experience for patients is senselessly compounded by indignity and unfairness. And it means that all too often, people are made to suffer or even to pass away alone, denied the comfort of companionship in their final moments while a loved one is left worrying and pacing down the hall.
Matt ComptonNovember 17, 2011
01:05 PM EDT
Even as President Obama works to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he's laying the groundwork to prepare America for the decades ahead.
And yesterday afternoon, he told Australian lawmakers that means shifting our attention to the Pacific:
Here, we see the future. As the world’s fastest-growing region -- and home to more than half the global economy -- the Asia Pacific is critical to achieving my highest priority, and that's creating jobs and opportunity for the American people. With most of the world’s nuclear power and some half of humanity, Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress.
As President, I have, therefore, made a deliberate and strategic decision -- as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future, by upholding core principles and in close partnership with our allies and friends.
The President outlined a framework through which American military strength helps to guarantee security in the region, where growing economic ties help to deliver a shared prosperity, and where renewed diplomatic relationships promote human rights and freedom.
"History is on the side of the free -- free societies, free governments, free economies, free people," President Obama said in Canberra. "And the future belongs to those who stand firm for those ideals, in this region and around the world."
Read the full remarks here.
See more: Check out a slideshow from the President’s trip to Australia.
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusNovember 17, 2011
06:00 AM EDT
Today, Americans from across the country are making plans to quit smoking as part of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. And this morning, we released a video from President Obama congratulating everyone who is participating in this important event and underscoring our Administration’s commitment to fighting tobacco use:
Watch President Obama's full remarks here.
President Obama and his Administration are committed to doing all we can to stop kids from smoking and reducing the number of Americans who smoke. And for those of you who are making the commitment to quit, you are not alone and we have resources to help you succeed. You can visit HHS.gov today to connect with a smoking cessation expert via IM or phone, use the online step-by-step quit guide, or sign up for SmokefreeTXT a texted based smoking cessation program. And under the Affordable Care Act insurance companies are required to cover recommended preventive services, including tobacco cessation counseling without charging you an extra penny out of your own pocket.
We are also continuing our efforts to protect young people from starting smoking in the first place.
President Obama was proud to sign the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act which gives us new tools to help young people stop smoking before they start. New prevention efforts include addressing marketing practices aimed at children like banning fruit and candy flavored cigarettes and working with states to keep tobacco out of the hands of kids by increasing enforcement at the retail level. And the law calls for graphic warning labels that make the danger of smoking abundantly clear. Big tobacco companies are trying to stand in the way of these commonsense measures to protect our kids, but we’re confident their attempts will ultimately fail.
Sadly, we’ve seen too many friends, families and communities suffer needlessly, and suffer tremendously, from tobacco-related death, disease and disability. We have a clear path to ending the tobacco epidemic and it is a battle we can – and must - win. The prosperity and health of our country depends on it.
Join me today at 12:45p ET as I talk with iVillage reporter, Kelly Wallace, for a live web chat about tobacco cessation and prevention. To watch live, go to iVillage.com or www.hhs.gov/live. You can submit a question in advance here, or ask a question live during the chat on iVillage’s Twitter or Facebook page.
Ambassador Ron KirkNovember 16, 2011
06:10 PM EDT
Earlier today I had the opportunity to participate in a meeting of the President’s Export Council (PEC) at the White House. Members of the PEC gathered to strategize and discuss ways to reach the President’s goal of doubling our nation’s exports by the end of 2014. In addition, the private sector members of the PEC presented Administration officials with letters of recommendations on topics such as expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), Middle East/North Africa commercial engagement and workforce readiness. We thanked them for their ideas, and underscored the importance of their input to the Administration’s efforts to boost exports.
During the meeting I emphasized the milestone we reached with the signing of the recent trade agreements with Korea, Colombia,and Panama,as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Additionally, I highlighted the importance of the work with Congress that lies ahead to terminate the application of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to Russia now that it will be formally invited to join the World Trade Organization next month.
Other senior officials joining me in today’s meeting were Commerce Secretary John Bryson, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Small Business Administrator Karen Mills, Chairman of the Export-Import Bank Fred Hochberg,and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro; along with White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. Today’s meeting was live streamed on www.WhiteHouse.gov.
The PEC was established in 1973 by President Richard Nixon. The initial group consisted of 20 members, all of whom were business executives. Six years later, in 1979, President Jimmy Carter reconstituted and expanded the PEC. Council membership grew to the current roster of 48 members and was extended to include leaders of the labor and agriculture communities, members of Congress, and members of the executive branch.
Megan SlackNovember 16, 2011
05:18 PM EDT
President Obama’s 10-day trip to Asia last November wasn’t all work and no play. At the end of a four-country tour that included India, Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan, the President found time to mingle with the locals and enjoy some culture while visiting the Great Buddha of Kamakura outside Tokyo.
The business end of the trip had a much more official purpose: shoring up our relationships with some of the fastest growing markets in the world. These Asian economies represent big buyers of U.S. goods, so developing and maintaining partnerships in that part of the world is a critical part of the President’s goal to double our exports by 2015.
November 16, 2011
03:13 PM EDT
Tomorrow marks the American Cancer Society’s 36th Great American Smokeout – a day when we encourage smokers to make a plan to quit. The good news is that over the last four decades the number of smokers has been cut in half. However, we’re still seeing tobacco take its toll on too many people, including our youth.
About 46 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, killing an estimated 443,000 people each year. And each day, approximately 4,000 young people smoke their first cigarette
President Obama and his Administration are committed to stopping kids from using tobacco and we are taking steps to help adults quit.
In honor of the Great American Smokeout, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is sitting down with iVillage’s Kelly Wallace for a live web chat. During the chat, they will talk about how to make a plan to quit and what the Obama Administration is doing to prevent kids from starting in the first place.
The chat will take place on Thursday, November 17th from 12:45 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. EST. To watch live, go to iVillage.com/livechat or www.hhs.gov/live. You can submit a question in advance here, or ask a question during the chat on iVillage’s Twitter or Facebook page.
We hope you’ll join the conversation on how to help Americans to kick the habit, and stop young people before they start.
Matt ComptonNovember 16, 2011
03:01 PM EDT
When President Obama met with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday, they announced plans for the first sustained American military presence in Australia.
By the end of 2012, 250 Marines will begin six month rotations, and in the years ahead, that force will build out to 2,500. They'll train alongside Australian troops and live on Australian bases. In addition, the U.S. Air Force will have additional access to Australian airfields.
At the news conference with the Prime Minister, President Obama said:
The United States of America has no stronger ally than Australia. We are bound by common values, the rights and the freedoms that we cherish. And for nearly a century, we’ve stood together in defense of these freedoms. And I'm very happy to be here as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of our alliance, and as we work together to strengthen it for the future.
Read the full remarks here.
See more: Check out a slideshow from the President’s trip to Australia.
November 16, 2011
03:00 PM EDT
Your family’s safety is our top priority.
This holiday season, when you buy a child’s toy, you can buy knowing that strong rules are in place aimed at keeping children safe at play.
After 2007—often called the year of the recall—your voice was clear. You demanded change. Parents like you called out and said toys should be made safe BEFORE we buy them.
Because of you, Congress called for and CPSC put in place new toy safety rules. These rules ensure that excessive amounts of toxic metals, like lead, stay out of children’s products. I also made it clear to Chinese toymakers that they cannot substitute cadmium or other toxic metals in place of lead.
Limits on the use of certain phthalates, a chemical of concern, are now law. Many toy makers heard you, too, and have taken safety conscious steps to rebuild your trust in them.
This year, CPSC announced only four recalls of toys because of lead. Last year, we announced only three recalls of toys because of lead. CPSC works with Customs and Border Protection to check our nation’s ports, and we see that toy makers from around the world have taken the lead out.
Total toy recalls continue to head down, too. In fiscal year 2008, CPSC recalled 172 toys; in 2011, we recalled 34 toys.
Just last month, more than 12,000 of you wrote to us about testing toys. Again, your voices were clear: Require toy makers to test toys before those toys are sold to us.
We heard you. CPSC approved a new rule requiring periodic third-party testing and certification for toys and all children’s products designed or intended primarily for those 12 and younger.
Heather ZichalNovember 16, 2011
01:21 PM EDT
Today marks a major step forward in the Obama administration’s efforts to save American families money at the pump, reduce our country’s dependence on oil, and boost domestic manufacturing.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have formally announced their joint proposal to set stronger fuel economy and greenhouse gas pollution standards for model year 2017-2025 passenger cars and light-duty trucks. When combined with other actions the Administration has taken to increase efficiency in the transportation sector, this announcement will save Americans $1.7 trillion, reduce oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels per day by 2025, and slash greenhouse gas emissions by 6 billion metric tons.
Under the proposal, model year 2017-2025 cars and light-duty trucks are expected to achieve increases in fuel efficiency equivalent to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. This builds on the first phase of President Obama’s national program announced in 2009, which will raise the average fuel economy of passenger vehicles to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.
These standards provide regulatory certainty and flexibility for auto manufacturers. By continuing the national program developed for model year 2012-2016 vehicles, EPA and DOT have designed a proposal that allows manufacturers to keep producing a single, national fleet of passenger cars and light trucks that satisfies all federal and California requirements, while ensuring that consumers enjoy a full range of vehicle choices.
The ambitious goals established in these standards will drive innovation in the manufacturing sector and help create high-quality jobs across the country. Major auto manufacturers are already heavily invested in developing advanced technologies that can significantly reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions beyond the existing model year 2012-2016 targets. A wide range of technologies are currently available for automakers to meet the new standards, including advanced gasoline engines and transmissions, vehicle weight reduction, lower tire rolling resistance, improvements in aerodynamics, diesel engines, more efficient accessories, and improvements in air conditioning systems. The new standards should also encourage manufacturers to explore electric technologies such as start/stop, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles. Notably, the model year 2017-2025 proposal includes a number of incentive programs to promote early adoption and introduction of “game changing” advanced technologies, such as hybridization for pickup trucks.
Developed in partnership with 13 major auto manufacturers including Ford, GM and Chrysler, the state of California, the United Auto Workers (UAW), consumer and environmental groups, and other stakeholders, these achievable and cost-effective standards represent the most significant federal action ever taken to improve fuel economy and reduce carbon pollution. In fact, these standards will bring the nation over halfway to the President’s goal of reducing oil imports by a third by 2025.
The President’s national fuel economy program represents a key component of the comprehensive energy policy that this Administration has pursued since day one, which aims to increase safe and responsible energy production at home while reducing our overall dependence on oil with advanced biofuels and greater efficiency.
November 16, 2011
11:29 AM EDT
Today, the White House Business Council launched the online Business Forum as one more way for the Administration to stay connected with the business community.
Senior officials from the White House and across the Administration meet regularly with business leaders from around the country. Since April, the White House Business Council has held over 500 events with business owners and entrepreneurs in all 50 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. Our purpose in these discussions is two-fold: 1) to get feedback on what the Administration can be doing more of - or less of - to help create jobs; and 2) to make sure that businesses are aware of the programs and resources that can help their businesses grow and succeed.
We’re looking for ideas from entrepreneurs, business owners and the business community to help improve our policymaking. And that is why we are so excited about the White House Business Council Forum. The forum will be one way for the Administration to stay in regular contact with business leaders from around the country, continuing to get their input and perspective. It will be a place where business leaders can ask questions, offer solutions and get answers from Administration officials. If you’re part of the business community and want to contribute, you can join a conversation already in progress or start your own. Not a part of the business community, but know someone who is? Help us spread the word by letting them know about the forum.
To get the forum going, we are starting two conversations today. The first is about BusinessUSA, the one-stop shop and online platform where businesses of all sizes can access services and information to help them grow and hire that is launching in early 2012. We want to make sure that BusinessUSA meets your needs. And that is where you come in. Tell us how you would like this resource to be designed, what you want it to do and how you think it should work.
Second, over the past few weeks, President Obama has announced a series of executive actions designed to strengthen the economy and help American businesses create jobs and compete in the global economy. Why? Because we can't wait to take action to get our economy moving again. Share your ideas for what concrete actions that President Obama can take right now to create jobs and grow the economy, without waiting on Congress to write a bill or draft legislation.
We hope you join us on the White House Business Council Forum and that you share it with colleagues and friends. To keep updated on the Forum and for regular updates from the White House Business Council, be sure to sign up.
Matt ComptonNovember 15, 2011
07:15 PM EDT
When President Obama touches down in Australia tomorrow, he'll arrive with two major goals: strengthening our relationships and promoting security in the Pacific.
That starts in Canberra, the Australian capital.
On Wednesday, the President will meet with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and the two will hold a joint press conference. Later that day, President Obama will be hosted at a dinner at the Australian Parliament House. On Thursday, the President will give an address to the Australian Parliament, meet with parliamentary leaders, tour a primary school with Prime Minister Gillard, and visit a military base in Darwin -- where he'll speak to a combined audience of U.S. marines and Australian troops.
For 60 years, the U.S. and Australia have been joined by a defense treaty, but our military partnership extends back much further. American and Australian troops have fought side by side from First World War to the current engagement in Afghanistan.
From Australia, the President will fly to Indonesia for the East Asia Summit , where he will hold bilateral meetings with a number of allies -- including the leaders of India, Thailand, and the Philippines. Much of the conversation at the summit will center on improving economic integration and addressing security challenges in the region.
November 15, 2011
06:25 PM EDT
So, what’s a typical day like for a White House Intern
It’s a question I’m often asked, and the honest answer is that there’s no such thing. The mission of the White House Internship Program is to make the "People’s House" accessible to future leaders from around the nation, and to cultivate and prepare those devoted to public service for future leadership opportunities. To this end, the programs and opportunities of the Internship Program make for days filled with unique learning experiences, thought-provoking conversation, and unforgettable events.
White House Interns work in one of sixteen White House departments where they conduct research, manage incoming inquiries, attend meetings, write memos and staff events. Some of the offices where they work include the Office of the First Lady, the Office of Scheduling and Advance, the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, the Office of the White House Counsel, the National Economic Council, the Office of Communications, the Domestic Policy Council and the Office of Digital Strategy.
In addition to their regular duties, each week, White House Interns hear from senior members of the Administration including the First Lady, the Chief of Staff and the White House Counsel. They meet in small groups to discuss policy issues and take off-site field trips to learn more about Washington, D.C. They participate in service projects at non-profits and schools. Not to mention, they spend three months alongside other Interns who are devoted to public service and with whom they build long-lasting friendships.
Today we open the application for the Summer 2012 White House Internship Program. The summer program runs from May 29, 2012 through August 10, 2012, and the application deadline is January 22, 2012.
If you are interested in public service – Apply.
Tell other young leaders who are interested in public service to apply.
Be part of a program where there’s no typical day, and where young people from across the country dedicate their time, talents, and energy to better the White House, the community, and the nation.
Megan SlackNovember 15, 2011
06:23 PM EDT
It’s America Recycles Day! Today, we celebrate the commitment to living sustainably and rededicate ourselves to thoughtful resource management at home and in the workplace.
As President Obama wrote in his America Recycles Day Proclamation, Americans have been recycling for decades. During the First and Second World Wars, families gathered scraps and material that could be reused for war manufacturing. In 2011, we recycled or composted 34 percent of the 250 million tons of municipal waste generated in the United States. President Obama’s proclamation highlighted the importance of recycling for our economy:
We have bolstered recycling programs through individual action, community engagement, and national initiatives, and we have broadened our efforts to include a vast array of pioneering industrial processes that will drive our clean economy and create green jobs. These advances cut waste, preserve our natural bounty, and spur the robust and sustainable economic growth that will carry us through this century and into the next.
Our progress is impressive, but there is more we can be doing to protect our environment and conserve our limited natural resources. For example, updating and expanding our recycling programs to accommodate the 2 million tons of used electronic waste we generate each year can help put these resources back into productive use. Recycling just one cell phone saves enough energy to power a laptop for 44 hours, according to the EPA.
On this America Recycles Day, commit yourself to producing less waste, reusing and recycling more materials, and protecting our nation’s precious natural resources.
November 15, 2011
04:39 PM EDT
When Rick Buss left his position as city manager of Maricopa, Arizona, to become the town manager of a 2,000-person, economically struggling town called Gila Bend in 2008, some people who know him personally and professionally wondered why.
But with a firm background in both technology companies and sustainable management, Mr. Buss had a vision: "There's no reason why Gila Bend, Arizona, can't be the solar capitol of the world."
So he got to work. He brought over a young talent from Maricopa, Eric Fitzer, to serve as his right hand man. Fitzer, Buss tells me, is particularly skilled with zoning and economic development, and working together they crafted a "Solar Field Overlay Zone" (SFOZ), which greatly reduced the complications for solar companies to develop the sun-soaked fields located within the town.
In addition, Rick worked with the town government to expedite the speed at which solar companies’ construction plans could get approved. Processes that usually take at least a year, and often several years, can now go through public hearings, citizen review sessions, planning and zoning commissions hearings, publication in a newspaper, and council approval in as little as four weeks.
"We aren't even seeing that kind of consistent speed for permitting approvals in the residential sector," said Energy Department's Solar Market Transformation Lead Jennifer DeCesaro. “Whether we're talking about a small 5 kilowatt residential system or a large several hundred megawatt industrial system, lack of consistency and transparency in solar permitting is a challenge for every market sector in this country.”
Matt ComptonNovember 15, 2011
01:33 PM EDT
Nearly two years ago, President Obama signed an executive order to begin an aggressive campaign against government waste -- and directed federal agencies to prevent $50 billion in improper payments by the end of 2012.
In 2011 alone, this campaign netted $17.6 billion in savings by cutting payment errors for programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants, and food stamps.
When the President issued the order, his goal was to see the error rate drop from 5.42 percent to 4.2 percent. Today, we're able to project that, by 2012, the rate will drop all the way to 3.8 percent.
President Obama has asked Congress for aggressive new tools to help the federal government save even more money -- as much as $160 billion over the next decade. But because we can't wait for lawmakers to build on this progress, the Obama administration is moving forward with additional steps to find savings.
The Department of Health and Human Services will soon launch four new pilot programs to reduce the error rate further and cut Medicare and Medicaid waste and fraud. And Jack Lew, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, just directed federal agencies to step up their oversight of contractors and grant recipients in order to eliminate waste and fraud.
For more information on the work to reduce payment errors, visit paymentaccuracy.gov.
Dr. Jill BidenNovember 15, 2011
10:39 AM EDT
Friday was a special day, as we paid tribute to our Nation’s Veterans. My husband Joe and I attended a Veterans Day parade in Media, Pennsylvania. That evening in New York, I was honored to attend the dedication of a statue created to commemorate the United States military’s response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The 16-foot tall bronze statue entitled De Oppresso Liber (“to liberate the oppressed”) – the motto of the U.S. Army Special Forces – depicts a soldier on horseback in honor of the first Special Forces unit that rode into combat in the mountains of Afghanistan shortly after 9/11. Upon completion of the 9/11 Memorial, the statue will be permanently located at the World Trade Center site.
Our veterans and their families show us every day just what words like “strength” and “courage” mean. And these special operators are no exception. Joe and I met with several of them before the dedication ceremony. I was in awe of the group – many of whom have continued to serve. And as we chatted with them, I couldn’t help but think of their families too – and the fear their parents, spouses, and children must have felt watching them leave without knowing where they were going or when they would come home. I met one young woman in her early twenties who remembers her father leaving for Afghanistan for the first time in 2001. Since then, she has watched him leave for deployment countless times, and she has spent nearly half her life worrying about him. But like all military families I have met, she is fiercely proud of his service. Her father is her hero.
We must never forget the sacrifices of our troops and their families – at home and abroad. This statue serves as a reminder of the very first brave soldiers who rushed into harm’s way in response to the attacks on 9/11 – and of their families, to whom Afghanistan was a dangerous unknown. On Veterans Day and every day, it is our duty to show appreciation for the service of our military community and to remember that each of us has the ability to make a difference in the life of a military family.
Dr. Jill Biden is the Second Lady of the United States.
Matt ComptonNovember 14, 2011
06:57 PM EDT
At the end of October, the Senate confirmed John Bryson to head the U.S. Department of Commerce, and today, Vice President Biden was on hand to swear in the new Secretary at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
Secretary Bryson comes to the job with decades of experience and deep knowledge of American business. Learn more about Bryson here.
Matt ComptonNovember 14, 2011
04:17 PM EDT
This weekend, First Lady Michelle Obama joined the President in Hawaii to host the conference of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders.
At a luncheon for APEC spouses, Mrs. Obama discussed why Hawaii is uniquely suited to entertain talks like those held between the 21 nations in attendance:
Hawaii is an incredibly diverse place; it's home to people of all different cultures. And there’s a special spirit here –- a spirit of openness and tolerance. And I have experienced it myself. I feel like this is my home away from home, a place where I feel welcome and open and optimistic. Folks here view their differences as strengths –- not as weaknesses. And people of all different backgrounds live together and work together and seek to learn from each other.
The meal featured produce from the MA'O Organic Farm -- which the First Lady toured over the weekend. Guiding her through the farm, which is also home to a youth leadership program, were high school and college interns.
At the luncheon, the First Lady presented each of the spouses with a personal gift created by Hawaiian artists.
Megan SlackNovember 14, 2011
02:01 PM EDT
Over the weekend, the United States hosted the 19th annual leaders meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC in Honolulu. APEC promotes trade and economic cooperation among 21 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2010, APEC economies purchased $774 billion worth of U.S. exports, accounting for 61 percent of total U.S. exports.
Trade with these APEC nations supports 5 million American jobs, and strengthening our relationship with other economies in the Pacific region—and their 2.7 billion consumers—will help create new business opportunities, jobs, and buying power for Americans.
Leaders at this year’s summit agreed to adopt innovative market policies, reduce tariffs and barriers to trade in environmental goods and services, and improve regulations that create burdens on businesses.
President Obama knows that we can’t wait to create jobs like the ones fostered by cooperation in the Asia Pacific region. In addition to working hard with world leaders to create economic opportunity and jobs through trade, he introduced the American Jobs act to put our millions of unemployed workers back on the job while helping businesses invest and grow. And, he’s signed a series of Executive Actions to ensure our workers don’t have to wait for Congress to act. These orders range from challenges to establish innovative and job-creating health and education programs, to initiatives that connect unemployed veterans with jobs, to steps that help developers bring their projects to market more quickly.
November 14, 2011
12:45 PM EDT
Ed. note: Cross-posted from HealthCare.gov.
Health care costs remain a significant drain on the budgets of families, businesses, and federal and state governments. The health reform law, the Affordable Care Act, made significant strides in making Medicare more affordable and insurance companies more accountable. Congress is considering other ways to build on this progress, but we can’t wait to do more to help make our health care system more affordable.
In that spirit, the Obama Administration recently launched the Health Care Innovation Challenge. Made possible by the Affordable Care Act, this initiative will invest up to $1 billion in the best projects that doctors, hospitals, and other innovators propose to deliver high-quality medical care and save money. Projects that win this competition will use health care dollars more wisely, help create jobs, and help professionals improve the work they do for patients.
Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum and usually doesn’t start in Washington — we need the vision and experience of people who are already proving that our health care providers can and do provide better care and better health at lower cost. So we want to hear from you. Send us your innovative ideas and solutions, and submit a proposal outlining your vision for helping us transform the health care system. We’ll sort through these proposals and help put the best ones into practice.
If your proposal has strong evidence that it can start quickly, reduce costs, and improve health care, you can qualify for approximately $1 million to $30 million in an upfront investment. Priority is given to proposals that retrain workers and support job creation. You can find a fact sheet and the Funding Opportunity Announcement on our Healthcare Innovation Challenge Web page.
We’ll work with a wide variety of public and private organizations, including providers, payers, local governments, community and faith-based organizations, and other innovators whose compelling ideas can improve health care for patients. We are also looking for projects that help patients with the greatest health care needs, projects that can be up and running soon, and projects that rapidly hire, train, and deploy health care workers.
For example, the Health Care Innovation Challenge could support the use of personal and home care aides to help the elderly stay in their homes or expanding the use of community-based paramedics to provide basic services to individuals in rural communities.
Different communities have different needs and circumstances—some require unique, locally driven innovations. With the Health Care Innovation Challenge, we hope to give providers even more opportunities to make our health care system even stronger.