Reports from ‘The Hill’


State Department cutting language on women’s rights, discrimination in annual report

THE HILL

The State Department is reportedly cutting back language regarding women’s rights and discrimination in a report that will be released in the future.

Officials at the department have been told to trim parts of the annual report on global human rights that talk about family planning and the amount of access women have to contraceptives and abortion, Politico reported, citing five former and current officials.

The officials added that the department had been ordered to trim sections relating to racial, ethnic and sexual discrimination.

According to Politico, the directive came from a top aide to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

A current State Department official told the news outlet that the directive “sends a clear signal that women’s reproductive rights are not a priority for this administration, and that it’s not even a rights violation we must or should report on.”

The annual report includes information from U.S. embassies and is used by U.S. lawmakers and political activists, among others.

In the past, reports have included extensive detail on women’s reproductive rights, Politico reported.

In this year’s soon-to-be released report, the section previously called “Reproductive Rights” will also be changed to “Coercion in Population Control,” according to Politico.

A spokeswoman from the State Department said that changes were made for “clarity.”

The way in which the department “presents the report’s material has changed from time to time,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

“This year we are better focusing some sections of the report for clarity,” she added, noting the department is not “downgrading coverage of LGBT or women’s issues.”

She also said an effort was made not to duplicate statistics that are “readily available from international organizations,” adding that the changes “will sharpen the focus of the report on abuses of internationally recognized human rights and the most egregious issues.”

Study: ObamaCare premiums to rise 18 percent from GOP-backed changes

By Peter Sullivan – 02/26/18 08:32 AM EST

ObamaCare premiums will rise an average of 18.2 percent next year due to GOP-backed changes to the health law, according to a study from the left-leaning Urban Institute released Monday.

The study finds that the combination of repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate and expanding access to cheaper, skimpier health plans known as short-term plans will lead to the premium increase.

Both of those actions have the effect of leaving fewer healthy people in ObamaCare plans, which drives up premiums for the remaining group of sicker enrollees.

The flip side of the expansion of short-term plans, announced by the Trump administration last week, is that some people, particularly those who make too much to qualify for financial assistance and are facing high costs, will be able to find cheaper coverage.

The study finds 4.2 million people will enroll in the new short-term plans, with 1.7 million of those being otherwise uninsured.

But this new coverage is primarily attractive to healthy people because it does not need to follow ObamaCare rules, can deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and leave out coverage of certain services.

The study also finds that 6.4 million more people will be uninsured next year due to the repeal of the mandate to have health care coverage or pay a fine, in addition to other smaller changes like cutting federal investments in outreach.

Republicans point out that repeal of the mandate means people will save money by no longer being fined for choosing not to buy coverage.

The expansion of short-term plans, in particular, is part of a Republican strategy to open up cheaper options for healthy people, many of whom face high ObamaCare costs if they make too much to qualify for subsidies. But Democrats oppose the move because healthy people migrating to other plans drives up premiums for those remaining, and they call the new plans “junk” because they can exclude coverage of areas like mental health and prescription drugs.

People who qualify for financial assistance will be protected from the 18 percent premium increase next year, but government spending on the subsidies is projected to rise 9 percent, or $33 billion.

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