Wednesday, October 30, 2013

President Obama speaks in Massachusetts, which has the model for the ACA

Moments ago, President Obama finished speaking at Faneuil Hall here in Boston. And while it's home to Big Papi and my beloved Red Sox, it's also home to the birthplace of health reform in America.

The state's progressive vision of universal coverage and the conservative idea of market competition are what formed the blueprint for Obamacare: that everyone should have access to quality, affordable health care, and no one should ever go broke just because they get sick.

And we're seeing the benefits of reform extended nationally: According to a new report this week, nearly half of single, uninsured Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 can get coverage for $50 or less, often lower than the cost of their cable bill. That comes on top of the new benefits -- including free preventive services like mammograms, and a prohibition against denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Now has experienced its share of bumps in the road, to all of our frustration, but every day people are signing up and getting insurance. President Obama has said many times that he's open to making the health care law work better. If folks could leave the politics aside for a bit -- if Republicans spent as much energy trying to make the law work as they do attacking it -- we could be much further than we are today.

Last week we sat down and spoke with folks who have applied through the Marketplace, and their stories remind me why we fought so hard to pass this law in the first place.

If you want an example of the difference this law will make in someone's life, you don't have to look any further than Janice -- a new registrant from Selbyville, Delaware. She was the first woman to enroll in the Delaware exchange, and she says her new policy will save her $150 a month for more coverage benefits than ever before.

Or David -- a self-employed IT consultant and Air Force veteran living in Washington, D.C. David picked his plan the morning D.C.'s online health insurance marketplace opened. His previous plan was $600 a month. His new one? $250 cheaper.

That's who we're fighting for here. And while it can get lost in the fray of the 24-hour news cycle, I hope you'll keep folks like Janice and David in mind in the weeks and months ahead. It's just too important to lose sight of the big picture.

David Simas
Deputy Senior Advisor
The White Hous

Bill to Delay Flood Insurance Rate Increases Cosponsored by our Rep. Jim Langevin

Legislation would delay hikes for four years and call for two-year affordability study
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) joined as an original cosponsor of the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act,” a bill introduced today that would delay increases in federal flood insurance rates for four years. This legislation calls for a two-year affordability study, followed by an additional two-year delay to implementation of new rates mandated in the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act. This delay applies to primary residences, including those sold after July 6, 2012.

“Homeowners in Rhode Island coastal communities are already seeing significant increases in their flood insurance rates, rates that, for some, are unsustainable,” said Langevin. “These families have already been through enough, seeing their homes damaged and memories destroyed by the rising floodwaters in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. I understand that reforms are needed in the federal flood insurance program, but those changes should not come at the cost of someone losing their home.”

The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to set regulations addressing affordability within 18 months after the completion of the study. The bill eliminates the 50 percent cap on state and local contributions to levee construction or reconstruction; allows FEMA to utilize National Flood Insurance Funds to reimburse policyholders who appeal a map determination; protects the basement exemption that allows the lowest proofed opening in a home to be used for determining rates; and requires FEMA to certify that it has fully adopted a modernized risk-based approach to analyzing flood risk. The bill also establishes a Flood Insurance Rate Map Advocate within FEMA to answer policyholder questions.

“As Rhode Islanders know all too well, so-called ‘100-year storms’ are becoming more frequent, providing a stark reminder that climate change is a reality we have to adjust to,” Langevin continued. “But as we work on mitigation efforts and improving our coastal defenses to superstorms like Sandy, we must protect our homeowners. Thousands of individuals and families are insured under the National Flood Insurance Program, and we cannot price them out of their homes.”

Friday, October 25, 2013

CDTC continues to meet and consider potential nominees for state office

Nellie Gorbea and Guillaume deRamel ask for the Committee’s endorsement in their campaigns for Secretary of State
Ms. Gorbea (right), by the luck of the draw, spoke first

On October 21, the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee continued to meet with candidates vying to run as Democrats for state office. 

The CDTC completed its meetings with candidates for Secretary of State by meeting with Nellie Gorbea and Guillaume deRamel, the two remaining declared Democratic candidates after Ed Pacheco’s withdrawal from the race.

Mr. deRamel spoke second
Even though the election is more than a year away, there are many other potential candidates, such as Providence Mayor Angel Tavares, General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, and Clay Pell, grandson of the late Senator Claiborne Pell, who are likely to declare their candidacies for various offices before the end of the year.

It’s almost certain that there will be Democratic contenders in the Party’s primary for every statewide office, except perhaps for Attorney General Peter Kilmartin’s seat. 

Lieutenant Governor Liz Roberts and Secretary of State Ralph Mollis are term-limited. Governor Lincoln Chafee has announced he will not run for re-election. General Treasurer Gina Raimondo is expected to run for Governor.

This means a rare occurrence in 2014 when the election guarantees a nearly complete turn-over in the composition of the state’s Executive branch of government.

The Secretary of State’s position presents the CDTC with the challenge of evaluating two outstanding people seeking its endorsement. Either would be an excellent Secretary of State based on their past experience and clear thinking about the role of the office.

CDTC chair Cathy Collette told them that the committee will discuss which candidate should get their endorsement now that they’ve met with both Democratic candidates. The CDTC will probably make a decision on this race before the end of December, well ahead of the official campaign season.

Over the coming months, the CDTC plans to meet with Democrats who have declared their candidacy for the other state general officers’ positions. The CDTC meets every third Monday of the month and its meetings are open to all registered Democrats in Charlestown.

Remember this government healthcare scandal?

We don't either.

And the opposition reaction to this Republican initiative was distinctly different than what we are seeing with the Affordable Care Act today. 

Read the entire article here at the Daily Kos.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

More than just a website

On October 1st, even as the federal government was shutting down, -- the new Health Insurance Marketplace where people can find and apply for affordable health insurance plans as part of Obamacare -- opened for business nationwide.

As you may have heard, the website launch hasn’t gone nearly as smoothly as it should have. And with nearly 20 million visits to the site in the first several weeks, the problems were aggravated by the website's popularity.

But even in spite of those problems, thousands of Americans are currently signing up and saving money. Nearly half a million Americans have already applied for health insurance through the federal and state Marketplaces. It's not hard to see why: Once people get through the door, they overwhelmingly like the benefits and cost of the products available to them -- especially when compared with the discriminatory private market that was previously the only game in town.

Some of the best and brightest are now doing everything they can to fix the site as quickly as possible. People are working overtime, 24/7, and we've brought in some of the best IT experts from across the country to join the team at the federal agency responsible for running the Marketplace. And as President Obama said today, "Nobody's madder than me about the fact that the website isn't working as well as it should, which means it's going to get fixed."

It's also important to remember that the website is not the only way to enroll. You can dial the call center at 1-800-318-2596 and apply directly over the phone. Typically, it takes about 25 minutes for an individual or about 45 for a family. You can also find local "navigators" who can help you enroll in person at

Learn more about what we're doing to make the site better and enrollment easier.

The President is the first to admit that the website's problems are unacceptable. But Obamacare is more than just a website. Most Americans already have health insurance through their employer, Medicare, or Medicaid, and they don't need to go to the Marketplace for new coverage. Instead, the health care law provides new benefits and increased protection: Young people can stay on their parents' insurance plans until they are 26, seniors are receiving more affordable prescription medicine, and preventive care like mammograms are free.

So while there are major improvements to make on the new website, millions of Americans are already benefiting from the health care law. And we're making sure that those who don't have access to affordable health insurance today can sign up -- online, on the phone, and even in person.

Here are some of the things we've done in the meantime to make the process easier. Take a look, and pass this message along to those you know who are trying to sign up for health care:
  • You can now preview plans and prices available in your area without filling out the online application.
  • You can find out, with an improved calculator, whether your income and household size may qualify you for lower costs on your monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
  • You can apply for coverage 4 ways: by phone, online, by mail with a paper application, or with the help of an in-person assister.
Thanks, and stay tuned for more updates.

Sign Up for Updates from the White House 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Too close for comfort

If there is one thing that we've learned in these past weeks, it's that the Tea Party will go to great lengths -- including putting the American economy in danger and holding our government hostage -- to destroy Obamacare. To them it doesn't matter that the American public overwhelmingly endorsed these important health care reforms when we re-elected President Obama in 2012; they just want to continue to obstruct the progress that has been made.

Let me make something clear: This cannot happen again. As I have in the past, I will continue to stand strong in the face of anyone who believes that the best way to pass legislation is by driving our country to the economic brink -- to govern by directly threatening the livelihoods and well-being of countless Americans.

Though a full-blown crisis was narrowly averted, we've still got a lot of work to do.

We may have avoided breaching the debt ceiling, but the Tea Party gamble cost us 24 billion dollars in lost American economic activity. They hurt hundreds of thousands of Americans -- including thousands of federal employees and veterans in Rhode Island. Now we need to fix the damage and work towards creating jobs and improving the economy.

This has been an especially trying time for all of us, but I want you to know that I will always work to protect Rhode Island families, and I will continue to stand up to the most extreme factions in Congress who are trying to derail our country.

Thank you for joining with me in this fight, and for your continued support.

Sheldon Whitehouse
U. S. Senator

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A message from Senator Jack Reed

My office is once again open and ready to assist Rhode Islanders. 

The American people are rightly upset that their government was shuttered for two weeks and our nation's credit was put at risk due to a committed minority in Congress. I share this concern and am determined to see that it doesn't happen again.

This Wednesday, I was among the 81 U.S. Senators who voted for a common sense agreement to open the government and prevent a default crisis.

The fact that 81 Senators came together proves bipartisanship is possible.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Langevin Embarks on “It’s All In Our Backyard” Tour

Rhode Island Foundation and partner businesses showcase state’s strengths
WARWICK, RI – Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) will visit on Monday with innovative partners in the “Rhode Island: It’s All In Our Backyard” campaign. Launched recently by the Rhode Island Foundation, the statewide public education campaign has tapped into advertisements, social media and video interviews to celebrate the Ocean State and highlight its people, organizations, businesses and industries. The tour was rescheduled from September.

“It has been a challenging few years in Rhode Island, but we must not lose sight of all the wonderful and unique things that make our state great,” Langevin said. “I love Rhode Island, and I applaud the Rhode Island Foundation for highlighting the business and personal success stories that remind us how lucky we are to live in the Ocean State.”

Langevin Applauds Deal to End Shutdown and Avoid Default

Looks Forward to Negotiations on a Long-Term Budget Solution

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) voted tonight in support of an agreement that brings to an end the 16-day government shutdown and avoids a default that would have had catastrophic impacts on the United States economy. The deal funds the federal government through January 15, 2014, and extends the nation’s borrowing power, known as the debt ceiling, through February 7, 2014. In addition, Congress must convene a budget conference and report back a plan by December 13, 2013.

“I am glad and relieved that we have finally been able to reach an agreement to reopen the government and avert a historic credit default,” Langevin said. “But the American people have paid a steep price for the brinksmanship that precipitated and prolonged the government shutdown and brought us to the edge of fiscal disaster. Small businesses have been unable to apply for loans, hundreds of thousands of federal employees have been furloughed, and access to government sites, services and benefits has been unavailable to the millions of Americans that need them. This compromise is the first step in righting those wrongs.”

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Langevin Presses for End to Government Shutdown

Seeks Resolution That Avoids Default on Government Debt
Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) met with President Barack Obama and the House Democratic Caucus Wednesday afternoon to discuss a resolution to the government shutdown and the upcoming debt ceiling deadline. The House will meet over the weekend as Democrats continue to push for a clean continuing resolution to fund the government and a clean increase in the debt limit to prevent the United States from defaulting on its debts.

"These are challenging times, but I believe that we can find a solution without further jeopardizing our economy or the full faith and credit of the United States," Langevin said. "The President is committed to reaching an agreement, and I feel strongly that there is bipartisan support for a simple and straightforward bill to reopen the government if Speaker Boehner would allow an up or down vote in the House. The piecemeal funding measures we have seen over the past week are transparent attempts to mitigate the political fallout over the shutdown, but they have only stood to prolong this manufactured crisis that has very real consequences on our economy and on the American people."

Democrats have made repeated attempts to bring up for consideration a continuing resolution that is not tied to the Affordable Care Act, but House Republican leadership continues to thwart these efforts. A continuing resolution would reopen the government, putting hundreds of thousands of federal employees back to work, resuming critical loans to small businesses and ensuring that Americans can access government services and benefits without delay or interruption.

"I have heard, over and over, a Republican battle cry that we are not willing to negotiate. That is patently false. We have compromised. Now, it's the Republicans' turn," Langevin said, referencing the Senate-passed continuing resolution that represents $217 billion less in discretionary spending than President Obama's original budget proposal. "Enough is enough. The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, and it is time that Republicans stop using it as a bargaining chip. The budget and health care reform are separate issues, and right now we must focus on passing a bill that will get the government back to work.”

“Just as importantly, we must address the impending debt limit, as a failure to quickly do so will wreak untold havoc on not only America’s economy, but the world’s as well,” Langevin continued. “Once those urgent issues are addressed, my Democratic colleagues and I would welcome taking the next step of sitting down and negotiating a host of other issues, including our long-term budget priorities, tax reform and potential improvements to our health care system.”

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Jon Stewart to John Boehner

“Don’t Fart and Point at the Dog”

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

On this day...

"Holding the government and our economy hostage to advance a partisan policy dispute is not how democracy works."

Langevin Statement on Republican Government Shutdown 
Rep. Langevin with state Senator Cathie Rumsey (l) and Rep.
Donna Walsh (r)
Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) issued the following statement in response to House proceedings resulting in a partial shutdown of the federal government:

"The writing has long been on the wall that the extreme ideological agenda of House Republicans to delay or defund health reform is a dead end. The fight over the Affordable Care Act was settled, both in the Supreme Court and in the 2012 election, and yet this futile discussion continues all the way to a government shutdown.

“Starting today, millions of Americans who rely on government services will go without, or will see crucial benefits delayed, including assistance through the WIC program, veterans benefits and housing loans for low- to moderate-income families. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be furloughed, and others will report to work knowing that no paychecks will be issued during this shutdown. Nationwide, medical research will be suspended and environmental enforcement will come to a screeching halt. Popular sites in Washington, DC, and National Parks across the country will close, inconveniencing visitors and causing a major loss of tourism revenue. Small business owners will not be able to access new SBA loans, and employers won’t be able to use the E-Verify system to screen prospective employees.

"Democrats offered a realistic, Senate-passed alternative that represented a true compromise on spending levels while providing an opportunity to keep government running and negotiate a long-term solution. Unfortunately, Republicans refused to accept anything short of a shutdown. Holding the government and our economy hostage to advance a partisan policy dispute is not how democracy works. This is a manufactured crisis and it was completely avoidable. Republicans need to come to the table with a reasonable alternative or it is the American people that will pay the price."

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