(Reuters) - U.S. health insurers will send out about $330 million in rebates to employers and individuals this summer under President Barack Obama's healthcare law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday. The law, often called Obamacare, requires insurance companies to refund customers when they spend less than 80 percent or 85 percent of healthcare premiums they collect for medical care. The rebates will go to about 6.8 million people and have a value of about $80 per family. They are to be sent by Aug. 1 either directly to consumers or to the employer providing the health coverage, who is required to pass the savings onto employees, the agency said in a report.
By Daniel Wallis DENVER (Reuters) - A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, but stayed his ruling until the issue is decided by a higher court. U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore found in favor of six same-sex couples who filed a lawsuit challenging the state's 2006 constitutional amendment that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Moore's 12-page ruling was the latest in a series of decisions by state and federal judges who have struck down state bans on gay marriage and then put their rulings on hold pending appeal. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said he was gratified the judge agreed that additional litigation in that court would be wasteful, since the U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to hear an appeal in neighboring Utah's case.
By David Schwartz PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona inmate took almost two hours to die by lethal injection on Wednesday and his lawyers said he "gasped and snorted" before succumbing in the latest botched execution to raise questions about the death penalty in the United States. The execution of convicted double murderer Joseph Wood began at 1:52 p.m. at a state prison complex, and the 55-year-old was pronounced dead just shy of two hours later at 3:49 p.m., the Arizona attorney general's office said. The appeal, which said the procedure violated his constitutional right to be executed without suffering cruel and unusual punishment, was denied by Justice Anthony Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court. "Arizona appears to have joined several other states who have been responsible for an entirely preventable horror: a bungled execution.
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has accomplished much of what he set out to do when he was elected four years ago. He's logged improvements in the state's economic health, presided over the creation of 250,000 private-sector jobs and confronted many of Detroit's worsening financial problems.
By Keith Coffman DENVER (Reuters) - Lawyers defending accused theater gunman James Holmes challenged the reliability of firearms analysis on Wednesday, despite conceding that their client was solely responsible for the 2012 massacre that killed 12 moviegoers. In a hearing before Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour, public defenders sought to have expert ballistics testimony precluded from the onetime neuroscience graduate student's murder trial. Dale Higashi, an agent with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, said all the bullet fragments and shell casings that he analyzed from the crime scene could be traced to three of the weapons belonging to Holmes. Defense lawyers argued that firearms analysis is subjective, and not based on quantifiable scientific fact.
WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — When Aaron Volesky heard what he thought was thunder and walked outside his Williston home early Tuesday morning he thought it was odd that there were no storm clouds in the air.
PLAINFIELD, Ind. (AP) — His pilot's license fresh in his hands, an Indiana teenager set out in June for the adventure of a lifetime: an around-the-world flight with his father designed to break a record and raise money to build schools in his father's native Pakistan.
By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Representative Paul Ryan will probably spark a new round of arguments over how to fight poverty in America on Thursday as he introduces a sweeping plan to replace long-standing social safety net programs with new block grants for states and communities. Ryan, his party's vice presidential candidate in 2012, is best known for his budget blueprints marked by deep domestic spending cuts. This time, the chairman of the House Budget Committee will unveil his plan to keep social safety net funding at the same levels but change the way it is used in a speech on Thursday to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington.