Awkward … Obamacare ‘Success Story’ Takes Embarrassing Turn

Nov 20, 2013, 10:18 am EDT

President Barack Obama’s new health insurance program can’t seem to catch a break.

Just weeks after the president publicly touted the experience of a Washington state woman who had written him to express her thanks for the Affordable Care Act, the woman now says she can’t afford the insurance she was promised. Jessica Sanford had signed up for Obamacare through her state’s exchange and was initially told she qualified for tax credits that would have allowed her to purchase coverage for an affordable price, CNN notes.

However, after sending the president her letter, the Washington state health exchange contacted Sanford, informing her that it had made an error. It turns out she doesn’t qualify for the tax credits that were initially promised. The exchange has apologized to Sanford and to “thousands of other Washington state residents” who were given errant benefit calculations. Read 

U.S. Postal Service Setting Up Mini Branches in Staples Stores

Nov 20, 2013, 9:35 am EDT
U.S. Postal Service Setting Up Mini Branches in Staples Stores

The U.S. Postal Service is setting up mini branches inside select Staples (SPLS) stores.

The postal service plans to open 82 of these mini branches in Staples store around the nation. The mini branches, which are already set up it some stores, will sell stamps and offer shipping and mailing services. Staples stores with a USPS mini branch inside them will use the postal service as its only shipping and mailing option. The mini branches will be tested in five areas, including San Francisco, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Worcester, Mass., reports the Washington Post.

“I think it’s a great marriage of the two. Folks come here for office supplies, all kinds of needs in that regard,” Tad Kelley, a USPS spokesperson, told CBS News. “Now, they have the opportunity to mail things right from this location. I think it’s really a good fit.” Read 

IT Experts: Shut Down Obamacare Site for Security Flaws

Nov 20, 2013, 9:29 am EDT

At a congressional hearing on Tuesday, a number of computer experts delivered a harsh verdict for the federal online health insurance exchange that is at the center of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

When asked directly if HealthCare.gov features enough security to protect consumer data, all four information technology experts testifying before a House of Representatives committee said “no.” Three of the experts went on to say that the federal website, which is meant to handle insurance coverage for subscribers in 36 states, should be shut down until better security was installed. The fourth experts indicated that he lacked enough information to make that assessment, Reuters notes.

HealthCare.gov launched last month, but has been plagued with technical glitches and an inability to handle large numbers of consumers trying to access the website. President Obama has apologized for the problems and vowed to have the website fixed by Dec. 1. Read 

Obama Previously Briefed On HealthCare.gov Issues

Nov 19, 2013, 7:50 pm EDT

Despite public claims of surprise at the difficult roll-out of HealthCare.gov, President Barack Obama was briefed earlier this year and warned of potential issues with the site, according to the White House.

Documents released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee noted that Obama was warned as early as March about potential risks with the introduction of HealthCare.gov. Officials from the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services were briefed by a private consulting firm who reviewed over 200 documents and met with HHS staff to identify problems prior to the site opening.

The firm prepared a report stating insufficient testing, evolving requirements, and relying too much on outside contractors could hamper the implementation of the online marketplace. Read 

MSNBC’s Martin Bashir Apologizes for Gross Sarah Palin Comments

Nov 19, 2013, 12:32 pm EDT

MSNBC host Martin Bashir is being forced to retract statements he said about former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Daily News reports that Bashir bashed Palin after she equated the U.S. deficit to slavery during his MSNBC show. The host said on Friday that the former Alaska governor should be punished like a slave by having to eat sh*t for her words. He took back his comments on Monday, saying that they were “wholly unacceptable… neither accurate, nor fair.”

Palin’s statement discussed the nation’s deficit and talked about how Americans are taking money from the children and borrowing from China. “When that money comes due and — this isn’t racist, so try it, try it anyway, this isn’t racist — but it’s going to be like slavery when that note is due,” Palin added. “Right? We are going to be beholden to a foreign master.” Read 

NYC to Raise Age for Tobacco Sales From 18 to 21

Nov 19, 2013, 9:57 am EDT
NYC to Raise Age for Tobacco Sales From 18 to 21

New York City Mayor Micheal Bloomberg, is expected to sign a bill into law on Tuesday, that will raise the legal age to buy tobacco products.

The bill, which was passed by the City Council last month, will raise the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. The bill is meant to make it harder for teenagers to obtain tobacco products. As it is now, teenagers only need to ask someone slightly older than them to buy them tobacco. This legislation would make it so that teenagers will have to talk to someone older or buy tobacco from the black market, reports the Associated Press.

Mayor Bloomberg is also expected to sign a bill on Tuesday that will ban coupons and special sales to promote tobacco sales. It will also set a minimum price of $10.50 for a pack of cigarettes, the Associated Press notes. Read 

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