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JFK Health System preps for big changes, growth ahead of move to Epic

JFK Health System, a 498-bed acute care hospital in Edison, New Jersey is poised for growth, said the organization’s Vice President and CIO Indranil Ganguly, who everyone calls “Neal.”

JFK is preparing to merge with Hackensack Meridian Health, a larger health system that itself is the result of a merger (and also happens to be a winner in the “Super” size category of this year’s awards). 

The move will prompt the new combined organization to focus more than ever before on continuing to deliver value to its customers while at the same time integrating and supporting migration to new tools and platforms, said Ganguly, who expects big projects for the IT team as the two entities become one.

The healthcare organizations announced their plans to merge back in November 2016 and a deal was signed this past May. JFK Health’s acute-care hospital and Johnson Rehabilitation System, a nationally recognized rehabilitation hospital will consolidate with Hackensack Meridian, which operates 14 hospitals.

Driving the merger is expansion of patient access and the opportunity to deliver better outcomes by focusing on population health.

Ganguly is expecting a smooth transition – but he is braced for plenty of IT work.

As if consolidating weren’t enough, JFK also has a number of system replacement initiatives underway in both clinical and financial areas. The organization is rolling out more mobile solutions, including secure messaging.

The topper: JFK will be moving away from a best-of-breed environment, built around a mix of McKesson, GE, and other vendor products, that had been in place for many years and onto Epic, which Hackensack Meridian is consolidating onto as well. 

Culture is critical in situations like these, said Ganguly. “At JFK, we have worked hard to create a culture of open communication that has ensured that our teams are all working towards a clear and common goal. Our IT team is proud about the value they deliver to the health system and I think that gives everyone a great sense of purpose.”

The IT team at JFK welcomes the opportunity to work on new projects, in fact, and everyone has a strong sense of camaraderie. The group works hard together and also socializes with employee-organized team activities throughout the year.

When it comes to hiring, Ganguly said, JFK uses a team approach to ensure there is a good personality fit in addition to having the right skillset.

“That’s worked well for our teams and has resulted in a fairly unified department with a high level of spirit and enthusiasm,” he said.

His best advice for other CIOs?

“It is important to set clear goals, communicate frequently, recognize good performance, and reward successes.”

Best hospital IT departments: 2017

Meet the winners and find out their winning formula.

Click here to learn more about how we chose this year’s winners.

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
Email the writer: bernie.monegain@himssmedia.com

How iPhone X changes things

It should be clear by now that Apple’s big bet on the iPhone X is working out just fine. Millions of people appear to be picking them up, but what does the new device tell us about the next decade of smartphones?

Face, the obvious

Biometric ID has come of age.

From Touch ID fingerprint sensors to face recognition systems and whatever comes beyond. It’s not impossible to speculate that one day our solutions will even be able to recognise us through a combination of biometric signals: fingerprint, face, pulse, even by blood type as mobile sensor development accelerates.

That’s important – iPhone X also signals that in future our device security will not rely on a single security flag, but on multiple protections: you still need a strong passcode even when using Face ID. We can anticipate the gradual evolution of multiple, complementary forms of biometric ID.

Charlotte Crosby ‘changes her number and ditches iPhone’ to stop ex-boyfriend Stephen Bear contacting her

CHARLOTTE Crosby has changed her phone number in a bid to stop her ex-boyfriend Stephen Bear contacting her.

The 27-year-old has been seen using a Nokia 3310 over the last week after ditching her iPhone, following constant calls from her ex.

8aad2_nintchdbpict000372459326 Charlotte Crosby 'changes her number and ditches iPhone' to stop ex-boyfriend Stephen Bear contacting her

Charlotte Crosby has changed her phone number to cut contact with her ex

An insider told The Sun Online: “Charlotte wants to cut off contact with her ex Bear and make a fresh start without him.

“She’s got a new number and a phone without apps so he can’t DM her.

“He was calling all the time to stay friends but she’s never going to be able to move on if they carry on talking.”

It’s thought she is still using an iPhone for social media posts – to keep her 6.1 million followers happy, but when she’s not working it’s back to the basic phone.

8aad2_nintchdbpict000372459326 Charlotte Crosby 'changes her number and ditches iPhone' to stop ex-boyfriend Stephen Bear contacting her

Bear recently said the pair were still friends – but Charlotte wants to start a fresh

Earlier this month Bear confirmed that the couple’s on/off relationship is very much off at the moment after a very rocky few months – admitting they still talk.

He told The Sun Online: “We’re just friends, I’m single, she’s single, we’re just mates and I think that’s the best way for now.

“She’s cool, she’s funny, she makes me laugh, she was a great girlfriend, but it just didn’t work and we broke up, and now I don’t want to rush into anything.

“We message each other just once in a while, we don’t talk about anything that serious, but we get on.”

8aad2_nintchdbpict000372459326 Charlotte Crosby 'changes her number and ditches iPhone' to stop ex-boyfriend Stephen Bear contacting her

The couple have had a very off and off romance


But it seems this time Charlotte is keen to cut off all contact for good as she attempts to move on.

The Geordie Shore star has thrown herself into work – starting filming the new series of Just Tattoo Of Us – without Bear who has now been replaced by Scotty T.

She’s also been surrounding herself with friends and has been seen hitting the town with Holly Hagan and Sophie Kasaei.

Charlotte’s rep declined to comment when contacted by The Sun Online.


Got a story? email digishowbiz@the-sun.co.uk or call us direct on 02077824220.

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Retiree health care changes headed to Gov. Rick Snyder for signature

LANSING, MI – A pared-down version of the bills to address unfunded pension and retiree health care liabilities in Michigan communities made its way through the chambers Tuesday and is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk. 

The bills attempt to address more than $7 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $10 billion in unfunded retiree health care liabilities within local communities by requiring financial reporting and helping local communities with underfunding issues create corrective action plans to regain their financial footing.  

“It is estimated that local governments in Michigan are $18.8 billion in the red on their pension and retirement health care obligations,” said Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, who led the bill package in the Senate.  

“Our goal with this legislation is to increase transparency, preserve local control and encourage local solutions. Many local governments have already taken action to address their unfunded liabilities. These proactive reforms are designed to help locals that have not taken steps to resolve their growing debt issue.” 

The House and Senate passed each other’s bills on Tuesday, then switched them back to their original chambers for enrollment, printing and presentation to the governor. The governor is supportive of the legislation, according to a spokeswoman. 

The measure was originally opposed by police and firefighters, who took issue with a key portion of the bill that would have given power to a “financial management team” under the state’s emergency management act. That was stripped away in a late-night session last week.  

Michigan legislature passes pared-down retiree health care changes in late-night session  

The new version has gotten a tepid reception from municipal groups like the Michigan Association of Townships, which said last week it doesn’t go far enough to help local retirement plans achieve solvency. 

The bills passed with wide margins in both chambers, but one consistent “no” vote was from Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, who along with Rep. James Lower, R-Cedar Lake, authored the original package.   

“I don’t like them compared to what we had originally introduced. Really what I cared about was making sure retirees and active employees too that are promised a benefit actually get paid it. And I just don’t have a lot of confidence the current bills will achieve that goal,” Albert said. 

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, said the bills made progress by requiring financial reporting, measuring communities equally, determining which communities didn’t have financial problems in their retirement systems and requiring corrective action plans from those with underfunding problems.  

“I was hoping for more, that we would have more solutions. But that’s not to say that there isn’t more work to do, but it’s just not right now,” he said.  

The bills concurred in by their respective chambers on Tuesday were Senate Bills 686, 688, 691-699 and House Bills 5301, 5304, 5306, 5308, 5310 and 5313.  

The legislation will:  

  • Require local units of government to thoroughly report financial information including funding of pension and retiree health care plans.   
  • The Treasury department will then evaluate plans to determine which are underfunded. For retiree health care, a plan is considered underfunded if its obligations are less than 40 percent funded and if its annual contribution is more than 12 percent of the unit’s revenue. A pension plan is considered underfunded if it’s under 60 percent funded and if the unit’s annual contribution is more than 10 percent of its revenue.  
  • The treasurer will give waivers to communities with underfunded pensions if they have approved plans to rectify the situation.   
  • Create a “Municipal Stability Board” comprised of three experts appointed by the governor; one from local government, one from state government and one representing employees and retirees, all with relevant financial experience. It will assist communities in coming up with and ultimately approve or disprove corrective action plans. 

Note: The story has been corrected to reflect that local communities have $10 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. 

Retiree health care changes headed to Gov. Rick Snyder for signature

LANSING, MI – A pared-down version of the bills to address unfunded pension and retiree health care liabilities in Michigan communities made its way through the chambers Tuesday and is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk. 

The bills attempt to address more than $7 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $10 billion in unfunded retiree health care liabilities within local communities by requiring financial reporting and helping local communities with underfunding issues create corrective action plans to regain their financial footing.  

“It is estimated that local governments in Michigan are $18.8 billion in the red on their pension and retirement health care obligations,” said Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, who led the bill package in the Senate.  

“Our goal with this legislation is to increase transparency, preserve local control and encourage local solutions. Many local governments have already taken action to address their unfunded liabilities. These proactive reforms are designed to help locals that have not taken steps to resolve their growing debt issue.” 

The House and Senate passed each other’s bills on Tuesday, then switched them back to their original chambers for enrollment, printing and presentation to the governor. The governor is supportive of the legislation, according to a spokeswoman. 

The measure was originally opposed by police and firefighters, who took issue with a key portion of the bill that would have given power to a “financial management team” under the state’s emergency management act. That was stripped away in a late-night session last week.  

Michigan legislature passes pared-down retiree health care changes in late-night session  

The new version has gotten a tepid reception from municipal groups like the Michigan Association of Townships, which said last week it doesn’t go far enough to help local retirement plans achieve solvency. 

The bills passed with wide margins in both chambers, but one consistent “no” vote was from Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, who along with Rep. James Lower, R-Cedar Lake, authored the original package.   

“I don’t like them compared to what we had originally introduced. Really what I cared about was making sure retirees and active employees too that are promised a benefit actually get paid it. And I just don’t have a lot of confidence the current bills will achieve that goal,” Albert said. 

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, said the bills made progress by requiring financial reporting, measuring communities equally, determining which communities didn’t have financial problems in their retirement systems and requiring corrective action plans from those with underfunding problems.  

“I was hoping for more, that we would have more solutions. But that’s not to say that there isn’t more work to do, but it’s just not right now,” he said.  

The bills concurred in by their respective chambers on Tuesday were Senate Bills 686, 688, 691-699 and House Bills 5301, 5304, 5306, 5308, 5310 and 5313.  

The legislation will:  

  • Require local units of government to thoroughly report financial information including funding of pension and retiree health care plans.   
  • The Treasury department will then evaluate plans to determine which are underfunded. For retiree health care, a plan is considered underfunded if its obligations are less than 40 percent funded and if its annual contribution is more than 12 percent of the unit’s revenue. A pension plan is considered underfunded if it’s under 60 percent funded and if the unit’s annual contribution is more than 10 percent of its revenue.  
  • The treasurer will give waivers to communities with underfunded pensions if they have approved plans to rectify the situation.   
  • Create a “Municipal Stability Board” comprised of three experts appointed by the governor; one from local government, one from state government and one representing employees and retirees, all with relevant financial experience. It will assist communities in coming up with and ultimately approve or disprove corrective action plans. 

Note: The story has been corrected to reflect that local communities have $10 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. 

Retiree health care changes headed to Gov. Rick Snyder for signature

LANSING, MI – A pared-down version of the bills to address unfunded pension and retiree health care liabilities in Michigan communities made its way through the chambers Tuesday and is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk. 

The bills attempt to address more than $7 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $10 billion in unfunded retiree health care liabilities within local communities by requiring financial reporting and helping local communities with underfunding issues create corrective action plans to regain their financial footing.  

“It is estimated that local governments in Michigan are $18.8 billion in the red on their pension and retirement health care obligations,” said Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, who led the bill package in the Senate.  

“Our goal with this legislation is to increase transparency, preserve local control and encourage local solutions. Many local governments have already taken action to address their unfunded liabilities. These proactive reforms are designed to help locals that have not taken steps to resolve their growing debt issue.” 

The House and Senate passed each other’s bills on Tuesday, then switched them back to their original chambers for enrollment, printing and presentation to the governor. The governor is supportive of the legislation, according to a spokeswoman. 

The measure was originally opposed by police and firefighters, who took issue with a key portion of the bill that would have given power to a “financial management team” under the state’s emergency management act. That was stripped away in a late-night session last week.  

Michigan legislature passes pared-down retiree health care changes in late-night session  

The new version has gotten a tepid reception from municipal groups like the Michigan Association of Townships, which said last week it doesn’t go far enough to help local retirement plans achieve solvency. 

The bills passed with wide margins in both chambers, but one consistent “no” vote was from Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, who along with Rep. James Lower, R-Cedar Lake, authored the original package.   

“I don’t like them compared to what we had originally introduced. Really what I cared about was making sure retirees and active employees too that are promised a benefit actually get paid it. And I just don’t have a lot of confidence the current bills will achieve that goal,” Albert said. 

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, said the bills made progress by requiring financial reporting, measuring communities equally, determining which communities didn’t have financial problems in their retirement systems and requiring corrective action plans from those with underfunding problems.  

“I was hoping for more, that we would have more solutions. But that’s not to say that there isn’t more work to do, but it’s just not right now,” he said.  

The bills concurred in by their respective chambers on Tuesday were Senate Bills 686, 688, 691-699 and House Bills 5301, 5304, 5306, 5308, 5310 and 5313.  

The legislation will:  

  • Require local units of government to thoroughly report financial information including funding of pension and retiree health care plans.   
  • The Treasury department will then evaluate plans to determine which are underfunded. For retiree health care, a plan is considered underfunded if its obligations are less than 40 percent funded and if its annual contribution is more than 12 percent of the unit’s revenue. A pension plan is considered underfunded if it’s under 60 percent funded and if the unit’s annual contribution is more than 10 percent of its revenue.  
  • The treasurer will give waivers to communities with underfunded pensions if they have approved plans to rectify the situation.   
  • Create a “Municipal Stability Board” comprised of three experts appointed by the governor; one from local government, one from state government and one representing employees and retirees, all with relevant financial experience. It will assist communities in coming up with and ultimately approve or disprove corrective action plans. 

Note: The story has been corrected to reflect that local communities have $10 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. 

Chattanooga City Council changes course on health plan

Confronted by a packed room full of upset city retirees, the Chattanooga City Council on Tuesday appeared ready to back off a switch in health insurers for 2018 and stay with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

Last week a group of retirees hammered the switch to United Healthcare, saying they’d been told they might have to switch their longtime doctors or lose access to specialty care at the Chattanooga Heart Institute.
At a planning meeting Tuesday, city Human Resources Director Tina Camba said United Healthcare would not cover services from the heart institute. A late resolution was added to the Tuesday night voting agenda to extend the contract with BlueCross for the coming year.

This is a developing story. Stay with the Times Free Press for updates.

Microsoft Photos for Windows 10 updated with UI changes on the Release Preview Ring

9678b_Microsoft-Photos Microsoft Photos for Windows 10 updated with UI changes on the Release Preview Ring

Microsoft is today rolling out a new update to Windows 10 Photos app for the Windows Insiders on the Release Preview Ring. Microsoft Photos app for Windows 10 has been updated with UI changes and some improvements.

As first spotted by an AppRaisin user, Microsoft Photos app for Windows 10 now comes with new pivots, these are smaller and have the accent colour. Microsoft has moved the Search bar to the left side of the screen.

With this update for Microsoft Photos app, the company has also added the premium content. You can now access new themes, music and special effects if you have Office 365 subscription. Microsoft has also added a new settings option that lets you enrol in A/B testing program. The other changes include:

  • Improvements to Story Remix.
  • Grid view options on the right at the same “bar” as the pivots.
  • Performance improvements.
  • Bug fixes.

The updated version of Microsoft Photos app is 2017.39101.16720.0 and it can be downloaded on Windows 10 PCs. You can download the app by clicking on the below link.

Download Microsoft Photos for Windows 10.


Microsoft Photos for Windows 10 updated with UI changes on the Release Preview Ring

38bd1_Microsoft-Photos Microsoft Photos for Windows 10 updated with UI changes on the Release Preview Ring

Microsoft is today rolling out a new update to Windows 10 Photos app for the Windows Insiders on the Release Preview Ring. Microsoft Photos app for Windows 10 has been updated with UI changes and some improvements.

As first spotted by an AppRaisin user, Microsoft Photos app for Windows 10 now comes with new pivots, these are smaller and have the accent colour. Microsoft has moved the Search bar to the left side of the screen.

With this update for Microsoft Photos app, the company has also added the premium content. You can now access new themes, music and special effects if you have Office 365 subscription. Microsoft has also added a new settings option that lets you enrol in A/B testing program. The other changes include:

  • Improvements to Story Remix.
  • Grid view options on the right at the same “bar” as the pivots.
  • Performance improvements.
  • Bug fixes.

The updated version of Microsoft Photos app is 2017.39101.16720.0 and it can be downloaded on Windows 10 PCs. You can download the app by clicking on the below link.

Download Microsoft Photos for Windows 10.


Changes with internet access possible

Imagine scrolling through Facebook only to come across a video that can’t be played because internet service providers require customers to pay extra for video streaming.

This and more could become reality as the Federal Communications Commission considers rescinding a 2015 regulatory decision.

Websites and streaming services that users have become accustomed to having access to could be placed behind an additional paywall or slowed down.
Gina Elias, Illinois Valley Community College computer networking instructor and program coordinator, said net neutrality rules that ensure fair access of the internet are widely discussed in her classes. But others may be excluded from the conversation because of complicated technical jargon.

What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality rules keep internet access consistent for all users.

Internet service providers, such as ATT and Mediacom, currently fall under the FCC’s Title II designation for common carriers such as electricity or landline telephone service.

“They just carry the message, that is all,” Elias said. “They can’t filter who you call or how much electricity. That’s the way ISPs should run under net neutrality.”

Elias said ISPs would prefer to negotiate with websites the same way cable or satellite television providers determine the prices to offer channels and networks to subscribers.

Higher price to do business in the ‘fast lane’
Elias said the ISPs hope to tap into additional income by prioritizing certain businesses, thus creating what’s widely described as a “fast lane” or “slow lane.”
Any person or business that owns a website negotiates only with its host and server. Without net neutrality, the ISPs would be able to negotiate with any website to make it available to the ISP’s customers. In other words, Mediacom could charge Amazon to be available to its internet customers.

Smaller or startup businesses may have a harder time standing out if they’re unable to pay absorbent fees that would be less of an expense for larger businesses.

“It hurts entrepreneurship,” Elias said. “I think it limits your ability to have diverse products to choose from because you’re obviously going to use the product that’s going to be faster.”

Under present rules, ISPs can regulate customers’ upload and download speeds, but cannot limit which sites customers visit or how those sites perform.

The change would allow an ISP to block access to certain sites or charge those sites different to operate at certain speeds. Verizon, which owns Yahoo!, could charge its customers a premium to use Google for searches or streaming video. Or Comcast could make Netflix stream at much slower speeds than its own video on demand service.

Internet access could resemble cable packages
ISPs also would no longer be required to offer complete internet access to all. Elias said they could offer “packages” similar to cable plans wherein basic access would only involve internet access and email while higher-cost packages could include streaming movies or specific social networks.

“It’s sort of like the more you use it the more you might pay or the more services you use the more you might pay,” Elias said.

She also used a cellular phone plan comparison wherein users are limited to a certain amount of data but can purchase more if they go over their allotment.
Companies such as Netflix already pay for increased bandwidth to companies like Comcast, meaning both the business and the customer would effectively be paying their ISP for the same service.

Theoretically, an internet user who just uses the internet to surf the web could find themselves with a lower bill, but Elias said that person may not realize what their needs are until coming across a video on a website that they’re unable to watch because they don’t have the right package.

Digital divide could widen
This could put internet users on uneven ground with certain people being able to access specific content on the internet that others can’t. Elias said this would especially be seen in the education field.

She teaches classes in labs at IVCC that involve online examples, but students could need to pay higher costs for access to the right internet plan to access that information, which would be in addition to general tuition. This disconnect between what sort of access students have can also be seen in grade schools and high schools as web tools have been integrated into education at all levels.
“If that isn’t available to everyone because they can’t afford it then I think that’s a shame,” Elias said.

Streator High School Superintendent Matt Seaton said students utilize Google Chromebooks and a variety of web-based tools such as Google Chrome.
Seaton said the school is aware of the conversations being had regarding net neutrality but is uncertain as to how it would affect the curriculum.
Part of that is because no one is quite sure what internet use will look like if these regulations are removed.

“It’s like a worm in your computer,” said Streator Public Library Director Cindy Maxwell. “Until it’s activated you don’t know how bad it’s going to be.”
Maxwell said the digital divide is already a barrier the library hopes to bridge by offering free internet access to students and residents who may not have it at home.

Some are taking timed tests and Maxwell worries if the library is unable to afford the highest quality internet connection it may lead to an impact on their grades.
“The brick and mortar concept of education has changed. Especially being in a rural location if they can’t afford housing and school and are looking for alternatives to advance their education,” Maxwell said. “It becomes a snowball effect.”

Maxwell said the library sometimes sees over 600 internet users a month and questions what would happen if the internet speeds were to drop or certain resources were unavailable.

“It’s heavy on my mind,” Maxwell said. “I think about it and the chokehold that could be created.”

The library offers a wide variety of online books and resources that may be more difficult to access.

Additionally, she’s concerned about how the change will affect day-to-day operations at the library the same way it may impact other businesses. Simple tasks such as ordering materials online may become more difficult with lagging load times. Businesses also may select materials based on which websites load faster.

Maxwell said all she can do is reach out to state representatives and share her concerns.

So why do it?
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has expressed interest in reducing regulations on the internet.

In a statement last month Pai stated a decision made in 2015, when Pai was only a commissioner at the FCC, to reclassify broadband as a common carrier under Title II was “a mistake” and fewer regulations could lead to ISPs investing in building and expanding their broadband networks.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Pai stated. “Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

Companies such as Comcast have stated they would not throttle or block legal content, but ultimately customers will only have the company’s word as the rules that previously ensured that statement would be discarded.

The company previously had a statement on their website’s net neutrality page in 2014 that stated they would also not prioritize internet traffic or create paid fast lanes, but this item has since been removed.

“I try to figure out what the advantage is and I only see the advantage being to the ISP,” Elias said. “It classifies the ISP into a different category and maybe the advantage is to customize what you actually use but in the countries that have tried to do that the people are not happy with the end results.”

It’s a conversation that continues to grow as the FCC looms closer to its vote on Thursday, Dec. 14.

Those in support of net neutrality have been reaching out to their congressmen and signing up for online grassroots movements such as battleforthenet.com.
The discussion can be a complex one to have given the content, but for others the answer is easy.

“My opinion is, it’s not broke so why do we fix it?” Elias said.

Kinzinger: Vital that internet remains open
The Times reached out to U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, for a phone interview.

His office instead sent the Times the following statement: “I believe it is vital that the Internet remains open and vibrant, and will work to ensure it remains accessible and unrestricted for the next generation. Congress and the FCC should work together to accomplish the goals of an open Internet, without imposing old regulations that stifle innovation. Working together on the future of the Internet, we must work to prohibit blocking lawful content, throttling Internet traffic and paid prioritization, and increase the transparency in the network management practices of broadband providers.”

The Times asked his office to clarify his stance on net neutrality and whether he has worked with other members of Congress in either retaining or changing the current rules, but did not receive a reply.

The House of Representatives passed one of Kinzinger’s bills in April 2016 that prohibits the FCC from regulating rates charged for broadband internet access. The bill also limits the FCC’s power, which includes its authority over protecting net neutrality. It has not passed the Senate.

Kinzinger was also recently named vice chairman of the subcommittee on digital commerce and consumer protection.

OpenSecrets.org released a list of every member of Congress and ranked them by the contributions received from ATT, Verizon and Comcast. Kinzinger ranked at number 48 out of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, with number 1 being the candidate with the most contributions.

The grassroots website battleforthenet.com has Kinzinger listed as “Team Cable” rather than “Team Internet.”

Changes with internet access possible

Imagine scrolling through Facebook only to come across a video that can’t be played because internet service providers require customers to pay extra for video streaming.

This and more could become reality as the Federal Communications Commission considers rescinding a 2015 regulatory decision.

Websites and streaming services that users have become accustomed to having access to could be placed behind an additional paywall or slowed down.
Gina Elias, Illinois Valley Community College computer networking instructor and program coordinator, said net neutrality rules that ensure fair access of the internet are widely discussed in her classes. But others may be excluded from the conversation because of complicated technical jargon.

What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality rules keep internet access consistent for all users.

Internet service providers, such as ATT and Mediacom, currently fall under the FCC’s Title II designation for common carriers such as electricity or landline telephone service.

“They just carry the message, that is all,” Elias said. “They can’t filter who you call or how much electricity. That’s the way ISPs should run under net neutrality.”

Elias said ISPs would prefer to negotiate with websites the same way cable or satellite television providers determine the prices to offer channels and networks to subscribers.

Higher price to do business in the ‘fast lane’
Elias said the ISPs hope to tap into additional income by prioritizing certain businesses, thus creating what’s widely described as a “fast lane” or “slow lane.”
Any person or business that owns a website negotiates only with its host and server. Without net neutrality, the ISPs would be able to negotiate with any website to make it available to the ISP’s customers. In other words, Mediacom could charge Amazon to be available to its internet customers.

Smaller or startup businesses may have a harder time standing out if they’re unable to pay absorbent fees that would be less of an expense for larger businesses.

“It hurts entrepreneurship,” Elias said. “I think it limits your ability to have diverse products to choose from because you’re obviously going to use the product that’s going to be faster.”

Under present rules, ISPs can regulate customers’ upload and download speeds, but cannot limit which sites customers visit or how those sites perform.

The change would allow an ISP to block access to certain sites or charge those sites different to operate at certain speeds. Verizon, which owns Yahoo!, could charge its customers a premium to use Google for searches or streaming video. Or Comcast could make Netflix stream at much slower speeds than its own video on demand service.

Internet access could resemble cable packages
ISPs also would no longer be required to offer complete internet access to all. Elias said they could offer “packages” similar to cable plans wherein basic access would only involve internet access and email while higher-cost packages could include streaming movies or specific social networks.

“It’s sort of like the more you use it the more you might pay or the more services you use the more you might pay,” Elias said.

She also used a cellular phone plan comparison wherein users are limited to a certain amount of data but can purchase more if they go over their allotment.
Companies such as Netflix already pay for increased bandwidth to companies like Comcast, meaning both the business and the customer would effectively be paying their ISP for the same service.

Theoretically, an internet user who just uses the internet to surf the web could find themselves with a lower bill, but Elias said that person may not realize what their needs are until coming across a video on a website that they’re unable to watch because they don’t have the right package.

Digital divide could widen
This could put internet users on uneven ground with certain people being able to access specific content on the internet that others can’t. Elias said this would especially be seen in the education field.

She teaches classes in labs at IVCC that involve online examples, but students could need to pay higher costs for access to the right internet plan to access that information, which would be in addition to general tuition. This disconnect between what sort of access students have can also be seen in grade schools and high schools as web tools have been integrated into education at all levels.
“If that isn’t available to everyone because they can’t afford it then I think that’s a shame,” Elias said.

Streator High School Superintendent Matt Seaton said students utilize Google Chromebooks and a variety of web-based tools such as Google Chrome.
Seaton said the school is aware of the conversations being had regarding net neutrality but is uncertain as to how it would affect the curriculum.
Part of that is because no one is quite sure what internet use will look like if these regulations are removed.

“It’s like a worm in your computer,” said Streator Public Library Director Cindy Maxwell. “Until it’s activated you don’t know how bad it’s going to be.”
Maxwell said the digital divide is already a barrier the library hopes to bridge by offering free internet access to students and residents who may not have it at home.

Some are taking timed tests and Maxwell worries if the library is unable to afford the highest quality internet connection it may lead to an impact on their grades.
“The brick and mortar concept of education has changed. Especially being in a rural location if they can’t afford housing and school and are looking for alternatives to advance their education,” Maxwell said. “It becomes a snowball effect.”

Maxwell said the library sometimes sees over 600 internet users a month and questions what would happen if the internet speeds were to drop or certain resources were unavailable.

“It’s heavy on my mind,” Maxwell said. “I think about it and the chokehold that could be created.”

The library offers a wide variety of online books and resources that may be more difficult to access.

Additionally, she’s concerned about how the change will affect day-to-day operations at the library the same way it may impact other businesses. Simple tasks such as ordering materials online may become more difficult with lagging load times. Businesses also may select materials based on which websites load faster.

Maxwell said all she can do is reach out to state representatives and share her concerns.

So why do it?
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has expressed interest in reducing regulations on the internet.

In a statement last month Pai stated a decision made in 2015, when Pai was only a commissioner at the FCC, to reclassify broadband as a common carrier under Title II was “a mistake” and fewer regulations could lead to ISPs investing in building and expanding their broadband networks.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Pai stated. “Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

Companies such as Comcast have stated they would not throttle or block legal content, but ultimately customers will only have the company’s word as the rules that previously ensured that statement would be discarded.

The company previously had a statement on their website’s net neutrality page in 2014 that stated they would also not prioritize internet traffic or create paid fast lanes, but this item has since been removed.

“I try to figure out what the advantage is and I only see the advantage being to the ISP,” Elias said. “It classifies the ISP into a different category and maybe the advantage is to customize what you actually use but in the countries that have tried to do that the people are not happy with the end results.”

It’s a conversation that continues to grow as the FCC looms closer to its vote on Thursday, Dec. 14.

Those in support of net neutrality have been reaching out to their congressmen and signing up for online grassroots movements such as battleforthenet.com.
The discussion can be a complex one to have given the content, but for others the answer is easy.

“My opinion is, it’s not broke so why do we fix it?” Elias said.

Kinzinger: Vital that internet remains open
The Times reached out to U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, for a phone interview.

His office instead sent the Times the following statement: “I believe it is vital that the Internet remains open and vibrant, and will work to ensure it remains accessible and unrestricted for the next generation. Congress and the FCC should work together to accomplish the goals of an open Internet, without imposing old regulations that stifle innovation. Working together on the future of the Internet, we must work to prohibit blocking lawful content, throttling Internet traffic and paid prioritization, and increase the transparency in the network management practices of broadband providers.”

The Times asked his office to clarify his stance on net neutrality and whether he has worked with other members of Congress in either retaining or changing the current rules, but did not receive a reply.

The House of Representatives passed one of Kinzinger’s bills in April 2016 that prohibits the FCC from regulating rates charged for broadband internet access. The bill also limits the FCC’s power, which includes its authority over protecting net neutrality. It has not passed the Senate.

Kinzinger was also recently named vice chairman of the subcommittee on digital commerce and consumer protection.

OpenSecrets.org released a list of every member of Congress and ranked them by the contributions received from ATT, Verizon and Comcast. Kinzinger ranked at number 48 out of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, with number 1 being the candidate with the most contributions.

The grassroots website battleforthenet.com has Kinzinger listed as “Team Cable” rather than “Team Internet.”

6 changes occurring in the health industry right now

The health industry is a hot topic these days. Whether you’re trying to decide what plan on the Marketplace is best for you, now that healthcare enrollment is open, or you’re interested in the changes that are happening in the health industry now that we’re always on our smartphones and sending half of our documents via apps instead of by mail—there’s a lot to learn about.

Whether you’re are always in touch with your doctor regarding your daily prescription drugs, or you’re curious about how policy changes will affect your monthly insurance bills, it’s important to be informed. So if you’re curious, take a look at the 6 changes occurring in the health industry right now:

Technological advancements

One of the biggest changes in the healthcare industry is most certainly technological advancements. They’re changing the very face of medicine as we know it, in large part because of how the Internet of Things is more and more becoming part of the daily fabric of our lives. For example, wearable tracking devices and innovative phone apps have made it possible to monitor different aspects of our health, from the steps we take every day to tracking the insulin in our blood.

It’s a bold new frontier, and there are many exciting ways to take advantage of this already. To take a look at some health-related apps, check out this list from Active.com.

Shift from nonprofit to for-profit

Because of the changes in policy to healthcare, and rising costs, many companies are going to find themselves faced with the challenge of having to become more for-profit than nonprofit. Why? In large part, as healthcare costs rise, so will providing this benefit to their employees. This ends up with the result of companies having to become more cost-focused than they ordinarily would be.

At the end of the day, stakeholders should be able to understand this move. After all, what good is a nonprofit if it’s unable to provide its employees with healthcare?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is changing

Another big change—and one that’s quite scary, for many Americans—is the fact that the Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA, or “Obamacare”) is changing. It’s looking more and more likely that this act isn’t going to be repealed, as originally promised by President Trump, but it’s quite likely that it’s going to be changed quite a lot. According to some health insurance brokers, the rules are changing every month or two.

For any consumer, it’s good to be aware of the changes as they go on. Currently, what you’ll want to pay attention to the most is what will happen to provisions such as the pre-existing clause, whether children will be covered under their parents’ insurance or not (and until what age), and who will be insured and who won’t be.

Use of data

Another change in the healthcare industry is that doctors and other healthcare professionals are going to start using data in order to get insights about their patients. After all, we live in a world full of data, so it’s no surprise that this is starting to become part of the system.

Just a few examples of how data is going to change healthcare are: (1) prevention that promotes healthier behaviors (for example, knowing if a patient is in need of a specific kind of care or change in medication), (2) smarter diagnoses and treatments (many developments and outcomes can be more easily reached with a large amount of data), and (3) faster research and development (for example, with clinical trials).

Modernizing payment options

Yet another result of the modernization of our everyday lives is the fact that payment options are going to be much simpler in the healthcare industry. Because in the past many consumers have complained about how complicated payment systems are in hospitals and doctors’ offices, payment systems are being changed so that these consumers have a more positive experience.

This means that, once you’ve gotten treated, the entire (metaphorical) headache of paying will be much less trying than it has been in the past.

Care everywhere

Additionally, with our modern world, people are starting to get healthcare advice more via their mobiles or computers than in an actual doctor’s office. Otherwise known as telemedicine, this shift is going to make a huge difference especially for rural areas, and it will also popularize preventative medicine instead of emergency treatment. After all, it’s easier to get something checked out early if it’s done from the comfort of your own home.

In 2017, there are many changes occurring in the health industry—and there are certainly going to be more of them in the future. You’ll want to keep yourself as updated as possible, ensuring that you save money where it counts and stay aware of how advances, many of them technological, can make your access to health care easier.

How do these changes affect your everyday health? Which ones make the biggest difference to you?

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author’s own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

Read next:

Smarter bots, deeper learning, and better blockchaining: Mobile app trends in 2018

6 changes occurring in the health industry right now

The health industry is a hot topic these days. Whether you’re trying to decide what plan on the Marketplace is best for you, now that healthcare enrollment is open, or you’re interested in the changes that are happening in the health industry now that we’re always on our smartphones and sending half of our documents via apps instead of by mail—there’s a lot to learn about.

Whether you’re are always in touch with your doctor regarding your daily prescription drugs, or you’re curious about how policy changes will affect your monthly insurance bills, it’s important to be informed. So if you’re curious, take a look at the 6 changes occurring in the health industry right now:

Technological advancements

One of the biggest changes in the healthcare industry is most certainly technological advancements. They’re changing the very face of medicine as we know it, in large part because of how the Internet of Things is more and more becoming part of the daily fabric of our lives. For example, wearable tracking devices and innovative phone apps have made it possible to monitor different aspects of our health, from the steps we take every day to tracking the insulin in our blood.

It’s a bold new frontier, and there are many exciting ways to take advantage of this already. To take a look at some health-related apps, check out this list from Active.com.

Shift from nonprofit to for-profit

Because of the changes in policy to healthcare, and rising costs, many companies are going to find themselves faced with the challenge of having to become more for-profit than nonprofit. Why? In large part, as healthcare costs rise, so will providing this benefit to their employees. This ends up with the result of companies having to become more cost-focused than they ordinarily would be.

At the end of the day, stakeholders should be able to understand this move. After all, what good is a nonprofit if it’s unable to provide its employees with healthcare?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is changing

Another big change—and one that’s quite scary, for many Americans—is the fact that the Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA, or “Obamacare”) is changing. It’s looking more and more likely that this act isn’t going to be repealed, as originally promised by President Trump, but it’s quite likely that it’s going to be changed quite a lot. According to some health insurance brokers, the rules are changing every month or two.

For any consumer, it’s good to be aware of the changes as they go on. Currently, what you’ll want to pay attention to the most is what will happen to provisions such as the pre-existing clause, whether children will be covered under their parents’ insurance or not (and until what age), and who will be insured and who won’t be.

Use of data

Another change in the healthcare industry is that doctors and other healthcare professionals are going to start using data in order to get insights about their patients. After all, we live in a world full of data, so it’s no surprise that this is starting to become part of the system.

Just a few examples of how data is going to change healthcare are: (1) prevention that promotes healthier behaviors (for example, knowing if a patient is in need of a specific kind of care or change in medication), (2) smarter diagnoses and treatments (many developments and outcomes can be more easily reached with a large amount of data), and (3) faster research and development (for example, with clinical trials).

Modernizing payment options

Yet another result of the modernization of our everyday lives is the fact that payment options are going to be much simpler in the healthcare industry. Because in the past many consumers have complained about how complicated payment systems are in hospitals and doctors’ offices, payment systems are being changed so that these consumers have a more positive experience.

This means that, once you’ve gotten treated, the entire (metaphorical) headache of paying will be much less trying than it has been in the past.

Care everywhere

Additionally, with our modern world, people are starting to get healthcare advice more via their mobiles or computers than in an actual doctor’s office. Otherwise known as telemedicine, this shift is going to make a huge difference especially for rural areas, and it will also popularize preventative medicine instead of emergency treatment. After all, it’s easier to get something checked out early if it’s done from the comfort of your own home.

In 2017, there are many changes occurring in the health industry—and there are certainly going to be more of them in the future. You’ll want to keep yourself as updated as possible, ensuring that you save money where it counts and stay aware of how advances, many of them technological, can make your access to health care easier.

How do these changes affect your everyday health? Which ones make the biggest difference to you?

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author’s own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

Read next:

Smarter bots, deeper learning, and better blockchaining: Mobile app trends in 2018

6 changes occurring in the health industry right now

The health industry is a hot topic these days. Whether you’re trying to decide what plan on the Marketplace is best for you, now that healthcare enrollment is open, or you’re interested in the changes that are happening in the health industry now that we’re always on our smartphones and sending half of our documents via apps instead of by mail—there’s a lot to learn about.

Whether you’re are always in touch with your doctor regarding your daily prescription drugs, or you’re curious about how policy changes will affect your monthly insurance bills, it’s important to be informed. So if you’re curious, take a look at the 6 changes occurring in the health industry right now:

Technological advancements

One of the biggest changes in the healthcare industry is most certainly technological advancements. They’re changing the very face of medicine as we know it, in large part because of how the Internet of Things is more and more becoming part of the daily fabric of our lives. For example, wearable tracking devices and innovative phone apps have made it possible to monitor different aspects of our health, from the steps we take every day to tracking the insulin in our blood.

It’s a bold new frontier, and there are many exciting ways to take advantage of this already. To take a look at some health-related apps, check out this list from Active.com.

Shift from nonprofit to for-profit

Because of the changes in policy to healthcare, and rising costs, many companies are going to find themselves faced with the challenge of having to become more for-profit than nonprofit. Why? In large part, as healthcare costs rise, so will providing this benefit to their employees. This ends up with the result of companies having to become more cost-focused than they ordinarily would be.

At the end of the day, stakeholders should be able to understand this move. After all, what good is a nonprofit if it’s unable to provide its employees with healthcare?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is changing

Another big change—and one that’s quite scary, for many Americans—is the fact that the Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA, or “Obamacare”) is changing. It’s looking more and more likely that this act isn’t going to be repealed, as originally promised by President Trump, but it’s quite likely that it’s going to be changed quite a lot. According to some health insurance brokers, the rules are changing every month or two.

For any consumer, it’s good to be aware of the changes as they go on. Currently, what you’ll want to pay attention to the most is what will happen to provisions such as the pre-existing clause, whether children will be covered under their parents’ insurance or not (and until what age), and who will be insured and who won’t be.

Use of data

Another change in the healthcare industry is that doctors and other healthcare professionals are going to start using data in order to get insights about their patients. After all, we live in a world full of data, so it’s no surprise that this is starting to become part of the system.

Just a few examples of how data is going to change healthcare are: (1) prevention that promotes healthier behaviors (for example, knowing if a patient is in need of a specific kind of care or change in medication), (2) smarter diagnoses and treatments (many developments and outcomes can be more easily reached with a large amount of data), and (3) faster research and development (for example, with clinical trials).

Modernizing payment options

Yet another result of the modernization of our everyday lives is the fact that payment options are going to be much simpler in the healthcare industry. Because in the past many consumers have complained about how complicated payment systems are in hospitals and doctors’ offices, payment systems are being changed so that these consumers have a more positive experience.

This means that, once you’ve gotten treated, the entire (metaphorical) headache of paying will be much less trying than it has been in the past.

Care everywhere

Additionally, with our modern world, people are starting to get healthcare advice more via their mobiles or computers than in an actual doctor’s office. Otherwise known as telemedicine, this shift is going to make a huge difference especially for rural areas, and it will also popularize preventative medicine instead of emergency treatment. After all, it’s easier to get something checked out early if it’s done from the comfort of your own home.

In 2017, there are many changes occurring in the health industry—and there are certainly going to be more of them in the future. You’ll want to keep yourself as updated as possible, ensuring that you save money where it counts and stay aware of how advances, many of them technological, can make your access to health care easier.

How do these changes affect your everyday health? Which ones make the biggest difference to you?

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author’s own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

Read next:

Smarter bots, deeper learning, and better blockchaining: Mobile app trends in 2018

6 changes occurring in the health industry right now

The health industry is a hot topic these days. Whether you’re trying to decide what plan on the Marketplace is best for you, now that healthcare enrollment is open, or you’re interested in the changes that are happening in the health industry now that we’re always on our smartphones and sending half of our documents via apps instead of by mail—there’s a lot to learn about.

Whether you’re are always in touch with your doctor regarding your daily prescription drugs, or you’re curious about how policy changes will affect your monthly insurance bills, it’s important to be informed. So if you’re curious, take a look at the 6 changes occurring in the health industry right now:

Technological advancements

One of the biggest changes in the healthcare industry is most certainly technological advancements. They’re changing the very face of medicine as we know it, in large part because of how the Internet of Things is more and more becoming part of the daily fabric of our lives. For example, wearable tracking devices and innovative phone apps have made it possible to monitor different aspects of our health, from the steps we take every day to tracking the insulin in our blood.

It’s a bold new frontier, and there are many exciting ways to take advantage of this already. To take a look at some health-related apps, check out this list from Active.com.

Shift from nonprofit to for-profit

Because of the changes in policy to healthcare, and rising costs, many companies are going to find themselves faced with the challenge of having to become more for-profit than nonprofit. Why? In large part, as healthcare costs rise, so will providing this benefit to their employees. This ends up with the result of companies having to become more cost-focused than they ordinarily would be.

At the end of the day, stakeholders should be able to understand this move. After all, what good is a nonprofit if it’s unable to provide its employees with healthcare?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is changing

Another big change—and one that’s quite scary, for many Americans—is the fact that the Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA, or “Obamacare”) is changing. It’s looking more and more likely that this act isn’t going to be repealed, as originally promised by President Trump, but it’s quite likely that it’s going to be changed quite a lot. According to some health insurance brokers, the rules are changing every month or two.

For any consumer, it’s good to be aware of the changes as they go on. Currently, what you’ll want to pay attention to the most is what will happen to provisions such as the pre-existing clause, whether children will be covered under their parents’ insurance or not (and until what age), and who will be insured and who won’t be.

Use of data

Another change in the healthcare industry is that doctors and other healthcare professionals are going to start using data in order to get insights about their patients. After all, we live in a world full of data, so it’s no surprise that this is starting to become part of the system.

Just a few examples of how data is going to change healthcare are: (1) prevention that promotes healthier behaviors (for example, knowing if a patient is in need of a specific kind of care or change in medication), (2) smarter diagnoses and treatments (many developments and outcomes can be more easily reached with a large amount of data), and (3) faster research and development (for example, with clinical trials).

Modernizing payment options

Yet another result of the modernization of our everyday lives is the fact that payment options are going to be much simpler in the healthcare industry. Because in the past many consumers have complained about how complicated payment systems are in hospitals and doctors’ offices, payment systems are being changed so that these consumers have a more positive experience.

This means that, once you’ve gotten treated, the entire (metaphorical) headache of paying will be much less trying than it has been in the past.

Care everywhere

Additionally, with our modern world, people are starting to get healthcare advice more via their mobiles or computers than in an actual doctor’s office. Otherwise known as telemedicine, this shift is going to make a huge difference especially for rural areas, and it will also popularize preventative medicine instead of emergency treatment. After all, it’s easier to get something checked out early if it’s done from the comfort of your own home.

In 2017, there are many changes occurring in the health industry—and there are certainly going to be more of them in the future. You’ll want to keep yourself as updated as possible, ensuring that you save money where it counts and stay aware of how advances, many of them technological, can make your access to health care easier.

How do these changes affect your everyday health? Which ones make the biggest difference to you?

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author’s own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

Read next:

Smarter bots, deeper learning, and better blockchaining: Mobile app trends in 2018

6 changes occurring in the health industry right now

The health industry is a hot topic these days. Whether you’re trying to decide what plan on the Marketplace is best for you, now that healthcare enrollment is open, or you’re interested in the changes that are happening in the health industry now that we’re always on our smartphones and sending half of our documents via apps instead of by mail—there’s a lot to learn about.

Whether you’re are always in touch with your doctor regarding your daily prescription drugs, or you’re curious about how policy changes will affect your monthly insurance bills, it’s important to be informed. So if you’re curious, take a look at the 6 changes occurring in the health industry right now:

Technological advancements

One of the biggest changes in the healthcare industry is most certainly technological advancements. They’re changing the very face of medicine as we know it, in large part because of how the Internet of Things is more and more becoming part of the daily fabric of our lives. For example, wearable tracking devices and innovative phone apps have made it possible to monitor different aspects of our health, from the steps we take every day to tracking the insulin in our blood.

It’s a bold new frontier, and there are many exciting ways to take advantage of this already. To take a look at some health-related apps, check out this list from Active.com.

Shift from nonprofit to for-profit

Because of the changes in policy to healthcare, and rising costs, many companies are going to find themselves faced with the challenge of having to become more for-profit than nonprofit. Why? In large part, as healthcare costs rise, so will providing this benefit to their employees. This ends up with the result of companies having to become more cost-focused than they ordinarily would be.

At the end of the day, stakeholders should be able to understand this move. After all, what good is a nonprofit if it’s unable to provide its employees with healthcare?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is changing

Another big change—and one that’s quite scary, for many Americans—is the fact that the Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA, or “Obamacare”) is changing. It’s looking more and more likely that this act isn’t going to be repealed, as originally promised by President Trump, but it’s quite likely that it’s going to be changed quite a lot. According to some health insurance brokers, the rules are changing every month or two.

For any consumer, it’s good to be aware of the changes as they go on. Currently, what you’ll want to pay attention to the most is what will happen to provisions such as the pre-existing clause, whether children will be covered under their parents’ insurance or not (and until what age), and who will be insured and who won’t be.

Use of data

Another change in the healthcare industry is that doctors and other healthcare professionals are going to start using data in order to get insights about their patients. After all, we live in a world full of data, so it’s no surprise that this is starting to become part of the system.

Just a few examples of how data is going to change healthcare are: (1) prevention that promotes healthier behaviors (for example, knowing if a patient is in need of a specific kind of care or change in medication), (2) smarter diagnoses and treatments (many developments and outcomes can be more easily reached with a large amount of data), and (3) faster research and development (for example, with clinical trials).

Modernizing payment options

Yet another result of the modernization of our everyday lives is the fact that payment options are going to be much simpler in the healthcare industry. Because in the past many consumers have complained about how complicated payment systems are in hospitals and doctors’ offices, payment systems are being changed so that these consumers have a more positive experience.

This means that, once you’ve gotten treated, the entire (metaphorical) headache of paying will be much less trying than it has been in the past.

Care everywhere

Additionally, with our modern world, people are starting to get healthcare advice more via their mobiles or computers than in an actual doctor’s office. Otherwise known as telemedicine, this shift is going to make a huge difference especially for rural areas, and it will also popularize preventative medicine instead of emergency treatment. After all, it’s easier to get something checked out early if it’s done from the comfort of your own home.

In 2017, there are many changes occurring in the health industry—and there are certainly going to be more of them in the future. You’ll want to keep yourself as updated as possible, ensuring that you save money where it counts and stay aware of how advances, many of them technological, can make your access to health care easier.

How do these changes affect your everyday health? Which ones make the biggest difference to you?

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author’s own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

Read next:

Smarter bots, deeper learning, and better blockchaining: Mobile app trends in 2018

Michigan legislature passes pared-down retiree health care changes in late-night session

LANSING, MI — For the second year in a row, first responders in Michigan celebrated a victory as the state legislature moved to pare down legislation on retiree health care changes affecting police and firefighters.  

The legislature started considering changes after the Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force found a collective $7.46 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $10.13 billion in unfunded health care liabilities lurking in local governments’ finances in a July report. 

The House and Senate, after failing to gather enough votes on a plan with more teeth, took away the most controversial portions of the bill and reverted to the recommendations from Snyder’s Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force, which met for months and issued recommendations in July.  

Those recommendations were a broad outline, and the legislation is, too. It would:  

  • Require local units of government to thoroughly report financial information including funding of pension and retiree health care plans.  
  • The Treasury department will then evaluate plans to determine which are underfunded. For retiree health care, a plan is considered underfunded if its obligations are less than 40 percent funded and if its annual contribution is more than 12 percent of the unit’s revenue. A pension plan is considered underfunded if it’s under 60 percent funded and if the unit’s annual contribution is more than 10 percent of its revenue. 
  • The treasurer will give waivers to communities with underfunded pensions if they have approved plans to rectify the situation.  
  • Creates a “Municipal Stability Board” comprised of three experts; one from local government, one from state  underfunded and haven’t self-implemented a plan to fix it. It will be comprised of three experts appointed by the governor; one from local government, one from state government and one representing employees and retirees, all with relevant financial experience. It will assist communities in coming up with and ultimately approve or disprove corrective action plans.  

The final package did away with a “Financial Management Team” included in the original legislation that proved controversial due to its emergency management powers, including going into a local government’s budget. That and other provisions in the original bill were opposed by police and firefighters.  

Police, Firefighters rally for retiree health care at capitol  

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, said the revised bills weren’t a total solution but a step in the right direction.  

“You didn’t get the touchdown but you got a couple first downs. Let’s keep going, move the ball,” Meekhof said.  

The changes swayed lawmakers like Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, a former Sheriff who was a hard “no” on the legislation as introduced. As amended, sticking to the task force’s report, he supported it.  

“It’s everybody working together, employees and employers, and I think it’s a good thing,” Jones said.  

Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing, served on the task force and supported the bills as passed. 

“We did put out the task force report. This is labor and business and CPAs and really everybody who was involved. I thought we came up with a great product, and today that product was put up for a vote,” Schor said. 

The bills passed unopposed in the Senate, but drew a scattering of opposition in the House – including from the House sponsors of the bills, Reps. James Lower, R-Cedar Lake, and Tom Albert, R-Lowell. There the main bill passed 105-5.  

Joe Adams, state president of Michigan Fraternal Order of Police, was among dozens of police and firefighters gathered in the Senate lobby as members entered the chamber at 10 a.m., the start of a session that would last more than 15 hours.  

“We were here a year ago today, we were here on the capitol steps rallying against it last year when something tried to get slammed through. And it worked last year,” said Adams, a police officer in Grosse Pointe.  

It was after a last-minute push and failure in December of 2016, the governor formed the task force. The Fraternal Order of Police were represented on that task force, and want the legislature to follow its recommendations.  

The bills passed today were mirror images in both chambers. They passed just after 2:30 a.m. To become law, one of the versions would have to pass the opposite chamber and be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, who is supportive of changes to address retiree health care liabilities.  

Facebook Messenger for Windows 10 updated with UI changes

by Surur

 

Senate panel OKs retiree health care changes affecting police, firefighters

LANSING, MI — The House and Senate Competitiveness Committees voted on Tuesday to approve a package of bills that aim to assess and address underfunded pension and retirement health care systems in local Michigan communities.

The legislature is considering changes after the Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force found a collective $7.46 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $10.13 billion in unfunded health care liabilities lurking in local governments’ finances.

The task force couldn’t agree on the details of how to fix it, but an agreement between House and Senate leaders, along with Gov. Rick Snyder, was the topic of hearings at the state capitol on Tuesday, when both the House Competitiveness Committee and Senate Competitiveness Committee held testimony on identical, 16-bill packages.

The Senate committee moved it 4-1 along partisan lines, with Democrat Rebecca Warren, D-Ann Arbor, opposing.

“Disappointed that the bills being rushed through Competitiveness don’t reflect consensus recommendations of Retirement Task Force threaten to undermine the benefits that firefighters, police other public employees were promised,” Warren tweeted on Tuesday.

The bills introduced in the House and Senate would institute a five-step process to better assess the financial pictures of local governments struggling to fund promised retiree health care benefits. It would put the communities with not enough funding and no feasible plan to fix it — an estimated 20-30 communities, according to Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive — under a three-person Financial Management Team.

That team, organized under the state’s emergency management act, would have broad powers to rectify the underfunding, including through requiring the municipality to change its budget. If the municipality doesn’t comply and fails to rectify that noncompliance, it can be sent into emergency management.

Here are the retiree health care changes Michigan lawmakers are considering

Rep. James Lower, R-Cedar Lake, a sponsor of the House legislation, said the plan would help avoid situations like bankruptcy, where retirees could see their benefits reduced or taken away.

“Doing nothing is really, really dangerous for retirees,” Lower said.

Also testifying in support of the legislation was State Treasurer Nick Khouri, who said the bills had the governor’s support. The goal, he said, is to create sustainable pension and health care systems for local units of government.

But the bill met with criticism from democrats like Rep. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, who pointed to the fact that communities were facing decreased revenue sharing payments from the state.

How Michigan’s revenue sharing ‘raid’ cost communities billions for local services

Khouri said the Snyder administration was open to talking about increases in revenue sharing.

But for local police and firefighters, who are counting on the retiree benefits, the

Midland Fire Chief Chris Coughlin of the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs testified in the Senate committee on behalf of a coalition of police and fire organizations in opposition to the legislation. He said the task force came up with broad recommendations the groups supported, but the legislation jeopardizes what police and fire have been promised.  

“Police officers and firefighters put their lives on the line every day. We cannot support legislation that impacts the promises made in collective bargaining agreements. These promises were made and they need to be kept,” Coughlin said.

The House Competitiveness Committee passed the main bills 5-4 along mostly party lines, with Rep. Jason Wentworth, R-Clare, joining Democrats in voting against the bills. Three of the more ancillary bills in the package, House Bills 5314-5316, on revenue sharing funds, passed 6-0-3 with Republicans voting for them and Democrats passing.

The bills are pending now on the House floor, where they could be taken up at any time. 

The Senate on a tentative agenda put out Tuesday night has the bills listed as going all the way through final passage on Wednesday.

MLive Reporter Lauren Gibbons contributed to this story.

Senate panel OKs retiree health care changes affecting police, firefighters

LANSING, MI — The House and Senate Competitiveness Committees voted on Tuesday to approve a package of bills that aim to assess and address underfunded pension and retirement health care systems in local Michigan communities.

The legislature is considering changes after the Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force found a collective $7.46 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $10.13 billion in unfunded health care liabilities lurking in local governments’ finances.

The task force couldn’t agree on the details of how to fix it, but an agreement between House and Senate leaders, along with Gov. Rick Snyder, was the topic of hearings at the state capitol on Tuesday, when both the House Competitiveness Committee and Senate Competitiveness Committee held testimony on identical, 16-bill packages.

The Senate committee moved it 4-1 along partisan lines, with Democrat Rebecca Warren, D-Ann Arbor, opposing.

“Disappointed that the bills being rushed through Competitiveness don’t reflect consensus recommendations of Retirement Task Force threaten to undermine the benefits that firefighters, police other public employees were promised,” Warren tweeted on Tuesday.

The bills introduced in the House and Senate would institute a five-step process to better assess the financial pictures of local governments struggling to fund promised retiree health care benefits. It would put the communities with not enough funding and no feasible plan to fix it — an estimated 20-30 communities, according to Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive — under a three-person Financial Management Team.

That team, organized under the state’s emergency management act, would have broad powers to rectify the underfunding, including through requiring the municipality to change its budget. If the municipality doesn’t comply and fails to rectify that noncompliance, it can be sent into emergency management.

Here are the retiree health care changes Michigan lawmakers are considering

Rep. James Lower, R-Cedar Lake, a sponsor of the House legislation, said the plan would help avoid situations like bankruptcy, where retirees could see their benefits reduced or taken away.

“Doing nothing is really, really dangerous for retirees,” Lower said.

Also testifying in support of the legislation was State Treasurer Nick Khouri, who said the bills had the governor’s support. The goal, he said, is to create sustainable pension and health care systems for local units of government.

But the bill met with criticism from democrats like Rep. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, who pointed to the fact that communities were facing decreased revenue sharing payments from the state.

How Michigan’s revenue sharing ‘raid’ cost communities billions for local services

Khouri said the Snyder administration was open to talking about increases in revenue sharing.

But for local police and firefighters, who are counting on the retiree benefits, the

Midland Fire Chief Chris Coughlin of the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs testified in the Senate committee on behalf of a coalition of police and fire organizations in opposition to the legislation. He said the task force came up with broad recommendations the groups supported, but the legislation jeopardizes what police and fire have been promised.  

“Police officers and firefighters put their lives on the line every day. We cannot support legislation that impacts the promises made in collective bargaining agreements. These promises were made and they need to be kept,” Coughlin said.

The House Competitiveness Committee passed the main bills 5-4 along mostly party lines, with Rep. Jason Wentworth, R-Clare, joining Democrats in voting against the bills. Three of the more ancillary bills in the package, House Bills 5314-5316, on revenue sharing funds, passed 6-0-3 with Republicans voting for them and Democrats passing.

The bills are pending now on the House floor, where they could be taken up at any time. 

The Senate on a tentative agenda put out Tuesday night has the bills listed as going all the way through final passage on Wednesday.

MLive Reporter Lauren Gibbons contributed to this story.




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