The Obama administration on Wednesday announced a one-year delay in online health insurance enrollment for small businesses with 50 or fewer full-time workers that could qualify for subsidized coverage under Obamacare. It was the latest in a series of delays that have diminished the scope President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Online enrollment was originally expected to be available for small businesses on October 1. Administration officials say they now plan to offer web-based enrollment services by November 2014.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry travels next week to Europe and the Middle East to meet with NATO officials and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Topics for discussion with the Israeli leader include ongoing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and a recent agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program. Netanyahu has denounced the agreement with Iran.
By David Morgan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration says it is on target to make its problematic healthcare insurance website work smoothly for the "vast majority" of users by this weekend, but some Americans who want coverage by January 1 might not be able to get it - even if they successfully navigate the portal and sign up for a plan. The problem, according to insurance industry officials and other specialists, is that the administration is behind schedule in building a computer program needed to verify the names and coverage choices of enrollees in the system created by the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. Besides verifying enrollees, the computer program - which administration officials acknowledge will not be finished until mid-January or even February - also will be used to help determine which low-income enrollees are eligible for government subsidies to help them pay for insurance, and to make sure that those subsidies get to insurers. That makes the program, known generally as the "back end" of the Obamacare bureaucracy, crucial to the new health system's goal of helping millions of uninsured and under-insured Americans.
Recent actions by China concerning air space over the East China Sea have worried its neighbors and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will raise the issue during a visit to Beijing next week, senior U.S. administration officials said on Wednesday. Biden is due to visit China, Japan and South Korea during a week-long trip. He will seek to de-escalate tensions heightened after China demanded that airplanes flying near contested islands identify themselves to Chinese authorities, officials said. In a phone call with his Japanese counterpart on Wednesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reaffirmed that the U.S.-Japanese defense treaty covers the small island group where China established a new airspace defense zone last week.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in a phone call on Wednesday with his Japanese counterpart, reaffirmed that the U.S.-Japanese defense treaty covers a small island group where China established a new airspace defense zone last week. Hagel, in a call with Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, "commended the Japanese government for exercising appropriate restraint" following China's announcement and pledged to consult closely with Tokyo to avoid unintended incidents around the islands, a Pentagon spokesman said. China and Japan both claim possession of the islands. ...
Months after the Internal Revenue Service acknowledged that it had singled out for extra scrutiny conservative and Tea Party groups seeking tax exempt status, the agency Tuesday proposed regulations that would clarify some of the rules for those tax-exempt groups. The situation for tax-exempt social welfare...
By Phil Stewart and Tim Kelly WASHINGTON/TOKYO (Reuters) - Two unarmed U.S. B-52 bombers on a training mission flew over disputed islands in the East China Sea without informing Beijing, defying China's declaration of a new airspace defense zone and raising the stakes in a territorial standoff. The flight did not prompt a response from China, the Pentagon said, and the White House urged Beijing to resolve its dispute with Japan over the islands diplomatically, without resorting to "threats or inflammatory language". Also defying Beijing, Japan's two biggest airlines - Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings - said they would stop giving flight plans and other information to Chinese authorities from Wednesday when passing through the zone.
Americans back last weekend's nuclear deal with Iran by a 2-to-1 margin and are very wary of the United States resorting to military action against Tehran even if the historic diplomatic effort falls through, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Tuesday. The findings were rare good news in the polls for President Barack Obama, whose approval ratings have dropped in recent weeks because of the botched rollout of his signature healthcare reform law. According to the Reuters/Ipsos survey, 44 percent of Americans support the interim deal reached between Iran and six world powers in Geneva, and 22 percent oppose it. Even if the Iran deal fails, 49 percent want the United States to increase sanctions and 31 percent think it should launch further diplomacy.