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West Virginia State Capitol Riverside ViewWest Virginia State Capitol Riverside ViewBy: O Palsson

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  • Congress and the states will need to find an answer if the Supreme Court strikes down the federal subsidies that are a foundation of President Barack Obama's health care law, his health secretary told lawmakers Wednesday. Sylvia Burwell also said the president would reject any proposals restoring those subsidies that Republican lawmakers have already produced because all would roll back crucial elements of the overhaul law, in effect repealing it. "Something that repeals the Affordable Care Act is something the president will not sign," she said.
  • The Obama administration says that nearly a half-million people selected insurance plans through Healthcare.gov during the first week of Obamacare open enrollment, in mid-November. Nearly half (48 percent) were new customers who had not previously purchased coverage last year, suggesting that the law could widen its reach to more uninsured Americans in year two of coverage expansion.
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell said 100,000 people submitted applications for coverage under the Affordable Care Act on Saturday, the first day of the law's second enrollment period. Speaking Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Burwell said that more than 500,000 people were able to log on to the government's Web site, healthcare.gov, and that more than 1 million people have been "window-shopping" for insurance options. "I think the vast majority of people coming to the site were able to get on and do what they had to do," she said.
  • Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.) announced Wednesday that he will vote against legislation authorizing President Obama's plans to arm and train Syrian rebel forces, saying he hasn't been convinced that a new U.S. military effort in the Middle East will succeed. "I cannot and will not support arming or training the Syrian opposition forces," Manchin said in a Senate floor speech. The senator's decision means he will vote against a short-term spending bill designed to keep the federal government open when the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. The House is expected to approve the bill later Wednesday after amending it to include explicit authorization of Obama's plans to counter the growing threat of the Islamic State terror group.
  • The Senate confirmed Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the 22nd Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Thursday. She will replace Kathleen Sebelius, who was heavily criticized for the flawed rollout of the government’s federal insurance exchange website HealthCare.gov.
  • A disaster at a West Virginia coal mine with a history of violations killed two men who were engaged in "retreat mining," a process that an expert Tuesday called "the most dangerous type of [coal] mining you can do."
  • President Barack Obama said on Friday he will promote budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be his next health secretary, who will preside over the next difficult phase of his healthcare law in the months before November congressional elections. Burwell, whose nomination must be approved by the U.S. Senate, will replace Kathleen Sebelius, who became the public face of the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans plan to exploit as they seek to take control of the Senate.
  • President Obama picked Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be the new face of health care because she has dealt with the complexities of the federal budget and has managed large organizations. One other thing: Burwell is a good bet for Senate confirmation.

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