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DOD On USNS Comfort Departing NY: ‘Expectations were far worse…than what we’ve seen’

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The US Navy Ship Comfort will be departing New York City after President Donald Trump deployed the ship at the request of Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill DeBlasio nearly three and a half weeks ago Jonathan Rath Hoffman, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, told reporters Friday.

Moreover, although he didn’t provide exact numbers on the matter, Hoffman said that the “expectations were far worse… than what we’ve seen.” For that reason, Gov. Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio are returning this ship to DOD’s Northern Command.

“If you look at a city like New York, the expectations were a far worse situation than what we’ve seen,” he said addressing questions of whether deploying Comfort was a waste of DOD resources. “Having our forces and having our people forward deploy with that capability and not needing it was far better than not having them there and needing it.”

The Defense Department, Hoffman said, will be consulting FEMA to pinpoint the vessel’s next deployment location and to expect a decision on the matter in the “coming days.”

“We expect the Comfort will be heading back to Norfolk, where it will go through kind of the normal post-deployment cycle, where we will restock it. It will be just prepared for the next deployment,” Hoffman said.

“We have said from the start… we wanted to be very careful with our deployment of those assets because we wanted to ensure that they are mobile, that they can be used somewhere else. So our goal all along has been to use them in New York as needed and then when the need no longer exists, to prepare them to move to the next location,” He added.

The ship holds over 1,000 medical care workers and has the capacity of 500 beds, which Hoffman indicated that the number of patients never hit that number, but that there were a “fair number” of patients cared for on the ship. As of last Friday, 71 of its 500 beds were occupied, CNBC reported.

There are currently 146,139 people infected with the coronavirus in New York and 10,746 have died from the virus statewide.

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Economy

Biden Administration Expands Obamacare Coverage for ‘Dreamers’

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Friday morning the Biden administration announced it is expanding health-care access for “Dreamers”, a select group of illegal immigrants brought to the country as children. Illegal immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be granted access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, according to the White House. Beginning in November, DACA members will be able to apply for healthcare coverage on healthcare.gov and state level insurance marketplaces.

“I’m proud of the contributions of Dreamers to our country and committed to providing Dreamers the support they need to succeed,” President Joe Biden said in a prepared statement. “And that’s why today we are taking this historic step to ensure that DACA recipients have the same access to health care through the Affordable Care Act as their neighbors.”

National Review notes Biden was vice president when then-president Barack Obama created DACA through executive order over a decade ago. The program gives deportation protections and work visas to illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. An estimated 580,000 people are enrolled in the program. Former president Donald Trump failed to put an end to DACA during his term and the program continues to be fought in court.

Over 100,000 DACA beneficiaries will purchase health insurance in the Health Insurance Marketplace and Basic Health Program created by the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services estimates. Access to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program will not be incorporated into the White House’s new rule after Biden proposed doing so last year, according to National Review.

“Now as Vice President, I have worked alongside President Biden to take steps to preserve and fortify DACA. Today, we are building on this progress by ensuring DACA recipients also have access to affordable health care, which will improve the health of all communities,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a prepared statement. “This announcement will bring relief to more than 100,000 people and help them thrive while working to achieve their aspirations.”

The White House did not share a cost estimate for the expansion of Obamacare to DACA recipients. They will be eligible for financial assistance to help them afford the health insurance DACA enrollees are now eligible to purchase.

Biden called for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and to give Dreamers permanent citizenship. It’s unlikely that Congress will grant Biden’s wishes, given the failure of the Senate’s bipartisan immigration package earlier this year. Conservatives widely rejected the Senate’s proposal for not being tough enough on the southern border at a time when record levels of illegal immigrants are entering the country.

Immigration is a top issue for voters in the 2024 election because of the surge in border crossings under Biden’s watch. Polls indicate that Americans believe that Trump is better suited to handle the crisis at the southern border with his hardline approach.

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