Editors’ Recommendations The New York Police Department is using special pattern-recognition software to help it link crimes across precincts, with the department believed to be the first in the United States to deploy such a system.Called Patternizr, the machine-learning software was developed in-house over a period of two years, the Associated Press (AP) reported on Sunday, March 10. The NYPD started using it in 2016, though its deployment has only now been revealed.Patternizr works by analyzing the characteristics of robberies, thefts, and larcenies, while at the same time seeking patterns that may link one or more of them. Previously a task performed by NYPD investigators, the software saves huge amounts of time and can surface new clues to help cops track down a suspect who may be operating across more than one of the department’s 77 precincts.Evan Levine, the NYPD assistant commissioner of data analytics, who co-developed the software with colleague Alex Chohlas-Wood, said the old method took far too long, with investigators using valuable time to sift through numerous reports looking for connections. Patternizr, on the other hand, gives investigators “a good head start” in uncovering patterns, and can perform intense searches with just a view clicks of a mouse.Levine said the main aim of Patternizr is “to improve public safety,” adding, “The more easily that we can identify patterns in those crimes, the more quickly we can identify and apprehend perpetrators.”Patternizr in actionThe AP’s report points to an example of how the software linked details of two crimes that occurred weeks apart in different precincts in New York City. They involved a robber using a syringe to threaten staff at two Home Depot stores miles from each other. Patternizr was able to make the match far more quickly than a human investigator might have done, enabling the police to act on the information in a more timely manner. In some cases, the old method might have missed matches altogether, potentially allowing a criminal to remain on the streets.10 years of patternsLevine and Chohlas-Wood built the software using an analysis of 10 years of patterns that the department had identified manually. It utilizes data linked to each crime such as the method used to enter a premises, the type of goods targeted, and the distance between crime locations.“The real advantage of the tool is that we minimize the amount of leg work and busy work that analysts or detectives have to do, and really allow them to leverage their expertise and their experience in going through a much smaller list of results,” Chohlas-Wood told the AP.Before the software was implemented, investigators focused mainly on crimes in their own precinct, so it was pretty much impossible to spot patterns elsewhere.But expressing a degree of concern, the New York Civil Liberties Union is urging the NYPD to be transparent about its use of technology in fighting crime, asking that it be analyzed independently before being deployed.The NYPD’s use of Patternizr came to light in recent days via an article published in the Informs Journal on Applied Analytics, in which Levine and Chohlas-Wood discuss their work. Amazon sellers had funds stolen by hackers in extensive six-month fraud Here’s what’s new on HBO and what’s leaving in July 2019 Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker movie: Here’s everything we know so far Rumor: Grand Theft Auto 6 rumored to be heavily inspired by Netflix’s Narcos The 15 best tech jobs boast top salaries, high satisfaction, lots of openings
Capacity — None (panel only)Outputs — 1 USB port (1.92A)Weight — 13 ouncesSolar Panel — 10WWhile the Renogy E.Flex has no battery backup (meaning it’s only useful when the sun’s out), it is one of the cheapest panel-only options that gets both high marks for durability and charging capability. A 1.92A USB port should give you enough amperage to charge your phone in about the same time as traditional power, and even power your phone without draining the battery in full sunlight, something many other panel-only options — most of which are more expensive — cannot do. There is a 5-watt model available on Amazon for only $24, but it produces less than an amp of power to the USB ports, making it insufficient for many applications.NekTeck 21W Solar Charger ($50 MSRP) It never fails — when you need your phones or tablet the most, it is teetering on the edge of shutting down because you drained the battery. Fortunately, the sun is always on (at least during the day), so why not harness the power of solar energy to keep your devices running even when you’re trekking through the middle of nowhere? After months of testing, we chose the BigBlue 28W as the best solar charger for backcountry power thanks to its affordable price tag and its ability to harness the power of the sun. If the BigBlue is too large for your needs, we have a variety of different models that will provide power on the go without tying you to an electrical outlet.BigBlue 28W Solar Charger ($60 MSRP) Capacity — None (panel only)Outputs — 2 USB ports (up to 3A total)Weight — 1.3 lbs.Solar Panel — 21WDespite having no battery storage capabilities, Nekteck’s solar charge wows us with up to 21 watts of power production, which is more than enough to charge any portable device quickly. Unlike most solar-only chargers (ones without a battery), Nekteck’s model does allow for up to two devices to be charged at once. Just keep in mind you’re limited to 3 amps total, so charging two devices will take a good deal longer. Another nice feature is SmartIC, which will intelligently detect the type of device and deliver just the right amount of power to charge the device as quickly as possible.Voltaic Arc 20W Solar Charger Kit ($230 MSRP)Instagram/GazLeahCapacity –24,000 mAhOutputs — DC Output, USB Output (2A)Weight — 3.25 pounds including battery and solar panelsSolar Panel — 19.8 WattsUnlike some of the clunkier, hard-shell builds on the market, the Arc 20 Watt Solar Charger easily fastens to a variety of awnings, packs, and tents, allowing for consistent charging throughout your adventure. This 20W kit also includes Voltaic’s V88 Universal Laptop Battery, which is designed with a DC Output, meaning you can charge most laptops at least once. The external battery also includes protection against short circuits and overcharging, so you don’t have to worry about frying your devices.ECEEN Foldable Solar Charger ($40 MSRP) The best wireless phone chargers for your iPhone or Android Samsung and Anker wireless charger prices drop under $25 this weekend Walmart drops deals on Fitbit Versa and Charge 3 smartwatches for Mother’s Day The best home office essentials The best Father’s Day gifts for outdoorsy, adventure-loving dads Capacity — None (panel only)Outputs — 2 USB (2.4A)Weight –22 ouncesSolar Panel –28 wattsMany solar chargers are marketed as ultraportable solar options, but few measure up to the BigBlue 28W solar charger. The unit isn’t the smallest panel on the market but delivers quite a punch when it comes to power. The solar panel charges quickly and reliably even under adverse conditions and then charges multiple devices rapidly. With a manufacturer suggested price tag of $60, the Big Blue is easy on the wallet as well. The only catch is that BigBlue doesn’t include a battery pack. You either need to charge your electronic devices directly or supply your own portable battery.Renogy E.FLEX 10W ($60 MSRP) Capacity — None (panel only)Outputs — 2 USB ports, 2AWeight — 9.3 ouncesSolar Panel — 13WThe ECEEN 13W 2-Port is one of the best 13W chargers we’ve seen. The entire unit weights a mere 9 ounces and measures an inch thick, rendering it exceptionally light and compact. A convenient pouch on the back of the charger also allows you to stow your mobile phone, iPad Mini, and other mobile accessories while charging or on the move. A simple stand on the back of the device extends functionality even further, giving you a means for positioning the solar charger in direct sunlight. And at under $40, ECEEN’s model is currently one of the more affordable solar chargers on the market. Just be careful not to lose the rubber coverings that protect the charging ports.Goal Zero Nomad 7 ($80 MSRP) Capacity — None (panel only)Outputs — 1 USB port (1A)Weight — 16.2 ouncesSolar Panel — 7WGoal Zero is known for its quality solar charging devices, and its Nomad 7 lives up to this reputation. The charging panel is durable thanks to its rugged, weather-resistant design. It’s also versatile, offering both USB and DC charging options. The Nomad 7 is only rated for 7W, so it is best suited for mobile phones, GPS devices, and similar small electronics. If you need more juice, you should upgrade to the Goal Zero Nomad 20, which costs a bit more but delivers 20W of power. Editors’ Recommendations
Microsoft’s Surface laptops all come with Intel processors at their heart, delivering solid all-round performance with seventh and eighth-generation CPUs. But that might change with the Surface Pro 7. Whispers of Microsoft opting for an AMD or even Qualcomm Snapdragon chip in the new system suggest Microsoft could have quite different hardware options in its new Surface notebook. Better yet, it could launch with 5G support right out of the gate.The last few generations of Microsoft’s Surface Pro (apart from the Surface Pro 6) have seen the most connected versions, sporting LTE cellular data connections, launching months after the main model in the range. These models were often more expensive for potential buyers, making them a premium feature. If Microsoft were to take Qualcomm as its partner for a new Surface Pro 7 device, as Petri suggests, it would likely include one of its high-end Snapdragon SoCs, which would give it LTE Advanced or even 5G connectivity. That would mean giving access to such a connectivity option at the line’s launch, not months later with a specialized version.Buyers may not have to sacrifice much by moving away from an Intel chip either. Microsoft could opt to use the Snapdragon 8cx, which as we’ve seen in early benchmarks, is more than capable of going toe to toe with Intel’s Core i5 CPUs in general computing and gaming. It also holds a significant advantage in battery life. In a demonstration of the 8cx at Computex 2019, it managed more than 20 hours of video looping, where a comparatively specced Intel laptop managed just 12 hours. We’d have to test it out ourselves to know for sure, but those are some impressive claims on paper.If all of this seems like an out-of-character shake up for the typically iterative Surface Pro line, it might be a warranted overhaul of a range that could do with it. We’re big fans of the Surface Pro range. In fact, the Surface Pro 6 is our favorite 2-in-1 laptop in the world, but it wasn’t much of a change over its predecessor. Beyond the new paint job, there wasn’t a lot to say about it, and its port selection was practically antiquated. That seems likely to change with the next-generation device, although chip selection doesn’t particularly matter if we’re talking generic USB-C. Thunderbolt 3, on the other hand, remains an Intel exclusive for now, so if Microsoft does ditch Intel for AMD or Qualcomm, we wouldn’t expect that high-speed standard to be present.Fortunately, it looks like USB 4 could save us all from this mismatch of features and performance, though that’s still a ways out.If Microsoft opted for AMD instead of Qualcomm or Intel, the extra connectivity of the Snapdragon chips would likely fall at the wayside, but we could see more capable graphics in the new Surface Pro. AMD’s Zen + APUs with Vega graphics tend to be more capable than Intel’s comparable HD graphics and they’d likely blow past even the Snapdragon 8cx too.Microsoft hasn’t suggested which way it’s leaning just yet, but if it does go in a new direction, it will shake up one of its major hardware lines. One that feels in most need of it too. Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx vs. Intel Core i5 AMD is leaving Intel in the dust on die size, with no 7nm Intel chips until 2021 AMD’s Ryzen one-two punch will end with a 64-core Threadripper in 2019 AMD vs. Intel Lenovo and Qualcomm show off Project Limitless, the first Snapdragon 8cx PC Editors’ Recommendations
Story TimelinePolaroid Pop Instant Digital Camera spits out small printed photosPolar H10 heart rate monitor unveiled with GoPro connectivityPolar M430 is a GPS fitness wearable for runners The Polar A370 has a modest design with customization options that lets wearers adjust it to suit their ‘style preference,’ according to the company. The big feature here is the wearable’s ability to monitor the user’s heart rate continuously, doing so at rates up to every five minutes. When the user performs more strenuous activities, Polar explains that the A370 will start taking higher resolution heart rate measurements due to an integrated 3D accelerometer.In addition to the continuous heart rate monitoring, the A370 also features Polar Sleep Plus, the wearable’s ‘advanced’ sleep tracking via the company’s own algorithm and ‘intelligent sleep system.’ This is again made possible thanks to the 3D accelerometer, which works in conjunction with the heart rate monitor to keep track of the quality of one’s sleep, as well as how long the person is asleep.The Polar A370 keeps track of how long the person is asleep, the times the wearer fell asleep and woke up, when sleep interruptions took place, and overall sleep patterns. Users are able to rate the quality of their sleep in the morning, helping build their sleep pattern for future reference. Other features, meanwhile, include GPS-related tracking when connected to a smartphone.The wearable can be preordered now for $179 USD or 199 Euro and will start shipping early next month.SOURCE: Polar Polar has launched a new fitness and sleep tracker, the Polar A370 wrist wearable. The A370 offers a couple big features, including what Polar calls ‘advanced sleep tracking,’ as well as continuous heart rate tracking. The wearable is waterproof and features a touch display that provides access to certain information, including incoming notifications. The wearable has launched for preorder ahead of its June release.
This headset meets Microsoft’s recommended hardware specifications for developers, rolling with several key features right out the box. This device’s tracking system is such that no additional external trackers are required in free space. Inside-out tracking is used to make this system work – much like other Mixed Reality headsets coming soon. This week the folks at HP have revealed the release information around their fabled HP Windows Mixed Reality Developer Edition Headset. This isn’t the final edition, instead opting to use the “Developer Edition” moniker we’ve seen used on several of the most famous VR headsets to be released over the past several years. This headset is part of Microsoft’s big Windows 10 Creator Update headed to users this Fall. This HP headset has 6DoF – six degrees of freedom – to move in mixed reality with ease. Each eye will have 1440 x 1440 of display space with up to a 90Hz refresh rate. The note sent by HP also includes the following: “all performance specifications represent the typical specifications provided by HP’s component manufacturers; actual performance may vary either higher or lower.”HP also made mention of their headset’s “incredibly comfortable double-padded band” as well as “easy adjustments” therein. This headset certainly seems comfortable – but we’ll make sure to let you know how well it really fares when we get our review units soon!While Microsoft notes that this HP headset will be priced at $329, HP suggests they’ll have a package available for $449.99 that includes both the headset and a pack of two controllers as well as 4 AA batteries (for the controllers). Release date is expected to be Tuesday, October 17th, 2017. Story TimelineSurprise: the Windows Mixed Reality headsets don’t look totally dorkyMicrosoft Mixed Reality Headsets go up for sale (and not just for devs)Microsoft mixed reality gets a big boost with Steam support and HaloLenovo Explorer Windows Mixed Reality headset hands-onWindows 10 Fall Creators Update release date set, Mixed Reality too!
Chrome 66 just came out of production, finally blocking annoying autoplaying content, but Google is already whetting developers’ and users’ appetites on what’s coming next. While it might not be a grand launch just yet, Chrome 67 will be laying the foundations that will make Web-based mobile experiences better by taking advantage of the smartphone’s sensors as well as the new WebXR framework that combines VR and AR APIs into one. The reason why smartphones almost make great ad hoc VR and AR devices is that they already have the hardware needed for displaying and controlling the experience, from the screen to the camera and most especially to the sensors. With browser makers pushing the Web as an open and more universal way do develop and experience games and VR/AR content, they will definitely need to get access to those components as well.Chrome 67 Beta now includes what Google calls the Generic Sensor API, a W3C Candidate Recommendation on its way to becoming a more standard specification (thanks, Alexis, for the clarification!). In a nutshell this would give developers access to data from the smartphone’s Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Orientation Sensor (Accelerometer + Gyro), and Motion Sensors (Accelerometer + Gyro + Magnetometer). These API, in turn, could be used to create Web games like tabletop mazes or utilities like a digital compass.AdChoices广告This beta release also has the developer preview for support for WebXR API. This upcoming standard basically takes the existing WebVR standard and adds AR capabilities on top (hence the “X”). While still in the very early stages, this WebXR API can be used to create anything from 360-degree videos to home shopping services, all within your browser.Like Mozilla, Google is pushing Web technologies, especially on Chrome, as a more universal framework for creating apps and services that will work on almost any device or platform. WebXR, for example, is envisioned to work on the mobile-based Google Daydream and Samsung Gear VR as well as desktop-based Oculus, VIVE, and Windows Mixed Reality. All you need is a web browser. And some sensors, too.
Amazon can be credited (or blamed) for creating and pushing for the fast-growing smart speaker market. Lately, it can also be blamed for making people suddenly pause and reconsider their choices. Perhaps Amazon wants to show that it’s business as usual for its Echo devices, the retailer has just announced that its Echo Look device is now available for all US customers. Considering its recent privacy fiasco and what the Echo Look entails, it might just be digging its own grave. If the original Amazon Echo was already weird when it first came out, the Echo Look was even stranger. While it’s still controlled primarily by voice, its main interaction was through its camera. It was designed to take pictures of you, all for the sake of preventing a fashion disaster. The first thing on most people’s minds, however, was that they don’t want to put one in their rooms.It’s one thing for a device to be always listening, but people find it freaky when there’s even a remote chance of the same device taking photos or recording videos, especially in very private rooms. Amazon will, of course, argue that it only takes those when explicitly asked, but recent events revealed that it’s not exactly hard to accidentally trigger that. If, however, you have no issues about those, then the Amazon Echo Look can be your best friend when it comes to fashion. Style Check, for example, will tell you which of two styles look better on you. Daily Look can be your fashion journal, taking a picture of your outfit each day and compiling them into an album. And Collections will be your wardrobe organizer so you won’t have to guess or try hard to remember which ones you have already. And, naturally, every suggestion can be ordered from Amazon if necessary.Previously an exclusive Prime perk, the Amazon Echo Look is now available for all, provided you’re in the US, of course. $199.99 will get you a fashionista advisor and, of course, an Alexa assistant as well.
Young people are watching videos all the time. They’re watching videos on Facebook and Facebook Messenger Stories, Instagram Stories, WhatsApp statuses, and on user-created video content distribution on Snapchat. There’s a lot of money to be made here, but nobody’s really making it happen in an adequate manner.Snapchat’s latest effort is attempting to educate users and advertisers and creators of videos how they might team up. The future is now, basically. It’s time for creative content makers to sell these products and services in a way that’s so very sneaky, nobody will notice! Yep, It’s a Tide commercial.Word comes from TechCrunch where Josh Constine suggests content creators on Snapchat through Storytellers will “star in ads for Stories and Discover or provide creative direction to brands with their expertise gleaned from gathering audiences of millions over the past few years in exchange for cash.”Companies looking to drive their messages of consumerism home to all the young people can do so through Snapchat For Business. There they’ll find a few partners to work with, if they do so choose, and will find the storytellers that are the most major players in the Snapchat universe coming right to their proverbial doorstep.So click on those most popular Snapchatters, folks, and get those product and service messages delivered directly to your mind-grapes as soon as possible! Also have a peek at the timeline below for more Snapchat news so you’re all caught up! Story TimelineSnapchat now lets you delete sent (and unopened) messagesSnapchat Spectacles now export clips in a much more useful waySnapchat Gaming could be Instagram’s next nightmareSnapchat fix: Streaks saved, thank goodnessSnapchat Snapcash is shutting down to no one’s surprise This week the folks at Snapchat responsible for advertisement monetization are pushing “Storytellers” for social media influencers. It’s a program which unites advertisers with the social media titans who would sell their products for them for a fee, in a creative way. In other words – sarcastic hooray! It’s time for more advertisements that come to Snapchat users in the form of videos they won’t realize are advertisements until it’s too late!
So, you get the same performance as the coupe, but a choice of a carbon-fiber hard top roof or, for more impromptu cover-ups, a soft top instead. While it obviously looks like the regular LaFerrari, Ferrari’s engineers apparently had to do a fair amount to make sure it would drive the same way. That included “significant and extensive modifications” to the chassis, so as to make sure the torsional rigidity – i.e. the tendency of the chassis to twist – and the beam stiffness are the same, despite losing the roof. How do you make a LaFerrari supercar even more exclusive? Slash the top off it, and promise to make just a handful of the roofless result. Ferrari‘s hybrid monster is already a rare beast, but the Italian’s couldn’t leave it alone, designing a limited-edition special series based on the coupe but with a choice of roof options. Further consideration was given to making sure aerodynamically the car operates the same, too, since cutting the top off will affect air flow too.What’s not changed is the potent hybrid powertrain. Ferrari starts out with a 789 HP V12 engine and then pairs it with a 120 kW electric motor, for a total of 949 HP. 0-60 mph and other performance figures shouldn’t be any different, the automaker claims.AdChoices广告The car – which will be officially named at the upcoming Paris International Motor Show 2016 – is “aimed at clients and collectors who refuse to compromise on the joy of al fresco driving even when at the wheel of a supercar,” Ferrari says. They’ll also need to have a taste for a paint job that’s reminiscent of the original TV series Batmobile. No bad thing, mind: I’m all for red pinstripes on black bodywork, and I still love the vaguely retro, 80s-style alloy wheels.No word on pricing at this stage, though with the original LaFerrari starting out at a not-inconsiderable $1.42m, don’t expect this to be any cheaper. Appetite whetted? Wallet already opening? Unfortunately it’s tough luck if the sight of the open-top LaFerrari has left you desperate to put one in your garage, since the Italian automaker says that all of the models it plans to build have been sold after a private preview. Story TimelineFerrari LaFerrari super exotic goes official in GenevaSupercar Brawl takes LaFerrari, P1, and 918 Spyder to the track
Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Shooting Brake (2019);Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 8,4-8,2 l/100 km; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 191-188 g/km*Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Shooting Brake (2019);Fuel consumption combined: 8.4-8.2 l/100 km; Combined CO2 emissions: 191-188 g/km* Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Shooting Brake (2019);Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 8,4-8,2 l/100 km; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 191-188 g/km*Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Shooting Brake (2019);Fuel consumption combined: 8.4-8.2 l/100 km; Combined CO2 emissions: 191-188 g/km* Mercedes has pulled the covers of a pair of new shooting brake cars that we will never see Stateside. The cars are the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 4Matic+ and the CLA 45 S 4Matic+. Both of the cars use the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engines, but the power output is different between the two. Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Shooting Brake (2019);Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 8,4-8,2 l/100 km; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 191-188 g/km*Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Shooting Brake (2019);Fuel consumption combined: 8.4-8.2 l/100 km; Combined CO2 emissions: 191-188 g/km* The CLA 45 makes 387 horsepower and 480 Nm of torque. The hotter CLA 45 S makes 421 hp and 500Nm of torque. That is enough power to push the 45 S to 100 km/h in 4.0 seconds with the standard CLA 45 needing 4.1 seconds for the same feat.The base model is limited to a top speed of 250 km/h while the S model can reach 270 km/h. Base CLA 45 buyers can unlock the higher 270 km/h top speed if they choose the optional AMG Driver’s package. Mercedes uses two-stage fuel injection to optimize the performance of the car. It also has a cooling system that can cool the engine, turbo, and charge air.The engine inside the cars are hand-built by a single tech and paired up with an 8-speed AMG Speedshift DCT 8G dual-clutch transmission. Both are fitted with Race-Start launch control function, and the AWD system has AMG Torque Control. Other features include AMG Ride Control with three modes for different driving situations and conditions.AdChoices广告 A special braking system uses 4-piston monobloc fixed front calipers and single-piston floating calipers at the rear. An optional Dynamic Plus package brings a larger brake system. The cars feature MBUX Infotainment systems and AMD Performance steering wheel with optional control buttons. Pricing for both modes is unannounced, and the car is aimed at drivers who need a vehicle that works for their active lifestyle. Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Shooting Brake (2019);Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 8,4-8,2 l/100 km; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 191-188 g/km*Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Shooting Brake (2019);Fuel consumption combined: 8.4-8.2 l/100 km; Combined CO2 emissions: 191-188 g/km* Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Shooting Brake (2019);Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 8,4-8,2 l/100 km; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 191-188 g/km*Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Shooting Brake (2019);Fuel consumption combined: 8.4-8.2 l/100 km; Combined CO2 emissions: 191-188 g/km* Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Shooting Brake (2019);Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 8,4-8,2 l/100 km; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 191-188 g/km*Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Shooting Brake (2019);Fuel consumption combined: 8.4-8.2 l/100 km; Combined CO2 emissions: 191-188 g/km*
The program helps reinforce the importance of health care for shelter residents and their children.USA Today: Children’s Hospital Reaches Out To Parents, TooAmber Bailey used to travel up to an hour to see her baby’s pediatrician. That was when things were looking brighter and she was living in a house with her child’s father. She’s homeless now with two small children, but their doctor is only five minutes away, and medical care even comes to her shelter [in Philadelphia]. Health care may dominate the news these days, but it’s typically not on the minds of the homeless. But one children’s hospital and a generous donor here are making sure the most vulnerable members of this city’s struggling population remember the importance of their children’s and their own health care and coverage. And the thanks they receive from the families adds to the satisfaction they get from meeting some of the goals of the health care overhaul (O’Donnell, 11/26).Meanwhile, in other issues affecting medical providers –Reuters: Easing Nurse Practitioner Laws May Save Money At ClinicsRelaxing restrictions on what services nurse practitioners can and can’t provide may lead to cost savings at retail health clinics, suggests a new study. Researchers found care related to retail health clinic visits cost $34 less in states that allowed nurse practitioners to prescribe and practice independently than in states that required them to be supervised by a doctor (Seaman, 11/26).The New York Times: Gynecologists May Treat Men, Board Says In Switch A professional group that certifies obstetrician-gynecologists reversed an earlier directive and said on Tuesday that its members were permitted to treat male patients for sexually transmitted infections and to screen men for anal cancer. The statement from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology eased restrictions announced in September, which said that gynecologists could lose their board certification if they treated men (Grady, 11/26). Philadelphia Hospital Reaches Out To Homeless This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Senate Finance Committee Scheduled To Vote Thursday On ‘Doc Fix’ Legislation This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The measure would permanently change how Medicare pays providers for their services. In addition, the Congressional Budget Office has reduced the price tag associated with repealing the current Medicare payment formula. The Wall Street Journal: Permanent Fix for Medicare Fees SeenAn annual push by doctors to delay cuts to Medicare patient fees is afoot, but this time the prognosis is better for a permanent solution to the long-festering problem. The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on “doc fix” legislation that would permanently change how Medicare providers are paid by the government for their services. Similar legislation was unanimously passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in July (Schatz, 12/9).Medpage Today: CBO Cuts Cost Of SGR Repeal Yet AgainThe Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has again lowered the price tag for repealing Medicare’s much-derided sustainable growth rate (SGR) physician payment formula, dropping it by nearly $23 billion. The 10-year cost estimate for doing away with the SGR is now $116.5 billion, the CBO said late Friday. The previous estimate, made this past February, was $139 billion, which was much less than the $271 billion price tag that CBO had given the idea in August 2012. Lawmakers said the lower price tag could make it easier it finally repeal the SGR, which has been a major focus of Congress this year (Pittman, 12/9).Meanwhile, in the background –Politico: Why The Timing Is Right For A Budget DealJohn Boehner and Barack Obama failed. Harry Reid, Boehner and Mitch McConnell didn’t fare much better. Eric Cantor and Joe Biden barely got started. But with the year winding to a close, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are nearing a modest, yet important, budget deal that senior aides say could be rolled out as soon as Tuesday and voted on later this week (Sherman and Bresnahan, 12/10).
Today’s headlines include details of an extensive, nationwide audit of the wait times for care at VA hospitals and clinics. Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill: Budget Referees Make It Harder To Evaluate Obamacare CostsThe Congressional Budget Office will no longer evaluate the fiscal implications of some parts of the Affordable Care Act, partly because of all the changes made during implementation. Kaiser Health News’ Mary Agnes Carey and The Fiscal Times’ Eric Pianin discuss the developments (6/9). Watch the video or read the transcript.Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: School Nurses’ Role Expands With Access To Students’ Online Health RecordsKaiser Health News’ consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: “Although the school nurse is a familiar figure, school-based health care is unfamiliar territory to many medical professionals, operating in a largely separate health care universe from other community-based medical services. Now, as both schools and health care systems seek to ensure that children coping with chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma get the comprehensive, coordinated care the students need, the schools and health systems are forming partnerships to better integrate their services” (Andrews, 6/10). Read the column.Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Study Puts A Price Tag On AutismNow on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Jenny Gold reports: “Autism exacts a heavy toll on families across the country, but what is the financial cost of the disorder? Now we have an actual price tag: the lifetime cost of supporting a person with autism ranges from $1.4 million to $2.4 million in the United States, depending on whether the person also has an intellectual disability” (Gold, 6/10). Check out what else is on the blog.The Wall Street Journal: Insurers Fill Gaps in Health-Law PlansHealth insurers in several states are adding to the choices of doctors and hospitals in their health-law plans amid concerns among some consumers and state officials about access to care. In states including New York, Connecticut and Ohio, insurers have bolstered their health-care provider networks in recent months. In California, three of the biggest insurers— WellPoint Inc. ‘s Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California and Health Net Inc. have all added substantially to their lists (Wilde Mathews, 6/9).The New York Times: Audit Shows Extensive Medical Delays For Tens Of Thousands Of VeteransMore than 57,000 patients have been waiting more than three months for medical appointments at hospitals and clinics run by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and nearly 64,000 others have been enrolled in the system for a decade but have still not been seen by doctors despite their requests, according to a nationwide audit released Monday (Oppel, 6/9).Los Angeles Times: New Audit Of VA Finds 3-Month Waits For Medical AppointmentsThe audit’s results came as the inspector general announced at a House hearing that his office had widened its investigation to include 69 sites across the country where employees may have falsified records to conceal long waits for care. That number is in addition to the Phoenix VA, which was the epicenter of the scandal and the focus of an inspector general’s investigation into whether patients died as a result of delays in care (Simon and Zarembo, 6/9).The Wall Street Journal: Nearly 60,000 Veterans Face Delays Receiving Health Care—VA AuditDuring a nearly monthlong audit of 731 VA facilities and nearly 4,000 employees, the VA found widespread problems with appointment scheduling and pressure on employees to change data. More than 10% of scheduling staff were given instruction on how to alter patient appointment scheduling, according to the audit (Kesling, 6/9).The Wall Street Journal: VA Halted Visits To Troubled HospitalsStarting in 2011, when the VA instituted a new system to track performance standards, five VA hospitals notched consistently poor scores on a range of critical-care outcomes, including mortality and infection rates. By the first quarter of this year, that bottom-performing group had expanded to at least seven hospitals, records show. During most of that time, VA senior management suspended a long-standing program that had sent teams of doctors and monitors to its worst-performing hospitals to try to improve them, agency doctors said (Burton, 6/9).NPR: Audit Reveals Vast Scale Of VA Waitlist IssuesBefore former Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki stepped down, he ordered an audit of the VA system, hoping to find how many hospitals were lying about wait times. The audit found that approximately 100,000 veterans are waiting too long for care at the VA (Lawrence, 6/9).The Washington Post: VA Audit: 57,000 Veterans Waiting More Than 90 Days For Appointment At Medical FacilitiesGibson — who took over on May 30 after his predecessor, Eric K. Shinseki, resigned under pressure — outlined a series of emergency measures Monday to ensure that veterans stuck on long waiting lists will receive care as quickly as possible in the coming days and weeks. The interim VA secretary said he would spend $300 million to increase hours for VA medical staffers and contract with private clinics to see veterans who are unable to get care through VA medical centers. Gibson also promised to institute new patient satisfaction surveys and said he had eliminated the 14-day scheduling goal for VA appointments, a measure that VA officials said was unrealistic and led to widespread cheating among hospital administrators whose bonuses were tied to hitting the mark (Jaffe and Hicks, 6/9).Politico: VA Report: Months-Long Waits For 57,000-Plus VetsSince taking over for Shinseki, Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson has taken an aggressive posture, vowing to restore confidence in the beleaguered agency and punish VA officials who retaliated against whistleblowers. Gibson said the release of the audit reflected a commitment to transparency and showed the “extent of the systemic problems we face, problems that demand immediate actions” (Wheaton, 6/9).Los Angeles Times: Veterans Frustrated By Long Delays In Opening Of New VA HospitalsIt was a day of shiny shovels and high hopes on that hot August morning in 2009. Politicians and dignitaries beamed at the cameras and congratulated themselves for finally breaking ground on a new medical facility dedicated to veterans, at the time projected to be the largest of its kind in the nation. … Nearly five years later, the project is still less than half finished even though work is continuing. The expected cost has risen to $1 billion, and the earliest patients will be seen is 2017 — if then. New VA hospitals in New Orleans, Las Vegas and suburban Orlando, Fla., also face delays as long as five years and construction costs that have risen a total of $1.5 billion, according to a 2013 review by the General Accounting Office (Deam, 6/9).The Washington Post: GOP Has Claimed Control Of Va. Senate, Forced Democrats To Cave Over Medicaid ImpasseVirginia Republicans snatched control of the state Senate on Monday, immediately ending a budget stalemate by pushing Democrats to agree to pass a spending plan without Medicaid expansion, Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s top priority. The power shift forced Senate Democrats to yield after a protracted standoff that had threatened to shut down state government in less than a month, according to several lawmakers with direct knowledge of the deal. Democratic negotiators agreed in a closed-door meeting Monday to pass a budget without expanding health coverage to 400,000 low-income Virginians (Vozzella and Laris, 6/9).The New York Times: State Senator’s Resignation Deepens Political Turmoil In VirginiaThe resignation of a Democratic state senator in Virginia that flipped control of the Senate to Republicans set off charges on Monday of an unseemly deal and threatened Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s chances of expanding Medicaid under the president’s health care law (Gabriel, 6/9).The Wall Street Journal: Senator’s Resignation Complicates Medicaid Expansion Plan In VirginiaRepublicans claimed temporary control of the Virginia Senate Monday after veteran Democratic state Sen. Phillip Puckett resigned, giving the GOP a one-seat majority. The move for now allowed the GOP to block Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s plan to expand the federal-state health insurance program for the poor to as many as 400,000 Virginians. … Democrats on Monday reached a budget agreement that won’t include Medicaid, though the governor could use a special session to again debate expansion (Armour and O’Connor, 6/9).The Associated Press: Senator Quits, Imperiling Virginia Medicaid Pushhe resignation of a Democratic state senator on Monday has dealt a serious blow to his party’s push for Medicaid expansion in Virginia and cleared a path for Republicans to pass a budget without compromising on the health care plan. Sen. Phil Puckett’s resignation gives the GOP a 20-19 majority in the chamber to go with their control of the House. Senate Democrats had linked passage of the state’s $96 billion biennial budget to expanding Medicaid, creating the threat of a government shutdown on July 1 if Republicans wouldn’t relent (6/9).The Associated Press: Top Va. Dem Wants Budget Passed Before MedicaidA Senate Democrat says he wants to pass a state budget without expanding Medicaid eligibility and revisit the issue in a special session. Senate Finance Co-Chairman Sen. Chuck Colgan made the comments Monday following Democratic Sen. Phil Puckett’s resignation. His position largely mirrors what GOP lawmakers have pushed for (6/9).The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Virginia Drama Puts Spotlight on Medicaid Expansion HoldoutsWhen the Supreme Court gave states the option of opting in or out of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, the thinking among Democrats was that after some initial grumbling states would eventually opt in. … Perhaps more revealing is the fact that, some two years after the Medicaid expansion became available for states, 24 still have not done so. Of those only five – Indiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Utah and Virginia – are even considering it, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And of the states that haven’t moved and aren’t debating the expansion, only Florida, Maine and Wisconsin have competitive state elections this year in which a Democrat could feasibly win and seek to change the dynamic (Epstein, 6/9).The Wall Street Journal: Taxpayers Face Big Medicare Tab For Unusual Doctor BillingsThe government data show that out of the thousands of cardiology providers who treated Medicare patients in 2012, just 239 billed for the procedure, and they used it on fewer than 5% of their patients on average. The 141 cardiologists at the Cleveland Clinic, renowned for heart care, performed it on just six patients last year. Dr. Weaver’s clinic administered it to 99.5% of his Medicare patients—615 in all—billing the federal health-insurance program for the elderly and disabled 16,619 times, according to the data (Carreyou, Stewart and Barry, 6/9).The New York Times: For Virginia Democrat, Obama’s Still A PositiveA candidate running for the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s Eighth Congressional District, which includes the suburbs outside Washington, Mr. Beyer said in a radio ad that the president was “absolutely right” about health care, and that is just the start. “In Congress, I’ll fight all efforts to repeal Obamacare, because making sure millions of Americans get affordable health care is the right thing to do,” he continued. And his television ads check through a host of progressive positions — reproductive rights, equal pay, “common sense” gun laws and a carbon tax (Parker, 6/9).The Wall Street Journal: In Northern Virginia, Democratic Contenders See Obama As AssetVirginia is one of six states holding primary elections or runoffs Tuesday. In South Carolina, the focus is on whether Sen. Lindsey Graham can top 50% in the GOP primary and avoid a runoff. In the Richmond, Va., area, House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, is expected to beat a conservative challenger, but his margin of victory will be watched for clues to the depth of unhappiness with House leadership among GOP voters. … The candidates are uniform in backing the Affordable Care Act, a higher minimum wage and efforts to rein in greenhouse gases. That is a contrast to the message some vulnerable Democrats elsewhere have been sending, as they emphasize how they would fix the health-care law, for example, rather than hail its benefits (Ballous, 6/9).NPR: In Oregon, End Of Life Orders Help People Avoid The ICUIn Oregon these instructions are called Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, or POLST. The orders are few, simple and to the point. You can request or refuse CPR or intensive care. You can ask for comfort measures only, limited additional interventions or full treatment. That last includes being taken to the ICU. A study conducted by the Oregon Health Sciences University looked at the 58,000 people in the state who died of natural causes in 2010 and 2011 (Jaffe, 6/9).NPR: A Reason To Smile: Mexican Town Is A Destination For Dental TourismSitting in a dentist’s chair hardly rates as a vacation. But every year, tens of thousands of people go to a tiny border town near Yuma, Ariz., that has proclaimed itself the dental capital of Mexico. Los Algodones is a virtual dental factory. Some 350 dentists work within a few blocks of downtown Algodones. With low prices and fast service, most patients come for major work (Robbins, 6/9).Check out all of Kaiser Health News’ e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page. First Edition: June 10, 2014 This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The giant insurer saw revenue growth from its Optum unit, which helped fix the federal health insurance website and has since been hired by several states. Meanwhile, the hospital company HCA Holdings Inc. said the health-care reform law contributed to sharply stronger results.Bloomberg: Insurer That Fixed Obamacare Benefits From Business BoomUnitedHealth Group Inc., the biggest U.S. health insurer by sales, beat analyst earnings estimates as revenue grew from its technology and consulting unit that helped fix the Obamacare insurance website. Revenue rose 7 percent to $32.6 billion, led by the company’s Optum unit, which works with hospitals, employers and governments to manage health costs. Optum has been credited with helping to fix the U.S. website for people to enroll in insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and has since been hired by several state enrollment websites. Sales there grew $2.6 billion, or 28 percent (Pettypiece, 7/17). The Wall Street Journal: UnitedHealth Tops Expectations, Raises OutlookUnitedHealth Group Inc. reported a better-than-expected increase of 7.1% in second-quarter revenue as the biggest U.S. health insurer saw growth in its public and senior markets. … UnitedHealth, which is the biggest health insurer in the U.S., said impacts of the federal Affordable Care Act cut into its after-tax net margin for the most recent period by 90 basis points to 4.3%. This year will be the first to reflect the full implementation of the law, as cuts in government funding for certain provisions are projected to weigh on results. UnitedHealth credited growth in coverage in its public and senior sectors with helping to increase its top line, as well as improvement in its pharmacy services business (Calia, 7/17).The Wall Street Journal: Hospital Operator HCA Touts Benefits From Health-Care Reform LawHCA Holdings Inc. said admissions to its hospitals rebounded in the second quarter and greater-than-expected benefits from the health-care reform law contributed to sharply stronger results than estimated. “Results for the second quarter of 2014 exceeded our internal expectations, both in terms of our core operations and health-care reform,” Chief Executive R. Milton Johnson said, while raising the company’s outlook for the year as well (Jamerson, 7/16). UnitedHealth, HCA See Profits From Obamacare
Starting around the turn of the millennium, the United States experienced the most alarming change in mortality rates since the AIDS epidemic. This shift was caused, not by some dreadful new disease, but by drugs and alcohol and suicide — and it was concentrated among less-educated, late-middle-aged whites. We had hints that something like this was happening. We knew suicide was increasing among the middle-aged, that white women without a high school degree were struggling with health issues, that opiate addiction was a plague in working-class communities. But we didn’t know it was all bad enough to send white death rates modestly upward in the richest nation in the world. (Ross Douthat, 11/7) The New York Times: The Fallacy Of The Latest Contraception Case The Wall Street Journal: Medicaid Expansion Is Proving To Be A Bad Bargain For States In recent years, America’s corporations have created a private system for handling disputes that benefits them greatly while denying consumers their day in court. … Even more disturbing, the shift away from the civil justice system has gone beyond disputes about money. Nursing homes, obstetrics practices and private schools increasingly use forced-arbitration clauses to shield themselves from being taken to court over alleged discrimination, elder abuse, fraud, hate crimes, medical malpractice and wrongful death. For the most part, Congress has looked the other way. (11/7) The New York Times: Arbitrating Disputes, Denying Justice The New York Times: I Am Paying For Your Expensive Medicine The Wall Street Journal: Healing The Brains Of American GIs Now that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s guarantee of insurance coverage for birth control, it is worth reiterating what the conflict at the core of these cases is really about. The plaintiff employers — including several religious schools and an order of Catholic nuns that provides services to the elderly poor — refuse to provide coverage for certain contraceptives, which they believe (contrary to scientific consensus) induce abortions. The government has already agreed that these employers are not required to provide such coverage. … This should not be a difficult case. In a secular society, religious freedom demands respect and accommodation, not a veto over government action that benefits others who believe differently. (11/6) Forbes: Will The Obamacare Cadillac Tax Increase Worker Wages? Did you catch that line from Mike Huckabee during the last Republican presidential debate in which he calls for a declaration of war on four major diseases? “I really believe that the next president ought to declare a war on cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s,” he said, “because those are the four things that are causing the greatest level of cost.” … A “cures caucus” is building within Republican ranks. … It seems some Republicans are betraying conservative dogma — perhaps most emphatically pushed by Cruz — that says government agencies are inept and federal spending inane. But the cures caucus makes eminent sense. (Paula Dwyer, 11/8) Last week’s election results in Kentucky and Virginia dashed any hope that attacks on Obamacare might finally be losing their political currency. Healthcare providers and payers should brace themselves for a full year of well-funded assaults on the law. (Merrill Goozner, 11/7) You may not know it, but you could be on the hook to pay at least $124 this year for a drug you probably don’t take. The drug is a new class of cholesterol-lowering agents called PCSK9 inhibitors. … According to a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine by Kevin A. Schulman and his colleagues at Duke, even if the price came down to about $11,000 per patient per year, and only 1.1 million of the roughly 23 million middle-age Americans with high cholesterol actually took these drugs, the bill would be so high that for a typical insurance plan, “annual insurance premiums would increase by $124 for every person” in the insurance plan. (Ezekiel J. Emanuel, 11/7) Asking whether the Obamacare Cadillac tax will increase worker wages might seem nonsensical on its face. But wait until you hear the answer: yes AND no. Don’t worry: Schrodinger’s cat hasn’t wandered into the thicket of health policy (nor am I channeling my inner two-handed economist). It’s a trick question: the answer depends on whether employers respond to the Cadillac tax by trimming health benefits to avoid the tax, or instead simply keep their health benefits as is and pass the tax onto their employees. For employers who trim health benefits I have a high degree of confidence that on average, worker wages will rise. For employers who absorb the Cadillac tax increase, average worker wages will fall. (Chris Conover, 11/6) Viewpoints: Contraception At The Court Again; Cadillac Tax And Wages; Drugs And Mortality A selection of opinions on health care from around the country. Conservative lawmakers in our home states of Utah and Florida recently defeated a combined three proposals to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare. They were absolutely right to do so, as the fiscal messes in states that did expand Medicaid demonstrate. … Florida and Utah taxpayers will thank their legislators in the years to come. Consider the experience of the states that did expand Medicaid. “At least 14 states have seen new enrollments exceed their original projections, causing at least seven to increase their cost estimates for 2017,” the Associated Press reported in July. … This has blown holes in state budgets. (Evelyn Everton and Chris Hudson, 11/6) Bloomberg: A Birth-Control Morality Play Comes To Supreme Court At his first press conference since his election, [Kentucky Gov.-elect Matt] Bevin said he wants to design a plan that would require participants to pay premiums or co-pays and that his plan would not re-enroll people up to 138 percent of the poverty rate. He added that his goal “isn’t an attempt to cut people off. It is an attempt to have people take responsibility.” If his goal isn’t to cut people off, the key will be to find price points that people can afford. It’s tough for a family of four to live on $33,000 without having to pay for insurance or medical care, and even the slightest increase could mean they are priced out of the market. (Joseph Gerth, 11/7) Louisville Courier-Journal: Bevin’s Big Test: Medicaid Expansion Bloomberg: Diseases Are Bad. That’s Good Politics. The 104th US Congress marked an important period in the legislative legacy of then-Rep Jay Woodson Dickey, Jr, (R, Ariz). Only 2 years into his 8-year congressional tenure, Rep Dickey spearheaded the 1996 enactment of 2 far-reaching amendments. In so doing, Rep Dickey assured the prohibition of public funding of gun violence research and human embryo research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), respectively. The lasting impact of the 2 amendments can hardly be overstated. Both remain in effect. Now, in an interview 20 years later with the Huffington Post, the retired 75-year-old congressman expressed his regrets over the curbing of gun violence research. Similar sentiments have been expressed earlier in a 2012 op-ed with the Washington Post. No such qualms have been publicly articulated relevant to the generation-long funding freeze of human embryo research. (Eli Y. Adashi and I. Glenn Cohen,, 11/6) The New York Times: Obamacare Not As Egalitarian As It Appears My own intuition is that the Obama administration chose this fight, and should have avoided it by quietly making an exception for religious nonprofits with doctrinal objections. For one thing, contraception is an inexpensive routine purchase that is exactly the sort of thing that insurance shouldn’t cover (for the same reason your car insurance doesn’t cover routine service: you’d just end up pre-paying the service in the form of higher insurance premiums). For another, the number of people employed by these groups is small. Picking this fight was not worth amping up the culture wars. America doesn’t need more things to have bitter partisan battles over. We’ve already got a years-long backlog to get through. (Megan McArdle, 11/6) news@JAMA: The “Dickey Amendments” 20 Years Later The New York Times: The Dying Of The Whites The Washington Post: Yet Another Inconvenient Truth For Its Opponents: Obamacare Is Not ‘Killing Jobs’ When Arnold Fisher mustered out of the U.S. Army in 1954 after a stint in Korea, he left as a corporal. But he didn’t leave the service. … Now he is in his ninth decade, and this Veterans Day will find the Fisher Brothers’ senior partner aiming much higher than skyscrapers. Today his obsession is the human brain—specifically, how Americans can help our warriors who return from the battlefield with injuries few understand. (William McGurn, 11/6) Driving this opioid epidemic, in large part, is a disturbing change in the attitude within the medical profession about the use of these drugs to treat pain. Traditionally, opioid analgesics were largely used to treat pain stemming from terminal diseases like cancer, or for short-term uses, such as recovering from surgery. But starting in the 1990s, there has been a vast expansion in the long-term use of opioid painkillers to treat chronic nonmalignant medical conditions, like low-back pain, sciatica and various musculoskeletal problems. To no small degree, this change in clinical practice was encouraged through aggressive marketing by drug companies. (Richard A. Friedman, 11/7) The New York Times: How Doctors Helped Drive The Addiction Crisis One year from this week, Colorado voters will make a fundamental choice about health care in our state. We can stick with the status quo — the Affordable Care Act, which leaves hundreds of thousands with no health insurance — or we can switch to a new health plan, designed in Colorado, that will cover everybody and cut costs sharply for almost every family and business in the state. This new plan has been named ColoradoCare, precisely because it is not Obamacare. It’s a system of universal coverage proposed by state Sen. Irene Aguilar, a Denver physician, along with health policy experts around the state. When Aguilar’s plan came up in the legislature, the private insurance companies crushed it. They fear (and they’re right) that competition from ColoradoCare will force them to cut their soaring premiums. (T.R. Reid, 11/6) The Affordable Care Act has generated an enormous amount of partisan rancor, but with more access to data, it is worth taking stock of how it has actually been working. We can safely say that the policy is costing less than anticipated, perhaps 20 percent less, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate, and that it has reduced the number of Americans without insurance. But the numbers also suggest that by some measures, the Affordable Care Act has had only a limited impact on economic inequality. (Tyler Cowen, 11/6) Modern Healthcare: A Green Light For Attacking Obamacare The Denver Post: ColoradoCare Is Health Care For Everyone Within last week’s strong jobs report was yet another good month for the health-care sector, which added 45,000 jobs. The growth of jobs in this sector is a long-term trend, driven in no small part by our aging demographics. Even when we were hemorrhaging jobs in the depths of the last recession, health care was an outlier, never experiencing even one negative month of job growth during the downturn. (Jared Bernstein and Ben Spielberg, 11/9) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Sept. 15, 2006, was an exciting day for Matt Nader, an offensive tackle on his high school football team. His family cheered as his team battled its No. 1 rival. Then, in an instant, Nader’s life changed. He collapsed, unconscious and with no pulse. His heart had stopped. His parents, both physicians, performed CPR until paramedics rushed him to a hospital. (Mann, 5/17) Nearly half the counties in Florida, including Orange, Osceola and Volusia, have a high percentage of adults without health insurance, according to new estimates released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau. (5/17) Projecting big deficits in coming years, the Georgia agency that runs the state employee and teacher health plan is hunting for savings through an array of strategies. Clyde Reese, commissioner of the Department of Community Health, told GHN last week in an interview that the agency is conducting an audit to ensure that all dependents covered by SHBP are indeed eligible for those benefits. (Miller, 5/16) The U.S. attorney’s office in Memphis has reached a settlement with Methodist Healthcare over allegations that it did not provide effective communication with a deaf patient under the American with Disabilities Act. (5/17) The Kansas City Star: These Hospitals Got ‘A’ Grades For Safety — And These Got C’s The Orlando Sentinel: A Push For All Teens To Get Heart Screenings A bill that will reduce the number of consecutive months families can receive welfare was signed Monday by Gov. Sam Brownback, who says it will help push people out into the work force faster. SB 402 will reduce the time frame a family can receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to 24 months from 36 months, unless a family gets a hardship exemption. (Lowry, 5/16) You go to the hospital to get well, of course. But you might not realize that you’re taking a sizable risk of getting sick or injured while hospitalized. Each year, for instance, one in 25 hospital patients contracts an infection. And a Medicare patient has a one in four chance of experiencing injury, harm or death when admitted to a hospital. (Hellman, 5/16) The Wichita Eagle: Gov. Sam Brownback Signs Bill That Shortens Time Kansas Families Can Be On Welfare Over the last decade, many schools have seen the number of cases grow from just a few a year to upwards of several dozen, often transforming guidance offices into de facto psychiatric wards, educators say. But helping students through this journey is complex. They may return to school after receiving treatment fragile, self conscious, and overwhelmed. They’re stressed about being behind in class, confused over how to explain their absences to peers and teachers, and in many cases, tormented by mood swings as their doctors figure out the right dosage of medication. (Vaznis, 5/17) The Orlando Sentinel: Local Health Innovation Meetup Sees Rapid Rise In Membership Georgia Health News: State Seeks Savings In Employee Health Plan The Sacramento Bee: Brain-Dead Toddler’s Family Files Appeal To Block Ventilator Removal The Richmond Times Dispatch: Health Care Clinic For State Employees Opens In Richmond This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. More than 120,000 state employees — including in excess of 11,000 in Richmond — now have a health care center devoted exclusively to their use. (Demeria, 5/16) The Associated Press: Methodist Healthcare Reaches Settlement With Feds The Wall Street Journal: Health Diagnostic Laboratory Patients Face Bills Years After Blood Work Three industry heavyweights are vying to run the prescription-drug business for one of the nation’s biggest health-care buyers, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. Express Scripts and UnitedHealth Group’s OptumRx unit are each trying to unseat the current pharmacy-benefits contractor, CVS Health. The stakes are high for the companies and CalPERS, which is struggling along with many employers nationwide to contain fast-rising drug costs. The agency’s medical costs are closely watched as a harbinger of what big employers and their workers might be facing across the country. CalPERS spends more than $8 billion annually on medical care for 1.4 million state and local government employees, retirees and dependents. About a quarter of that, or $1.8 billion, goes to prescription drugs. (Terhune, 5/17) Racing against the clock, lawyers for the family of brain-dead toddler Israel Stinson have filed a federal appeal, seeking to prevent Kaiser Permanente’s Roseville hospital from taking the child off a ventilator by Friday’s court-ordered deadline. (Buck, 5/16) The Sacramento Bee: Music Reaches Memories For Sacramento Seniors With Alzheimer’s State Highlights: Georgia Projects Big Deficits In Employee Health Plan; Tennessee’s Methodist Healthcare Reaches ADA Settlement With U.S. Attorney Outlets report on health news in Georgia, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Virginia, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, California and New Hampshire. In 2014, when Colin Forward wanted to bring together Central Florida’s health innovators, he had no idea that in two years the group would become one of the largest health-care innovation Meetups in the Southeast. (Miller, 5/16) California Healthline: Three Firms Vie To Run CalPERS’ Drug Benefits New Hampshire Public Radio: N.H.’s Third Medical Marijuana Dispensary Now Open In Lebanon Thousands of former patients of Health Diagnostic Laboratory, a Virginia lab that was sold after health regulators accused it of illegally paying doctors for work, have gotten bills for blood work done as far back as 2009 as bankruptcy lawyers try to collect money for the company’s final debts. The Richmond lab’s operations, which tested for cardiovascular diseases like diabetes, were taken over last fall by a competitor. But under the fine print of the sale, the power to collect old bills was kept by lawyers who are properly closing Health Diagnostic Laboratory down. (Stech, 5/16) The Boston Globe: Schools Struggle To Cope With Rising Mental Health Needs Gloria Silott spends most days in her wheelchair, socializing very little and verbalizing only with muffled “yes” or “no” answers. Immobilized by a stroke 15 years ago, she cannot speak clearly or express herself. Typically, say staffers at Eskaton Care Center Greenhaven, she has a flat, sad affect. (Buck, 5/16) New Hampshire’s third medical marijuana dispensary opened Sunday in Lebanon. Temescal Wellness, the company operating the dispensary, opened up another dispensary in Dover a little over a week ago. About a week before that, another dispensary operated by a company called Sanctuary ATC opened in Plymouth. (McDermott, 5/17) The Associated Press: Census: 3 Central Florida Counties Among Highest With Uninsured Adults
In other news — The fight over school lunches has lasted years. Even after the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 took effect, Michelle Obama continued to have to defend its importance, as NPR’s Tamara Keith reported in 2014. In 2016 the Senate settled on a compromise that would keep most of the new standards in place, including requiring to schools to serve more fruits and vegetables along with the planned reductions in sodium and increase in whole grains. (Taylor, 5/1) The Trump administration is looking to whittle away at the legacy of former first lady Michelle Obama, undercutting two key efforts associated with her: child nutrition and girls’ education worldwide. On Monday, Sonny Perdue, President Trump’s new Agriculture secretary, announced he would loosen restrictions on federally funded school lunch programs — current rules require schools to serve more whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables to millions of children while limiting salt and fat. The push is part of Mrs. Obama’s well-known initiative to help children eat more healthy meals. (Toppo, 5/1) Schools won’t have to cut more salt from meals just yet and some will be able to serve kids fewer whole grains, under changes to federal nutrition standards announced Monday. The move by President Donald Trump’s Agriculture Department partially rolls back rules championed by former first lady Michelle Obama as part of her healthy eating initiative. Separately, the Food and Drug Administration said on Monday it would delay — for one year — Obama administration rules that will require calorie labels on menus and prepared food displays. The rule was scheduled to go into effect later this week. (Jalonick, 5/1) The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the decision comes after years of feedback from schools and food-service experts, who have faced challenges meeting meal regulations; and from students, some of whom have complained that the meals aren’t appetizing. The department said the change “begins the process of restoring local control” over those food areas to give schools and states options in ensuring food choices are both healthy and appealing to students. (Hobbs, 5/1) The Wall Street Journal: Trump Administration Unwinds Some School Lunch Standards The Obama administration placed standards on school lunch nutrition in 2010 when it passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. During that time, Michelle Obama was seen by many as a leading advocate in the fight against childhood obesity. She started the Let’s Move! campaign, which sought to encourage children to take part in more physical activity and help provide healthier food options in schools in under-served communities. The percentage of U.S. children with obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s, causing long-term physical and emotional distress for children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Etehad, 5/1) Politico: Trump Eats Away At Michelle Obama’s School Lunch Legacy Trump Administration Relaxes School Nutrition Guidelines That Were A Michelle Obama Legacy The School Nutrition Association, which represents companies that sell food to schools, has been lobbying against the standards on federally funded program. The changes Perdue is seeking are not nearly as dramatic as the full opt-out that Republicans have sought — a push that sparked a bitter, public fight with Obama in 2014 — but Perdue promised to look at some regulatory fixes. He said USDA would delay implementation of future sodium-reduction targets. And flavored milk with a fat content of one percent, now restricted from the program, will be allowed back into cafeterias — a switch that dairy producers lobbied heavily to see made. (Bottemiller Evich, 5/1) The Associated Press: Hey Kids, Salt Stays And Grains Go In School Meals NPR: Michelle Obama’s School Lunch Rules Rolled Back By White House The best way to set your kid up for financial success can be a nest egg, a grandparent’s inheritance or a healthy 529 plan. Or, it could be as simple as keeping them in shape. A Johns Hopkins University study found overweight people, over the course of a lifetime, spend an average of about $30,000 more than healthy people on medical conditions associated with obesity, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, heart attacks, heart failure and certain types of cancers. (Rossman, 5/1) USA Today: Donald Trump Takes Aim At Michelle Obama Efforts On Child Nutrition, Girls’ Education Los Angeles Times: New USDA Secretary Announces Rollback Of Obama-Era Nutrition Standards For School Lunches USA Today: Overweight Kids Are Costing America Billions This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Share this storySears to ask bankruptcy judge to liquidate, potentially putting up to 68,000 people out of work, sources say Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn 0 Comments Recommended For YouNew Guidelines for Patients Suffering From Mucositis or Oral Ulcerations From Head and Neck Cancer Treatment Can Now Be Effectively Treated With MedX’s Light Therapy DevicesHomeowners Can Beat the Heat With Central Air ConditioningYields rise on strong retail salesWall Street set for subdued open after mixed bank reportsIngram Micro Celebrates 40th Birthday Twitter Facebook More Sears Holdings Corp will ask a bankruptcy judge on Tuesday if it can proceed with liquidation after it could not reach an agreement on Chairman Edward Lampert’s US$4.4 billion takeover bid, casting doubt on the survival of the 126-year-old U.S. department store, people familiar with the matter said.Should Sears liquidate its assets, it would become perhaps the most high-profile victim in the wave of bankruptcies that have swept the retail sector in the last few years, as the popularity of online shopping exacerbates the fierce price competition facing brick-and-mortar stores.Sears, which filed for bankruptcy protection last October, may have to close hundreds of stores it is still operating, potentially putting up to 68,000 people out of work, the sources said. Its vast inventories of tools, appliances and store fixtures will be sold in fire sales, the sources added. Sears picks liquidator in case Eddie Lampert’s US$4.4-billion takeover bid falls through: sources Eddie Lampert makes $4.6-billion bid to buy Sears in ‘last-ditch effort’ to keep retailer alive Sears’ hedge fund war: Awaiting Eddie Lampert’s next weird move Lawyers for Lampert and his hedge fund, ESL Investments Inc, also plan to present details of his offer and make the case for renewing efforts to save Sears, the sources said.U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in the Southern District of New York, who is presiding over the case, could decide to give Lampert more time to improve on his bid, the sources said. A bankruptcy auction for Sears’ assets is not due until Jan. 14.The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. Representatives for Sears and Lampert offered no immediate comment. © Thomson Reuters 2019 Reuters Email Sears, which filed for bankruptcy protection last October, may have to close hundreds of stores it is still operating, potentially putting up to 68,000 people out of work, the sources said.Postmedia Network Jessica DiNapoli and Mike Spector Comment January 8, 20198:51 AM EST Filed under News Retail & Marketing Sears to ask bankruptcy judge to liquidate, potentially putting up to 68,000 people out of work, sources say Company unable to reach agreement on Edward Lampert’s takeover bid Reddit Join the conversation →
Source: Electric Vehicles Magazine The iconic Blue Bird school bus is getting charged. Blue Bird (NASDAQ: BLBD) was founded in 1927, and around 180,000 of the company’s buses are in operation today. Now the company has delivered its first electric school buses to customers in California and Ontario, just in time for the new school year. Seven Type D All American Rear Engine Electric school buses and one Type A Micro Bird G5 Electric school bus will be in operation this year.Jack Matrosov of Toronto-based Wheelchair Accessible Transit added a Micro Bird G5 Electric school bus to his fleet with financial help from Ontario’s Electric and Hydrogen Vehicle Incentive Program (EHVIP).“When the EHVIP Grant became available, we were thrilled to find out that Micro Bird had an electric bus solution in the works,” said Matrosov. “Over 90% of our fleet are Micro Bird buses, and we feel these buses offer great quality and good local service when needed.” The grant also allowed Matrosov to cover nearly all of the costs of the charging infrastructure needed for the bus.The larger 72-passenger buses delivered to California are similar to the many Blue Bird Type D CNG buses operating in the state today. Customers took advantage of many state grants, including South Coast AQMD and HVIP, to defray the cost of the buses and infrastructure.“We were excited to find out, in the midst of the search process, that Blue Bird had created an electric bus solution,” said Hector Morales, Supervisor of M.O.T. of Mountain View School District in El Monte, California. “Our mechanic is familiar with Blue Bird Type D buses, so it was an easy choice for our fleet.”“We decided to go with Blue Bird’s electric school buses, because we know the level of service we require will be available to us,” said Mark Toti, Transportation Manager at Bellflower Unified School District in Bellflower, California. “We currently operate 26 Blue Bird CNG buses, and feel comfortable relying on local support from Blue Bird in order to introduce this new technology to our existing fleet.”“With zero emissions, our electric school buses provide the cleanest possible environment for our customers and the children they transport,” said Blue Bird CEO Phil Horlock. “With battery technology constantly advancing and becoming more efficient, we foresee a great future for growth.” Source: Blue Bird