Newsletter: The Big Health Insurance Squeeze

Shawn Stevens of Trenton, Mich.
Shawn Stevens of Trenton, Mich., plays at home with his 3-year-old daughter, Selena, who has autism. He and his wife work long hours to cover health insurance co-pays.
(Robert Gourley / Los Angeles Times)

Health expenses keep rising, and the middle class is angry.


The Big Health Insurance Squeeze

Health insurance has long divided Americans, but rising deductibles — which have more than tripled in the last decade — have worsened inequality, fueling anger and resentment and adding to the country’s unsettled politics. And the people getting squeezed the most are those in the middle: working Americans who see more of their paychecks eaten up by medical expenses. That’s the finding of an L.A. Times analysis, part of our ongoing series looking at the high-deductible revolution in the healthcare industry.

Holding Their Fire

House Democrats have rejected an attempt to force a vote on impeaching President Trump, showing that anger and frustration over the president’s racist tweets and other actions have not yet convinced a majority to push for his removal. The clash came shortly before Democrats voted to hold in contempt Atty. Gen. William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas seeking information about why the Trump administration wanted to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.


More Politics

-- At a Trump rally in North Carolina, the crowd broke into chants of “send her back” as the president began cataloging grievances against Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

-- Congress is heading for a showdown with Trump after the House voted to block his administration from selling billions of dollars in weapons and maintenance support to Saudi Arabia. The Senate cleared the resolutions last month, but like the House, fell well short of a veto-proof majority.

-- Federal prosecutors have closed their investigation into hush-money payments arranged by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer and lawyer, ending what was considered one of the gravest potential legal threats to the president and the company that bears his name.

‘Unheard Of’

Alicia Ault, a top official in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said she left the agency after 34 years rather than carry out what she said was a “highly unethical” and “unheard of” directive from Sheriff Alex Villanueva to reinstate a fired deputy and alter his disciplinary record, court papers reviewed by The Times show. The deputy in question: Caren Carl Mandoyan, whose rehiring resulted in a battle between Villanueva and county supervisors.

A City Without Gold

It’s been almost one year since we lost Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold to pancreatic cancer. Today, we’re paying tribute to him with a selection of his work, his favorite fried chicken recipe, a fond remembrance from our Food section editor and a poem.

Jonathan Gold
(Camily Tsai / For The Times)

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-- A federal indictment detailing killings by MS-13 shows the Central American gang’s bloody tactics could be escalating in the San Fernando Valley.

-- A study of salmon by federal biologists may foil Trump’s plan to increase water deliveries to Central Valley farms.

-- Even after huge earthquakes, much of Southern California is still unprepared for the Big One.

-- Buena Park officials are warning residents after a man reported a coyote entered a home through a doggie door and attacked two dogs.

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-- Do abuse allegations against “The Bachelor” creator Mike Fleiss spell trouble for the franchise?

-- The Writers Guild of America’s fight with agents has entered its second act, but there’s no end in sight.

-- The Alamo Drafthouse chain of movie theaters is opening in downtown L.A., its first location in Southern California. But will this be a last stand of sorts?


-- Preliminary statistics suggest that U.S. overdose deaths last year probably fell for the first time in nearly three decades.

-- The onetime Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been sentenced to life behind bars in a U.S. prison.

-- Japanese authorities say a man burst into an animation production studio in Kyoto and started a deadly fire.

-- Days before Prime Minister Imran Khan was due to visit Washington, Pakistan attempted to smooth things over with President Trump by announcing the arrest of a notorious militant leader who has been living openly for years despite a $10-million U.S. bounty.

-- The World Health Organization says the Ebola outbreak ravaging the eastern region of Congo is now serious enough to be considered a public health emergency of international concern.


-- Netflix shocked investors by reporting a drop in U.S. subscribers and much slower growth overseas, a sign the streaming giant is losing momentum just as competitors prepare to pounce.

-- Influencers, who can haul in seven-figure incomes by attracting large digital followings, are drawing the attention of wealth managers looking to expand their client bases.


-- Dodgers pitcher Kenley Jansen’s lack of candor about an injury the other night didn’t score any points with manager Dave Roberts.

-- The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club opened its 80th summer meet with the feeling all is well in horse racing. Spoiler: It’s not.


-- MS-13 was born in L.A. No wall can keep it out.


-- A push to deny Muslims religious freedom in the U.S. is gaining steam. (Religion & Politics)

-- Firefighters took enormous risks to save the Notre Dame cathedral, which came perilously close to collapse. (New York Times)

-- FaceApp has caused a sensation with filters that can drastically “age” a person in a photo. It’s also under increasing scrutiny. (BuzzFeed News)


The California Highway Patrol got a call for a slow-speed chase over the weekend: A driver in Santa Ynez reported seeing a turtle on the shoulder of the road. But when officers responded, the critter had already been picked up by an animal rescue center. When they finally found him, it turned out the “turtle” was a 150-pound tortoise named Rufus. A spokesman says, “The tortoise barely fit in the back of the patrol car.”

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