President Barack Obama on Monday pledged up to $5 billion in funding to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria internationally, and to redirect $100 million to the National Institutes of Health for research toward a cure for HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS.
Speaking at the White House to mark World AIDS Day, which was Sunday, Obama celebrated the progress that has been made toward "achieving an AIDS-free nation."
"[T]his is a moment to reflect on how far we've come since the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Those of you who lived through it remember all too well the fear and the stigma and how hard people with HIV had to fight to be seen or heard, or treated with basic compassion," Obama commented. more >>
A Star Ledger headline reads: "ObamaCare fuels applicant boom for NJ Medicaid-Advocate hails 35 percent increase in October." Almost 22,000 new applications were filed in October, up from 16,000 in September. Is this a triumph? Was a 990-page law needed to accomplish this? The taxpayers will have to fork over $5,000 per applicant to a Medicaid HMO-that's $110 million-and what will the patients get?
I am a physician who volunteers at the Zarephath Health Center, a non-government charity clinic in central NJ, where volunteers care for the poor and uninsured. We see Medicaid patients who cannot find a Medicaid doctor. The other day I saw a 35-year-old mother with severe asthma. She is on Medicaid and had gone to the emergency room a few days earlier. She was instructed to find a physician for follow-up treatment. Unable to find a doctor who takes Medicaid, she was welcomed at our clinic. I saw her, spent time hearing her story, and was happy to give her prescriptions to keep her asthma in check.
The next day she returned with the odd complaint that no pharmacy would fill her prescriptions. Since I had not enrolled as a "non-billing Medicaid provider," the pharmacies were told they would not be paid if they filled my prescriptions. I have a license, am board certified in internal medicine, and pay each year to keep my controlled substances licenses updated, so why would they not honor my prescriptions? more >>
While some users have experienced difficulty logging onto Healthcare.gov, also known as the "Obamacare website," the White House explained that users are not getting an error page as they did before, but are being placed in a queue. Critics say the website is not working as well as the White House claims.
Healthcare.gov has met its goal of having a functioning website by Nov. 1, the White House announced over the weekend. The administration earlier said the website would be considered a success if 80 percent of users were able to sign on and complete the process.
The U.S. government is being criticized by the American Center for Law and Justice for releasing an Iranian nuclear scientist as part of negotiation talks with the Islamic Republic, while failing to strike a deal for imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini and other Americans held in Iran.
"This is betrayal," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, according to Fox News. "A betrayal because not only did they not get the release of the three Americans, but they said they are working on this 'on the margins.' Our citizens are on the margins and then we are releasing an Iranian convicted on working on the nuclear issue."
The ACLJ, which represents Abedini's wife and two children in the U.S., has spoken at length about the U.S.-Iran negotiations, and asked why the Obama administration did not insist on the release of the pastor, who is serving eight years in prison because of his Christian faith. more >>
As we sat down and enjoyed our traditional Thanksgiving meals, many of us remembered the Pilgrims' quest for religious liberty. We considered how they came to this new country at great sacrifice, seeking the freedom to practice their religion.
But this noble quest is not just part of our history. The freedom to live according to faith is still being pursued today.
This quest is reflected in recent legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate, which forces Christian employers to supply insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs or face enormous and business-killing fines and penalties. Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear and resolve this vitally important issue. more >>
The Obama administration's claim Sunday that they have achieved the goal of getting the HealthCare.gov site running smoothly apart from the need for a few more fixes, didn't cut ice with all insurers and states, some of which want to bypass the difficult-to-operate technology behind the "Obamacare."
"While we strive to innovate and improve our outreach and systems for reaching consumers, we believe we have met the goal of having a system that will work smoothly for the vast majority of users," said a progress report by the Health and Human Services Department released Sunday.
"The bottom line - HealthCare.gov on Dec. 1 is night and day from where it was on Oct. 1," said Jeff Zients, who was tasked by President Obama to fix the website, according to Reuters. "We've widened the system's on-ramp - it now has four lanes instead of one or two. We have a much more stable system that is reliably open for business." more >>