Wonkbook: What you need to know about Obamacare, year two

September 3, 2014

Welcome to Wonkbook, Wonkblog’s morning policy news primer by Puneet Kollipara (@pkollipara). To subscribe by e-mail, click here. Send comments, criticism or ideas to Wonkbook at Washpost dot com. To read more by the Wonkblog team, click here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


(Photo by Jon Elswick/AP)

Wonkbook’s Number of the Day: 2.8 million. That's the number of Americans working temporary help jobs right now, leading to the highest percentage of such workers ever (2 percent).

Wonkbook’s Chart of the Day: America is rapidly aging in a country built for the young.

Wonkbook's Top 5 Stories: (1) Challenge and opportunity in Obamacare year two; (2) a full-scale Ebola epidemic?; (3) down on the border; (4) Cantor's new job; and (5) energy firms face penalties.

1. Top story: What you need to know about Obamacare, year two

Lots of untapped potential: Not even one-third of those eligible for ACA exchanges used them. "In their first year, the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges signed up 28 percent of the people eligible to use them — mainly people who don't get health benefits from their jobs or from a government program like Medicare or Medicaid — according to an analysis by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. And there was a lot of variation among the states....Using data from the Census Bureau and the Department of Health and Human Services, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates 28.6 million U.S. residents are eligible to buy health insurance via an exchange, compared to the 8 million who did." Jeffrey Young in The Huffington Post.

The new challenges in year two of Obamacare enrollment... "The first year of enrollment under the federal health care law was marred by the troubled start of HealthCare.gov, rampant confusion among consumers and a steep learning curve for insurers and government officials alike. But insurance executives and managers of the online marketplaces are already girding for the coming open enrollment period....One challenge facing consumers will be wide swings in prices....At the same time, the Obama administration is expected to try to persuade about five million more people to sign up while also trying to ensure that eight million people who now have coverage renew for another year." Reed Abelson in The New York Times.

Explainer: 5 ways ACA and employers shift costs this enrollment season. Bruce Japsen in Forbes.

...including a pesky lawsuit. "A disputed provision in the Affordable Care Act suggests that millions of Americans can’t get the tax subsidies created by the law to reduce the cost of health insurance. All sides are now waiting for a federal appeals court in Washington to make a procedural decision that will have outsize implications. The announcement could come any time. President Barack Obama’s administration wants the court, known as the D.C. Circuit, to set aside a three-judge panel’s ruling against the subsidies and rehear the case. A refusal to do so would leave appeals courts in disagreement on the issue, all but guaranteeing a new Supreme Court showdown and returning the president’s landmark initiative to the legal jeopardy it escaped in 2012." Greg Stohr in Bloomberg.

Administration gets more time to file in SCOTUS subsidies case. "The Obama administration on Tuesday received an additional thirty days to file its answer in the Supreme Court to a new challenge to the subsidies so far given to nearly five million individuals to help them afford health insurance....Ordinarily, most requests for an extension of time to respond to a petition for certiorari are routinely granted, but the challengers to the subsidies system in the new Affordable Care Act had urged the Court not to allow any delays in a case that they say needs early action by the Justices....The administration has asked the D.C. Circuit to reconsider the issue before the en banc court, but that plea has not yet been acted upon....The Justice Department said that en banc request is 'directly relevant' to the Court’s consideration of the Fourth Circuit case." Lyle Denniston in SCOTUSblog.

Got an ACA subsidy by mistake? You'll have to give at least some of it back to Uncle Sam. "Consumers getting government subsidies for health insurance who are later found ineligible for those payments will owe the government, but not necessarily the full amount, according to the Treasury Department. The clarified rule could affect some of the 300,000 people facing a Sept. 5 deadline to submit additional documents to confirm their citizenship or immigration status, and also apply broadly to anyone ultimately deemed ineligible for subsidies. First reported by the newsletter Inside Health Policy on Thursday, the clarification worries immigration advocates, who say many residents are facing website difficulties and other barriers to meeting the deadline to submit additional details." Julie Appleby in Kaiser Health News.

Who's paying the new Obamacare tax? You are. "With an $8 billion tax on insurers due Sept. 30 — the first time the new tax is being collected — the industry is getting help from an unlikely source: taxpayers. States and the federal government will spend at least $700 million this year to pay the tax for their Medicaid health plans....Other insurers are getting some help paying the tax as well. Private insurers are passing the tax onto policyholders in the form of higher premiums. Medicare health plans are getting the tax covered by the federal government via higher reimbursement. State Medicaid agencies say they have little choice....That's because the tax is part of the health plans' costs of doing business." Phil Galewitz in Kaiser Health News and USA Today.

Obamacare is big business for hospitals. "In the 27 states that have accepted the Medicaid expansion, hospitals' profits are climbing while more patients are getting access to care....But in states that haven't signed on to the expansion, hospitals are in a bind — they're getting the bad parts of Obamacare without the good. All hospitals agreed to take payment cuts as part of the law, on the theory that an influx of new patients would make up for those losses. In states that haven't expanded Medicaid, that influx isn't happening. The discrepancy...helps explain why hospitals are at the front lines of the debate over Medicaid. While states' decisions about whether to expand are largely political, millions of dollars are also at stake for the health care industry." Sam Baker in National Journal.

More generally, next year, even more employees will take on high-deductible insurance. "And at a rising share of large companies, it will be the only option remaining....Just as employers replaced pensions with retirement savings plans, more large companies appear to be in a similar cost-sharing shift with health plans. Besides making workers responsible for more of their care, employers hope these plans will motivate employees to comparison-shop for medical services — an admirable goal but one that some say is hard to achieve....Next year, nearly a third of large employers will offer only high-deductible plans — up from 22 percent in 2014 and 10 percent in 2010." Tara Siegel Bernard in The New York Times.

States step in to keep down health costs. Could chaos ensue? "The California measure goes further than laws in other states in one important way: It would enable third-party consumer groups...to challenge insurance rates in court. Such challenges could leave proposed premium increases mired for months in hearings and legal challenges, says Jon Kingsdale, the former head of Massachusetts’ health insurance exchange, who was hired by opponents of Prop 45 to draft a report on its possible consequences. If challenges keep rates from being decided in time for Obamacare’s open-enrollment period each fall, 'I can’t even tell you what happens,' Kingsdale says. 'There’s absolutely no imagination within the ACA for such a development.'" Jim Tozzi in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Is Massachusetts's grand experiment to rein in health costs working? "Massachusetts is running the country's most aggressive experiment in controlling health-care costs — and the first year results suggest it could be working. Two years ago, Massachusetts set what seemed like an ambitious goal: it would be the first state in the entire country that would put a firm cap on health-care spending. By 2017, the state planned to have health-care costs grow slower than the rest of the economy — something that never happens anywhere in the United States. Massachusetts' budget cap kicked in last year and, earlier this morning, the state reported a victory: it stayed within the 2013 growth limits." Sarah Kliff in Vox.

Other health care reads:

Putting the teeth in health care reform — literally. Ann Doss Helms in Kaiser Health News and the Charlotte Observer.

CVS stores stop selling all tobacco products. Rachel Abrams in The New York Times.

Legal wars on abortion are heating up. Lyle Denniston in SCOTUSblog.

TOOBIN: Will textualism kill Obamacare? "Scalia and other textualists often assert that their approach drains their judgments of political content: they simply read the statutes, consult a dictionary, and render their verdicts. As the Halbig case demonstrates, textualism is as politically fraught as any other approach to judging. The Halbig case is not an attempt to police unclear drafting but rather the latest effort to destroy a law that is despised by many conservatives. The five appellate judges who voted to uphold the law were originally nominated by Democratic Presidents; the two who voted against it were chosen by Republicans. This reflects the real division over the Affordable Care Act — a political, rather than judicial, conflict. Textualism is not a dispassionate guide to a result; it’s merely a vehicle to a preferred outcome — the destruction of Obamacare." Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker.

Top opinion

PETHOKOUKIS: How U.S. businessmen are ruining U.S. business — and the economy. "Don't give business a pass....The missing link in the anemic, five-year-old recovery has been business investment. And big business itself deserves a lot of the blame for that. Instead of using record profits to buy new equipment or build factories — and boost the economy — corporate America has been sitting on nearly $2 trillion in cash. Corporate balance sheets are stuffed....Never have companies spent such a tiny share of the cash they generate on capital investment, according to economist Andrew Smithers. Even worse, argues Harvard's Clayton Christensen in a recent paper, much of that investment is directed toward making existing products or delivering existing services more efficiently — often with fewer workers — rather than innovating new products or services that create new, high-paying jobs." James Pethokoukis in The Week.

THOMA: Fiscal policy works — period. "The ARRA largely followed this prescription, and most research concludes that it helped to prevent an even worse recession. The problem was the size of the stimulus package, not its composition. It was far too small to address the huge problems we faced. The bottom line is that we haven’t seen the negative effects from the fiscal stimulus package that the naysayers warned about, but we have seen many benefits. When the next big recession hits, as it surely will at some point in the future, we should not be afraid to do far more than we did to stimulate the economy and help struggling households." Mark Thoma in The Fiscal Times.

LAZEAR: What about climate adaptation? "Given these limitations on mitigating carbon emissions, it is important to study how to adapt to climate change. There are myriad possibilities for adaptation, including the obvious, like building dikes in low-lying areas, and planting heat-tolerant crops and trees in cities. Some adaptation will occur naturally. For example, economic incentives will induce people who are setting up new households, businesses and farms to move to areas that are less severely harmed by warming temperatures. Organizations like the U.N...have pushed adaptation as a complementary strategy to mitigation. Still, adaptation has received little attention by the Obama administration and is hardly mentioned in public discussion." Edward P. Lazear in The Wall Street Journal.

PHELPS: Teaching economic dynamism. "A necessary first step is to restore the humanities in high school and university curricula. Exposure to literature, philosophy, and history will inspire young people to seek a life of richness — one that includes making creative, innovative contributions to society. Indeed, studying the 'canon' will do more than provide young people with a set of narrow skills; it will shape their perceptions, ambitions, and capabilities in new and invigorating ways....The humanities describe the ascent of the modern world. Countries worldwide can use the humanities to develop or revive the economies that drove this ascent, while helping individuals to lead more productive and fulfilling lives." Edmund S. Phelps in Project Syndicate.

EDSALL: What makes people poor? "Despite the conflicting nature of these left and right analyses, there is a strong case to be made that they are, in fact, complementary and that they reinforce each other. What if we put it together this way? Automation, foreign competition and outsourcing lead to a decline in well-paying manufacturing jobs, which, in turn, leads to higher levels of unemployment and diminished upward mobility, which then leads to fewer marriages, a rise in the proportion of nonmarital births, increased withdrawal from the labor force, impermanent cohabitation and a consequent increase in dependence on government support. The major roadblock to synthesizing competing explanations has been — and continues to be — political polarization." Thomas B. Edsall in The New York Times.

PONNURU: Are Republicans about to face another 1998? "They ran ads saying that voting Republican would punish Clinton and keep him in check, but they didn't promise to remove him from office. Even so, Republicans didn't run on any agenda of their own in 1998, just as they're not running on one today. Their campaign message was: If you don't like the president, vote for us. It didn't work. Democrats got voters to the polls to defend the president while the Republicans' message didn't resonate. Republicans had hoped to pick up 25 House seats that year. They ended up losing five." Ramesh Ponnuru in Bloomberg View.

LEVINE: What can a House majority leader do for a bank? "Cantor is not a symptom of the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington, or an example of Wall Street firms hiring politicians to make regulatory life easier for themselves. Regulatory life is already pretty easy for Moelis. If Cantor were really planning to use his influence in Washington to help Wall Street firms fight regulation, he'd have gone to a Wall Street firm with an interest in fighting regulation....The tough-talking regulators now work for companies subject to heavy and intricate regulation....The Geithners and Cantors of the world, who are viewed as more pro-Wall Street, work for smaller companies in bits of the industry that are not so worried about regulation. If you believe the cynical view of the revolving door, it seems to be working as you'd expect." Matt Levine in Bloomberg View.

Epic animal battle interlude: Mongoose fends off four lions.

2. Has the Ebola outbreak become a full-scale epidemic?

The first true Ebola epidemic? CDC chief thinks so. "Frieden said the Ebola outbreak — the largest in the 40-year-history of the virus — is the first true Ebola epidemic, reaching widely into many countries. In the past, Ebola affected much smaller communities. The World Health Organization reports that more than 3,000 people have been infected with Ebola in five countries of West Africa — Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal — and more than half have died. Ebola now threatens the peace and security of the countries affected, Frieden says, noting that 70 staff from the CDC are now working in West Africa." Liz Szabo in USA Today.

U.N., aid groups say they need even more money as Ebola spreads to more countries. "The United Nations and the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders each issued urgent appeals on Tuesday for international aid to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Senior United Nations officials urged diplomats to cable their capitals to send money, doctors and protective gear to the affected region. The doctors’ group called for countries to send civilian and military biohazard experts....Public health officials said the rate at which new cases were being identified was rising....United Nations officials said it was impossible to predict how many more people would be infected, and warned that the virus could spread further." Somini Sengupta in The New York Times.

If there is any silver lining... "The World Health Organization has just confirmed that the newly-identified cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the Democratic Republic of Congo is genetically unrelated to the strain currently circulating in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria....The finding is worthy of such emphasis because of concerns that the west African outbreak had somehow spread to the DRC, formerly Zaire. The viruses in each outbreak are genetically distinct, but they are both of the Zaire species of Ebola virus, a fact that might be confused as meaning the outbreaks are related." David Kroll in Forbes.

U.S. seeks to speed up production of ZMapp experimental drug. "With the Ebola outbreak threatening to spiral out of control, U.S. officials unveiled a multimillion-dollar plan Tuesday aimed at getting a promising drug out of American research labs and into African hospitals and clinics more quickly. The initiative comes not a moment too soon: After expediting a clinical trial with monkeys and supplying the drug to a small number of human patients, the firm that developed ZMapp has no more in its cupboard. But...it probably won't be ready in time to help the tens of thousands of people likely to be infected by the Ebola virus in the coming months. In the worst case, it may turn out that the biologic therapy offers no help." Melissa Healy in the Los Angeles Times.

ICYMI: ZMapp treatment rids monkeys of Ebola. Will it translate to humans? Jon Cohen in Science.

West Africa's food supply may be threatened. "West Africa’s Ebola outbreak has caused trade disruptions that are making food more expensive as labor shortages put upcoming harvests at risk, the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organization said. Movement controls and quarantine zones created to stop the disease from spreading have curbed transport and sale of food, resulting in panic buying and “significant” price jumps for some commodities, the United Nations agency wrote in a report dated today on its website....The main harvest season for rice and corn is 'only weeks' away, and labor shortages on farms due to movement restrictions and migration to other areas will 'seriously' impact production, the FAO said." Rudy Ruitenberg in Bloomberg.

CDC issues guidance to colleges on handling Ebola. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised American colleges and universities, and any students or staff arriving from nations hit by the Ebola virus, to take precautions against spreading the disease that go beyond what most schools have done. In interviews last week, some large universities said they had not adopted any anti-Ebola measures, noting that the C.D.C. had not yet offered them any guidance on the matter. Other colleges said they were asking anyone known to have recently been in the affected countries about possible exposure and potential symptoms....The agency recommended that colleges conduct that kind of screening for anyone who had been in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria or Sierra Leone in the past 21 days, the maximum incubation period for the virus before symptoms appear." Richard Pérez-Peña in The New York Times.

GOTTLIEB AND TROY: We may prevent an epidemic on U.S. soil, but... "Our ability to prevent an epidemic here doesn't reduce our obligations abroad. Even if the epidemic remains only in West Africa, the continued spread of Ebola infections could eventually rank as one of the cruelest natural catastrophes of recent times — if not in human death and suffering, then certainly in the economic and social devastation caused by declining commerce, restricted travel and the strife resulting from mass quarantines. Compared with a storm that delivers its destruction all at once, the swelling nature of a viral epidemic can magnify its impact on economic and civil life. To address this problem, the U.S. should lead an immediate effort to assist stricken nations in West Africa." Scott Gottlieb and Tevi Troy in The Wall Street Journal.

BENTON AND DIONNE: Pundits panicking about Ebola hurt cause they mean to help. "We agree that the Ebola epidemic — the worst on record — is deserving of attention and resources. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1,552 people have died from Ebola while at the same time admitting that it is probably underestimating Ebola’s impact. But we disagree with the tactics used to raise awareness and resources to respond to the Ebola outbreak. Although fear can be effective at raising awareness about an issue, it has proven to be damaging in its effects." Adia Benton and Kim Yi Dionne in The Washington Post.

Caffeine interlude: How decaf coffee is made.

3. How law enforcement is adjusting to the migrant crisis 

National Guard adjusts to its new role on the Texas border. "Dramatic funding increases over the past decade for Border Patrol agents and other security measures long ago transformed the area into what can feel like a heavily fortified zone. Perry in June launched 'Operation Strong Safety,' an $18 million-per-month effort to boost the law enforcement presence near the border. The National Guard deployment is part of that broader buildup....Meanwhile, the number of border crossers has been on the decline in recent weeks, with the flow of unaccompanied minors slowing considerably. The presence of additional soldiers is being greeted here with mixed emotions." Antonio Olivo in The Washington Post.

Border officials grapple with militia issues after shooting incidents. "The incidents have prompted border officials to consider talks protocols for dealing with the militias....Militia members have rushed to the Texas-Mexico border in response to a rapid influx of Central American immigrants who entered the United States in that region....The wave of immigrants arriving from Central America has slowed since authorities began sending the individuals home....But that hasn’t stopped militias such as the Oathkeepers, the Minutemen, the Patriots, and the Three Percenters Club from sending armed members to the border." Josh Hicks in The Washington Post.

Operations in Mexico are thwarting migrants. "Mexico is making a big effort to stop the flow of Central Americans trying to reach the United States, and has dramatically cut the number of child migrants. But it is unclear for how long federal officials will keep up the raids....Convoys of Mexican federal police and immigration service employees in southern Mexico have been scouring the tracks of the infamous freight train known as 'La Bestia,' or The Beast, that has long carried crowds of migrants on its lumbering route north. They have also set up moving roadblocks, checking the documents of passengers on interstate buses." Mark Stevenson in the Associated Press.

White House underestimated size of migrant flow. "Senior leaders in the Obama administration say that as early as last fall they had expected a record wave of migrant children to come over the border this year. But even though they knew the surge was coming, they severely underestimated its size. That's because unlike past years, the numbers of children crossing into the U.S. just kept rising into May and June, senior White House official Cecilia Muñoz told The Arizona Republic this week. And that underestimate — and the administration's scrambling response this summer — may be a sticking point come September, when Congress is set to consider requests for more money for the agencies handling the crisis." Bob Ortega in The Arizona Republic.

When will Obama act on immigration reform? Who knows. "President Barack Obama might act in the next few weeks on immigration. Or he might not. He might wait until after the November elections. But politics isn’t his top priority. At least, that’s all according to his spokesman. 'There is the chance that it could be before the end of the summer. There is the chance that it could be after the summer,' said Press Secretary Josh Earnest." Steven T. Dennis in Roll Call.

Explainer: Obama's options for executive immigration reform. Brianna Lee in International Business Times.

Poll: Majority oppose executive order approach to immigration reform. Investor's Business Daily.

Other immigration reads:

Immigrants find state responses to deferred-deportation law vary. Tim Henderson in Pew Stateline.

Dog days of summer interlude: Camera-equipped dog captures a leisurely run to the beach.

4. What Eric Cantor's new Wall St. job means

Beltway big shot to Wall Street titan? "Eric Cantor is trying to pull off an audacious reinvention: morphing from Washington powerbroker to Wall Street rainmaker, all while keeping his political influence alive. The Virginia Republican rose to prominence in Washington cutting deals between warring political factions, raising millions of dollars for Republicans and running the raucous House floor. Now he’ll try to find out what — if anything — that means on Wall Street." Jake Sherman, Anna Palmer and Ben White in Politico.

Explainer: Eric Cantor's new job, by the numbers. Philip Bump in The Washington Post.

A new paradigm in the House? "Eric Cantor’s move...drove home a new political landscape emerging on Capitol Hill as the Republican leadership reshuffles in the House: Wall Street and Big Business have lost their most sympathetic ear, oil and gas industries are on the rise, and Louisiana once again has a booming voice at the table. Congress returns next week for a mere 12 scheduled legislative days before the November midterm elections, but...if nothing is done, the federal government will run out of money on Oct. 1, and the federal Export-Import Bank — which underwrites American private-sector exports — will exhaust its charter....Mr. Cantor was the man who could translate the wishes of Big Business to the conservatives. Without him, the Export-Import Bank and its business supporters have lost their most persuasive advocate." Jonathan Weisman in The New York Times.

New job shows lack of transparency in ethics rule. "Word that former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has already accepted a job with a Wall Street investment firm...is the latest sign of weakness for a law designed to shed light on lawmakers who negotiate for post-Capitol Hill work while in office....As written, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 requires lawmakers to file public disclosures with the House when they negotiate for work and when conflicts arise. But...according to lawmakers and outside government watchdogs and others...the law is being interpreted very narrowly. The result has been that lawmakers themselves now determine when a potential conflict exists and when such disclosures of negotiations should be released publicly." Billy House in National Journal.

Other political reads:

Texas voter ID trial seen as test to restore U.S. oversight. Laurel Brubaker Calkins in Bloomberg.

Music interlude: Heavy metal music played in the wrong places.

5. Energy firms paying big bucks for recent disasters

Judges propose $1.4 billion penalty for firm in gas pipeline blast. "Under the proposal, still subject to the approval of the commission, the bulk of the proposed penalty, $950 million, will go into the state’s general fund, while $400 million will pay for pipeline improvements and about $50 million to enhance pipeline safety. The deadly explosion in 2010 raised concerns about the care and maintenance of underground pipelines as the use of natural gas has boomed as a coal alternative. The utility has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars settling claims by the victims and their families and contributing to the recovery efforts in San Bruno, a suburb of San Francisco, where the gas and electric company is based. PG&E also faces charges by federal prosecutors in San Francisco." Michael Corkery in The New York Times.

Halliburton agrees to $1.1 billion penalty to settle Gulf spill lawsuits, but denies wrongdoing. "Halliburton has long insisted that the cement job it did to seal BP’s Macondo oil well was not to blame for the blowout and fire that sank the Deepwater Horizon rig and triggered the largest oil spill in U.S. history....The money will cover two classes of plaintiffs, including new punitive damages for those who suffered property damage or were in the commercial fishing business. The payment also covers BP claims against Halliburton that were assigned to the plaintiffs as part of BP’s earlier settlement with a group of lawyers known as the plaintiffs’ steering committee. The deal requires approval by federal Judge Carl A. Barbier of the Eastern District of Louisiana." Steven Mufson in The Washington Post.

Other environmental/energy reads:

Keystone XL redux? Jeremy van Loon and Rebecca Penty in Bloomberg.

Water resources a problem for energy extraction worldwide, report finds. Jennifer A. Dlouhy in the Houston Chronicle.

2016 watch: 6 things to keep an eye on when Hillary Clinton goes to Vegas for energy summit. Ben Geman and Jason Plautz in National Journal.

Drillers may be forced to cut methane emissions, EPA chief says. Mark Drajem in Bloomberg.

Study links polar vortex chills to melting sea ice. Seth Borenstein in the Associated Press.

EPA's renewable fuel quota may climb as gasoline sales climb. Mark Drajem in Bloomberg.

'Sesame Street' interlude: Cookie Monster and John Oliver deliver the news.

Wonkblog roundup

America’s growing food inequality problem. Roberto A. Ferdman.

Where working women are most equal in the U.S. Niraj Chokshi.

America is rapidly aging in a country built for the young. Emily Badger.

Et Cetera

What's at stake in Detroit's bankruptcy trial. Karen Weise in Bloomberg Businessweek.

Manufacturing, construction data point to sturdy U.S. economic growth. Lucia Mutikani in Reuters.

Marijuana's hazy contribution to highway deaths. Joan Lowy in the Associated Press.

Why Congress won't help Jennifer Lawrence. Lucia Graves in National Journal.

Appeals court chilly to feds' argument for NSA surveillance program. Josh Gerstein in Politico.

The politics of calling in sick. Emily Cadei in NPR.

How will Obama college ratings affect the underserved? Michael Stratford in Inside Higher Ed.

Some accused of campus sexual assault say system works against them. Tovia Smith in NPR.

U.S. temporarily blocks Norwegian Air's flight request. Alan Levin in Bloomberg.

Banks face more oversight of ability to weather credit crunch. Jesse Hamilton in Bloomberg.

Welfare rates vary widely by state and city. Carol Morello in The Washington Post.

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail us.

Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams and Ryan McCarthy.

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