Whitehouse and Cornyn Meet with Obama on Criminal Justice

From the Whitehouse Press office:

Washington, DC – Today President Obama and Vice President Biden convened a meeting at the White House to discuss criminal justice reform efforts with key members of Congress, including U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Whitehouse, a lead sponsor of the CORRECTIONS Act along with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), released the statement below regarding the meeting:

“Both Republican and Democratic leaders agree we can pass meaningful criminal justice reform measures this year, and I was grateful for the opportunity to discuss how to best move forward. Senator Cornyn and I have already built a strong bipartisan consensus around our legislation to better prepare inmates for re-entering society and reduce the risk that they’ll commit future crimes, and I strongly support the effort led by other Senators to reform our sentencing laws. I’m hopeful that we will be able to achieve both prison and sentencing reform this year, and I thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership on this important issue.”

According to the White House, other Senators attending today’s meeting included Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Mike Lee (R-UT).

The CORRECTIONS Act would improve public safety and save taxpayer money by requiring prisoners to participate in recidivism reduction programs and allowing certain eligible prisoners to earn up to 25 percent of their sentence in prerelease custody for successful completion of these programs. The programs, which can include things like vocational training and substance abuse treatment, have been proven to help former prisoners successfully re-acclimate to society upon release and to reduce the risk that they will commit future crimes.

The Urgency of Now: Michael Smith and the White House’s Message to Funders – Inside Philanthropy

The Obama administration has broken new ground in bringing together the power of philanthropy and government. Near the center of that effort is Michael Smith, the White House aide in charge of My Brother’s Keeper.

The Urgency of Now: Michael Smith and the White House’s Message to Funders – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

Meet the Funders Gunning to Kill Obamacare – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence

We unravel the opaque money trail behind the unending attack on the Affordable Care Act, including the latest legal challenge now before the Supreme Court. At its center is a who’s who of conservative funders.

Meet the Funders Gunning to Kill Obamacare – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

Whitehouse Praises Middle Class Supports in President’s Budget

From the Whitehouse Press Office:

Washington, DC – Today President Obama released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2016. U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, released the statement below applauding the President’s proposal:

“The President’s budget would take significant steps toward a fairer tax system while also making major investments in our nation’s transportation infrastructure. This is particularly important in Rhode Island, where we have some of the oldest roads and bridges in America and where new construction projects could provide badly needed jobs. I’m also glad to see that the proposed budget would implement several policies I’ve been fighting for in the Senate, including the Buffett Rule for tax fairness and an Automatic IRA program to help millions of Americans save for retirement. From tax credits for working families to paid sick leave, the President’s budget includes many bold proposals to help middle-class families succeed. I look forward to debating the details of these and other provisions in the Budget Committee in the weeks ahead.”

Whitehouse to Prez: Dude, You’re Copying My Ideas! Keep it Up!

From the Whitehouse Press office:

New Obama Administration Goals for Medicare Mirror Sen. Whitehouse Recommendations

Senator Whitehouse has Been Urging Administration for Years to Set Clear Goals to Improve Care and Reduce Costs

Goals Resemble the Whitehouse-Steinberg Compact in Rhode Island

Washington, DC – Today the Obama Administration announced that it is setting clear goals and a specific timeline for reforming the way doctors and hospitals are reimbursed when treating Medicare patients. The goals announced today come after U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has been urging the Administration for years to set clear targets for health care delivery system reforms, arguing as early as 2011 that, “we can and must have a clear challenge to strive toward.”

In 2013 Whitehouse co-authored an opinion piece urging President Obama to set specific goals for reforming payment systems, noting that “at least 75 percent of Medicare payments should be assessed in some way other than fee-for-service” by 2020. Whitehouse also released a report in 2012 chronicling the Administration’s progress in implementing the delivery system reform provisions within the Affordable Care Act, and identifying payment reform as one of five key areas for reform.

“As we continue working to improve the delivery of care and lower costs in our health care system, it’s vital that we set clear, accountable goals,” Whitehouse said today. “Vague calls to ‘bend the cost curve’ will never galvanize our nation’s health care providers and insurers in the same way that specific goals with a number and date will. Today’s announcement by the Obama Administration reinforces the reforms already taking place under the Affordable Care Act and could accelerate the shift to a system that works better for everyone.”

More specifically, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today set a goal of tying 30 percent of traditional fee-for-service Medicare payments to alternative payment models by the end of 2016, and tying 50 percent of payments to these models by the end of 2018. HHS also set a goal of tying 85 percent of all traditional Medicare payments to quality or value by 2016 and 90 percent by 2018. Whitehouse was briefed by HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell in advance of today’s announcement.

Since 2011, Senator Whitehouse has been calling on the Administration to set a specific cost-savings target to drive health care delivery system reform efforts, and has identified payment reforms as one of the key areas in any such effort. More recently, he and Rhode Island Foundation President Neil Steinberg brought together a coalition of Rhode Island health care leaders to develop recommendations on how the state can improve care and lower costs. Among the recommendations they agreed to was to establish specific payment reform goals this year.

Senator Whitehouse has long been a leading voice for health care delivery system reforms. He founded the Rhode Island Quality Institute during his time as the state’s Attorney General, helped secure new investments in Health Information Technology in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and was a strong advocate for the inclusion of delivery system reforms in the Affordable Care Act.