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Monday, November 18, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

Afghan-U.S. Security Pact Hits Impasse - Afghan President Hamid Karzai has rejected a provision of a U.S.-Afghan security pact, putting the entire deal in jeopardy just days before the country's elite gather to debate it, a senior Afghan official and a Western diplomat said.

The question of whether foreign troops will be able to search Afghan homes after NATO's combat mission ends next year has long been a sticking point of an agreement setting out the terms under which remaining U.S. forces will operate there.

But in a series of meetings over the weekend the enter-and-search issue emerged as the biggest roadblock facing the security pact as Karzai dug his heels in, the Afghan official, who has been close to the talks, told Reuters.

Without an accord on the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), Washington says it could pull out all of its troops at the end of 2014, leaving Afghanistan's fledgling security forces on their own to fight the Taliban-led insurgency.


DSCC Sets Off-Year Fundraising Record for October - The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $4.8 million in October, setting a record for a non-election year for the committee.
The DSCC outraised the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which brought in $3.8 million. That was a big jump for the NRSC — its best fundraising month this year — but not enough to catch up to their Democratic counterparts.

The DSCC now has $11.1 million in the bank for the 2014 elections, with $6.2 million in debt, down from $7.5 million a month ago. The NRSC has more than $5 million in the bank and no debt. has more here.


Obama "Fix" for Health Care Coverage Hits Roadblocks in States - State regulators aren’t rushing to President Barack Obama’s rescue after the White House’s attempt to fix the rising wave of canceled health insurance policies.

The president’s decision to extend the renewal window for existing health plans won’t work for the millions losing their coverage unless insurers and state insurance regulators give their blessing.

Part of the problem is that the president is trying to layer his fix on top of an already complex set of regulations governed by the states. Each state manages its own markets and writes its own laws and rules. So even some states that are interested in the proposal might be unable to act on it.

State regulators and insurers are also worried that extending existing insurance policies for another year or more could drive up premiums for those in new health plans, which will have to ignore a person’s health status and include more robust consumer protections. Those concerns prompted Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler to reject Obama’s plan just hours after it was announced Thursday. has more here.


American Health Care Needs Reform - Even as Americans struggle with the changes required by health care reform, an international survey released last week by the Commonwealth Fund, a research organization, shows why change is so necessary.

The report found that by virtually all measures of cost, access to care and ease of dealing with insurance problems, Americans fared poorly compared with people in other advanced countries. The survey covered 20,000 adults in the United States and 10 other industrial nations — Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Britain, all of which put in place universal or near-universal health coverage decades ago. The United States spends far more than any of these countries on a per capita basis and as a percent of the national economy.

For that, it gets meager results. Some 37 percent of American adults went without recommended care, did not see a doctor when sick or failed to fill prescriptions in the past year because of costs, compared with 4 percent in Britain and 6 percent in Sweden. Nearly a quarter of American adults could not pay medical bills or had serious problems paying them compared with less than 13 percent in France and 7 percent or less in five other countries. Even Americans who were insured for the entire year were more likely than adults abroad to forgo care because of costs, an indication of how skimpy some insurance policies are.  The NY Times has more here. 

Pelosi Says Democrats will "Stand Tall" in Support of Obamacare in 2014 - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are not losing confidence in President Barack Obama’s ability to make the Affordable Care Act work and don’t fear Obamacare’s effect on their chances in next year’s elections.

Appearing Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, Pelosi said, “I don’t think you can tell what will happen next year” when voters cast ballots in the mid-term elections, but “I will tell you this: Democrats stand tall in support of the Affordable Care Act.”

She said implementation of the health care overhaul “is an issue that has to be dealt with, but it doesn’t mean, ‘oh, this is a political issue so we’re going to run away from it.’”

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) “is a very important pillar of economic and health security for the American people” and “is right up there with Social Security (and) Medicare, affordable care for all Americans as a right, not a privilege,” Pelosi said.

In states such as Kentucky and her own state of California, she said, “It’s working very well.” NBC News has more here.


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