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Report: Rural hospitals get billions in extra Medicare funds

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A law that allows rural hospitals to bill Medicare for rehabilitation services for seniors at higher rates than nursing homes and other facilities has led to billions of dollars in extra government spending, federal investigators say. Most patients could have been moved to a skilled-nursing facility within 35 miles of the hospital at about one-fourth the cost, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general said in a report being released Monday. Hospitals juggling tough balance sheets have…

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Jeb Bush jumps into retail politics of Iowa’s caucuses

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Since announcing on Facebook his plan to explore running for president, Jeb Bush has courted high-dollar donors in private rooms and luxury resorts, and delivered weighty speeches in hotel ballrooms and city clubs. This weekend, he was at a Pizza Ranch. The former Florida governor arrived in Cedar Rapids behind schedule, a sign as strong as any that he is, in fact, running for president. Looking a bit disheveled, with his open-collared shirt coming untucked, Bush took questions for more…

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Failure to launch not a concern in 2016 presidential race

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Most U.S. presidential candidates really don’t want to spend nearly two years bowing and scraping to voters and campaign donors. Most voters sure don’t want to hear about the presidential race for anywhere near that long. Why, then, does it take so loooong to pick a U.S. president? Blame American-style democracy? Blame the pollsters and consultants who feed off the horse race. Blame the unquenchable thirst for campaign cash. If you’re a candidate, blame other candidates for forcing you to…

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Bill Clinton defends foreign donations to foundation

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Former President Bill Clinton defended his foundation’s acceptance of donations from foreign governments on Saturday, pointing to the track record of his global philanthropy as Hillary Rodham Clinton nears an announcement on a 2016 presidential campaign. In an interview at the Clinton Global Initiative University, the ex-president sought to address critics who have questioned the receipt of donations from foreign governments while the former first lady served in the State Department and after she departed in early 2013. “My theory…

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Beyond Hillary Clinton, many 2016 hopefuls have used private email

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Hillary Rodham Clinton continues to catch heat for her extensive use of a private email account to conduct official business while she was secretary of state. But the Democrats’ 2016 presidential favorite isn’t the only White House hopeful whose transparency has come into question. Several current and former governors who are considering a presidential run have found ways to delay or prevent public scrutiny of their communications while in office. That includes Republicans who have criticized their potential Democratic rival.…

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U.S. job market faces hurdles even with 5.5 pct. unemployment

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Unemployment in the U.S. has dropped to a seven-year low of 5.5 percent — a level normally considered the mark of a healthy job market. Yet that number isn’t as encouraging as it might sound. While U.S. employers added a solid 295,000 jobs in February, and the jobless rate fell from 5.7 percent, it went down mostly because many people gave up looking for work and were no longer officially counted as unemployed, the government reported Friday. What’s more, wage…

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Big money supporters could be just the thing Marco Rubio needs for 2016

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Jeb Bush and his blockbuster GOP fundraising effort in the run-up to a likely presidential campaign has left fellow Floridian Marco Rubio wondering if there will be any money remaining. Not quite, as billionaire Miami auto tycoon Norman Braman steps up to the plate, says Ed O’Keefe and Matea Gold in The Washington Post. Braman, a longtime Rubio supporter, could put up to $10 million into a super PAC supporting Rubio if (and when) the Florida senator decides on a White House…

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