Obamacare health plans have been getting a bad rap this year. Critics say the premiums are too high, the out-of-pocket costs are out of control, and the requirements and red tape are too thick.

But now the Obama administration is pushing back.

A study released Tuesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services argues that the cost-sharing isn't nearly as heavy as previous analyses have shown, because most consumers get subsidies that limit their deductibles and copayments.

Imagine you've been hungry for the past four years. When the bombing isn't too bad, you can grow a little spinach and beans, and sometimes some smuggled lentils or rice get past the Syrian army checkpoints. But there's no milk for babies and your children have never seen a piece of fruit.

This kind of siege warfare sounds medieval, but in Syria, it is reality for hundreds of thousands of people. Most live in opposition areas, surrounded by Syrian government forces. And one of the most desperate places is Daraya, just to the southwest of the capital Damascus.

Two trains collided in southern Italy on Tuesday, killing at least 20 people and injuring dozens, according to wire reports.

The head-on crash occurred in the region of Puglia, The Associated Press reports, and the trains belonged to a local private rail company.

The line "is used by thousands of people daily on about 200 trains," the BBC reports. "Work is under way to make it a double-track line."

Rescue work is ongoing, the AP writes, with at least two people rescued alive from the wreckage.

The lingering chasm between presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her chief primary rival was bridged Tuesday, with Sen. Bernie Sanders teaming up with Clinton at a campaign event, where he formally endorsed Clinton's bid for the White House.

A fatal accident was reported in Tallapoosa County yesterday.  The single-vehicle crash happened around 12:30 p.m. on U.S. Highway 280 about four miles east of Dadeville.  State Troopers say 33 year old Grady Michael Harrell of Opelika was killed when the van he was driving left the roadway, struck a ditch and overturned.  The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.  No word on what may have led to the accident.  

The House Judiciary Committee is meeting this week to discuss the hiring of special counsel to lead an investigation into the possible impeachment of Governor Robert Bentley.  The meeting Friday is the second time the committee has met.  Last month, committee chairman Mike Jones, a Republican representative from Andalusia, said that the investigation into a sexually-charged scandal involved a former Bentley advisor could not begin in earnest until a special counsel was selected.

Now that the nasal spray FluMist is no longer considered an effective vaccine against influenza, parents will have to resort to the old, unpopular standby for their kids: a shot.

Tuesday brings the big moment that Hillary Clinton has been waiting for: Bernie Sanders, who gave her a hard, unexpected fight for the Democratic nomination, is expected to endorse her.

Their appearance together in New Hampshire will be a show of party unity, but voter unity may be harder to achieve — especially among young voters. A new poll from The Associated Press and University of Chicago suggests Clinton has yet to convince this group, perhaps Sanders' most reliable demographic this campaign season. Her weakness extends across racial and ethnic groups.

July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.  As the designation would imply the month is a time for sharpening the focus on mental health topics.  According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 16.3 percent of Hispanic adults and 18.6 percent of Black adults are living with a mental health condition.  To celebrate Minority Mental Health Month, the council on substance abuse is hosting its annual Community Mental Health Fair on Saturday, July 16th.  More information is available at nami.org.  

A Montgomery woman previously convicted of severely injuring a toddler has been arrested again, this time for allegedly leaving her infant son in a car while she shopped at Walmart.  Police say 33-year-old Javonda Latrice Weeks was arrested Saturday.  A concerned resident reported seeing the infant around 10 a.m. in a vehicle in the Walmart parking lot.  The windows had been left cracked and the vehicle was unlocked.  The baby has been placed in the custody of his father.


Obama On Health Law Problems: 'I Feel Deeply Responsible'

Nov 14, 2013
Originally published on November 14, 2013 7:29 pm



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Audie Cornish.

Two fumbles on a big game. That's how President Obama described the rollout of his signature health care law today. Over the last six weeks, people who want insurance have struggled to sign up through the new federal website. And people on the individual market who were promised they could keep their plans have learned that the president's assurances came with a lot of fine print.

SIEGEL: At the White House this afternoon, the president spent almost an hour taking questions from reporters about the law's shortcomings and his plans to fix them. He also announced a proposal to help people who were losing their insurance on the individual market. We'll hear more about that in a moment from NPR's Julie Rovner. First, here's White House Correspondent Ari Shapiro on a very contrite President Obama.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: During President Obama's five years in office, he says at times he's been slapped around unjustly. This time, he says, he deserves the American people's frustration and anger.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And I think it's legitimate for them to expect me to have to win back some credibility on this health care law, in particular, and on a whole range of these issues in general.

SHAPIRO: This session in the White House briefing room was full of mea culpas, both general and specific. On his repeated false promise that everyone who likes their health insurance policy could keep it, Obama said the law has a grandfather clause for existing plans, which he thought would work.

OBAMA: And it didn't. And, again, that's on us, which is why we're - that's on me. And that's why I'm trying to fix it.

SHAPIRO: He acknowledged that the people losing their existing health plans are not his only big problem. Obama also spent months before the rollout promising that healthcare.gov would be as simple to use as Amazon or Kayak. And then the website failed.

OBAMA: Had I been informed, I wouldn't be going out saying, boy, this is going to be great. You know, I'm accused of a lot of things, but I don't think I'm stupid enough to go around saying this is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity a week before the website opens if I thought that it wasn't going to work.

SHAPIRO: Another hard lesson of these last six weeks, Obama now says even when the website runs smoothly...

OBAMA: Buying health insurance is never going to be like buying a song on iTunes. You know, it's just a much more complicated transaction.

SHAPIRO: Obama said he's been doing a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking on how this could have gone differently but he acknowledged that doesn't help us now. Now, public confidence in him is as low as it's ever been. His legacy could depend on how this turns out. And Democrats in Congress who are up for re-election fear they could lose their jobs next year. Obama accepted blame for that, too.

OBAMA: I feel deeply responsible for making it harder for them rather than easier for them to continue to promote the core values that I think led them to support this thing in the first place.

SHAPIRO: That apology may not be enough. In Congress tomorrow, House Democrats are likely to face a vote on legislation to undercut part of the law. For Republicans, this debacle is a gift, a welcome change of subject from the government shutdown that did so much damage to their own party. At the Capitol today, House Speaker John Boehner said the White House's assurances are not worth much.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: Promise after promise from this administration turned out to be not true. So when it comes to this health care law, the White House doesn't have much credibility. And let's be clear, the only way to fully protect the American people is to scrap this law once and for all.

SHAPIRO: Back at the White House, Obama said despite everything that's gone wrong, he does not regret pursuing universal health care.

OBAMA: We can't lose sight of the fact that the status quo before the Affordable Care Act was not working at all. If the health care system had been working fine and everybody had high-quality health insurance or - at affordable prices, I wouldn't have made it a priority.

SHAPIRO: He said, I make no apologies for us taking it on. I do make apologies for not having executed it better. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.