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News Wrap: Trump administration reverses policy on state Medicaid work requirements

In our news wrap Thursday, in a major reversal of previous policy, the Trump administration will begin permitting states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. Also, the IRS released new income tax withholding tables as it rushes to implement the tax overhaul enacted by Congress a few weeks ago.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news, the Trump administration will begin permitting states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients.

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said that the change applies to able-bodied adults. It's a major reversal of decades of policy, and White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said it will strengthen Medicaid.

  • Sarah Sanders:

    The policy will allow states to design programs that help beneficiaries improve health and well-being. At the same time, the policy protects the most vulnerable, including those determined to be medically frail or suffering from a substance use disorder.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Ten states have already applied for federal approval to impose those work requirements.

    Wall Street racked up large new gains today, as oil prices surged to their highest levels in three years and China denied that it might stop buying U.S. Treasury debt. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 205 points to close at 25,574. The Nasdaq rose 58 points, and the S&P 500 was up 19, for a new record high.

    The Internal Revenue Service released new income tax withholding tables today, as it rushes to implement the tax overhaul enacted by Congress just a few weeks ago. Employers must begin using the new rates by February 15. For now, individual taxpayers will need to use a new IRS calculating tool to make sure paychecks are accurate. It's due out by the end of February.

    In Northwest Syria, rebel factions launched a counterattack against government forces. The Syrian army has been pressing an offensive in Idlib province, one of the few areas still held by rebels. Today's clashes followed fierce fighting that's pushed some 100,000 refugees toward the Turkish border. State media say the military repulsed the counterattack.

    Russia is dismissing a report from Democratic U.S. senators warning of increasing interference in U.S. and European politics. A Kremlin spokesman said today that the report is part of what he called an unproven obsession.

    He spoke in a conference call with reporters.

  • Dmitry Peskov (through interpreter):

    These concerns not only harm bilateral Russia-U.S. relations, but the United States themselves. We can only say that we are sorry that this campaign against us continues and remind everyone once again that all these accusations of alleged meddling leveled against our country still have no base. They are absolutely unfounded.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Later, Russia's President Vladimir Putin accused U.S. politicians of — quote — "playing the Russia card" in a bid to bring down President Trump.

    Back in this — or, rather, meanwhile, Mr. Trump is saying that he probably has a very good relationship with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un. That's despite months of trading insults and threats. The president gave his assessment in that Wall Street Journal interview. He said he didn't want to comment when asked whether he has spoken with Kim.

    The interview follows a slight diplomatic thaw between North and South Korea.

    A Saint Louis prosecutor announced today that Republican Governor Eric Greitens of Missouri be investigated over allegations of blackmail. Greitens acknowledged last night that he previously had an extramarital affair. He denied having threatened to release nude photographs of the woman if she publicized the affair. It happened before Greitens was elected to the governor's office in 2016.

    And Wal-Mart announced a wage hike and bonuses today, affecting more than a million hourly workers in the U.S. The retailing giant said that starting pay will rise $2 to $11 an hour, matching a move by Target. Those who don't qualify for the raise will get one-time bonuses of $200 to $1,000.

    At the same time, Wal-Mart is closing 63 of its Sam's Club stores around the country.

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