06-21-2018  1:11 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

NEWS BRIEFS

AG Rosenblum Seeks Info from Oregonians

Oregon Attorney General seeks information on children separated from families at border ...

Community Forum: How Does Law Enforcement Interact With Vulnerable Populations?

Forum will focus on public safety and examine mental health and addiction issues ...

King County Council Recognizes Juneteenth

The Metropolitan King County Council recognizes a true 'freedom day' in the United States ...

Unite Oregon Hosts ‘Mourn Pray Love, and Take Action’ June 20

Community is invited to gather at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 6 p.m. on World Refugee Day ...

MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

Recipients include Oregon DACA Coalition, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, Komemma Cultural Protection Association ...

ICE office in Portland closed another day

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Portland was closed again Thursday because of a demonstration against Trump administration immigration policies.Agency spokeswoman Carissa Cutrell said people who had appointments scheduled at the office will be...

Washington, other states plan to sue over family separations

SEATAC, Wash. (AP) — Washington and more than a half-dozen other states said Thursday that they plan to sue the Trump administration over a policy of separating immigrant families illegally entering the United States.Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson made the announcement Thursday...

Washington, other states plan to sue over family separations

SEATAC, Wash. (AP) — Washington and more than a half-dozen other states said Thursday that they plan to sue the Trump administration over a policy of separating immigrant families illegally entering the United States.Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson made the announcement Thursday...

Walla Walla podiatrist charged with unprofessional conduct

WALLA WALLA, Wash. (AP) — A Walla Walla podiatrist has been charged with unprofessional conduct for allegedly failing to meet the standard of care in treating two patients who developed infections which later required amputations.The Union-Bulletin reported Thursday that Washington state's...

OPINION

How Washington’s 'School Achievement Index' Became School Spending Index

New assessment categorizes schools not by quality of education, but level of funding officials believe they should receive ...

Black Mamas Are Dying. We Can Stop It.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly plans to improve access to culturally-competent care with the MOMMA Act ...

Hey, Elected Officials: No More Chicken Dinners...We Need Policy

Jeffrey Boney says many elected officials who visit the Black community only during the election season get a pass for doing nothing ...

Juneteenth: Freedom's Promise Still Denied

Juneteenth is a celebration of the de facto end of slavery, but the proliferation of incarceration keeps liberation unfulfilled ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Governor orders probe of abuse claims by immigrant children

WASHINGTON (AP) — Virginia's governor ordered state officials Thursday to investigate abuse claims by children at an immigration detention facility who said they were beaten while handcuffed and locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete...

Abloh's historic debut at Vuitton is a big draw in Paris

PARIS (AP) — The debut Louis Vuitton collection by Virgil Abloh, the first African-American to head a major European fashion house, drew stars of all stripes to Paris for his rainbow-themed menswear show.Kanye West was there with his wife, Kim Kardashian West, who had returned to Paris for...

Park Service gives initial OK to 'Unite the Right' rally

WASHINGTON (AP) — An organizer of last year's deadly white supremacist rally in Virginia has been granted initial approval to host another rally in August, this time in the heart of the nation's capital.The National Park Service says it has approved an application for a "Unite the Right"...

ENTERTAINMENT

Q&A: Sam Smith on touring, therapy, smoking and lip syncing

NEW YORK (AP) — Sam Smith knows his music is melancholy and emotional, but he's hoping his live shows will be uplifting and feel "like a fistful of love," as he put it.The singer, known for down-tempo hits like "Stay With Me" and "Too Good at Goodbyes," is launching "The Thrill of It All...

AP PHOTOS: Toasts, kisses and laughs at Clooney AFI gala

LOS ANGELES (AP) — George Clooney, this is your life.The American Film Institute hosted a star-studded gala earlier this month to honor the Oscar-winner's achievements as an actor, director and activist. The evening kicked off with a video message from former President Barack Obama, and...

Mike Colter brings the pain as the indestructible Luke Cage

ATLANTA (AP) — "Black Panther" broke box office records, but "Luke Cage" once crashed Netflix.The streaming service suffered a massive outage for more than two hours in 2016, one day after the premiere of "Luke Cage," a drama-action series starring Mike Colter who plays the show's superhero...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Dig it: Archaeologists scour Woodstock '69 concert field

BETHEL, N.Y. (AP) — Archaeologists scouring the grassy hillside famously trampled during the 1969 Woodstock...

Canada's legalization to offer pot by mail, better banking

Mail-order weed? You betcha!With nationwide marijuana legalization in Canada on the horizon, the industry is...

Koko the gorilla, who learned sign language, dies at 46

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Koko the gorilla, whose remarkable sign-language ability and motherly attachment to...

Cuba slightly loosens controls on state media

HAVANA (AP) — Minutes after a plane carrying 113 people crashed on takeoff from Havana airport, Cuban state...

Pope, in Geneva, says Christians must work together on peace

GENEVA (AP) — Pope Francis journeyed Thursday to the well-heeled city of Geneva to encourage all...

South Sudan's armed opposition rejects 'imposition' of peace

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — South Sudan's armed opposition on Thursday rejected any "imposition" of a...

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar the Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Politicians of both parties outdo each other vying for the approval of seniors, but their inability to compromise on the federal budget has put Medicare in the crosshairs again.

Unless Congress acts before Jan. 1, doctors face a 27 percent cut in their fees for treating Medicare patients. That could undermine health care for millions of elderly and disabled beneficiaries.

Last year around the holidays doctors were looking at a cut of about 20 percent. It's become a recurring symbol of the government's budget dysfunction.

The cuts are the consequence of a 1990s budget law that failed to control spending but never got repealed. Congress passes a temporary fix each time, only to grow the size of reductions required next time around. The supercommittee's breakdown leaves the so-called "doc fix" unresolved with time running out.

A thousand miles away in Harlan, Iowa, Dr. Don Klitgaard is trying to contain his frustration.

"I don't see how primary care doctors could take anywhere near like a 27 percent pay cut and continue to function," said Klitgaard, a family physician at a local medical center. "I assume there's going to be a temporary fix, because the health care system is going to implode without it."

Medicare patients account for about 45 percent of the visits to his clinic. Klitgaard said the irony is that he and his colleagues have been making improvements, keeping closer tabs on those with chronic illnesses in the hopes of avoiding needless hospitalizations. While that can save money for Medicare, it requires considerable upfront investment from the medical practice.

"The threat of a huge cut makes it very difficult to continue down this road," said Klitgaard, adding "it's almost comical" lawmakers would let the situation get so far out of hand.

There's nothing to laugh about, says a senior Washington lobbyist closely involved with the secretive supercommittee deliberations. The health care industry lobbyist, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to make public statements, said lawmakers of both parties wanted to deal with the cuts to doctors, but a fundamental partisan divide over tax increases blocked progress of any kind.

The main options now before Congress include a one-year or two-year fix.

The problem is the cost. Congress used to add it to the federal deficit, but lawmakers can't get away with that in these fiscally austere times. Instead, they must find about $22 billion in offsets for the one-year option, $35 billion for the two-year version. A permanent fix would cost about $300 billion over 10 years, making it much less likely.

"It's going to be a real challenge, and there's not a lot of time to play ping-pong," said the lobbyist. "It's entirely possible given past performance that Congress misses the deadline."

Congressional leaders of both parties have said that won't happen. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., says the Medicare fix is too important not to get done before the end of the year. His House counterpart, Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., agrees. But how? The endgame for a complex negotiation also involving expiring tax cuts, unemployment benefits and dozens of lesser issues remains unclear.

"They have to come up with a solution, and they will have to appear to pay for that solution, and that will be contentious," said economist Robert Reischauer, one of the public trustees who oversees Medicare and Social Security financing. One option: cut other parts of Medicare. Another: trim back spending under the health care overhaul law. Either of those approaches would mobilize opposition.

A nonpartisan panel advising lawmakers is recommending that doctors share the pain of a permanent fix with a 10-year freeze for primary care physicians and cuts followed by a freeze for specialists. Doctors aren't buying that.

The Obama administration says seniors and their doctors have nothing to fear.

But doctors are becoming increasingly irritated about dealing with Medicare. Surveys have shown that many physicians would consider not taking new Medicare patients if the cuts go through. Some primary care doctors are going into "concierge medicine," limiting their practice to patients able to pay a fee of about $1,500 a year, a trend that worries advocates for the elderly.

Ultimately, the solution is an overhaul of Medicare's payment system so that doctors are rewarded for providing quality, cost-effective care, said Mark McClellan, an economist and medical doctor who served as Medicare administrator for President George W. Bush. That continues to elude policymakers.

Instead, the threat of payment cuts has become a holiday tradition, said McClellan. "It's just not a very enjoyable one."

© 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Oregon Lottery
Portland Community Policing
Calendar

Photo Gallery

Photos and slide shows of local events

Lents International Farmers Market
The Skanner Report

The Skanner Foundation Scholarships