Megan SlackFebruary 07, 2012
06:38 PM EDT
Who says science can’t be fun?
At today’s White House Science Fair, President Obama got the chance to shoot a marshmallow across the State Dining Room using 14-year-old inventor Joey Hudy’s “Extreme Marshmallow Cannon.” Hudy designed and built the machine, which can launch the fluffy white confections up to 175 feet away using pressurized air.
Check out the video above to watch the President and Joey put the cannon to the test.
For more on the White House Science Fair, see:
- President Obama Hosts the White House Science Fair
- Read about the President’s new initiatives to educate more students in science, math and engineering fields
- Bill Nye, the Science Guy, on the importance of scientists, engineers, and inventors
Megan SlackFebruary 07, 2012
04:54 PM EDT
Today, President Obama hosted the second-ever White House Science Fair, featuring research and inventions from more than 100 students representing 30 student teams. From robots in the Blue Room to rockets in the Red Room to marshmallow cannons in the State Dining Room, projects showcased the talents of America’s next generation of scientists, engineers, inventors, and innovators.
After viewing some of the displays and talking with students about their work, the President addressed students, parents, and teachers in the East Room.
“When students excel in math and science, they help America compete for the jobs and industries of the future,” said President Obama. “That’s why I’m proud to celebrate outstanding students at the White House Science Fair, and to announce new steps my Administration and its partners are taking to help more young people succeed in these critical subjects."
February 07, 2012
02:07 PM EDT
Cross posted from The Blog @ Homeland Security.
Today, I am honored to be named U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s first-ever public advocate. As ICE continues to implement detention reforms and other enforcement-related initiatives, my staff and I will serve as a point of contact for individuals, including those in immigration proceedings, NGOs, and other community and advocacy groups, who have concerns, questions, recommendations or important issues they would like to raise.
While this new role will be challenging, I believe it will reap significant rewards for ICE as well as for stakeholders. As we work to enact significant policy changes to focus the agency’s immigration enforcement resources on sensible priorities, implement policies and processes that prioritize the health and safety of detainees in our custody while increasing federal oversight, and improve the conditions of confinement within the detention system, I will strive to expand and enhance our dialogue with the stakeholder community.
I have committed the greater part of my life to public service. Since 2008, I have served with ICE, first as an advisor and analyst on policies related to immigration enforcement, detention and juveniles, and most recently as the senior advisor for Enforcement and Removal Operation’s (ERO) detention management division. Prior to that, I served as an attorney and was recognized as the Maryland Attorney of the Year for Pro Bono Service working with Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County.
February 07, 2012
10:00 AM EDT
[Editor’s note: Tune in to http://wh.gov/live this morning to check out President Obama's visit to today’s White House Science Fair starting at 10:35 a.m. EST. You can also ask your questions of Bill Nye this afternoon during a special White House Office Hours at 2:00 p.m. EST]
Since the first days of the United States, our leaders have recognized the importance of science and especially engineering. Several among the founding fathers were inventors and scientists themselves. George Washington continually experimented with farm crops. Thomas Jefferson’s estate is replete with weather and time-keeping instruments. Benjamin Franklin made discoveries and developed inventions that are celebrated even today. Abraham Lincoln, nominally a lawyer, held a patent. It should come as no surprise that our Constitution calls for the legal protection of scientific inquiry and discovery.
It is in this spirit that President Obama held the first White House Science Fair in October 2010. The second one is today. The President will honor over 100 students from 40 different competitions around the country who have excelled in science and math. I’ll be there along with several well-respected educators and leaders from the science and engineering community.
Most of our successful corporations, the ones that touch our lives everyday like Amazon, Apple, Boeing, Ford, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Pay-Pal, and now Facebook, were started by engineers—people who use science and math to create things and solve problems. For the United States to remain the world leader in technological innovation, we need more engineers and more scientists. We need more people, who can do math, design software, and create new applications for machines that have yet to come into existence.
If we choose not to engage in fundamental research—not to pursue new technologies and systems, not to discover new properties of numbers and atomic structures,not to explore the oceans and outer space—we leave that work to others, to emerging countries, who have seen from the outside what science and technology can do for a society.
It is in this spirit that I am proud and very much looking forward to being a part of today’s White House Science Fair. I hope to encourage the young people in attendance and their many fellow student competitors back home to change the world.
Bill Nye is the Science Guy and CEO of the Planetary Society -- he was at the White House for the first ever Science Fair -- check it out below:
Valerie JarrettFebruary 07, 2012
09:00 AM EDT
On this, the 12th annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I remember my sister-in-law’s fight with the disease. Tragically, she did not win that fight – she left behind a devastated husband and five-year old daughter. But it is in her memory, and the memory of all the friends and loved ones we have lost, that we vow to keep working toward the day when HIV/AIDS is history.
This past December, on World AIDS Day, President Obama spoke about the United States’ commitment to ending HIV/AIDS. In a speech at George Washington University, he told the audience, “Make no mistake, we are going to win this fight. But the fight is not over … not by a long shot.”
Sadly, this is especially true in the African-American community. Black Americans represent 12 percent of the U.S. population, but they account for 44 percent of new HIV infections. Among young black gay men alone, infections have increased by nearly 50 percent in just three years, and black women account for the largest share of HIV infections among women. We each must do our part by getting tested regularly, and by educating those in our community about what they can do to help end the epidemic.
President Obama is committed to doing his part as well. In 2010, he released the nation’s first comprehensive HIV/AIDS plan. Together with Secretary Clinton, he has helped assemble a coalition of governments, healthcare professionals, and service providers. They have set a goal that would have been unthinkable just a few decades ago: an AIDS-free generation, in which virtually all children are born HIV-free, and prevention tools help them stay HIV-free throughout their lives.
Kori SchulmanFebruary 07, 2012
08:30 AM EDT
On Tuesday, February 7, over 100 students from over 45 states are heading to the White House with their robots, research and new inventions for the second ever White House Science Fair.
Now, the White House is calling on folks across the country to join the Science Fair virtually! While students at the White House share their latest inventions -- from a robotic arm to waste-reducing dissolvable sugar packets -- we want to hear about the projects you've worked on. Tell us about your favorite science fair project and share pictures on Twitter with the hashtag #WHScienceFair or through a form on WhiteHouse.gov. Then, we’ll display some of our favorite submissions on WhiteHouse.gov.
What's your favorite science fair project? Let us know on Twitter with the hashtag #WHScienceFair or through a form WhiteHouse.gov.
We also hope you’ll join us for a special session of White House Office Hours: Science Fair edition. On Tuesday, February 7 at 2:00 p.m. EST, Bill Nye "the science guy" and Tom Kalil "the White House Office of Science and Technology guy" are answering your questions live on Twitter.
Here’s how it works:
- Starting now, you can ask your questions on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat. We'll also be using the hashtag #WHScienceFair
- At 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 7, Bill Nye the Science Guy (@TheScienceGuy) and Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (@WhiteHouseOSTP) will answer your questions live on Twitter.
- Follow the Q&A through the @WHLive Twitter account
- If you miss the live event, the full session will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov and Storify.com/WhiteHouse
The White House Science Fair celebrates the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. At the fair, President Obama will view student projects and speak on the importance of STEM education. The President will also announce key steps that the Administration is taking to help more students excel in math and science, and earn degrees in these subjects. You can watch the President’s remarks live at 11:25 a.m. EST at WhiteHouse.gov/live.
Erin LindsayFebruary 06, 2012
04:11 PM EDT
On Wednesday, February 8 at 9am, the White House will host an event to highlight how the government and the private sector are harnessing science, technology, and innovation to promote global development. Speakers from the White House, U.S. Agency for International Development, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and the private sector will join participants from universities, industry, and nonprofits for a discussion of innovation and global development. Watch live at www.whitehouse.gov/live.
Later in the day, at 11:00 a.m., Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development, Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President & Senior Director of the National Security Council and Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy & Senior Advisor for Science, Technology, and Innovation, National Economic Council will take your questions on the role of science, technology and innovation in global development.
- What: Open for Questions: Innovation for Global Development
- Who: Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development, Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President & Senior Director of the National Security Council and Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy & Senior Advisor for Science, Technology, and Innovation, National Economic Council
- When: Wednesday, February 8 at 11:00 a.m. ET
- Where: Watch live at WhiteHouse.gov/live and submit your questions via Facebook, Twitter using the hashtag #WHChat or our webform.
February 06, 2012
12:24 PM EDT
Last week, several announcements from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showed how people with Medicare are already benefiting from the Affordable Care Act:
- Nearly 3.6 million people with Medicare saved $2.1 billion on their prescription drugs in 2011 thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
- The average person with Medicare will save nearly $4,200 by 2021 because of the new law.
- Medicare Advantage premiums have fallen by 7 percent on average and enrollment has risen by about 10 percent from 2011, and premiums are down by 16 percent since 2010.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius talked about these announcements during her trip to Florida, where 238,362 Florida residents with Medicare saved $141,948,339 on their prescription drugs in 2011 thanks to the health reform law, the Affordable Care Act. Behind these numbers are compelling stories like that of Floridian William Morris who saved $2,000 on the cost of his chemotherapy because of the law.
In Orlando, the Secretary participated in a State of Seniors Health discussion, addressing 85 seniors and community leaders at the Beardall Senior Center. She was joined by a number of panelists including Orlando pharmacist Carmen Rosado. As the Orlando Sentinel reported, Carmen is now retired and on Medicare, so she has seen both sides of the Part D program. She shared that:
“In the 46 years I practiced pharmacy, I have seen seniors who had to decide whether to eat or buy their medicines,” Rosado said Thursday. “Sometimes I would pay for their medicines, because [their situation] would hurt me. They would say: ‘Of all these medicines, which are the important ones?’ With the health law, they can continue with their drug regimen to better their health.”
Kori SchulmanFebruary 06, 2012
10:33 AM EDT
Ed. Note: This session of Office Hours has concluded. Check out the full Q&A below or over on Storify
Today, we’re holding a special session of White House Office Hours to celebrate the second anniversary of Let’s Move!, the First Lady’s initiative to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. At 2:30 p.m. EST, Sam Kass, Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives, is answering your questions live on Twitter.
Join Sam for Office Hours at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, February 6th. Here's how it works:
- Ask your question on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat
- Sam Kass, Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives, responds to your questions in real-time via Twitter from @LetsMove
- Follow the Q&A through the @WHLive Twitter account
- If you miss the live event, the full session will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov and Storify.com/WhiteHouse
- We hope you can join us! Follow us on Twitter @WhiteHouse, @WHLive and @LetsMove for the latest updates and more chances to engage.
Matt ComptonFebruary 04, 2012
05:30 AM EDT
February 03, 2012
04:53 PM EDT
A quick look at this week on WhiteHouse.gov:
Talking Tuition with the Wolverines: Shortly after delivering his State of the Union address, the President took his Blueprint for making college more affordable straight to the people at the frontlines of the issue—students. Speaking from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the President noted that a college degree “will be the best tool you have to achieve that basic American promise.”
A Georgian Visitor: Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili met with the President in the Oval Office on Monday, discussing relations between our two countries—including Georgia’s contributions to the military operation in Afghanistan and the potential for a free trade agreement between the United States and Geogia—and marked the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between both countries.
Hanging Out on Google+: The President participated in the first-ever virtual interview from the White House on Monday from the Roosevelt Room. After more than 227,000 people submitted questions or voted for their favorites, the President sat down for a discussion with a group of Americans from across the country in a Google+ Hangout. In case you missed it, you can watch the full video here.
The Cabinet Convenes: On Tuesday, the President held a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House to discuss the ideas he laid out in the State of the Union. A top priority mentioned by the President during the State of the Union was the need to promote small business throughout the country, which was echoed in the meeting, where a new Cabinet member and the head of the Small Business Administration, Karen Mills, joined the discussion and ensured that entrepreneurs were represented.
In the Showroom: With Detroit’s newest vehicles on display at the Washington Auto Show, the President took a trip across town to get a glimpse of the outstanding work produced within the U.S. auto industry. He was impressed by what he saw, saying, “Because of folks coming together, we are now back in a place where we can compete with any car company in the world.”
Fairness, Responsibility and Housing: One way the President plans to achieve his Blueprint for an America Built to Last is by taking action to help responsible borrowers and support a housing market recovery. On Wednesday, he expanded on the ideas he presented in the State of the Union—including a proposal for a Homeowners Bill of Rights—at the James Lee Community Center in Falls Church, Virginia, where home values have fallen by about a quarter from their peak.
The National Prayer Breakfast: At the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., the President spoke about how his faith and values guide the difficult decisions he makes as he leads the country.
Megan SlackFebruary 03, 2012
03:26 PM EDT
This week, we celebrated the 1-year anniversary of Startup America, a White House initiative to encourage and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship.
Forgot to send a card in honor of the occasion? Don’t worry, we won’t tell. But you should take a few minutes to watch this White House White Board, released this day last year, and learn about how Startup America can help entrepreneurs overcome the “valley of death” they often face when launching a new project.
Find out more about how Startup America can help to boost startups and small businesses that create so many jobs in this country:
- Read the details of the Startup America legislative agenda President Obama sent to Congress
- Watch the Gene Sperling, Steve Case, and Aneesh Chopra answer questions about Startup America in a White House Hangout
- Video: What Can Startup America Do for Me?
- Video: Advice for Young Entrepreneurs from Startup America
Matt ComptonFebruary 03, 2012
02:42 PM EDT
Even with the news that the economy added 257,000 private sector jobs in January, there is more work to do to help our veterans returning from war find new jobs at home. And this morning, President Obama visited a fire station in Arlington, Virginia to discuss a new set of ideas to do just that -- including a Veterans Job Corps.
In the State of the Union, President Obama said:
[Our] freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it. As they come home, we must serve them as well as they’ve served us. That includes giving them the care and the benefits they have earned –- which is why we’ve increased annual VA spending every year I’ve been President. And it means enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our nation.
That's a sentiment the President echoed today at Fire Station #5:
Our veterans are some of the most highly trained, highly educated, highly skilled workers that we’ve got. These are Americans that every business should be competing to attract. These are the Americans we want to keep serving here at home as we rebuild this country. So we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that when our troops come home, they come home to new jobs and new opportunities and new ways to serve their country.
Already, the Obama Administration has helped 600,000 veterans and their family members go back to school on the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and hired more than 120,000 veterans to serve in the federal government. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have worked with the private sector to secure a pledge from businesses to hire 135,000. And President Obama worked with Congress last fall to pass two new tax credits for companies that put veterans to work.
Now President Obama is making a new push to help veterans build the lives the deserve. In Arlington, he called for three new initiatives.
First, President Obama is working to help state and local communities hire veterans to work as first responders. The administration will make available $166 million in 2012 Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Grant funding and $320 million in 2012 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants and award that money with a preference to communities that recruit and hire post-9/11 veterans. The President's budget for the 2013 fiscal year will include additional $5 billion for these grant programs.
Second, the President is working to develop a Veterans Job Corps conservation program that will put up to 20,000 veterans to work over the next five years. They'll work to restore habitats, eradicate invasive species, maintain public lands, and operate public facilities.
Third, President Obama wants to expand entrepreneurship training opportunities for service members and veterans. Back in August, the Administration established a two-day course in entrepreneurship as part of the Transition Assistance Program with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, along with the Small Business Administration. The SBA also offers an eight week online training program that will teach the fundamentals of small business ownership to more than 10,000 veterans every year.
Colleen CurtisFebruary 03, 2012
11:35 AM EDT
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama invited a group of American heroes to the White House for a very special movie night. The guests were retired Tuskegee Airmen, the African American veterans who overcame segregation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II, and whose achievements paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military.
The movie was "Red Tails", a new film that tells the Tuskegee story. "Red Tails"was produced by George Lucas, directed by Anthony Hemingway and stars Cuba Gooding Jr., who all joined the President, the First Lady and the Airmen for the screening in the White House theater.
Alan KruegerFebruary 03, 2012
09:31 AM EDT
Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the economic policies that are helping us to dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the recession that began at the end of 2007. Most importantly, we need to extend the payroll tax cut and continue to provide emergency unemployment benefits through the end of this year, and take the additional steps that President Obama proposed in his State of the Union address to create an economy built to last.
The unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage point to 8.3%, from a high of 10% in October 2009. The drop in unemployment over the month was entirely due to employment growth, as the labor force participation rate remained constant, once new population weights are taken into account. The unemployment rate has fallen by 0.8 percentage point in the last 12 months. Private sector payrolls increased by 257,000 jobs and overall payroll employment rose by 243,000 jobs in January. Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth, the economy has added private sector jobs for 23 straight months, for a total of 3.7 million payroll jobs over that period. In the last 12 months, 2.2 million private sector jobs were added on net. Nonetheless, we need faster growth to put more Americans back to work.
Sectors with net job increases in December included professional and business services (+70,000), manufacturing (+50,000), leisure and hospitality (+44,000), health care and social assistance (+29,700), and construction (+21,000). Government lost 14,000 jobs.
The monthly employment and unemployment numbers can be volatile, and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report; nevertheless, the trend in job market indicators over recent months is an encouraging sign.
Matt ComptonFebruary 03, 2012
12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President made history by holding the first completely virtual interview at the White House on Google+. He also tackled the rising cost of tuition at the University of Michigan, welcomed the President of Georgia, convened a cabinet meeting, stopped by the Washington Auto Show, announced a major refinancing plan for responsible homeowners, and attended the National Prayer Breakfast.
February 02, 2012
07:43 PM EDT
Yesterday, we joined a conference call with individuals from across the country to discuss issues impacting foreign students studying in our colleges and universities. We were joined by our colleagues Julie Rodriguez from the Office of Public Engagement and Luis Miranda from the Office of Communications. The conference call was the next step in our response to a petition submitted through We the People on Whitehouse.gov. We the People is a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country. We created We the People last year to help make your voices heard in our government. We know that some of the best ideas come from individuals directly impacted by federal policies.
On our call, we discussed the impact that existing immigration laws have on foreign students who have earned advanced degrees in American schools. As President Obama said during his State of the Union address, it makes no sense to allow these talented students to come to the U.S. and “to study business and science and engineering, but as soon as they get their degree, we send them home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else.” That’s why the President supports legislative measures that would attract and retain immigrants who create jobs and boost competitiveness here in the U.S. – including "stapling" green cards to the diplomas of certain foreign-born graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields – as a part of his vision for building a 21st century immigration system.
We reiterated this message on our call, and also discussed what the Administration is doing—independent of Congress—to help improve existing immigration policies to attract and keep the best and the brightest in our country. During the Q&A session, callers raised many concerns regarding F-1 and other visas targeted for highly skilled immigrants. Among these was a question regarding the possibility of extending employment authorization to certain spouses of H-1B visa holders who are awaiting the adjudication of green card applications. We were especially pleased to inform the callers that the Department of Homeland Security had announced just the day before—as part of the One Year Anniversary of the White House Startup Initiative — that they will be addressing this very issue through regulatory reforms.
Every day, the Administration is working to make improvements in the areas where we can really make a difference. It is invaluable to hear from people directly affected by our current immigration policies in order to get closer to the President’s vision of a 21st century immigration system that grows our economy and meets our security needs.
Felicia Escobar is a Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Domestic Policy Council and Doug Rand is a Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Matt ComptonFebruary 02, 2012
05:02 PM EDT
This morning at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama gave a speech where he described how his faith as a Christian informs his thinking as a leader.
And he talked about the importance of our shared set of values as Americans:
We can’t leave our values at the door. If we leave our values at the door, we abandon much of the moral glue that has held our nation together for centuries, and allowed us to become somewhat more perfect a union. Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Abraham Heschel -- the majority of great reformers in American history did their work not just because it was sound policy, or they had done good analysis, or understood how to exercise good politics, but because their faith and their values dictated it, and called for bold action -- sometimes in the face of indifference, sometimes in the face of resistance.
This is no different today for millions of Americans, and it’s certainly not for me.
The whole speech is worth a watch. Check it out above.
Josh EarnestFebruary 02, 2012
12:21 PM EDT
Last week in his State of the Union Address, the President laid out his blueprint for an economy built to last, where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. He believes this is a make or break moment for the middle class and those trying to reach it. He knows what’s at stake: the very survival of the basic American promise that if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family, own a home, and put enough away for retirement.
The fact is, economic security for the middle class has been eroding for decades. Millionaires and billionaires saw their wealth skyrocket while too many Americans were struggling to get by. And in 2008, the house of cards collapsed. Mortgages were sold to folks who couldn’t afford or understand them. In addition to the nearly eight million jobs lost, it left responsible homeowners holding the bag and badly hurt from this irresponsible behavior.
The President refuses to stand on the sidelines and let folks fend for themselves. That’s why he laid out a plan to help responsible borrowers and relieve some of the pain caused by the financial crisis. The President knows the government can’t fix the housing market on its own, and he believes that responsible homeowners should not have to sit and wait for the market to hit bottom to get relief when there are measures at hand that can make a meaningful difference. This includes allowing these homeowners the ability to save an average of $3,000 dollars a year by refinancing at today’s low interest rates. He also put forward a single set of standards, or a Homeowner Bill of Rights, to make sure borrowers and lenders play by the same rules.
Additionally, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, with Treasury and Housing and Urban Development, announced a pilot sale of foreclosed properties to be transitioned into rental housing. This will help stabilize neighborhoods and improve home prices. These are just a few of the steps that’ll strengthen the housing market and help folks who are underwater on their mortgage.
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusFebruary 02, 2012
11:25 AM EDT
Ed note: This has been cross-posted from healthcare.gov
Like thousands of Americans, Vero Beach, Florida resident William Morris is suffering from a rare, but treatable cancer. Compounding that difficult diagnosis is further bad news that, like many cancer drugs, the medicine he so desperately needs is very expensive.
But help with this cost came for William and his wife Suzanne from newly enhanced benefits under Medicare Part D – made possible by the health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act. Thanks to the law, William saved $2,000 on the cost of his chemotherapy drugs.
Suzanne and William Morris are not alone. For years, seniors have watched their health care bills go up. The Affordable Care Act helps folks like the Morris family, and other seniors, by closing the gap in prescription drug benefits known as the “donut hole.” To assist those in the coverage gap, the law adds increased help for seniors and people with disabilities over time until the donut hole closes in 2020. William and Suzanne benefited from that help when they received big discounts on the medicine they needed. People in the coverage gap also receive a 50% discount on expensive brand-name drugs covered by Part D and a 7% discount on generic medicines.
Today, we announced that in 2011 about 3.6 million people with Medicare benefited from donut hole discounts—saving a total of $2.1 billion, or an average of $604 per person.
And a new report released today finds that these discounts and other parts of the Affordable Care Act will lead to even bigger savings in the years ahead. According to the report, the average person with Medicare will save approximately $4,200 from 2011 to 2021, while those with high prescription drug costs will save much more – as much as $16,000 over the same period. This is especially good news for people with chronic conditions such a diabetes and high blood pressure who must take their medication every day for many years.
For older Americans and people on disabilities who live on fixed incomes the value of this help cannot be overstated. Evidence indicates that as many as 25 percent of people with Medicare Part D stop taking their medicine when they are in the coverage gap. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, they won’t have to.
For people like William who are fighting life-threatening or debilitating diseases, this benefit can help them heal, improve the quality of their lives and prevent the sometimes devastating results of leaving chronic conditions untreated.
Kathleen Sebelius is the Secretary of Health and Human Services
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