06-12-2024  7:14 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

James Beard Finalists Include an East African Restaurant in Detroit and Seattle Pho Shops

The James Beards Awards are the culinary world's equivalent of the Oscars. For restaurants, even being named a finalist can bring wide recognition and boost business.

Ranked-Choice Voting Expert Grace Ramsey on What Portland Voters Can Expect in November

Ramsey has worked in several other states and cities to educate voters on new system of voting. 

Asylum-Seekers Looking for Shelter Set up Encampment in Seattle Suburb

Asylum-seekers mainly from Angola, Congo and Venezuela have set up an encampment in a Seattle suburb. Some of the camping asylum-seekers were told to leave their shelter at a church while others lost their short-term motel or rental housing when it expired June 1. A notice for the campers to leave by Tuesday afternoon expired with no law enforcement action.

School Board Selects Dr. Kimberlee Armstrong, Ed. D. to be Next Superintendent

Throughout her career, Armstrong has been instrumental in advancing student achievement, addressing racial inequities and closing the achievement gap for students of color through her dynamic approach to classroom innovation, curriculum enhancement and professional development.

NEWS BRIEFS

Kobi Flowers Crowned 2024 Rose Festival Queen

Flowers has been active in her school community as member of the leadership team at Self Enhancement, Inc., Varsity Cheer...

Summer Events are Shining Through at Multnomah County Library

Start your June by honoring Juneteenth, celebrating Pride and playing the Summer Reading game. ...

PCCEP Forum on Brain Injuries, Policing and Public Safety

This event will feature speakers with lived experience of brain injuries and the criminal justice system, and policy professionals ...

Chaz Ebert Book Signing Event at Powell’s This Weekend

Ebert's new book explores The FECK Principles—a term Chaz coined—of Forgiveness, Empathy, Compassion and Kindness as four...

Portland Trail Blazers Tip-off Summer Series

The Trail Blazers participate in culturally diverse community events throughout the summer ...

Bull that jumped the fence at Oregon rodeo forced to retire from competition, owner says

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Party Bus, a 3-year-old bull bred for bucking, has performed in his first and last rodeo. Party Bus — named after his father, Short Bus — made national headlines last weekend at his first rodeo when he jumped the fence of a crowded arena in central Oregon...

Off-duty guard charged with killing Seattle-area teen after mistaking toy for gun, authorities say

SEATTLE (AP) — An off-duty security guard in a Seattle suburb has been charged with second-degree murder by prosecutors who said that he fatally shot a 17-year-old six times in the back as the teen and his friends tried to return a toy gun that the guard believed was a firearm to a sporting goods...

Josh Sargent out for Colombia friendly, could miss Copa America

McLEAN, Va. (AP) — United States forward Josh Sargent could miss Saturday's friendly against Colombia and could be dropped from the Copa America roster. A 24-year-old from O'Fallon, Missouri, Sargent scored 16 goals in 26 league games with Norwich in England's second-tier League...

Duke tops Missouri 4-3 in 9 innings to win first super regional, qualify for first WCWS

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — D'Auna Jennings led off the top of the ninth inning with a home run to end a scoreless pitching duel between Cassidy Curd and Missouri's Laurin Krings and 10th-seeded Duke held on for a wild 4-3 victory over the seventh-seeded Tigers on Sunday in the finale of the...

OPINION

The Skanner News May 2024 Primary Endorsements

Read The Skanner News endorsements and vote today. Candidates for mayor and city council will appear on the November general election ballot. ...

Nation’s Growing Racial and Gender Wealth Gaps Need Policy Reform

Never-married Black women have 8 cents in wealth for every dollar held by while males. ...

New White House Plan Could Reduce or Eliminate Accumulated Interest for 30 Million Student Loan Borrowers

Multiple recent announcements from the Biden administration offer new hope for the 43.2 million borrowers hoping to get relief from the onerous burden of a collective

Op-Ed: Why MAGA Policies Are Detrimental to Black Communities

NNPA NEWSWIRE – MAGA proponents peddle baseless claims of widespread voter fraud to justify voter suppression tactics that disproportionately target Black voters. From restrictive voter ID laws to purging voter rolls to limiting early voting hours, these...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

After years of delays, scaled-back plans underway for memorial to Florida nightclub massacre

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Survivors and the families of victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre had hoped by now to have a permanent memorial in place for Wednesday's eighth anniversary of the attack by a lone gunman who killed 49 people at the gay-friendly club in Orlando, Florida. ...

Virginia NAACP sues school board for reinstating Confederate names

The Virginia NAACP sued a county school board Tuesday over its reinstatement of Confederate military names to two schools, accusing it of embracing segregationist values and subjecting Black students to a racially discriminatory educational environment. The school board in Shenandoah...

Dutch king and queen get a red-carpet welcome in Georgia, and a chance to show off their dance moves

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The king and queen of the Netherlands on Tuesday received a red-carpet welcome from Savannah's mayor, chatted with crane operators on the dock of one of America's busiest seaports and danced onstage with students from Georgia's oldest historically Black college. ...

ENTERTAINMENT

Book Review: Katie Ledecky dishes on what makes an Olympic legend in ‘Just Add Water'

Katie Ledecky didn’t dream of becoming an Olympian as a kid. It was just something she and her brother, Michael, did at a pool in Maryland that she describes as “maximum chill.” The lack of pressure was part of what drove her deep enjoyment of the sport from an early age, and, consequently,...

Book Review: Glamour and tragedy intertwine in Griffin Dunne’s memoir ‘The Friday Afternoon Club’

Actor and producer Griffin Dunne grew up in New York and Los Angeles with the glitterati all around. His father, Dominick Dunne, a television executive and film producer when Dunne was young, liked to hobnob with the rich and famous. His uncle, journalist and screenwriter John Gregory Dunne,...

Academy Museum Gala picks starry honorees for its fall fundraiser

Rita Moreno and Paul Mescal are getting together with Quentin Tarantino in October. It’s not for a movie (yet). All three are being honored at the glamorous Academy Museum Gala, the organization said Monday. The event is only in its fourth year but has established itself as a...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Southern Baptists to decide whether to formally ban churches with women pastors

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Southern Baptists already can kick out churches that believe women can serve as pastors....

Jerry West, a 3-time Hall of Fame selection and the NBA logo, dies at 86

Jerry West, who was selected to the Basketball Hall of Fame three times in a storied career as a player and...

Russia fires more missiles and drones at Ukraine ahead of diplomatic efforts to stop the war

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces fired missiles and drones at the Kyiv region and five other areas of Ukraine...

Cooking and coughing: Respiratory diseases plague Kenya as more people burn wood to save money

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Piles of firewood surrounded Jane Muthoni in her kitchen made of iron sheets. The roof,...

At least 49 die and 140 are missing after migrant boat sinks off Yemen's coast, UN agency says

CAIRO (AP) — A boat carrying migrants sank off the coast of Yemen, killing at least 49 people and leaving...

Haiti’s transitional council appoints new Cabinet tasked with leading a country under siege by gangs

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s transitional council appointed a new Cabinet on Tuesday, marking the...

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar the Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Medicare's basic monthly premium will rise significantly less than expected next year, the government announced Thursday. That could pay political dividends for President Barack Obama and for Democrats struggling to win over seniors in a close election.

The new Part B premium for outpatient care will be $99.90 a month for 2012, or about $7 less than projected as recently as May.

The bottom line: most seniors will pay an additional $3.50 a month next year, instead of $10.20, as forecast earlier.

Some younger retirees who enrolled recently have been paying up to $115.40 a month. Instead, they'll get a sizable break next year.

Premiums have been frozen at the 2008 level of $96.40 a month for about three-fourths of Medicare beneficiaries. That was due to the lack of a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment during the depths of the economic downturn. But Social Security recently announced a raise in monthly checks averaging $39 for 2012.

The Medicare news means the majority of seniors will have to fork over only a small part of their long-awaited COLA for premiums.

The reason for the lower-than-expected premiums has to do with the interaction between Social Security COLAs and Medicare premiums. But the Obama administration is hoping seniors will get a simple takeaway message: Medicare is under sound management.

Older voters went decisively for Republicans in the 2010 elections, after Obama's health care overhaul law cut Medicare spending to help finance coverage for uninsured working-age adults and their families.

Since then, the administration has doubled down to try to reverse any perception that Obama is steering Medicare into decline.

Earlier this year, officials had announced that premiums for Medicare's prescription benefit would remain unchanged for 2012, on average. Similarly, average premiums for popular Medicare Advantage plans will dip slightly in 2012. But those announcements do not have as much impact. Averages used by the government don't reflect individual experiences. And fewer beneficiaries are enrolled in either of those two benefits.

The Part B premium is one number that most of the 49 million people on Medicare can connect with.

Upper-income retirees pay more, and premiums for low-income beneficiaries are covered by Medicaid. But middle-class beneficiaries on tight budgets watch the Part B figure.

In a statement accompanying release of the Medicare premiums, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asserted that seniors have nothing to fear from the new health care law.

"The Affordable Care Act is helping to keep Medicare strong and affordable," she said. "People with Medicare are seeing higher quality benefits, better health care choices and lower costs."

A leading nonpartisan expert on Medicare said she doubted election-year politics are behind the lower-than-expected premiums for 2012.

"Changes in premiums are obviously important to seniors but the numbers are based on what the law requires, and determined by independent actuaries, rather than politics," said Tricia Neuman of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Neuman said the explanation is likely due to the complicated relationship between Social Security COLAs and Medicare premiums.

By law, the Part B premium is set to cover 25 percent of the cost of Medicare's outpatient care benefit.

But premiums have been frozen for most beneficiaries in recent years because federal law also says that - with some exceptions - an individual's Medicare premium cannot go up more than their Social Security COLA.

That left a relatively small share of beneficiaries, including recent enrollees, bearing the brunt of higher Medicare costs. Indeed, the so-called "standard premium" for 2011 rose to $115.40.

Back in May, when government experts originally forecast a premium of $106.60 for 2012, they were also projecting a Social Security COLA of just 0.7 percent. But the final COLA increase turned out to be much bigger, a 3.6 percent raise. And that meant rising Medicare costs could be spread among many more people, resulting in smaller increases for each individual.

"It has been an odd several years because of what has been going on with the COLA," said Neuman. "Not everybody was paying in the standard amount. Because more people are contributing, the effect of that is that the amount should go down."

Indeed, baby boomers who signed up for Medicare this year and were paying $115.40 a month will save $15.50 a month next year, an annual total of $186.

HHS also said the 2012 premium figure takes into account a fix for the biggest problem hanging over Medicare. Unless Congress acts by the end of the year, doctors will be hit with a 30 percent pay cut. But the department said since Congress is almost certain to override that cut, the cost of keeping doctors whole has been factored in to the premium calculations.

Medicare's Part B annual deductible, the amount beneficiaries pay before their coverage begins, will also drop next year to $140, a decrease of $22.

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Associated Press writer Stephen Ohlemacher contributed to this report.

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The Skanner Foundation's 38th Annual MLK Breakfast