Kirsten Andersen

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Obama friend, fmr. leader of Soros-funded group, receives $340 million to run ObamaCare exchanges

Kirsten Andersen
Kirsten Andersen
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NEW YORK CITY, March 1, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – An insurance company known for not keeping its contractual obligations has received $340 million in federal loans to set up a health care exchange under ObamaCare. Critics say the only apparent criteria for the loan is the fact that the company is led by a friend of Barack Obama during his community organizer days. She is also a former leader of a George Soros-funded politically radical organization.

The confluence of incompetence, cronyism, and political donations have many asking if the arrangement is above-board – and what that signals about America's future after the health care industry is rearranged.

Congress has opened an inquiry into the eligibility of President Obama’s close friend Sara Horowitz and her embattled health insurance company to receive $340 million in taxpayer-funded loans.

Horowitz, a former labor lawyer and community organizer, heads the Freelancers’ Union and the related Freelancers’ Insurance Company (FIC).

Despite the name, the Freelancers’ Union is not a union. It is the parent organization of Horowitz’s for-profit health insurance company, which serves 200,000+ customers, mostly freelancers who are ineligible for benefits through their employers.

FIC has been rated the “worst” insurer in New York for the past two years by state regulators, and has weathered numerous public relations and customer service crises since it launched in 2008. The company is so unpopular it has spawned its own hate blog, “Upset Freelancers’ Union Members,” where those who buy their healthcare from FIC meet to complain, strategize, and give each other tips on how to navigate labyrinthine restrictions and try to get results from the notoriously frustrating customer service hotline.

In 2011, the New York State Insurance Department ranked FIC dead last in customer satisfaction among insurers. Despite its relatively small size, FIC had the most complaints of all the state’s insurance providers. Last year, FIC again ranked “worst” in complaints. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners says FIC’s complaint rate is more than seven times the national average.

In half the complaints lodged against FIC by its customers, the insurance department ruled that “the health insurer did not comply with statutory or contractual obligations.”

None of this stopped the Obama administration from handing Horowitz a $340 million loan from the American taxpayers to start ObamaCare health care cooperatives.

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Horowitz’s loan is the single largest payout given under a little-known ObamaCare program that will pay about $2 billion to establish 24 such co-ops, which will compete against private insurers and state health insurance exchanges.

The tax-free loans are administrated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Consumer Insurance Information and Oversight (CCIIO).

Horowitz’s payday has raised eyebrows in Washington, leading some to question the screening process for loan applicants, and fueling criticisms of cronyism in the White House.

Horowitz is a longtime close friend of Obama’s. When he was in the Illinois state senate, Horowitz and Obama worked together to launch the George Soros-funded liberal think tank Demos, a group that worked hand-in-hand with the controversial ACORN community organizing group, which Obama also worked alongside with its voter registration program, Project Vote.

Horowitz isn’t the only one getting the side-eye over her connections to Obama and subsequent taxpayer-funded payday. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that another recipient of a $56.4 million loan, Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative in Wisconsin, “is the Milwaukee affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation, founded in 1940 by Saul Alinsky, a famed community organizer and author of Rules for Radicals. The organization, based in Chicago, bills itself as the oldest and largest community organizing network.” The group got much of its initial funding from the Gamaliel Foundation, Obama’s former employer in Chicago.

“The question you have to ask, what [are] the screening criteria, if any, or on what basis are these awards based?” said Thomas P. Miller, a health care expert at the American Enterprise Institute.

It’s difficult to find concrete information about how CCIIO screened applicants for the co-op loans. The agency’s website says, “CO-OP applicants underwent background checks that included public records searches at the local, state, and national level as well as searches of federal debarment databases.”

Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson said he thought the main criterion was a previous connection to Obama. “The Saul Alinsky-affiliated, Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative of Wisconsin was formed in August, 2011, just three short months prior to applying for the taxpayer money,” said Wilson. “In true Rules for Radicals fashion, Obama’s administration found this group worthy of receiving $56,416,000 in taxpayer largesse.”

“These grants/loans reek of political payola,” Wilson said.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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