Obama administration spells out website woes
WASHINGTON — On the defensive, the Obama administration acknowledged Wednesday its problem-plagued health insurance website didn’t get enough testing before going live. It said technicians were deep into the job of fixing major computer snags but provided no timetable.
Democratic unhappiness with the situation began growing louder — including one call for President Barack Obama to “man up” and fire someone — as the president’s allies began to fret about the political fallout. Democrats had hoped to run for re-election touting the benefits of the health care law for millions of uninsured Americans, but the computer problems are keeping many people from signing up.
The White House also signaled a change underway in the timeline for signing up for coverage. Consumers have until Dec. 15 to apply for coverage that’s effective Jan. 1. Even though open enrollment lasts until March 31, people would face a penalty if they postpone buying coverage beyond mid-February. Calling that a “disconnect,” the White House said officials will soon issue policy guidance so that if consumers sign up by the end of March they will not face a penalty. No action from Congress is needed to make that happen, the White House said.
Tests suggest baby born with HIV may be cured
Doctors now have convincing evidence that they put HIV into remission, hopefully for good, in a Mississippi baby born with the AIDS virus — a medical first that is prompting a new look at how hard and fast such cases should be treated.
The case was reported earlier this year but some doctors were skeptical that the baby was really infected rather than testing positive because of exposure to the virus in the mom’s blood.
The new report, published online Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine, makes clear that the girl, now 3, was infected in the womb. She was treated unusually aggressively and shows no active infection despite stopping AIDS medicines 18 months ago.
Doctors won’t call it a cure because they don’t know what proof or how much time is needed to declare someone free of HIV infection, long feared to be permanent.
Kennedy cousin wins new trial in 1975 killing
HARTFORD, Conn. — Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel was granted a new trial on Wednesday by a Connecticut judge who ruled his attorney failed to adequately represent him when he was convicted in 2002 of killing his neighbor in 1975.
The ruling by Judge Thomas Bishop marked a dramatic reversal after years of unsuccessful appeals by Skakel, the 53-year-old nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel Kennedy. Skakel is serving 20 years to life.
Bridgeport State’s Attorney John Smriga said prosecutors will appeal the decision.
Skakel’s current attorney, Hubert Santos, said he expects to file a motion for bail on Thursday. If a judge approves it, Skakel could then post bond and be released from prison.
“We’re very, very thrilled,” Santos said. “I always felt that Michael was innocent.”
Romney’s new Utah house has hidden room
SALT LAKE CITY — A new house Mitt Romney is building in Utah is not only spacious and luxurious, but it’s also a little mysterious.
The home’s study will have a bookcase that swivels open and leads into a hidden room, according to architecture plans. The drawings say the room is for office storage, and show it is 11-feet long with cabinets.
It’s not the first time plans for a Romney home include attention-grabbing features. Drawings for renovations on a waterfront house in La Jolla, Calif., include a split-level garage with a car elevator.
The planning documents for the new Utah house show it listed as a home for Romney’s wife, Ann Romney. The home sits on an acre of land next to a home being built by their son, Josh Romney.
By wire sources