Posts Tagged ‘medicaid

08
Aug
14

A Heckuva Train Wreck

Reuters: New Medicaid enrollments top 7 million under Obamacare

More than seven million Americans have gained health coverage through government programs including Medicaid since enrollment in Obamacare health insurance was launched October 1, the U.S. administration said on Friday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said 7.2 million new participants in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program by June brought overall Medicaid enrollment to 66 million people.

The enrollees include uninsured Americans who gained coverage through traditional Medicaid, as well as a special Medicaid expansion in 26 of the 50 U.S. states under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

…. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that 10.3 million uninsured Americans have gained coverage through the marketplaces and Medicaid, resulting in a 5.2 percentage point drop in the U.S. uninsured rate since last September.

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06
Aug
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama greets a young supporter at a campaign rally for gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds in Tyson’s Corner Va., on Aug. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern)

10:0: The President delivers remarks and participates in Session One of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the State Department: Investing in Africa’s Future.

12:30: Participates in Session Two: Peace and Regional Stability

2:30: Participates in Session Three: Governing the Next Generation

5:0: Holds a press conference, State Department

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10:0: First Lady Michelle Obama, in partnership with former First Lady Laura Bush and the Bush Institute, will host a day-long spouses symposium at the Kennedy Center focused on the impact of investments in education, health, and public-private partnerships.

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Jonathan Cohn: Obamacare’s Impact On The Uninsured, State By State: Where Officials Wanted It To Work, It Did

Need another reminder of why Obamacare’s impact depends heavily on the state where you live? Gallup has one for you. On Tuesday, the organization published a state-by-state breakdown of how the law has affected the rate of uninsurance, at least according to its polling. Arkansas seemed to make the most progress: In that state, by Gallup’s reckoning, the ranks of the uninsured fell by 10.1 percentage points. Next was Kentucky, at 8.5 percentage points. The states that made the most headway covering the uninsured,

according to Gallup, are states in which officials decided to build their own insurance marketplaces and to make all low-income people eligible for Medicaid, as the Affordable Care Act originally envisioned. The Medicaid expansion is obviously the big factor here, because it meant many more people (into the millions, in the largest states) became eligible for government-subsidized insurance. But it’s safe to assume that the states that undertook both steps were also the ones that put the most thought and effort into promoting the program.

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Michelle Jamrisko: Services In U.S. Expand At Fastest Pace Since 2005

Service industries such as builders and retailers grew in July at the fastest pace since December 2005, signaling the U.S. economy was hitting its stride entering the second half of 2014. The Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing index increased to 58.7, exceeding the highest estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists, from the prior month’s 56, the Tempe, Arizona-based group’s report showed today. Readings greater than 50 indicate expansion. The median estimate in the Bloomberg survey called for 56.5.

Prospects for the world’s largest economy are improving as the group’s orders index reached an almost nine-year high, reflecting broad-based gains. Combined with another report showing factory bookings are also jumping, the pickup in demand raises the odds the job market will extend its recent progress. “We’re seeing numbers that we haven’t seen since well before the financial crisis and recession, and they seem to be more sustained,” said Terry Sheehan, an economist at Stone & McCarthy Research Associates in Princeton, New Jersey, whose ISM index projection of 57 was among the highest in the Bloomberg survey. The strengthening is “pretty much across the board for business activity, new orders and employment.”

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Shobhana Chandra: Trade Gap Shrinks To Five-Month Low As U.S. Imports Drop

The trade deficit in the U.S. unexpectedly narrowed in June, reflecting the biggest drop in imports in a year as the economy moved closer to energy independence. The gap shrank 7 percent to $41.5 billion, the smallest since January, from May’s $44.7 billion, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 66 economists called for a deficit of $44.8 billion. The drop in purchases of foreign goods included declines in autos and cellular phones, while petroleum imports were the lowest in more than three years.

Demand for goods made overseas will probably rebound in coming months, helped by growing household spending and business investment. Exports were little changed at a record, a sign markets overseas will represent less growth for American factories as Europe’s economy struggles to pick up and geopolitical tensions mount. “Imports are going to bounce back because of the strength of the U.S. consumer,” said Jay Bryson, global economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina. “The U.S. is doing better than most advanced countries.”

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Roberto A. Ferdman: Why Immigrants Are The Best Thing That Happened To Medicare

America’s growing immigrant population might not be all that bad for the country’s health-care system. In fact, it’s probably playing an important role in helping to keep it afloat. U.S. immigrants’ net contribution to Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, the program’s core funding source, was $183 billion between 1996 and 2011. US-born Americans? Negative $69 billion, according to a new report by the Partnership for the New American Economy, an immigration advocacy group. That means that immigrants have been pumping a lot more money in than they take out, while the rest of the population has been doing just the opposite. On a per person basis, immigrants contributed $62 more per person to the trust fund than the U.S.-born, and claim $172 less in benefits.

By the institute’s estimates, the cash contributed by immigrants over the 16-year span was more than a mere inconsequential boost. “Our analysis indicates that non-citizen immigrants, a group that includes both authorized and unauthorized immigrants, played a particularly large role subsidizing the care of the U.S.-born population,” the report says. The net $183 billion contribution was enough to ensure the prolonged buoyancy of Medicare trust fund, which according to the most recent projection will remain solvent through 2030.

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On This Day

President Obama carries a cake into the Oval Office for a birthday party for Phil Schiliro, assistant to the president for legislative affairs, on Aug. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama waits to speak at a campaign rally for gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds in Tyson’s Corner Va., on Aug. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama waits backstage to speak at a reception in Tyson’s Corner Va., for gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, on Aug. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

 President Obama speaks at a campaign rally for gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds in Tyson’s Corner Va., on Aug. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama shakes hands at a reception in Tyson’s Corner Va., for gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, on Aug. 6, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama walks into the Oval Office with newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, Aug. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama signs Elena Kagan’s commission in the Oval Office, before a reception in the East Room celebrating her confirmation to the Supreme Court, Aug. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama visits with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in the Blue Room of the White House, prior to Kagan’s confirmation reception in the East Room, Aug. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama is briefed on the tragedy in Afghanistan by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Chief of Staff Bill Daley, and national security staff, at Camp David, Aug. 6, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Members of the press document President Obama during the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 signing ceremony in the Oval Office, Aug. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

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President Obama takes the stage to deliver remarks on housing and home ownership at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Ariz., Aug. 6, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama joins Jay Leno for a taping of the “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in Burbank, Calif., Aug. 6, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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28
Jul
14

ObamaCare Works – And Kentucky Is Proof

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LEO Weekly: Medicaid Expansion Leads To Booming Reimbursements, Plunging Uninsured Rate In Kentucky

Kentucky’s Department of Medicaid Services has also provided this map that shows how the uninsured rate has plummeted within each county since 2012, assuming that 75 percent of Kynect enrollees did not previously have insurance (as indicated in their Kynect application): While this drop is staggering through the state, it is most pronounced in the four eastern Kentucky counties of Harlan, Letcher, Leslie and Perry, who went from 17-20 percent uninsured to less than 5 percent. These four counties went from some of the highest uninsured rates to the lowest in the entire state. Thanks, Obama.

While rural hospitals in Kentucky still face unique challenges that must be addressed, including how well Medicaid managed care is able to meet the increased demand for providers, the rosy estimates given by Gov. Beshear last year on the effects of embracing the Affordable Care Act appear to be coming to fruition. The question still remains whether Kentucky’s legislature will decide to continue these efforts next year, or whether a possible new Republican majority in the state House will decide to roll back the clock.

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Mary Meehan: Affordable Care Act Refunds Due From Four Kentucky Insurers

Kentucky families will receive $6.2 million in refunds, an average of $43 per family, under a provision of the Affordable Care Act known as the 80/20 rule. The refunds announced Thursday by the federal government are the result of the rule requiring insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of the money paid in premiums on patient care. If the companies don’t reach that amount with spending on bonuses or red tape, it must be refunded to their customers.

According to a news release from the federal Department of Health & Human Services, consumers nationwide will receive $330 million. Four Kentucky health insurance plans will refund money. Anthem Health Plans of Kentucky had by far the largest refund at $4.4 million. Humana Health Plan was at $766,295, Golden Rule Insurance Co., $342,336, and Time Insurance Co., $333,096.

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20
Jun
14

ObamaCare: Signed. Sealed. Delivering.

Supreme Court Upholds Obama's Affordable Care Act

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Sara Kliff: Survey: 57 Percent Of Obamacare Enrollees Were Previously Uninsured

A slim majority of Obamacare’s private insurance enrollees were uninsured when they signed up for coverage, a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds. Obamacare opponents have regularly argued that most enrollees already had coverage, meaning that health reform wasn’t driving down the uninsured rate. The new Kaiser survey, which uses a randomly-selected panel of 742 people who bought private coverage through the new exchanges,

finds that 57 percent of those who signed up for private coverage didn’t have an insurance plan when they enrolled. The Kaiser survey suggests that most people who bought on the marketplace weren’t trying to replace a plan they already had. They were people who lacked insurance coverage, and were using the new health care law to gain access to a plan they didn’t have before.

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Mother Jones: About Half of Obamacare Exchange Enrollees Were Previously Uninsured

A new Kaiser survey shows that 57 percent of those who bought health insurance on Obamacare exchanges were previously uninsured. That’s about 4.5 million people who gained private insurance via the exchanges, and the vast majority of them say they would have remained uninsured if not for Obamacare. If this number is correct, it suggests that the number of newly insured by the end of the year will be a little higher than I’ve projected before—perhaps around 11-13 million.

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Tara Culp-Ressler: Young Adults Got Healthier And More Financially Stable After Obamacare Was Implemented

Obamacare’s efforts to expand access to health insurance for young Americans may be helping them maintain better health and financial security, according to a large new study analyzing the impact of health care reform over the past four years. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on Wednesday, found that young Americans are now reporting better physical and mental health and their out-of-pocket medical expenses have declined. “The health insurance that people are gaining seems to be doing what it is supposed to do,” Dr. Kao-Ping Chua, a pediatrician at Boston’s Children’s Hospital and the lead author of the study, told the Los Angeles Times. In 2010, Obamacare began allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans until the age of 26. Since then, several surveys have found that the rate of uninsurance among that population has sharply declined. The JAMA study is one of the first to attempt to more broadly measure the impact of this aspect of the Affordable Care Act in the four years since it took effect.

In order to assess Obamacare’s impact, the researchers analyzed annual survey data collected between 2002 and 2011, before and after the coverage provision’s implementation. They tracked information from more than 60,000 people who fell into one of two different groups: young people between the ages of 19 to 25, who became newly eligible to remain dependents on their parents’ plans, and a control group of older adults between the ages of 26 to 34 who could not take advantage of that provision. Some significant differences emerged between the two populations. Among the younger group, there was a 6.2 percentage point increase in people reporting excellent physical health, as well as a 4 percentage point increase in people reporting excellent mental health. That group was also more likely to be insured, and experienced an 18 percent decline in their annual out-of-pocket medical costs.

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18
Jun
14

The Affordable Care Act Lives Up To Its Name

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Columbus Dispatch: Obamacare Premiums Average $80 A Month

People who signed up for coverage under President Barack Obama’s health-care law are paying about $80 a month in premiums on average, the administration reported yesterday. The new numbers from the Health and Human Services Department cover only the 36 states where the federal government took the lead in setting up new insurance markets, accounting for about 5.4 million of the 8 million people who signed up nationally. Major states like California and New York were not included, but that might not affect national averages by much. The law limits what people pay for a benchmark plan to a fixed share of their income, regardless of where they live.

Among the major findings: • Taxpayers are subsidizing 76 percent of the average monthly premium in the 36 federally administered markets. • The average premium is $346 a month, but the typical enrollee pays just $82. Tax credits averaging $264 a month cover the difference. The government pays the subsidy directly to insurers. • After tax credits, Mississippians paid the least for coverage — averaging just $23 a month on average premiums of $438.

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Alex Walsh: Obamacare Side Effect: Alabama Medicaid Enrollment Goes Over 1 Million Due To Awareness, Rule Changes

Alabama has so far rejected the federal government’s proposal to expand Medicaid. Regardless, the Affordable Care Act still had the effect of increasing the size of Alabama’s Medicaid rolls. Medicaid enrollment in Alabama jumped up noticeably in January 2014, from around 970,000 to just over 1 million. Part of the reason behind the increase was a rule change enacted by the Affordable Care Act. The ACA required the state to transfer about

23,000 children from ALL Kids (Alabama’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP) over to the Medicaid rolls. Health care analysts also say that the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act brought a new wave of attention to health insurance, motivating many Americans to check their eligibility for various existing programs. This effect has been called “wood working” by some organizations, including Kaiser.

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Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Letter To The Editor: Affordable Care Act Feels Like I Won The Lottery

I must add my so so appreciative voice to all the press about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I must say it is the best thing that has come along in my lifetime since “sliced bread.” My husband and I paid $14,520 in premiums alone this year for very high deductible policies. The ACA is allowing the premium cost to stay within 9.5 percent of your income if you are in the 400 percent above poverty income range. Our premiums were well above that percentage of our income.

This high premium stuff with riders and coinsurance has been going on for us since 2007 when we lost our group coverage, with hugely increasing premiums every year. Before we got any help from insurance our out-of-pocket would have been $30,000. Our joined premium per month will be $660 and our maximum out-of-pocket for care will be $3,250 each. I feel like I won the lottery: no riders and no preexisting Blue Cross policies with nationwide providers.

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16
Jun
14

ObamaCare: Good News All Around

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Amy Lynn Smith: Survey Shows The Newly Enrolled Are Happy About Their Health Insurance

A national survey conducted by PerryUndem for Enroll America provides some of the first insights into how people who got covered during the first Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period feel about their new insurance. Not surprisingly, they feel pretty darn good. The newly enrolled are four times more likely to say they are happy with their coverage than unhappy — 41% compared to 11%. 74% of new enrollees were very or somewhat confident they would be able to pay their premiums moving forward. The feeling that best expresses how the newly enrolled feel about having health insurance is “relieved.”

Although Republicans like Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg continue hunting for “horror stories” about the ACA, or Obamacare, they’re coming up empty-handed. Walberg asked about the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the center and the physicians responded that with the expansion of Medicaid [under the ACA] more people are coming to the practice instead of the emergency room. With improved access to health care, the new patients are getting better care for improved health.

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Steve Benen: Everything’s Coming Up Aces For The ACA

The news surrounding the Affordable Care Act has been so good this week, it’s almost hard to know where to start. We could start with the fact that private insurers who skipped the exchanges now want in … or we could go with the fact, as expected, consumers are paying their premiums … … or we could talk about “Obamacare” cutting the rate of uninsured in New Jersey by 38%, Minnesota by 40%, and Kentucky by 50%.*

In all, a little less than a third of the country supports repealing the Affordable Care Act – the position Republicans have spent years touting as smart policy and politics. Looking at all of the good ACA news last week, Simon Maloy said, “We’re only six days into June, and opponents of the ACA have already had a terrible month.” For the health care opponents on the right, June looks even worse this week.

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German Lopez: 2 promising Signs For Us Health Spending

Health-care spending might not be growing so quickly after all. Earlier this year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis projected that health-care spending would massively increase in the first quarter of 2014. In the health wonk world, that inspired a lot of panic about the return of high health-care cost growth. Not only would that make health care more expensive for everyone, but it would further strain budgets at all levels of government. The good news is the latest federal data on health spending suggests that the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s initial estimates may have been wrong and could be revised downward. If that’s the case, health-care spending could still be growing at the same timid pace it has been for years.

For the federal government, the most promising news comes through Medicare. The latest data, as broken down by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, shows underlying Medicare growth, even after adjusting for temporary policies, is growing at just 2.5 percent. That’s more than a full percentage point below economic and beneficiary growth. Medicare, in other words, is growing slower as a percent of the economy and on a per-person basis. A percentage point might not seem like a huge deal. But if the trend holds, it could translate to billions of dollars in savings for the federal government.

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Dan Diamond: In Every State So Far, More Insurers Are Asking To Participate In Obamacare

But the second year of Obamacare is bringing out more insurance carriers in New Hampshire. Not just one or two more—but four more. “New Hampshire residents have asked for options,” state Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny said last month, announcing the five plans that will participate in this fall’s enrollment period. “Choice is good for consumers and good for competition.”Sevigny may be the only state commissioner who gets to tout a 400% increase in the number of participating plans, but he’s hardly alone in seeing a surge on his state’s exchange. In every state that’s shared details thusfar, it appears there will be more choices in Obamacare, year 2: Michigan’s exchange is going from 13 participating companies in 2013 to 18 this fall. At least one additional carrier has filed to sell plans through Kentucky’s exchange.

Several more insurers may join the plans participating in Virginia, Washington, and Indiana’s exchanges. United HealthCare may jump into Georgia’s market. And the surge in carriers means that there will be many more actual options at the point of purchase, too. Peter Frost at the Chicago Tribune notes the number of companies competing on the Illinois exchange next year will inch up from six to eight—but the number of available policies will almost triple, from 165 to 504. Officials at HHS and the White House are thrilled by the growing turnout. “We are pleased to see an increase of insurers applying for state marketplaces,” a senior administration official told the Daily Briefing. “Where insurers compete for business, consumers benefit.”

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09
Jun
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Barack Obama talks with kids from the Children’s Miracle Network in the East Room of the White House, June 9, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern)

10:50: The President meets with nurses to discuss immigration reform

12:30: Josh Earnest briefs the press

1:45: The President delivers remarks and signs a Presidential Memorandum on reducing the burden of student loan debt, East Room

2:40: Meets with governors of Western States via video teleconference

4:15: Welcomes the UConn men’s and women’s NCAA champion basketball teams

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The Week Ahead

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NYT: Obama Plans Steps To Ease Student Debt

President Obama on Monday will take executive actions to ease the burden of college loan debt for potentially millions of Americans, in a White House event coinciding with Senate Democrats’ plans for legislation to address a concern of many voters in this midterm election year. Mr. Obama’s main action will be to expand on a 2010 law that capped borrowers’ repayments at 10 percent of their monthly income. The intent is to extend such relief to an estimated five million people with older loans who are currently ineligible — those who got loans before October 2007 or stopped borrowing by October 2011.

But the relief would not be available until December 2015, officials said, given the time needed for the Education Department to propose and put new regulations into effect. Also, Mr. Obama will announce that the department will renegotiate contracts with companies that service federal loans to give them additional financial incentives to help borrowers avoid delinquency or default. The Education and Treasury Departments are to work with the nation’s largest tax-preparation firms, H&R Block and Intuit Inc., to ensure that borrowers are aware of repayment options and tax credits for college tuition.

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Josh Hicks: Kerry: Leaving Soldier Behind Would Be ‘Offensive And Incomprehensible’

Secretary of State John F. Kerry in an interview aired Sunday pushed back against criticism of the prisoner swap for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban after he left his post in Afghanistan in 2009. “It would have been offensive and incomprehensible to consciously leave an American behind, no matter what,” Kerry said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Republicans have accused the Obama administration of placing U.S. troops at greater risk by encouraging enemies to take prisoners for leverage, essentially putting a target on the backs of American troops. Responding to those concerns, Kerry said that the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan is over and that “we’re going to have very few people in that kind of position.”

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By the very wonderful @Chanlowe

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Simon Maloy: GOP’s Quiet Obamacare Disaster: How This Week’s Biggest Story Got Overlooked

While everyone obsessed over the Bergdahl flap, the real story was revealed by a nomination hearing and new data

Right around noon on Wednesday, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s nomination to be the next secretary of Health and Human Services. The all-out Obamacare brawl that Republicans had promised when Burwell’s nomination was announced never materialized. Instead, it ended with a quiet, respectful display of bipartisan comity.

Losing the opportunity to grandstand on the Burwell nomination, however, was the least of the Republicans’ troubles this week when it came to the Affordable Care Act. We’re only six days into June, and opponents of the ACA have already had a terrible month.

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Las Vegas Review-Journal: Shooters In Metro Ambush That Left Five Dead Spoke Of White Supremacy And A Desire To Kill Police

Two Las Vegas police officers were killed Sunday in what appears to be a politically motivated ambush in a pizza restaurant that spilled over to a nearby Wal-Mart, where the two shooters committed suicide after killing a woman in the store. Details are sketchy, but Metropolitan Police Department sources close to the investigation say the shooters shouted that “this is the start of a revolution” before opening fire on the officers, and draped their bodies with cloth showing a Revolutionary War-era flag. Investigators have also found paraphernalia associated with white supremacists. The shooters then stripped the officers of their weapons and ammunition and badges, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation. They then covered the officers with something that featured the Gadsden flag, a yellow banner with a coiled snake above the words, “Don’t tread on Me.”

The flag is named for Christopher Gadsden a Revolutionary War general who designed it. It has recently come back in vogue as an adopted symbol of the American tea party movement. Brandon Monroe, 22, has lived in the complex for about two weeks. He said the man who lived in the apartment that was being searched often rambled about conspiracy theories. He often wore camouflage or dressed as Peter Pan to work as a Fremont Street Experience street performer. A woman lived with him, Monroe said, but he didn’t see her as often. They were weird people, Monroe said, adding that he thought the couple used methamphetamine. “The man told Monroe he had been kicked off Cliven Bundy’s ranch 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas while people from throughout the U.S. gathered there in protest of a Bureau of Land Management roundup of Bundy’s cattle.” Jessica Anderson, 27, said.

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Dan Diamond: Since Obamacare Passed 50 Months Ago, Healthcare Has Gained Almost 1 Million Jobs

Obamacare was once called “The Job-Killing Health Care Law.” But the latest jobs report suggests that the broader economy—and the health care sector, specifically—is adding jobs at a healthy rate. Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in March 2010, the health care industry has gained nearly 1 million jobs—982,300, to be more precise—according to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates released on Friday.

Meanwhile, the rest of the economy has added 7.7 million jobs since March 2010, and for the first time, more people are working since the recession began five years ago. Private-sector jobs also grew for the 51st straight month, Justin Wolfers observes at The Upshot, which ties the longest consecutive streak on record and overlaps with the passage of Obamacare 50 months ago. But that streak is piddling compared to health care, which just reported its 131st straight month of job gains.

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Tiffany HSU: Job Recovery In Southern California Is Outpacing U.S. Gains

Southern California fell harder in the recession than the rest of the country and took longer to recover, but now the region’s job gains are outpacing the national employment upswing. Each month since April 2012 except one, Los Angeles County has seen at least 2% year-over-year job growth, compared with a 1.7% average across the country. On Friday, the Labor Department reported that all the jobs lost in the downturn are now back nationwide, with 217,000 net new jobs added in May. The unemployment rate stayed put at 6.3%, the lowest in more than five years. But a steadily growing population means that millions of people are still out of work. In Los Angeles County, only 330,800 jobs have returned, compared with the 435,400 jobs lost from December 2007 to January 2010.

Cheery economic reports showing rising home prices in Southern California, along with steadily recovering personal income, will help boost optimism, Kleinhenz said. But new opportunities will lure more job hunters into the labor force, requiring employers to add more jobs to keep unemployment rates low. But an LAEDC report this week showed promising signs. In April, Los Angeles County employers added 90,800 nonfarm jobs — a 2.6% boost from a year earlier. The area’s jobless rate improved to 9.8% last year from 10.9% a year earlier. LAEDC expects the gauge to fall to 8.7% this year and then continue sliding to 7.8% in 2015.

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Sen. Phillip P. Puckett

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Laura Vozzella: Va. Lawmaker To Resign, Paving Way For Jobs For Self, Daughter, According To Associates

Republicans appear to have outmaneuvered Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a state budget standoff by persuading a Democratic senator to resign his seat, at least temporarily giving the GOP control of the chamber and possibly dooming the governor’s push to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) will announce his resignation Monday, effective immediately, paving the way to appoint his daughter to a judgeship and Puckett to the job of deputy director of the state tobacco commission, three people familiar with the plan said Sunday. The news prompted outrage among Democrats — and accusations that Republicans were trying to buy the Senate with job offers in order to thwart McAuliffe’s proposal to expand health coverage to 400,000 low-income Virginians.

In a statement, McAuliffe (D) acknowledged that Puckett’s resignation had created “uncertainty” for his plan to expand the federal-state health program for the poor to 400,000 uninsured Virginians. But he contended that he still had a majority of the Senate on his side. “I am deeply disappointed by this news and the uncertainty it creates at a time when 400,000 Virginians are waiting for access to quality health care, especially those in Southwest Virginia,” McAuliffe said. “This situation is unacceptable, but the bipartisan majority in the Senate and I will continue to work hard to put Virginians first and find compromise on a budget that closes the coverage gap.” Senate Republicans, meanwhile, issued a statement praising Puckett. “Although Senator Puckett has decided to end his tenure in the Senate of Virginia, his legacy there will endure,” said Senate Minority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (James City). “And, his commitment and service to the people of Southwest, who honored him with their votes in five successive elections, will continue.”

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Reuters: U.S. Deaths In Afghanistan May Have Only Tenuous Link To Bergdahl

The frantic search for Bowe Bergdahl began the moment his comrades discovered he was no longer inside the fragile outpost in a rock-strewn valley in one of the most hostile corners of Afghanistan. Exactly why Bergdahl left is subject to intense scrutiny. But accounts by two Taliban sources as well as several U.S. officials and fellow soldiers raise doubt over media reports that he had sought to join the Taliban, and over suggestions that the deaths later that year of six soldiers in his battalion were related to the search for him.

His dramatic release on May 31 after five years in captivity in return for five Taliban commanders sparked a national controversy over whether President Barack Obama paid too high a price for his freedom. That was fueled by allegations by some in his battalion that he was a deserter, and that soldiers died because they were looking for him after his disappearance in the early hours of June 30, 2009. While many questions remain, a Reuters reconstruction of his disappearance indicates that at the time when Bergdahl’s six comrades in the 1st Battalion of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment were killed in August and September 2009, his fallen comrades were on other missions like securing the Afghan elections and, according to one U.S. military official, the period of intensive ground searches had already ended.

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Jason Millman: Obamacare Is Adding Insurers Where They’re Most Needed

State health insurance marketplaces that offered consumers very few health plan choices in 2014 are starting to add more insurers — slowly, in most cases. But this is a sign that insurers are feeling confident about the second year of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion. The development is important for a few reasons. For one, recent research suggests that more competition in the exchanges could help temper premium increases. Other new analysis shows that exchange plans, on average, are cheaper than individual plans offered outside the insurance marketplaces. And given the narrow networks in exchange plans, more insurers could mean better access to providers.

In New Hampshire, the exchange’s only insurer last year had excluded 10 of 26 hospitals in the state from its network, meaning the exchange’s customers were limited in their choice of care providers. In 2015, though, New Hampshire will have five insurers selling individual and family health plans on the exchange, state officials announced this week. That also includes the expansion of two non-profit, co-op plans that received start-up funding from the Affordable Care Act. Then there’s West Virginia, a poorer state and one of the least healthy in the country — not exactly an attractive market for insurers. Just one insurer sold 2014 exchange plans, but a second insurer from Kentucky, another co-op, will join in 2015. Kentucky Health Cooperative, which signed up 75 percent of the approximately 82,000 people who selected private plans in Kentucky’s exchange, will sell plans statewide in West Virginia next year.

More here

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EPIC Moment Number One: Audra McDonald wins a historic 6th Tony; beating Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris’s previous records of 5 wins

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EPIC Moment Number Two: Bravo, Quest Love for the beats and arrangements, and bravo to T.I., Hugh Jackman, and LL Cool J

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On This Day

President Obama listens to a point being made in a meeting with senior advisors in the Oval Office, June 9, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama greets Debra Ness, president of the national partnership for women and families, before speaking to their 40th anniversary luncheon in Washington, DC, on June 9, 2011

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Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama and Vice President Biden escort Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the East Room of the White House where the President will introduce her as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice David, May 26, 2009 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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Today (All Times Eastern)

9:15 AM: The President hosts a breakfast in the State Dining Room in honor of Memorial Day. The Vice President and Dr. Biden will also attend

11:0 The President and First Lady travel to Arlington National Cemetery where the President will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

11:20: The President delivers remarks

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The Week Ahead

Tuesday

The President will host the 2014 White House Science Fair and celebrate the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. The President will also announce new steps as part of his Educate to Innovate campaign, an all-hands-on-deck effort to get more girls and boys inspired to excel and to provide the support they need to succeed in these vital subjects

Wednesday

The President travels to West Point, New York to deliver the commencement address at the United States Military Academy at West Point

Thursday

The President will host a summit at the White House on youth sports safety and concussions, where he will be joined by stakeholders, including young athletes, parents, coaches, experts, professional athletes, and military service members. At the White House Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit, the President will announce new commitments by both the public and private sectors to raise awareness about how to identify, treat and prevent concussions, and conduct additional research in the field of sports-related concussions that will help us better address these problems

Friday

The President will attend a hurricane preparedness meeting at FEMA Headquarters

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President Barack Obama waves as he returns from a surprise trip to Afghanistan

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Adrianna McIntyre: 21 Things Obamacare Does That You Didn’t Know About

1. Obamacare makes funds available for “training for adulthood.” True story. The law makes funds available for “personal responsibility” programs aimed at preparing young adults for being grown-ups. Per federal law, all of these programs must include efforts to educate young adults prevention of both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Beyond that, they’re expected to touch on other “adulthood preparation subjects”, including but not limited to: financial literacy, healthy relationships, communication and interpersonal skills, educational and career success, body image, goal-setting, decision making, and stress management. 6. The law authorizes funding for grants that target postpartum depression. The Secretary of HHS is authorized to make grants available for treating individuals who have postpartum depression and psychosis (conditions that occur in women following childbirth). The law also encourages the National Institute of Mental Health to conduct long-term study from 2010-2019 on how pregnancy affects women’s mental health. This piece of the Affordable Care Act is called the Melanie Blocker Stokes CARE Act; it is named for a woman who tragically committed suicide in 2001 after suffering from postpartum depression despite three admissions to Chicago-area hospitals following her delivery.

10. Young adults who age out of the foster system at 18 receive benefits until they’re 26. Before the Affordable Care Act, states had the option — but not the requirement — of extending Medicaid coverage up to age 21 for kids who aged out of the foster system at 18. This is an incredibly vulnerable population that suffers from high rates of homelessness, poverty, and unemployment. Under reform, states have to offer these young adults Medicaid coverage until they turn 26. 13. Employers are required to provide reasonable break time for nursing mothers. Employers must provide a reasonable amount of break time — and a private place that isn’t a bathroom — for an employee to express breast milk for up to one year after giving birth. Breastfeeding the first six months, at a minimum, is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Prior to health reform, there was no federal law that protected nursing mothers; state laws on the issue tended to be very general.

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Bob Small: First Memorial Day Created By Blacks Here In Hampton Park

Memorial Day may signal the beginning of the summer for many. A time for cook-outs and being with friends and family, but few know that the first widely publicized event, then called “Decoration Day”, was held in Charleston to honor the Union dead and was put together by many of the newly freed Black men and women. On May 1, 1865, more than 10,000 black freedmen and women including 3,000 children gathered at the old Race Track now known as Hampton Park track to honor dead Union soldiers who were buried there. They cleaned up the area and placed flowers on the graves of the unknown soldiers. The event was highly publicized and covered by a number of newspapers nationally. To many of the white citizens it was looked upon more as an Emancipation for the newly freed black men and women. Preachers and white northern missionaries gave speeches and thanks to those who had lost their lives in the Civil War. A war that claimed over 600,000 lives on both sides.

Charleston had been a holding place for captured Union Soldiers and at least 257 soldiers died while in the custody of Confederate soldiers. They were buried in hastily dug unmarked graves around the race track as Confederates fled the city from advancing Union troops. Northern missionaries who helped organize the events for Decoration Day participated in songs and speeches. The response by the Black population was tremendous. Freedmen came from all over the state to participate. Many feeling that the Union soldiers had given their lives for their freedom rather than to bring the seceded states back into the Union. They cleaned up the burial grounds and erected an enclosure with an arch that read, “Martyrs of the Race Course.” Many of those in attendance brought flowers to lie on the graves. For the newly freed people it was their way of honoring those who had given their lives for their beliefs and the black population’s newfound freedom.

More here

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Sahil Kapur: What Obama Can – And Cannot Do – On Immigration Reform By Executive Action

Amid fading prospects for immigration reform in Congress, President Barack Obama has signaled he’ll take executive action on enforcement to ease the burden for certain people in the country illegally who don’t have criminal records. On his order, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is conducting a review of U.S. enforcement policies in order to determine how to implement the law in  the smartest and most humane way. One area where DHS feels confident in its authority to act is the prioritization enforcement resources, sources familiar with the matter say. Under the legal theory of “prosecutorial discretion,” the department could decide, for instance, to prioritize removal of dangerous criminals who pose serious safety threats, such as gang members, drug dealers and repeat offenders. It could in turn de-prioritize action against those who have not committed crimes, (or committed lower-level crimes like DUIs) and steer resources away from those who have family ties in the U.S. and have lived here for a certain period of time. Under this approach, undocumented immigrants would technically remain subject to deportation. They’d simply be less likely to get picked up by the system.

A second category of executive action is more contentious: to formally let certain subsets of immigrants temporarily live in the U.S. without fear of deportation and perhaps apply for employment authorization. This would build upon the Obama administration’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which granted two-year relief to certain young people brought to the country as children, referred to as DREAMers. The Obama administration feels less comfortable with expanding DACA because the legal issues are trickier. Granting a reprieve to a narrow, specific population arguably falls within the realm of enforcement discretion. But applying it to broader populations becomes problematic and may backfire legally and politically, as some immigration law experts have cautioned. “Republicans may challenge his actions in Court saying that they constitute a violation of the Separation of Powers,” said Eli Kantor, an immigration lawyer based in Beverly Hills, California. The one thing the president certainly cannot do is grant legal status to anyone in the country without proper documentation. “That’s absolutely Congress’s authority,” Chen said. That means any executive action Obama takes would, by definition, be temporary and theoretically reversible by the next president.

More here

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NYT: Insurers Once On the Fence Plan To Join Health Exchanges In ’15

In a sign of the growing potential under the federal health care law, several insurers that have been sitting on the sidelines say they will sell policies on the new exchanges in the coming year, and others plan to expand their offerings to more states. “Insurers continue to see this as a good business opportunity,” said Larry Levitt, a health policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “They see it as an attractive market, with enrollment expected to ramp up in the second year.” Eight million people have signed up for coverage in 2014, and estimates put next year’s enrollment around 13 million.

In New Hampshire, for example, where Anthem Blue Cross is the only insurer offering individual coverage on the state exchange, two other plans, both from Massachusetts, say they intend to offer policies next year. UnitedHealth Group and Cigna, which were notable in their caution about the exchanges last year, are expected to enter more markets this year. In Washington State, United is among four new insurers that have told state regulators they are interested in offering plans in 2015.

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NYT: After Revival In San Antonio, Washington Comes Calling

When Mayor Julián Castro of San Antonio and local officials traveled to Washington in 2012 to meet President Obama’s housing secretary, Shaun Donovan, the agenda was about housing policy. But for Mr. Castro, it was personal, too. The meeting was about revitalizing the Wheatley Courts public housing project on San Antonio’s impoverished Eastside, once the heart of the city’s black community. But it also hit home for Mr. Castro, who grew up near the low-rent projects in the Mexican-American barrio on the other side of town. His mother worked for the housing authority, and his father lived in the projects on the city’s Westside as a teenager. Two years after that meeting in Washington, the Eastside is now the focus of a public and private revival, fueled in part by a nearly

$30 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to demolish and redevelop Wheatley Courts as housing for a broader mix of incomes, including low- and moderate-income families and market-rate households. If he receives Senate confirmation, Mr. Castro, whose twin brother, Joaquin, is a Democratic congressman representing San Antonio, apparently would become the first housing secretary in the 48-year history of the position whose parents lived and worked in public housing projects. “It’s precisely because he’s lived out the American dream that he’ll work his tail off to make sure more people can travel that same path and earn their own dreams as well,” Mr. Obama said as Mr. Castro and Mr. Donovan stood next to him at the White House.

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AP: Far Right, Euroskeptics Make Big Gains In EU Vote

Far-right and Euroskeptic parties made sweeping gains in European Parliament elections Sunday — triggering what one prime minister called a political “earthquake” by those who want to slash the powers of the European Union or abolish it altogether. Voters in 21 of the EU’s 28 nations went to the polls Sunday, choosing lawmakers for the bloc’s 751-seat legislature. The other seven countries in the bloc had already voted in a sprawling exercise of democracy that began Thursday in Britain and the Netherlands. One of the most significant winners was France’s far-right National Front party, which was the outright winner in France with 26 percent support— or 4.1 million votes.

“The sovereign people have spoken … acclaiming they want to take back the reins of their destiny,” party leader Marine Le Pen said in a statement. She called the results “the first step in a long march to liberty.” The National Front like other far-right parties across Europe promote anti-immigrant and often anti-Semitic policies. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, in an impassioned televised speech, called the National Front win “more than a news alert … it is a shock, an earthquake.” French President Francois Hollande’s office announced he would hold urgent talks first thing Monday with top government ministers in what French media called a crisis meeting.

More here

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Austin Frakt: Staying On Parents’ Plan May Lead To Healthier Paychecks

One of the earliest pieces of the health-care law to go into effect — and one of the easiest to understand — was the one that allowed adults under age 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance plan. It has long been clear that the policy has somewhat increased the insurance rate among young adults. Now a new study suggests the effects may be much broader, also leading to increases in educational attainment and the wages of young adults. The findings suggest that the health law has given young adults more flexibility to make decisions they think are best for them financially, rather than making decisions simply to obtain health insurance.

With coverage from their parents’ plans, they can remain in college or graduate school, rather than leaving to take a job that provides health insurance. With coverage in place, once students leave school, they can consider a broader range of jobs, including some that do not offer good health insurance or any health insurance. This finding is consistent with the academic literature on “job lock,” which has consistently shown that people who do not need to take a job with employer-based coverage have more flexibility, resulting in better employment matches with higher wages on average.

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Benjamin Goad: Administration Demands Equal Education For Ilegal Immigrants

Schools cannot require students or their parents to provide Social Security numbers, birth certificates or other documentation showing citizenship status as a condition of enrollment under formal Obama administration guidance issued. The directive to all public school districts, meant to ensure equal access to education for the nation’s illegal immigrants, comes amid reports that some children have wrongfully been denied enrollment. Attorney General Eric Holder said such policies “have a chilling effect on student enrollment, raising barriers for undocumented children and children from immigrant families who seek to receive the public education to which they are entitled.” “Public school districts have an obligation to enroll students regardless of immigration status and without discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin,”

Holder said. “We will vigilantly enforce the law to ensure the schoolhouse door remains open to all.” The new guidance from the departments of Justice and Education is an update of similar guidelines issued three years ago. The mandate to provide equal education to all children stems from the Supreme Court’s 1982 Plyler vs. Doe ruling, which prohibited a school district from charging illegal immigrants extra tuition fees. The new guidance makes clear that schools may request certain documentation showing the age and address of children in order to determine whether they are eligible to enroll. But they may not ask about a child or family’s citizenship status, or deny enrollment on grounds that a student is an illegal immigrant.

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Audrey Dutton: Idaho Medicaid Enrollment Climbs 

The number of people on Medicaid in Idaho rose almost 6 percent since the launch of Idaho’s health-insurance exchange last fall even though Idaho is one of the states that has not expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. The increase is sharper than usual. That’s partly because more people discovered they qualified for Medicaid during the process of shopping for health insurance to comply with the Affordable Care Act, which requires all Americans to be insured.

It’s also because Idaho is now using federal systems to check information for Medicaid renewals, making the process smoother for people already enrolled in the program, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. “This is a positive change for Idaho, as it ensures that those who are eligible for Medicaid can maintain coverage without burdensome administrative processes that cause individuals to [lose Medicaid] unnecessarily, causing problems for families and providers,” said Tom Shanahan, spokesman for the department. He said the change also cuts down on administrative costs.

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TPM: Obama Administration Will Let Veterans Seek Care At Private Hospitals

The Obama administration’s decision to allow more veterans to get care at private hospitals could take some pressure off backlogged Veterans Affairs facilities struggling to cope with new patients from the wars on terrorism as well as old soldiers from prior conflicts. Agreeing to recommendations from lawmakers, the administration said Saturday it will allow more veterans to obtain treatment at private hospitals and clinics in an effort to improve care.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki also said VA facilities are enhancing capacity of their clinics so veterans can get care sooner. In cases where officials cannot expand capacity at VA centers, the Department of Veterans Affairs is “increasing the care we acquire in the community through non-VA care,” Shinseki said. Lawmakers from both parties have pressed for this policy change as the VA confronts allegations about treatment delays and falsified records at VA centers nationwide.

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Brian Beutler: Mitch McConnell’s Obamacare Spin Misleads Kentucky’s ACA Beneficiaries

Now that Mitch McConnell’s emancipated himself from the exigencies of the Republican primary process, he’ll need to figure out how to square his primary-friendly view that Obamacare should be wiped off the books with the complicating fact that over 400,000 Kentuckians obtained insurance through the Affordable Care Act over the past several months. He just took a new line of obfuscation for a test drive. Assuming it’s been accurately characterized, it’s incredibly misleading. “McConnell told reporters Friday that the fate of the state exchange is unconnected to the federal health care law,” according to the Associated Press.

“Yet the exchange would not exist, if not for the law that created it.” If McConnell successfully wipes Obamacare off the books next year (which he won’t), Kynect might not go away. But the Medicaid expansion will. And the private insurance subsidies will. And the rules allowing and requiring uninsured people of all health statuses to become customers will, too. Insurance carriers will follow. Or else they’ll replace the plans they currently offer with much less generous ones. And hundreds of thousands of people will lose their coverage anyhow.

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NYT: In Russia, Tune Changes About Leader In Ukraine

Petro O. Poroshenko, the billionaire businessman who won Ukraine’s presidential election on Sunday, was portrayed last month in a bilious campaign profile on Russian television here as money-grubbing, devious, a radical sympathizer — in short, a run-of-the-mill Ukrainian politician to Russian eyes. The program on NTV, a Kremlin ally, said he owned a mansion resembling the White House, clear evidence of dangerous Western sympathies. The report mocked him as “The Chocolate Rabbit,” twisting his usual nickname, “The Chocolate King,” from his confectionary fortune.

A scientist, or at least someone wearing a white coat, materialized on screen to denounce his popular Roshen chocolate brand as riddled with carcinogens. Then as Mr. Poroshenko emerged as the front-runner, a change occurred. The attacks ceased, and his chocolate factory in southern Russia, which government police had shuttered, was allowed to operate again. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia even mentioned the chocolates in passing on TV as edible, and, in recent days, he has said on various occasions that he would work with whatever new leadership emerges in Kiev.

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Bryce Covert: Workers At This Giant Retail Company Are Really Happy With Their Pay

In an analysis of employee feedback shared on Glassdoor over the past year, just one retailer comes in the top 25 for top marks on pay and benefits: Costco. In fact, the company is ranked at number two on the list, although has the same rating — 4.4 — as the top rated company, Google. It also beats out some big tech companies, which are often thought of as paying well and giving workers good perks, like Facebook, Adobe, and Microsoft. Costco has become known for paying its workers more than is typical in the retail sector, where median pay is $10.29 an hour.

Its starting pay is $11.50 an hour and even the lowest paid positions report on Glassdoor that they make $11.80 on average. Across all positions, its average pay is nearly $22. It also offers benefits, with 88 percent of employees enrolled in company-sponsored health insurance. On top of that, it offers significant room for advancement: 70 percent of its warehouse managers, who can expect to make about $22 an hour on average, started in the company’s lower ranked positions. This engenders high levels of worker loyalty, as its turnover rate is just 5 percent for those who have been there for more than a year.

More here

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Future Obamacrats and proud of it. :)

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On This Day

President Obama meets with Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter, and Vice President Biden, prior to an announcement in the East Room, May 26, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama embraces Sen. Harry Reid during a Las Vegas fundraiser for the senator at Caeser’s Palace, May 26, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrive at Stansted Airport, May 26, 2011

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The President and members of the White House staff look out the window of Air Force One to view tornado damage over Moore, Oklahoma. May 26, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets Gov. Mary Fallin after arriving at Tinker Air Force base in Midwest City, Sunday, May 26, 2013

President Obama tours tornado damage along a block of Eagle Drive in Moore, Okla., May 26, 2013. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, and local officials accompany him (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

 

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