Kathleen Sebelius calls it quits as HHS Secretary

For five years, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been a lightning rod for critics of President Barack Obama’s health care law. But with sign-ups exceeding expectations and a new face soon to be in charge at HHS, the White House is eager to see if the poisonous atmosphere might give way to more pragmatic efforts aimed at fixing problems with the nation’s newest social program. Obama will announce Sebelius’ resignation Friday and nominate his budget director, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, as her replacement. The moves come just over a week after sign-ups closed for the first year of
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Michele Obama, Jill Biden work to help troops

Michelle Obama and Jill Biden are offering relief to millions of people who care for wounded service members and veterans. At the White House on Friday, the first lady and the wife of Vice President Joe Biden are announcing new steps by private and public sector organizations to help ease the heavy burden on what many say is a vital but largely invisible workforce. They are being joined by former first lady Rosalynn Carter and former Sen. Elizabeth Dole. Carter has a longstanding interest in family caregiving. Dole’s husband, Republican former Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, lives with lasting wounds
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Obama cites progess while honoring civil rights

Barack Obama was 2 years old when Lyndon Baines Johnson sat in the East Room of the White House with Martin Luther King Jr. and signed the Civil Rights Act, putting an end to an America where schools, restaurants and water fountains were divided by race. Half a century later, the first black man to become president is commemorating what’s been accomplished in his lifetime and recommitting the nation to fighting deep inequalities that remain. Obama takes the podium on Thursday afternoon on the third and final day of a 50th anniversary summit that’s bringing four living presidents, civil rights
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Secret Service Agents reassigned

The Secret Service has reassigned agents from its special operations division, including the top agent there, after a pair of embarrassing incidents earlier this year. The division has also changed the rules about when agents are allowed to drink before duty and on presidential trips. Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said the division’s special agent in charge, Dan Donahue, was reassigned to another division. The Washington Post first reported the changes Tuesday night. The Secret Service says that in addition to transferring agents from special operations division, anyone assigned to the unit is barred from drinking within 12 hours of
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Poll says Obamacare accomplishing goal

The percentage of Americans without health insurance dipped to its lowest in nearly six years due in part to U.S. President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law, commonly known as Obamacare, according to a Gallup poll released on Monday. Some 15.6 percent of Americans lacked health insurance in the first three months of 2014, down from a high of 18 percent in late 2013, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey. “‘Obamacare’ appears to be accomplishing its goal of increasing the percentage of Americans with health insurance coverage,” the report said. Black and low-income Americans saw some of the most pronounced
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Obamacare gives more Americans health insurance

A major new survey finds that a growing percentage of Americans gained health insurance as the initial sign-up season for President Barack Obama’s health care law drew to a close last month. Released Monday, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index measured the share of adults without health insurance. That shrank from 17.1 percent at the end of last year to 15.6 percent for the first three months of 2014. The decline of 1.5 percentage points would translate roughly to more than 3.5 million people gaining coverage. The trend accelerated as the March 31 enrollment deadline loomed. “The Affordable Care Act, commonly referred
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Testing Obama’s work policies on federal contractors

President Barack Obama is using the federal government’s vast array of contractors and subcontractors as a labor policy incubator, ready to sidestep Congress to impose workplace rules on wages, pay disparities and hiring on a segment of the private sector that gets taxpayer money and falls under the chief executive’s control. Obama this week plans to issue an order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against workers who discuss their pay. He will also direct the Labor Department to issue new rules requiring federal contractors to provide compensation data that includes a breakdown by race and gender. The steps, which Obama
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Obamacare adds 3 million to Medicaid rolls

Three million Americans signed up for Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s new health care law as of the end of February, the administration said Friday, offering its first full accounting of how much the safety-net health program has grown since implementation of the law. Many were newly eligible because of the law’s Medicaid expansion, while others already eligible but not yet enrolled came forward due to publicity around the law and its requirement for individuals to carry insurance or risk paying a fine, analysts said. It brings to around 62 million the total number of people covered under Medicaid and
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Obama: Republican budget stifles opportunity

President Barack Obama says the Republican budget proposal would shrink opportunity and make it tougher for hard-working Americans to get ahead. In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget gives massive tax cuts to the rich while cutting programs like education and research that spur job growth. The president says Republicans would also take away insurance from 7 million who enrolled through his health care law and would gut financial protections. Obama says his own plan grows the economy from the middle out instead of the top down. In the Republican address, Sen.
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Obama promises action on Fort Hood shooting

President Barack Obama vowed that investigators will get to the bottom of a shooting incident Wednesday at Fort Hood, Texas, seeking to reassure the nation whose sense of security once again has been shaken by mass violence. In a hastily arranged statement, Obama said he and his team were following the situation closely but that details about what happened at the sprawling Army post were still fluid. He said the shooting brought back painful memories of 2009, when 13 were killed at the same post in the deadliest attack on a domestic military installation in history. “We’re heartbroken that something
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