2010 National Accessibility Achievement Awards Call for Nominations
The National Park Service is accepting nominations for the 2010 National Accessibility Achievement Awards. The Accessibility Awards offer an opportunity to recognize not only parks, but also concessioners who have gone above and beyond basic accessibility compliance requirements. Nominations may be for independent concession activities or in partnership with the park.
Nomination packages are due July 30, 2010 to Regional Accessibility Coordinators. Concessioners interested in applying should contact their Park Concession Manager to obtain nomination forms and coordinate submittal of their packages. Concessioners may develop nominations for themselves, but the nomination application must be reviewed by a park concession specialist for accuracy and content and submitted with a cover letter from the Park endorsing the nomination. We encourage you to apply and showcase your Accessibility Program efforts!
Health Care Reform Implementation Begins with New Website and Rules on Pre-existing Conditions for Children and Other Benefits
Health and Human Services has launched a new website www.healthcare.gov, to give consumers a list of all private and government health care plans for individuals and small businesses in their areas.
On June 22 also, the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and Treasury jointly issued interim final rules implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requirements relating to pre-existing condition exclusions, lifetime and annual limits, rescissions, and patient protections.
The new rules apply to the following health insurance issues:
- For most plans starting on or after September 23, these rules stop insurance companies from imposing pre-existing condition exclusions on your children; prohibit insurers from rescinding or taking away your coverage based on an unintentional mistake on an application; ban insurers from setting lifetime limits on your coverage; and restrict their use of annual limits on coverage.
- For plans starting on or after September 23, these rules ensure that you can choose the primary care doctor or pediatrician you want from your plan’s provider network, and that you can see an OB-GYN without needing a referral. Insurance companies will not be able to require you to get prior approval before seeking emergency care at a hospital outside your plan’s network. These protections apply to health plans that are not grandfathered.
The PPACA requirements addressed in the interim final rules generally apply to plan years beginning after September 23, 2010; however, the prohibition against pre-existing condition exclusions only applies to children under age 19 until 2014, when it will apply to both children and adults. These requirements also apply to grandfathered plans, other than grandfathered plans that are individual health insurance coverage. Aon Consulting issued a June 23 Alert which provides highlights of the regulations, explanations of the provisions, and next steps for plan sponsors.
Meanwhile, IRS has begun scoping and planning to determine the resources it will need to comply with the law, which includes verifying employees’ income and whether or not they are carrying qualified health insurance. IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman has publicly said the IRS will levy fines against individuals who fail to purchase adequate insurance, but said the agency’s first line of defense will be educating taxpayers to encourage compliance. IRS will also be required to track millions of new 1099’s, which will have to be submitted by businesses for every firm where annual purchases exceed $600. In the past 1099’s only applied to a specific list of services and not to equipment, food, lodging, supplies and similar purchases.
CBO Report Projects Debt Will Reach 62% of GDP by the End of the Year
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that federal debt will reach 62 percent of GDP by the end of this year—the highest percentage since shortly after World War II. The sharp rise in debt stems partly from lower tax revenues and higher federal spending related to the recent severe recession and turmoil in financial markets. According to CBO, the growing debt also reflects an imbalance between spending and revenues that predated those economic developments. According to CBO, “Large budget deficits would reduce national saving, leading to higher interest rates, more borrowing from abroad, and less domestic investment—which in turn would lower income growth in the United States."
Listening Session for President’s Great Outdoors Initiative Set for Asheville, NC
In April, at the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors, President Obama established the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to develop a conservation and recreation agenda worthy of the 21st century and to reconnect Americans with our great outdoors. The Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality are conducting listen and learn sessions from people all over the country. The next session is scheduled for July 15th in Asheville, NC. Please join senior representatives of these agencies for a public listening session and discussion on land conservation, recreation, and reconnecting Americans to the great outdoors.
Listening Session and Discussion Information:
When: Thursday, July 15, 1-4 PM
What: Public Listening Session on President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative
Where: Asheville-Buncombe County Technical Institute; Asheville Campus, 340 Victoria Road, Asheville, NC 28801 (Map & Directions)
Who: Representatives from DOI, USDA, EPA, and CEQ will be present to hear your thoughts and to participate in a conversation with you about land conservation, recreation, and reconnecting Americans to the great outdoors.
This event is free and open to the public and will make every effort to accommodate everyone. You are encouraged to pre-register by Monday July 12. To pre-register, please email Teresa Lovelace (Teresa_Lovelace@nps.gov). Include with your email your name, organization, and primary area of interest:
• Working land, open space, and landscape conservation
• Outdoor Recreation
• Youth engagement and environmental education.
• General Discussion
More Info: You can find more information on the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative and submit comments on-line at: www.doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors/.
Fraudulent Signatures Submitted in Campaign to Eliminate Non Resident Licenses for Montana Outfitters
At least four Montana counties have confirmed the presence of fraudulent signatures gathered by a supporter or temporary workers to advance the I-161 ballot initiative, which would eliminate the relatively small number of non-resident hunting licenses set aside for outfitters. Organizer of the effort, Kurt Kephart of Billings, admitted in the Billings Gazette, that there was fraud in the campaign although he claimed to want the person who did it prosecuted. He hired a temp agency to gather signatures. He also convinced the State Department of Corrections to allow the use of pre-release offenders in state detention to gather signatures while serving community service sentences.
The fraud appears to be widespread. Yellowstone County found only 20 valid signatures on a petition with 200 names on it supporting the initiative. 24,337 signatures from registered voters, including 5% of the voters in at least 34 counties were needed by June 18th for the initiative to appear on the November ballot.
The fraud was uncovered by election officials in several counties. Mac Minard, Executive Director of the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association (MOGA), thinks more news will be coming out in the near future as the campaign against the state’s outfitters unravels. MOGA and others have submitted nearly 40 individual formal complaints that allege fraudulent and illegal activities.
Back to top.