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It’s been a very unhappy time for DC’s reputation and we do not intend to re-visit the matter of already (and possibly future) disgraced city council members other than to observe that what’s been unfolding these past months seems to have led to the belief that nothing positive can be said about the council or its individual members.

But, we are pleased to note, there have been good things to report from the council as well. A couple of notable examples that we applaud are presented below.

On July 10th, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans introduced legislation to extend District of Columbia Public Library hours to include seven days a week and to increase the hours they are open to the public to be from 9:00 in the morning to 9:00 in the evening Monday through Thursday; Friday and Saturday from 9:30 in the morning to 5:30 in the afternoon; and from 12 noon to 5:00 pm on Sundays.

“Basic city amenities,” says Evans, “should be available to District residents seven days a week, especially as more people move here and we work to become a world class city. I hear from residents around the District on a regular basis about our inadequate library hours and this bill is the first step in fixing the problem. I am confident that out of our $10 billion budget, we can find $10 million to make this a reality.”

With such an incredibly invigorated public library system thanks to so many new, beautiful library buildings that have opened during the tenure of the system’s nationally recognized innovative librarian, Ginny Cooper, it has been a crying shame that her operating budget has been subject to so many cuts that these marvelous resources have seemed to be closed more than open.

We are grateful that the council member will be leading this effort on behalf of us taxpayers who deserve to reap the benefit of what we have been paying for. And, given that he chairs the council’s Committee on Finance, if he says $10 million can be found, we have total confidence that he knows that this can be done.

Also on July 10th, as a result of his direct, knowledgeable and thorough personal involvement, At-large Councilmember David A. Catania, who chairs the council’s Committee on Health, successfully guided to passage the nomination resolutions for the seven, very impressive members of the District’s new Health Insurance Exchange Board. (See list provided by the council member’s office below.)

This was a major step toward implementing for the benefit of our fellow citizens the Health Benefit Exchanges authorized by the federal Affordable Care Act. Unlike so many states, there has never been any question that our political leaders would even think about not participating in this transparent marketplace program through which both individuals and small businesses will be able to purchase affordable health insurance.

For the program to be successful it is essential that these exchange boards be comprised of outstanding and knowledgeable persons. As the council member said about the nominees, “The knowledge and experience among these seven individuals will create a diverse board that can effectively steer the implementation of the Health Benefit Exchange and their confirmation serves as yet another example of the District’s dedication and commitment to implementing the President’s legacy legislation.”

In accordance with the legislation adopted last year authorizing the District’s benefit exchange as an independent agency, in addition to the seven voting members just approved, the board will also have four non-voting, ex-officio members. All members will be subject to strict conflict of interest provisions prohibiting members from being employed by insurance carriers or brokers during their tenure. Further, for one year following service on the board, former members are prohibited from being employed by a health insurance carrier; this restriction applies also to board member staff.


Confirmed Members of the Board

Mr. Kevin Lucia, who is an Assistant Research Professor at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute, has over 10 years of experience researching private insurance. He specializes in analyzing market reforms and consumer protection as it relates to the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Khalid Pitts has over a decade of experience managing legislative campaigns, building coalitions, and managing the implementation of large scale projects.

Ms. Kate Sullivan Hare, the Director of Policy Outreach and Public Affairs at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has extensive experience influencing health policymakers in both the public and private sector.

Mr. Leighton Ku is a nationally renowned health policy analyst and researcher with over 20 years of experience in developing evidence-based approaches to improving health policies.  He is currently a Professor of Health Policy at The George Washington University School of Public Health.

Ms. Diane Lewis has worked in government for over 35 years to support women’s health, increase access to health care, and improve health equity.

Mr. Henry Aaron is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute and has published several research studies that examine health insurance reform.

Dr. Mohammed Akhter has served as the District’s Director of Public Health and has worked at improving the quality of care in the District for decades.