HealthCare.gov Update

Obama to focus on positives of health care law

WASHINGTON — A day after his administration said healthcare.gov handled hundreds of thousands of visitors, President Barack Obama today will highlight people who have been helped by his health care reform law.

They’ll join the president at White House event. He’s also expected to charge that Republicans want to strip away benefits without offering an alternative.

 

Updated healthcare.gov gets mixed reviews

FORT LAUDERDALE — Consumers are reporting a mix of successes and failures as they try logging onto the updated healthcare.gov site.

Brokers and online assisters in Utah say three of every four people who want to sign up for coverage on the federal government’s online exchange are succeeding within an hour of logging in. Navigators in Wisconsin, Illinois, Alabama and North Dakota reported vast improvement, while staffers in South Florida and Iowa were stymied by glitches on the federal website, which is serving 36 states.

About 750,000 had visited the site by Monday night — about double the traffic for a typical Monday. By 10 a.m., with about 30,000 visitors and growing error messages and response times, federal health officials deployed a new queue system.

http://chapelboro.com/news/national/healthcare-gov-update

Dean Smith Awarded Presidential Medal Of Freedom

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former UNC men’s basketball coach Dean Smith ceremoniously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom Wednesday morning.

“Dean Smith is one of the winningest coaches in basketball history,” President Barak Obama said. “But his successes go far beyond Xs and Os. Even as he won 78 percent of his games, he graduated 96 percent of his players.”

***Listen to the Ceremony***

President Obama said Smith was a courageous man on the sideline and outside of the gym.

“He recruited the first black scholarship athlete to North Carolina and helped integrate a restaurant and a neighborhood in Chapel Hill,” President Obama said. “That’s the kind of character that he represented on and off the court.”

Fifteen other men and women were honored at the White House for the 50th Anniversary of the Medal of Freedom.

President John F. Kennedy signed the executive order in 1963. Since then, more than 500 people have received the highest civilian honor.

“We salute fierce competitors who became true champions,” President Obama said.

Some of the others that were honored include baseball player, Ernie Banks, former president, Bill Clinton, the youngest American and first American woman in space, the late Sally Ride, and media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey.

On the court, Smith won two national championships and when he retired, he was the winningest coach in college basketball history. But it is the humble man’s work away from the sport that truly set him apart and deems Smith worthy of the United States’ highest civilian honor.

Taking a stand in a time period when many high-profile figures sat on the sidelines, Smith used his position to advocate for civil rights. In fact, Smith recruited UNC’s first black scholarship athlete and helped in Chapel Hill’s desegregation process in the 1960’s.

Many of his players called Smith a “second father” and his leadership of these young men led to an impressive 96 percent graduation rate.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/dean-smith-awarded-presidential-medal-of-freedom

Coach Smith’s Big Day: Tar Heel Legend Receives Pres. Medal of Freedom on Wed.

Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Legendary Tar Heel basketball coach Dean Smith is set to receive his Presidential Medal of Freedom Wednesday.

President Barack Obama will present the honor to Smith and 15 others at the White House. WCHL, 97.9 FM, will have live on-air coverage of the ceremony starting around noon on Wednesday as well as wrap-up coverage with on-site reporters from Carolina Connection.

On the court, Smith won two national championships and when he retired, he was the winningest coach in college basketball history. But it is the humble man’s work away from the sport that truly set him apart and deems Smith worthy of the United States’ highest civilian honor.

Taking a stand in a time period when many high-profile figures sat on the sidelines, Smith used his position to advocate for civil rights. In fact, Smith recruited UNC’s first black scholarship athlete and helped in Chapel Hill’s desegregation process in the 1960’s.

Many of his players called Smith a “second father” and his leadership of these young men led to an impressive 96 percent graduation rate.

The wife of Coach Smith says he will not attend the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House Wednesday.

In an interview with WNCN in Raleigh, Dr. Linnea Smith said attempts were underway to figure out how to get her husband to the presentation, but she added that traveling is hard for Smith and “it’s just really something beyond his ability right now.”

 

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/coach-smiths-big-day-tar-heel-legend-receives-pres-medal-of-freedom

Dean Smith to Receive Medal of Freedom Nov. 20

WASHINGTON, D.C.– The date has been set for legendary Tar Heel basketball coach Dean Smith to receive his Presidential Medal of Freedom.

On Nov. 20, President Barack Obama will present the honor to Smith and 15 others, the White House announced on Wednesday.

On the court, Smith won two national championships and when he retired, he was the winningest coach in college basketball history. But it is the humble man’s work away from the sport that truly set him apart and deems Smith worthy of the United States’ highest civilian honor.

Taking a stand in a time period when many high-profile figures sat on the sidelines, Smith used his position to advocate for civil rights. In fact, Smith recruited UNC’s first black scholarship athlete and helped in Chapel Hill’s desegregation process in the 1960’s.

Many of his players called Smith a “second father” and his leadership of these young men led to an impressive 96 percent graduation rate.

It is still unknown who will represent Smith at the medal ceremony, says Steve Kirschner from the UNC athletic department.

 

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/dean-smith-receives-medal-of-freedom-nov-20

Some Warn Public Not To Panic Over Obamacare Glitches

CHAPEL HILL – As the Obama administration is scrambling to fix major malfunctions in the online health care market place, efforts are being made here in Chapel Hill to help people sign up and avoid the confusion.

Sherry Hay, Director of Community Health Initiatives at UNC Family Medicine, has been helping to lead community events, such as phone banks and informational forums, to educate people about the Affordable Care Act.

Since its launch on Oct. 1, the HealthCare.Gov site, the online market place through which consumers can enroll in health care, has been plagued with problems.

President Barack Obama publicly acknowledged on Monday that the new health care law’s website hasn’t been functioning as it should, but he insisted that Americans should still register for Obamacare, despite the technical problems.

Hay said she alarmed about the misinformation circulating in the media.

“One of the most concerning things is [the notion] that there will be someone in Washington making a decision about their health care, in lieu of that decision being made with their primary care provider,” Hay said. “That is absolutely not correct information.”

At UNC Family Medicine, Hay said she and her team have been helping their patients enroll through the market place.

“So yes, it is frustrating. I understand that, but it is coverage that provides you access. Hopefully in the long term, you’ll see a quality increase and also see our costs go down.”

Hay said the Affordable Care Act is more than just the market place and that the program has many benefits.

“One is making prevention a reimbursable service for Medicare recipients. Prevention, particularly for our older population, for all of us is important. Those many things that the act covers are critical to our long-term health.”

In addition to the government website, applicants can enroll by phone or by mail.

People can call 1-800-318-2596, a line which is open 24/7. A representative will be available to walk consumers through the enrollment process.

Hay explained a new tool has been created on the website to outline which plans are available by state.

Obama pledged Monday to recruit the “best and the brightest” to rectify HealthCare.gov’s technical problems.

“Yes, there have been some problems, but the extent of the law is well worth sometimes what changes bring—which are a few bumps in the road.”

Local Health Care Exchanges Informational Events:

The League of Women Voters is holding a community event Saturday at 10:00 a.m. in the Hillsborough Public Library.

Get Covered America is holding an events nationwide as part of “Treat Yourself To Coverage.” Information sessions will be happening in the Triangle and across the state.

http://chapelboro.com/news/health/some-warn-public-not-to-panic-over-obamacare-glitches

16-Day Government Shutdown Comes To An End

WASHINGTON – Congress has approved and President Barack Obama has signed legislation to avert a U.S. government default on its debts.

The bill also ends a 16-day partial government shutdown, meaning furloughed federal employees are headed back to work, and they’ll be paid for the time they were gone.

The legislation that ends the partial government shutdown and increases the debt limit is only a temporary fix. It funds the government only through Jan. 15 and allows normal borrowing through Feb. 7, or a little longer.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde says it’s “essential to reduce uncertainty” by “raising the debt limit in a more durable manner.”

http://chapelboro.com/news/national/16-day-government-shutdown-comes-to-an-end

First Day Bumpy For Health Care Signup

CHICAGO – Things were a little bumpy on the first day Americans could sign up for health insurance under the health care law.

The initial signup day Tuesday began with a stalled website, an error message and a menu that didn’t work.

In 36 states where the federal government is running the marketplaces, a snag involving security questions on users’ accounts cropped up repeatedly, preventing many from completing their enrollment.

http://chapelboro.com/news/national/first-day-bumpy-for-health-care-signup

President Obama Blasts Republicans For Shutdown

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama blames Republicans for the government shutdown and says they didn’t even accomplish their goal.

“They’ve shut down a whole bunch of parts of the government, but the Affordable Care Act is still open for business,” President Obama says.

***Listen to the Complete Address***

The President addressed the nation Tuesday afternoon from the Rose Garden.

He says the shutdown is not about deficits.

“After all, our deficits are falling at the fastest pace in 50 years,” President Obama says. “We’ve cut them in half since I took office. In fact, many of the demands the Republicans are now making would actually raise our deficits.”

The Affordable Care Act, or Obama Care, requires all Americans to have health insurance and gives everyone the opportunity to shop for the best policy for them, much like shopping at a store.

In his address, President Obama even took time to share how the American people can access the health care options.

“Just visit healthcare.gov, and there you can compare insurance plans side-by-side the same way you’d shop for a plane ticket on Kayak or a TV on Amazon,” President Obama says. “You enter some basic information and you’ll be presented with a list of quality, affordable plans that are available in your area with clear descriptions of what each plan covers and what it will cost.”

http://chapelboro.com/news/national/president-obama-blasts-republicans-for-shutdown

Marking 50 Years Since ‘I Have a Dream’

Photo courtesy Julian Wasser/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama will join former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton at the Lincoln Memorial today to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

President Obama says he considers the 1963 march and the Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech a “seminal event.”

He says the anniversary is a good time to reflect on how far the country has come and still has to go.

WCHL will bring you President Obama’s remarks Wednesday live in the 3:00 p.m. hour. And, U.S. Senator Kay Hagan joins Ron Stutts in the 8:00 a.m. hour of the WCHL Morning News to talk about the March on Washington as well as North Carolina’s new voting law.

http://chapelboro.com/news/national/marking-50-years-since-i-have-a-dream

White House Calls For Increased Grid Spending

Image courtesy of Manu_H

NEW YORK (AP) – An Obama Administration report says the cost of weather-related power outages is rising as storms grow more severe and the U.S. electric grid gets older. It calls for increased spending on the nation’s electric power system.

Power outages cost $18 billion to $33 billion per year, according to the report, a figure that has been rising steadily over the past 20 years. That can rise to $40 billion to $75 billion in years with severe storms such as 2008’s Hurricane Ike and last year’s Superstorm Sandy.

The White House report says spending to make the grid stronger and more flexible will save the economy billions.

Thunderstorms, hurricanes, blizzards and other extreme weather caused 58 percent of all outages since 2002 and 87 percent of outages affecting 50,000 or more customers.

http://chapelboro.com/news/national/white-house-calls-for-increased-grid-spending