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Posts tagged ‘Miami’

Joel Osteen Taking His Gospel to Yankee Stadium for Second Time.


Joel Osteen
Joel Osteen

Joel and Victoria Osteen will hold their sixth annual America’s Night of Hope at Yankee Stadium on June 7, 2014, an evening of hope and inspiration expected to draw more than 55,000 people from across the country.

This is the second America’s Night of Hope to be hosted at Yankee Stadium. The first was on April 25, 2009—nine days after the new ballpark opened—and was the first non-baseball event held at the venue. These annual stadium-sized events have also been held at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles (2010), U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago (2011), Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. (2012), and Marlins Park in Miami (2013).

“Victoria and I love the people of New York,” Osteen says. “We’re excited to be at Yankee Stadium again, and we believe people will be uplifted and filled with an expectation that their best days are still to come.”

As a part of the activities surrounding America’s Night of Hope, Joel Osteen Ministries will reach into New York City’s local communities with hundreds of volunteers—many from Houston—in order to bring hope through acts of kindness and compassion.

Known as the Generation Hope Project, this effort is a major part of the America’s Night of Hope event and, since 2012, has already provided thousands of volunteer hours of service through work projects at schools, parks and community centers in Washington, D.C., and Miami, Fla.

This year’s Generation Hope Project will focus on mentoring, developing one-to-one relationships in which one person fosters the personal and professional growth of someone else. Volunteers will have an opportunity to work with young people who need strong adult role models.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Latinos Shun Obamacare Over Deportation Fears.


Image: Latinos Shun Obamacare Over Deportation Fears

Elva Garcia gets help signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care act at a Miami Enrollment Assistance Centeron December 23, 2013 in Miami, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Latinos are wary of signing up for Obamacare because of fears that the information they provide might be used to deport them or members of their family.

“They’re scared,” Ledy Ordonez, 43, who lives in Fremont, Calif., told the San Francisco Chronicle. She has a clothing and jewelry stand at a farmer’s market in Oakland. “They’re afraid if they put in an application for their children … they’ll get deported.”

While enrollment figures are not available yet from the Obama administration, healthcare advocates say fewer Hispanics are enrolling in the Affordable Care Act because of such concerns.

“These families are just very fearful whether it’s true or not,” Hilda Martinez, a manager for the California Endowment‘s “Get Covered” campaign, told the National Journal. “We don’t have any reason to doubt the administration.”

California Endowment has spent millions of dollars on outreach efforts in Spanish. With such a large Hispanic population, many in California would rather risk health issues than deportation, the Journal reports.

More than 1.9 million illegal immigrants have been deported since President Barack Obama took office, including more than 368,000 people this fiscal year, according to the Journal, even though that is down from 409,000 in fiscal 2012.

About 397,000 illegals were deported in fiscal 2011.

In addition, more than 52 million Hispanics live in the United States, making up one of the youngest, fastest-growing demographics in the country.

Talks on immigration reform have stalled in Washington, but U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has provided assurances by letter that any information submitted with Obamacare applications would not be used for enforcement purposes.

That’s not enough, Daniel Zingale, California Endowment’s senior vice president, told the Chronicle. “I think something from the president himself would be helpful,” he said.

“There’s this fear in the community that isn’t just going to go away with a letter,” Martinez told the Journal.

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ries:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Todd Beamon

Fidel Castro Hails Brother for Obama Handshake at Mandela Memorial.


Image: Fidel Castro Hails Brother for Obama Handshake at Mandela Memorial

HAVANA — Fidel Castro praised his brother, Cuban President Raul Castro, on Thursday for shaking hands with President Barack Obama at a memorial for Nelson Mandela, saying he demonstrated courtesy and dignity with the gesture.The elder Castro, in his first comment on the death of Mandela, touched on the handshake that made headlines around the world, at the end of a long column published in the Cuban media that praised Mandela and reviewed Cuba’s role in ending apartheid.

“I congratulate Comrade Raul for his brilliant performance [at the memorial], and especially for his firmness and dignity when with a friendly but firm greeting to the head of government of the United States he said in English, ‘Mr. President, I am Castro’.”

The White House played down the handshake, saying it was unplanned and went no further than pleasantries.

Still, the meeting had resonance because U.S. relations with Cuba have undergone a surprise warming in recent months with several instances of cooperation instead of the usual hostile rhetoric.

Obama said last month in Miami that it may be time for the United States to revise its policies toward Cuba, against which it has had a trade embargo for more than half a century.

Obama questioned whether the policy that was put in place in 1961 remains an effective way of dealing with U.S. differences with the communist-ruled island nation.

Fidel Castro, 87, who was operated on in 2006 for intestinal bleeding and never fully recovered, handed over power to his brother, who is five years younger, in 2008.

Fidel Castro made no public comment on Mandela’s death at the time and was too old to attend last week’s ceremony in South Africa.

He has not been seen in public in months, though an official photo released on Monday showed him seated in a blue sweat suit talking with his biographer, Spanish writer Ignacio Ramonet, last week.

Fidel Castro was a leading voice against apartheid when some other world leaders were reluctant to speak out.

Mandela was deeply appreciative of Cuban support in the fight against apartheid — a conflict that included Cuban troops who fought and died in southern Angola.

Castro, in his Thursday column, complained that the roots and crimes of apartheid had been given short shrift in coverage of Mandela’s death, as were his beliefs.

“It’s a very real fact that Mandela was a complete man, profound revolutionary and radically socialist, who with great stoicism withstood 27 years of solitary confinement,” Castro said.

“I have never ceased to admire his honesty, modesty and enormous merit.”

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Harry Reid: I’d Like to Lead Senate for 8 More Years.


Image: Harry Reid: I'd Like to Lead Senate for 8 More Years

By Lisa Barron

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he plans on staying right where he is for as long as he possibly can.

The Nevada Democrat is up for re-election in 2014, and in an interview with Roll CallWednesday, he confirmed that he intends to run. “I don’t want to do it more than eight more years,” said the 74-year-old former boxer.

Asked if Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray’s front and center role in the recent budget negotiations means she could take over the leadership, Reid responded, “If I drop dead? I don’t know.”

“I mean, I will someday. It’s just a question of if I do it while I’m here,” he said.

As for whether Reid thinks his party can maintain its majority in next year’s elections in light of issues such as the disastrous Obamacare rollout, he was optimistic, saying, “We’re always very honed-in on the races. We feel pretty good about how things are going.”

He also said he has not ruled out taking further steps to curb the GOP’s ability to filibuster, as he did last month when he used the so-called nuclear option to eliminate filibusters on most nominations.

“I have no intention of changing the rules tomorrow or the next day or, you know, [in] the foreseeable future, but this is a two-way street. I think that we should start legislating and not [waste] all of our time on nominations. That’s all I’ve been wasting my time on for years here is nominations,” Reid stated.

“I’m not precluding anything. It’s just according to how we get along here.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Christian Leader Robert Stearns Receives America-Israel Friendship Award.


Eagles' Wings' Robert Stearns.
Eagles’ Wings’ Robert Stearns. (YouTube)

On Thursday evening in Miami, Fla., the Bnai Zion Foundation presented Dr. Robert Stearns with the America-Israel Friendship Award at its annual southeast gala. As founder and executive director of Eagles’ Wings, Stearns has been a strong advocate and ally of Israel for more than two decades through initiatives such as the Israel Experience College Scholarship program and the internationally celebrated Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem (DPPJ).

With more than 175 nations participating on the first Sunday of every October, the DPPJ is one of the largest Israel-focused prayer events in history.

“I am deeply honored to be receiving the America-Israel Friendship Award,” Stearns says. “Now more than ever, it is critical for Christians to stand in support of Israel. As the only democratic nation in a sea of oppressive governments, Israel is a beacon of liberty and bastion of justice in an increasingly dark world.”

Established in 1908, the Bnai Zion Foundation is dedicated to helping those in need through humanitarian work in America and Israel. With a focus on maintaining the connection between America and Israel, the organization has launched several campaigns to improve the lives of people in Israel and worldwide. Some of their initiatives include the Bnai Zion Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, and the Ahava Village for Children and Youth, a residential facility for children from at-risk home situations.

Each year, recipients of the award are honored for their continuous friendship with the state of Israel and their efforts to cultivate a strong relationship between Americans and Israelis. Past recipients of this distinguished award include United States President Gerald Ford, Sen. Charles Schumer, Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Elie Wiesel, Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Proceeds from this year’s gala will help fund a new, protected underground emergency department at the Bnai Zion Medical Center in Haifa. This medical center offers compassionate care to all people without regard to religion, ethnicity or economic status.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.

Elian Gonzalez, Returned to Cuba as Tot, Now Spouts Communist Mantra.


Elian Gonzalez, forcibly returned to Cuba as a tot and now apparently a committed communist, slammed the U.S. embargo on Cuba in an interview with CNN en Español last week at a youth conference in Ecuador.

Gonzalez became a household name in the late 1990s when as a 6-year-old Cuban boy he was found floating off the coast of Florida in an inner tube after his mother and others fleeing Cuba drowned trying to reach the U.S.

“Just like her, many others have died attempting to go to the United States. But it’s the U.S. government’s fault. Their unjust embargo provokes an internal and critical economic situation in Cuba,” Gonzalez told CNN en Español.

“But, despite that, Cuba, even with all its problems has progressed over the years,” Gonzalez added. “The progress we’ve made is all thanks to Cuba’s courage, our dignity, our continued fight for a more just model.”

Gonzalez, now 20 and a cadet at a Cuban military academy, echoed the communist mantra as he spoke to the network at the World Festival of Youth and Students – a left-wing conference that attracted more than 10,000 people from all over, CNN reported.

Gonzalez is expected to speak at the conference though he couldn’t say what topic he would tasked with discussing.

“My topic could range anywhere from the lifting of the unjust blockade on Cuba to the freedom of the ‘Cuban Five.’ The main reason we’re here is because we want a revolutionary progressive movement that leads to socialism,” he said.

The Cuban Five is a reference to the five Cuban intelligence agents convicted in 2001 of spying on U.S. military installations in South Florida, exile groups and politicians. They are regarded as heroes in Cuba.

After being rescued by U.S. officials from the waters off Florida’s coast in November of 1999, Gonzalez was subsequently returned to his father in Cuba in June 2000 after U.S. immigration officials ruled the boy should return to Cuba over the objections of his Miami relatives and other Cuban exiles.

When asked by CNN en Español how his life has been in Cuba since leaving Miami, Gonzalez said, “I haven’t suffered any consequences because of what happened. It has not affected me psychologically, but it has been hard for my family,” adding, “those were tough times.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Michael Mullins

AP: 21 Percent of American Adults Become Rich at Some Point.


It’s not just the wealthiest 1 percent.

Fully 20 percent of U.S. adults become rich for parts of their lives, wielding outsize influence on America‘s economy and politics. This little-known group may pose the biggest barrier to reducing the nation’s income inequality.

The growing numbers of the U.S. poor have been well documented, but survey data provided to The Associated Press detail the flip side of the record income gap – the rise of the “new rich.”

Editor’s Note: Pastor Uses ‘Biblical Money Code’ to Help His Father Retire 

Made up largely of older professionals, working married couples and more educated singles, the new rich are those with household income of $250,000 or more at some point during their working lives. That puts them, if sometimes temporarily, in the top 2 percent of earners.

Even outside periods of unusual wealth, members of this group generally hover in the $100,000-plus income range, keeping them in the top 20 percent of earners.

Companies increasingly are marketing to this rising demographic, fueling a surge of “mass luxury” products and services from premium Starbucks coffee and organic groceries to concierge medicine and VIP lanes at airports. Political parties are taking a renewed look at the up-for-grabs group, once solidly Republican.

They’re not the traditional rich.

In a country where poverty is at a record high, today’s new rich are notable for their sense of economic fragility. They’ve reached the top 2 percent, only to fall below it, in many cases. That makes them much more fiscally conservative than other Americans, polling suggests, and less likely to support public programs, such as food stamps or early public education, to help the disadvantaged.

Last week, President Barack Obama asserted that growing inequality is “the defining challenge of our time,” signaling that it will be a major theme for Democrats in next year’s elections.

New research suggests that affluent Americans are more numerous than government data depict, encompassing 21 percent of working-age adults for at least a year by the time they turn 60. That proportion has more than doubled since 1979.

At the same time, an increasing polarization of low-wage work and high-skill jobs has left middle-income careers depleted.

“For many in this group, the American dream is not dead. They have reached affluence for parts of their lives and see it as very attainable, even if the dream has become more elusive for everyone else,” says Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, who calculated numbers on the affluent for a forthcoming book, “Chasing the American Dream,” to be published by the Oxford University Press.

As the fastest-growing group based on take-home pay, the new rich tend to enjoy better schools, employment and gated communities, making it easier to pass on their privilege to their children.

Their success has implications for politics and policy.

The group is more liberal than lower-income groups on issues such as abortion and gay marriage, according to an analysis of General Social Survey data by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. But when it comes to money, their views aren’t so open. They’re wary of any government role in closing the income gap.

In Gallup polling in October, 60 percent of people making $90,000 or more said average Americans already had “plenty of opportunity” to get ahead. Among those making less than $48,000, the share was 48 percent.

“In this country, you don’t get anywhere without working hard,” said James Lott, 28, a pharmacist in Renton, Wash., who adds to his six-figure salary by day-trading stocks. The son of Nigerian immigrants, Lott says he was able to get ahead by earning an advanced pharmacy degree. He makes nearly $200,000 a year.

After growing up on food stamps, Lott now splurges occasionally on nicer restaurants, Hugo Boss shoes and extended vacations to New Orleans, Atlanta and parts of Latin America. He believes government should play a role in helping the disadvantaged. But he says the poor should be encouraged to support themselves, explaining that his single mother rose out of hardship by starting a day-care business in their home.

“I definitely don’t see myself as rich,” says Lott, who is saving to purchase a downtown luxury condominium. That will be the case, he says, “the day I don’t have to go to work every single day.”

Sometimes referred to by marketers as the “mass affluent,” the new rich make up roughly 25 million U.S. households and account for nearly 40 percent of total U.S. consumer spending.

While paychecks shrank for most Americans after the 2007-2009 recession, theirs held steady or edged higher. In 2012, the top 20 percent of U.S. households took home a record 51 percent of the nation’s income. The median income of this group is more than $150,000.

Once concentrated in the old-money enclaves of the Northeast, the new rich are now spread across the U.S., mostly in bigger cities and their suburbs. They include Washington, D.C.; Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle. By race, whites are three times more likely to reach affluence than nonwhites.

Paul F. Nunes, managing director at Accenture’s Institute for High Performance and Research, calls this group “the new power brokers of consumption.” Because they spend just 60 percent of their before-tax income, often setting the rest aside for retirement or investing, he says their capacity to spend more will be important to a U.S. economic recovery.

In Miami, developers are betting on a growing luxury market, building higher-end malls featuring Cartier, Armani and Louis Vuitton and hoping to expand on South Florida’s Bal Harbour, a favored hideaway of the rich.

“It’s not that I don’t have money. It’s more like I don’t have time,” said Deborah Sponder, 57, walking her dog Ava recently along Miami’s blossoming Design District. She was headed to one of her two art galleries – this one between the Emilio Pucci and Cartier stores and close to the Louis Vuitton and Hermes storefronts.

But Sponder says she doesn’t consider her income of $250,000 as upper class, noting that she is paying college tuition for her three children. “Between rent, schooling and everything – it comes in and goes out.”

Economists say the group’s influence will only grow as middle-class families below them struggle. Corporate profits and the stock market are hitting records while the median household income of $51,000 is at its lowest since 1995. That’s a boon for upper-income people who are more likely to invest in stocks.

At the same time, some 54 percent of working-age Americans will experience near-poverty for portions of their lives, hurt by globalization and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs.

Both Democrats and Republicans are awakening to the political realities presented by this new demographic bubble.

Traditionally Republican, the group makes up more than 1 in 4 voters and is now more politically divided, better educated and less white and male than in the past, according to Election Day exit polls dating to the 1970s.

Sixty-nine percent of upper-income voters backed Republican Ronald Reagan and his supply-side economics of tax cuts in 1984. By 2008, Democrat Barack Obama had split their vote evenly, 49-49.

In 2012, Obama lost the group, with 54 percent backing Republican Mitt Romney. Still, Obama’s performance among higher-income voters exceeded nearly every Democrat before him.

Some Democratic analysts have urged the party to tread more lightly on issues of income inequality, even after the recent election of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who made the issue his top campaign priority.

In recent weeks, media attention has also focused on growing liberal enthusiasm for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., whose push to hold banks and Wall Street accountable could stoke Occupy Wall Street-style populist anger against the rich.

“For the Democrats’ part, traditional economic populism is poorly suited for affluent professionals,” says Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University professor who specializes in political polarization.

Editor’s Note: New Video Exposes a ‘Great Retirement Heist’ 

The new rich includes Robert Kane, 39, of Colorado Springs, Colo.

A former stock broker who once owned three houses and voted steadfastly Republican, Kane says he was humbled after the 2008 financial meltdown, which he says exposed Wall Street’s excesses. Now a senior vice president for a private equity firm specializing in the marijuana business, Kane says he’s concerned about upward mobility for the poor and calls wealthy politicians such as Romney “out of touch.”

But Kane, now a registered independent, draws the line when it comes to higher taxes.

“A dollar is best in your hand rather than the government’s,” he says.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

HIV ‘Cure’ Hopes Dashed for Two US Cancer Patients.


The latest hopes of curing AIDS were dashed Friday when US researchers said HIV returned in two men who briefly eradicated the virus after bone marrow transplants for cancer.

Experts described the discovery as a “disappointment,” but said it offers important new clues in the hunt for the human immunodeficiency virus’s elusive hiding places in the body.

Only one person is believed to have been cured of HIV. American Timothy Brown, who suffered from leukemia, received a bone marrow transplant from a rare donor who was resistant to HIV, and has shown no sign of the virus for six years.

“The return of detectable levels of HIV in our patients is disappointing, but scientifically significant,” said Timothy Heinrich, a physician-researcher in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“Through this research we have discovered the HIV reservoir is deeper and more persistent than previously known,” he said in a statement sent to AFP.

Heinrich first shared the news with fellow researchers at an international AIDS conference in Miami, Florida on Thursday.

Both HIV-positive men received bone marrow transplants as treatment for a kind of blood cancer known as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, one in 2008 and the other in 2010.

About eight months after their operations, HIV was no longer detectable.

The patients stayed on antiretroviral therapy even after their HIV was undetectable, and eventually decided to cease taking the drugs earlier this year.

In July, doctors announced early, encouraging results: one patient appeared to still be HIV-free after being off the drugs for seven weeks and the other for 15 weeks.

But signs of HIV soon returned. They were found in the first patient 12 weeks after stopping therapy, and in the second patient after 32 weeks.

“Both patients have resumed therapy and are currently doing well,” Heinrich said, adding that the patients do not wish to be identified in the media.

He said it was important to share the results with fellow researchers, because they signal “that there may be an important long-lived HIV reservoir outside the blood compartment.”

“We have demonstrated HIV can be reduced to undetectable levels by very sensitive research assays, and the virus persists,” he said.

Prior to the viral rebound, one of the patients had only about 1,000 cells in his body left with traces of HIV, and the other had just 100, according to the Foundation for AIDS Research, amfAR, which funded the study.

“These two cases are telling us some information that we weren’t otherwise going to be able to learn,” said Rowena Johnston, director of research at amfAR.

“As much as it is disappointing for the patients themselves, it is absolutely helping us to learn more about what it is going to take to cure HIV.”

Unlike Brown, these patients’ bone marrow transplants did not come from donors that carried a genetic resistance to HIV by lacking a CCR5 receptor, so they were not afforded protection against the virus by that mutation.

The two men received transplants from donors with the CCR5 receptor, which acts as a gateway allowing HIV to penetrate the cells.

Researchers had hoped that by continuing to treat the men with antiretroviral drugs during the transplant process and afterward, the medicine might have prevented the donor cells from becoming infected while a new immune system was established.

Instead, it appears the virus may have been lurking undetected in their bodies, infecting the men as if for the first time once repressive drug therapy was stopped.

Still, Myron Cohen, an expert on HIV/AIDS at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said it was too early to draw conclusions.

“I think we need more information,” he told AFP in an email.

“The reason(s) for suppressed growth of HIV in these patients is still being studied, so recurrence — if it occurred — needs to be seen as part of a continuum,” he said.

 

© AFP 2013
Source: Newsmax.com

Bill Richardson Admits: I Screwed Up on Alan Gross Detainment.


Image: Bill Richardson Admits: I Screwed Up on Alan Gross Detainment

Former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson has admitted to Newsmax that he “screwed up” in his 2011 bid to free American Alan Gross, who has been held in a Cuban prison for four years.

He spoke to the press when it would have been better for him to keep quiet, he said on Newsmax TV‘s “Steve Malzberg Show.”

“I screwed that one up,” Richardson said.

“I thought we had a deal. I went in and talked to the Cubans. The Cubans were changing their policy at the last minute.

Story continues below video.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

“Instead of shutting up and waiting for things to calm down, I was in Havana and I went to the press. I said ‘Alan Gross is a political prisoner, [and] the Cubans are not playing straight.'”

Richardson, Bill Clinton’s U.N. ambassador from 1997-98 and later energy secretary and governor of New Mexico, is the author of a new book, How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator.”

The book, he said, points out his successes, but in Gross’s case, he admits he made a mistake.

“The Cubans just dropped me off and I just wasn’t able to get Alan out.”

Richardson says he learned an important lesson: “Sometimes you can’t go public, you can’t show your emotion,” Richardson told Malzberg. “You’ve got to be very restrained and careful when you’re negotiating.”

And, he said, he’ll “always regret” going the press over Gross, rather than remaining quiet, “even though there have been many others trying to get Alan out.”

He said he feels “a lot for [his wife] Judy Gross. I met her, I talked to her. I mean, her husband has been unfairly incarcerated, but I wish I hadn’t lost my cool.”

At the time, Richardson said, he had not “been in negotiation in a while, and I was no longer governor, so I kind of lost my power base.”

Gross, 64, was working in Cuba as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development when he was arrested on Dec. 3, 2009, and charged with “actions against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.”

The Cuban government accused Gross of spying for carrying telecommunications equipment to the island and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. According to Gross, he was contracted by Development Alternatives Inc., as part of a contract with USAID, to establish wireless networks and Internet connections for non-dissident Cuban Jewish communities.

Cuba state prosecutors, though, accused him of performing a “subversive project aiming at bringing down the revolution” by disseminating distorted information about the government.

Gross wrote a personal letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday, the fourth anniversary of his imprisonment.

Judy Gross told Malzberg on Wednesday that her husband feels “abandoned” by the United States.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

“My hope is that the government is able to sit down and start talks and negotiate with the Cuban government,” she told Malzberg. “That’s how you start getting things done. You have to sit down sometime and start dialogue.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Source: Obamacare Website Reached 100,000 Sign-Ups in November.


Image: Source: Obamacare Website Reached 100,000 Sign-Ups in November

Yannette Castellano waits to talk to a health care navigator at the North Shore Medical Center in Miami on Nov. 19.
 

About 100,000 people signed up for health insurance through the online federal exchange last month, a roughly four-fold increase from October even as a team of  government and contractor programmers was fixing the troubled Obamacare website, said a person familiar with program’s progress.The preliminary November numbers reflect individuals who successfully selected a plan. The administration expects that most consumers will sign up early next year as the enrollment period nears its March 31 close, said the person who asked for anonymity because the final numbers were still being calculated.

After two months of software errors and delays that have threatened the success of President Barack Obama’s signature health law, the administration said yesterday that it met its self-imposed deadline and the site, healthcare.gov, is working smoothly for the majority of users.

The fumbled rollout forced the administration to scale back its original enrollment targets of about 800,000 for the first two months.

While far from the original goal, the jump in enrollment may be an encouraging trend for the administration and could signal that consumers are keeping an open mind about the new $1.4 trillion health law amid criticism from both Republicans and Democrats over the site’s technical failures.

The person who provided the November enrollment figures, said the data points to a steady increase in sign-ups even before major website improvements were completed at the end of November.Only 26,794 people signed up for private plans in the federal marketplace in October, while 79,391 enrolled through 14 states which, along with the District of Columbia, are running their own exchanges and websites. Most have experienced fewer technical problems. The federal website serves 36 states.

Administration officials have said they’ll continue to fix the website over the coming weeks and months. The administration spent the last two months addressing the front-end experience for users who were trying to enroll in plans. The team must now also focus on HealthCare.gov’s failure to properly transmit data to insurers on the back end. That system is supposed to send data on customers and federal subsidy payments to insurers.

Error message rates for the front end are down to less than 1 percent per page from about 6 percent in October, the administration said in an assessment report yesterday. And after initially faltering with 1,100 users at a time, the site can now handle 50,000 at a time, or about 800,000 per day, according to the report.
© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

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