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In brief: Medicare fee cut put on hold


Amid intense political pressure from the nation’s doctors, the Bush administration said Monday it would hold off on a 10 percent fee cut in Medicare payments to doctors slated to kick in today.

The Bush administration is giving members of Congress time to prevent the reduction in payments from the federal health insurance program for the elderly when lawmakers return from a July Fourth recess. The administration said the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would not process Medicare claims for the first 10 days of the month, which in effect would allow Congress time to reconsider a vote to stave off the cut.

Should the cut take effect, it could have big ramifications in the health care industry, since some doctors say they could not afford to see Medicare patients if a 10 percent payment reduction occurred. About 60 percent of physicians who responded to a poll by the American Medical Association this year said they would limit the number of new Medicare patients they would see if such a cut took effect.

Hagerstown, Md.

Lawsuits allege Abu Ghraib torture

Three Iraqis and a Jordanian filed federal lawsuits Monday alleging they were tortured by U.S. defense contractors while detained at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.

The lawsuits allege that those arrested and taken to the prison were subjected to forced nudity, electrical shocks, mock executions and other inhumane treatment. They seek unspecified payments high enough to compensate the detainees for their injuries, and to deter contractors from such conduct in the future.

The contractors named as defendants in the lawsuit are CACI International Inc., of Arlington, Va., and New York-based L-3 Communications Corp., formerly Titan Corp.

Three of the complaints were filed in U.S. district courts in Seattle, Greenbelt, Md., and Columbus, Ohio, jurisdictions, where three former workers reside.

Kabul, Afghanistan

Troop deaths top those in Iraq

Militants killed more U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan in June than in Iraq for the second straight month, a grim milestone capping a run of headline-grabbing insurgent attacks that analysts say underscore the Taliban’s growing strength.

At least 45 international troops – including at least 27 U.S. forces and 13 British – died in Afghanistan in June, the deadliest month since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban, according to an Associated Press count.

In Iraq, at least 31 international soldiers died in June: 29 U.S. troops and one each from the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan. There are 144,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and 4,000 British forces in addition to small contingents from several other nations.

The 40-nation international coalition is much broader in Afghanistan, where only about half of the 65,000 international troops are American.


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