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+ Earlybird updated October 22 

Health Care: Commissioners Leave Toughest Medical Loss Ratio Calls to HHS

• "State insurance commissioners can check a major task off their list after unanimously passing a final model for the new health care law's medical loss ratio," CongressDaily (subscription) reports. "But now the Health and Human Services Department must quickly address thorny tax and implementation questions before it issues a final rule."


Biography provided by participant

Over the past three decades, Ralph G. Neas has compiled an extraordinary track record of collaborative leadership, coalition building, bipartisan legislative accomplishments, legal advocacy, effective communications and organizing campaigns.

Neas began his public service career as Chief Counsel to Republican U.S. Senators Edward W. Brooke (1973-1978) and Dave Durenberger (1979-1980). From 1981 through 1995, he served as Executive Director of the nonpartisan Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation's oldest, largest, and most diverse coalition (185 national organizations).

At LCCR, Neas directed two dozen successful national campaigns that strengthened every major civil rights law, in a political climate not particularly hospitable to civil rights. Landmark laws enacted, with huge bipartisan majorities and many times with the help of the business community, include the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988, the 1988 Fair Housing Act Amendments, the Japanese American Civil Liberties Act, and the 1982 Voting Rights Act Extension. Senator Edward Kennedy, in a 1995 Senate floor statement, described Neas as the "101st Senator for Civil Rights."

As President of the nonpartisan People For the American Way and People For the American Way Foundation (1999-2007), Neas increased the number of members and supporters of People For from 275,000 to more than one million. He was a national leader in the efforts to preserve an independent and fair judiciary and to fight far-right attempts to reverse seven decades of social justice progress. In addition, he helped put together partnerships and lead coalitions to recruit and manage 25,000 volunteers for the non-partisan and nationally recognized Election Protection program (to help ensure every vote counts), to direct nonpartisan PFAWF programs that registered 525,000 African American and Latino voters in three years, to block a permanent and massive tax cut, to enact the 2006 Voting Rights Act Extension, to amend the USA Patriot Act, and to defend and reform our nation's public schools.

Neas is a consistent presence in the national media, interviewed regularly by the major TV, radio and print media, including: CBS's Face the Nation, ABC's Nightline; CBS's Sunday Morning; NBC's Today Show, ABC's This Week; PBS Lehrer News Hour; the nightly news shows of ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and Fox; National Public Radio; cable television and radio talk shows; and prominent national, regional and local newspapers (including the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press and USA Today.) In October of 1987, Neas was named ABC's "Person of the Week" for his work on the Bork nomination.

Neas is the author of over thirty-five published articles, op-eds, and commentaries in national media outlets, including the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Houston Chronicle, The Nation, National Public Radio, USA Today Magazine, and Roll Call.

He has been profiled in the New York Times, in the Washington Post, in the Wall Street Journal, and in many other media entities including: USA Today, Congressional Quarterly, The New Republic, the Washington Star, the Legal Times, the Associated Press, and The Baltimore Sun. Neas has also been profiled in a number of books including: The Second Civil War (Ronald Brownstein), Giant Killers (Michael Pertschuk), The Battle for Justice (Ethan Bronner), and The People Rising (Michael Pertschuk).

He has been honored by organizations representing the spectrum of issues to which he has devoted his career, including the Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award from LCCR; the Benjamin Hooks "Keeper of the Flame" Award from the national NAACP; the Public Service Achievement Award from Common Cause; the Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award from the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund; the "National Good Guy Award" from the National Women's Political Caucus; the Isaiah Award for the Pursuit of Justice from the American Jewish Committee; the Flag Bearer Award from Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (P-FLAG); the Edison Uno Memorial Civil Rights Award from the Japanese-American Citizens' League; the University of Chicago Alumni Public Service Citation; "Citizen of the Year" from the Guillian-Barre Syndrome Foundation International; and named in 2004 one of Vanity Fair's "Best Stewards of the Environment." In May of 2008, the national Legal Times designated Neas one of the 30 "Champions of the Law" over the past three decades.

On September 29th, Neas received, along with Senator Arlen Specter, Cornel West, and Representative Debbie Wasserman Shultz, the "Survivor Eagle Fly Free" Award from the Institute for the Advancement of Multicultural and Minority Medicine. Neas, a native of Brookline, Massachusetts, earned his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. Neas has taught courses on the legislative process at the University of Chicago Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

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