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Posts tagged ‘Ohio’

Kucinich: US Must Do More to Protect Religious Minorities Abroad.


The United States must do more to protect religious minorities, particularly Christians, who have come under attack in other countries, former Rep. Dennis Kucinich said Wednesday.

“We need to see the State Department involved, and not just condemning, but in taking action to try to protect Christians and other religious minorities,” the Ohio Democrat said on “Fox & Friends.”

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Christians are under attack in 50 countries worldwide, but particularly in the Middle East, Kucinich said, adding that the U.S. policy may be partly to blame.

“We have to be aware that a partial reason is Western intervention. U.S. comes in. We knock off a government. Radicalization takes place. And, Christians end up getting targeted. That’s a fact,” said Kucinich, now a Fox News contributor.

Kucinich maintained the U.S. should alter its policy when it gets involved in the workings of foreign governments to ensure religious minorities are not targeted.

“We must be aware that when we intervene, as we did in Iraq, that Christians ended up getting some of the blowback. That’s a fact. It’s not just about one administration. It’s about U.S. policy,” he added.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Wanda Carruthers

Insurers Dubious About New Obamacare Fix for January Health Plans.


Image: Insurers Dubious About New Obamacare Fix for January Health PlansKen Statz, a health insurance broker, at his office in Brecksville, Ohio on Dec. 3. Statz said he had been stymied in his efforts to enroll clients through HealthCare.gov.

Insurance companies are struggling with a new request by the Obama administration to make sure people receive medical benefits under healthcare reform come Jan. 1, even if they miss a sign-up deadline set for next Monday.The government has sought to reassure consumers, already frustrated by technical problems that stalled access to its HealthCare.gov enrollment website in October and November, that those who need coverage starting on New Year’s Day will be able to sign up.

Last week, the administration appealed to the insurance industry to accept people who sought benefits past the Dec. 23 enrollment deadline for Jan. 1, and to consider approving retroactive coverage for consumers who signed up during the month of January.

So far, the answer has amounted to a big “maybe.”

Insurers are worried that some consumers will sign up for retroactive January plans only if they have incurred a hefty medical bill. It is unclear what the costs of that would be or how many shoppers might take advantage of the policy.

“It creates a situation where someone might be able to apply for insurance when they have already had services” such as in the emergency room, said Mary Beth Chambers, spokeswoman for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas. “It’s like calling for homeowners insurance when your house is already on fire.”

Chambers said that such cases would probably be “few and far between.”

BCBS of Kansas, the largest insurer in a state where about 14 percent of the population is uninsured, has decided to give people until Jan. 10 to pay their premiums and receive retroactive coverage beginning Jan. 1. They are still hewing to the Dec. 23 enrollment deadline while they study the feasibility of allowing retroactive sign-ups as late as Jan. 31.

Some of these changes and the technical problems associated with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, could lead to people facing a gap in coverage next month. It could also create new political problems for President Barack Obama over his signature domestic policy, which opposition Republicans have tried to derail for years.

Aetna Inc, one of the biggest players on the exchange, is going to extend the payment date until Jan. 8, make service workflow changes to support the deadline shift to Dec. 23 from Dec. 15 and already planned to ensure customers will not miss important appointments, such as cancer treatments. But it said some of the administration’s suggestions would require systems changes and more service support people, which was not viable.

“We are concerned that changing the rules at this late date and allowing for this degree of variability will lead to significant consumer confusion about the marketplace,” Aetna spokeswoman Cynthia Michener said.

Cigna Chief Executive David Cordani said the company will decide this week which measures to pursue. The company, which has only a small business catering to individuals, said that its employer-based plans already offer similar programs to ensure continuity of coverage.

Other insurers, including Molina Healthcare Inc which is selling Obamacare plans in 9 states, have said they will be extending the payment deadline but are stopping there.

The request has raised concerns among some Wall Street analysts over a steady stream of changing regulations. Moody’s, which reviews credit ratings of companies, said the additional conditions are a negative influence on insurers’ business, requiring administrative changes to track new customers, and will be confusing for doctors and consumers.

Enrollment in Obamacare plans has picked up in December, due to fixes for HealthCare.gov, which serves 36 states, and as consumers nationwide anticipate the Dec. 23 deadline for Jan. 1 benefits. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that 7 million people will sign up for coverage by the time enrollment for all of 2014 ends on March 31.But the pace of enrollments so far – 365,000 people by the end of November – has cast doubt on the government’s ability to reach that many people in the program’s first year.

Wall Street analysts have lowered their estimates for enrollment to almost half the CBO estimate, or less. Insurers have tempered their expectations as well. For the larger players like Aetna, WellPoint and Humana, the exchange market is just a fraction of their total membership, which range from more than 10 million people to 40 million at UnitedHealth Group Inc.

More than 150 million people receive insurance through their employers and 100 million others have health coverage through government programs – Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor.

Brian Hale, a senior vice president for health policy at Jackson Hewitt Tax Service in Nashville, Tennessee, said that he believes the number of people trying to sign up for Jan. 1 Obamacare coverage is a fraction of the 10 to 20 million people in the market for individual insurance this year.

Out of that, the number who may be truly displaced is “a much smaller number of people then it’s been made out to be,” Hale said.

Ron Williams, the former CEO of Aetna who now advises private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, said he believed insurers could allow for retroactive coverage for a few more days in January and still mitigate the risk of high costs.

“There is some risk there; it is a limited risk,” Williams said.

Funding under the healthcare law may help cover some of that risk, or the costs that come when very sick people sign up at a disproportionate rate versus healthy people.

Vantage Health Plan in Louisiana is planning to extend the deadline for people to enroll for Jan. 1 coverage, but has not decided how long to do so, according to Billy Justice, Vantage’s marketing and sales director.

Justice said that the law prohibits insurers from denying coverage to someone with a prior illness “and there should be risk adjustments at the end of the year for insurance companies that get the highest risk.”

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Boehner’s Advice: Begin Your Day With Breakfast at a Diner.


Image: Boehner's Advice: Begin Your Day With Breakfast at a Diner

House Speaker John Boehner suggests to Esquire magazine readers that they have breakfast at a diner.

The men’s magazine asked the Ohio Republican for a recommendation for its readers for January. 

Boehner doesn’t name his favorite diner in the article, but it is well known among Washington politicians as Pete’s.

“Most mornings when I’m in Washington, I have breakfast at the same place,” Boehner said. “It’s a diner.

“I get up early and go for a walk, and then stop by the diner on my way back to my apartment to read the news on my iPad and a stack of memos to prepare for the day,” Boehner said Tuesday. “It’s a comforting ritual, particularly in the dead of winter.”

The diner, the speaker said, reminds him of the bar his father owned while he was growing up in Ohio.

“I’ve been going there for years, and the staff all know me,” Boehner said. “They’re mostly immigrants from China and Vietnam. They don’t make a fuss over me — and they never talk to the reporters who come to snoop around every now and again.

“I sit at the counter in jeans and a ball cap,” he continued, adding that his usual meal is “eggs, and sometimes sausage, but never on Fridays.”

He also doesn’t order the bacon.

“My diner makes lousy bacon. I don’t know why,” he said.

“I’m always looking for new diners, and when I find one I like, I stick with it.

“It’s an anchor to my day, a way to feel like I’m home in Ohio no matter where I am,” the speaker said. “That’s why I endorse breakfast at a diner.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Bob Woodward: Budget Deal Reached Because Obama Wasn’t There.


The bipartisan budget deal put together by Rep. Paul of Ryan, R-Wisc., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., was possible largely because President Barack Obama wasn’t involved, says The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward.

“This budget deal worked — let’s go right to the center of this — because Obama was not part of the negotiations,” Woodward said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“He is not a good negotiator,” he said.

Story continues below video.

Though Ryan is clearly a conservative, Woodward said, his philosophy of sitting down with Democrats to find common ground was “very significant.”

“It is, indeed, small, but it’s a step forward,” Woodward said.

The deal strengthens both Ryan and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Woodward argued. Boehner was able to pull together more than 300 votes to pass the compromise bill in the House on Thursday. A Democratically controlled Senate is expected to pass it this week.

Boehner castigated members of the far right in his party, including outside interest groups. He had been less successful during the budget negotiations in October that led to the government shutdown. At that time, Boehner was forced to follow the leading of tea party members, and the two sides were able only to pass a temporary deal that would have expired in mid-January.

Obama had a key role in those failed talks.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Boehner Fires at ‘Misleading’ Conservative Groups – Again.


House Speaker John Boehner Thursday accused outside conservative groups of “misleading their followers” while trying to push House Republicans more toward the right.

For the second day in a row, the Ohio Republican held a news conference to complain about the far right influence that’s being felt in the House from outside conservative groups, reports Roll Call. Just like in Wednesday’s media gathering, he didn’t bother hiding his frustration.

“Frankly, I think they are misleading their followers,” Boehner told reporters. “I think they’re pushing our members in places where they don’t want to be, and frankly I just think they’ve lost all credibility.”

He noted that conservative groups “pushed us into this fight to defund Obamacare,” leading to the two-week government shutdown in October, which the House leader said “wasn’t the strategy I had in mind.”

“The day before the government reopened, one of these groups stood up and said, ‘Well, we never really thought it would work.’

“Are you kidding me?” Boehner exclaimed.

The Ohio Republican insisted his criticism of conservative groups is nothing new, but “there just comes a point where some people step over the line.”

“I don’t really think that I’ve said anything new or anything different than what I’ve felt and what I’ve said in the past,” he continued.

As he did on Wednesday, Boehner criticized some groups for speaking out against the spending deal reached Tuesday by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, even before all the details of their proposal had been released.

“When you have no idea what you’re criticizing, it undermines your credibility,” he said.

The House is scheduled to vote on the Ryan-Murray budget Thursday night. Boehner said that even though many Republican members are protesting the measure, it is his “job and obligation to stand up for conservatives in Congress who want more deficit reductions and stand up for the work that Chairman Ryan did.”

The bipartisan plan, Boehner stressed, balances the national budget within 10 years while not raising taxes. While not having everything Republicans might want, he said it “takes giant steps in the right direction” for the country without compromising core conservative principles.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Sandy Fitzgerald

Poll: Obama Job Satisfaction Hits New Rock Bottom.


Image: Poll: Obama Job Satisfaction Hits New Rock Bottom

By Courtney Coren

President Barack Obama’s job-approval rating has hit a new rock bottom — in a state that is vital in national elections.

Quinnipiac University’s poll in bellwether Ohio gives him the lowest rating the university’s polling institute has ever found.

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According to the survey released Wednesday, Obama is underwater by 27 points in Ohio, which has picked the president in every election since 1964 and has been within 2 percent of the national vote since 1996.

He has a negative job-performance rating of 34 percent to 61 percent among registered voters, 10 points worse than the last time Quinnipiac asked the same question in June. Then, his rating was 36 percent to 59 percent.

His previous-worst polling was last week in Colorado, with a negative 36 percent to 59 percent.

“Clearly much of the reason for the president’s decline in Ohio is ‘Obamacare,’ said Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac’s Polling Institute. “Ohio voters oppose the Affordable Care Act 59-35 percent. Perhaps more significantly, voters say 45-16 percent they expect their own healthcare to be worse rather than better a year from now.”

This new low is telling, as Quinnipiac generally does not poll in dyed-in-the-wool red states. Instead it concentrates its surveys in nine blue and swing states — Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

The figures look even worse for Obama when broken down.

Among Republican voters, just 3 percent say they are happy with his job performance, with 96 percent dissatisfied. Independents also give him a massive thumbs down, 30 percent to 64 percent. Democrats approve of Obama 69 percent to 25 percent.

When it comes to the president’s honesty and trustworthiness, 57 percent to 39 percent of Ohioans do not believe or trust Obama.

“President Barack Obama’s popularity is at a record low in Ohio, and the first time his approval rating has fallen below 40 percent in the state,” said Brown. “This is a state considered to be a national bellwether, where he got 51 percent of the vote just 12 months ago.”

And it is clearly Obamacare and its disastrous rollout that is to blame, says Brown. Ohio voters oppose the provisions of the Affordable Care Act by 59 percent to 35 percent.

“Perhaps more significantly, voters say 45-16 percent they expect their own healthcare to be worse rather than better a year from now,” he said.

“If voters still feel that way about their own situation come November 2014, that is likely to create a political playing field beneficial for Republicans,” Brown added.

The Quinnipiac poll also asked Ohio voters how they would vote if a presidential election were held today.

Likely Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton defeats all likely Republicans, although New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is within 1 percentage point at 42 percent for Clinton and 41 percent for Christie.

Among other possible candidates, Clinton beats Ohio Gov. John Kasich, 49 percent to38 percent; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 50 percent to 37 percent; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, 48 percent to 39 percent; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, 50 percent to 40 percent; Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, 49 percent to 41 percent; and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, 50 percent to 35 percent.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Appeals Court Rejects Obamacare Contraception Mandate.


A federal appeals court struck down Obamacare’s controversial birth control mandate, declaring that requiring contraception coverage in employee health plans is unduly burdensome for business owners who oppose birth control on religious grounds.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled 2-1 Friday in favor of Francis and Philip Gilardi, the Roman Catholic owners of Ohio-based Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics, who argued that the provision in the new healthcare law would violate their religious freedom, The Hill reports.

“The burden on religious exercise does not occur at the point of contraceptive purchase; instead, it occurs when a company’s owners fill the basket of goods and services that constitute a healthcare plan,” wrote Judge Janice Rogers Brown in the court’s decision.

Editor’s NoteObamaCare Is About to Strike Are You Prepared?

Had the plaintiffs refused to comply with the law, they would have faced a $14 million fine.

Two of the judges on the panel disagreed with parts of the ruling, saying the rights of religious people do not extend to the companies they own.

The Obama administration has long argued that the requirement under the Affordable Care Act for contraceptive coverage — including sterilization — as a free preventative service is necessary to protect women’s reproductive rights, though churches and other houses of worship are already exempt from the provision in the healthcare law.

Religious conservatives have blasted the requirement as a violation of First Amendment rights.

The case is the latest in a string of challenges to the birth control mandate.

According to the Thomas Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, some 74 lawsuits with over 200 plaintiffs representing hospitals, universities, businesses, and schools have been filed challenging the mandate on grounds of religious liberty.

Rulings in the circuit courts have so far been mixed, leading legal analysts to predict the issue will reach the Supreme Court.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Melanie Batley

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