Washington Watch

Tammy Lytle has covered the White House, Congress, politics and breaking news in the nation's capital for 23 years. She is the former Washington bureau chief of the Orlando Sentinel and her work has appeared in newspapers magazines and websites.

Bill Would Cover More Medicare Patients for Skilled Nursing Care

A congressman is expressing confidence that a bill he sponsored – to fix a problem faced by many Medicare patients who are left without coverage for skilled nursing care – will pass this year. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., who introduced the bill with Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, told reporters in a conference call that the legislation has picked up 137 cosponsors. “This is not happening in a vacuum,” Courtney said, according to the Connecticut Mirror. “It’s happening because there is …

Stop Selling Smokes, Senators Tell Drugstores

Pharmacies should follow the example of CVS Caremark and kick the habit of selling tobacco products, a group of Democratic senators said Feb. 10 in letters to major chain drugstores. The letter from Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the Senate health committee, and seven colleagues ratchets up the pressure on Walgreens, Rite Aid and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) to voluntarily stop selling cigarettes. CVS made the move already, saying it would forgo the profits because …

What the Cut in Food Stamps Means

When President Obama signed the farm bill on Feb. 7, it meant sun and rain for food stamp recipients. The sunny side is that a $40 billion cut over 10 years proposed by House Republicans was whittled to $8.6 billion. The stormy side is that some 850,000 households, or 4 percent of beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP (formerly food stamps), will lose about $90 a month to help pay for groceries. The wide-ranging law also addresses nutrition …

More New Retirement Account Proposals

Americans are way short in their retirement savings, and President Obama’s MyRA plan, which he unveiled last week, isn’t the only new proposal that aims to help with that problem. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., also offered a savings plan. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has one of his own, which follows a report he released last summer. Of these three proposals, Harkin’s is the most ambitious. His Universal, Secure and Adaptable (USA) Retirement Funds would create a …

What Will Obama Say to You Tonight?

In his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, President Obama could well focus on general themes like the expansive divide between rich and poor in America and touch on specific issues such as unemployment insurance. Could the president’s focus on income equality lead to improved Social Security benefits? That’s the hope of Dan Adcock, director of government relations and policy for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. Adcock said he doesn’t expect the speech to …

Is Your State a … Weakling?

Politico Magazine has tallied the numbers, and the Oscar for best state goes to … New Hampshire. Actually, the magazine’s ranking is pegged to a different winter event: the president’s annual State of the Union address. Here’s what Politico‘s Margaret Slattery has to say: Tuesday, President Obama, if precedent holds, will declare that the state of America’s union is “strong.” Is it? One way to judge is by the state of the states of the union: How strong are they, and, …