What we’re reading: Biden to release oil from reserves, U.S. healthcare outlook

President+Joe+Biden+speaks+alongside+Singapores+Prime+Minister+Lee+Hsien+Loong+in+the+East+Room+of+the+White+House%2C+Tuesday%2C+March+29%2C+2022%2C+in+Washington.+%28AP+Photo%2FPatrick+Semansky%29

President Joe Biden speaks alongside Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 29, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

By Sara Littlejohn

Biden is releasing one million barrels of oil per day from strategic reserves

As high gas prices continue, President Joe Biden made a dramatic step to confront the problem by releasing a record amount of oil from the U.S. reserves, according to CNN.

The announcement came Thursday when Biden was scheduled to deliver his remarks on “his administration’s actions to reduce the impact of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s price hike on energy prices and lower gas prices at the pump for American families.”

The plan is to release around one million barrels per day in the upcoming months. This plan could last as long as six months, but the duration is still being finalized. This would amount to 180 million barrels of oil.

A key inflation gauge sets 40-year high as gas and food prices soar

A man pumps gasoline in his car at an Exxon gas station, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

According to ABC News, an inflation gauge jumped 6.4% in February from last year. The gauge has been closely monitored by the Federal Reserve. The number reflects higher prices for food, gas and other necessities that have been draining Americans’ finances for the past year.

Increased consumer demand, combined with multiple shortages of goods, has fueled the sharpest price jumps in four decades. These measures of inflation are likely to worsen in the coming months to reflect the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The report did not reflect the war but it has already disrupted goal oil markets and accelerated prices for key commodities.

“The Federal Reserve responded this month to the inflation surge by raising its benchmark short-term interest rate by a quarter-point from near zero, and it’s likely to keep raising it well into next year,” according to ABC News. “Because its rate affects many consumer and business loans, the Fed’s rate hikes will make borrowing more expensive and could weaken the economy over time.”

End of COVID-19 may bring major turbulence for U.S. healthcare

Nurse manager Edgar Ramirez checks on IV fluids while talking to a COVID-19 patient at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles, Monday, Dec. 13, 2021. At the medical center, just 17 coronavirus patients were being treated there Friday, a small fraction of the hospital’s worst stretch. The worldwide surge in coronavirus cases driven by the new omicron variant is the latest blow to already strained hospitals, nursing homes, police departments and supermarkets struggling to maintain a full contingent of nurses, police officers and other essential workers as the pandemic enters its third year. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

When the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end, it is possible that it could create disruptions within the U.S. healthcare system, per AP News.

“Winding down those policies could begin as early as the summer. That could force an estimated 15 million Medicaid recipients to find new sources of coverage, require congressional action to preserve broad telehealth access for Medicare enrollees and scramble special COVID-19 rules and payment policies for hospitals, doctors and insurers. There are also questions about how emergency use approvals for COVID-19 treatments will be handled,” according to AP News.

Issues tied to the coronavirus public health emergency emerged more than two years ago. These plans have constantly been renewed since but are set to end on April 19. There has been speculation that the Biden Administration is going to extend it through mid-July. If health care chaos arises, it could create midterm election issues for both Democrats and Republicans.

Academy says Will Smith refused to leave Oscars ceremony after slap

Will Smith, right, hits presenter Chris Rock on stage while presenting the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The incident on Sunday has sparked debate about the appropriate ways for Black men to publicly defend Black women against humiliation and abuse. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

According to NBC News, Will Smith was asked to leave the Oscars on Sunday night after he slapped Chris Rock but refused to do so. On Wednesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that it had begun disciplinary proceedings.

The Academy said that Smith had violated its code of conduct and accused him of compromising its integrity. The possible punishment could result in “suspension, expulsion or other sanctions.”

“Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television,” the Academy said. “Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.”

According to the statement, Smith has 15 days to respond to the allegation. On April 18, the academy’s board will vote on possible disciplinary measures.