News Wrap: Health care enrollment three times higher in November than October
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GWEN IFILL: The new budget deal in Congress drew support and criticism today. Party leaders on both sides generally backed the agreement. But Tea Party conservatives said there’s still too much spending. And Democrats grumbled there’s no help for the long-term unemployed. We will report the details and hear much more reaction right after the news summary.
The government’s latest enrollment numbers for health care coverage showed signs of improvement today and the Cabinet officer overseeing the effort urged the public to give it another try.
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary: To those who have been frustrated with the experience so far, we are asking you to come back.
GWEN IFILL: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius went before a House committee this morning with an appeal for those who’ve tried unsuccessfully to shop for a plan on HealthCare.gov.
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, Department of Health and Human Services: I don’t think there’s any question that the flawed launch of the Web site put a damper on people’s enthusiasm about early sign-up. We have been inviting them back to use a newly improved site, and we’re seeing some very, very positive trends in that direction.
GWEN IFILL: Those trends include an HHS report today that more than 364,000 people signed up for private coverage as of November 30. That’s more than three times the number who had enrolled by the end of October. But it’s still far below the 1.2 million that the administration projected for the first two months.
And time is growing short. Individuals must sign up by December 23 and pay premiums byDecember 31 to receive coverage by January 1. Republicans at today’s hearing argued the real story remains the number of people losing coverage they thought they’d be allowed to keep.
Committee Chairman Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania:
REP. JOSEPH PITTS, R-Penn.: Some news reports have indicated that as many as 5.6 million individuals have had their policy canceled. Isn’t it the case that, on January 1, more Americans will have their coverage canceled than will have enrolled in an exchange?
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: Well, sir, I don’t know where the five million number comes from. I know people have been told that their health plan doesn’t necessarily match the ACA-compliant plans; they are not in a grandfathered plan.
GWEN IFILL: Sebelius did announce today that she’s asked her department’s inspector general to investigate what led to the massive problems with the launch of HealthCare.gov.
In Ukraine, security forces withdrew from a protest camp today, after failing to rout demonstrators from Kiev’s Independence Square. The protesters cheered as riot police drove away from city hall in buses. They’re demanding the government reject Russian pressure and improve ties with the European Union.
Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland also visited the square. Later, she met with President Viktor Yanukovych as well.
VICTORIA NULAND, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State: There is a way out for Ukraine, that it is still possible to save Ukraine’s European future, and that’s what we want to see the president lead. That’s going to require immediate security steps and getting back into a conversation with Europe and with the International Monetary Fund
GWEN IFILL: Later, Yanukovych offered to hold talks with opposition leaders, but they rejected the invitation and insisted again that he resign.
The U.S. and Britain have suspended non-lethal aid, including night-vision and communications gear, to rebels in northern Syria. They acted after Islamic front fighters, linked to al-Qaida, seized bases and warehouses from the Western-backed Free Syrian Army. Deliveries of humanitarian aid will continue.
The body of Nelson Mandela is lying in state tonight for first of three days in Pretoria, South Africa. Thousands of people joined the procession to view his remains today, so many that some will have to wait until later this week.
We have a report from Rohit Kachroo of Independent Television News, who’s in South Africa.
ROHIT KACHROO: First, there was silence, then cheering, as South Africa’s hero was driven through the streets, his coffin draped in the national flag.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ROHIT KACHROO: Today, his death seemed real.
WOMAN: There will never be people like Nelson Mandela. He has done a lot for us. I’m what I am because of him.
ROHIT KACHROO: And this is how much he is loved, a rush to see his body today, the lucky few pulled from the crowd, others told to return tomorrow.
At the seat of government, the patient procession of the Mandela family. Inside, his widow touched his casket, supported as she walked away. World leaders had to wait in line. They were just mourners today, the last apartheid president among them, the man who freed the man who freed South Africa.
F.W. DE KLERK, former South African President: I’m very sad. Yesterday was a day for celebration. Today is a day for mourning.
ROHIT KACHROO: Then the gates were opened for everyone to see Mandela’s body.
Nineteen years ago, this is where Nelson Mandela was sworn in as president. Now and for the next three days, he will lie in state on precisely the same spot. There is not enough space for the people who want to be here, many who traveled through the night.
After four hours of waiting, Julian gets the chance to see Mandela.
JULIAN MIENIES, South Africa: When I walked past Madiba, all that anger, it goes away, because I know he is the father that doesn’t want to be angry with anybody. He wants to love in peace.
ROHIT KACHROO: Of course, many didn’t get to see their icon. Today has been a long walk for Mandela. But his country has walked much further before.
GWEN IFILL: In a related story, advocates for the deaf charged the sign-language interpreter at Mandela’s memorial service yesterday was a fake. They said there was no meaning to the hand movements by the unidentified man. A government official said the matter is being investigated.
Prosecutors in Central Florida will not file domestic violence charges against George Zimmerman after all. That’s after his girlfriend recanted her claim that he pointed a shotgun at her. Zimmerman has had several scrapes with the law since he was acquitted last summer in the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin.
Broad-based selling hit Wall Street today after a series of disappointing earnings reports. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 129 points to close at 15,843. The Nasdaq fell 56 points to close at 4,003.