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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Immediate effects of the Health Care Bill

Steny Hoyer has listed the immediate benefits of the health care bill and the ones that will pahse in in 2010. When you hear folks incorrectly say that the benefits will not be had for years, you can refer to this page and get the facts:

BENEFIT

HELP FOR…

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR AMERICANS

Effective Upon Enactment
(Immediately Eligible For These Benefits)

Small Business Tax Credits

Small Businesses

Provides tax credits to small businesses to make employee coverage more affordable. Tax credits of up to 35% of premiums will be immediately available to firms that choose to offer coverage. (Beginning in 2014, the small business tax credits will cover 50 percent of premiums.)

Closing Medicare Part D “Donut Hole”

Seniors

Provides a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the “donut hole” in 2010. (Beginning in 2011, institutes a 50% discount on brand‐name drugs in the donut hole; also completely closes the donut hole by 2020.)

Effective 90 Days After Enactment

Immediate Help For The Uninsured Until Exchange Is Available

Families

Provides immediate access to insurance for Americans who are uninsured because of a pre‐existing condition – through a temporary high‐risk pool.

Effective 6 Months After Enactment

No Discrimination Against Children With Pre‐Existing Conditions

Young Americans

Prohibits health plans from denying coverage to children with pre‐existing conditions. (Beginning in 2014, this prohibition would apply to all persons.)

Extends Coverage For Young People Up To 26th Birthday Through Parents’ Insurance

Young Americans

Requires health plans to allow young people up to their 26th birthday to remain on their parents’ insurance policy, at the parents’ choice.

Ends Rescissions

Families

Bans health plans from dropping people from coverage when they get sick.

Bans Lifetime Limits On Coverage

Families

Prohibits health plans from placing lifetime caps on coverage.

Bans Restrictive Annual Limits On Coverage

Families

Tightly restricts new plans’ use of annual limits to ensure access to needed care. These tight restrictions will be defined by HHS. (Beginning in 2014, the use of any annual limits would be prohibited for all plans.)

Effective Beginning January 1, 2011

Free Preventive Care Under Medicare

Seniors

Eliminates co‐payments for preventive services and exempts preventive services from deductibles under the Medicare program.

Ensuring Value For Premium Payments

Families

Requires plans in the individual and small group market to spend 80 percent of premium dollars on medical services, and plans in the large group market to spend 85%. Insurers that do not meet these thresholds must provide rebates to policyholders.

Senator Specter on the Health Care Bill

I generally do not pass along emails verbatim, but this one from Senator Specter is an exception:

At long last, health care reform is law.

I was proud to stand with President Obama in the White House today as he signed into law comprehensive health insurance reform, a bill for which I provided the key 60th vote in the U.S. Senate. I will continue to stand with the President to move the final components of reform swiftly through the Senate.

But the fight over health care reform is not yet over. Republicans are already working to repeal the bill -- like my far-right opponent Pat Toomey.

Mr. Toomey wants to allow insurance companies to continue to deny coverage based on pre-existing condiditons. Mr. Toomey wants to keep the Medicare donut hole. Mr. Toomey wants to rescind health care coverage for the 32 million Americans who will beneift from today's bill.

Mr. Toomey's assault on our new health care law would also strike down a part of the bill I authored that's very dear to me -- the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN). CAN is a new project that vastly expands the promise of turning medical research into cures and better treatment for people suffering from chronic diseases.

I am very proud of today's historic accomplishment, and I am equally determined to protect it. I am resolved to prevent far-right Pat Toomey and his allies from repealing the progress our country made today.

In order to do so, I will need your help. Your contribution of $25, $35, $50, $100, $250 or more will help me fight the anti-health care attacks that Mr. Toomey and his supporters are sure to launch against me.

Please help me protect today's victory.


Arlen Specter
U.S. Senator




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PA Dem Chair Chastises Sestak

Pennsylvania Democratic Chairman Rooney has asked Joe Sestak to:
  • comply with minimum wage laws for his campaign employees
  • address his attendance record on the House floor (the worst in the Pennsylvania delegation.)
In his letter to Sestak, Chairman Rooney also seems to hint that Joe should step aside:
"If you were to be successful in your primary campaign, you would be leading the Democratic ticket in this fall’s critical elections for state and local office. It is inconceivable to me that our standard bearer wouldn’t be paying his workers the minimum wage. Particularly at a time of deep recession, we can’t hand an issue like this to the Republicans or have the candidate leading our ticket being investigated for such violations.

Despite his far right background and terrible voting record on issues important to working families, Mr. Toomey will run a vigorous campaign for U.S. Senate in the fall. The recent Quinnipiac Poll has Mr. Toomey leading you 39 to 36 while Sen. Specter would defeat him 49 to 42.

The many House votes you’ve missed in the past year, so many that you now have the worst attendance record in our Congressional delegation, has also caused great anxiety among many Democrats and our allies.

It’s clear that while Senator Specter’s campaign has progressed and made significant progress – witness his winning our endorsement by a 77-23% vote -your campaign has not moved forward, as recent polls have demonstrated. Sen. Specter leads you by a decisive 53 to 29 margin in the Quinnipiac Poll."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Where does the Stimulus money go?

Here is an example of stimulus money spending (ARRA funds) that anyone who crosses the river between Matamoras, PA and Port Jervis, NY will see in action starting Monday March 29, 2010. The construction will continue for the next few months:

PennDOT Engineering District 4 recently announced the start of a bridge rehabilitation project in Pike County financed with federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

PennDOT awarded a $2,638,000 contract to Minichi, Inc. of Dupont, Luzerne County, for rehabilitation to the Route 6 Bridge over the Delaware River in Matamoras Borough, Pike County. Work includes repairs to the steel structure, beams and expansion joints as well as painting to prevent further deterioration.

The bridge will be closed in one direction and a new traffic pattern will be implemented on Monday, March 29. One lane of traffic will be maintained on the bridge to carry westbound traffic from New York into Pennsylvania. Traffic traveling from Pennsylvania into New York will be detoured on to Interstate 84 eastbound to Exit 1 across the Delaware River.

Within the six-county region of northeastern Pennsylvania, PennDOT will invest $72 million of federal economic recovery funds on 23 transportation projects, which include road and bridge improvements and curb ramp replacements.

To learn more about how the federal economic stimulus will benefit Pennsylvania, visit www.recovery.pa.gov.

If you want more information on where American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, also known as the stimulus funds, are being invested in Pike County there is a county specific website. There are similar construction projects supported by ARRA funds in Pike County. The school districts of Delaware Valley and Wallenpaupack received several million dollars that was funneled through the State of PA.

Here is how some of the rest money is being spent in Pike County:

How Pike County Benefits:

People Helped

Explanation of Benefits

Tax Relief 18,686 Taxpaying individuals and households – all but high earners qualify for taxpayer relief
Unemployment Compensation

500

Jobless adults will receive a boost in Unemployment Compensation
Health Insurance
for Unemployed
2,100 Unemployed persons qualify for more help purchasing health insurance
Health
Insurance

6,389

Low income children and adults will continue to have access to health care through Medical Assistance
Children's Health
Insurance

1,230

Children and teenagers will continue to receive their health care through Pennsylvania’s CHIP and Cover All Kids.
Food Assistance

3,934

Hungry children and adults will receive more help through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps)

Many times we hear complaints about how ARRA was not fiscally conservative. Spending money is not always wasteful, especially in a recession. I believe investing in the future while helping those hit hardest by the economic downturn was fiscally responsible. It is easier to understand what Senator Specter's YES vote for ARRA did for Pike County after you do just a little research and see the numbers.

Challenge: Decide what should not have been funded from the list on the Pike County page. What should not have been done at all? What should have been funded more locally?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

DNC begins to Talk Toomey

The DNC released an ad:

Pat Toomey: "He Doesn't Support Us"

Message: Toomey can be a tough guy for normal folks to like.

Question: Would you bet against Joe Paterno?

Answer: Neither would I.

Solon.com has an article titled:

"How Arlen Specter solved his Sestak problem: Arlen Specter was supposed to be vulnerable in Pennsylvania's Democratic primary. But it hasn't played out that way"

Why has Specter beat the odds? Specter has long made it a habit to visit each of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania each year:

"He has for years and years and years and years been the hardest-working man in Pennsylvania," said Philadelphia-based Democratic consultant Dan Fee.

"Have you ever been to some of these counties? I bet he's met every person in some of these counties, because there's just not a lot of people."
It will be a tough season, but I would not be against any man with that kind of work ethic. Would you?

Sestak challenges Vodvarka's petition

Chris Nicholas(Campaign Manager, Citizens for Arlen Specter)released the following statement this morning:

Subject: Specter campaign statement on Sestak's Challenge to Vodvarka's petition signatures

Earlier today in Commonwealth Court Democratic Senate candidate Cong. Joe Sestak challenged the validity of fellow Democratic Senate candidate Joseph Vodvarka's petition signatures.

"It‘s a Democratic Party, and in that Democratic Party, we should be enticing people to come into the process...” -Joe Sestak
(Main Line Media News 10/20/2009 http://sestak1.notlong.com)


Below is a statement from Specter campaign manager Christopher Nicholas:

"Cong. Sestak has spent months saying that his was a new type of campaign, dedicated to changing Washington, D.C. and the Senate. But challenging Mr. Vodvarka's petition signatures is a vivid example of old style back-room politics as usual.

And Cong. Sestak is happy to pay big bucks to lawyers to knock a regular guy like Joe Vodvarka off the ballot, but he's not willing to pay the minimum wage to his own campaign staff.

Once again Cong. Sestak's actions contradict his words.

Let's remember that Cong. Sestak is the same guy who was relieved of command in the Navy for the way he treated the folks who worked for him. Nothing's changed with this guy."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Delaware Township Fire Department

Delaware Township Volunteer Fire Company will receive $37,962 in a federal grant for operations, training and vehicle acquisition.

From the Pike County Press:
The funding was announced Friday by U.S. Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey. The grants are administered by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Toomey Ticker

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party has started a "Toomey Ticker" counting up the time that Pat Toomey has remained silent about the jobs bill that would help get more Americans back to work. The elapsed time is over two weeks at the time I post this.

Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey hasn't yet taken a position on the jobs bill that passed the Senate a couple weeks ago, even though the bill has exactly the kind of tax relief and help for small business that Pat Toomey has demanded.

At a candidates forum this month in Philadelphia, Toomey indicated the federal government should cut taxes for businesses to try to create jobs. Toomey wanted to see tax cuts for employers rather than stimulus money to create jobs:

"We should instead look at ways of cutting taxes including payroll taxes for workers and the matching employer share," Toomey said at the forum. "You know if we did that every worker gets an immediate take home pay raise and every employer finds it less expensive to hire the next worker. I think that's a lot better than just growing government."
The jobs bill that Toomey refuses to talk about contains:
  • tax credits to businesses that hire new workers
  • temporary relief from the 6.25 percent share of the payroll (Social Security) tax employers must pay
These are exactly the incentives to create jobs Toomey said he supports. Toomey has yet to even comment on the bill. What's the problem?

Commenting on the slowness to pass the jobs bill, Arlen Specter said:
"With our economy still struggling to return to prosperity, unemployment fluctuating around 9.7 percent our government cannot stand idly by and let families and businesses who are in need suffer."