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U.S. health insurers to pay $330 million in premium rebates

(Reuters) U.S. health insurers will send out about $330 million in rebates to employers and individuals this summer under President Barack Obama's healthcare law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday.

The law, often called Obamacare, requires insurance companies to refund customers when they spend less than 80 percent or 85 percent of healthcare premiums they collect for medical care.


Tea Party town hall erupts as Texas state Rep urges ‘compassion’ for migrant kids

(Raw Story) A town hall meeting held by Texas Tea Party state Rep. David Simpson (R) on Wednesday got heated as Simpson’s constituents railed at him for not doing more to stop the influx of unaccompanied, undocumented minors coming to the United States from Central and South America.

The Longview, Texas News-Journal reported that the conservative attendees expressed health concerns, religious fears and doubts about Simpson’s commitment to putting his “constituents first.”

Simpson attempted to tell the crowd of about 160 residents that the thousands of children arriving at the Mexico-U.S. border are fleeing lives of violence and abuse, including gangsters who specialize in trafficking children as sex slaves. Texans should treat the children with compassion, he said, a notion that his audience summarily rejected.


Jimmy Carter calls for end to fighting in Gaza

(AJC) Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has called for an end to the fighting and bombing in Gaza.

“Both sides must distinguish between combatants and noncombatants, and Israel must ensure that its use of force is proportionate in accordance with international humanitarian law. More immediately, all combat operations must stop, and Israeli troops should withdraw from Gaza,” Carter said in a statement released Tuesday.


FBI Entrapment Created 'Illusion' of Terrorist Plots: Report

(Common Dreams) Federal officials and law enforcement agents are treating American Muslims like "terrorists-in-waiting," according to a new report released Monday by Human Rights Watch and Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute.

The FBI, under pressure to appear effective and worthy of its $8.4-billion budget, has "targeted American Muslims in abusive counterterrorism 'sting operations' based on religious and ethnic identity"; sent informants to mosques to "troll for leads"; and in some cases encouraged or even paid individuals to undertake terrorist acts, the report (pdf) reveals.


Mass. Governor compares immigrant kids to Jews turned away in 1939, offers to shelter them

(Raw Story) Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) announced a proposal on Friday for two military facilities to serve as host sites for some of the thousands of undocumented Central American immigrants who have come into the U.S. in recent months, saying the move falls in line with the country’s tradition of helping children in need.

“We have rescued Irish children from famine, Russian and Ukrainian children from religious persecution, Cambodian children from genocide, Haitian children from earthquakes, Sudanese children from civil war, and New Orleans children from Hurricane Katrina,” Patrick said. “Once, in 1939, we turned our backs on Jewish children fleeing the Nazis, and it remains a blight on our national reputation. The point is that this good Nation is great when we open our doors and our hearts to needy children, and diminished when we don’t.”


I absolutely love this idea: The Bad Boss Tax

(BillMoyers.com) TakeAction Minnesota, a network that promotes economic and racial justice in the state, wants to make that fee a reality. It’s developing the framework for a bill that it hopes will be introduced in 2015 by state legislators who have worked with the network in the past. As conceived, the “bad business fee” legislation would require companies to disclose how many of their employees are receiving public assistance from the state or federal government. Companies would then pay a fine based on the de facto subsidies they receive by externalizing labor costs onto taxpayers.


New England Journal Of Medicine: 20 Million Covered Under Obamacare

(TPM) A report published last week in the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine provided an overview of Obamacare's first year, its successes and the challenges ahead. It also offered a yet another estimate of the number of people covered by the law: 20 million.

The NEJM report pulled a wealth of information, much of it already known by those closely following the law's implementation but presented together by the journal, from think tanks and government agencies. It covered a range of topics, including the number of people covered, 2015 premiums, and the adequacy of provider networks for plans offered through the law.


Hospitals See Troubles In Red States That Snubbed Obamacare's Medicaid Deal

(Forbes) While record numbers of Americans sign up for the larger Medicaid health insurance program for the poor, financial issues are emerging for medical care providers in the two dozen states that didn’t go along with the expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Reports out in the last week indicate the gap between those with health care coverage is widening between states that agreed to go along with the health law’s Medicaid expansion and those generally led by Republican legislatures and GOP governors that are balking at the expansion.


New Poll: Democrats Poised To Flip Georgia’s Senate Seat As Michelle Nunn Holds Commanding Lead

(Politicus USA) First it was Jason Carter's notable lead in the GA governor's race. Now, in a poll by Landmark Communications released Sunday, Democrat Michelle Nunn has a commanding lead against both of her potential challengers in Georgia’s US Senate race. Against Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) Nunn is up by eight points, 49% to 41%. The poll also shows her with a nice lead against businessman David Perdue as Nunn leads him 48% to 42%. Perdue and Kingston are heading into a GOP primary runoff this coming Tuesday. The survey shows Kingston with a sizable lead as he is ahead by seven points, 48% to 41%.

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