New law’s health care costs aren’t forecast to rise much

Pushed by a dramatic increase in the number of Americans who will get insurance under the new health care law, total U.S. medical spending will continue to gallop upward, consuming nearly 20 percent of the economy by 2019, according to a new government estimate.

But because new savings in the law offset most of the cost of extending insurance to more people, the nation’s total health care bill is not expected to be substantially larger than it would have been without the overhaul.

The estimates, which parallel earlier analyses of the law, underline a major promise of the landmark legislation that President Barack Obama signed in March.

By 2019, nearly 93 percent of the population is projected to have medical coverage, compared with about 84 percent now. Without the law, the percentage of people with coverage was expected to dip to 83 percent over the next decade, according to the report.


U.S. ranks 5th in survey of willingness to aid charities

Australia and New Zealand share first place, and the United States is tied for fifth, in a first-of-its kind survey ranking 153 nations on the willingness of their citizens to donate time and money to charity.

China ranks near the bottom, barely above last-place Madagascar.

The report was released Wednesday by the British-based Charities Aid Foundation. Its overall rankings were a composite of three categories – the percentage of people who donated money, donated time and helped a stranger in the month prior to being surveyed.

Australia and New Zealand topped the index with a score of 57 percent, trailed by Canada, Ireland, the United States and Switzerland.

Several major nations were near the bottom, including India, Russia and China.


Crowded field for mayor expected with Daley gone

Suddenly, the race for Chicago mayor is on. Mayor Richard M. Daley has thrown the competition for the city’s top job wide open by announcing he won’t run for a seventh term, ending 21 years of token opposition and prompting speculation about who’s next in line to lead the nation’s third largest city.

Political observers expect a crowded field, as Democrats seize the opportunity after years of biding their time.

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, a native Chicagoan, former congressman and one-time Daley aide already has said he’d like the job someday. Several aldermen are said to be mulling their chances. And Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is considered a strong contender.

Then there are U.S. Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. – who has considered face-offs with Daley in the past but then didn’t run – and Luis Guitierrez, who could draw support from the city’s substantial Hispanic population.



Officials find 37 immigrants crammed into a small room

Authorities say they have rescued more than three dozen immigrants locked inside a boarded-up bedroom in a Southern California drop house.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Wednesday some of the 37 immigrants from six Latin American countries had been held for weeks in the 10-by-10-foot room in Riverside and had gone several days without food.

Authorities say they began searching for the house after a caller reported smugglers had threatened to kill his relative when the family could not pay for his release.

Debra Parker, assistant special agent in charge for ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Riverside, says six suspected illegal immigrants were also arrested for investigation of the house, which was searched Tuesday afternoon.


Dalai Lama gives funds for kindness, compassion study

The Dalai Lama is putting his money where his mouth is.

The Tibetan spiritual leader has given $50,000 from his personal trust to support research into the science behind kindness and compassion at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The grant to the school’s Center for Investigating Healthy Minds comes after the Dalai Lama promoted its work during a visit to Madison in May.

Center Director Richard Davidson says the gift was completely unexpected and unsolicited, and that researchers “are deeply honored” by the Dalai Lama’s support.

The center is looking into how healthy qualities of mind such as kindness, empathy and compassion develop and might be nurtured. The center has not decided yet how to use the grant, but Davidson pledges it will be “in the most beneficial way possible.”