When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

It can be hard to distinguish among the men wearing grey suits and regulation haircuts on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. But David Margolis always brought a splash of color.

It wasn't his lovably disheveled wardrobe, or his Elvis ring, but something else: the force of his flamboyant personality. Margolis, a graduate of Harvard Law School, didn't want to fit in with the crowd. He wanted to stand out.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

Pages

Bargain Over Fiscal Cliff Brings Changes To Health Care

Jan 4, 2013
Originally published on January 4, 2013 8:46 am

The bill that prevented the nation from plunging over the fiscal cliff did more than just stop income tax increases and delay across-the-board spending cuts. It also included several provisions that tweaked Medicare and brought bigger changes to other health care programs.

The health care change that got the most attention saved doctors who treat Medicare patients from a cut in their pay. A really, really big cut, says David Bronson, president of the American College of Physicians and an internist in Cleveland.

"We know that this would really devastate access to seniors, to just cut payment rates by almost 27 percent," says Bronson.

A pay cut that big would almost certainly drive doctors to stop taking new Medicare patients and perhaps even to drop existing ones. But the language in the bill wasn't exactly what doctors were hoping for. It's just another one-year delay in what's become a familiar series since what just about everyone agrees is a flawed payment formula dating back to 2002.

"We're happy that the cuts aren't going into place, but we're hopeful that somehow this year a longer solution to get a stable payment system for physicians will get done," Bronson says.

Of course that's been the plan every year since 2003, when Congress first started putting off the cuts. It hasn't happened yet.

Hospitals, meanwhile, aren't happy because this so-called doc fix was paid for, in part, by cutting $15 billion in Medicare and Medicaid payments to them over the next 10 years.

In the shorter term, Bronson says doctors are worried about what might happen when the across-the-board cuts known as the sequester are back on the table in just eight more weeks.

"We're particularly concerned about graduate medical education," he says. That's the program in which the federal government helps pay for the training of young doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. "That's listed as a potential place where cuts could be made, and GME is vital to the medical workforce in this country. And we need to be expanding it, not reducing it," Bronson says.

But a health care program almost no one was watching was eliminated as part of the fiscal cliff deal. It was called the CLASS Act, and it was originally part of the 2010 health law. Added to the bill by Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts just before his death, the CLASS program was intended to provide publicly administered, long-term-care insurance at a modest cost.

"Long-term care, in the broadest sense of it, is responsible for people, including families, the 355 days [a year] they're not in the hospital and the 22 hours a day they're not in the doctor's office," says Larry Minnix, president of Leading Age, a group of more than 6,000 nonprofit providers of services to seniors and people with disabilities. "There was no product available for those people and we thought it was time that that gap be filled," he says.

Republicans, however, saw the CLASS Act as a new and potentially unlimited government program that couldn't possibly pay for itself.

"We went from something that most every family is going to need but nobody wanted to talk about, into the most controversial part of it," said Minnix.

So in October 2011, with the entire health law under legal attack, Obama officials put the CLASS Act into what Minnix refers to as an "administration-induced coma."

"We understand why they did it. It became too controversial at a controversial time," Minnix says.

But the administration had successfully fended off efforts to repeal the program, until now. At the insistence of Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, CLASS was replaced by a new bipartisan commission charged with coming up with plans to help Americans pay for long-term care. It's still essentially back to square one for the program.

Medicare has been a major sticking point in all the recent budget battles. And it's likely to come up again in upcoming fights over the delayed budget cuts, raising the debt ceiling, and when last year's temporary spending bills expire, all before the end of March.

"We're going to have three more cliff issues over the next three months," says health policy analyst Bob Laszewski. "But we don't even have a Medicare entitlement fix on the table, from either side."

Which means the 113th Congress is almost certain to get off to a rocky start.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We've also been reporting this week on the extra provisions in that fiscal cliff deal that Congress passed on New Year's Day. NPR's Julie Rovner reports there were some key changes to health policy included as well.

JULIE ROVNER, BYLINE: The health care change that got the most attention saved doctors who treat Medicare patients from a cut in their pay. A really, really big cut, says David Bronson. He's president of the American College of Physicians and an internist in Cleveland, Ohio.

DAVID BRONSON: We know that this would really devastate access to seniors, to just cut payment rates by almost 27 percent, and that would be a terrible thing for the American public.

ROVNER: Because a cut that big would almost certainly drive doctors to stop taking new Medicare patients and perhaps even drop existing ones. But the language in the bill wasn't exactly what doctors were hoping for. It's just another one-year delay in what's become a familiar series since what just about everyone agrees is a flawed payment formula began calling for cuts in 2002.

BRONSON: We're happy that the cuts aren't going into place, but we're hopeful that somehow this year a long term solution to get a stable payment system for physicians will get done.

ROVNER: Of course that's been the plan every year since 2003, when Congress first started putting the cuts off. It hasn't happened yet. Meanwhile, in the shorter term, Bronson says doctors are worried about what might happen when the across-the-board cuts known as the sequester are back on the table in just eight more weeks.

BRONSON: We're particularly concerned about graduate medical education.

ROVNER: That's the program where the federal government helps pay for the training of young doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.

BRONSON: That has been listed as a potential place where cuts could be made, and graduate medical education is vital to the medical workforce in this country. And we need to be expanding it, not reducing it.

ROVNER: But a health program no one was watching already got eliminated as part of the fiscal cliff deal. It was called the CLASS Act, and it was originally part of the 2010 health law. Originally added to the bill just before his death by Massachusetts Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy, the CLASS program was intended to provide moderate cost, publicly administered, long-term-care insurance that would provide moderate benefits in return. Larry Minnix is president of Leading Age, a group of more than 6,000 nonprofit providers of services to seniors and people with disabilities.

LARRY MINNIX: Long-term care, in the broadest sense of it, is responsible for people, including families, the 355 days a year they're not in the hospital and the 22 hours a day they're not in the doctor's office. And there was no product available for those people and we thought it was time that that gap be filled.

ROVNER: Republicans, however, saw the CLASS Act as a new and potentially unlimited government program that couldn't possibly pay for itself. Says Minnix...

MINNIX: We went from something that most every family is going to need but nobody wanted to talk about, into the most controversial part of it.

ROVNER: So in October of 2011, with the entire health law under legal attack, Obama officials put the CLASS Act into what Minnix refers to as an administration-induced coma.

MINNIX: We understand why they did it. It became too controversial at a controversial time.

ROVNER: But the administration had successfully fended off efforts to repeal the program, until now. At the insistence of West Virginia Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller, CLASS was replaced by a new bipartisan commission charged with coming up with plans for helping Americans pay for long-term care. But it's still essentially back to square one for the program, and for Medicare, worries health policy analyst Bob Laszewski, which has been a major sticking point in all the recent budget battles. And it's likely to come up again in upcoming fights over the delayed budget cuts, raising the debt ceiling, and when last year's temporary spending bills expire, all before the end of March.

BOB LASZEWSKI: We're going to have three more cliff issues over the next three months, but we don't even have a Medicare entitlement fix on the table, from either side.

ROVNER: Which means the 113th Congress is almost certain to get off to a rocky start. Julie Rovner, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.