Did you see: Heath Insurance rebates on the way

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s health reform law, health insurance rebates are on the way for millions of Americans. According to PBS NewsHour:

“Millions of consumers and small businesses will receive an estimated $1.3 billion in rebates from their health plans this summer under a provision of the health care law that effectively limits what insurers can charge for administration and profits, a new study projects.

“About one third of people who bought their own insurance last year will get rebates averaging $127, according to an analysis of state data by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

“… The requirement, aimed at holding insurers more accountable and slowing premium increases, went into effect last year and applies to all health plans, except those offered by self-insured employers.”

Read the full article here.

President Obama isn’t “closing his eyes” to Republican attacks on women

President Obama calls out Republican attacks on women's health at the Women's Leadership Forum national issues conference:

President Obama calls out Republican attacks on women’s health at the Women’s Leadership Forum national issues conference:

“Now we’ve got governors and legislatures across the river in Virginia, up the road in Pennsylvania, all across the country saying that women can’t be trusted to make your own decisions. They’re pushing and passing bills forcing women to get ultrasounds, even if they don’t want one. If you don’t like it, the governor of Pennsylvania said you can ‘close your eyes.’ It’s a quote.

“It’s appalling. It’s offensive. It’s out of touch. And when it comes to what’s going on out there, you’re not going to close your eyes. Women across America aren’t closing their eyes. As long as I’m President, I won’t either.

“The days of male politicians controlling the health care decisions of our wives and our mothers and our daughters and our sisters, that needs to come to an end” President Obama said.

Nate Cote Holds Successful Neighborhood Kickoff for Fall NM Representative Election

Nate Cote, candidate for New Mexico State Representative, District 53
Nate Cote held a successful neighborhood kickoff meet & greet and fundraiser launching his effort to win back the District 53 New Mexico House of Representatives seat. Cote met and spoke with dozens of neighborhood supporters at the event held in Las Cruces on Saturday evening. County Treasurer David Gutierrez, State Senate candidate Bill Soules, and County Commission Candidate Wayne Hancock were also on hand to meet voters and neighborhood residents at the Nate Cote’s event.

Southern New Mexico Religious Leaders Ask President Obama to Create Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks National Monument

More than a dozen well-respected members of the clergy representing a broad diversity of faiths and congregations in Southern New Mexico today sent a letter to President Obama urging him to create a national monument for the Organ Mountains Desert Peaks Region.

The clergy members were meeting as a part of a “Land of Opportunity” event sponsored locally by New Mexico Communities in Action and Faith (CAFé), a faith-based non-profit community organization based in Southern New Mexico that works on issues of poverty and helping low- and moderate-income families shape public policy at the local, state and national levels.

CAFé, which includes 12 local congregations across many faiths, had previously announced its support for the Organ Mountain Desert Peaks National Monument effort through a series of radio ads that are currently running in Southern New Mexico.

In the letter (attached), clergy urge the president to create the monument on the grounds that the Organ, Potrillo, and Uvas Mountains are a crucial piece of Southern New Mexico’s culture and heritage, key to job creation and economic growth for the region’s residents, and are the gateway to New Mexico for generations of settlers and pilgrims.

“People of faith recognize that we are all responsible for taking care of God’s natural gifts and we all have a role to play in preserving these lands,” said Fr. Vince Petersen, Pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Tortugas. “The Organ Mountains and Desert Peaks are a gift from God and should be protected for future generations to enjoy.”

In addition to making a faith-based argument for protecting the lands, the group noted in their letter that monument protection could also mean opportunity for struggling New Mexico families.

“We strongly believe that in addition to protecting God’s natural gifts, a national monument also creates economic activity in the form of tourism and visitation that will help many in our pews who are struggling during these difficult times,” the clergy wrote in the letter.

Bishop Ricardo Ramirez reiterated why it was important for people of faith to speak up on this issue. “God gave us dominion over the land to act as stewards of it, not to ruin it and exploit it. It does not bode well for our role as stewards of the land if we cannot collectively preserve this touchstone to our past and our history.”

No Contest on Foreign Policy

If you ask Mitt Romney who poses the biggest threat to the United States’ security, he’ll tell you that Russia, “without question,” is “our No. 1 geopolitical foe.”

His top foreign policy advisers take it a step further (back in time). Today, former Navy Secretary John Lehman warned reporters of the threat from the USSR: “We’re seeing the Soviets pushing into the Arctic with no response from us.” And on the same press call, former Bush administration Ambassador Pierre Prosper added, “The United States abandoned its missile defense sites in Poland and Czechoslovakia.”

The Romney campaign appears to have missed the news that the Cold War ended decades ago. Combine that with Romney’s failure to release a detailed plan for keeping our country safe and strengthening our alliances, and it’s clear that this is not the team we want navigating the ever-changing foreign policy challenges of the 21st century.

It’s in stark contrast to the leadership President Obama has shown as commander-in-chief and diplomat-in-chief, Vice President Biden noted while speaking at New York University today. President Obama’s record, the Vice President said, is “the strongest foreign policy in decades.”

“Three and a half years ago, when President Obama and I took office … President Obama began to act immediately. He set in motion a policy to end the war in Iraq responsibly. He set a clear strategy and an end date for the war in Afghanistan, which has been going on for close to a decade. He cut in half the number of Americans who are literally serving in harm’s way. He decimated al Qaeda’s senior leadership. He repaired our alliances and restored America’s standing in the world and he saved our economy. He saved our economy from a collapse with some very unpopular but bold decisions that have turned out to be right, including the rescue of the automobile industry, all of which has made us much stronger not only at home but abroad.

“If you’re looking for a bumper sticker to sum up how President Obama has handled what we inherited, it’s pretty simple: Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive” Vice President Biden said.

No Time for Old Political Battles

On July 1, unless Congress acts, interest rates will double for more than 7.4 million students with federal loans. Fortunately, even though they voted just weeks ago in lockstep to allow this increase, Republicans in Congress have come around on the issue since President Obama took it to the American people – claiming they’re ready to step up and stop the rate hike. Unfortunately,  rather than work together to ensure interest rates on student loans don’t double, they have decided to re-fight old political battles, proposing to eliminate the health care law’s Prevention and Public Health Fund to pay for this important reform. This proposal would put women’s health at risk. And fighting old political battles won’t protect students and young people from major rate hikes.

Eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund would have a devastating effect on women’s health and our work to prevent disease and illness. Eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund would mean:

  • Hundreds of thousands of women could lose access to vital cancer screenings.   Prevention Fund resources are expected to help more than 300,000 women be screened for breast cancer in 2013 and more than 280,000 be screened for cervical cancer.
  • Programs that help to prevent congenital heart defects, prevent fetal alcohol syndrome, and promote early identification and intervention efforts for children with developmental delays and disabilities could be eliminated.
  • Tens of thousands children could lose access to immunizations.

These are just a few of the important ways the Prevention and Public Health Fund will help keep millions of Americans healthy. Keeping college affordable for America’s students should not come at the expense of putting women’s health at risk.

The Senate will soon vote on a more viable solution to keep interest rates low and provide students a fair shot at an affordable education, by closing a loophole that allows people making more than $250,000 a year to avoid paying payroll taxes. Congress should find a bipartisan solution to keep rates low without hurting Americans’ health or increasing the deficit. There’s no good reason for interest rates to double for over 7 million students. But Republicans in Congress must prove that they’re serious about setting aside the political fights of the past and actually getting this done.