Friday, June 29, 2012

A More Secure Future

What the New Health Law Means for You and Your Family

June 29, 2012
Take health care into your own hands

For too long, too many hard working Americans paid the price for policies that handed free rein to insurance companies. President Obama’s health reform law gives hard-working families the security they deserve. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 3.1 million more young adults have health insurance on their parent’s plan, three million seniors have received a 50 percent discount on their prescription drugs, and millions of Americans now have access to no-cost preventive services to help them stay healthy. Abusive insurance practices are becoming a thing of the past. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act helps small businesses with the cost of providing health insurance for their employees and helps doctors and other health providers care for their patients more effectively.

Women & Families

The new health care law builds on what works in our health care system. And it fixes what’s broken by making improvements in several key areas. It protects you from the worst insurance company abuses. It makes health care more affordable. It gives you better access to care.
Ending Insurance Company Abuses: Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurers can no longer put a lifetime cap on how much care they will pay for if you get sick or cancel your coverage when you make a mistake on your paperwork. Starting in 2014, health insurers will be prohibited from charging you more because you are a woman.
More Affordable Care: Today, we have the new 80/20 rule: insurance companies must spend at least 80 cents of your premium dollar on your health care or improvements to care. And insurance companies must publicly justify their actions if they want to raise premiums by 10 percent or more. And States have more power to block them.
Coverage for Young Adults: Under the Affordable Care Act, young adults under age 26 can stay on their parent’s health insurance plan until age 26 – a change that has already allowed 3.1 million young adults to get health coverage and given their families peace of mind.
Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions: The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan in every State offers an option to people who have been locked out of the insurance market because of a pre-existing condition like cancer or heart disease. And under the new law, insurers can no longer deny coverage to children under age 19 because of a pre-existing condition like asthma and diabetes. Starting in 2014, health insurers will be prohibited from discriminating against anyone due to pre-existing conditions.
Preventive Benefits: All new health plans must now cover preventive services ranging from mammograms to vaccinations for your child, without making you pay a copay or deductible.

Young Adults

The Affordable Care Act expands young adults’ affordable options for health insurance and gives hard-working families the security they need and important new benefits. The new law holds insurance companies accountable, gets rid of the worst insurance industry practices and puts patients first. 
Coverage for Young Adults: Under the law, most young adults who can’t get coverage through their jobs can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26 – a change that has already allowed 3.1 million young adults to get health coverage and given their families peace of mind.
Get Preventive Services: You can get free preventive services that keep you healthy. If you are in a new insurance plan, you can receive recommended preventive services, like flu shots, HIV and cancer screenings, contraceptive counseling and FDA-approved birth control (starting in August), for free. Visit for a full list of services and plan dates.
Coverage for Pre-existing Conditions: If you have been uninsured for six months and can’t buy private insurance because of a pre-existing condition, you can join the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. And under the new law, no plan can deny coverage to people under age 19 because of a pre-existing condition. Starting in 2014, health insurers will be prohibited from discriminating against anyone due to pre-existing conditions.
Ending Insurance Company Abuses: The new health care law will make sure that insurers can’t deny, cap, or limit your coverage. In the past, some people with cancer or other chronic illnesses ran out of insurance coverage because their health care expenses reached a dollar limit imposed by their insurance company. Under the new health care law, insurers can no longer impose lifetime dollar limits on essential health benefits and annual limits are being phased out by 2014. Also, insurance companies can no longer drop your coverage when you get sick due to a mistake you made on your application.
More Affordable Care: Today, we have the new 80/20 rule: insurance companies must spend at least 80 cents of your premium dollar on your health care or improvements to care. And insurance companies must publicly justify their actions if they want to raise premiums by 10 percent or more. And an increasing number of States have more power to block unreasonable premium increases from taking effect.


The new health care law will help save money for seniors and ensure people with Medicare can see the doctor they know and trust.
Cheaper Prescription Drugs: If you’re in the donut hole, you will receive a 50 percent discount when buying brand-name prescription drugs covered by Medicare Part D. The discount is applied automatically when you fill your prescription—you don’t have to do anything to get it. These changes are already saving seniors billions of dollars. And by 2020, the donut hole will be closed.
End to Limits on Care: In the past, some people with cancer or other chronic illnesses ran out of insurance coverage because their health care expenses reached a dollar limit imposed by their insurance company. Under the health care law, insurers can no longer impose lifetime dollar limits on essential health benefits and annual limits are being phased out by 2014. More than 105 million Americans no longer have lifetime limits thanks to the new law.
Free Preventive Services: Medicare now covers certain preventive services, like mammograms or colonoscopies for free. You also can get a free annual wellness visit.
Better Coordinated Care: Many doctors, hospitals, and other providers are taking advantage of new options to help them work better as teams to provide you the highest quality care possible. They are working to get you the care you need at the time you need it.
Fighting Fraud: The Affordable Care Act builds on our efforts to combat fraud and abuse. These efforts are saving billions of dollars in money that was being stolen from people with Medicare. And thanks to these efforts and other reforms, the life of the Medicare Trust fund will be extended.
Protecting Medicare Benefits: Under the new health reform law, your existing Medicare-covered benefits can’t be reduced or taken away. As always, you will be able to choose your own doctors.


The Affordable Care Act makes it easier for businesses to find better coverage options and builds on the employer-based insurance market already in place. It stops insurance companies from taking advantage of you, giving the consumer and business owner more control and making health care coverage more affordable.
Building on Employer-Based Insurance Market: The average US family and their employer pay $1,000 a year extra in health insurance costs to cover care for the uninsured. By bringing the uninsured into the system and tackling the drivers of health care costs, the new health care law will make health insurance more affordable for businesses.
More Affordable Care: Today, we have the new 80/20 rule: insurance companies must spend at least 80 cents of your premium dollar on your health care or improvements to care. And insurance companies must publicly justify their actions if they want to raise premiums by 10 percent or more for small businesses. And an increasing number of States have more power to block unreasonable premium increases from taking effect.
Common Sense Approach: The new health care law makes improvements to the health insurance system we already have, and gives States significant flexibility to implement the new law in the way that makes sense for their insurance markets. And, the new law does not add a dime to the deficit. According to Congress’s official independent scorekeeper, the Congressional Budget Office, the new law is completely paid for through a wide range of cost-saving reforms, from cracking down on health care fraud to helping hospitals and doctors spend their health dollars more wisely.
For Small Business Owners:
Small Business Tax Credit: Small businesses have historically paid 18 percent more for health coverage than larger employees. Today, a tax credit is available to businesses with 25 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees and average wages of $50,000 or less. To get more details and learn whether you might qualify, you should visit the IRS website.
Finding Insurance Options: For the first time ever, small businesses have access to a new tool that lets them research and compare their health insurance options in one place – Just enter some basic information about your business, and you’ll see a list of all the insurance options available in your area, broken down by how much they cost and what coverage they offer. And starting in 2014, Affordable Insurance Exchanges will make buying health insurance easy. Small business owners will be able to offer their employees a range of plans from different insurers just like big employers do, while still receiving a single bill and writing a single check. They’ll also still be able to choose how much of their employees’ insurance costs they want to cover. And because small business owners will be joining a much bigger risk pool, they’ll no longer be vulnerable to sharp swings in their rates based on the health of a few employees.

Health Care Providers

The new health care law enacts comprehensive reforms that will hold health insurance companies accountable, protect you and your patients, and guarantee choice and control. It also reduces the burden of uncompensated care on physicians and hospitals by making access to care easier and more affordable than ever.
Ending Insurance Company Abuses: Insurers can no longer cancel coverage when a patient gets sick and set lifetime benefit limits that leave patients without coverage in times of catastrophic need. And if insurers don’t spend at least 80% of premium dollars on patient care and quality improvements, they’ll have to provide a rebate to consumers. These protections will end the worst insurance company abuses and put patients and providers ahead of company profits.
Expanding Access to Coverage: The new law will help reduce the burden of uncompensated care on physicians and hospitals by making access to care easier and more affordable than ever before for all Americans. From allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s plan until age 26 to implementing new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans people locked out of the current insurance market to the Affordable Insurance Exchanges that begin in 2014 to help those who lack choices today get health coverage, the new law will give more Americans the security of affordable health insurance.
Cutting Red Tape: New rules save time and money for physicians and other health care providers by allowing you to spend more time in the exam room, and less on administration.
Opportunities and Incentives to Coordinate Care: The new law created a new Innovation Center in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services –specifically designed to identify and test new care and payment models to deliver greater value for our health system and then to rapidly spread what works. Thanks to input from hundreds of health care providers, we’ve developed a menu of initiatives that engage different types of providers and payers. Each initiative holds the promise of reducing health care costs, improving quality, and improving health care.
Strengthening the Workforce: The new health care law also invests in training and placing thousands of new doctors and nurses, and it provides bonus payments to primary care doctors. The new law is also creating and expanding health centers across the country. As a provider, this will help you see and spend more time with your patients.

People with Disabilities

If you’re living with a disability, private health insurance may be hard to come by. Even if you can afford to buy it, it probably doesn’t cover all of your needs. Worrying about where to get coverage and the cost of your care is the last thing you want to do. The Affordable Care Act is expanding your options for health insurance and making them more affordable.
Ending Insurance Company Abuses: Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurers can no longer put a lifetime cap on how much care they will pay for if you get sick, or cancel your coverage when you make a mistake on your paperwork.
Ending Discrimination against Pre-Existing Conditions: Under the new health care law, plans are no longer allowed to deny or exclude coverage to any child under age 19 based on a pre-existing condition, including a disability. Starting in 2014, these same plans won’t be able to discriminate against anyone with a pre-existing condition.
Expanding Affordable Coverage: If you have been uninsured for six months and can’t buy private insurance because of a pre-existing condition, you can join the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. To find out about plans available in your State, please visit
New Long-Term and Community-Based Care Options: The new law builds on successful models and provides incentives to States to expand efforts to offer people with disabilities more opportunities to receive the long term supports and services they require in their communities, through programs such as Money Follows the Person and Community First Choice Option.

Joe Scarborough: ‘Political Timing’ Of Holder Contempt Vote Makes GOP Look ‘Petty And Partisan’

On a day where many are still trying to get through the entire Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act before the House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, some Republicans are not exactly happy with the decision to act on the latter. Joe Scarborough particularly appeared incensed about it this evening, alluding to the combination of the Supreme Court and the vote as making the Republicans look especially bad.
“The political timing of the Eric Holder contempt vote could not be worse. It makes the House GOP look petty and partisan,” he tweeted today:
While many of those reacting to the vote– as opposed to the Supreme Court decision– are likely to disagree, it appears Scarborough is referring to the loss in the Supreme Court, which, on the same day as something like this, could look vindictive.

New Poll: Voters Dislike Supreme Court’s Obamacare Ruling

By a 50–45 margin, voters disapprove of the court’s decision, a Newsweek/Daily Beast poll finds. Read the complete results.(below)

Voters are reacting in broadly negative ways to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the legislation known as Obamacare, a new Newsweek/Daily Beast poll finds, with a majority disapproving of the ruling, fearing health-care costs and taxes will rise, and preferring Mitt Romney to President Obama on the issue.

Supreme Court
Protestors stand outside the Supreme Court on Thursday. The court found the Affordable Care Act to be constitutional. (Kris Connor / Getty Images)

At the same time, voters scored the ruling a short-term political win for the president by a huge margin.

Overall, 50 percent of those polled said they disapprove of the court’s 5–4 decision, while 45 percent said they support it. Consistently, a majority of voters said that they oppose the individual mandate (53 percent); believe taxes will increase (52 percent); believe their personal health-care costs will increase (56 percent); and disapprove of Obama’s handling of health care in general (58 percent). Only 24 percent of those polled said that they believe the ruling will make the country better off.

Only 24 percent of those polled said that they believe the ruling will make the country better off.

Against Romney, Obama maintains a narrow lead in the presidential race, 47 percent to 44 percent. Twenty-one percent said that they were open to changing their mind. State-by-state polls are more useful in predicting the actual outcome of a presidential contest, but national horse-race numbers are something to talk about while the election is still months away. The president’s approval rating stands at 45 percent. Fifty-nine percent of poll respondents said they believe the country is headed in the wrong direction—down slightly from about a year ago, in May 2011, when 65 percent said the country was on the wrong track.

Even as those polled said that they prefer Romney to Obama on health care—as well as almost every other issue, with the exception of terrorism, foreign policy, and education—voters said that they trust Democrats more than Republicans overall on the major questions facing the nation, 37 percent to 32 percent.
The poll was conducted by Douglas Schoen, a Democratic pollster who has worked for the campaigns of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, and other candidates. A national random sample of 600 likely voters was interviewed June 28, immediately following the announcement of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percent.

National General Election Survey

Upholding the Affordable Care Act is a Win for Small Businesses

The Supreme Court’s decision this week to uphold the Affordable Care Act is a historic win for the nation’s 6 million small businesses and their 54 million employees who will see fewer administrative headaches, pay lower premiums, and receive help to make the cost of covering employees more affordable. Those who claim that the law will place new burdens on small employers misunderstand and misrepresent how it will actually work – putting small businesses on a more competitive footing with larger firms.
Below are just some of the ways that the Affordable Care Act helps small businesses:
  • Tax credits for certain small businesses that choose to offer coverage.  Small businesses that have fewer than 25 employees and provide health insurance can qualify for a tax credit of up to 35 percent (up to 25 percent for non-profits) to offset the cost of insurance. This credit will increase in 2014 to 50 percent (35 percent for non-profits) for small businesses newly offering insurance through private insurance marketplaces called Exchanges. This will dramatically lower the cost of providing health insurance. These tax credits for small businesses are already helping cover an estimated two million workers at the approximately 360,000 small employers who received the credit in 2011.
    • For example, Louisa McQueeney, a small business owner in Florida, has already saved $7,400 thanks to the tax credits. You can watch Louisa tell her story here.
  • Lowering premiums by cutting red tape and increasing competition among insurers. The Congressional Budget Office  estimates the Affordable Care Act would cause premiums would fall up to 4 percent in the small group market, and up to 11 percent for firms receiving tax credits. Today, administrative costs run as high as 30 percent for small firms, compared with 7 percent for large employers.
    • CBO explains that these costs savings would be the result of cutting red tape and more competition: “[small group] policies would have lower administrative costs, on average, than the policies those firms would buy under current law, particularly for very small firms. The primary sources of administrative cost savings for small employers would be the economies of scale and relative standardization of benefits in the exchanges noted above..." 
  • Spurring entrepreneurship and increasing competition by giving talented workers flexibility to join a small businesses or startup. By making coverage more affordable, thelaw will help spur entrepreneurial activity by increasing the incentives for talented Americans to launch their own companies and help end the phenomenon of "job lock," in which workers are reluctant to leave a job with health insurance out of fear that they will not be able to find affordable coverage when they strike out on their own.
  • No insurance requirement for small businesses. Every small business with fewer than 50 employees is completely exempt from the law’s employer responsibility provisions. That means the overwhelming majority – 96 percent of all firms in the U.S. or 5.8 million out of 6 million total firms – of businesses in the country are exempt from the requirement to contribute to the coverage of their employees. Almost all (93 percent)of larger small businesses with 50-199 employees already offer coverage.

Jason Furman is Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and the Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council

Supreme Court Upholds President Obama's Health Care Reform

Questions about what the decision means for you? 

 Check out an infographic showing how the Affordable Care Act benefits Americans 

Today, the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act ensures hard-working, middle class families will get the security they deserve and protects every American from the worst insurance company abuses. The Court has issued a clear and final ruling on this law.

For a comprehensive overview of the Affordable Care Act, visit and

Let’s take a look at what today’s ruling means for the middle class:
A major impact of the Court's decision is the 129 million people with pre-existing conditions and millions of middle class families who will have the security of affordable health coverage.

We should also remember that under today’s ruling, having health insurance is and will continue to be a choice. If you can’t afford insurance or you’re a small business that wants to provide affordable insurance to your employees, you’ll get tax credits that make coverage affordable. But if you can afford insurance and you choose not to purchase it, the taxpayers will no longer subsidize your care for free.

Given today’s ruling, it’s now time to focus on implementing this law in a smart and non-bureaucratic way that works for the middle class.
As we’ve said, the Court has issued a clear and final ruling on this law. The last thing Congress should do is refight old political battles and start over on health care by repealing basic protections that provide security for the middle class. The President refuses to go back to the way things were.

Right now, Congress needs to work together to focus on the economy and creating jobs. Right now in congress, what’s at stake is how--at this make or break moment for the middle class--we break through Washington gridlock to move our country forward. Right now in Congress, what’s at stake is our chance to seize this moment to build an economy not from the top-down, but one based on a strong and secure middle class.  We need to create secure middle class jobs and an economy built to last where hard work and responsibility are rewarded, everybody gets a fair shot, pays their fair share, and plays by the same set of rules.
Right now, Congress should act on the President’s concrete plans to create an economy built to last by reducing the deficit in a balanced way and investing in education, clean energy, innovation, and infrastructure. It’s time for folks in Washington to work together on behalf of the American people.

Please check back periodically for additional information on today’s decision.
Read the President's full remarks here

Summertime living


Cool ride

A boy rides a water slide in the northern German city of Hameln on May 22 as the temperature reached 86 degrees. (Julian Stratenschulte / AFP - Getty Images)

Race ya!

Young men run to the Gulf of Mexico at Perdido Key, Fla., on May 20. Two years after an offshore oil well explosion devastated tourism in the region, the Gulf Coast is a popular destination once again, thanks in part to millions of dollars worth of promotion funded by the well's owner, BP. (Sean Gardner / Reuters)

Water break

A Pakistani girl cools off in a water channel in Lahore on May 11. Heatwave conditions in Pakistan have pushed temperatures above 104 degrees in many parts of the country. (Arif Ali / AFP - Getty Images)

Hail the water nymphs

Belarussian villagers wearing traditional clothes gather to celebrate the pagan holiday of Rusalye, devoted to water nymphs, in the village of Sosny, Belarus, on June 10. According to legend, mermaids come out of the water during the spring and summer to visit the village, and walk through fields and meadows. (Viktor Drachev / AFP - Getty Images)


Harper Marquez, 1, squeals with delight as her father, Roberto Marquez, swings her into the Jane K. Lowe Children's Fountain in downtown Huntsville, Ala., on June 7. (Glenn Baeske / Huntsville Times via AP)

Smoothing the way

Lifeguard Sam McCabe of Richmond Heights cleans the water slide at the Maplewood Family Aquatic Center in Maplewood, Mo., on May 24, in preparation for it's opening Memorial Day holiday weekend. (Laurie Skrivan / St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

A clean sweep

Children from a local secondary school take part in a mass cleanup at the world-famous Echo beach in Perenenan village, Bali, on June 12. The association responsible, Gumi Lestari, is running a project to get the local community involved in protecting the environment. Bali, one of the world's top surf spots, has a huge problem with trash, most of which is the result of tourism. (Mike Clarke / AFP - Getty Images)

Dancing in the streets

Young dancers perform as they march in the National Puerto Rican Day Parade on New York's Fifth Ave., on June 10. The parade has been an annual event in New York since 1958 and has grown to be one of the city's largest. (Richard Drew / AP)

Bursting bubbles

Billie Burgess, 9, jumps to burst a giant bubble on the South Bank in London during a spell of hot weather. (Dan Kitwood / Getty Images)

All wet

A boy cools himself as he sits under a fountain on a hot summer day in New Delhi on May 31, when the temperature reached 113 degrees Fahrenheit. (Adnan Abidi / Reuters)

Lazing in the lake

Kayla Riggins and David Gregory play on an inflatable raft in Hartwell Lake at Darwin Wright Park in Anderson, S.C., on May 25. (Sefton Ipock / The Independent-Mail via AP)

A need for speed

A body surfer rides a wave during high tide at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro on May 22. (Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images)

Welcome clouds

The setting sun illuminates dark rain clouds above the eastern Indian city of Calcutta on June 9. The clouds heralded the season's first rainfall, a welcome relief from the hot weather. (Piyal Adhikary / EPA)

Blowin' in the wind

Winnie Pajcic, 9, holds on to a railing during a visit to Stockton Park in Ortega, Fla., in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Beryl on May 28. Beryl came ashore several days earlier near Jacksonville Beach with winds of 70 mph. (Kelly Jordan / The Florida Times-Union via AP)

Cool kitty

A Bengal tiger gets a spray of water from a zookeeper on a hot summer day at the Birsa Munda Zoological Park in Ranchi, India, on May 30. Zoo authorities were helping the animals cope with temperatures topping 104 degrees by providing coolers, special roofs and regular hose-downs. (AFP - Getty Images)

Gone fishin'

Shawn Davis and his 5-year old son Emerson fly-fish for trout in Spring Creek near Bellefonte, Penn., on the evening of June 10. (Gary Cameron / Reuters)

Splish, splash

Xavier Willis, 7, throws a container of water into the air as he jumps into Dallas Bay at Chester Frost Park in Hixson, Tenn. on June 12. Temperatures climbed to the mid 80s under mostly sunny skies. (Doug Strickland / Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)

The extreme Heat wave of 2012

A heat advisory is in effect in several areas of the country. NBC’s Brian Williams reports.

Weather information for the National's Capital.

The heat is on over much of the country, and it is only expected to get worse through the weekend. Some areas could see all time record highs.

Image: Daughther cools off mom

David Goldman  /  AP
Evelyn Wood fans herself while her daughter Sherri Smith applies a cold towel as they celebrate Wood's 80th birthday in Washington, D.C. on Friday. Both are from both of Wichita Falls, Texas.

updated 6/29/2012 3:18:10 PM ET

The heat wave smothering the central U.S. on Friday spread east -- and for Washington, D.C., that meant topping out at 104 degrees at Reagan National Airport around 5 p.m. ET. 

The nation's capital broke the June 29 record mark by 3 degrees and, with the humidity, it felt like 112, the National Weather Service reported.

The old record of 101 degrees stood for 138 years. Washington's all-time record is 106.

Nashville, Tenn., saw 109 degrees on Friday -- smashing its 60-year record by two degrees.

Triple-digit temperatures across the Mid-Atlantic were expected to break records elsewhere as well, the weather service reported earlier.

Record-breaking heat will continue into the weekend and possibly through the July 4th holiday, it added, "and overnight lows will struggle to drop below 70."
Much of the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast on Friday joined areas in the Plains and Midwest with excessive heat warnings and heat advisories. The Northeast was only slightly cooler.

High humidity could make it feel like 119 degrees in some Carolina coastal areas by Saturday afternoon, the weather service stated.

On Thursday, Norton, Kan., was the hottest spot in the nation, topping out at 118 degrees, according to the National Climatic Data Center. In all, 22 Kansas locations reached 110 or hotter on Thursday.

Over the previous five days, another Kansas town, Hill City, held that hottest spot, reaching 115 degrees on Wednesday.

Image: Parched farm in Kansas
Coby Baalman via AP
Ranch hand Terry Moss walks through a parched corn field in Menlo, Kan., on Wednesday. Kansas has seen the worst of the heat wave impacting millions across the U.S.

The Weather Channel estimated that on Thursday nearly 93 million Americans were in areas under heat advisories and 21 million in areas with excessive heat warnings.

Story: Heat hub for US is Kansas farm town -- not Death Valley 
Indianapolis on Thursday saw its warmest June day on record when the thermometer reached 103 degrees.
Chicago reached 100 degrees at 3 p.m. local time, but the heat index made it feel like 111.
In Kansas City, Mo., the heat was suspected of contributing to the deaths of a man and an infant, KSHB-TV reported.
Meteorologists expect little relief over the next couple of weeks.
"This overall pattern looks like it is going to stick around well into July," Alex Sosnowski, a meteorologist with, told Reuters.
"It looks pretty much rock solid centered on the Central Plains and Central Rockies over into the Tennessee Valley interior south," Sosnowski said. "It's anchored in there and it's really not going to change much."
Sosnowski said temperatures would spike toward 100 degrees from Chicago to Washington, D.C., and possibly New York every now and then, and areas from Colorado to the interior of the Carolinas would have little hope for temporary relief.

More than 1,000 temperature records broken in a week
Temperatures will push 90 degrees most days in New York, Washington and Philadelphia the next two weeks, while Denver, Kansas City and the middle of the nation will tend to see high temperatures pushing 100 degrees, he said.
The dry conditions and high temperatures have exacerbated wildfires in western states, and have threatened corn crops and stressed livestock in the Central Plains.

Western wildfires seen from space

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


A video recorded on the International Space Station shows the smoke-filled skies of the American West.

A four-minute video from the International Space Station, released today by NASA, captures a beautiful and horrible sight: Ribbons of smoke drifting across Colorado and other Western states, due to a rash of wildfires.
You can also see sunlight glinting off lakes, as well as the snow-covered Rocky Mountains. But the haze covering the plains makes the biggest impression as you watch the landscape pass by, 230 miles (370 kilometers) beneath the station and a docked Russian spacecraft.
More than 30,000 residents in the Colorado Springs area had to evacuate their homes Tuesday night, due to what officials said was the most destructive fire in the state's history. Today, Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach passed along a preliminary report that the Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed 346 houses. President Barack Obama is due to visit the city on Friday to meet with firefighters and tour the fire-ravaged zones. (Our slideshow documents the devastation.)

The worst fire season in recent history is taking its toll with large fires burning thousands of acres in Colorado while others consume areas in Montana, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming.

The space station can capture high-resolution video and stills of the scene from its Cupola observation deck, but that's not the only vantage point at NASA's disposal. Earth-watching satellites such as Terra and Aqua are also monitoring the wildfires, as are weather satellites such as GOES-15. Here's a picture of the western U.S. taken by GOES-15 at 8:45 a.m. ET today and processed by the NASA GOES Project at Goddard Space Flight Center:

The GOES-15 satellite keeps a stationary eye over the western United States. Smoke from the fires raging in several states has created a brownish-colored blanket over the entire region.
"The dawn's early light revealed smoke and haze throughout the Midwest, arising from forest fires throughout the Rockies," NASA said in its image advisory. "While the most publicized fires occur along the populous eastern range in Colorado, the great smoke plumes in this image came from Wyoming."
To get a fix on the Western wildfires, check out these resources:

20:13:29 GMT
Satellite: Aqua  
 Wildfires in Utah and Wyoming
  • NASA: Fire and Smoke: A selection of wildfire imagery, organized by subject. 
    • Wildfires in Utah and Wyoming
  • Utah and Wyoming, like Colorado, are also dealing with some large wildfires. Smoke and heat from those fires were detected by an instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite.

    The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)
    instrument onboard Terra has infrared capabilities that can detect heat. In the MODIS images, fires, or hot spots are color coded as red areas in imagery and smoke appears in light brown. Images are generated at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

    This image shows the heat and smoke occurring from the Church Camp and Wood Hollow fires in Utah, and the Fonterelle fire in western Wyoming. The image was captured on June 27, 2012 at 17:55 UTC (1:55 p.m. EDT).
    The Church Camp Fire is burning 20 miles south of Duchesne, Utah. As of June 28, it has burned 5,200 acres and is five percent contained, according to the Utah State Division of Forestry Fire and State Lands. Evacuations are continuing along Argyle Canyon. The Wood Hollow fire has covered more territory. Wood Hollow has consumed 46,190 acres and is 15 percent contained. The fire has destroyed 56 structures and taken one life. Evacuations are in place for Indian Ridge, Elk Ridge, Big Hollow, and the Oaker Hills communities.

    In Wyoming, the Fontenelle fire is creating a lot of smoke, seen blowing in a northeasterly direction on the satellite image. This fire has consumed 17,000 acres and according to the U.S. Forest Service it located in Lincoln and Sublette County, Wyoming.

    Image: Jeff Schmaltz, NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team;
  Geomac Image Current Wildfires
  • GeoMAC Wildland Fire Support: Online, zoomable satellite maps of fire locations.
    • The Geospatial Multi-Agency Coordination Group or GeoMAC, is an internet-based mapping application originally designed for fire managers to access online maps of current fire locations and perimeters in the conterminous 48 States and Alaska. Using a standard web browser, fire personnel can view this information to pinpoint the affected areas. With the growing concern of western wildland fires in the summer of 2000, this application also became available to the public.

Waldo Canyon Fire Progression Map June 23 - 28


Approximate Location

38.89 latitude, -104.872 longitude

Incident Overview

Wildland firefighters holding the line

June 29, 4:45pm - Monument residents who have registered with the elpasoteller911 will be receiving a reminder geocast that you are under pre-evacuation status only.

June 29, 9:30am - Evac lifted - Thunderbird and Pinecreek Estates - Communities accessed by Pinecreek Road and Tudor Road.

June 29, 9:30am - Evac lifted - Commerce Drive north from east Woodmen to Pinecreek Drive.

June 29, 9:30am - Air Force Academy opens Pine Valley and Douglas Valley Housing for resident return effictive 5am June 29 (use North and south gates). Child Development center, commissary, BX and Falcon club open for normal business hours.

June 29, 9:30am - Beginning June 30th El Paso County will open a Disaster Recovery Center - 105 N. Spruce open 9am to 7pm

June 28, 6:30pm - Downgrade to Pre-Evacuation: North & West Boundary - Woodmen Rd to W. Rockrimmon Blvd. Where West Rockrimmon Road turns to South Rockrimmon cut in a south westerly direction through Ute Valley Park. Go through Ute Valley Park diagonally until even with Hunters Ridge Road. Cut ninty degrees to a south easterly direction between Hopner Ct and Ledge Rock Trl. Then cut back, leaving Ute Valley Park to the north tip of List Drive to Centennial Drive. Turn right on Centennial drive to N 30th St. South Boundary - West Garden of the Gods Road. East Boundary - I-25.

Following the 8:00 pm meeting there will be a televised press conference to discuss information that was dissiminated to the affected home owners in the Mountian Shadows Sub Division.

Basic Information

Incident TypeWildfire
CauseUnder Investigation
Date of OriginSaturday June 23rd, 2012 approx. 12:00 PM
LocationPike National Forest, El Paso County
Incident CommanderRich Harvey

Current Situation

Total Personnel1,287
Size17,073 acres
Percent Contained25%
Estimated Containment DateMonday July 16th, 2012 approx. 12:00 AM
Fuels InvolvedBrush, hardwood slash, Mountain shrub, oak, grass, Pinon juniper, Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, spruce, Limber pine, White pine
Fire BehaviorCreeping and smoldering in timber fuels with no torching observed. Flame lengths of up to one foot in surface fuels. Thunderstorms, downslope winds and light precipitation were present over the fire area.
Significant EventsThere has been a maximum effort to contain the spotfires north of Rampart Ridge Reservoir. Lack of a Red Flag conditions and favorable weather conditions has allowed for securing of the subdivision of Cedar Heights and eliminate the potential of fire from destroyed structures involving other structures. Favorable weather and fire behavior has also allowed crews to go direct in all divisions. Development of management action points for evacuations have begun for Woodland Park, Monument and Manitou Springs. Resources were able to begin securing the Stanley Repeater site and reduce the threat of fire damage. Continued recon of the northern fire perimeter for useable contingency lines.


Planned ActionsComplete work around the Stsnley Repeater site. Complete direct line construction in divisions C and D. Secure line in Williams Canyon to reduce threat to Manitou Springs. Contain and secure spotfires north of Rampart Reservoir. Continue to secure line on US Air Force Academy.
Growth PotentialExtreme
Terrain DifficultyExtreme
RemarksAcres by ownership USFS 13,590, private 3,014. Colorado Springs issued the number of destroyed structures at 347.

Current Weather

Wind Conditions10 mph SW
Temperature86 degrees

Current conditions
ºF | ºC
ºF | ºC

Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy High Low Precip. Humidity
  Day/Night Day/Night
-na- 63ºF -na-/20% -na-/31%

Night: A stray thunderstorm is possible through the evening. Some clouds this evening will give way to mainly clear skies overnight. Low 63F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph.

 Saturday, June 30

Mostly Sunny Mostly Sunny High Low Precip. Humidity
  Day/Night Day/Night
92ºF 62ºF 20%/20% 18%/34%

Day: Generally sunny despite a few afternoon clouds. A stray afternoon thunderstorm is possible. High 92F. Winds ESE at 5 to 10 mph.
Night: A stray thunderstorm is possible through the evening. Partly cloudy skies. Low 62F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph.

 Sunday, July 01

Mostly Sunny Mostly Sunny High Low Precip. Humidity
  Day/Night Day/Night
94ºF 63ºF 10%/0% 19%/33%

Plenty of sun. Highs in the mid 90s and lows in the low 60s.

 Monday, July 02

Mostly Sunny Mostly Sunny High Low Precip. Humidity
  Day/Night Day/Night
94ºF 63ºF 10%/10% 27%/28%

A few clouds. Highs in the mid 90s and lows in the low 60s.

 Tuesday, July 03

Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy High Low Precip. Humidity
  Day/Night Day/Night
92ºF 64ºF 10%/20% 28%/34%

Times of sun and clouds. Highs in the low 90s and lows in the mid 60s.
Colorado Springs, CO
Current Weather
As reported 4:54 p.m.
UV index: 2 Low
Winds: ENE 12 mph
Humidity: 13%
Pressure: 30.13 in STEADY
Dew point: 33ºF
Visibility: 10.00 miles
Sunrise: 5:37 AM
Sunset: 8:28 PM
Mostly Cloudy
Mostly Cloudy
Feels like 85ºF

Alan Boyle is's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.