06-22-2018  3:34 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
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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 ...

Police: Oregon toddler dies after being left in hot car

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A toddler in Oregon died after being left alone in a hot car while her mother went to work as a family nurse practitioner, authorities said Friday.Nicole Engler, 38, of Roseburg told investigators she thought she had taken her 21-month-old daughter Remington to daycare...

Lawsuit seeks lawyer access to immigrants in prison

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A rights group filed an emergency lawsuit in federal court Friday against top officials of U.S. immigration and homeland security departments, alleging they have unconstitutionally denied lawyers' access to immigrants in a prison in Oregon.Immigration and Customs...

Man charged in 1986 killing of 12-year-old Tacoma girl

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A Lakewood man suspected of killing a 12-year-old girl in Tacoma over three decades ago has been charged with murder and rape.The News Tribune reports Pierce County prosecutors charged 66-year-old Gary Hartman Friday in connection with Michella Welch's death in 1986. She...

Federal agency approves Idaho field burning rules

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Federal officials have approved Idaho's request to loosen field burning rules.Backers say the move offers more flexibility to keep smoke away from people but health advocates counter that it will lead to breathing problems for some residents.The U.S. Environmental...

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

The Latest: Germany, Mexico, Belgium headline Saturday games

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on Friday at the World Cup (all times local):1:13 a.m.Will Germany follow Brazil's lead in righting the ship after a rocky World Cup start, or will the defending champ find itself keeping company with Argentina, needing help if it hopes to advance?The World Cup could...

Trial set in long-delayed post-Katrina racial shooting case

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A trial date has been set for a white man accused of shooting at three black men in what federal prosecutors said was a racially motivated attack following Hurricane Katrina.The case of Roland Bourgeois Jr. has dragged on for years. He was indicted five years after the...

Xhaka and Shaqiri score for Swiss, make Albanian symbol

KALININGRAD, Russia (AP) — Albania's national flag was at the center of Switzerland's 2-1 victory over Serbia on Friday at the World Cup.Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri celebrated their goals by making a nationalist symbol of their ethnic Albanian heritage.Both players put their open hands...

ENTERTAINMENT

Actress Betty Buckley wants to 'make America happy again'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — There's busy. And then there's Betty Buckley busy.The veteran singer and actress began the month with four nights of concerts in New York celebrating the release of her new live album, "Hope."Buckley appeared earlier this week on the season finale of The CW's "Supergirl,"...

So much TV, so little summer: Amy Adams, Kevin Hart, Dr. Pol

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The fall television season is months away but that's no reason to stare moodily at a blank screen. In this era of peak TV, there are so many outlets and shows clamoring for your summertime attention that it can be as daunting as choosing between a mojito and a frozen...

Honduran girl in symbolic photo not separated from mother

NEW YORK (AP) — A crying Honduran girl depicted in a widely-seen photograph that became a symbol for many of President Donald Trump's immigration policies was not actually separated from her mother, U.S. government officials said on Friday.Time magazine used an image of the girl, by Getty...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Mexican players can have beef again at the World Cup

MOSCOW (AP) — Mexico's mantra for this World Cup is "No Excuses," and that includes no complaining about...

US officials say girl on Time cover isn't separated from mom

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Border Patrol officials said Friday that a girl who is pictured on the cover of this...

Ex-New England Mafia boss 'Cadillac Frank' guilty in slaying

BOSTON (AP) — Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme was convicted Friday of killing a nightclub owner to keep...

UK split by Brexit divide 2 years after vote to leave EU

LONDON (AP) — It's been two years since the shoppers and traders of London's Romford market voted by a wide...

Italy vows to expel far more migrants, but it won't be easy

ROME (AP) — Barely a week in office, Italy's populist interior minister lost no time in bringing home his...

Rival Koreas agree to August reunions of war-split families

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North and South Korea agreed Friday to hold temporary reunions of families...

Adam Aigner-Treworgy and Tom Cohen CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An outside company now heads the effort to correct problems with HealthCare.gov, rather than the federal agency getting most of the blame for the botched rollout of the website to enroll in President Barack Obama's signature health care reforms.



Jeffrey Zients, the former White House budget officer assigned by Obama to fix the mess, said Friday that QSSI, a Maryland tech company, would serve as the "general contractor" in working to make the website function smoothly by the end of November.

The announcement was a shift in tone and strategy for the administration.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was the lead agency in overseeing creation of the online site that buckled under the volume of initial visitors following its October 1 launch.

QSSI was one of the dozens of contractors working with the government on the project coordinated by CMS, and now has the role of managing the correction efforts, according to Zients.

"There is now a general contractor who is overseeing the other contractors and directing the effort. In the tech world, this would be called a new systems integrator," the White House said in a statement. "This general contractor will work around the clock with all the key decision makers and players, including CMS leadership and staff, vendors and contractors."

The problems became a political liability for the Obama administration by emboldening Republican efforts to undermine the health care reforms detested by conservatives as an extreme example of government overreach.

After weeks of pledges by Obama and other officials to correct problems, including the inability to register, lengthy delays and incorrect information being relayed to insurers, Zients offered the first solid target for significant improvement. He said HealthCare.gov would work fully for the "vast majority" of users in just over a month.

"Healthcare.gov is fixable," he said on a conference call.

Zients confirmed that as many as 70% of its users were unable to complete the first step of the enrollment process -- creating accounts -- at various times in recent weeks.

The situation has improved, he said, while acknowledging other difficulties comprised a "punch list" of items being addressed.

"The punch list is dozens of items on both sides, in terms of priorities both on performance and functionality," Zients said, adding that new problems would be added as discovered "but most importantly, we will be taking issues off the list."

Contractors point fingers

In more than four hours of testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, officials of contractors hired to create Healthcare.gov cited a lack of testing on the full system and last-minute changes by the federal agency overseeing the online enrollment effort.

Republican Rep. Renee Elmers of North Carolina said that "the bottom line here is that CMS is responsible for this failure," while other Republicans also targeted Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, whose department includes CMS.

Angry exchanges between Republicans who oppose the 2010 Affordable Care Act and Democrats defending it erupted repeatedly at the hearing, while the contractors insisted their work went fine even though the software functioned poorly when the system went live.

"I think the problems with Obamacare are much deeper than a website," GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma told CNN on Thursday, echoing the Republican attack line that the health care reforms intended to help millions of uninsured Americans get affordable coverage are unmanageable.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that plenty of time remained to get the website fixed and people enrolled before the sign-up deadline of March 31.

He said Zients had figured out the problems that needed to be addressed and now put in place the management changes to do so.

While visiting a health insurance call center Friday in Texas, Sebelius stuck to the Obama administration's line that the website for enrolling in new health insurance exchanges was improving.

Sebelius admitted she was surprised by the site's failure upon rollout.

"I didn't realize it wouldn't be operating optimally before the launch," she said.

"I think we knew that if we had had another six months, we would probably test further, but I don't think that anyone fully realized that both volume caused some problems, but volume also exposed some problems," she said.

Request to extend the deadline

Separately, 10 Democratic Senators have asked Sebelius to extend the open enrollment period for insurance exchanges beyond March 31. If the period is not extended, people who are uninsured after that date would face an IRS fine under the health care reforms.

But Sebelius described the open enrollment period as "unusually long" already and said any extension would have some consequences.

Responding to Congress

Sebelius and her agency came under new pressure from the chairman of the Republican-led House Oversight Committee, who said he might consider a subpoena to get information he wants on contracts, communications and other details involving the Obamacare website.

Committee aides said Thursday that the Health and Human Services Department had so far failed to respond to a previous request, and Rep. Darrell Issa of California gave Sebelius until Monday to comply or possibly face "compulsory" action.

The agency said it is working to comply.

"The committee sent us an extremely broad request for documents on October 10 - while the government was still shut down - and asked that we produce these materials within two weeks," HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said in a statement.

Peters said the agency has "been engaged in discussions" with Issa's panel to "better understand and prioritize" requests.

CNN's Lisa Desjardins contributed to this report.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

 

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