Tuesday, November 19, 2013

U.S. Response to Typhoon Haiyan, per White house

The following is arelease from the White House, (unedited here):
FACT SHEET: U.S. Response to Typhoon Haiyan


Since Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on November 8, U.S. disaster relief experts and military personnel have worked around the clock to deliver food, water, medicine, and shelter to help those hit hardest by the storm.  In support of the Philippines’ relief effort, the United States is providing more than $37 million in humanitarian aid to those in need.


U.S. Assistance at a Glance


U.S. humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan includes:

·         USAID / Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA)      $20,000,000

·         USAID / Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP)                                        $10,000,000

·         Department of Defense                                                                                     $7,230,302


In the days following the storm, U.S. assistance has included:

·         Emergency shelter materials for 20,000 families (100,000 people)

·         Hygiene kits for 20,000 families (100,000 people)

·         55 metric tons of food assistance benefitting 19,800 families (99,000 people)

·         Water containers for 14,400 families (72,000 people)

·         Restored functionality of the Tacloban municipal water system, benefiting 200,000 people.


There are currently 15 USAID disaster response specialists and approximately 9,500 U.S. military personnel responding to the crisis.


U.S. military aircraft have logged some 945 flight hours, delivered more than 750,000 pounds of relief supplies and equipment, moved more than 1,200 relief workers into Tacloban, and airlifted nearly 5,640 survivors from storm affected areas.


A significant amount of U.S. assistance has also supported logistical operations, including helping get airports up and running, providing communications support, expanding transportation capacity, and establishing aid distribution centers.


A Coordinated Response


Even before the storm reached land, the United States began coordinating potential support to the Philippines’ response effort.  Departments and agencies in Washington and our Embassy in Manila were in close communication in the days before the storm.  Our Embassy put out a warning message for American citizens and USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to the area.


The DART was the first government assessment team to arrive in Leyte province, and continues to play a critical role in leading the U.S. response effort, assessing storm damage, advising on critical humanitarian needs, coordinating relief efforts in support of the Philippine government, and working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies.  Five USAID airlifts have delivered needed emergency supplies like plastic sheeting, hygiene kits, water containers, and nutrition-dense food items.  Of the more than $37 million in U.S. assistance, we provided $10 million to the World Food Programme to enable, in part, the purchase of 2,500 metric tons of rice being distributed by the Philippines’ Department of Social Welfare and Development.


U.S. Marines on the ground in the Philippines were among the first to respond, using C-130s and MV-22 Ospreys to airlift relief supplies to Tacloban and other hard hit areas.  The USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group arrived in the Philippines on November 14, and has helped expand search and rescue operations, provide medical care, and deliver supplies using its 21 helicopters.  In addition, U.S. Pacific Command has established a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief-certified Joint Task Force at Camp Aguinaldo.  A joint contingent of more than 850 military personnel is currently ashore in the Philippines.  Two U.S. amphibious ships – the USS Ashland and USS Germantown -- are currently en route to the Philippines after loading elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit at Okinawa, Japan and will bring with them heavy engineering equipment like backhoes, dump trucks and wreckers needed to support the response.


Our Philippine ally is responding to one of the largest disasters its country has ever faced, and we have been coordinating closely with them at every step.  Thus far, our cooperation has been excellent.  Our military personnel are in close touch, as are our development and disaster relief experts.  The Philippine government has moved quickly to facilitate humanitarian assistance provided by the United States and international community, and has provided quick clearance for U.S. aircraft, ships, and personnel, enabling us to rapidly begin to deliver assistance to affected areas.


How Americans Can Help


As President Obama said last week, when friends are in trouble, America helps.  The United States will continue to offer whatever assistance we can to the people of the Philippines, but this is more than just a government effort.  Learn more about how you can help at http://www.whitehouse.gov/typhoon.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

McKinney calls for Connecticut special session on healthcare

The following is an unedited press release from the office of state Senate Majority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, calling for a special session of the legislature:

Hartford, CT – State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) is calling on Governor Malloy to call the General Assembly into special session immediately. Legislative action is required to repeal a state law that, left unchanged, will make the health insurance policies held by tens-of-thousands of state residents illegal on January 1 (Senator McKinney’s letter is attached).


Yesterday, President Obama said the federal government will use “enforcement discretion” to allow insurance companies to continue the health insurance plans of millions of individual policy owners whose plans will be illegal on January 1 under Obamacare. The president is giving state insurance commissioners discretion to decide whether to permit the so called “fix” in their respective states. But, the problem for tens-of-thousands of Connecticut residents whose insurance policies will become illegal under Obamacare is that Connecticut state law does not give the commissioner such discretion. 


In fact, the governor and Democratic legislators passed a law in 2011 requiring all insurance products sold in Connecticut to strictly comply with the new federal law, which has not changed as a result of the president’s administrative guidance. Connecticut statutes further require the insurance commissioner to disapprove “at any time” a policy that “does not comply with the requirement of the law.” Thus, independent of “enforcement discretion” being exercised at the federal level, insurance plans sold in Connecticut that do not comply with Obamacare rules remain illegal and Connecticut’s insurance commissioner is required by law to disapprove them. The law, PA 11-58, passed 88-48 in the House of Representatives and 22-14 in the Senate on a strict party line vote.


“Governor Malloy and our Democratic legislature made an early and aggressive commitment to Obamacare and passed a law that, even in the wake of the president’s remarks, makes the insurance policies held by tens-of-thousands of Connecticut residents illegal,” said Senator McKinney. “Nothing the president said yesterday changes the Affordable Care Act, or any state law. In Connecticut, the commissioner does not have legal authority to approve health insurance policies that do not comply with the federal law. The only way to provide a safe harbor for Connecticut citizens who recently had their health care plans taken away is for the legislature to repeal the state law that makes these plans illegal.”

McKinney Letter Ltr111513

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Blumenthal statement on Mental Health Parity Act of 2008 rule issuance

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.,  issued a statement on the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury issuance of a "final rule implementing the Mental Health Parity Act of 2008."

The (unedited) content of the statement:

"Issuance of the final rule comes just one day after Blumenthal chaired a hearing of the "Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Federal Rights, and Agency Action hearing titled “Justice Denied: Rules Delayed on Mental Health and Auto Safety,” in which he and witnesses highlighted the long delay of the Mental Health Parity Act rule.  

Blumenthal said, “These rules expanding mental health care are the single most important step to stem and stop gun violence since the Newtown tragedy. They move America toward treating mental illness before it leads to senseless death and injury involving guns. They will also help millions of Americans who are not dangerous but victims of painful, debilitating, and disabling mental health conditions. Maybe most important, is the availability of mental health treatment to our brave, dedicated veterans, who suffer from the signature invisible wounds of recent wars like PTS and TBI. The regulations are sadly long overdue, and now must be vigilantly enforced. They are final regulations, but they are not the final word. Vigorous and vigilant enforcement are vital, and I pledge close oversight and scrutiny.”


For decades, scholars, advocates, and public officials have noted that delays in the rulemaking process force agencies to rely on less formal rulemaking methods – including interim rules – which frequently produce worse rules and involve a less transparent process. The final rule issued today implements the Mental Health Parity Act, and ensures that health plans features like co-pays, deductibles and visit limits are generally not more restrictive for mental health/substance abuse disorders benefits than they are for medical/surgical benefits. The rule also includes specific additional consumer protections, such as:


·         Ensuring that parity applies to intermediate levels of care received in residential treatment or intensive outpatient settings;

·         Clarifying the scope of the transparency required by health plans, including the disclosure rights of plan participants, to ensure compliance with the law;

·         Clarifying that parity applies to all plan standards, including geographic limits, facility-type limits and network adequacy; and

·         Eliminating the provision that allowed insurance companies to make an exception to parity requirements for certain benefits based on “clinically appropriate standards of care,” which clinical experts advised was not necessary and which is confusing and open to potential abuse."

Editor's note: All information in this post was contributed. Click one of the buttons below to share it.