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September 2009 Archives

September 10, 2009

Senator Kennedy inspires, and President Obama is there to lead the charge

"In our Catholic tradition, health care is a basic human right. Access to health care should not depend on where a person works, how much a family earns, or where a person lives. Instead, every person, created in the image and likeness of God, has a right to life and to those things necessary to sustain life, including affordable, quality health care."
--US Bishops' Statement on Healthcare, August 2009.

President Obama, in a nationally-televised address to a joint session of Congress, asserted his leadership in framing the key questions regarding reform of the dysfunctional US health insurance system. Received with thunderous applause from both Democrats and Republicans, he began this critical speech by reminding the audience about the peril that had threatened the US economy at the time of the inauguration. While acknowledging the suffering still endured by many families, he indicated that Congress had acted boldly to pull the country back from the brink of economic disaster. He invited them to do the same for healthcare.

"I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last," Mr. Obama said by way of introduction. Then he pointed out that a Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, had first proposed the creation of a national healthcare system nearly 100 years ago.

President Obama then laid out three principles that he said were at the heart of any true reform effort: the system he seeks should provide more security and stability to those who already have health insurance. Second, it should provide insurance to those who don't have insurance. And finally, it must slow the growth of health care costs for families, businesses, and government.

The legalities of the plan would dictate "consumer protections for those with insurance, an exchange that allows individuals and small businesses to purchase affordable coverage, and a requirement that people who can afford insurance get insurance."

Alluding to some religious conservatives who had sought to defeat health reform by suggesting that the administration might expand abortion rights under the guise of new healthcare legislation, President Obama responded forcefully, "One more misunderstanding I want to clear up: under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place."

The President ended his speech on a deeply personal note, citing the inspiration of Senator Ted Kennedy and calling on the lawmakers to honor his memory by working together to solve the healthcare puzzle. The President read from a letter he had received posthumously in recent days from Senator Kennedy, saying, "Ted Kennedy's passion was born not of some rigid ideology, but of his own experience. It was the experience of having two children stricken with cancer. He never forgot the sheer terror and helplessness that any parent feels when a child is badly sick."

He quoted from the letter itself, which made a specific plea for victory in the healthcare fight: "It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of victory sustained me--and the work of achieving it summoned my energy and determination." Using resonant Catholic language, Senator Kennedy said that such reform "concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country."

In the end, President Obama's remarks were rousing, and reenergized the fight against the interests that profit so much from the current system. He pointed to Senator Kennedy's logic, that America's future economic success was contingent on solving the healthcare problem. With a list of specific ideas drawn from both Republicans and Democrats, he called for his plan to become a starting point in the weeks ahead. "We did not come to fear the future," he said. "We came here to shape it."

September 15, 2009

Health & Human Services Awards $35 million to States for Increasing Adoptions

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today awarded $35 million to 38 states and Puerto Rico for increasing the number of children adopted from foster care. States use the funds from the adoption incentive award to enhance their programs for abused and neglected children.

"Adopting a child from foster care is a wonderful way to enrich any family's life," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "We congratulate the states that performed so well this year and we thank the parents who are providing loving and permanent homes."

The Adoption Incentives program was created as part of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. The original program authorized incentive funds to states that increased the number of children adopted from foster care. In order to get payments, states had to increase the number of children adopted relative to baseline data.

Under the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351), the adoption incentives were revamped to provide stronger incentives for states to redouble their efforts to find children - particularly older children and children with special needs -
loving adoptive homes. In addition, the law introduced the concept of an adoption rate, which is derived from comparing current year adoptions to the number of children in care at the end of the previous year. States receive additional money if they exceed their highest foster child adoption rate for previous years back to 2002. The Adoption Incentive program gives states $4,000 for every foster child adopted above their 2007 baseline, plus a payment of $8,000 for every foster child age nine and older and $4,000 for every other special needs child adopted above the respective baselines. In addition, states receive $1,000 for every foster child adopted over and above the level of the state's highest foster child adoption rate for previous years.

"We are pleased with the positive results states have achieved under the new adoption incentive guidelines," said David Hansell, acting assistant secretary for children and families. "Older children with special needs are the hardest to find homes for, but they are especially deserving of the safety and stability of an adoptive family."

States receiving today's funding are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Puerto Rico also qualified for an incentive award.

A list of each state's adoption incentive award amount can be found here.

September 17, 2009

President Obama calls killing of Michigan anti-abortion protestor "deplorable"

A 63-yr-old Catholic man in Owosso, Michigan, was killed by another man who was apparently angry about the nature of the protests. Mr. James Pouillon was in front of Owosso High School doing what he did just about every day, demonstrating and carrying a placard bearing the word "Life" on one side and an image of an aborted fetus with the word "Abortion" on the other.

His death is believed to be the first killing of a person protesting abortion. President Obama spoke out last Sunday about Mr Pouillon's death, calling the shooting "deplorable."

"Whichever side of a public debate you're on," said Mr Obama, "violence is never the right answer."

A New York Times story described the pain Mr Pouillon had experienced following a divorce, and how he had translated his grief into one man protests against abortion.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

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"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

"On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics."

First Inaugural Address, President Barack Obama

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