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Amira Wazir

By Amira Wazeer

Being uninformed may impact your financial welfare and ability to choose your options later on. One thing everyone who turns 65 has in common is an increase in ”junk mail.”

You receive packets, cards, booklets, and invitations along with multiple phone calls, all offering information or assistance in choosing your Medicare options. Often the offers and solicitations?from multiple companies?do little more than increase your worry and confusion.

Fortunately, you can have peace of mind from day one. All it takes is remembering some basic points and then selecting an agent who is qualified to help you design a life?long, worry free plan that fits your situation and health needs.
Choosing without the proper information can both impact your out of pocket costs for health care and could limit your ability to choose certain plans later on if you should desire to change.

Contrary to what many people expect, Medicare was never intended to provide totally free health care to seniors. During your working years, money was deducted from your pay for Medicare Part A.

Part A pays the hospital, 100 days of skilled care in a nursing home, and certain other benefits. Deductibles and co?payments apply; these costs increase every year. In 2008, the Part A deductible alone is $1025.

Medicare Part B could be thought of as the part that pays the doctor, but actually it pays everything Medicare covers that is not covered under Part A. This does not include prescription drugs.
Medicare Part B also comes with a premium that increases yearly. Part B pays 80% of the eligible expenses after your annual deductible.
Unless you have creditable coverage somewhere else (such as employer group retiree coverage), you must sign up for Part B. Otherwise you will be ineligible for any other coverage such as Medigap Insurance or Medicare Advantage plans.
Also failure to take part B when you are eligible results in a 10 percent penalty per year, which is applied when you try to get it later.

There is no annual out of pocket max on what you could owe under Medicare alone. While Medicare pays a great deal, your co pays and deductibles will mount up quickly if you have a major illness.
Don't try to tell yourself that you won't get sick. One of every four people over the age of 65 has three or more chronic conditions. That is why most people choose either a Medigap Insurance or a Medicare Advantage Plan.
There are important differences in these plans, but when you are turning 65, you are in open enrollment for any plan that fits your need and is available in your coverage area.
Time is an important factor. When choosing a Medigap policy, you do have a 13 month window of opportunity – six months before and after your birth mont – but it is to your advantage to make sure your coverage begins in the same month your Medicare does.
However, with a Medicare Advantage Plan, your window is open only three months before and after your birth month. Consequently, you may receive solicitations urging you to switch to an Advantage Plan after you have already decided on a Medigap Plan.
It is a sales strategy to wait until you have already paid premium for a Medicare Supplement and then tantalize you with what you could spend that money on if you didn't have a premium.
The MA sales agents are trained in high pressure strategies and will often present only the best features of the MA unless you insist on reading the book first. Then they may ask you to “go ahead and sign, and just cancel if you don't like it.”
That, too, is a pressure technique as MA plans are difficult to get out of without waiting until open enrollment. By then, it may be too late to get the more dependable coverage offered by a supplement.
If you have analyzed your financial and medical situation properly, there will be no reason to re?think your first decision. Listen to your head, not your emotions. There is no such thing as free health insurance, regardless of what some high pressure guru tells you.

A major cause of confusion when choosing Medicare related options is the language. Medicare itself uses the word “Part” to refer to Part A, Part B, and now the separate Part D for drug plans.

All Medigap plans – also called Medicare Supplement Insurance – use the word “Plan.” Currently, there are 11 Medicare Supplement plans identified with the letters A through L. Not all plans are available in all states or with all companies, but any given plan will have identical coverage from one company to another.

For example, a J plan with "Smith" Company and a J plan with "Jones" Company will provide exactly the same coverage. The only differences will be in the premium, which changes every year, and in the quality of service?which can be significant.

When using a Medicare Supplement, you use your Medicare first. The supplement pays the co pays and deductibles according to the terms of the specific plan.

Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are NOT Supplement or Medigap plans. They may be Private Fee for Service (PFFS), HMO, or PPO plans. If you choose an MA plan, you will not use your Medicare card, although you will keep paying your part B premium.

That's because Medicare will be paying a private company to handle your health insurance needs. Medicare Advantage Plans are sometimes called “Medicare Part C,” but they are actually owned by private companies.

Some of them include prescription drugs and are then referred to as MAPD plans.

Medicare Advantage plans help control your health care costs by giving you a low premium. Several of the MA plans (plans that do not include prescription drugs) have zero premium.
You usually have a copayment to the doctor and co?payments, co?insurance, or deductibles to the hospital. However, most plans have an annual out of pocket max. These ceilings from $1,000 to $6,000 change annually and can be found in the back of your Medicare and Me Handbook.
MA and MAPD Plans do not change for your age and are not medically underwritten, except for certain Special Needs Plans. The only exclusion for most MA plans is for kidney dialysis.
MA plans (including MAPD) often DO change the details of coverage and the premiums annually. Your coverage is guaranteed for the current year only. And if your doctor does not accept payment, you will have to pay the bill yourself, and you will not be re?imbursed.
In addition to controlling your costs, MA plans usually offer some benefits that Medicare does not cover. For example, many health screenings such as colonoscopies and pap smears are free under MA plans but have a 20 percent co?pay under Medicare alone.
Also, MA plans may provide limited benefits for dental, vision and hearing needs. An important difference between MA and original Medicare, however, is the nursing home coverage.
While MA plans may not require a hospital stay first, some only give three days free instead of the 20 under original Medicare. All MA plans cover up to 100 days, but the co?payments can vary significantly.
When choosing a MA or MAPD plan, it is important to go over the coverage details before signing. Unless you are in open enrollment or a special enrollment period, you may have difficulty changing if the coverage is less than you expected.
Medicare Supplements are designed by Medicare and offered by private companies. Because of the way they are created, a supplement will not change terms of coverage once you purchase it.
The premium will usually go up each year, but depending on the plan you choose, you can limit your out of pocket costs to just your premium and any care not covered by Medicare.
For example, Medicare does not generally cover routine dental work or eyeglasses. Thus, your Medigap policy will not cover those items either.
You can choose a Medigap coverage that leaves you with zero co?pays or deductibles for any Medicare covered expense. However, several other Medicare Supplements, such as the L plan or the High Deductible F, may fit your budget better and are equally dependable and predictable.
Your best option is to work with a reputable agent who is able and willing to find the plan that will serve you the best for as long as you live.

During your “aging in” open window, you can freely choose either Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage. However, it is important to recognize that if you have or develop certain chronic illnesses, such as congestive heart failure, kidney disease, insulin dependent diabetes, and others, you will only have this one opportunity to purchase a Medicare Supplement.

Furthermore, if you drop a Medicare Supplement after developing a chronic illness, you will be unable to get it back. You will be able to get original Medicare, but you will never have another opportunity for true Medicare Supplement Insurance.

Most doctors who accept Medicare assignment also accept Medicare Supplement Insurance. If, however, you have one who does not, you can submit the claims yourself and be reimbursed for the  Medicare approved co pay amount.

With plans F and J, you can also be reimbursed if the doctor charges the “excess charges” allowance of 15 percent over the Medicare approved fee.

(Amira Wazeer is a state licensed and federally certified insurance agent with over 14 years experience.  She specializes in Medicare plans, Affordable healthcare plans, dental and vision plans, Life insurance for diabetics and Janazza (final expense) insurance. Consultations are free. Need a speaker at your upcoming events or have Questions and comments contact or call 404-202-1926.)

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National Medicare Education Week

By Amira Wazeer

Amira Wazir1946 was a very good year, so was 1947, 1948 1949, and 1950 or all of the other years known as the Baby Boomer years, the generation of Americans born between 1946, the end of World War II, and 1964.

They are the largest generation of Americans born in U.S. history. statistics show approximately 10,000 people a day will turn 65 each day until the year 2029.

Jan. 1, 2011: The first of the boomers turned 65. Approximately two-thirds of all seniors 65 and over and 60 percent of those 50-64 have at least one chronic disease.

According to CNN, Dec. 31, 2029, the last of the boomers will turn 65. The 65+ population segment is projected to double to 71.5 million by 2030 and grow to 86.7 million by 2050.

Possibly more than 80 million will be on Medicare and Social Security.

National Medicare Education Week is Sept. 15 – 21!
National Medicare Education Week (Sept. 15 – 21) is dedicated to helping baby boomers, Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers learn more about Medicare.

It begins exactly one month before the start of Medicare Open Enrollment, which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year.

During National Medicare Education Week, United Health care hosts educational events around the country. Attendees learn about Medicare through an interactive presentation and educational materials that they can take home.

They can also speak one-on-one with local Medicare experts. The events are educational only – no sales pitches allowed!

Go to and check now to see if there are National Medicare Education Week events in your area. Here is a sample of what the presentation at the events covers:

The different types of Medicare coverage and how to determine what coverage is right for you;
How and when to enroll in Medicare, including tips for people who choose to delay enrolling in Medicare past age 65;
The impact of health reform on Medicare; and
Where to go for more information.
According to a 2013 United Health care survey, 1 in 5 Medicare beneficiaries describe Medicare as confusing.

Most are not able to correctly identify the health care expenses that Medicare Parts A, B, C and D cover.

In addition, baby boomers in their early 60s who are approaching Medicare eligibility also struggle to understand the program – 70 percent describe their understanding of Medicare as “fair” or “poor.”

If this describes you, then learn more about National Medicare Education Week and how you can take part.

National Medicare Education Week is an extension of UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Made Clear initiative.

Proud supporters of National Medicare Education Week include AARP, Ameriprise Financial, Caregiver Action Network, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), Safeway, Target, Walgreens, Walmart and Sam’s Club.

For more information, explore or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.

Resources: Learn more about the week and what you can expect. Visit the official U.S. government website for Medicare

(Amira Wazeer is a state licensed and federally certified insurance agent with over 14 years experience.  She specializes in Medicare plans, Affordable healthcare plans, dental and vision plans, Term and whole Life insurance and life Insurance for diabetics and Janazza (final expense) insurance. Consultations are free. Need a speaker at your upcoming events or have Questions and comments contact or call 404-202-1926.)

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Amira Wazir

By Amira Wazeer

According to, the marketplace for the Affordable Care Act has been reaching out to some of you by mail, email and phone, if some information you gave them on your Health Insurance Marketplace application doesn’t match the data they have on file.

It’s important that you submit the documents they need, so they can help you stay covered through the Marketplace and keep any help you may have been given with premiums and cost-sharing.

Thousands of documents every day are being received and they are working around the clock to review these documents to confirm eligibility for Marketplace coverage. If you’ve mailed or uploaded requested documents already, they will let you know as soon as they have finished reviewing them.

If you’ve been getting reminder calls, letters and emails from them, but still haven’t submitted the documents they are asking for, now is the time. Beginning in mid August, some of you got a warning notice in the mail telling you that Sept. 5, 2014 is your last deadline to submit these documents.

If you don’t respond:

You are at risk of losing your Marketplace health insurance
Your premium tax credits or help with cost-sharing may be changing or ending
If you don’t act now, they will send you a final notice in September telling you that your last day of Marketplace coverage will be Sept. 30.

Here’s what you can do now to make sure you stay covered:

Look at your Marketplace eligibility notice or reminder notice to see who needs to provide more information and to review the list of documents needed..
Log in to your Marketplace account and then select your current application. Use the menu on the left side of your screen to click on Application Details. On the next screen, you’ll see a list of any data matching issues (called “inconsistencies” on the screen) in your application. Follow the steps for each inconsistency to upload the documents needed to fix the issue.
Don’t use the following characters in the name of the file that you upload:/ \ : * ? “ < > |.
If you received a letter from them, but think you’ve already submitted your documents, or have questions call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 and tell them you got a data matching warning notice. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325. The call is free.

If you’ve already submitted your documents and you get another email or call from the marketplace or your insurance company after that – it’s possible that they are still matching your information.

Over 8 million people signed up for health care in less than 6 months and with such a massive response there are bound to be paperwork errors. Don’t lose your insurance as a result of not providing requested documentation and failing to follow up..

The Open Enrollment period for 2015 coverage is Nov. 15, 2014 to Feb. 15, 2015. Coverage can start as soon as Jan. 1, 2015.

(Amira Wazeer is a state licensed and federally certified insurance agent with over 14 years experience.  She specializes in Medicare plans, Affordable healthcare plans, dental and vision plans, Life insurance for diabetics and Janazza (final expense) insurance. Consultations are free. Need a speaker at your upcoming events or have Questions and comments contact or call 404-202-1926.)

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Amira Wazir

Health Matters…

It will be easy for you to keep your Marketplace coverage next year
By Amira Wazeer
I have been sitting in on conference calls and attending classes for the fall open enrollment season. Basically everything stays the same, the focus this year is on fixing what went wrong, since so much went wrong last year the fix has priorities, there will  probably still be some glitches.
I can assure you however the Federal Marketplace is working hard to make it easy for you to keep your current Marketplace coverage when your health plan comes up for renewal.
Here are seven things to know about renewal and auto-enrollment:
All 2014 Marketplace health plans will come up for renewal in 2015. Open Enrollment for 2015 health coverage through the Marketplace begins November 15, 2014.
Your insurance company will send you information this fall about updated premiums and benefits.
Review your plan’s 2015 changes to see if it still meets your needs. Call or visit the plan’s website to make sure your doctor and other health care providers will be in the plan network next year. Also make sure any prescriptions you take will be covered.
If you’re happy with your current plan and want to keep it--and your income or household size haven’t changed - you don’t need to do anything. The Marketplace will auto-enroll you in the same plan for 2015.
If your income or household size have changed, you’ll need to report that to the Marketplace so you get the right premium tax credit. If you don’t update this information, you’ll get the same premium tax credit you got in 2014. If your income has gone up or your household size changes and you don’t report these changes to the Marketplace, you may owe money at the end of 2015 when you file your tax return.
If you want to change plans, you can:
Choose any other Marketplace health plan your company offers in your service area if you want to stay with your current insurance company.
Choose a new health plan from a different insurance company through the Marketplace.
Buy a new private health plan outside of the Marketplace. If you do this, you won’t be eligible for premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions offered through the Marketplace.
In some cases, your current Marketplace plan won’t be offered in 2015. If that’s the case, you will be automatically enrolled in a similar plan so you don’t have a gap in health coverage, unless you choose another plan and enroll. Because your plan is ending, you’ll qualify for a Special Enrollment Period that lets you enroll in an individual plan outside the Open Enrollment period.
Special Enrollment Periods are also available if you lose your job and are no longer covered through your employer; you may be able to find affordable health coverage in the Marketplace.
If you lose your job-based insurance for any reason, you can buy a private health insurance plan in the Marketplace. This is true even if you leave your job outside of Open Enrollment. When you apply for Marketplace coverage, you’ll also learn if you qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
If you have COBRA coverage you can keep it. In some cases, you can buy Marketplace coverage instead. If COBRA ends outside of Open Enrollment, you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
According to the following is a list of events that qualify you for a special enrollment period (voluntarily giving up coverage does not qualify you for a special enrollment period):

  • Lost coverage due to divorce
  • Did you or anyone in your household lose health coverage in the last 60 days OR do you expect to lose it in the next 60 days?
  • Policy or plan year ended for policy you bought yourself
  • Turned 26 and aged off a parents health plan
  • Lost eligibility for Medicaid or CHIP
  • Changes in household size
  • Did anyone in your household get married or have a baby
  • Got divorced and lost health insurance
  • Adopted a child or had a child placed with you for foster care
  • Death
  • Did you have any changes in circumstance such as:
  • Moved outside your health plan’s coverage area
  • Had a change in income
  • Gained citizenship or lawful presence in the U.S.
  • Released from incarceration (prison or detention)
  • Are you a member of a federally recognized tribe, or an Alaska Native corporation shareholder?

(Amira Wazeer is a state licensed and federally certified insurance agent with over 14 years experience.  She specializes in Medicare plans, Affordable healthcare plans, dental and vision plans, Life insurance for diabetics and Janazza (final expense) insurance. Consultations are free. Need a speaker at your upcoming events or have Questions and comments contact or call 404-202-1926.)

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Amira Wazir

Insurance Matters
By Amira Wazeer

Does your business employ at least 1 employee? Then the answer is yes, a full-time employee (FTE) is generally defined as an employee who works an average of at least 30 work hours a week or 130 work hours in a calendar month.

A full-time-equivalent employee (FTE) is calculated based on the hours worked of full-time and part-time employees making an average of less than $50,000 per year.

Businesses that provide health care coverage through the SHOP may be eligible for federal tax credits if, for the tax year, they have 24 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees who are paid an average annual salary of less than $50,000.

The credit can be as much as 50 percent of the employer’s contribution toward health insurance premiums (35 percent for non-profit employers).

The amount a small business can earn in tax credits varies by number of employees and average wages — a smaller business can get a higher tax credit. Businesses with less than 10 employees and annual wages of less than $25,000 will receive the highest credits.

Let me define employee: An employee performs services for a firm under an employer-employee relationship. An employee receives a W-2 and is listed on your wage and hour reporting. Contractors and independent consultants are not considered employees.

Sole proprietors, partners, and owners of a corporation are not eligible to purchase small group coverage as a group of one unless they have at least one employee who is not their spouse or domestic partner.

To sum it up If you have 1- 24 FTE you are eligible to purchase small group health coverage in your state and may qualify for federal small business tax credits if you purchase coverage through the government-sponsored small business health insurance marketplace, the SHOP.

However, this is not your only option; your small business coverage options now vary greatly and understanding them all can save time, money and jobs.

Option #1

Employers with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent staffers are not required to provide health coverage and will not be penalized if they do not do so. If your business is exempt and still chooses to purchase small group coverage from the federal health insurance marketplace (the SHOP) here is how it works.

I am going to use my state of Georgia for an example however; each state may vary. Coverage began in January 2014. (Although the federal mandate does not take effect until 2015 for business with 50 or more employees.)

In Georgia, the new federally-sponsored health insurance marketplace (also called an exchange) will include a specific program for small businesses called the Small Business Health Options Program, or the SHOP Marketplace.

This year, 35 states will offer a SHOP program. Other states may have state run exchanges but all states are required to have an exchange.

The SHOP offers coverage for employers with 50 or fewer full time employees.
By selecting a SHOP Marketplace Plan, employers with 24 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees (“Full-time-equivalent employees” is calculated based on the hours worked of full-time and part-time employees making an average of less than $50,000 per year) may qualify for a federal small business tax credit.
Open enrollment is continuous so you can sign up and begin offering coverage at any time during the calendar year.
Several companies are offering plans through the SHOP For 2014, health plan issuers participating through the SHOP in Georgia include:
Kaiser Permanente
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Depending on your zip code, you’ll have a choice of multiple health plans in your area.
Plans will offer similar benefits and standards to make it easy to compare coverage
All plans in the marketplace must be Qualified Health Plans Under ACA regulations, this is a plan certified by the health insurance marketplace.
It provides coverage of the essential health benefit package, follows established limits on cost sharing (like deductibles, copayments, and out-of-pocket maximum amounts), and meets other requirements.
( See for  what services might be essential health benefits under the ACA)  including quality standards, service area requirements, network adequacy standards.
Starting with plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014, the ACA requires all non-grandfathered small group commercial plans (with some exceptions, such as retiree and dental-only plans) to cover 10 categories of essential health benefits, as defined by ACA regulations.
Like individual health care plans offered on the exchange there will be four main levels of coverage — bronze, silver, gold, and platinum — also known as metal levels.
Each level has a different actuarial value, which is the percent that the health plan issuer will pay for covered essential health benefits
Platinum — 90 percent actuarial value

Gold — 80 percent actuarial value

Silver — 70 percent actuarial value

Bronze — 60 percent actuarial value

The plans within each metal level will offer similar benefits, which will make it easier for you and your employees to compare coverage options.
Rates are identical for metal level plans.
Employers select a plan and decide how much to contribute
Employers choose the specific plan design and contribution level. The minimum employer contribution level is 50 percent of the selected plan.
Employers may be eligible for federal tax credits
You can visit, at the small businesses tab, to compare SHOP Marketplace Plans from multiple health plan issuers and see pricing information. You do not need to register.
Enrollment for SHOP is through an agent, broker, or health plan issuer
To enroll in a SHOP Marketplace Plan, contact your agent, broker, or health plan issuer. Let them know you want a SHOP Marketplace Plan.

You cannot enroll in SHOP coverage at at this time.  The federal government plans to offer online enrollment at for SHOP Marketplace Plans for plan years beginning Jan. 1, 2015.

Next steps:

To find out how much your business may be eligible for see the Federal tax credit calculator available at site.
Contact your broker or the health plan directly.
You may also wish to call the federally-operated SHOP directly at 1-800-706-7893, 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. TTY users should call 1-800-706-7915.
Option # 2

Purchase small group health care coverage directly from a health plan through a broker.

The changes in the health care market place opened the door for insurance products and discount cards for those who cannot pay the premiums for exchange plans.

Clients can now “bundle short term medical plans with dental, vision, critical illness, and disability income plans to provide coverage for them and their employees.

These plans do not provide the mandated coverage and will not prevent paying the ACA penalties but with the savings realized they offer great coverage and may be a bargain.

A major drawback is they do not cover any pre existing illnesses. Check with your agent to see what plans they offer.

Option #3

Continue the plan you have.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the health care law allows businesses already offering insurance to keep their current plans.

These “grandfathered” group plans — plans in place before March 23, 2010 — don’t have to meet the same criteria as new plans offered on the exchange.

Among other provisions, they don’t have to offer the aforementioned essential health benefits or cover free preventative care.

When purchasing your coverage directly from a health plan issuer, you have the advantages of: Maintaining your relationship with your current health plan issuer(s) and saving the time and effort necessary to research and purchase new coverage.

If your plan has covered at least one employee and continued with no major benefit or employee contribution changes since the ACA was signed into law on March 23, 2010, as well as met other requirements, it may be considered a “grandfathered” plan.

Not all health plan issuers offer “grandfathered plans.”  If offered by your current health plan issuer and if you qualify; a potentially wider selection of medical, dental, and vision plan designs may be offered than offered in the SHOP.

What’s different in 2014?

Plans will be available in four main coverage levels as outlined above.

Plan rates will be calculated using new rules the rates for 2014 plans are based on a number of factors, such as the type of plans you’re offering to your employees and whether your plans are grandfathered or non-grandfathered.
If you currently offer small group coverage, this could significantly impact your 2014 premiums. Your health plan issuer will provide you with rate information.
Plans cannot have a waiting period of longer than 90 days from the date of eligibility. This refers to the time period an employee must wait prior to his or her group health coverage becoming effective.
By purchasing small group coverage (Health coverage specifically designed for small businesses or non-profit organizations with 50 or fewer employees or as defined by the health marketplace in your state) directly from a health plan issuer, your business won’t be eligible for the federal small business tax credit.
Next step:  Contact your agent, broker, or health plan issuer. Let them know your decision.

Option #4

Advise your employees to purchase their own coverage

Instead of offering coverage to your employees through a small group health plan, you can advise them to obtain or purchase their own health coverage.

If you are considering dropping coverage for your small group employees, please talk to your broker or current insurance provider to discuss your options and the possible individual penalties.

Under the ACA, you are not required to offer coverage to your employees. However, beginning Jan. 1, 2015, this will change for employers with 50 or more full-time-equivalent employees –  “full-time-equivalent employees” is calculated based on the hours worked of full-time and part-time employees must.

Employers of 50 or more who don’t offer minimum essential coverage to full-time employees and their child dependents may face potential tax penalties.

If you don’t offer coverage through your business, your employees are responsible for obtaining or purchasing their own coverage.

Your employees may be able to obtain coverage through a spouse, partner, or parent’s employer-sponsored coverage, by purchasing individual or family coverage (directly from a health plan or through the individual exchange In the individual marketplace (or exchange) individuals and families will be able to research, compare, and purchase health coverage from multiple private health plan issuers.

(Amira Wazeer is a state licensed and federally certified insurance agent with over 14 years experience.  She specializes in Medicare plans, Affordable healthcare plans, dental and vision plans, Life insurance for diabetics and Janazza (final expense) insurance. Consultations are free. Need a speaker at your upcoming events or have Questions and comments contact or call 404-202-1926.)

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Muslim Journal Business Category
Busiiness In Our Lives

By Amira Wazeer
Before we get started, we need to address one of the media’s favorite talking points, the claim that, "ObamaCare hurts small business." According to the Obamacare Myths website
“The unbiased truth on ObamaCare and Small Business is Obama Care helps most small businesses.”
As Reported By Fox News “The Affordable Care Act (ACA) tackles small business owners’ top priorities when it comes to health-care reform: cost and accessibility. The law will significantly rein in costs while providing more health coverage options for entrepreneurs,” John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of the Small Business Majority, said in a statement.”
So as many of us have said the hype that the Affordable care Act will destroy America is simply a matter of politics. Most Americans who work for small businesses will benefit from the new healthcare reform law.
In addition there has been no evidence that ObamaCare will affect big business hiring practices. ObamaCare actually creates jobs including a grant to create an estimated 5 million jobs in the healthcare industry. Again I remind the reader that money is available for training in the medical field.
The myth busting website goes on to say that “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.”
While 96 percent of employers won't pay additional taxes, there is an increase to the current Medicare part A tax, paid by 3% of businesses and employees making over $200,000.
There will be an annual fee of $63 dollars paid by small business employers purchasing insurance. The ObamaCare small business fee is decreased by a small amount each year until 2017 when pre-existing conditions are phased out.
These costs may get passed onto employees. Due to tax credits, small businesses will still see a net savings, while larger firms will have more up-front costs which may get passed onto employees.
There is also a requirement for employers with the equivalent of over 50 full-time equivalent employees to purchase health insurance for their workers or pay a penalty by 2015/2016.
The average U.S. 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.
The real truth is for too long, small business owners have struggled to keep up with the ever rising cost of health insurance for their employees.
According to the White House “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.
These tax credits will benefit an estimated two million workers who get their insurance from an estimated 360,000 small employers.” Did you know 90 percent of U.S. firms have less than 20 full-time employees?
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.
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.
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. It stops insurance companies from taking advantage of the small business owner.
Giving the consumer and business owner more control and making health care coverage more affordable.
Today, we have the new 85/15 rule: insurance companies must spend at least 85 cents of your premium dollar on your health care or improvements to care. Insurance companies must publicly justify their actions if they want to raise premiums by 10 percent or more for small businesses.
An increasing number of States have more power to block unreasonable premium increases from taking effect.
Positive Effects of ObamaCare on Small Business
ObamaCare provides small businesses with affordable insurance options, cost assistance and increased buying power via the SHOP exchange (explained below).
Since small businesses with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees can use the SHOP to get better deals on employee insurance, but aren't mandated to do so, it's safe to say small businesses will not be hurt by ObamaCare, but will in fact benefit.
• The smaller the businesses the better the tax breaks.
• Businesses with over 50 full-time equivalent employees are exempt from the fee on their first 30 full-time workers greatly reducing the negative affect the law could have on businesses who just barely qualify as a large firm.
• The Employer mandate isn't meant to hurt small businesses, it's to ensure that companies like Walmart take a Shared Responsibility in providing healthcare access to more Americans.
• Small employers can see up to a 50% reduction in their share of the cost of employee premiums. The amount employers do pay is tax deductible and can be carried forward or backward.
• Small employers can offer better quality benefits due to the increased benefits, rights and protections offered by ObamaCare.
• Due to small businesses being able to shop for group health plans on their State's Health Insurance Marketplace via the SHOP, AKA the Small Business Health Options Program, small businesses now have the same buying power as larger firms. Along with tax credits, increased buying power helps small businesses afford to provide benefits to their employees.
• 96 percent of all firms in the United States - or 5.8 million out of 6 million total firms - have under 50 employees and will not be penalized for choosing not to provide health coverage to their employees. 96% of those firms already cover full time workers.
That means less than .2 percent of small businesses (10,000 out of 6 million) will actually have to provide insurance to full-time employees or pay the shared responsibility fee due to ObamaCare.
ObamaCare delays the SHOP until 2015.
The opening of the SHOP "Small Business Health Options Program" (the part of the marketplace small businesses use to buy employee health plans) has been pushed back to November 1st, 2014 (when open enrollment begins for 2015).
Firms with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees won't be able to use the marketplace until November 1st, 2015. Those with 100 or more FTE won't be able to use the SHOP until 2016. Until the web portal for the shop opens in November employers can use a paper application to apply for shop plans and tax credits.
Small businesses can still buy a SHOP plan through an agent now and claim tax breaks up to 50% of their share of employee premiums starting January 1st, 2014.
Small business health care tax credit may be carried back and applied retroactively to previous tax years, or carried forward to future tax years. Learn more about the ObamaCare SHOP Small Business Health Options Program at
Employer Mandate Delayed Until 2015 / 2016
ObamaCare's employer mandate has been delayed until 2015 / 2016. In 2015 employers with more than 100 FTEs will need to provide coverage to at least 70% of full-time employees. Starting in 2016 employers with 50 or more FTEs will need to provide coverage to "substantially all" (95%) of their full-time workforce.
A quick look at what ObamaCare means for small businesses.
• ObamaCare creates the Small Business Health Options Program or SHOP, a part of each States Health Insurance Marketplace, where small businesses with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees can shop for group health plans starting October 1st, 2013. In 2016 those with 100 full-timers or less can use the SHOP.
• The online portion of the SHOP doesn't open until November 15th, 2014; in the meantime small businesses can apply for SHOP plans and tax breaks using a paper application.
• Taxes and tax credits are based off of the number of full-time equivalent employees (FTE) and their average annual wages, not solely on the number of full-time employees.
• Small businesses with fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees with average annual wages below $50,000 can get tax credits (as adjusted for inflation beginning in 2014) to help pay for employee premiums.
• Tax credits are retroactive since 2010 so you can still claim your health insurance tax credit for any year since 2010.
• The requirement for businesses with over 50 full-time equivalent employees to provide health coverage to full-time employees is often referred to as the "employer mandate" and is officially part of the Affordable Care Act's Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions.
• Small businesses with more than 100 full-time equivalent employees with average annual wages above $250,000 must provide health coverage to at least 70% of full-time employees starting in 2015 and 95% of full-time employees starting in 2016.
• Starting 2016 employers with 50-99 full-time equivalent employees will have to insure their full-time workforce as well. Franchises are counted as separate businesses so franchise owners with less than 50 full-time workers won’t have to provide health coverage to their full-timers.
• Companies with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees will need to file an annual return reporting whether and what health insurance they offered employees. In addition, they are subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions.

Starting in 2015 any business who is supposed to insure its full-time workers but does not will have to make a $2,000 per employee shared responsibility payment on their yearend federal income taxes. The fee is $3,000 if the employee gets health insurance subsidies through the marketplace. All businesses with over 50 full-time equivalent employees have to let their employees know about their State's Health Insurance Marketplace / exchange.

• Transition relief is available to small businesses and large businesses transitioning into compliance with the new mandate. Visit and see the official IRS rules regarding transition relief.
• Businesses making over $250,000 in profit must pay a .9% increase on the current Medicare part A tax. The tax is split (.45% each) between the employer and employees making over $200,000 individual ($250,000 family).
An employer’s size is determined by the number of its employees. Employer benefits, opportunities and requirements are dependent upon the employer’s size and the applicable rules. Generally, an employer with 50 or more full-time employees or equivalents will be considered a large employer.
(Amira Wazeer is a state licensed and federally certified insurance agent with over 14 years experience.  She specializes in Medicare plans, Affordable healthcare plans, dental and vision plans, Life insurance for diabetics and Janazza (final expense) insurance. Consultations are free. Need a speaker at your upcoming events or have Questions and comments contact a.d.wazeer@ or call 404 202 1926. Coming soon my private exchange and website.)

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Annual NMBC Conference- Award presentation to Shop-Rite Owner Jeff Brown with W.D Mohammed II

By Majeedah Rashid
PHILADELPIA, Penn. – The 11th Annual National Muslim Business Council (NMBC) Conference was hosted in Philadelphia, May 2 – 4,  2014, by the Universal Muslim Business Association (UMBA), with a theme, “Building a Balanced Community through Economic Development.”
The NMBC and UMBA have a common purpose to establish associations that will galvanize Muslim businesses and business persons into collective entities and provide technical support and networking opportunities for the benefit of its membership and the community.
The NMBC Conference was held at Masjidullah’s new facility on the Center of Human Excellence Campus, which was packed to the rafters with Muslim business owners from Philadelphia and across the nation.
It began with Imam Yahya Abdullah delivering a Jumuah khutbah that inspired all in attendance. It was a great kick off to a milestone weekend, and the afternoon continued with an informative healthcare workshop from Dr. Abdel Nurriddin, followed by an upscale VIP Reception with Muslim Executives from diverse business backgrounds.
Friday ended with the Networking Social and Culture Night, with catered hors d’oeuvres and the mellow sounds of jazz and spoken word.   Hosted by the talented Hujrah Wahaj, it included performances from vocalist Saeedah Abdellah, popular spoken word artist and scholar Seff Al-Afriqi, and the renowned jazz group Arpeggio.
The audience was energized and the ambience was perfect for experiencing this special night of culture and business networking.  They shared best practices, enjoyed good food, and established relationships with brothers and sisters in business.
They also socialized, and enjoyed the Vendor’s Bazaar well into the night. Outside, the beautifully landscaped campus was alive with a Vendors Bazaar displaying a wide array of information, food, and merchandise on each day of the Conference.
Mu’min Islam, Founder of MFI Law Group gave Saturday morning’s welcome address, a prelude to what would be another exciting day for those who came to benefit from workshops and presentations from business professionals at the top of their fields.
Pennsylvania State Representative Dwight Evans and NMBC President David K. Hasan gave important remarks that charged the audience, followed by an engaging Keynote address from Michael A. Rashid, former President and CEO of one of the largest health care providers in the country - Amerihealth Caritas.
Ms. Nia Meeks skillfully moderated a lively panel discussion of the Conference topic with panelists Councilman Curtis “Hamza” Jones Jr.; Ryan N. Boyer (Business Manager- Laborers District Council); Marvin Muhammad (Coalition for Good Government) and Dr. Rashid Ali.
Prior to lunch, the UMBA President Zakariyya Abdur Rahman delivered a meaningful message that re-affirmed the purpose and goals of the Conference, before breaking for lunch.  Parallel workshops were conducted in the afternoon in various classrooms, including facilitators with topics such as:
Aquil Abdus Sabur - Business Planning;
Nicole Newman - Marketing and Advertising;
Samir Muhammad and Karriem Beyah/Global Halal industry;
Jonas Tart/PNC Bank Business Banking;
Dr. Yahia Khairy Abdul-Rahman/International Trade;
Anwar Nelson/Insurance;
Political Involvement/Omar Sabir; and
Aisha Ali/International Trade, and an Author’s Corner.
This wide array of dialogue provided attendees with valuable tools they can use in their own businesses and professions now and in the future.
After the afternoon break and prayer, there was a moving and insightful Keynote address from Rahim Islam, the acclaimed President & CEO of Universal Companies.  His remarks were a road map for how to start, grow, and sustain a business, while rising above the associated challenges.
This was followed by closing remarks from the UMBA Vice President Rahima Z. Sabir, after which the attendees disbursed to network and enjoy the Vending Marketplace.
Also present were Jack Kitchen, President and CEO of Ogontz Avenue Community Development Corporation and Derrick Suswell, Treasurer-Universal Muslim Business Association.
There was an afternoon break before the Conference Awards Banquet on Saturday evening, and attendees enjoyed an elegant atmosphere and a delicious catered dinner.
Guest Speaker City Councilwoman Marian Tasco was well received with her speech that encouraged economic growth and development in our communities.
The Award presentations were a special highlight, including Dain Little, Nicole Newman from Newman Networks, and Ryan Boyer, Business Manager for the International Laborer’s Union.
Imam Wazir Ali from Houston Texas was the Banquet’s Keynote Speaker, and he gave a memorable and heartfelt address.   Dignitaries along with hundreds of businesspeople, their colleagues, and families experienced this special night that honored outstanding business practices.
The Conference closed out on Sunday, with a Leadership Brunch and Economic Address.  The list of dynamic Speakers and Dignitaries was impressive, and included:  Masjidullah’s Imam Mikal Shabazz, Wallace Muhammad II, Sulaiman Z. Salaam, State Rep. Ronald Waters, Imam A. K. Hasan, Mubashir Uqdah, and Councilman Curtis “Hamza” Jones Jr.
The Muslim Journal’s Ayesha K. Mustafaa was also a speaker and delivered a message that stirred the audience.
Councilman Jones presented a Proclamation from Philadelphia’s City Council to recognize the Conference, which was accepted by NMBC President David K. Hasan, and UMBA President Zakariyya AbdurRahman.
State Representative Ron Waters presented a Citation from the State House of Representatives to recognize the event, which was also accepted by the Presidents of the NMBC and UMBA.
State Representative Waters continued with awards presented to Baseemah Hasan, wife of NMBC President, and Rahima Z. Sabir for helping to coordinate the Conference.
The Special Keynote Speaker Luqman Abdul Haqq/AKA Kenny Gamble was introduced by Rahim Islam, President & CEO of Universal Companies.  Mr. Gamble is well respected for his long list of accomplishments in the recording industry as well years of community development and managing charter schools with his Universal Companies.
The audience was on its feet upon hearing his wisdom on business presented from a 100 persent real perspective, as only Kenny Gamble can do.
All of these talks and presentations were collectively a historic “Master Class” on the Conference theme of Building a Balanced Community through Economic Development.  So everyone who was blessed to attend walked away with tools to affect change and success with their businesses, professions, and in the community.

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Sakina Abdul Malik

“The very act of putting pen to paper (fingers to keyboard) has always been refreshingly liberating; a limerick on the back of a grocery list, a beautiful thought on a piece of paper, your daily journal, a few lines of poetry, write whatever is coursing through your mind, and watch the self unfold on the journey of self-discovery….” ~ SAM

Andre Masud By Andre Masud and
Sakinah Abdul Malik
PHILADELPHIA, Penn. – The National Muslim Business Council (NMBC) will present its 11th National Muslim Business Conference and Expo on May 2 – 4, 2014, in Philadelphia.
The theme is “Building a Balanced Community through Economic Development.”  This three-day event will feature many business workshop activities, with various industry speakers from around the country.
In the tradition of the NMBC Conference and Expo, the best practices by Muslim business professionals will be the showcase.  And those best practices will be presented in an educational workshop format.
While the conference and expo is open to the public, individuals who are interested in business are especially encouraged to attend.  The cornerstone of the NMBC Conference and Expo is on the ground assistance to start up businesses, retention of existing businesses, NETworking and encouraging investors who are seeking new ventures.
Bro. David K. Hasan, President of the North Carolina Muslim Business Council, with support formed the steering committee to determine the direction of Imam W.D. Mohammed’s (may Allah be pleased with him) vision of self-sufficiency – “do for self” – and to continue the development of businesses in the community.
In this vision, business people are identified in the community who have maintained their own businesses and have shown support for business life within society.   These Muslim business professionals impart their knowledge based on Islamic tenets and national and international business codes of ethics.
The NMBC conference will continue to highlight young people in business who use best practices in the business sphere, which they have implemented as a result of the “do for self” formula.
In “Philly,” the excitement is heightened by Friday Jumuah Prayer and a Banquet on Saturday to honor business leaders of extraordinary commitment to the Muslim community.
The NMBC Conference and Expo continues its platform of business savvy, to provide blueprints and instructions that maintain Imam W.D. Mohammed’s formula from an educational perspective by  the teaching/learning business-to-business connections and collaborations that grow the Muslim community to “do for self.”
For the first time, The Authors’ Corner will be represented at the NMBC Conference and Expo, wherein published authors will showcase their work in various genres.  In support of the theme “economic development,” The Author’s Corner will focus on the topic of “journaling.”
The Authors’ Corner is a group of experienced writers and authors out of Cleveland, Ohio, with the purpose of offering future writers an educational platform.
The group organized in 2009 have explored various writing techniques employed by local authors that have successfully transformed writing words on little pieces of papers to published works, some known nationally.
The group consists of writers from diverse backgrounds and professions with a love of writing and a desire to lift others in their efforts.
The Authors’ Corner strives to support writers to get their books published. This can take the form of self-published, blog, website, and the traditional publishing format.
In this effort, we guide writers through the basics of the business to become published, such as completion of the work, exploration of various publishing formats, marketing and promotional strategies.
Finally, we are calling authors, especially in the Philadelphia area and around the country, who have an interest to showcase their published works at the NMBC Conference and Expo; they can contact Sakinah Abdul Malik or Andre Masud, by email

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Bro. David Hasan

In less than two months ,the city of Philadelphia, Penn., will receive a business stimulus as the National Muslim Business Council (NMBC) comes to town with its National Conference.

The organizers and known participants are ecstatic about the place where the conference will be held and opportunities to do “some business.” Business persons from throughout America will be converging on the “City of Brotherly Love” seeking information, comradeship, and worldwide business opportunities and connections.    The organizers of the conference and host city have committed themselves to the goals of:

1) Mobilizing a collective business initiative to provide economic opportunities and community wealth;

2) Solidifying a network of services and support for Muslim owned businesses and their customers;

3) Promoting moral excellence in business;

4) Developing and promoting business strategies for support and investment in the Muslim businesses; and

5) Promoting and securing access to and participation in international economic opportunities.    Imam Noah A.A. Seifullah, a Grand Rapids, Mich., resident said, “We made great social progress and gained an awareness of our economic responsibility under the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. His successor, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed guided that social and economic awareness to acceptance of responsibility to grow and develop the economic strength of the Muslim community.”

He went on to say, “The Philadelphia community will be a showcase of the growth and development of that social and economic strength.”

While the conference and its location is a source of inspiration to attend, David Hasan, President of the NMBC, added, “We must keep our eyes on the vision and mission of our leader and ask yourself, ‘Where were you before Imam Mohammed came to the scene? Where were you before Hon. Elijah Muhammad came on the scene?’

“The importance of this event is that it may mark a significant growth in the commitment of those who attend, to push for the rapid expansion of our personal and collective economic and business development,” said Bro. Hasan.

Imam R. Rasool Malik, a successful businessman in Miami, Fla., said, “We have Believers with nice restaurants, clothing stores, dental offices, lawyers, accountants, doctors, real estate, sales people, property owners, tutors, entertainers, grocery store owners, Halal meat markets, farmers, manufactures, wholesalers, importers, exporters, consultants, organizers and many more fields of business.

“We have Bro. Noah Seifullah (HalalNetwork) and Bro. Akbar who have directories of Muslim businesses. We need to use their directories…” to promote our businesses, said Imam Malik.

Bro. David Hasan added, “We have a great opportunity in Philadelphia to solidify many of the business growth objectives we have sought to achieve throughout the years. I am encouraging every business owner and aspiring business persons to attend this National Business Conference. I am sure they will not be disappointed.”

For more information, visit or call 704-201-1353.

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NMBC - Market Place

By Jinaki Abdullah

and Barbara BaSeemah

PHILADELPHIA, Penn. – The National Muslim Business Council (NMBC), supporter of the legacy of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, is sponsoring its 11th Annual National Muslim Business Conference in Philadelphia, May 2 – 4, 2014.

Muslims, believers and entrepreneurs, are encouraged to attend this annual event held this year in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection and hosted by the Universal Muslim Business Association (UMBA) on the campus of The Center for Human Excellence.

The 2014 conference will feature workshops on business, government, education and media. The Mission of the National Muslim Business Council is to:

•    Establish an association that will bring Muslim businesses and the general business community together into a collective entity.
•    Develop a local partnership of networking services for the benefit of its membership.
•    Promote moral excellence in America’s business life.
•    Organize a business strategy to support Muslims in the state and around the country and make investments in each other.
•    Strengthen and share the responsibility for community economic development and unification with an international perspective.

Imam Nurridin, Regional Representative of Mid-Atlantic Imams, praised NMBC and the Philadelphia community for their hard work and dedication during their Jan. 12, 2014 conference call.

He said, “The National Muslim Business Conference is a national effort that has been going on for quite some time.  It is one of the significant events that take place each year.  The word is out and we are talking in Philly.

“We commend you for accepting the responsibility as the host city and the grand opening of your new facility.  Continue to work to promote Islam, and the destination we can hold in high estimation.  We are looking forward to being with you all, and you are examples for the rest of the community.”

The Center for Human Excellence, which will be the site of the conference, is located on two acres and is a 30,000 sq. ft. facility.

“The grand opening last month [January] was an exciting time,” said Zakariyyah Abdur Rahman, President of the Universal Muslim Business Association (UMBA) and local planning committee chair.

Abdur Rahman continued, “We have been working diligently to make the transition from the old facility to the new.  About 600 guests braved blizzard conditions to attend the grand opening, and everyone was overwhelmed with the building’s beauty and capacity.”

Moreover, Imam Abdur Aleem is proud and regardful of Philadelphia’s accomplishments.  In his opening prayer during the conference call, he said, “Thank Allah for the opportunity to host the NMBC conference, and the team is in place to create a new standard.

“Thank Allah and Imam Mohammed that we are a part of a truly global movement.  The whole city is abuzz with talk about the NMBC Conference, May 2-4.  We hope that Allah blesses us to roll out the red carpet.”

In the closing minutes of the conference call, David Hasan, President of the NMBC, called upon the audience to reflect upon their responsibilities as Muslims now as well as in the past.

“We must keep our eyes on the vision and mission of our leader,” Bro. Hasan said, and then asked, “Where were you before Imam Mohammed came on the scene?  Where were you before Hon. Elijah Muhammad came on the scene?”

In his enthusiasm, he summed up the spirit of the NMBC and its efforts to encourage the development of strong Muslim businessmen and businesswomen, strong Muslim communities and strong believers in Al-Islam.  He said, “We will promote who we need to promote.  The community is alive!  Muhammad is alive (PBUH)!”

Without a doubt, it is apparent that the spirit in Philadelphia is high and Imam Aleem and the believers in Philadelphia have faith that they can be the standard bearers for future NMBC conferences and a model for community development.

Consequently, the challenge to all the other communities under the leadership of Imam Mohammed has been made.   Will we vie as in a race, or will we concede?  But one thing is for sure, you must come to the 11th Annual NMBC Conference, May 2-4, 2014, in order to see what all of the commotion is about.

For more information, visit or call 704-201-1353.  



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By Nusayba Hammad, Communications Director, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights ( WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an act unprecedented in recent history, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand...