Secretary Kathleen SebeliusMarch 19, 2013
04:15 PM EDT
Enacted three years ago, the health care law is making the insurance market work better for you by prohibiting some of the worst insurance industry practices that have kept affordable health coverage out of reach for millions of Americans.
As a former state insurance commissioner, I know that for too long, too many hard-working Americans paid the price for policies that handed free rein to health insurance companies. For more than a decade before the Affordable Care Act, premiums rose rapidly, straining the budgets of American families and businesses. And insurers often raised premiums without any explanation.
It wasn’t fair and it was costing you your hard-earned dollars, security, and peace of mind.
The Affordable Care Act is working to bring affordability and fairness to the marketplace by barring insurers from dropping your coverage when you get sick or placing a lifetime dollar limit on coverage. In 2014, it will prohibit discriminating against you or anyone with a pre-existing condition, such as high blood pressure, asthma, or cancer.
Valerie JarrettMarch 19, 2013
03:45 PM EDT
Yesterday, in honor of Women’s History Month, we welcomed a group of high school students to participate in a conversation with a mentoring panel at the White House.
Our panel included luminaries from a diverse range of fields: Tamika Catchings, professional basketball player, and founder of Catch the Stars Foundation, which works with at-risk youth. Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America and a lifelong advocate for civil rights, workers, and women. Abbe Raven, President and CEO of A&E Networks. And Suni Williams, an astronaut who took recently took charge of the International Space Station. Alex Wagner, News Anchor at MSNBC, moderated the panel.
Each woman talked about their trajectory, their role models and influences, and gave advice on success in their career. The young people in the audience asked questions such as, “What makes a strong woman?” and “What do you do during moments of self-doubt?”
It was a wonderful opportunity to have an honest dialogue between generations, and I left feeling so encouraged by the stories of the panelists and the voices of the audience.
This event was one in a series to honor Women’s History Month. It was followed by a celebration with President Obama and the First Lady in the Residence.
March 19, 2013
12:00 PM EDT
I remember the day the health care law passed three years ago. The law made history as one of the most significant pieces of health related legislation since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid. On a personal level, it fundamentally changed the course of my life. At the time, I was 20 years old, a college student, and facing the reality that I would be kicked off my parents’ high-quality private insurance, on my twenty-first birthday. I would have limited, if any, options for health insurance and it put me face to face with my own mortality.
I was born with a serious, rare disease. Without high-quality health care, or health insurance, I would suffer potentially fatal consequences. Most children who are born with my disease, toxoplasmosis, have profound side-effects that can include organ failure, blindness, and intellectual disabilities. Throughout my childhood, I was fairly healthy. But during high school I began to face the realities of what it meant to have this disease. I had neurosurgery to replace the 16-year-old shunt that was installed to drain spinal fluid collecting on my brain, and I lost vision in my left eye when the parasite attacked my eyes. Since then, I have struggled to remain healthy and have had several shunt replacements and eye surgeries.
Knowing how stressful, painful, and scary these experiences were with health insurance, as I got older, my family and I went into a panic. We knew I would no longer be eligible for their insurance, and we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would be denied coverage due to my multiple pre-existing conditions. This was where we were in March 2010.
But everything changed three years ago, when President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act.
March 19, 2013
11:00 AM EDT
Ed. note: Click here to see the timeline of President Obama's promise to end the war in Iraq and support service members as they return home.
Ten years ago my US Army unit was returning from our final training exercise in preparation for deploying in support of Operation Iraq Freedom. We listened intensely as President Bush announced the start of the war 10 years ago today, and my platoon prepared to deploy as part of the 1st Armored Division into the breach of battle. Within a few short weeks, my soldiers and I were rolling across the Kuwaiti border on our way to Baghdad to relieve the 3rd Infantry Division.
My soldiers and I spent most of the next 15 months based out of a Forward Operating Base on the banks of the Tigris River trying to bring stability to a chaotic and complex situation. We had a front row seat as the Iraqi’s celebrated the capture of Saddam Hussein, but also felt the war turn as we went from eating dinners in the homes of everyday Iraqi’s to fighting insurgents on the streets in places like Najaf.
Although there is still much to learn about this war, one thing is certain; President Obama’s commitment and focus on taking care of our service members brought this war to an end. He held to his promise and ensured that by December of 2011, “the last American soldiers will cross the border out of Iraq—with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops.”
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusMarch 18, 2013
07:58 PM EDT
In the past, too many parents had to worry about how they would pay the mortgage or the car payment if their sick children were dropped from insurance coverage. Victims of breast cancer worried about what would happen to them or their families if they reached a lifetime limit on coverage and no longer could afford treatment.
These were real concerns for real people. Because of the health care law, however, they can put these worries aside and know they are getting a better value for their premium dollars.
The Affordable Care Act brings an end to some of the worst insurance industry practices that have kept affordable health coverage out of reach for millions of Americans, especially when they needed it most. Under the health care law, consumers can be confident that their insurance will protect them if they get sick and their families won’t be crushed by medical bills.
As we observe the third anniversary of the President signing the health care law, let me tell you what this means in real terms to many American families:
Colleen CurtisMarch 18, 2013
07:12 PM EDT
President Obama today welcomed a group of accomplished and inspiring women to a reception in the East Room of the White House. The group, which included leaders like A&E Networks CEO Abbe Raven, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Girl Scouts' CEO Anna Maria Chávez, astronaut Sunita Williams, activists Dolores Huerta and Lilly Ledbetter, and WNBA star (and 3-time Olympic Gold Medalist) Tamika Catchings, joined the President, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to celebrate the progress women make in this country each and every day. President Obama highlighted the changes we've seen in the past century:
When I look around this room, it is hard to believe that 100 years ago this month, thousands of women were marching right outside this house demanding one of our most fundamental right: the right to vote, to have a say in our democracy. And today, a century later, its rooms are full of accomplished women who have overcome discrimination, shattered glass ceilings, and become outstanding role models for all of our sons and daughters. And that means we've come a long way, and that’s thanks to the efforts of so many people like you.
Because of the hard work and exemplary leadership of the women in this room, military families have protected family and medical leave. Women have legal recourse to fight against pay discrimination... Women have the opportunity to serve on the front lines of our military conflicts, and that means that they're getting paid and promoted equally. Women have the opportunity to make their own choices about their health.
Colleen CurtisMarch 18, 2013
02:04 PM EDT
As families and friends gather around the Sofreh-e Haft Sin to celebrate Nowruz, President Obama extends his best wishes for the new spring and new year.
In his message, the President speaks directly to the people and leaders of Iran about the opportunity to begin a new relationship between our two countries. In expressing his hope that Americans and Iranians will one day work together, build together, and innovate together, the President says “As a new spring begins, I remain hopeful that our two countries can move beyond tension. And I will continue to work toward a new day between our nations that bears the fruit of friendship and peace.”
Eid-e Shoma Mobarak.
Watch the video here | Read the transcript of President Obama's message in English | Read the transcript of President Obama's message in Persian | Read the transcript of President Obama's message in Arabic | Download MP4 |
Colleen CurtisMarch 18, 2013
01:11 PM EDT
President Obama today announced that he has chosen Thomas Perez, the head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, to be the next Secretary of Labor. Speaking in the East Room of the White House, the President introduced Perez, the son of Dominican immigrants and a lawyer who helped pay his way through college by working as a garbage collector, to the American people.
"His story reminds us of this country’s promise, that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what your last name is -- you can make it if you try," President Obama said. "And Tom has made protecting that promise -- for everybody -- the cause of his life."
Matt ComptonMarch 16, 2013
05:30 AM EDT
President Obama discusses the need to harness American energy in order to reduce our dependence on oil and make the United States a magnet for new jobs. He highlights his all-of-the-above approach to American energy -- including a proposal to establish an Energy Security Trust, which invests in research that will help shift our cars and trucks off of oil.
Megan SlackMarch 15, 2013
05:20 PM EDT
In the first foreign trip of his second term in office, President Obama will visit Israel, the West Bank and Jordan. The trip is an important opportunity to meet with the new Israeli government and speak to the Israeli people, as well as meet with the Palestinian leadership and the King of Jordan.
We asked Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, to preview the upcoming trip and some of the issues the President would be discussing in his meetings. Check it out below or watch the video on YouTube.
March 15, 2013
05:08 PM EDT
International Courage Awards: Last Friday, the First Lady joined Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department for the International Women of Courage Awards—where nine different women were honored. The event was a celebration of the strength and sacrifice of individuals who have worked tirelessly for the advancement of women’s rights for all.
Trade Export Council: On Tuesday, President Obama touched base with business and government leaders at a meeting of the President’s Export Council.
“The good news is we are well on our way to meeting a very ambitious goal that we set several years ago to double U.S. exports,” said the President. “And what we know is, is that a lot of the growth, a lot of the new jobs that we've seen during the course of this recovery, have been export-driven.”
To maintain and ignite growth, President Obama discussed finishing new trade deals with Europe and the Asia-Pacific. The Administration signed legislation in 2011 supporting free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama which has kept America competitive in foreign trade, while creating jobs for Americans.
Sultan of Brunei: On Tuesday, President Obama welcomed His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei to the Oval Office for a bilateral meeting to share their desire for “a strong, peaceful, prosperous Asia-Pacific region.”
Brunei, a small country in the South China Sea, will be holding the ASEAN East Asia Summit meeting in October. The visit is a symbol of the President’s goal of working towards a peaceful and prosperous presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
Colleen CurtisMarch 15, 2013
04:57 PM EDT
Few areas hold more promise for creating good jobs and growing our economy than how we use American energy, and today President Obama visited the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois to talk about the progress we are seeing from his all of the above approach to energy independence and the risk that this important sector faces from the arbitrary cuts being imposed by the so-called sequester.
As President Obama noted in his remarks, these cuts do not distinguish between wasteful programs and vital investments. "They don’t trim the fat; they cut into muscle and into bone," the President said. "Like research and development being done right here that not only gives a great place for young researchers to come and ply their trade, but also ends up creating all kinds of spinoffs that create good jobs and good wages."
Colleen CurtisMarch 15, 2013
11:35 AM EDT
America’s scientists are a national treasure. Every day, idea by idea, innovation by innovation, they are developing new technology that will help secure our energy future. If we want to keep moving forward, we need scientists to keep inventing and innovating, to keep unlocking new solutions and pushing new breakthroughs.
In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to create an Energy Security Trust Fund, which would free American families and business from painful spikes in gas prices. The President’s plan builds on an idea that has bipartisan support from experts including retired admirals and generals and leading CEOs, and it focuses on one goal: shifting America’s cars and trucks off oil entirely.
So how does it work? The Energy Security Trust will invest in research that will make future technologies cheaper and better – it will fund the advances that will allow us to run cars and trucks on electricity or homegrown fuels, and on the technology that will enable us to drive from coast-to-coast without a drop of oil.
Over 10 years, the Energy Security Trust will provide $2 billion for critical, cutting-edge research focused on developing cost-effective transportation alternatives.The funding will be provided by revenues from federal oil and gas development, and will not add any additional costs to the federal budget. The investments will support research into a range of technologies – things like advanced vehicles that run on electricity, homegrown biofuels, and domestically produced natural gas. It will also help fund a small number of real-world experiments that try different transportation techniques in cities and towns around the country using advanced vehicles at scale.
In each of the last four years, domestic production of oil and gas has gone up and our use of foreign oil has gone down. And while America uses less foreign oil now than we’ve used in almost two decades, there’s more work to do. That’s why we need to keep reaching for greater energy security. And that’s why we must keep developing new energy supplies and new technologies that use less oil. The Secure Energy Trust will ensure American scientists and research labs have the support they need to keep our country competitve and create the jobs of the future.
March 15, 2013
11:15 AM EDT
The White House Photo Office just released their latest behind-the-scenes photos, covering President Obama’s State of the Union Address, his visit to a pre-k classroom in Georgia, and around the White House.
Check out some of the best images below, and see the full set of 33 photos on our Flickr gallery.
To learn more:
Alan KruegerMarch 15, 2013
09:00 AM EDT
This year's Economic Report of the President describes the progress we have made recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over six million new jobs. As a nation, we now buy more American cars than we have in 5 years, and less foreign oil than we have in 20 years. Our housing market is healing, and homeowners and consumers enjoy stronger protections than ever before. But there are still millions of Americans whose hard work and dedication have not yet been rewarded. Our economy is adding jobs, but too many of our fellow citizens still can't find fulltime employment. Corporate profits have reached all-time highs, but for more than a decade, wages and incomes for working Americans have barely budged. As President Obama has said, "A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs–that must be the North Star that guides our efforts."
Although economics has long been called "the dismal science," it is more appropriately viewed as a "hopeful science." The right mix of economic policies and leadership can help a country to recover from a deep recession and point to the investments and reforms that will build a stronger, more stable, and more prosperous economy that works for the middle class. Conversely, government dysfunction or misguided fiscal policy can cause self-inflicted wounds to the economy. This year's Economic Report of the President highlights the progress that has been made in recovering from the deepest recession since the Great Depression, together with the policies that the Obama Administration is advancing to address the fundamental imbalances and threats that have built up for decades and that have created severe stress on the middle class and those striving to get into the middle class.
Adam GarberMarch 15, 2013
12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President met with the Sultan of Brunei, his Export Council, Intel Science Fair finalists, and Israel Channel 2; he discussed cybersecurity and immigration reform with CEOs, and traveled to the Capitol to meet with Congressional Caucuses, while the First Lady honored Women of Courage, held a Twitter Q&A, and challenged CEOs to find innovative ways to hire veterans.
Kasie CoccaroMarch 14, 2013
06:45 PM EDT
For more 40 years, the Presidential Citizens Medal has recognized Americans who have "performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens." The Medal is among the highest awards a civilian can receive.
In February, at a ceremony in the East Room, President Obama honored the recipients of the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal, including twelve individuals and six educators from Sandy Hook Elementary. You can read more about them here and hear their stories:
Macon PhillipsMarch 14, 2013
01:53 PM EDT
Today, Vice President Biden launched an audio series called “Being Biden.”
The series will combine a photo that offers a glimpse into the Vice Presidency with an audio recording of the Vice President narrating the moment and its significance. He will tell the story behind the story – of where he was when the photo was snapped, why it matters to him, and how the experience fits into the broader narrative of this Administration. From meetings at the White House to travels around the country, the Vice President will share his perspective in candid, behind-the-scenes snapshots.
In other words, he’ll explain what it’s like “Being Biden.”
Check out the first installment at whitehouse.gov/beingbiden. The series will be available at whitehouse.gov/beingbiden, and will also be shared through the @VP Twitter account. To recieve an email update when new stories are posted, sign up here.
Valerie JarrettMarch 14, 2013
01:19 PM EDT
A mother survives domestic abuse, but realizes she needs a civil protection order, as well as custody of her child, but she may not be able to afford legal representation.
Five years ago, a group of lawyers came together to support clients like her. They founded the DC Volunteers Lawyer Project (DCVLP) to recruit, train, and support attorneys to provide pro-bono services in three areas: (1) domestic violence, including with divorce, custody, child support, and immigration matters, (2) high-conflict child custody cases, and (3) assisting foster parents.
The DCVLP now has more than 700 volunteer lawyers who provide pro-bono services.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of visiting the DCVLP. I met with the remarkable founders and staff, listened to the story of a former client serving on the board, and heard about all the great work they are doing every single day here in Washington, DC.
Lynn RosenthalMarch 14, 2013
11:30 AM EDT
Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a Domestic Violence Homicide Reduction Event at the Montgomery County Executive Office Building in Rockville, MD, March 13, 2013. Also pictured are (from left) Janet Blackburn, Attorney General Eric Holder, Actress Mariska Hargitay, and Chief Jeff Spaulding, Chief of Police of the Westminster Police Department. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
Yesterday I attended an event held by Vice President Biden and Attorney General Holder focused on reducing domestic violence homicides. The Vice President spoke movingly about the changes that have occurred since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act but also reminded us that three women a day still die as a result of domestic violence. The Attorney General announced grants to twelve communities to screen victims for risk of homicide and create high risk teams to contain these dangerous offenders. He stressed the importance of understanding the warning signs that could indicate the risk of homicide is increasing and linking those victims with services. The Vice President was joined by Mariska Hargitay of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, domestic violence advocate Janet Blackburn, and state and local officials from around Maryland.
The event was held in Maryland to showcase the success of their model lethality assessment program. By screening victims for risk factors at crime scenes, in hospital emergency rooms, and in court and linking those most at risk with immediate crisis intervention services, Maryland has reduced its domestic violence homicide rate by 34% over the past five years. The Vice President also highlighted the work of Newburyport, Massachusetts, which launched a multi-disciplinary high risk team to identify and address the most dangerous cases of domestic violence in their community. Since beginning this approach in 2005, there have been no domestic violence homicides in Newburyport. The grants announced today will help communities around the country replicate these two successful models.
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