06-12-2024  8:37 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

'Hotel Cocaine' on MGM+ gives viewers disco, drama and plenty of blow in Miami in the late '70s

NEW YORK (AP) — The lapels are wide, “Disco Inferno” is blasting on the dance floor and lines and lines of nose candy are on offer in the new intriguing Miami-based series “Hotel Cocaine.” The eight-episode romp on MGM+ centers on a real-life hotel at the beginning of the...

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...

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 pick new leader, will decide whether to formally ban churches with women pastors

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Southern Baptists on Wednesday elected a North Carolina pastor and longtime denominational...

Jerry West, a 3-time Hall of Fame selection and the inspiration for 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...

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...

A Russian woman is questioned in Denmark over allegations of helping a foreign intelligence agency

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A Russian woman has been detained and questioned in Denmark for allegedly helping a...

Hungary agrees not to veto NATO support to Ukraine as long as it's not forced to help out

BRUSSELS (AP) — Hungary agreed on Wednesday not to veto NATO support for Ukraine but Prime Minister Viktor...

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar the Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Medicare's payment system, the unseen but vital network that handles 100 million monthly claims, could freeze up if President Barack Obama's health care law is summarily overturned, the administration has quietly informed the courts.

Although Obama's overhaul made significant cuts to providers and improved prescription and preventive benefits, Medicare was overlooked in Supreme Court arguments that focused on the law's controversial requirement that individuals carry health insurance.

Yet havoc for Medicare could have repercussions as both parties avidly court seniors in this election year and as hospitals and doctors increasingly complain the program doesn't pay enough.

In papers filed with the Supreme Court, administration lawyers have warned of "extraordinary disruption" if Medicare is forced to unwind countless transactions that are based on payment changes required by more than 20 separate sections of the Affordable Care Act.

Opponents say the whole law must go. The administration counters that even if it strikes down the insurance mandate, the court should preserve most of the rest of the legislation. That would leave in place its changes to Medicare as well as a major expansion of Medicaid coverage.

Last year, in a lower court filing on the case, Justice Department lawyers said reversing the Medicare payment changes "would impose staggering administrative burdens" on the government and "could cause major delays and errors" in claims payment.

Former program administrators disagree on the potential for major disruptions, while some private industry executives predict an avalanche of litigation unless Congress intervenes.

AARP says it's concerned. If doctors became embroiled in a legal battle over payments, then "a general concern would be that physicians would cease to take on new Medicare patients, as well as potentially have issues seeing their current patients," said Ariel Gonzalez, top health care lobbyist for the organization.

Medicare payment policies are set through a time-consuming process that begins with legislation passed by Congress. Even if the law were completely overturned, the government still would have authority under previous legislation to pay hospitals, doctors, insurance plans, nursing homes and other providers.

"There is an independent legal basis to pay providers if the Supreme Court strikes down the entire law," said Thomas Barker, a former Health and Human Services general counsel in the George W. Bush administration.

But reversing the new law's payment changes from one day to the next would be a huge legal and logistical challenge, raising many questions. How would Medicare treat payments made over the last two years, when the overhaul has been the law of the land? Would providers who have received cuts subsequently have a right to refunds?

"Medicare cannot turn on a dime," said former administrator Don Berwick, Obama's first Medicare chief. "I would not be surprised if there are delays and problems with payment flow. Medicare has dealt with sudden changes in payment before, but it is not easy."

It's not just reimbursement levels that would get scrambled, Berwick said. The law's new philosophy of paying hospitals and doctors for quality results, rather than for sheer volume of tests and procedures, has been incorporated in some payment policies.

Tom Scully, who ran Medicare during former President George W. Bush's first term, does not foresee major problems, although he acknowledges it would be a "nightmare" for agency bureaucrats.

"It is highly unlikely in the short term that any health plan or provider would suffer," said Scully. "They're probably likely to get paid more going forward. If you look at the way the law was (financed), it was a combination of higher taxes and lower (Medicare) payments. That's what you would be rolling back."

The White House declined to comment.

Administration officials say they are confident the entire law will be upheld by the Supreme Court, and there's no contingency planning to address whether all or parts of it are struck down. Sharp questioning by the court's conservative justices during public arguments has led many to speculate that at least some parts of the law will be struck down.

Opponents of the law argue that Congress overstepped its constitutional authority by requiring most Americans to have health insurance, starting in 2014. The administration says the mandate is permissible because it serves to regulate interstate commerce, underpinning another provision of the law that requires insurance companies to accept people in poor health. A decision is expected by early summer.

Former officials say it's likely that some form of high-level assessment and planning is going on within the administration. It has happened in the recent past.

Last year, when the GOP-led House threatened to block funding for carrying out Obama's law, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote to Congress outlining potential consequences. She said the administration might have to suspend payments to Medicare Advantage plans, popular private insurance alternatives that cover about one-fourth of all beneficiaries. That would have sent millions of seniors back into traditional Medicare, scrambling to find new doctors and coping with higher out-of-pocket costs.

Scully dismissed the notion that private Medicare plans would be jeopardized if the Supreme Court throws out the law.

"The idea that Medicare Advantage plans would shut down and patients would be thrown into the street is just people making up arguments to stir the pot," he said.

Repeal of the law would also mean that seniors would lose some new benefits, including the closing of the prescription coverage gap called the "doughnut hole," and no-charge preventive services such as an annual wellness physical.

"There is no doubt that striking down (the) Medicare provisions would be enormously disruptive for patients, physicians, hospitals and countless other providers and suppliers," said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees the program.

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The Skanner Foundation's 38th Annual MLK Breakfast