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Obamacare

NATIONAL
March 29, 2014 | By Maeve Reston
Enrollments in the nation's healthcare program have nearly concluded, but for states whose insurance exchanges have been crippled by technical problems, a difficult phase is just beginning: potential legal battles and a race to overhaul their systems before federal grant money dries up. Officials in Oregon, Massachusetts and Maryland are exploring legal options as they sever contracts with those who created their sites. All three states are considering a move to the federal exchange, which had its own grievous start-up problems but is now largely stable, or licensing the technology of a more successful state such as Connecticut.
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BUSINESS
March 28, 2014 | By Chad Terhune and Soumya Karlamangla
Strong consumer interest in Obamacare coverage ahead of Monday's enrollment deadline was leading to long waits and website trouble for some Californians. The Covered California exchange said sign-ups have been building throughout the week with about 80,000 people picking a health plan Monday through Thursday. An additional 150,000 households created an online account and started the shopping process in the last three days, officials said. That heavy volume was creating havoc, confusion and delays for many consumers, enrollment counselors and insurance agents trying to use the exchange's website.
BUSINESS
March 27, 2014 | By Kathleen Hennessey and Noam N. Levey
WASHINGTON - With the Monday deadline still a few days away, the White House announced Thursday that more than 6 million people have signed up for health insurance through online marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act. That number, though shy of the 7 million sign-ups the administration had once hoped for, marks a significant milestone because 6 million was the projection for this year's enrollment made last month by the nonpartisan Congressional...
NATIONAL
March 27, 2014 | By Connie Stewart and Molly Hennessy-Fiske
ARLINGTON, Wash. - Snohomish County authorities confirmed late Thursday that they had recovered 17 bodies from the devastating mudslide.  The 17th body was an infant, 4-month-old Sanoah Huestis, whose grandmother's remains were recovered earlier in the week. Sanoah's mother, Natasha Huestis, had confirmed to the Los Angeles Times in the afternoon that the child's remains had been recovered. Sanoah body was found 10 feet from her grandmother's body, Natasha Huestis said. Christina Jefferds, 45, was babysitting.
WORLD
March 27, 2014 | By Kathleen Hennessey
VATICAN CITY - President Obama visited Pope Francis for the first time Thursday, a meeting the White House hoped would amplify the two men's shared concern about economic inequality rather than the president's conflicts with the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy at home. Obama introduced himself to Francis as a "great admirer. " The pope has become internationally popular as he has shed some of the lavish trappings of the papacy and focused his teachings on caring for the poor. Obama has sought to borrow some of that goodwill for the new pope to help promote his own effort to reduce income inequality in the United States.
OPINION
March 26, 2014
Re “Health law's winners in plain sight,” Column, March 23 I was a loyal Republican for 30 years, yet once I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, every health insurance company told me “no coverage.” This was my wake-up call - knowing my party had abandoned me when I needed it most. I am now an independent, and so proud that someone empowered the people to stand up to the big corporate healthcare companies. How can we consider ourselves proud Americans when we abandon our own people because of a chronic disease?
BUSINESS
March 26, 2014 | By Soumya Karlamangla and Chad Terhune
Latinos aren't the only sore spot for Covered California heading into Monday's enrollment deadline for Obamacare coverage. Very few African Americans have signed up statewide, and there's not much time to address the lackluster turnout. Wednesday, state officials reiterated that Monday remains the deadline for open enrollment. But the state will give Californians until April 15 to finish their application if they start it before midnight Monday. Thus far, fewer than 3% of health plan enrollees identify themselves as African American, and that number hasn't budged in weeks.
BUSINESS
March 26, 2014 | By Noam N. Levey and Michael A. Memoli
WASHINGTON - As Monday's deadline approaches to sign up for insurance under President Obama's health law, more than 1 million people a day are visiting HealthCare.gov, Obama administration officials said Wednesday. The site - the main portal for insurance marketplaces in 36 states - drew 1.2 million visitors Tuesday and 1.1 million visitors Monday, according to the administration. Over the same period, call centers received more than 500,000 calls. California's state-run health insurance exchange reported a similar surge in interest, with nearly 40,000 people picking a health plan Monday and Tuesday.
OPINION
March 25, 2014 | By The Times editorial page
Opponents of the Affordable Care Act have mounted the most far-reaching legal challenge to the law since the (unsuccessful) attempt to have its insurance mandate declared unconstitutional. At issue is whether the subsidies the law provides to help lower-income adults buy policies will be available in the 34 states with federally launched insurance exchanges, rather than just the state-operated ones. The Internal Revenue Service ruled that any American who meets the income limits can qualify for a subsidy; the plaintiffs say subsidies should be available only in the 16 states that set up their own exchanges.
OPINION
March 25, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will consider a proposition that will strike many Americans as bizarre: that large, for-profit businesses can refuse on religious grounds to comply with a federal mandate that they include contraception in their employee health plans. Three companies - Hobby Lobby, a chain of craft stores with 13,000 full-time employees; Mardel, a bookstore chain; and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a cabinet manufacturer - are challenging the mandate. The businesses say it would require them to cover forms of contraception that the owners regard as equivalent to abortion - and thus offensive to their religious faith.
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