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Each year, the President designates March as National Women’s History Month as one way that Americans in schools, workplaces and local communities can take the time to reflect on the accomplishments and legacies of women who have shaped our great country’s history.

This year’s theme is “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment.”

Like many of you, when I see those words, I think of my mother, I think of my sister, and I think of my daughter, all strong and courageous women in my life.

The theme of character, courage and commitment honors the extraordinary and often unrecognized determination of the tenacity of women. For generations, often facing social convention and legal constraints, women have persevered in their efforts to achieve their full potential.

This month, the National Women’s History Project has named 12 honorees whose lives and achievements span centuries and cultural and ethnic backgrounds. 

Among the honorees are three women who are – or were – Federal employees. They are examples of the legions of women who go to work for the American people each and every day.

Frances Oldham Kelsey was the Food and Drug Administration Pharmacologist who refused to approve thalidomide, a drug that was later proved to cause severe birth defects.  Dr. Kelsey’s research led Congress to pass the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act greatly strengthening the agency’s drug regulations. Dr. Kelsey continued her work at the FDA until her retirement in 2005 at age 91.

Ann Lewis has been a lifelong women’s rights organizer and women’s history advocate. She served as White House Communications Director under President Clinton. As a national commentator on public policy, she champions the recognition of women’s history.

Lisa Taylor is a civil rights attorney for the Department of Justice where she has enforced the rights of HIV victims, autistic children, and educational opportunities for minority students. She was in Naval ROTC as a student and served as an officer aboard the USS Tarawa, where she developed the ship’s first program to address sexual harassment.

I salute all of these women. And I want to thank all the women here at OPM for the job they do each and every day to serve this agency and the American people.

In his Women’s History Month proclamation, President Obama calls on all of us to also “celebrate those who make progress in our time. Let us remember that when women succeed, America succeeds.” 

I hope we all take time out of our busy lives this month to remember the women who have been important in our lives. And still are.

 

 

 


Saturday I went to Philadelphia to get the word out about the approaching deadline for people to enroll in the Affordable Care Act Marketplaces. The push is on to make sure that everyone who is eligible for health insurance under the new health law has the information and help they need to enroll by March 31.

I visited with people attending a four-hour event at Congreso de Latinos Unidos where representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services were on hand to answer questions and assist people in the enrollment process.

I told the community residents a little bit about my family’s health care story and about how necessary it is to have health coverage, regardless of what age you are.

My daughter Graciela was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 19. Now healthy, she still has a lifetime of tests and need for medical care ahead of her. The Affordable Care Act ensures that she won’t ever be denied coverage for that care. My older brother Bob is a laborer. He works whenever he can get a job, so he wasn’t able to get health insurance. With the Affordable Care Act, he has been able to sign up for a plan through healthcare.gov and he no longer has to worry about the possibility of getting sick. My younger brother Dan is a contractor. He had health insurance but it was prohibitively expensive – he spent most of his paycheck just on the cost. With the exchanges he was able to get a plan that is much more affordable and still provides excellent coverage.

My family’s story is not that unusual. It’s the same story that families all across America could tell. And it’s why the Affordable Care Act is so important.

The President wants to make sure that the word is getting out to the Hispanic community, which has a higher insurance rates that most. Nearly 25 percent of Hispanics are uninsured.

That’s a statistic that must change. And because of the Affordable Care Act it will.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, Americans can get quality healthcare for an affordable cost. They can be sure that they will have coverage to treat the accidents and unexpected illnesses that may come their way. And they can know that they can’t be denied coverage because they’ve been sick.

My trip to Philadelphia today is the first of several I will be making between now and March 31, the deadline to enroll. We all need to spread the word: Enroll Now!


There are only 33 days left for Americans to sign up for a health plan in the Affordable Care Act Marketplaces.

We held an exciting event here at OPM this week designed to help parents of young adults about to turn 26 or who are already older than that.

Why that age group? Because people reaching that age have some decisions to make. Under the Affordable Care Act, children can stay on their parent’s health insurance plans until they turn 26.

 But after that, if these young folks are not insured through their jobs, they need to make sure they sign up for a health plan through the ACA Marketplaces.

We parents know it is not always easy to convince our children to do anything. So the OPM health care team organized this event to give parents some tips on how to counsel their children on the importance of having health insurance. They gave OPM employees some pointers on how their children can go to Healthcare.gov and find all the information they need about health plans, their costs and how to enroll.

Young people often believe they are invincible and don’t have to worry about being insured Take it from me, the mother of a young woman, Graciela, who was diagnosed with cancer at age 19. Graciela is well now but she will need health care for the rest of her life. And the Affordable Care Act ensures that no insurance company can refuse to cover her because she has a pre-existing condition.

So tell your children my daughter’s story, a story that is repeated in families across this country. Convince them to sign up. And then share your experience on my Facebook page and on Twitter. How you convinced your young person to enroll in a health plan may help another parent who is still trying to make the case to their child.

And remember, the deadline to sign up for this year is March 31. Don’t let it slip by!


The College Tour continues. Thursday I had the pleasure of meeting with students at the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

It was my first visit to Charlottesville. What a beautiful campus!

I brought some members of my Office of Personnel Management team with me to talk to the students about what it’s like to work for the Federal government and what the opportunities are for Federal service.  They had a good discussion and the students had lots of questions.

I shared some of my earliest experiences in public service and urged the students give us a try. It’s a message I want to take to young people across the country. We’re looking for fresh talent. We’re looking for people who want to use their skills to help their fellow Americans. We’re looking for our next generation of public service leaders.

They asked important questions about how to make a resume stand out from the pack and about the process for applying for a Federal job.

I talked about the incredible variety of jobs in the Federal government that are available all across this great country. I pointed them to USAJOBS.gov and we showed a short video that chronicles the breadth of careers available. 

I plan to continue my college tour to spread the word about the opportunities in Federal service. I urge all of us in the Federal family to do the same.


I started my college tour this week with a visit to George Mason University. Talking to students is one of the most important and rewarding parts of my job as Director of the Office of Personnel Management. I want to visit as many campuses as possible to spread the word about the great opportunities for a career in the Federal government.

On Tuesday, I met with a group of students and faculty. The subject? Web sites. Two sites to be exact: healthcare.gov and usajobs.gov.

The deadline for enrolling in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces for this year is March 31. I urged the students to check out healthcare.gov to see all the plans available to them and the possible Federal assistance they can get to help pay the premiums.

Even if you already have health insurance, as I told the students, share the great information on healthcare.gov with anyone you know who needs health coverage. First bookmark the page for yourself. Then Tweet it, Post it. Text it. Like it. Share it. Vine it. Get the word out anywhere you can.

The other website I urged the George Mason community to look at was usajobs.gov. I especially told them to click on “Students and recent graduates.” That links to OPM’s Pathways page. There are listings for internships, jobs for recent graduates and information about the Presidential Management Fellows program.

It’s never too early for students to start planning their Federal career.


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