By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - The only three insurance companies in Louisiana that sell healthcare policies under President Barack Obama's healthcare law throughout the state are rejecting payments from a federal program intended to help low-income HIV patients, advocacy groups said on Thursday. The Louisiana Health Cooperative and Vantage Health Plan, two smaller insurers, made the move following a decision by the state's largest insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, late last year to reject the payments. Lambda Legal, a non-profit group, filed a civil rights complaint about the two smaller carriers' action with the Obama administration on Thursday, following a similar complaint about Louisiana Blue last week. "Additional carriers are jumping on the discrimination bandwagon," said Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal, which works to protect the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, and people with HIV.
By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - Sodas and most other sugar-sweetened drinks sold in California would be required to carry warning labels for obesity, diabetes and tooth decay under a bill introduced in Sacramento on Thursday and backed by several public health advocacy groups. The first proposal of its kind would put California, which banned sodas and junk food from public schools in 2005, back in the vanguard of a growing national movement to curb the consumption of high-caloric beverages that medical experts say are largely to blame for an epidemic of childhood obesity. A growing body of research has identified sugary drinks as the biggest contributors to added, empty calories in the American diet, and as a major culprit in a range of costly health problems associated with being overweight. Efforts to curtail consumption of sugary drinks through taxes and other efforts have met fierce resistance from the U.S. food and beverage industry, which came out against the California labeling bill on Thursday.
By Susan Cooper Eastman JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Reuters) - A north Florida jury resumed deliberations for a second day on Thursday in the trial of a middle-aged software engineer who shot and killed a black teenager in an argument over rap music blaring from the youth's car. Defense attorneys say Michael Dunn, 47, who is white, acted in self-defense when he fired off 10 rounds at an SUV carrying four teens, killing Jordan Davis, 17, while parked in a Jacksonville gas station. The jury asked to review security camera video from inside the gas station which captures the reaction of the clerks to the sound of the gunfire, as well as Dunn's fiancée, Rhonda Rouer, who had gone into the store to buy wine. The trial has drawn international attention because of racial overtones and claims of self-defense.
CHICAGO (AP) — The U.S. attorney's office in Chicago said Thursday that it's appealing a sentence that included no prison time for the billionaire creator of Beanie Babies for hiding at least $25 million from U.S. tax authorities in Swiss bank accounts.
By Marty Graham CAMP PENDLETON, California (Reuters) - A U.S. Marine facing a second-court martial in the 2006 death of an Iraqi civilian was ordered on Thursday to stand trial in August, and said afterwards that he was eager to put his legal troubles behind him. Sergeant Lawrence Hutchins III was formally advised of the charges against him during a hearing at the Camp Pendleton Marine Base in California, but did not enter a plea as he seeks to have a new defense team appointed. Hutchins, 29, told reporters following the hearing that he and his wife, Reyna, who is pregnant with the couple's third child, "just want this to be over and behind us" after some eight years in court. Since 2006, I have not been in charge of my life" Hutchins was the leader of a squad of Marines who planned a mission aimed at stopping militants' use of improvised explosive devices in the village of Hamdania, Iraq, in the early morning hours of April 26, 2006.
EDGEWATER, N.J. (AP) — A traffic jam deliberately orchestrated by members of Gov. Chris Christie's staff that caused days of gridlock in northern New Jersey appeared not to lead to anyone's death or seriously compromise their medical care, according to a comprehensive review by The Associated Press of five hours of emergency dispatch audio, interviews and dozens of pages of call logs.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The defense attorney for a Florida man accused of fatally shooting of a teen after an argument over loud music said Thursday that his client is in good spirits as he waits for jurors to come back with a verdict in his trial.