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Alabama restores ‘bare minimum’ driver’s license services after backlash

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Alabama will restore services in rural driver’s license offices for at least one day a month, backing off an earlier decision to close them altogether for budgetary reasons after the action caused a backlash, state officials told Reuters on Monday.

The August announcement that the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which overseas the driver’s license offices, would be closing 31 mostly part-time Department of Motor Vehicles facilities in the state’s rural counties drew fire from critics who said it affected mostly poor and black residents.

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Among other impacts, critics said, the closures would make it more difficult to get identification cards needed to vote.

U.S. Representative Terri Sewell, whose district includes eight of the affected counties, met with the governor over the closures and called the newest announcement a good first step, but said it still only provides the “bare minimum access” to services.

“Alabama cannot require photo identification for voting and then make decisions to close DMV offices in communities that are disproportionately African American, rural, and low income. Not on my watch!” she said in a written statement.

Governor Robert Bentley said Friday that he agreed people in rural areas needed to have access to offices in order to take tests and obtain their licenses.

But he defended the move as part of a budgetary reality in the state, and said the move was not done in an effort to make it more difficult for minorities to vote.

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“To suggest the closure of the driver’s license offices is a racial issue is simply not true, and to suggest otherwise should be considered an effort to promote a political agenda,” Bentley said in a prepared statement.

(Reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas)


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Here’s what Wall Street doesn’t want you to know about its grip on emergency rooms

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Doctor Ling Min is the first emergency room doctor to be fired for going public with his concerns about poor hospital emergency room safety practices and shortages of medical supplies and protective gear for health workers.

He won’t be the last.

Like many hospitals in the US, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham Washington, where Ling Min worked for the past 17 years as an emergency room doctor, has outsourced the management and staffing of its emergency room. So, Min works on-site at the hospital’s ER, but he is employed by a physician staffing firm that runs the ER. These staffing firms are often behind the surprise medical bills for ER services that patients receive after their insurance company has paid the hospital and doctors, but not the excessive out-of-network charges billed by these outside staffing firms.

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Jared Kushner’s ‘frat party’ coronavirus team ‘descended from a UFO and invaded the federal government’: officials

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Administration officials told The New York Times that they expect White House adviser and President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner's coronavirus team to come under congressional scrutiny after a series of questionable moves stunned government officials.
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‘You’ve been served’: Wisconsin hospitals sue patients — even during this pandemic

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When her doorbell rang Sunday night, Blanche Jordan was just starting a new Game of Thrones puzzle on her living room floor.

Jordan, 39, is a breast-cancer survivor who is taking social distancing seriously, so she put on a mask before opening the door. A woman handed Jordan a paper and said: “You’ve been served.”

The paper was a court summons that said Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital, Inc. was suing Jordan for $7,150. Just three weeks before, Jordan had paid off a different $5,000-plus Froedtert debt linked to a hysterectomy that her insurance did not cover.

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