06-21-2018  1:20 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 ...

Girl, 14, drowns in pond near Silverton

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Authorities say a junior camp counselor drowned in a pond near Silverton.The Marion County Sheriff's Office says deputies arrived Wednesday night to find lifeguards and camp counselor searching the pond for 14-year-old Naomi Rudolph of Keizer. Her body was pulled from the...

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...

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

3 men face hate crimes charges in Minnesota mosque bombing

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A grand jury has added civil rights and hate crimes violations to charges three Illinois men face in the bombing of a mosque in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington.Federal prosecutors announced the new five-count indictment Thursday against 47-year-old Michael Hari,...

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...

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...

SAM HANANEL and RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a setback for the Obama health care law, a federal judge ruled Thursday that the administration is unconstitutionally subsidizing medical bills for millions of people while ignoring congressional power over government spending.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer was a win for House Republicans who brought the politically charged legal challenge in an effort to undermine the law.

If the decision is upheld, it could roil the health care law's insurance markets, which are still struggling for stability after three years.

Collyer said her ruling would be put on hold while it is appealed. The White House expressed confidence it would be overturned.

At issue is the $175 billion the government is paying to reimburse health insurers over a decade to reduce deductibles and co-payments for lower-income people.

The House argues that Congress never specifically appropriated that money and has denied an administration request for it. Collyer agreed that the administration is exceeding its constitutional authority by spending the money anyway. She rejected the administration's argument that the law authorizes the money automatically because the program is considered an "entitlement" like Social Security and Medicaid.

House Republicans launched the lawsuit in 2014 over Democrats' objections. The GOP-led House had already voted dozens of times to repeal all or parts of "Obamacare," but those efforts went nowhere, failing to overcome opposition from Senate Democrats and the president.

So the House turned its focus to tying up money spent on the law. Republican House leaders asserted that the Obama administration couldn't spend money that lawmakers refused to provide.

House Speaker Paul Ryan called the decision "an historic win for the Constitution and the American people."

"The court ruled that the administration overreached by spending taxpayer money without approval from the people's representatives," he said in a statement.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that House Republicans ultimately would lose the case.

"This suit represents the first time in our nation's history that Congress has been permitted to sue the executive branch over a disagreement about how to interpret a statute," Earnest said.

"It's unfortunate that Republicans have resorted to a taxpayer-funded lawsuit to refight a political fight that they keep losing," Earnest added. "They have been losing this fight for six years. And they'll lose it again."

The administration is expected to appeal Thursday's ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where a majority of active judges have been appointed by Democrats.

Collyer was appointed to the district court by President George W. Bush, a Republican.

About 12.7 million people are covered through insurance markets created by President Barack Obama's law. The disputed subsidies help lower-earning customers afford out-of-pocket costs, such as annual insurance deductibles and co-payments when they seek medical care.

These subsidies, called "cost-sharing reductions" are separate from the financial aid provided under the law to help people pay their monthly premiums, which would not be affected.

But that doesn't make the cost-sharing subsidies any less important. Without them, millions of people may not be able to afford to use their health insurance.

Here's why: The most popular policies are skinny plans with low monthly premiums but high deductibles and copayments. The average annual deductible for a silver plan — the kind picked by about 7 in 10 customers — is nearly $2,900, according to the consulting firm Avalere Health.

Under the law, insurers have to provide cost-sharing assistance to consumers picking a silver plan who make up to two-and-a-half times the federal poverty level, which is $60,750 for a family of four.

The government is then required to reimburse insurers for the cost of the subsidies. The administration maintains that's automatically authorized, and it doesn't have to go back to Congress for approval each year.

But Collyer rejected that argument, saying appropriating the money is up to lawmakers. "That is Congress' prerogative," Collyer wrote. "The court cannot override it by rewriting" the law.

If congressional approval is required, Congress' GOP majority can just shut off the spending. And if that happens, the administration says the only option insurers have would be to raise premiums significantly.

However, more insurers might just decide to bail out of the health law markets. Major companies already are struggling to make money on the program.

The White House had earlier argued that the House had no legal authority to pursue its lawsuit, but Collyer rejected that argument and allowed it to proceed.

In another case last year, the Supreme Court threw out a challenge to the law's subsidies for premiums. However, the legal issues in that case were much different.

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