Todd ParkMay 28, 2013
12:40 PM EDT
Thomas Friedman’s New York Times column, Obamacare’s Other Surprise, highlights a rising tide of innovation that has been unleashed by the Affordable Care Act and the Administration’s health IT and data initiatives. Supported by digital data, new data-driven tools, and payment policies that reward improving the quality and value of care, doctors, hospitals, patients, and entrepreneurs across the nation are demonstrating that smarter, better, more accessible, and more proactive care is the best way to improve quality and control health care costs.
We are witnessing the emergence of a data-powered revolution in health care. Catalyzed by the Recovery Act, adoption of electronic health records is increasing dramatically. More than half of all doctors and other eligible providers and nearly 80 percent of hospitals are using electronic health records to improve care, an increase of more than 200 percent since 2008. In addition, the Administration’s Health Data Initiative is making a growing supply of key government data on everything from hospital charges and quality to regional health care system performance statistics freely available in computer-readable, downloadable form, as fuel for innovation, entrepreneurship, and discovery.
As Friedman describes, these trends, combined with efforts under the Affordable Care Act to change how we pay health care providers to better reward improving the quality and value of care, are creating a “new marketplace and platform for innovation.” Entrepreneurs and innovators across the country are developing and deploying new data-powered IT tools to help clinicians succeed at delivering better care at lower cost.
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusMay 28, 2013
12:15 PM EDT
A recent New York Times column, Obamacare’s Other Surprise, by Thomas L. Friedman echoes what we’ve been hearing from health care providers and innovators: Data that support medical decision-making and collaboration, dovetailing with new tools in the Affordable Care Act, are spurring the innovation necessary to deliver improved health care for more people at affordable prices.
Today, we are focused on driving a smarter health care system focused on the quality – not quantity – of care. The health care law includes many tools to increase transparency, avoid costly mistakes and hospital readmissions, keep patients healthy, and encourage new payment and care delivery models, like Accountable Care Organizations. Health information technology is a critical underpinning to this larger strategy.
Policies like these are already driving improvements. Prior to the law, nearly one in five Medicare patients discharged from a hospital was readmitted within 30 days, at a cost of over $26 billion every year. After implementing policies to incentivize better care coordination after a hospital discharge, the 30-day, all-cause readmission rate is estimated to have dropped during 2012 to a low of 18 percent in October, after averaging 19 percent for the previous five years. This downward trend translates to about 70,000 fewer admissions in 2012.
Insurance companies are also now required to publicly justify their actions if they want to raise rates by 10% or more. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the proportion of requests for double-digit rate increases fell from 75 percent in 2010 to 14 percent so far in 2013.
Reforms like these have helped slow Medicare and Medicaid spending per beneficiary to historically low rates of growth.
Mobilizing Use of Health Information Technology
Last week, we reached an important milestone in the adoption of health information technology. More than half of all doctors and other eligible providers and nearly 80 percent of hospitals are using electronic health records (EHRs) to improve care, an increase of at least 200 percent since 2008.
Megan SlackMay 28, 2013
10:45 AM EDT
Marking his fourth visit to the region since taking office, Vice President Biden left D.C. on Sunday for a trip to Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Brazil. Following President Obama’s recent visit to Mexico and Costa Rica, the trip is the latest demonstration of the United States’ commitment to reinforcing partnerships in the Americas.
The Vice President began his trip in Bogota, where he held a bilateral meeting with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, and highlighted the country’s remarkable progress on security issues as well as the importance of our economic relationship.
Since our free trade agreement went into effect a little over one year ago, "United States exports to Colombia are up 20 percent,” the Vice President said.
Ezra MechaberMay 27, 2013
05:56 PM EDT
Today President Obama traveled to Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate Memorial Day, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and delivering remarks.
The President thanked members of the armed forces and veterans for their service to the United States, and paid tribute to our fallen heroes laid to rest at Arlington:
It is here, on this hallowed ground, where we choose to build a monument to a constant thread in the American character -- the truth that our nation endures because it has always been home to men and women who are willing to give their all, and lay down their very lives, to preserve and protect this land that we love.
That character -- that selflessness -- beats in the hearts of the very first patriots who died for a democracy they had never known and would never see. It lived on in the men and women who fought to hold our union together, and in those who fought to defend it abroad -- from the beaches of Europe to the mountains and jungles of Asia. This year, as we mark the 60th anniversary of the end of fighting in Korea, we offer a special salute to all those who served and gave their lives in the Korean War. And over the last decade, we’ve seen the character of our country again -- in the nearly 7,000 Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice on battlefields and city streets half a world away.
President Obama noted that, as of last year, Americans are no longer fighting and dying in Iraq, and that there is now a transition underway in Afghanistan as well. "This time next year," the President said, "we will mark the final Memorial Day of our war in Afghanistan."
The President closed by asking Americans to keep the fallen in their hearts:
On this Memorial Day, and every day, let us be true and meet that promise. Let it be our task, every single one of us, to honor the strength and the resolve and the love these brave Americans felt for each other and for our country. Let us never forget to always remember and to be worthy of the sacrifice they make in our name.
Ezra MechaberMay 26, 2013
03:12 PM EDT
It was just one week ago that tornadoes tore through Oklahoma, devastating the town of Moore.
Today, President Obama traveled to the area -- visiting Plaza Towers Elementary School to offer a nation's condolences, and a promise to help Moore rebuild.
The President thanked Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Mayor Glenn Lewis of Moore for their quick, outstanding response, and praised other local officials instrumental in helping to save lives and jumpstart the town's recovery efforts.
President Obama highlighted the everyday acts of heroism in Moore, thanking first responders and volunteers for embodying the "Oklahoma Standard":
We’ve seen incredible outpourings of support from churches, from community groups who are helping folks begin to recover.
This area has known more than its share of heartbreak. But people here pride themselves on the “Oklahoma Standard” –- what Governor Fallin has called, “Being able to work through disasters like this, and [to] come out stronger on the other side.” And that’s what we’ve been seeing this week.
From the forecasters who issued the warnings, to the first responders who dug through the rubble, to the teachers who shielded with their own bodies their students, Oklahomans have inspired us with their love and their courage and their fellowship.
Moore, like Joplin and New Jersey before it, will rebuild -- and the nation is standing by to help. As President Obama said:
When we say that we’ve got your back, I promise you, we keep our word. If you talk to folks in Alabama who have been affected over the last couple of years; you talk to the folks at Joplin, who I know have actually sent volunteers down here to Moore; if you talk to folks in New Jersey and New York, they’ll tell you that when we say we’re going to be there until you completely rebuild, we mean it.
The President closed by urging every American to step up and help the people of Oklahoma.
After visiting Plaza Towers, President Obama stopped by Moore Fire Department Station #1 to meet with first responders. The fire station has served as a command center throughout the disaster, first for search and rescue and now for survivor services.
Ed. Note: You can help people affected by the recent tornadoes through American Red Cross Disaster Relief. If you are in the affected areas, click here to apply for assistance and learn about other resources that are available to you.
Matt ComptonMay 25, 2013
05:30 AM EDT
Secretary Arne DuncanMay 24, 2013
07:23 PM EDT
At a town hall meeting today on school safety at the Classical Magnet School in Hartford, I got to hear firsthand how Connecticut is leading the nation in adopting common-sense solutions to reduce gun violence and improve school safety.
In the aftermath of the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, the courage and resilience of teachers, parents, children, and communities in the Newtown area has been nothing short of remarkable.
From Governor Dannel Malloy to state lawmakers to the members of the Sandy Hook Promise, the entire state worked together to pass comprehensive legislation to reduce gun violence.
Unlike here in Washington, Connecticut’s lawmakers didn’t defend the status quo or shrink from tackling difficult questions. With bipartisan support, they enacted a comprehensive law to help curb gun violence and mass shootings that does not infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and hunt.
Connecticut’s leaders have set an example of political courage that can teach a lot to Congress and the rest of the nation. At today’s town hall meeting, Governor Malloy talked about how he decided to press ahead for new gun violence prevention measures, despite fierce attacks from the NRA.
By contrast, in Washington, Congress has so far failed to take the sensible step of expanding the background check system to close loopholes that allow criminals and the mentally ill to buy guns.
May 24, 2013
04:45 PM EDT
The Obama Administration has made improving the quality and efficiency of the health care system a priority. Already we have put in place new payment and care models that reward doctors and hospitals for providing high quality and efficient care to their patients. We are working with hospitals to identify gaps in patient safety and ways to reduce preventable readmissions that are harmful and expensive. Health information technology (IT) is critical to making these new models work.
Until the President made investments in health information technology by signing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, our health care system ran largely on paper. In 2008, only 17 percent of physicians were using advanced electronic health records and just 9 percent of hospitals had adopted electronic health records. Information is the lifeblood of modern medicine, but information can’t get where it needs to go when it’s on paper. That means doctors didn’t have the best information at their fingertips when making diagnosis and treatment decisions; that patients didn’t have easy access to their medical records; and that information is dropped when patients leaving a hospital transition to a nursing home or home care.
That’s why the President put in place a series of policies to promote adoption of electronic health records as well as their deployment in ways that improve care quality while reducing costs. This includes:
- Medicare and Medicaid incentives for the adoption and use of electronic health records;
- Technical assistance and direct support for primary care practices and rural practitioners to help them overcome barriers to adoption;
- Creation of certification standards that give providers confidence in what they’re buying and to ensure Medicare and Medicaid dollars are well-spent.
May 24, 2013
04:08 PM EDT
Today, the First Lady and actress Kerry Washington visited the Savoy School in Anacostia, one of eight schools selected last year for the Turnaround Arts Initiative at the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Through the initiative, these high-poverty, traditionally underperforming schools are using the arts to dramatically improve the culture and climate and to bolster academic success for their students.
May 24, 2013
04:06 PM EDT
Responding to the Tornadoes in Oklahoma: On Monday, the President spoke with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to express his concern for those who have been affected by the tornadoes in Oklahoma. The President told Governor Fallin that the administration is committed to providing all the assistance it can to Oklahoma as the response effort unfolds, including approving a Major Disaster Declaration, making federal funding available to support affected individuals, and providing additional federal assistance to support immediate response and recovery efforts.
On Tuesday, President Obama delivered a statement on the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that impacted Oklahoma. He outlined the response efforts underway, and assured the people of Moore and all the affected areas that they would have all the resources that they need at their disposal.
"Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them, opening our homes, our hearts to those in need. Because we're a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes. We've seen that spirit in Joplin, in Tuscaloosa; we saw that spirit in Boston and Breezy Point. And that’s what the people of Oklahoma are going to need from us right now. "
Megan SlackMay 24, 2013
03:16 PM EDT
Today, President Obama delivered the commencement address to the U.S. Naval Academy class of 2013.
Today, each of you can take enormous pride, for you’ve met the mission of this Academy. You’ve proven yourselves morally, living a concept of honor and integrity -- and this includes treating one another with respect and recognizing the strength of every member of your team. You’re the most diverse class to graduate in Naval Academy history. And among the many proud young women graduating today, 13 will serve on submarines.
You’ve proven yourselves mentally. Now, I know that some think of this as just a small engineering school on the Severn. You’ve not only met its rigorous standards, you’ve helped this Academy earn a new distinction -- the number-one public liberal arts school in America.
Dr. Jill BidenMay 24, 2013
02:35 PM EDT
Ed. note: The full text of the op-ed by Dr. Jill Biden is printed below. The piece is published today on The Huffington Post, and can be found here.
The year my son Beau was deployed to Iraq with the Delaware Army National Guard, my family learned how much simple acts of kindness could lift our spirits. From the notice in the church bulletin to the neighbor who shoveled my daughter-in-law’s driveway during a snow storm, these gestures meant the world to us.
This Memorial Day, I hope you will take a moment to offer your own gesture of thanks to our men and women serving abroad and at home, as well as their families, and reflect on the service men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Over the past four years, First Lady Michelle Obama and I have had the privilege of meeting with military service members and their families all around the world. We’ve heard their concerns about school and career issues; we’ve shared their joy when service members returned from deployment, and we’ve tried to offer solace when they face difficult times. These stories and experiences – and our desire to say ‘thank you’ - inspired us to start the Joining Forces initiative, a nationwide effort to rally all Americans to support our veterans and military families.
Joining Forces brings together public and private resources to help with the employment, education and wellness of our returning servicemen and women and their families. Through the Veterans Job Bank and Veterans Recruiting Services, we’re connecting unemployed veterans with job openings. We’re working hard to encourage states to make it easier for military spouses – often teachers and nurses - to transfer their certifications across state lines. And we’re proud to have so many private sector partners committed to increasing the number of veterans they hire.
From a big initiative to a small gesture, Memorial Day is the perfect time to offer a simple act of kindness to our veterans and military families. You can send a message of thanks to our troops or a military family. Or pledge hours of service. Or even start your own volunteer project. And afterwards, please share your story - we want to hear about it!
Adam GarberMay 24, 2013
12:00 AM EDT
This week, the President continued his Jobs & Opportunity tour, this time highlighting bold new efforts in education and manufacturing in Baltimore, gave the commencement address at Morehouse College, invited the President of Myanmar, eight immigration reform advocates and DREAMers themselves, and Gershwin Prize winner Carole King and friends to the White House, and delivered a major counter-terrorism speech at the National Defense University.
Megan SlackMay 23, 2013
05:32 PM EDT
Today at National Defense University, President Obama laid out the framework for U.S. counterterrorism strategy as we wind down the war in Afghanistan.
President Obama discussed how the threat of terrorism has changed substantially since September 11, 2011, and explained his comprehensive strategy to meet these threats.
May 23, 2013
10:15 AM EDT
May 23, 2013
07:56 AM EDT
Today marks one year since we released the Digital Government Strategy (PDF/ HTML5), as part of the President’s directive to build a 21st Century Government that delivers better services to the American people.
The Strategy is built on the proposition that all Americans should be able to access information from their Government anywhere, anytime, and on any device; that open government data - data that are publicly accessible in easy-to-use formats - can fuel innovation and economic growth; and that technology can make government more transparent, more efficient, and more effective.
Ezra MechaberMay 22, 2013
03:15 PM EDT
Ed. Note: You can help people affected by the recent tornadoes through American Red Cross Disaster Relief. If you are in the affected areas, click here to apply for assistance and learn about other resources that are available to you. Check back here for more information — we'll continue updating this post as the response effort develops.
President Obama continues to receive updates on the response to the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma, and continues to direct his team to provide all available resources to support state and local partners leading the response.
More than 400 federal personnel remain on the ground in the impacted area, including teams that are working directly with families and individuals who were affected by the tornadoes. As of last night, more than 2,200 individuals impacted by the tornadoes had registered with FEMA for direct assistance available through the major disaster declaration provided Monday night. (For those in affected areas, find out how to apply for assistance here or learn about other resources available to you)
According to FEMA, since Monday night, the national Urban Search and Rescue teams completed searches of more than 1,200 structures in the affected area.
FEMA and federal partners have established an Incident Support Base to stage commodities. More than 127,000 liters of water and nearly 30,000 meals have been delivered to the state to support response efforts.
FEMA also continues to work closely with organizations such as the American Red Cross, who continue to bring resources to support impacted families. (Learn more about how to give or get help through the American Red Cross)
Update 2: Press Secretary Jay Carney announced in today's briefing that on Sunday, May 26, President Obama "will travel to the Oklahoma City area to see firsthand the response to the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that have impacted the area on Sunday night and Monday. He will visit with affected families as well as thank first responders."
Update 1: Overnight, the President continued to receive updates from his team on the ongoing response in Oklahoma. Following yesterday's call to the Mayor of Moore Oklahoma, Glenn Lewis, the President spoke again to Governor Fallin expressing his concern for those who had been impacted and to reiterate that he had directed his Administration to provide all available resources to support the response led by the Governor and her team. Last night, the President also spoke with Senator James Inhofe to make clear that FEMA stood ready to continue to support the people of Oklahoma through the immediate response phase as well as the recovery, and to let the Senator know that Oklahomans remained in his thoughts and prayers.
On Tuesday, at the President’s direction, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate arrived in Oklahoma to ensure that federal resources were effectively supporting the response efforts. Administrator Fugate is on the ground again today, and this morning Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will also travel to the affected area to meet with local officials and see ongoing response efforts first hand.
As of this morning, FEMA has more than 400 personnel already on the ground supporting the response, including three national Urban Search and Rescue Teams, an Incident Management Assistance Team, as well as personnel focused on helping survivors register for and receive the federal assistance made available by the major disaster declaration signed by the President on Monday night. As of 2 a.m. this morning, more than 1,000 individuals affected by the tornadoes and severe weather in Oklahoma had registered for assistance with FEMA.
The President received a briefing this morning by his team, and will continue to be updated on the response throughout the day.
Update 3: As response and recovery efforts continue on the ground in Oklahoma, the Department of Homeland Security announced this afternoon that Secretary Janet Napolitano will travel to the area tomorrow to meet with state and local officials and ensure first responders are receiving the assistance they need to help those affected by the tornadoes.
Update 2: This morning, President Obama delivered a statement on the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that impacted Oklahoma. He described the response efforts underway, and assured the people of Moore and all the affected areas that they "would have all the resources that they need at their disposal."
For there are homes and schools to rebuild, businesses and hospitals to reopen, there are parents to console, first responders to comfort, and, of course, frightened children who will need our continued love and attention. There are empty spaces where there used to be living rooms, and bedrooms, and classrooms, and, in time, we’re going to need to refill those spaces with love and laughter and community.
"Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them, opening our homes, our hearts to those in need," President Obama said. "Because we're a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes. We've seen that spirit in Joplin, in Tuscaloosa; we saw that spirit in Boston and Breezy Point. And that’s what the people of Oklahoma are going to need from us right now."
Dr. Jill BidenMay 22, 2013
09:00 AM EDT
On Friday, I had the honor of addressing a class of graduates at Navajo Technical College in Crownpoint, New Mexico. The Navajo Tech graduating Class of 2013 earned certificates in 34 fields that will provide the tools they need to serve their community as teachers, nurses, engineers, mechanics, bankers, chefs and countless other opportunities all made possible by their commitment and dedication to improving themselves through the pursuit of a higher education.
Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) play a key role in President Obama’s educational goal of making the United States home to the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world. TCUs are critical institutions that build tribal communities, create good jobs across Indian Country, and provide Native Americans with the skills they need to do those jobs.
As a community college teacher, I love seeing what a tremendous difference a community like the one I saw at Navajo Tech can make in the lives of its students.
The impressive class of graduates included veterans like Jerrilene Kenneth, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Army mechanic, before she became the first college graduate in her family with an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. It also included Navajo Tech Student of the Year Sherwin Becenti, who dropped out of college more than ten years ago but returned to school in order to build a better life for his family and set a good example for his children. Dwight Carlston, who grew up with no running water or electricity, was also among the graduates. Dwight maintained a 3.8 grade point average, ran cross country, served as Student Senate President and was recently elected as the Student Congress president of all 38 tribal colleges.
Julie Chavez RodriguezMay 21, 2013
05:41 PM EDT
As the Senate debates bipartisan immigration reform legislation, the President and the Vice President hosted a meeting today in the Oval Office with young immigrants, also known as DREAMers, as well as with the siblings and spouses of undocumented immigrants. The meeting was an important opportunity for the President and the Vice President to hear directly from people whose families are affected daily by our nation’s broken immigration system.
The President and the Vice President were moved by the stories of courage and determination these young immigrants shared. The DREAMers shared how the deferred action changed their lives for the better and emphasized that they and their families need a permanent solution that will allow them to fully contribute to the country they call home. Their stories were both powerful and authentic, inspiring us all to remember the important task and responsibility we carry as public servants and members of the Obama administration.
Megan SlackMay 20, 2013
06:30 PM EDT
Today President Obama welcomed President Thein Sein of Myanmar to the White House for a bilateral meeting, the first visit to the United States by a leader of that country in almost 50 years.
“During this period in between there have been significant bilateral tensions between our countries,” President Obama said. “But what has allowed this shift in relations is the leadership that President Sein has shown in moving Myanmar down a path of both political and economic reform.”
But as President Sein is the first to admit, this is a long journey and there is still much work to be done. And during our discussions, President Sein shared with me the fact -- the manner in which he intends to continue to move forward on releasing more political prisoners; making sure that the government of Myanmar institutionalizes some of the political reforms that have already taken place; how rule of law is codified so that it continues into the future; and the process whereby these ethnic conflicts that have existed are resolved not simply by a ceasefire but an actual incorporation of all these communities into the political process.
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