Updated 

In Brief | Nation & World | 4-22-14


Affordable Care Act only chips away at a core goal of sharply reducing the number of uninsured

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Swan Lockett had high hopes that President Barack Obama’s health overhaul would lead her family to an affordable insurance plan, but that hasn’t happened.

Instead, because lawmakers in her state refused to expand Medicaid, the 46-year-old mother of four from Texas uses home remedies or pays $75 to see a doctor when she has an asthma attack.

“If I don’t have the money, I just let it go on its own,” Lockett said.

The federal health care overhaul has provided coverage for millions of Americans, but it has only chipped away at one of its core goals: to sharply reduce the number of people without insurance.

President Barack Obama announced last week that 8 million people have signed up for coverage through new insurance exchanges, but barriers persist blocking tens of millions of people around the nation from accessing health care. Questions of eligibility, immigrant coverage and the response from employers and state legislatures mean considerable work lies ahead for health care advocates and officials — but cost remains a particularly high hurdle for low income people who are most likely to be uninsured.

US weighs curbing deportations of people without serious criminal records

WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is weighing limiting deportations of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally who don’t have serious criminal records, according to two people with knowledge of his deliberations.

The change, if adopted following an ongoing review ordered by President Barack Obama, could shield tens of thousands of immigrants now removed each year solely because they committed repeat immigration violations, such as re-entering the country illegally after having been deported, failing to comply with a deportation order or missing an immigration court date.

However, it would fall short of the sweeping changes sought by activists. They want Obama to expand a two-year-old program that grants work permits to certain immigrants brought here illegally as children to include other groups, such as the parents of any children born in the U.S.

John Sandweg, who served until February as acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said he had promoted the policy change for immigrants without serious criminal records before his departure and that it was being weighed by Johnson. An immigration advocate who’s discussed the review with the administration also confirmed the change was under consideration. The advocate spoke on condition of anonymity because the proceedings are confidential.

Yemen said strikes on al-Qaida base in southern mountains kill 55 militants

SANAA, Yemen — Yemeni forces, reportedly backed by U.S. drone strikes, hit al-Qaida militants for a second straight day Monday in what Yemen officials said was an assault on a major base of the terror group hidden in the remote southern mountains. The government said 55 militants were killed so far.

The sprawling base was a rare instance of a permanent infrastructure set up by al-Qaida’s branch in the country, Yemeni security officials said. Built over the past months, it includes a training ground, storehouses for weapons and food and vehicles used by the group to launch attacks, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release details to the press.

The assault appeared to be a significant escalation in the U.S. and Yemeni campaign against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the terror group’s powerful branch in the southern Arabian nation. The United States has been striking al-Qaida positions in the country heavily with drone strikes the past two years, trying to cripple the group after it was driven out of several southern cities it took over in 2011.

By wire sources