Friday, February 28, 2014

Buffalo School District, Mary Guinn

Buffalo's deputy superintendent position vacant since Folasade Oladale resigned in 2011.

Mary E. Guinn hired as interim deputy superintendent of Buffalo schools to June 2013.

Not directly employed by the district, her salary paid from $550,000 donation raised by:
-Cross & Joftus education consulting firm located in Danville, CA
-grant money from Say Yes to Education
-John R Oishei Foundation 
-Foundation for Greater Buffalo.

Guinn hired by the district as a consultant.
The school district agrees to pay her $290,359 plus expenses for traveling and lodging through June 2014. 

HealthNow's CEO Alfonso O'Neil-White volunteers his company to help with search for deputy superintendent position, agreeing to work with Guinn for six months.

HealthNow, not being supported by the district, presents three potential candidates and ends its efforts.

Guinn's work with the district raises questions among board members - taking too much authority as consultant: signing off on payroll documents, directing employees, presiding over meetings.

Summer 2013
Guinn, spearheading the district's central office reorganization, recruits and hires Yamilette Williams as chief of curriculum, assessment and instruction and Faith Morrison Alexander as a district chief of school leadership with salaries of $130,000 and $135,000 respectively. 

Guinn, Williams, and Alexander (all from out of state) are all connected to the Arizona-based Evans Newton educational firm from which all three worked as consultants.

Neither Williams nor Alexander have the required state certification to hold their jobs.

Williams and Alexander oversee numerous education proposals, contracts, and employee evaluations (without having technical authority to do so).

Buffalo district spends $12,997 in local leadership grant money to cover tuition costs for Williams and Alexander to attend the accelerated superintendent development program through Greater Southern Tier BOCES. *

Cross & Joftus asked to cancel its $432,000 year-long contract with the Buffalo school district amid questions about Guinn's role and responsibilities.

Consulting firm president Scott Joftus said the search for a deputy superintendent was conducted by an interview team that included representatives from HealthNow, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, the district’s human resources director and chief financial officer, and the superintendent Pamela Brown.  Guinn was also on the interview committee, but as a nonvoting member.

Guinn applies to the state education department for administration credentials needed to fill the position of deputy superintendent.

Superintendent Brown denies that she plans to re-hire Guinn.

Guinn is appointed to the position of deputy superintendent until June 30,2014 at an annual salary of $175,000. ($58,333 for four months if she lasts until June 30.)

Brown claims that HealthNow led the initial search to fill Guinn's spot.
HealthNow's director of corporate relations Julie Snyder denies this.

Brown says the district received 35 applications and conducted phone interviews but, she claims, candidates did not want to come to Buffalo because of the political climate.


Mary E. Guinn

-1977 to 1981 speech and language development specialist at a Head Start program in Arkansas

-1981 to 1984 speech pathologist in Little Rock school district

-1984 to 1985 principal of an elementary school in Little Rock

-1985 to 1998 held a number of administrative positions in various districts in Louisiana

-1998 to 2004 superintendent in Gary, Ind., a district about half the size of Buffalo
--citing decline in test scores, board voted not to renew her contract

-2004 to 2009 deputy superintendent in Tulsa, Okla., a district about the size of Buffalo
--lost her job in a restructuring
---private donors provided the $188,000 to buyout her contract

-2009 to 2012 a “deputy superintendent/consultant” in Falcon, Colo.
---news reports from February 2011 indicate that she was in line to become the district’s chief education officer, but she irked school board members by asking for a raise for taking a job that would have involved fewer responsibilities

-July 2011 to June 2012 head of a charter school in New Orleans.
--news report published on March 29, 2012, indicated she had resigned. Her boss in the charter school network told a reporter at the time that he and the charter school board had doubts about the school’s goals under Guinn’s leadership

-July 2012 to 2013 an educational consultant for Evans Newton Inc. in Scottsdale, AZ. 
--she works with number of administrators who eventually come to Buffalo

-2013 senior associate at Cross and Joftus

Guinn holds a bachelor’s in speech pathology and psychology from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; a master’s in special education from the University of Central Arkansas; and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

* The Buffalo News 3/22/2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ACC, Anthropogenic Climate Change, Global Warming, Survey, 97%

2010 PNAS Survey

Although preliminary estimates from published literature and expert surveys suggest striking agreement among climate scientists on the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC. A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions. Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.

William R. L. Anderegg --- Department of Biology, Stanford University
James W. Prall --- Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto
Jacob Harold --- William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Palo Alto, CA
Stephen H. Schneider --- Department of Biology & Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University

Excerpts from the survey:

"We compiled a database of 1,372 climate researchers based on authorship of scientific assessment reports and membership on multisignatory statements about ACC...

Between December 2008 and July 2009, we collected the number of climate-relevant publications for all 1,372 researchers from Google Scholar (search terms: "author:fi-lastname climate")...

We compiled a database of 1,372 climate researchers and classified each researcher into two categories: convinced by the evidence (CE) for anthropogenic climate change (ACC) or unconvinced by the evidence (UE) for ACC. We defined CE researchers as those who signed statements broadly agreeing with or directly endorsing the primary tenets of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report that it is "very likely" that anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been responsible for most of the unequivocal warming of the Earth's average global temperature in the second half of the 20th century...

We then imposed an a priori criterion that a researcher must have authored a minimum of 20 climate publications to be considered a climate researcher, thus reducing the database to 908 researchers...

We ranked researchers based on the total number of climate publications authored. Though our compiled researcher list is not comprehensive nor designed to be representative of the entire climate science community, we have drawn researchers from the most high-profile reports and public statements about ACC...

The UE [those unconvinced by the ACC evidence] group comprises only 2% of the top 50 climate researchers as ranked by expertise (number of climate publications), 3% of researchers of the top 100, and 2.5% of the top 200, excluding researchers present in both groups...

Regarding the influence of citation patterns, we acknowledge that it is difficult to quantify potential biases of self-citation or clique citation in the analysis presented here...

Ultimately, of course, scientific confidence is earned by the winnowing process of peer review and replication of studies over time. In the meanwhile, climate science, we must seek estimates while confidence builds. Based on the arguments presented here, we believe our findings capture the differential climate science credentials of the two groups."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Buffalo, New York, Cuomo, Soraa, Silevo

Governor Cuomo commits $225 M for Fremont, CA companies Soraa and Silevo to locate in Buffalo, NY.

Soraa and Silevo commit $750 M each for the Buffalo project and pledge to hire 850 employees.

founded 2008
makes LED lights
250 employees
financing raised: $100 M

founded 2007
makes solar panels
200 employees
financing raised: $72 M
has yet to turn a profit

Sorra and Silevo have a combined workforce of 450 employees and have raised $172 M in financing over five years.

Remarkably, we are told that these two companies will raise $1.5 Billion to finance a Buffalo project that will create 850 jobs.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Left v. NFL

Head Injuries

With Washington playing Dallas here tonight, it seems like an appropriate time to acknowledge the ongoing controversy about the name, "Redskins."
...think for a moment about the term “Redskins,” and how it truly differs from all the others. Ask yourself what the equivalent would be if directed towards African Americans, Hispanics, Asians or any other ethnic group. When considered that way, “Redskins” can’t possibly honor a heritage or noble character trait, nor can it possibly be considered a neutral term. It’s an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present day intent.

Tackle Jonathan Martin says the persistence of vulgar language around the Miami Dolphins made him feel trapped, so he left the team before lodging allegations at the root of a bullying scandal.

Hearing Loss
The NFL encourages the din [of crowd noise]...
But all that noise can come with a serious cost...
The potential damage includes not just partial deafness and ringing, but also less common auditory abnormalities such as hyperacusis, an intolerance to sound sometimes accompanied by ear pain.
Just about everyone inside a football stadium on game day – players, coaches and fans – acknowledges that the noise is overpowering...

Bob Costas and Piers Morgan couldn't agree more on one thing: Something has to be done about the pervasive gun culture in the United States.
And that problem, Costas said, becomes even more of an issue when you pair it with the culture of the National Football League...

Gay Advocacy Social Justice
NFL could pull Super Bowl if Arizona religious rights bill passes
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, S.B. 1062, is the current controversy du jour out of Arizona, and the National Football League is with the opposition.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Buffale News, NY State of Health, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, enrollment

*11/13/13 front page above the fold:

48,000 Enroll in State Health Exchange
number of applications for insurance are on target

New York ACA tallies:
  48,162  ACA exchange enrollees
- 23,653  new Medicaid enrollees  (reported in paragraph 24 of the article)
  24,509  new paying enrollees  (calculated using article figures)
-137,000  cancellations of private insurance policies  (not reported in article)
-112,491  change in # of NYers paying for private health insurance

+ 23,653  new Medicaid enrollees
- 88,838  change in # of NYers with health insurance coverage

[HHS report:  All state exchanges (including NY's) account for 79,391 enrollees]

*11/15/2013 front page above the fold:

Obama acts on letting health plans be restored
Wants states to resolve problem of cancellations

*11/26/2013 section B page 6:

   41,021  new private insurance enrollees

   35,156  new Medicaid enrollees

*2/10/2014 New York State of Health press release:

Enrollment of New Yorkers on NY State of Health Tops 412,000
[the 412,221 enrollments include public and private coverage --- 251,000 are private plans]

66 percent of enrolled New Yorkers were uninsured when they applied

Nearly 70 percent of those who have enrolled thus far have qualified for financial assistance to help pay for their coverage

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

2013 Federal Government Shutdown, Buffalo, NY

Day 1 - 10/1/13
Unidentified woman interviewed by WBEN had tried to pay an unspecified bill at the downtown Federal building and was told she would have to mail the bill via US  Postal Service. 
She thought that this was inconvenient. 

Day 2 - 10/2/13
Tourist from Vancouver is shown on front page of The Buffalo News above the fold in a 6 x 4" photo under the banner headline Starting to feel shutdown's pain. 
Trying to visit the closed Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historical Site, he was "disappointed." 

Day 3 - 10/3/13
Dozens of Western New Yorkers were denied entrance to Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota because of the partial shutdown of the federal government.
The 91 travelers were able to catch just a passing glimpse from afar.
The entrance to the park, parking lots and highway pull-off areas where people usually are allowed to stop their vehicles for photographs of the monument all were blocked to any traffic.
“It’s all closed up. They won’t even let you stop and take a picture. You can only drive by.”

Day 4 - 10/4/2013
Rep. Brian Higgins, D - Buffalo goes on record saying that he is exasperated by the "small group of extremists within [the Republican] caucus," and that "[House Speaker Boehner] doesn't have the courage..." to force a vote on a bill acceptable to President Obama.

Day 5 - 10/5/2013
Trent Reznor of the band Nine Inch Nails tells a Toronto concert crowd 98 miles north of Buffalo that he will be moving to Canada because of the US government shutdown.

Day 6 - 10/6/2013
A: "Those jerks closed the libraries?!"
B: "No, the libraries are still open."
A: "Well, they're still jerks!"

Day 7 - 10/7/2013
Local political reporter predicts that Western New York Congressional Representatives Chris Collins, R - Clarence and Tom Reed, R - Corning will not be reelected because of the shutdown.

Day 8 - 10/8/2013
In Grand Island, NY, 13 miles north of Buffalo, no residents spoke at a public hearing to suggest uses for Federal Community Development funds. 
In lieu of other suggestions, the Town Supervisor will likely revamp last year's application for a senior transportation van.

Day 9 - 10/9/2013
The Buffalo News editorial board lists shutdown "facts":
*This is wholly a product of the GOP.
*A minority of the Republican Party doesn't care about [global financial chaos].
*Republicans are taking a beating over the government shutdown.
*The shutdown is not only reckless but potentially fatal...

Day 10 - 10/10/2013
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo:  "Congressional dysfunction has already hurt New York and the nation's economies by fueling a lack of consumer confidence nationwide."

Day 11 - 10/11/2013
Rep. Tom Reed, R - Corning (105 miles SE of Buffalo) stands up at a private meeting of GOP House members to say that he stood by Tea Party members when they tried to defund Obamacare and that they owe him and other electorally endangered lawmakers by backing a temporary hike in the debt ceiling.

Day 12 - 10/12/2013
The Buffalo News Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski:  "Republicans... weren't even discussing transformative changes to the health law.  What happened?  Well, it seems the people got their say.  Establishment Republicans in Washington say that, day by day and poll by poll, it became clear to them that the fight to end Obamacare via government shutdown is a political disaster for the GOP."

Day 13 - 10/13/2013
NY Governor Cuomo on the state spending $61,600 a day to reopen the Statue of Liberty National Park during the shutdown: It is in the state's economic interest to make sure the statue is accessible.

Day 14 - 10/14/2013
"Shutdown stalls area SBA loans." 
The SBA has halted approval of 7(a) loan applications since many of its employees have been furloughed. 
M&T Bank, the largest SBA lender in the region, has 26 pending loan requests in the Buffalo area.

Day 15 - 10/15/2013
Realtor in Erie County tells pending home buyer to expect a delay in their closing date due to the shutdown.

Day 16 - 10/16/2013
Shutdown ends.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Index of NSA Surveillance terms

AGILITY - database of foreign intelligence selectors (non CT)

AIRGAP - Priority missions tool used to determine SIGINT gaps
AQUADOR - Merchant ship tracking tool
BANYAN - NSA tactical geospatial correlation database

BLARNEY - subset of Upstream

CASPORT - main NSA corporate / access identification tool used to control product dissemination

CONVEYANCE - one of two (other FALLOUT) final layers of filtering to reduce the intake of information about Americans

DICE - DEA database consisting largely of phone log and Internet data gathered legally by the DEA through subpoenas, arrests and search warrants nationwide. DICE includes about 1 billion records, and they are kept for about a year and then purged.

DISHFIRE - a data communication collection system...

DNI - Digital Network Intelligence; a system developing intelligence from computer networks

DNI Presenter - An NSA tool used to read the content of stored emails, also enables an analyst using XKeyscore to read the content of Facebook chats or private messages.

Executive Order 12333 - allegedly permits collection of data to get around the limitations imposed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and FAA 702

FAA702 - FISA Amendments Act Section 702 (FISA Section 702); surveillance of foreign suspects; contains two types of data collection: Upstream and PRISM

FAIRVIEW - subset of Upstream...

FALLOUT - one of two (other CONVEYANCE) final layers of filtering to reduce the intake of information about Americans

FIVE EYES - Foreign country partner interfaces

HOMEBASE - a tactical tasking tool for digital network identification

HUMINT - human intelligence, spying

J2 Cryptologic Intelligence Unit - collects intelligence on worldwide cryptologic efforts

MAINWAY - subset of SCISSORS; call records

MARINA - NSA data bank; subset of SCISSORS; Internet records; user activity meta-data with front end full take feeds and back-end selected feeds.

NUCLEON - subset of SCISSORS; voice data types

OCTAVE/CONTRAOCTIVE - Collection mission tasking tool -- where "selectors" live

OTRS -- Office of Target Reconnaissance and Survey - provides rapid technological solutions for tactical SIGINT problems

Parallel Construction - Use of normal investigative techniques to recreate the information provided by Special Operations Division (SOD): Subpoena domestic telephone tolls, Field interviews/defendant debriefs, Request foreign tolls or subscriber info via the Attaché office/MLAT; Recreates the investigative trail, stating in affidavits or in court, for example, that an investigation began with a traffic infraction rather than an SOD tip.

PINWALE - NSA data bank; subset of SCISSORS; video; content selected from dictionary tasked items

PRINTAURA - automates traffic flow

PRISM - subset of FAA702; data collection directly from the servers of US Internet service providers

PRISM Collection Manager, S35333 - title for the redacted name on Snowden's PRISM powerpoint presentation

SCISSORS - sort data types for analysis in: NUCLEON, PINWALE, MAINWAY, MARINA, and TrafficThief

selector - known email address

Sessions -

SIGAD - a specific numeric signals activity/address designator given to each data processing tool, collection platform, mission and source for raw intelligence; each SIGAD is basically a collection site, physical or virtual; examples: NSA listening post at Osan in Korea has the SIGAD USA-31.  Clark Air Force Base is USA-57.  PRISM is US-984XN

SIGINT - collecting signal intelligence or communications

Signals Intelligence Management Directive 421 - raw SIGINT data, includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and/or unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice, and some forms of computer-generated data, such as call event records and other Digital Network Intelligence (DNI) metadata as well as DNI message text

SNORT - Repository of computer network attack techniques/coding

SOD - Special Operations Division - The unit of the DEA that distributes surveillance information. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security.

T - Technical Directorate
T1 - Mission Capabilities
T2 - Business Capabilities
T3 - Enterprise IT Services
T5: CARILLION - High performance computing center

T132 -- The "scissors" team - division that physically separates traffic by type once it's been ingested
T3221 - Transport Field Services
T332 - Global Enterprise Command Center
T334 - National Signals Processing
T335 - Deployable Communications Operations

TrafficThief - subset of SCISSORS; meta-data from a subset of task-strong sectors

Upstream - subset of FAA702; collection of communications on fiber cables and infrastructure as data flows past (FAIRVIE, BLARNEY, [redacted], [redacted])

US-984XN - Otherwise known as PRISM

VOXGLO - major cyber and enterprising computing project

WIRESHARK - Repository of malicious network signatures

XKS - XKeyscore - NSA data bank; Unique data beyond user activity from front end full take feeds.
Allows analysts to search the metadata as well as the content of emails and other Internet activity, such as browser history, even when there is no known email account associated with the individual being targeted. Analysts can also search by name, telephone number, IP address, keywords, the language in which the Internet activity was conducted or the type of browser used. "Searches within bodies of emails, webpages and documents", including the "To, From, CC, BCC lines" and the 'Contact Us' pages on websites". To search for emails, an analyst using XKS enters the individual's email address into a simple online search form, along with the "justification" for the search and the time period for which the emails are sought. Beyond emails, the XKeyscore system allows analysts to monitor a virtually unlimited array of other Internet activities, including those within social media. The XKeyscore program also allows an analyst to learn the IP addresses of every person who visits any website the analyst specifies. The XKeyscore system is continuously collecting so much Internet data that it can be stored only for short periods of time. Content remains on the system for only three to five days, while metadata is stored for 30 days. One document explains: "At some sites, the amount of data we receive per day (20+ terabytes) can only be stored for as little as 24 hours."
To solve this problem, the NSA has created a multi-tiered system that allows analysts to store "interesting" content in other databases, such as one named PINWHALEwhich can store material for up to five years. It is the databases of XKeyscore, one document shows, that now contain the greatest amount of communications data collected by the NSA.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

ObamaCare, Waivers, Exemptions, Delays, Postponements, Suspensions, Affordable Care Act, Deadlines, Timeline

The Obama Administration acknowledges that a Long-Term Care provision in the health care law championed by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy is financially unsustainable.
Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius wrote a letter to Congress that a 19-month “comprehensive analysis” of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program indicated that it is not viable.

Section 10407(d) mandate that the Secretary of Health and Human Services is required to “submit to Congress a report on the appropriate level of diabetes medical education.” This report has not been located as of 8/2013.
Also due and missed, the Secretary is required to “implement a 5-year national public education campaign on oral health care prevention and education.”
A requirement for the Secretary to “develop requirements for health plans to report on their efforts to improve health outcomes,” also due on March 23, 2012, has not been met

U.S. Government Accountability Office report: Obama administration is spending $8.35 billion to postpone Obamacare’s cuts to the market-oriented Medicare Advantage program.

Announces a one-year delay in issuing rules to states for putting in place a “Basic Health Program,” a Medicaid-like plan for low-income adults who don’t qualify for Medicaid and may not be eligible for insurance subsidies.

Congressional Research Service (CRS) report:  As of May 31, 2013 of 82 deadlines that the Affordable Care Act mandates upon the first three years of its own implementation, the administration has failed to meet 41.  White House had yet to meet 9 of 12 deadlines from the first year after the Affordable Care Act was enacted. It failed to meet 22 of 53 deadlines in the second year; another 8 became moot after Congress did not appropriate funds to complete the assigned tasks. In year three, the administration missed 10 out of 17 deadlines. That’s a total of 41 out of 82 deadlines missed.

Obama administration delays implementation of Obamacare’s employer mandate—the requirement that all firms with 50 or more employees offer health coverage, or pay steep fines—until 2015. The mandate was supposed to go into effect on 1/1/2014 with retroactive enforcement starting 7/1/2013.

Obama administration announces that it will significantly scale back the health law’s requirements that new insurance marketplaces verify consumers’ income and health insurance status.  Instead, the federal government will rely more heavily on consumers’ self-reported information ("the honor system") until 2015, when it plans to have stronger verification systems in place.

Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general report:  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) - the agency within HHS that is running Obamacare - had set a May 13 deadline to deliver a plan to test the security of the crucial information technology component.
A test scheduled between June 3 and 7 was postponed and the delivery deadline and the test - assessing firewalls and other security elements - was re-set for August.
The delays in personal data security in the ACA exchanges mean that CMS's security certification of the Obamacare IT system will be pushed back from September 4 to September 30, a day before enrollment under the law is supposed to start.

Obama administration exempts Congress from being required to purchase health insurance from ACA exchanges. 
Under the law, they would not have qualified for government subsidies because of their high salaries. 
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will now pay 75% of the health insurance premium costs for Congressional staff.

A costly provision of the Affordable Care Act — its caps on out-of-pocket insurance costs, such as co-pays and deductibles — will be delayed for one more year.
The grace period has been outlined on the Labor Department’s Web site since February, but was obscured in a maze of legal and bureaucratic language that went largely unnoticed. When asked in recent days about the language, department officials confirmed the policy.

The Obama administration delays a step crucial to the launch of the new healthcare law, the signing of final agreements with insurance plans to be sold on federal health insurance exchanges starting October 1.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notifies insurance companies that it would not sign final agreements with the plans between September 5 and 9, as originally anticipated, but would wait until mid-September instead, according to insurance industry sources.
The reason for the hold-up is unclear. Sources attributed it to technology problems involving the display of insurance products within the federal information technology system.

SHOP Exchange—the small business exchange where small business owners will be able to compare plans side-by-side.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius confirms that while rates will be available to view on Oct. 1, when the exchanges are set to open, small businesses will not be able to buy insurance for another month.
Small businesses looking to enroll in coverage on so-called SHOP exchanges run by the federal government will be able to submit a paper application on Oct. 1 – they just won’t be able to enroll online.

“ was initially going to include an option to browse before registering,” report Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal. “But that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said.” Why was it delayed? “An HHS spokeswoman said the agency wanted to ensure that users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies that could help pay for coverage, before they started seeing the prices of policies.”

10/1/2013 website opens as the portal for the ACA marketplace and is completely non-functional.

Obama administration grants a six-week extension from Feb 15 until March 31, 2014 for Americans to sign up for coverage next year and avoid new tax penalties under the president's health care overhaul law because of the non-functional website.

Asks insurers to reinstate plans being canceled because they do not comply with minimum coverage requirements of the law.

The Obama administration plans to push back by a month the second-year start of enrollment in its health program to give insurers more time to adjust to growing pains in the law, a move that may stave off higher premiums before the 2014 congressional elections.
The enrollment period, previously scheduled to begin Oct. 15, 2014, will now start Nov. 15.
The decision means that sign-ups for the 2015 plan year would begin on Nov. 15, 2014 and end on Jan. 15, 2015 instead of the Oct. 15-Dec. 7 window previously announced.

The Obama administration is extending the date for individuals to enroll in health care plans.
As things stood prior to the announcement, individuals who wanted to be covered by Jan. 1 had to pick a plan by Dec. 15. That date has now been pushed back to Dec. 23

Extends the deadline to sign up for health coverage that takes effect on Jan. 1 by eight days (to Dec. 23) and delays the 2015 insurance enrollment period by a month, to Nov. 15, 2014, after the midterm elections.

Union-managed multi-employer health insurance plans are getting a special exemption from an Affordable Care Act tax. To make up for the lost revenue, taxes are going up on other plans.
The rules change exempts self-administered, self-insured group health plans from the law's reinsurance fee.

Spanish language version of

Small business exchange...

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, one of Obamacare's architects and staunchest supporters, is also the only top congressional leader to exempt some of Reid's staff from having to buy insurance through the law's new exchanges.

Regarding the deadline to receive insurance coverage on January 1,  if an individual tries to sign up by December 23 but experiences an issue with the marketplace, they qualify for a special enrollment period and gain coverage as soon as possible.

The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Program — which was supposed to expire at the end of this year — will continue through the end of January.

Announces that people whose policies have been canceled will be allowed to buy catastrophic coverage and will be exempt from tax penalties for not having insurance in 2014. It also extends for one month an expiring federal program for people with cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses.

People whose health plans are being canceled because their coverage doesn’t meet Obamacare rules will be exempt next year from the mandate that all Americans carry medical insurance.
People losing coverage will now be allowed to buy bare-bones “catastrophic” insurance that the law usually limits to those younger than age 30.  Others can opt out completely without the threat of the fines being imposed next year on the uninsured as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The deadline to sign up for Obamacare (scheduled for 11:59PM December 23 for January 1 coverage) has been pushed back 24 hours...

Announces that if people could show that they missed the deadline for coverage beginning Jan. 1 because of problems with, they might qualify for “a special enrollment period.” The administration did not say how long the period would last, but a spokeswoman said it was not providing “a blanket extension,” but was offering to provide “assistance to individuals on a case-by-case basis.”

Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor issues a temporary injunction barring the administration from enforcing the birth control requirement against an order of Colorado nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and related groups.
After the brief is filed, Justice Sotomayor or the full court could extend or dissolve this temporary injunction while litigation moves forward in the lower courts. It is also possible that the Supreme Court would agree to hear the case immediately.
The 30,000 people with a history of serious illnesses who are enrolled in high-risk insurance pools created under the health care law in 2010 will have an additional two months -- until March 31 -- before they lose that coverage.
Late last month federal officials announced that they would extend the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) — scheduled to close 12/31/2013 — until the end of this month to give people more time to enroll in health plans through state and federal insurance enrollment websites, many of which have been riddled with problems.
Enrollees in the high-risk pools must select a new plan by March 15 to avoid a gap in coverage. 

The Obama administration announced it will give medium-sized employers (between 50 and 99 employees) an extra year, until 2016, before they must offer health insurance to their full-time workers.
Firms with at least 100 employees will have to start offering this coverage in 2015.
These new Treasury Department regulations allow the nation’s largest employers avoid a fine by offering coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95 percent starting in 2016.
Under an earlier proposal, employers with at least 50 employees would have been required to offer insurance, beginning 2015, to 95 percent of those who work 30 hours or more a week, along with their dependents.

The Massachusetts Obamacare exchange is awarded a three-month extension from the Obama administration to fix its broken website and get customers enrolled

Department of Health and Human Services announces that the supposedly temporary “fix” that President Obama announced in November to address the problem of the millions of Americans who lost coverage as a result of his health care law's minimum coverage requirements has now been extended through Oct. 1, 2016.

"Hard Luck" claims can be used to circumvent individual insurance mandates. 

In an attempt to limit the disruption to the insurance industry that would be caused by the move, HHS also announced that the “risk corridor” program (which has been described as a “bailout” to insurers; a means for shifting money from insurers who fare better under the new system to those who fare worse) would be further modified to funnel more money to insurers in states affected by the change.  Specifically, HHS would raise the administrative cost ceiling from 20 percent to 22 percent, and increase the risk corridors' profit margin floor from 3 percent to 5 percent.

Federal officials: all consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on, but who do not finish by March 31, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension.
Under the new rules, people will be able to qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline. This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth.
The rules, which will apply to the federal exchanges operating in three dozen states, will essentially create a large loophole even as White House officials have repeatedly said that the March 31 deadline was firm.