In brief | Nation & world | 3-28-14


Mission accomplished? Obama says more than 6M signed up for health care, meeting target

WASHINGTON — Back on track after a stumbling start, President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul reached a milestone Thursday, with more than 6 million Americans signed up for coverage through new insurance markets.

The announcement — four days before open enrollment season ends Monday — fulfills a revised goal set by the Congressional Budget Office and embraced by the White House.

Like much else about Obama’s health care law, it comes with a caveat: The administration has yet to announce how many consumers actually closed the deal by paying their first month’s premium. Some independent estimates are that as many as 10 percent to 20 percent have not paid, which would bring the total enrollment to between 5 million and 6 million people.

The White House said the president made the announcement during an international conference call with enrollment counselors and volunteers, while traveling in Italy. Administration officials, focused on signing up even more people over the weekend, played down the occasion. Others said it was unmistakably a promising sign.

“I think the program is finally starting to hit its stride in terms of reaching the enrollment goals the administration set,” said John Rother, CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care, a nonpartisan coalition of businesses, health care industry groups and consumer organizations. “It still has a ways to go in terms of achieving public acceptance.”

Federal appeals court upholds Texas abortion restrictions that shuttered many clinics

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld Texas’ tough abortion restrictions that have forced the closure of about 20 clinics around the state, saying the new rules don’t jeopardize women’s health.

A panel of judges at the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court judge who said the rules violate the U.S. Constitution and serve no medical purpose. After the lower court’s ruling, the appeals court allowed the restrictions to go into effect while it considered the case, which ultimately could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The new law requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and places strict limits on doctors prescribing abortion-inducing pills. More regulations that are scheduled to begin later this year weren’t a part of the case.

In its opinion, the appeals court said the law “on its face does not impose an undue burden on the life and health of a woman.”

Judge who sentenced newlywed to 30 years: She showed no remorse in husband’s death

MISSOULA, Mont. — A Montana woman was sentenced Thursday to more than 30 years in prison for killing her husband of eight days by pushing him from a cliff in Glacier National Park after they argued over her regrets about the marriage.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy said he saw no remorse from Jordan Graham, 22, in the killing of Cody Johnson, 25. He sentenced her to 30 years and five months in prison and ordered her to pay $16,910 in restitution.

Graham will be subject to five years of court supervision upon her release. There is no possibility of parole in the federal system, meaning she’s likely to serve the full term.

A tearful Graham took the stand during the sentencing hearing in Missoula, apologizing to her family and Johnson’s.

But Molloy indicated he had continuing doubts about the Kalispell woman’s honesty. The judge said he was waiting for Graham “to say she was sorry for killing Cody,” KGVO-AM reported.

By wire sources