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February 24 2014

07:10

February 07 2014

07:41

Week In The News: Obamacare, Jobs, Tobacco-Free Pharmacies, Sochi Olympics

Obamacare and jobs. CVS quits tobacco. Terror and toothpaste warnings for Sochi.  Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his speech at the IOC President's Gala Dinner on the eve of the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his speech at the IOC President’s Gala Dinner on the eve of the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP)

Guests

Heidi Moore, U.S. finance and economics editor for The Guardian. (@moorehn)

Bob Cusack, managing editor of The Hill. (@BobCusack)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Guardian: CVS doesn’t need tobacco for its revenues: it has Obamacare — “It turns out that the timing however, is perfect. CVS doesn’t need tobacco for its revenues because a bigger source of business is on the horizon: Obamacare. And Obamacare is invested in pressuring smokers to quit by forcing them to pay more for healthcare.”

The Wall Street Journal:On Eve of Winter Games, Worries About Sochi Mount –”Athletes and others arriving in Sochi encountered what appears to be a strong security presence. As of late Wednesday no incidents had occurred. But hanging over these Games is a threat from terrorists. On Wednesday it emerged that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has warned airlines sending flights to Russia to look out for explosives hidden inside toothpaste tubes.”

 Bloomberg: Twitter’s Loss Exceeds Estimates as User Growth Slows –”There were 241 million monthly active users in the fourth quarter, Twitter said in a statement today, up 30 percent from 185 million a year earlier and slower than 39 percent seen in the prior period. Usage also declined, with 148 billion views of Twitter timelines compared with 159 billion views in the third quarter. Net loss was $511.5 million compared with $8.7 million a year earlier, and was more than double analysts’ projections of $253.5 million.”

January 23 2014

05:30

An Obamacare Report Card

After a rough rollout, we’ll look at who is and who is not signing up for the Affordable Care Act.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. The top Democrat in the Republican-controlled House focused on the Affordable Care Act and the fight to pass immigration reform. (AP)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. The top Democrat in the Republican-controlled House focused on the Affordable Care Act and the fight to pass immigration reform. (AP)

Guests

Jenny Gold, healthcare reporter for Kaiser Health News. (@JennyAGold).

Dan Mangan, CNBC health care reporter. (@_DanMangan)

Carl Gibson, journalist and activist. Founder of U.S. Uncut. Wrote a piece in December called ‘Why I’m Choosing to Pay $300 to Stay Uninsured.” (@uncutcg)

From The Reading List

CNBC: Employers face tax hit in states with no Medicaid expansion — “The decision by 25 states not to expand Medicaid coverage under Obamacare could cost some employers more than $1.5 billion in new taxes starting next year, a new analysis reveals. That tax hit might come as a shock to many of those businesses unaware of their exposure to the penalty—which will kick in if their employer-offered health plan is deemed too expensive and workers then buy private, subsidized Obamacare insurance.”

Wall Street Journal: Target Cuts Health Coverage for Part-Time Workers — “Target will stop covering part-time employees on April 1, the company said in a corporate blog post quoting human resources chief Jodee Kozlak. Less than 10% of Target’s roughly 360,000 employees take part in the plan being discontinued. Those employees will be given $500 due to the coverage being ended.”

MarketWatch: California’s Obamacare program is close to meeting enrollment goal — “California has, by far, exceeded any other state in the union for Obamacare signups. Figures released last week from the Department of Health and Human Services showed California accounted for roughly one-fourth of all enrollment in the nation during the last three months of the year. The state also got 584,000 applicants into Medi-Cal programs, bringing its total enlistment figure to more than 1 million for the October-December period.”

November 15 2013

15:00

Week In The News: Typhoon Recovery, Obamacare Reversal, Iranian Stalemate

Typhoon tragedy.  Obamacare reversal. New guidelines for statins. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Big news on health reform this week.  President Obama stands down on a hot portion of Obamacare.  The “you can keep your coverage” promise will be kept, for a while.  It’s a reversal.  And knives are out for more.  In the Philippines, an epic typhoon leaves devastation so deep that relief is hard to deliver, even when it comes.  Now it’s hunger and thirst.  We’ve got Janet Yellen lining up to be Fed chief.  John Boehner saying no to big immigration reform.  Heat over nuclear talks with Iran.  A giant airline merger.  And Amazon does a Sunday deal with the US Mail.  Up next On Point:  Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Margaret Talev, White House correspondent for Bloomberg News. (@margarettalev)

Ben Pauker, managing editor at Foreign Policy. (@BenPauker)

Jack Beatty, On Point News Analyst

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: Obama Needs His Friends Back — “On Tuesday, a Quinnipiac University poll showed Obama with the lowest approval rating of his presidency. Only 39 percent approved of his performance; 54 percent disapproved. The numbers echoed those of a recent Pew survey that pegged the president’s job approval at 41 percent, with 53 percent disapproving. In situations of this sort, there is always a search for an instant repair. ‘Fix the Web site’ is the most obvious, and it’s certainly necessary. But a tech problem has been compounded by the reality of health-care reform itself. ”

Wall Street Journal: Escape From Obamacare — “The particular irony of this Democratic flight for the exits is that their bill would make ObamaCare even less viable. If people are allowed to choose a competitive insurance alternative, the exchanges are unlikely to survive financially. That’s why the White House is trying to stuff in as many people as possible, however unsuccessfully. House Republicans have the better argument. There’s a substantive difference between letting people keep their plans through deregulation and through a new mandate that is supposed to counteract the damage from the old mandates. They should build on this insight and promote more ways for people to elude ObamaCare if they prefer.”

Foreign Policy: John Kerry’s Iran Briefing Succeeds…In Solidifying GOP Against Him — “In an effort to slam the brakes on a new round of Iran sanctions coming through Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry held a classified briefing with the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday. Although the purpose of the briefing was to convey how new sanctions could derail the delicate negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, Republicans stormed out of the closed-door session in opposition to the Obama administration’s message. At the same time, top Democrats remained silent or refused to comment as they exited the Capitol.”

November 07 2013

07:46

Arguments For And Against Obamacare, Right Now

Rollout woes and beyond. A defender and a critic of Obamacare debate  the Affordable Care Act’s coming impact on America.

Guests

Sam Baker, health care correspondent for the National Journal. (@sam_baker)

Gail Wilensky, Senior fellow at Project HOPE. Former head of Medicare / Medicaid and senior health and welfare adviser to former President George W. Bush.

Jonathan Gruber, professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Key architect of Massachusetts’ health care reform, former technical consultant to the Obama Administration during the development of the Affordable Care Act.

From The Reading List

National Journal: The ‘Train Wreck’ May Have Happened – “A little over six months later, here we are. Contracts for public relations are on hold while contracts for HealthCare.gov are being extended to cover the site’s repairs. People are indeed confused about the law, and the botched rollout has contributed to that confusion. The specifics of Baucus’ prediction are holding up better than he—or Sebelius—probably want to acknowledge.”

Washington Post: Inside the Obamacare War Room, HealthCare.gov’s launch was chaos — “Mostly though, the war room notes underscore how significant it was that the federal government ended up running the majority of health law insurance marketplaces, and how that increased the Obama administration’s workload.Thirty-four states decided to either operate an insurance marketplace in partnership with the federal government, or leave the entire task to the Obama administration. That means, that in about two of every three states, its the people in the CCIIO War Room, and their colleagues, who are managing the back end of the exchange.”

New Yorker: Obamacare’s Three Percent – “But if the Web site isn’t working by the end of November, Gruber thinks the difficulties with A.C.A. implementation will escalate to DefCon 3. By that point, some people may not be able to sign up for a plan before January 1st, when health coverage begins for people who bought plans during the open-enrollment period that started on October 1st. ‘Those people whose plans are now being dropped would be screwed,’ Gruber said.”

November 01 2013

05:56

Week In The News: Obamacare Blowup, NSA Fury And A Year After Sandy

Obamacare hullaballoos. NSA snooping fury still rising. Superstorm Sandy, one year on.  Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Guests

Siobhan Gorman, intelligence correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. (@Gorman_Siobhan)

Julie Rovner, health policy correspondent for NPR. (@JRovner)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Europeans Shared Spy Data With U.S. — “The revelations suggest a greater level of European involvement in global surveillance, in conjunction at times with the NSA. The disclosures also put European leaders who loudly protested reports of the NSA’s spying in a difficult spot, showing how their spy agencies aided the Americans. The phone records collected by the Europeans—in war zones and other areas outside their borders—were shared with the NSA as part of efforts to help protect American and allied troops and civilians, U.S. officials said.”

NPR: Congressmen Berate Sebelius For Cancellations, Website Woes — “Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius headed to Capitol Hill Wednesday for a date with lawmakers frustrated by the rocky rollout of the HealthCare.gov website. What she got at the House Energy and Commerce Committee was four hours of venting from Democrats and Republicans alike.”

Philadelphia Inquirer: Sandusky Settlements Cost Nearly $60M – “The university’s board of trustees had approved paying up to $60 million earlier this year, and the tab came to $59.7 million, the university said in a news release. The first multimillion-dollar settlement, with a 25-year-old man who was abused in a campus shower, was announced in mid-August. University officials predicted at that time that 25 more settlements would soon follow as part of a global agreement.”

October 25 2013

05:52

Week In The News: Obamacare Glitches, Drone Strikes And NSA Revelations

Obamacare rollout under scrutiny. NSA snooping angers U.S. allies. Students killing teachers. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Guests

David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times. (@SangerNYT)

Kelly O’Donnell, Capitol Hill correspondent for NBC News. (@KellyO)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Pakistani Premier Meets Obama to Mend Ties – “To symbolize a new beginning, the Obama administration will release more than $1.5 billion in aid to Pakistan, which had been held up because of tensions over the commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, as well as the killing of two civilians by a C.I.A. contractor in Lahore and a wayward American airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border.”

The Guardian: Angela Merkel’s call to Obama: are you bugging my mobile phone? – “While European leaders have generally been keen to play down the impact of the whistleblowing disclosures in recent months, events in the EU’s two biggest countries this week threatened an upward spiral of lack of trust in transatlantic relations. Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, made plain that Merkel upbraided Obama unusually sharply and also voiced exasperation at the slowness of the Americans to respond to detailed questions on the NSA scandal since the Snowden revelations first appeared in the Guardian in June.”

National Journal: Buck Stops With Obama on Rocky Rollout of Health Care Plan — “To be sure, every major rollout of a new or changed social policy, including Medicare itself, is rough and takes weeks or months to resolve. But this rollout is clearly worse, and, as we learn more about its history over the past six months and more, the failures in vision and execution, in the face of clear and blunt warnings of problems ahead, are striking and troubling.”

October 22 2013

14:00

Obamacare’s Rocky Rollout: What Happens Now?

A terrible rollout of the sign-up system for the Affordable Care Act. We’ll ask why, and what it’s going to take to fix it.

Go to HealthCare.gov today, and the home page pops right up.  The photos are great.  The message is very appealing:  Affordable health care coverage available here!  Come and get it!  But dig on in and you will very likely hit the wall and the snags that have snarled and stymied sign-up for Affordable Care Act coverage – Obamacare – since the day the exchanges opened, October 1.  It’s has been a mess on the federal site.  Botched.  Now there’s a “tech surge” on to fix it, we’re told.  There had better be.  The stakes are over the moon.  Up next On Point:  Obamacare’s rugged rollout, and where it goes.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Jenny Gold, healthcare reporter for Kaiser Health News. (@JennyAGold)

Jonathan Cohn, senior editor at The New Republic, covering public policy and politics. Author of “Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis — And The People Who Pay the Price.” (@CitizenCohn)

Armando Fox, professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.

Gene Cronin, vice president of marketing at Priority Health of Michigan. (@PriorityHealth)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Health Website Woes Widen As Insurers Get Wrong Data — “Emerging errors include duplicate enrollments, spouses reported as children, missing data fields and suspect eligibility determinations, say executives at more than a dozen health plans. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Nebraska said it had to hire temporary workers to contact new customers directly to resolve inaccuracies in submissions. Medical Mutual of Ohio said one customer had successfully signed up for three of its plans.”

The New Republic: The Truth About the Obamacare Rollout — “HHS is working feverishly to make improvements and the system’s performance has improved incrementally. But people are still getting hung up at the initial stages, which means they never get the chance to apply for financial assistance and shop for plans. A study following web traffic showed a sharp drop-off in users at each successive stage of the online application process, which suggests the system was stopping a lot of people from moving forward. And that’s just the part of the system visible to consumers. Insurers say that the system is producing some incorrect information about the few people who make it through the process—a fixable problem, for sure, but a warning that other flaws may yet lurk undetected.”

Washington Post: We know 476,000 Obamacare applications have started. We don’t know how many will finish shopping – “Measuring enrollment is a difficult proposition. Most health insurance plans don’t count shoppers as enrolled until they’ve actually submitted a check for their first month’s premium. That means they’re entitled to start using the benefits of that health plan come Jan. 1, when any coverage purchased on the marketplace right now starts.”

October 04 2013

04:11

Week In The News: Shutdown Showdown, UN Speeches And Obamacare

Locked horns and a shutdown. Health care rollout. Netanyahu at the UN.   Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Guests

Molly Ball, staff writer covering national politics at The Atlantic. (@mollyesque)

Bob Cusack, managing editor of The Hill. (@BobCusack)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Atlantic: The Night The GOP Cracked Up — “Monday was a frantic day on Capitol Hill, though all the activity ultimately came to nought: A flurry of last-minute legislative feints failed to prevent the government from shutting down at midnight. But in the process, House Republicans’ total crackup was on full, public display.”

The Hill: Cracks Emerge In House GOP On Shutdown Strategy — “Wolf agrees with Rigell, a Wolf aide told The Hill. In a statement on the House floor Tuesday, Wolf said, “This is bad for America. It is bad for America. Enough is enough. It’s time to be leaders. It’s time to govern. Open up the government.’”

The Guardian: Author Tom Clancy Dies In Baltimore Hospital At Age 66 — “Though he had no military or espionage experience, he managed to sound absolutely authentic, making himself an expert on military hardware and tactics. He was often invited to lecture to military audiences and counted high-ranking US army and security services personnel among his friends; he was frequently consulted as a pundit on US military affairs. When asked about his research, he said: ‘I read the papers, watch CNN and think … It’s all in the open. You just have to know where to look.” He kept an M4A1 tank on his lawn, and had a shooting range in his basement.’”

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