Tag Archives: obama

Aetna CEO Says Company May Opt Out of Obamacare

Aetna CEO Says Company May Opt Out of Obamacare

Image credit: mutrock

There is so much uncertainty about Obamacare that Aetna, the U.S.’s third-largest insurance provider, may be forced to double its rates or opt out of the program, the company’s CEO, Mark Bertolini, told CNBC on Thursday.

What action Aetna will take is still up in the air, but the company doesn’t plan to set its 2015 Obamacare rates until May 15. Between now and then, though, Bertolini said he’s trying to get the necessary information from the Obama administration to properly price its insurance products.

“I think in the end analysis, pulling out is always the last resort,” Bertolini told “Closing Bell.”

“We don’t like to do that because we disenfranchise customers and we disappoint customers, so we always look at that as a last resort, but that is an option that we will pursue if we need to if the program doesn’t settle down; if we can’t get a good handle on the data and the less data we have, the more risk premium we need to put into our products and that means the prices are higher.”

To Bertolini, it’s still unclear whether Aetna will need to expand its network or if people will be able to keep their program for another year, for example, under the Affordable Care Act.

Still, Bertolini said Aetna probably wouldn’t withdraw from Obamacare completely. He said the insurer would decide to pull out of the program only on a market-by-market basis, based off of the level of competition and whether it can achieve an adequate return on capital.

Bertolini first threatened to pull out of Obamacare two weeks ago, in a “Squawk Box” interview from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Since then, he said the Obama administration has reached out to get the insurer the information it requires. Enrollment has grown, too, with 40,000 more paid members, he said.

Regardless of the grief it may have caused, Bertolini downplayed criticism of the many changes to the law since it was passed.

“If you take a look at a bill like Medicare, every year it gets tweaked or changed. So to expect that Obamacare hasn’t been changed already and that the Affordable Care Act won’t change in the future is probably not realistic,” he said.

President Obama, the merciless?


By P.S. Ruckman, Jr.
updated 7:03 AM EST, Tue December 31, 2013

  • President Obama has granted 52 pardons to date; George W. Bush granted almost 200
  • P.S. Ruckman: Obama is one of the least merciful presidents in U.S. history
  • He says Christmas pardons may seem warm and fuzzy, but it makes them seem like a gift
  • Ruckman: Instead of last minute pardons, politicians should grant pardons regularly

Editor’s note: P.S. Ruckman, Jr. is professor of political science at Rock Valley College and editor of the Pardon Power blog. He is the author of the forthcoming book, “Pardon Me, Mr. President: Adventures in Crime, Politics and Mercy.”

(CNN) — This month, one of the least merciful presidents in the history of the United States granted 13 pardons and eight commutations of sentence. The grants moved President Barack Obama’s overall mark past the administrations of John Adams (who served only one term), William H. Harrison (who died of pneumonia after serving only 30 days), James Garfield (who was fatally wounded by an assassin after serving only four months) and George Washington.

The New York Times complained that, when it came to the pardon power, there was just “no excuse” for Obama’s “lack of compassion” and encouraged him to “do much more.” The American Civil Liberties Union called the pardons “a step” and hoped the President would “continue to exercise his clemency powers.” Meanwhile, the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, lamented the “drought” of pardons in the Obama administration and called the recent grants “mingy and belated.” Conservative columnist Debra Saunders wrote that it was “about time” Obama acted, and even tossed out the possibility/hope that he might “do it again soon.”

While it is true that Obama’s grants included no one comparable to Scooter Libby, or Marc Rich, much less President Richard Nixon, the intensity and commonality of reactions is noteworthy. Political executives — presidents and governors — may not be quite aware of or in tune with it just yet, but the times, they are a-changing.

P.S. Ruckman, Jr.

P.S. Ruckman, Jr.

No one is clamoring for violent criminals to be yanked out of prisons and tossed into the streets to wreak havoc on society. No one is lusting for the considered judgment of judges and juries to be whimsically overturned by politicians leaving office and, in the process, sidestepping accountability.

But, increasingly, there is recognition that budgets are tight, and prisons are both overcrowded and expensive. The recidivism of those who spend time in prisons and exit without anything like serious rehabilitation is also costly. Congress’ recent recognition of the failure (if not outright unjust nature) of sentencing laws appears, to many, as still yet another indicator that there is consensus regarding the status of the so-called war on drugs: It has not worked out very well.

Judges have complained loudly about mandatory minimum and three-strikes laws which have limited their ability to tailor punishments to fit crimes — a basic notion of justice. Public opinion polls also suggest Americans are increasingly uncomfortable with over-criminalization in the law.

The pardon power will always carry an inherent political “risk,” because no one can perfectly predict the future behavior of recipients and everyone’s judgment can be second-guessed, if not mischaracterized. Informed persons know Mike Huckabee did not “pardon” Maurice Clemmons and Michael Dukakis did not “pardon” Willie Horton. But, of course, executives cannot always survive political storms with the support and encouragement of informed persons.

Nonetheless, the Founding Fathers considered the pardon power an integral part of our system of separation of powers and checks and balances. Its presence in the Constitution is premised on the notion that Congress and the Courts are not always perfect. Anyone care to disagree? It simply follows that, if the pardon power is being neglected or abused, then government is not doing what it was meant to do.

Alexander Hamilton furthermore noted, in the Federalist Papers, that the criminal codes of nations have an almost natural tendency toward over-severity. For that reason, he argued, there should be easy access to mercy. Yes, you read that right, “easy access,” or, in other words, something very different than what is going on in the Obama administration.

The fortunate thing is, presidents and governors can very easily minimize the political “risk” of pardoning by granting pardons regularly, consistently, throughout terms, as opposed to, very questionably, at the “last minute.”

While Christmas pardons may make some feel warm and fuzzy, they also send a message that is more counterproductive than anything. They seem to say mercy is an afterthought, or worse, a gift, that may or may not be deserved.

The fact of the matter is the majority of individual acts of executive clemency in our lifetime have been pardons, which simply restored the civil rights of the recipients. No one was sprung from jail. Violent criminals were not tossed into the streets. Judges and juries were not overturned. Recipients have typically committed minor offenses, many involving no incarceration whatsoever, and usually, many years if not decades before pardon. FBI background checks documented they had integrated back into society as law-abiding productive members. Their pardons were not “gifts” so much as they were well deserved recognition.

Have these pardons been high-wire maneuvers? Have they required presidents to spend precious political capital? Not at all. Obama has granted 52 pardons to date. There is a much better than average chance that readers cannot name a single recipient. George W. Bush granted almost 200.

So, why can’t Obama restore the civil rights of more applicants? Why doesn’t he? There is no obvious answer to that question, save lack of care and concern. Where is the President who said his religion teaches him the importance of redemption and second chances? Where is the hope?

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of P.S. Ruckman, Jr.



4 Reasons Rally.org is the best campaign fundraising platform

Raise a lot more money in 2014

Fundraising is the most difficult and the most important part of our job. We are a digital creative company that prides itself on amazing action-driven content. While we would prefer to be pumping out advocacy content at all times, that isn’t possible without money, the mother’s milk of political campaigns and organizations. Fundraising becomes our first and most vital role for each client. And for that job we prefer using Rally.org above all other platforms.

Rally.org is the result of years of experimentation by its founders with their preceding product Piryx, which became the most widely used donation platform by Republican political campaigns in the United States, including Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

I used Piryx for all of my clients, from local races to statewide, following Congressman Joe Wilson’s “You Lie” moment. Our opponent was raising hundreds of thousands of dollars and we couldn’t keep a website or donation platform live due to DDOS attacks. Our team was going crazy, even turning to paypal and google checkout, before we were contacted by Tom Serres, CEO of Piryx. Tom promised to work around the clock to help us fight back against the attacks, and he did exactly that. Despite Piryx becoming the target of the DDOS attacks, the platform stayed up and we raised over $2 Million. Soon thereafter I started using Piryx exclusively.

When Tom and his team raised a bunch of cash and launched Rally.org, I gladly jumped on board as an early adopter to help them figure out what works and what doesn’t. The result is a beautiful and effective system being used by candidates from both parties, as well as charitable organizations and individuals.

Here is why our team loves Rally.org:

1. It uses content to drive fundraising. We are a creative firm whose primary function is to create and distribute content. Rally.org allows us to effectively use that content to tell the story of our clients. We simply recruit new supporters, add their email addresses to Rally.org, upload content and allow the platform to send messages to each supporter, showing them our new content and asking for a donation.

2. Rally.org is the most social donation platform on the market. The trendy word for this function is “crowdfunding.” Supporters are encouraged to hook up their social platforms, as well as their email address book, to recruit their friends to the cause.

Even cooler, supporters are encouraged to set up their own fundraising pages for the campaign. Each supporter can create, customize, update and distribute their page — and all funds raised go directly to the campaign’s bank account.

Just look at these numbers from Neilsen. Do I really need to say more on the importance of peer recommendations?

3. Experimentation by the Obama campaign proved that sequential donation pages are more effective than the long form donation pages. Rally.org used that model to develop beautiful and customizable cover pages, which can be designed with images or videos.

Long form donation page

Sequential donation page with video cover

4. Rally.org is constantly tested and improved. The team is runs experiments to figure out what procedures and messages drive supporters to give their hard-earned money to an organization. The platform is being changed to fit the conclusions of those experiments, which I find vital as we see many companies refuse change. The Internet is changing everything, including itself, and something that works today may not work tomorrow. Companies and platforms must be agile and able to adapt and in Rally’s case, that allows us to raise more money.

This cycle we are using Rally.org for all our clients, from City Council to US Senate and all offices in between. We are also using it for multiple charities and even universities. Visit www.rally.org and get started. Tell them I sent you. =)

Wesley Donehue

Written by

Founder and CEO of Push Digital, a political digital agency. I write about politics and advocacy in the digital space.

Published December 26, 2013


In Western swing, Obama goes on offensive over healthcare law

(Reuters) – Almost two weeks ago, President Barack Obama, looking down, walked into the White House briefing room and apologized for the flawed rollout of his healthcare reform law.

That picture of a chastened leader now appears to be gone.

During a three-day Western swing through Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Obama touted the accomplishments of his signature law, popularly known as Obamacare, and promised the glitches were going away.

read more -> http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/26/us-usa-obama-idUSBRE9AP1CB20131126


“Impeach Obama” Demonstrators Hope to Start Conversation


A grassroots movement voicing frustration with President Obama’s administration makes its way to the Tri-State. Demonstrators picketed on the west side of Evansville at the overpass near Mead Johnson.

“Somebody has to start the national conversation,” said Robin Ratcliff. About a dozen self-proclaimed patriots take a visible stance over one of the tri-state’s most traveled roadways. Their goal…to spark a national conversation.  “Even if we don’t see eye to eye just start the conversation, you know start talking about it,” Ratcliff says, “from Benghazi, to fast and furious, to Obamacare.”

Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection an...
Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Read more : http://www.tristatehomepage.com/story/impeach-obama-demonstrators-hope-to-start-conversation/d/story/s8R5ahr7i0idy-_iobiKJQ

Obama and Republicans seek an end to U.S. fiscal impasse

English: President Barack Obama makes a statem...
English: President Barack Obama makes a statement in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House announcing a deal in the ongoing efforts to find a balanced approach to the debt limit and deficit reduction, July 31, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama and congressional Republican leaders inched toward a resolution to their fiscal impasse on Friday, but struggled to nail down the length and terms of a short-term deal to increase the U.S. debt limit and reopen the federal government.

Obama met Senate Republicans at the White House and spoke by phone to House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner as negotiations intensified to find a way to get federal workers back on the job and extend the government’s borrowing authority past the October 17 limit.

It was hard to gauge the progress of talks, as all sides refused to divulge specific details of what is being discussed.

But both sides spoke with new optimism about the possibility of avoiding a fiscal crisis, and lawmakers were expected to work through the weekend with a goal of finishing a deal by early next week.

Obama wants Republicans to raise the debt ceiling for longer than the six weeks first proposed by Republicans, and they want a commitment to broader deficit-reduction talks from the White House.


Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/11/us-usa-fiscal-idUSBRE98N11220131011



Obama turns down GOP proposal

John Thune, Susan Collins, John Barrasso

President Barack Obama spoke with House Speaker John Boehner on Friday but did not wholly accept the House Republican plan to open government, raise the debt ceiling and open budget talks, sources said.

“The President and the Speaker spoke by telephone a few minutes ago. They agreed that we should all keep talking,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner.

Senior Republican sources say Obama is amenable to changes to mandatory and discretionary spending, but needs Republicans to commit to increasing governmental revenue.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/government-shutdown-2013-update-98177.html#ixzz2hRpHrx93