Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News

  • Can the White House sell America on health care exchanges?

    On Tuesday, the race to enroll Americans in the health insurance marketplaces established by President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law begins — and it appears the Obama administration has a steep hill to climb to explain what exactly the exchanges are.

    One recent poll shows that nearly half of Americans have never even heard of the exchanges, even though millions of young and healthy people must enroll in them for Obamacare to work. And much of the outreach by the White House and allied groups on the issue has just started in the past few weeks, despite three and a half years of criticism that Obama has not adequately sold the country on his signature piece of legislation.

    Meanwhile, conservative groups have poured millions of dollars into advertising and other campaigns to discourage people — especially young people — from buying the insurance, in the hopes Obamacare will fail.

    The president and his team have emphasized the insurance will be so affordable that Americans will

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  • Health care exchanges open Tuesday: What you need to know

    On Tuesday, the health insurance exchanges that are a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act will open for the first time, and the White House expects 7 million uninsured people to sign up during the six-month enrollment period.

    But don’t fret if you have no idea what these exchanges are — you are not alone. In August, 45 percent of people polled by Kaiser said they had heard “nothing at all” about the health insurance marketplaces mandated by the law.

    Here’s a guide to the exchanges:

    What is the health insurance exchange?

    The health insurance exchange, or marketplace, will allow people who don’t have coverage through Medicaid, Medicare or their employer to comparison-shop for the best individual plan in their state on HealthCare.gov. In 34 states, the exchanges are managed entirely or mostly by the federal government; the other 16 states have set up their own exchanges.

    About 95 percent of uninsured people will have a choice between at least two insurers

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  • Sikh professor attacked by NYC mob in possible hate crime

    A group of more than 20 young men viciously attacked a Columbia University professor over the weekend, apparently because they believed he was a Muslim.

    Prabhjot Singh, 31, a medical doctor and an international relations professor at Columbia, had facial surgery to correct his jaw after the beating, which occurred near his home in Harlem, according to his friend.

    Singh told the New York Daily News that one of the more than 20 men who attacked him while he walked in his Harlem neighborhood yelled, “Get him, Osama.”

    Sikhs, who adhere to a monotheistic faith that originated in South Asia, are often mistaken for Muslims because they wear turbans and beards, and have been the victims of Muslim bias attacks. (A few days after the September 11 attacks, a Sikh gas-station worker was murdered by a man who was out for revenge against Muslims.)

    A Sikh advocacy organization has counted more than 300 hate crimes against Sikhs like Singh in the years following the Sept. 11 attacks, including a 2012

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  • How to get young people to buy Obamacare? Target their moms

    The Obama administration and a number of nonprofit groups think they have a potent weapon for convincing young “invincibles” to pony up money for health insurance: moms.

    Health insurance exchanges set up under President Barack Obama’s health care reform law open for enrollment Oct. 1, and in order for the exchanges to survive, millions of young adults under the age of 35 need to purchase insurance through them.

    “There’s absolutely nobody more trusted than mom,” said Jessica Barbara Brown, a spokeswoman for Enroll America, one of the largest nonprofit groups working to get people educated about and signed up for health insurance when the exchanges open. An estimated 2.5 million young adults must sign up during the six-month enrollment period in order to offset the costs of older, sicker adults who need insurance. Federal subsidies that also are a part of the law will make insurance affordable for the first time for many.

    It might seem counterintuitive that adults, many of whom have left

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  • Gun rights crowd targets military’s firearms policy after Navy Yard shootings

    In the wake of Monday’s mass shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, where a military contractor armed with a 12-gauge shotgun killed 12 people before being shot dead himself, some gun advocates are raising objections about the policy that prohibits servicemen and civilians from arming themselves for protection on bases.

    Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, told Newsmax he thinks servicemen should be able to carry their personal weapons on bases. "I'd be all for everybody keeping their sidearms if they're in the military and on a military installation," Gohmert said. "That's something we need to get back to."

    John R. Lott, a leading gun rights advocate and the author of “More Guns, Less Crime,” told Yahoo News he believes the Pentagon has effectively “disarmed” servicemen and civilians on bases. He argues that military bases are “gun-free zones” ripe for mass shooting events, and he blames a 1993 executive order signed by Bill Clinton for the change. (The official firearms policy was actually

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  • Durbin postpones 'stand your ground' gun law hearing after D.C. shooting

    Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has postponed a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “stand your ground” self-defense gun laws slated for Tuesday morning in the wake of Monday’s shooting at the nearby Navy Yard complex that’s left at least 13 dead, included the suspected gunman.

    The mothers of two slain teens and experts who are both for and against gun control were scheduled to testify about the controversial laws, which sparked a national debate after the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother and a vocal opponent of "stand your ground" laws, was slated to be one of the witnesses at the hearing. 

    The hearing has not yet been rescheduled.

    Another witness, Lucia McBath — whose unarmed teenage son, Jordan Davis, was killed in Jacksonville, Fla., last year while sitting in his car by a man who claimed to be acting in self-defense — said her flight to Washington was delayed when the Washington airport was temporarily shut down in response to the

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  • Bill Thompson drops out of NYC mayoral primary, backs rival Bill de Blasio

    New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio sealed up the Democratic nomination for mayor as Bill Thompson, succumbing to party pressure, threw in the towel and backed his rival Monday morning. De Blasio has made the police "stop and frisk" policy and wealth inequality central issues of his campaign.

    “I am proud to stand here today and support Bill de Blasio to be the next mayor of the city of New York," said the clearly chagrined Thompson, who was his party's failed nominee against Michael Bloomberg four years ago.

    It was a Democratic love fest on the steps of City Hall, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo took center stage to applaud Thompson for putting the good of the party above his "personal ambitions." Cuomo publicly assured Thompson that "he has whatever future that he wants."

    "There is nothing more beautiful than Democratic unity," de Blasio said, while accepting Thompson's endorsement.

    Thompson, 60, did not hide, however, his outrage over the city's problem-plagued Board of Elections failure

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  • New documentary profiles the four U.S. doctors who still perform third-trimester abortions

    A new documentary called “After Tiller” explores the lives and motivations of the four doctors who still perform third-trimester abortions in America.

    The doctors were colleagues of George Tiller, a late-term abortion doctor who was shot dead in 2009 by an anti-abortion activist while serving as an usher at his Wichita, Kan., church. Tiller’s clinic had been firebombed in the 1980s, and he had survived multiple gunshot wounds from an attack by an anti-abortion activist in 1993.

    The film, which will be released in New York City on Sept. 20, examines what makes these four physicians choose to perform a controversial procedure that only 10 percent of Americans think should be legal in the first place, placing them in the middle of a virulent political debate that leaves them in constant fear for their lives.

    The Supreme Court has ruled that states may not place an undue burden on a woman’s right to obtain an abortion up to the point that a fetus is viable outside the womb, which happens

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  • Police Department's 'stop and frisk' program could decide NYC mayoral race

    The controversy around the New York Police Department’s practice of stopping and questioning hundreds of thousands of mostly black and Hispanic men each year may decide who becomes the next mayor of the nation's largest city.

    Voters in the city's Democratic and Republican mayoral primaries on Tuesday were choosing candidates to replace three-term independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire first elected as a Republican who vigorously supports the police’s “stop and frisk” tactics. The general election is Nov. 5.

    On the Democratic side, recent polls showed liberal candidate Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, breezing past long-time favorite City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in part by hammering on the unfairness of stop and frisk. De Blasio also siphoned off black voters from Bill Thompson, the former city comptroller and the only black mayoral candidate, who has been less vocal than de Blasio in saying NYPD policies lead to racial profiling.

    Michael Johnson, a

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  • Immigration officials to limit solitary confinement after human rights outcry

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement will limit its use of solitary confinement for the tens of thousands of immigrants in custody after complaints from human rights organizations that the punishment was damaging detainees’ mental health.

    ICE announced this week that punitive solitary confinement should be “used only as a last resort” with detainees who have special disabilities such as mental illness. Holding detainees in isolation for more than two weeks at a time — the point at which mental health experts say irreparable mental harm might be done to a person — should be avoided if possible, the new policy also states.

    As of March, about 300 of the approximately 30,000 immigrants in the sprawling detention system were held in solitary every day, according to a review by The New York Times. Dozens were held for periods of longer than two months.

    Under the new policy, ICE officials must justify in writing why they are holding people in isolation for longer than two weeks. (The previous

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