April 28, 2014

Another CBS late night host is leaving the network. During the Monday night taping for the Late Late Show, Craig Ferguson announced that he will step down in December.

"CBS and I are not getting divorced, we are 'consciously uncoupling,'" Deadline reports the host said. "But we will still spend holidays together and share custody of the fake horse and robot skeleton, both of whom we love very much."

Ferguson has been at the Late Late Show since Craig Kilborn left in January 2005, and his contract was set to expire this summer. There is no word yet on who will replace him. --Catherine Garcia

12:43 p.m. ET

After Senate Republicans released the text of their health-care bill on Thursday, approximately 60 protesters — including several in wheelchairs — stormed the hallway outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office.

The sit-in was organized by Arc, a group that "promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities."

Security soon began removing protesters, even physically dragging some people away:

Even as they were being escorted out, many protesters turned to reporters' cameras to demand "no cuts to Medicaid." "Medicaid covers 30 percent of non-elderly adults with disabilities and 60 percent of children with disabilities," Slate writes. Jeva Lange

11:58 a.m. ET

After weeks of secrecy, Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, the upper chamber's answer to repealing and replacing ObamaCare. Senate GOP leadership had been working on re-drafting the American Health Care Act, the House Republican bill, since it was passed early last month.

The bill scales back many of the health-care protections embedded in the Affordable Care Act, including stripping away the requirement that insurers cover 10 essential health benefits. Out of a 142-page bill, it took just 34 words to strip away maternity coverage, mental health treatment, and more:

SUNSET OF ESSENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS REQUIREMENT. — Section 1937(b)(5) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1396u–7(b)(5)) is amended by adding at the end the following: "This paragraph shall not apply after December 31, 2019.". [Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017]

The 10 essential health benefits protected under the Affordable Care Act that would be at risk under the Better Care Reconciliation Act are: pre-natal, maternity, and post-natal care; ambulatory patient services; emergency services; hospitalization, including surgery; mental health and substance abuse treatment; rehabilitative services, including those used to manage chronic diseases; prescription drugs; laboratory services; preventative services; and pediatric care, including oral and vision care for children.

You can read Senate Republicans' entire health-care bill here. Kimberly Alters

11:26 a.m. ET

Senate Republicans finally unveiled their health-care bill Thursday, titled the "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017." The bill had been drafted in an insular, closed-door process by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to the point where even many Republican senators expressed frustration over the secrecy.

Democrats were quick to condemn the bill, which mirrors much of the legislation that passed the House early last month, promising to end the individual mandate installed by the Affordable Care Act, phase out Medicaid expansion, and allow states to apply for waivers from insurance regulations designed to protect the poor and the sick. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was not impressed:

The bill is "disastrous," Sanders continued, and Democrats must "rally millions of Americans" against it to ensure it does not pass the Senate. You can read more about the bill here. Kimberly Alters

10:59 a.m. ET

Senate Republicans released their 142-page ObamaCare replacement bill, named the "Better Care Reconciliation Act," on Thursday after the party's leadership faced criticism for secretly writing the document behind closed doors.

An early working version of the document showed it sought to roll back taxes and penalties in the Affordable Care Act, cut back Medicaid expansion, modify federal health subsidies, and give states more flexibility to opt out of some insurance requirements. With a slim majority in the upper-chamber, the GOP needs to get nearly all of its 52 senators on board, because no Democrats or independents are expected to back the bill.

A vote is expected next week. Read the document here. Jeva Lange

10:35 a.m. ET

The Senate's health-care bill was written in such secrecy that as of Thursday morning, even many Republicans had not yet laid their eyes on the actual text. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) briefed the White House staff on the bill's details Wednesday, the actual document is only set to be made public Thursday.

Democrats have issued scathing statements condemning the Republicans for their closed-door tactics, but even some Republicans are feeling their patience splinter. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) issued a sarcastic answer to the Independent Journal Review's Haley Byrd after being asked if she'd seen the text:

"As the Senate prepares to finally loop in the American public, already several news reports from outlets like The Washington Post and Politico have published what they're hearing is in the bill," Vox writes. "They are all sourced to lobbyists and aides."

Along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Murkowski is one of the Republicans' sharpest critics of the health-care bill, and her vote could be critical in deciding if it passes or not. In anticipation of pressure from the White House, she told Politico that if the bill "doesn't work for Alaska, it doesn't make any difference who's calling me." Jeva Lange

9:51 a.m. ET

After securing its first black Bachelorette — and all the positive press that came along with the poise and humor of Rachel Lindsay — the Bachelor franchise nonetheless found itself in the midst of controversy this month after allegations of sexual misconduct shuttered production on its summer spin-off show, Bachelor in Paradise.

On Wednesday, CNN Money offered a glimpse at the contract contestants of Bachelor in Paradise sign before appearing on the show, acquired from a "source close to production." The contract requires contestants to forfeit a breathtaking amount of control over their own likenesses:

After reviewing parts of the contract provided to her by CNN Money, Nicole Page, a New York-based entertainment attorney at Reavis Parent, said that it meant, from the producers' perspective, "I can basically take your image and do whatever I want with it and I own it and you have no recourse." [...]

If a news program twisted the facts about people in this way, they could be sued — and they would likely lose the case. But all of this kind of manipulation is fine on Bachelor in Paradise. The contract makes that clear: Contestants sign away to producers "the right to change, add to, take from, edit, translate, reformat or reprocess... in any manner Producer may determine in its sole discretion." And, once the producers have done all that editing, the contestants understand that their "actions and the actions of others displayed in the Series may be disparaging, defamatory, embarrassing, or of an otherwise unfavorable nature and may expose me to public ridicule, humiliation, or condemnation." [CNN Money]

Contestants further cede their right to a jury trial should they sue the show for any reason, agreeing to subject their claims to the confidential arbitration process. Another lawyer told CNN Money that the contract is "clearly ... one-sided."

An investigation by parent company Warner Bros. into the alleged incident during filming of this season of Bachelor in Paradise, in which consent between two intoxicated contestants during a sexual encounter was at issue, concluded there had been no wrongdoing. Production will resume, though the contestants involved will likely not return to the show. Read more about the rules of Bachelor in Paradise at CNN Money. Kimberly Alters

9:44 a.m. ET

President Trump appointed a registered foreign agent earning six figures from the Saudi government to the Commission on White House Fellowships, The Center for Public Integrity reports. The Saudi Arabian foreign ministry has reportedly paid Richard Hohlt some $430,000 for advice since January.

"Trump's decision to appoint a registered foreign agent to the President's Commission on White House Fellowships clashes with the president's vow to clean up Washington and limit the influence of special interests," The Center for Public Integrity notes.

Serving on the commission means Hohlt is one of 19 others responsible for making recommendations of candidates for the prestigious White House fellowships (past recipients include former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Trump's transportation secretary, Elaine Chao). Hohlt confirmed he met this month to interview candidates, which is the commission's only annual responsibility.

"Appointing someone who is registered under FARA as doing work for Saudi Arabia does seem odd at a time when [Trump has] made a very big deal about not having people leave the [government] and then do work where they have to register under FARA," Larry Noble, the general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, told The Center for Public Integrity.

Read the full report at The Center for Public Integrity. Jeva Lange

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