Tag Archives: Congress

Flynn scandal emphasizes need for bipartisan investigation of Russian election influence

Voters deserve an impartial investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race by a Bipartisan Select Committee

The resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn only raises more questions about communications and possible links between the Trump team and the government of Vladimir Putin. It also begs more serious questions about what President Donald Trump knew and when.

Today, we learn that last month then-acting-Attorney General Sally Yates informed the White House that Flynn had lied about the nature of his calls with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, which left him vulnerable to blackmail by Russia.

Yates was later fired for a legal judgment she issued on the president’s executive order on immigration, but the fact that she now factors into the questions about Flynn raise concerns.

Three of the highest profile people forced out by the Trump campaign or administration all have ties to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

During the election Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who had long client relationships in Russia and the former Soviet Union, was jettisoned.

Americans need to be convinced through a thorough nonpartisan investigation that the Trump team is putting the nation’s best interest first and is not beholden to any foreign government.

A handful of separate Senate committees, with already full agendas, are planning hearings on several aspects of Russia’s influence on the 2016 dlections and the Trump administration.

This scattered and competing approach by a series of committees all controlled by the members of the president’s own party is not the best way to seek the truth, nor is it the best way to restore public confidence in the government’s ability to safeguard our elections from foreign or domestic tampering.

The public’s faith in our election, our national security, and the need to clarify the connections of the Trump administration and Vladimir Putin require a comprehensive investigation that can only be accomplished by a joint-, bi-partisan, Select Committee that should be convened immediately.

The evidence continues to mount of communications and connections between the Russian government and former Trump campaign and administration officials and we are now past the time when Americans can be reassured by investigations controlled by members of the president’s own party.

Too many times we have seen congressional committees whitewash the damning findings of their own investigations for political expediency.

When it comes to the security of our democracy, the nation must rely on former President Ronald Reagan’s rule of “trust but verify.”

The stakes are simply too high to leave any room for doubt that an investigation of Russian interference in our elections was full, fair and unbiased.

GOP lawmakers face angry, worried constituents at town halls

The voter identified himself as a cancer survivor, and he had something to say to Republican Rep. Justin Amash: “I am scared to death that I will not have health insurance in the future.”

The comment earned 61-year-old retiree Paul Bonis a standing ovation from the crowd packed into a school auditorium in Amash’s Michigan district Thursday night. And the congressman was booed for his response: That the Affordable Care Act has “hurt a lot of people,” and he supports his party’s plans to repeal and replace it, even though the GOP still hasn’t united around an alternative.

It’s a scene that’s played out around the country over the past several weeks as Republicans and President Donald Trump have assumed control of Washington and begun moving forward on their long-held promise to undo former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

In an echo of the raucous complaints that confronted Democrats back in 2009 as they worked to pass “Obamacare” in the first place, Republicans who want to repeal it now are facing angry pushback of their own at constituent gatherings from Utah to Michigan to Tennessee and elsewhere, even in solidly Republican districts.

And just as the protests in 2009 focused on health care but reflected broader concerns over an increasingly divisive new president and Democrats’ monopoly control over Washington, now, too, constituent complaints at town hall meetings appear to reflect more general fears about the Trump administration and the implications of one-party GOP rule of the nation’s capital.

In a Salt Lake City suburb on Thursday night, GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz faced irate constituents chanting “Do your job!” as they pressed the House Oversight Committee chairman to investigate Trump.

Chaffetz struggled to be heard as he faced a litany of sharp questions and screams from a crowd of people who grilled him on everything from Obamacare to Chaffetz’s desire to overturn a new national monument in southern Utah.

“Come on, we’re better than this,” Chaffetz protested over the hubbub at one point, practically pleading with the deafening crowd to let him speak.

In Tennessee, GOP Rep. Diane Black faced questions from impassioned and well-informed constituents defending the Affordable Care Act, including one man who told her that he and others with health conditions might die without insurance.

“And you want to take away this coverage, and have nothing to replace it with,” the man said. Black argued that the Affordable Care Act has been ineffective because although 20 million people gave gained coverage under the law, millions more have chosen to pay a fine and remain uninsured.

And in southern Wisconsin, GOP Rep. James Sensenbrenner faced a voter who asked him: “Who’s going to be the check and balance on Donald Trump?”

Like others interviewed at town halls around the country, the woman asking the question, Barbara Kresse, said she has not been politically active, another similarity to 2009 when the advent of the Obama administration seemed to cause enough anxiety to awaken groups of voters who had never previously gotten involved.

Indeed the recent protests are being amplified by liberal activists modeling their opposition to Trump on the tea party groups that sprang up to oppose Obama and the Democrats

Calling itself “Indivisible,” a nonprofit group that grew out of a how-to guide written by former Democratic congressional staffers has advertised town hall gatherings nationally.

House GOP leaders have taken note of the protests, and took time during a regular meeting of their conference this past week to give lawmakers “best practices” advice for dealing with them, including to treat protesters with courtesy and respect, consider hiring security or a moderator for town hall gatherings, or even “kill them with kindness” by offering cookies or coffee.

Lawmakers insisted they are not changing their public schedules out of concern over being met by protesters, but town hall meetings have grown rarer in recent years anyway, with some lawmakers citing the shooting of Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords at a constituent gathering in Tucson, Arizona in 2011 as one reason.

In some districts and states, constituents have been trying to shame lawmakers into holding town halls to discuss Obamacare or other issues, showing up at district offices with signs demanding a meeting.

In a letter to fellow House Republicans on Thursday, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, vice chairman of the GOP conference, downplayed the opposition and sought to encourage lawmakers to stay committed to their agenda.

“We have been charged with holistic reform,” Collins wrote. “And to the extent that we are leading our communities in a new direction, we remember — with sadness _ that, because a broken system became the status quo, even those who have suffered under that brokenness may resist its repair.”

Hundreds of thousands of petitioners call for Trump’s impeachment

More than half a million people have joined the campaign and signed the petition at ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org, which calls on the Congress to initiate an impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump.

The petitioners cite constitutional violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause and Domestic Emoluments Clause, as well as violations of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 — also known as the STOCK Act.

“On Inauguration Day, we issued the call for Congress to investigate whether President Trump should be impeached for violating the Constitution by holding onto his business interests,” said Ron Fein, legal director of Free Speech For People. “In just 11 days, over half a million people joined the campaign and the movement grows with every new revelation. Donald Trump is profiting from the presidency at public expense — and people are suffering as a result.”

Norman Solomon, co-founder and coordinator of RootsAction.org, added, “A groundswell for impeachment is underway at the grassroots. In districts around the country, House members will face escalating calls from constituents who believe that the president must not be above the supreme law of the land. This historic movement is just getting started.”

The petitioners say Trump’s personal and business holdings in the United States and abroad present unprecedented conflicts of interest and place him in direct violation of the Constitution.

The Foreign Emoluments Clause reads says: No person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under (the United States), shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” The purpose of this provision is to prevent foreign influence or corruption. “Emoluments” from foreign governments include “any conferral of a benefit or advantage, whether through money, objects, titles, offices, or economically valuable waivers or relaxations of otherwise applicable requirements,” even including “ordinary, fair market value transactions that result in any economic profit or benefit to the federal officeholder.

The Domestic Emoluments Clause says: The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

This provision, which Congress cannot waive, intended to prevent corruption.

The petitioners say there is sufficient basis to investigate other potentially impeachable violations. For example, the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 is a federal ethics statute that specifically includes the president. Among other provisions, it prohibits the president from using nonpublic information for private profit and from intentionally influencing an employment decision or practice of a private entity solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation.

Action alert

Impeach Donald Trump Now is a nonpartisan campaign led by Free Speech For People and RootsAction.org. To join the campaign, read the proposed impeachment resolution or to learn more, go to www.ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org.

 

Trump’s nominee for Labor oversaw restaurants that violated labor regs

More than 100 food and agriculture organizations, representing more than 10 million, sent a letter to Capitol Hill urging senators to oppose the confirmation of fast food CEO Andrew Puzder as secretary of labor.

The call from the farmers, food-system workers and public health advocates, led by Corporate Accountability International, Food Chain Workers Alliance, Friends of the Earth and Real Food Media comes on the heels of growing opposition and controversy surrounding Trump’s pick to head the Department of Labor.

A recent Capital & Main investigation found that under Puzder’s watch as CEO, CKE Restaurants faced more federal employment discrimination lawsuits than any other major fast food chain. The corporation violated workers’ rights, including wage theft and failed to provide employees with overtime pay.

“Andrew Puzder is dangerous for working families and bad for our food system,” Jose Oliva, co-director of Food Chain Workers Alliance, said in a news release. “The country needs a labor secretary who will protect working families, not corporate interests. Puzder’s track record as CEO of CKE Restaurants proves that he should be kept as far away from Washington as possible.”

The letter calls the nomination of Puzder a betrayal of the president’s promise to “improve the lives of working people” and urges senators to reject Puzder’s nomination. The letter also expresses concern with the conflicts of interest between Puzder’s tenure at CKE Restaurants and the responsibilities of a labor secretary, including the fact that:

• Puzder’s company has faced numerous Department of Labor violations for failing to pay the minimum wage or overtime.

  • Sixty percent of inspections at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants found labor law violations.
  • Puzder has opposed raising the minimum wage.
  • Puzder has opposed enforcing overtime rules and mandatory sick leave.

Kari Hamerschlag, deputy director of food and technology at Friends of the Earth, said, “The Senate must reject the nomination of Puzder if it cares at all about the basic rights of working people.”

Since Puzder’s nomination, advocacy groups have documented numerous workers’ rights violations under the watch of the former fast food CEO. Research released by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United reveals a history of labor violations at CKE Restaurants during Puzder’s tenure.

Surveys from hundreds of CKE employees reveal women working at CKE reported more than 1.5 times the rate of sexual harassment as reported for the industry overall.

“The choice of Andrew Puzder for secretary of labor is a dangerous one for this country’s working families,” said Sriram Madhusoodanan of Corporate Accountability International. “If President Trump truly wants to ‘drain the swamp’, why is he nominating people like Puzder, who have played an outsized role creating the swamp in the first place?”

In January, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s workers joined the Fight for $15 in opposing Puzder’s nomination, taking part in actions in more than two dozen cities.

“Across the country, millions of people are demanding real change when it comes to our food system and the people who work in it,” said Anna Lappé, founder of Real Food Media. “Our Department of Labor must reflect those people — not corporate bottom lines. It is unacceptable to nominate someone who has such a callous attitude to the struggles of working families to head the labor department.”

The organizations signed onto the letter include the Union of Concerned Scientists, Earthjustice, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Workers’ Center of Central New York and many others.

Puzder’s senate confirmation hearing is set for Feb. 7.

‘Resist Trump Tuesday’ actions planned across the country

More than 100 “Resist Trump Tuesday” actions are planned for Jan. 24, with the focus on urging  senators to oppose Donald Trump’s cabinet picks and agenda.

People’s Action, MoveOn.org, Working Families Party and other groups will hold actions at the offices of Democratic and Republican senators with a clear message: “Stop the Swamp Cabinet.”

As a candidate, Trump riled up supporters vowing to “drain the swamp” and chase corruption out of Washington, D.C.

Thus far, he’s moved to fill his administration with billionaires, bankers and Wall Street insiders.

Donald Trump’s “politics have only furthered a culture of corruption, and nowhere is that clearer than in the greed and hate embodied by the nominees to his swamp Cabinet,” said MoveOn.org organizing director Vicki Kaplan.

“Millions of Americans are taking action — meeting, marching, and organizing — to ensure Trump and the GOP don’t take away our health care, destroy public education, pollute our air and water, and put in charge billionaires and racists who look out for only themselves at the expense of the rest of us,” Kaplan added.

On the web

Check the action website for event listings coordinated by MoveOn.org, People’s Action, Working Families Party.

In Milwaukee

An action is planned at noon Jan. 24 at the Milwaukee office of U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.
The details:  Participants will meet at the SEIU Local 1 office and walk to Johnson’s office at 250 E Wisconsin Ave.  The action is being coordinated by Citizen Action of WI, SEIU and WI Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals. Sign up to attend here.

Baldwin, Johnson introduce bill to lift protections for wolves

U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin are co-sponsors of legislation that would lift federal protections for gray wolves in the Midwest and Wyoming.

The other sponsors are John Barrasso and Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

Similar legislation was introduced earlier this year in the U.S. House by Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy.

The aim of these lawmakers is to prevent courts from overruling a decision by the Interior Department to remove wolves in Wyoming, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan from the endangered species list.

In a news release, Johnson said, “I strongly agree with the feedback I’ve heard from Wisconsin stakeholders such as farmers, ranchers, loggers and sportsmen that future gray wolf listing decisions should come from wildlife experts, not from courtrooms.”

Baldwin said, “The Endangered Species Act plays a critical role in saving species from the brink of extinction, and when it does, we must acknowledge we have succeeded in restoring wildlife populations by delisting them. According to both federal and state wildlife biologists, this goal has been achieved with the gray wolf.”

She said she also heard “from farmers, sportsmen and wildlife experts, and they all agree. The wolf has recovered and we must return its management back to the state of Wisconsin, both for the safety and economic well-being of Wisconsinites and the balance of our environment.”

The  news release said the senators’ measure would “allow wolf management plans that are based on federal and state wildlife expertise to move forward without any legal ambiguity.”

Those management plans allow the trapping and hunting of wolves, including using dogs in the “sport” in Wisconsin. In Wyoming, the management plan allows unlimited shoot-on-sight killing of wolves across 85 percent of the state.

“A new Congress has resurfaced an old vendetta against imperiled wolves,” said Marjorie Mulhall, senior legislative counsel at Earthjustice. “If this legislation is signed into law, wolves  in Wyoming will be subjected to unregulated killing across the vast majority of the state and even on the borders of Yellowstone National Park numerous legal loopholes will authorize widespread wolf killing.”

She continued, “We urge those who support the protection of wolves to call their senators and representatives and tell them to vote down this lethal legislation.”

On the Web

The House bill.

The Senate bill.

Wisconsin congressional delegation contacts.

GOP governors who turned down Medicaid money have hands out

Republican governors who turned down billions in federal dollars from an expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s health care law now have their hands out in hopes the GOP-controlled Congress comes up with a new formula to provide insurance for low-income Americans.

The other GOP governors, such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who agreed to expand state-run services in exchange for federal help — more than a dozen out of the 31 states — are adamant that Congress maintain the financing that has allowed them to add millions of low-income people to the health insurance rolls.

With Congress starting to consider plans for annulling and reshaping Obama’s overhaul, Republican governors and lieutenant governors from 10 states met privately for more than two hours last week with GOP members of the Senate Finance Committee and raised concerns about how lawmakers will reshape Medicaid.

“They’re worried about how it all works out,” Finance panel chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said after the session in a Senate office building.

GOP senators and governors stressed the need for giving states more flexibility to shape their Medicaid programs. That’s a change that worries Democrats, who say some states would inevitably end up covering fewer people or offering skimpier benefits.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said governors could find savings by being allowed to impose “work incentives” for some beneficiaries.

Kasich suggested shifting people who earn just above the poverty level from Medicaid to the online exchanges that Obama’s law created for buying coverage.

“I think they understand this is not simple and I think they know they have to get it right,” Kasich said.

A chief worry by governors was whether states that accepted extra federal money to expand Medicaid to more people would lose that extended coverage.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said afterward that “it ain’t going to happen,” though he did not detail how.

In a letter he carried to Capitol Hill, Kasich warned that repealing Obama’s law without an alternative in place could interrupt health care coverage for hundreds of thousands in Ohio and urged he “be granted the flexibility to retain the adult Medicaid coverage expansion.”

Ohio has added roughly 700,000 recipients to the program since the law took effect in 2013.

Unlike Kasich, 19 Republican governors — including Scott Walker of Wisconsin — defied the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that states open up Medicaid to more people.

It was a major expansion of the state-federal health insurance system whose primary purpose has grown in its 52 years from backstop medical assistance for the poor to the go-to program for closing gaps in private health insurance system.

In the three years since the Affordable Care Act went into effect, Medicaid enrollment has grown by about 18 million people, to roughly 75 million, according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Walker, seeking to win over conservative voters for his failed presidential bid, notably turned down more than $500 million for his state.

But with Republicans, backed by President-elect Donald Trump, pursuing repeal of the law, Walker and other GOP governors now are asking specifically for the Medicaid money and fewer rules for spending it.

On average, the federal government’s contribution accounts for 56 percent of a state’s Medicaid budget, making the financing terms under the health care law much more generous.

Republicans have long sought block grants or lump-sum payments for health care. The money has helped them maintain their budgets, while the relative lack of heavy regulation has allowed governors freedom to experiment with social services policy.

“Now that Barack Obama is no longer going to be at the White House, it is going to be much more palatable for Republican governors to seek additional funding,” said Ron Pollack of Families USA, a leading advocate for Obama’s law.

All Democratic governors in office when the law took effect in 2013 agreed to the expansion. Even Republican governors in 11 states agreed to expand Medicaid, some with specific waivers that still allowed them to claim the federal reimbursement.

Now, Republican leaders in states aren’t just asking for money they turned down. They’re asking to change the formula to get back what they lost.

The federal Medicaid formula is based in part on how many enrollees a state had as of 2016. By last year, Michigan, for instance, had added 630,000 recipients since accepting the Medicaid expansion.

But Medicaid in Kansas grew at a far slower rate, given Gov. Sam Brownback’s opposition to the federal law. Now, he wants Congress to change the formula to benefit his state.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore wants Trump to see her, front and center

Some members of Congress are boycotting the inauguration of Donald Trump on Jan. 20. U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., plans to attend the inauguration. The Milwaukee congresswoman explains:

I support my colleagues in their decision to boycott the Presidential Inauguration, but knowing how he operates, I suspect President-elect Donald Trump will use this expression of free speech as an excuse to bypass Democrats and to push his extreme agenda with utter impunity. With that in mind, I refuse to be a pawn in the president-elect’s efforts to rally support from congressional Republicans. As a proud Democrat, I want President-elect Trump to see me front and center as he’s sworn in. I want him to see exactly what his opposition looks like. When he sees me, I want him to see The Resistance.

I did not come to this decision lightly. I weighed my responsibility as an elected official against my disgust over the president-elect’s vile tactics employed to ascend to the presidency and the disrespectful treatment of revered civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis. I considered the multitude of supportive phone calls and tweets from my constituents in light of the embarrassing and ongoing petulance employed by the president-elect. I prayed on this and thought of First Lady Michelle Obama as she reminded us to refrain from abandoning decency in the face of intolerance and moral depravity.

It’s no secret that I find President-elect Trump and his policies repugnant and anathema to my efforts to pursue social justice, and I know a majority of my constituents feel the same. In November, Milwaukee sent a strong, clear message that Donald Trump was the wrong man to lead our country. I intend to deliver that message with my presence at the Presidential Inauguration and serve a symbol of opposition, not normalization.

6 surprising health items that could disappear with ACA repeal

The Affordable Care Act of course affected premiums and insurance purchasing. It guaranteed people with pre-existing conditions could buy health coverage and allowed children to stay on parents’ plans until age 26. But the roughly 2,000-page bill also included a host of other provisions that affect the health-related choices of nearly every American.

Some of these measures are evident every day. Some enjoy broad support, even though people often don’t always realize they spring from the statute.

In other words, the outcome of the repeal-and-replace debate could affect more than you might think, depending on exactly how the GOP congressional majority pursues its goal to do away with Obamacare.

No one knows how far the effort will reach, but here’s a sampling of sleeper provisions that could land on the cutting-room floor:

CALORIE COUNTS AT RESTAURANTS AND FAST FOOD CHAINS

Feeling hungry? The law tries to give you more information about what that burger or muffin will cost you in terms of calories, part of an effort to combat the ongoing obesity epidemic. Under the ACA, most restaurants and fast food chains with at least 20 stores must post calorie counts of their menu items. Several states, including New York, already had similar rules before the law. Although there was some pushback, the rule had industry support, possibly because posting calories was seen as less onerous than such things as taxes on sugary foods or beverages. The final rule went into effect in December after a one-year delay. One thing that is still unclear: Does simply seeing that a particular muffin has more than 400 calories cause consumers to choose carrot sticks instead?  Results are mixed. One large meta-analysis done before the law went into effect didn’t show a significant reduction in calorie consumption, although the authors concluded that menu labeling is “a relatively low-cost education strategy that may lead consumers to purchase slightly fewer calories.”

PRIVACY PLEASE: WORKPLACE REQUIREMENTS FOR BREAST-FEEDING ROOMS

Breast feeding, but going back to work? The law requires employers to provide women break time to express milk for up to a year after giving birth and provide someplace — other than a bathroom — to do so in private. In addition, most health plans must offer breastfeeding support and equipment, such as pumps, without a patient co-payment.

LIMITS ON SURPRISE MEDICAL COSTS FROM HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM VISITS

If you find yourself in an emergency room, short on cash, uninsured or not sure if your insurance covers costs at that hospital, the law provides some limited assistance. If you are in a hospital that is not part of your insurer’s network, the Affordable Care Act requires all health plans to charge consumers the same co-payments or co-insurance for out-of-network emergency care as they do for hospitals within their networks. Still, the hospital could “balance bill” you for its costs — including ER care — that exceed what your insurer reimburses it.

If it’s a non-profit hospital — and about 78 percent of all hospitals are — the law requires it to post online a written financial assistance policy, spelling out whether it offers free or discounted care and the eligibility requirements for such programs. While not prescribing any particular set of eligibility requirements, the law requires hospitals to charge lower rates to patients who are eligible for their financial assistance programs. That’s compared with their gross charges, also known as chargemaster rates.

NONPROFIT HOSPITALS’ COMMUNITY HEALTH ASSESSMENTS

The health law also requires non-profit hospitals to justify the billions of dollars in tax exemptions they receive by demonstrating how they go about trying to improve the health of the community around them.

Every three years, these hospitals have to perform a community needs assessment for the area the hospital serves. They also have to develop — and update annually — strategies to meet these needs. The hospitals then must provide documentation as part of their annual reporting to the Internal Revenue Service. Failure to comply could leave them liable for a $50,000 penalty.

A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE … HER OB/GYN

Most insurance plans must allow women to seek care from an obstetrician/gynecologist without having to get a referral from a primary care physician. While the majority of states already had such protections in place, those laws did not apply to self-insured plans, which are often offered by large employers. The health law extended the rules to all new plans. Proponents say direct access makes it easier for women to seek not only reproductive health care, but also related screenings for such things as high blood pressure or cholesterol.

AND WHAT ABOUT THOSE THERAPY COVERAGE ASSURANCES FOR FAMILIES WHO HAVE KIDS WITH AUTISM?

Advocates for children with autism and people with degenerative diseases argued that many insurance plans did not provide care their families needed. That’s because insurers would cover rehabilitation to help people regain functions they had lost, such as walking again after a stroke, but not care needed to either gain functions patients never had, such speech therapy for a child who never learned how to talk, or to maintain a patient’s current level of function. The law requires plans to offer coverage for such treatments, dubbed habilitative care, as part of the essential health benefits in plans sold to individuals and small groups.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. This story from HKN is published under a Creative Commons license.