First Edition: May 23, 2014
Today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including the latest developments on the Department of Veterans Affairs controversy.
Kaiser Health News: Temporary Fee On Big Businesses Funds Obamacare
Ideastream's Sarah Jane Tribble, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "Like other large, 'self-insured' employers, Sherwin-Williams has a strong incentive to keep workers healthy: any health care claims by employees are paid directly by the company. The corporation is betting it will be better off paying those costs rather than paying regular premiums to an insurance company. 'The key is to have healthy, engaged, productive, present employees,' says Martha Lanning, the company's director of health and wellness plans. Sherwin-Williams and its employees aren't likely to use the individual marketplace created by Obamacare, but they will help pay for it" (Tribble, 5/22).
Kaiser Health News: A Reader Asks: Are Insurers Required To Cover HIV Prevention Medication Recommended By CDC?
Kaiser Health News' consumer columnist Michelle Andrews answers this question (5/23).
USA Today: Dole: VA A 'Disaster' That Needs A Shake-Up
Former Senate majority leader Robert Dole, a disabled World War II veteran and leading advocate for veterans during decades of public service, on Thursday called for a shake-up at the Department of Veterans Affairs following allegations of delayed treatment and falsified books at VA hospitals, a situation he called a "disaster." In an interview with USA TODAY's Capital Download, Dole, now 90, spoke with apparent anguish about whether that shake-up should include VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. Dole had introduced Shinseki at his Senate confirmation hearings in 2009, praising his military service and calling the retired Army general a "true American hero" (Page, 5/23).
The Washington Post: VA's Shinseki Vows To Stay On The Job As Calls For His Ouster Continue
Veterans' Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki vowed Thursday to stay in office and pledged to address the allegations of health care mismanagement that have besieged his agency and the Obama administration. In a brief interview with reporters on Capitol Hill, Shinseki initially demurred when asked why he thought he should keep his job. When a reporter noted that he's been "under the gun" all week, Shinseki quickly shot back: "This is not the first time" (O'Keefe, 5/22).
Los Angeles Times: Congress Turns Up Heat Over VA Allegations
As Congress stepped up efforts Thursday to get to the bottom of the allegations of substandard healthcare services at Veterans Affairs facilities, a Senate committee provided funds for a nationwide investigation and a House panel authorized a subpoena to compel VA officials to appear at a hearing next week (Simon, 5/22).
Politico: Barack Obama’s Early VA Response: Executive Inaction
The latest stumbles have been a fresh reminder of the story line the White House has been trying to recover from since the fall, when the Obamacare website flopped, the key poll numbers about the president’s competence collapsed so deeply that they’re still far from recovering, and Democrats went into an apocalyptic panic about the midterms. That's exactly what Republicans have been hoping for. GOP leaders and officials have spent the last week talking about the backlogs and misconduct, but what they’re hoping voters hear is: Obama is still an unprepared executive who needs to be stripped of power in the midterms. Once again, they say, he’s presenting himself as an angry bystander, confronted with high-profile management failures on his watch that he says he learned about from news reports (Dovere, 5/22).
USA Today: Senator: Race Is Part Of Criticism Of Obama Health Law
A Democratic senator this week said something publicly that many backers of President Obama say privately: Criticism of the health care law is in part racial. “I’ll be able to dig up some e-mails that make part of the Affordable Care Act that doesn't look good — especially from people who made up their mind that they don't want it to work because they don't like the president," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Va. "Maybe he's of the wrong color, something of that sort," added Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. "I've seen a lot of that and I know a lot of that to be true." Rockefeller's comments Wednesday drew criticism from committee Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who described efforts to "play the race card" as "very offensive" (Jackson, 5/22).
Politico: Rockefeller Stands By Obama Race Remark
Sen. Jay Rockefeller may no longer fear the political consequences of charging the GOP with opposing President Barack Obama’s agenda because he’s the “wrong color.” But he might be alone in that. On Thursday, no Democrats publicly rushed to back Rockefeller’s assertion that Obama has met legislative resistance because of his race, a remark that sparked an emotional debate Wednesday with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) over whether opposing the president and his health-care law amounted to being “racist” (Everett, 5/23).
The Washington Post: Rockefeller Says Race Colors GOP Views On Obama
Rockefeller, 76, chose his words carefully after his comments at the Wednesday hearing sparked a fierce reaction from Republicans, particularly Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the only GOP senator at the hearing, who accused the senator of playing the "race card." A freshman senator and CEO of a plastics manufacturer, Johnson responded that his opposition to the Affordable Care Act was based entirely on how it revamped the health industry. “I didn’t reject this because of the race of the president," Johnson proclaimed at the hearing. "I rejected this because it’s an assault on our freedom" (Kane, 5/22).
Los Angeles Times: Actors, Musicians Are Big Beneficiaries Of Obamacare
More than most people, workers in the area's vast entertainment industry are poised to benefit from the federal health law. But as the new law takes hold, the massive overhaul has also stirred up considerable confusion and anxiety over how to navigate a host of new healthcare options. For decades, artists have flocked to the state, and many have just scraped by while trying to get their big break. According to a study from the National Endowment for the Arts, California has the highest number of artists in the nation. The same study found that more than 30% of artists are self-employed compared with 10% in the general population, and rates of uninsured are typically higher among the self-employed than others (Karlamangla, 5/22).
The Hill: Could States Be Penalized For Medicaid Backlog Under O-Care?
Top Republicans are asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services if it is considering penalizing states with a backlog of new Medicaid applications under ObamaCare. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich) and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) say the backlog is the federal government’s fault and wrote to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner on Wednesday saying it would be unfair to penalize states (Al-Faruque, 5/22).
The New York Times: Type 2 Diabetics Face A Flood of Drugs And Tests
Type 2 diabetes, which afflicts an estimated 25 million Americans, is one of the new frontiers for drug and device makers. As more and more people are given the diagnosis, more products are being been developed to tap into this multibillion-dollar market. But some experts say that for many patients the profusion of choices has often led to confusion, not better treatments, as well as skyrocketing costs (Rosenthal, 5/22).
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