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Will Congress Keep Children’s Health Insurance Program Afloat …

4c201_chip.art_wide-efff10e9c070df1927e4bdbb2776fda8a193e149-s1100-c15 Will Congress Keep Children's Health Insurance Program Afloat ...

It’s a beautiful morning in Pittsburgh, but Ariel Haughton is stressed out. She’s worried her young children’s health insurance coverage will soon lapse.

“So, we’re like a low-middle-class family, right?” she says. “I’m studying. My husband’s working, and our insurance right now is 12 percent of our income — just for my husband and I. And it’s not very good insurance either.”

4c201_chip.art_wide-efff10e9c070df1927e4bdbb2776fda8a193e149-s1100-c15 Will Congress Keep Children's Health Insurance Program Afloat ...

The policy that covers the couple requires high fees to even see a doctor, and it has a high deductible for further treatment.

In contrast, her young children — 2-year-old Nonnie and his big sister, Rose — are covered right now through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, a federal-state program that was created two decades ago to ensure that kids whose parents don’t have a lot of money, yet make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, can still get health care.

Right now, that coverage for the children doesn’t cost the family anything.

But Pennsylvania’s CHIP program is forecast to run out of money in February.

Though 9 million kids across the U.S. get their health insurance through CHIP, Congress let the program expire Sept. 30.

Since then, states have been burning through the cash that remains in their CHIP accounts, and parents, doctors and state officials are wondering whether Congress will save what has traditionally been a popular program with strong bipartisan support.

“CHIP is probably one of the most successful government programs we’ve enacted in the last couple of decades,” says Timothy McBride, a professor of health economics at Washington University in St. Louis and chairman of that state’s Medicaid oversight committee, which also oversees CHIP.

Keeping kids insured doesn’t cost much, he says, and it sure pays off.

It’s extremely important,” he says, “because it’s developmental — it’s vaccines. You know it can reduce the likelihood that a person has a lifelong chronic disease.”

The experience of Ariel Haughton’s daughter, Rose, bears that out.

Haughton says her own insurance policy charges $150 for each of her doctor visits, but her kids’ policy doesn’t. That allows her to take Rose and Nonnie for care when they need it.

“That’s not a small deal to a family like mine,” Haughton says. “A hundred and fifty dollars. If you have to pay that, you kind of ask yourself, like, ‘Are they sick enough? Does this merit a doctor visit?’ “

A few years ago, Rose came down with a fever and a rash on her face. It didn’t seem severe, but Haughton took Rose to the pediatrician anyway, just to check.

“The doctor looked at her and she said, ‘She has Lyme disease,’ ” Haughton recalls. “And she found a little tick!”

The doctor put Rose on antibiotics immediately and the little girl’s symptoms went away. If left untreated, Lyme can turn into chronic arthritis or other chronic problems.

“I know that if I had had to pay $150, I would have thought, ‘You know, let’s wait,’ ” Haughton says.

Dr. Todd Wolynn is the Haughtons’ pediatrician. He says families all over Pittsburgh are worried about the lapse in the federal insurance program’s funding.

“Parents are literally telling us they don’t know what to do,” Wolynn says. “They make too much to get Medicaid and they don’t have jobs or earn enough to get the commercial insurance. I don’t know what to tell them to do.”

Doctors and patients around the country are worried as CHIP money runs out in one state after another.

Utah announced it will end CHIP at the end of January if Congress doesn’t come up with money for the program. West Virginia’s CHIP board voted to end the program Feb. 28. And Colorado sent letters to its CHIP families saying that without new money the program will be cut off at the end of January.

Oregon has already run out of federal money and is borrowing from its Medicaid budget to ensure that its 80,000 CHIP kids keep their coverage through April.

“I’m absolutely opposed to kicking these vulnerable families off of access to health care,” says Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. “It’s appalling to me that Congress is not taking action and is not doing their jobs on this issue.”

Measures to fund the program passed in their relevant committees in the House and Senate in October, but then hit a snag when lawmakers couldn’t agree on other budget cuts to pay for CHIP.

Ariel Haughton says lawmakers should have gotten ahead of the problem.

“They could have worked on something in August or July, and passed it in September,” she says, “instead of just letting funding lapse and playing this game of chicken with our children’s health insurance.”

Lawmakers and staffers in Congress say CHIP funding will likely be included in an end-of-year spending bill. But as of now, there is no CHIP funding bill scheduled for consideration.

12 governors urge Congress to fund children’s health program

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Parents Worry Congress Won’t Fund The Children’s Health Insurance Program

f6c2d_chip.art_wide-efff10e9c070df1927e4bdbb2776fda8a193e149-s1100-c15 Parents Worry Congress Won't Fund The Children's Health Insurance Program

It’s a beautiful morning in Pittsburgh, but Ariel Haughton is stressed out. She’s worried her young children’s health insurance coverage will soon lapse.

“So, we’re like a low-middle-class family, right?” she says. “I’m studying. My husband’s working, and our insurance right now is 12 percent of our income — just for my husband and I. And it’s not very good insurance either.”

f6c2d_chip.art_wide-efff10e9c070df1927e4bdbb2776fda8a193e149-s1100-c15 Parents Worry Congress Won't Fund The Children's Health Insurance Program

The policy that covers the couple requires high fees to even see a doctor, and has a high deductible for further treatment.

In contrast, her young children — 2-year-old Nonnie and his big sister Rose — are covered right now through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, a federal-state program that was created two decades ago to ensure that kids whose parents don’t have a lot of money, yet make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, can still get health care.

Right now, that coverage for the children doesn’t cost the family anything.

But Pennsylvania’s CHIP program is forecast to run out of money in February.

Though nine million kids across the U.S. get their health insurance through CHIP, Congress let the program expire on September 30.

Since then, states have been burning through the cash that remains in their CHIP accounts, and parents, doctors and state officials are wondering if Congress will save what has traditionally been a very popular program, with bipartisan support.

“CHIP is probably one of the most successful government programs we’ve enacted in the last couple of decades,” says Timothy McBride, a professor of health economics at Washington University in St. Louis and chairman of that state’s Medicaid oversight committee, which also oversees CHIP.

Keeping kids insured doesn’t cost much, he says, and it sure pays off.

It’s extremely important,” he says, “because it’s developmental — it’s vaccines. You know it can reduce the likelihood that a person has a lifelong chronic disease.”

The experience of Ariel Haughton’s daughter Rose bears that out.

Haughton says her own insurance policy charges $150 for each of her doctor visits, but her kids’ policy doesn’t. That allows her to take Rose and Nonnie for care when they need it.

“That’s not a small deal to a family like mine,” Haughton says. “A hundred and fifty dollars. If you have to pay that, you kind of ask yourself, like, ‘Are they sick enough? Does this merit a doctor visit?’ “

A few years ago her daughter Rose came down with a fever and a rash on her face. It didn’t seem severe, but Haughton took Rose to the pediatrician anyway, just to check.

“The doctor looked at her and she said, ‘She has Lyme disease,’ ” Haughton recalls. “And she found a little tick!”

The doctor put Rose on antibiotics immediately and the little girl’s symptoms went away. But if left untreated, Lyme can turn into chronic arthritis or other chronic problems.

“I know that if I had had to pay $150, I would have thought, ‘You know, let’s wait,’ ” Haughton says.

Dr. Todd Wolynn is the Haughton’s pediatrician. He says families all over Pittsburgh are worried about the lapse in the federal insurance program’s funding.

“Parents are literally telling us they don’t know what to do,” Wolynn says. “They make too much to get Medicaid and they don’t have jobs or earn enough to get the commercial insurance. I don’t know what to tell them to do.”

Doctors and patients around the country are worried as CHIP money runs out in one state after another.

Utah announced it will end CHIP at the end of January if Congress doesn’t come up with money for the program. West Virginia’s CHIP board voted to end the program February 28. And Colorado sent letters to its CHIP families saying that without new money the program will be cut off at the end of January.

Oregon has already run out of federal money, and is borrowing from its Medicaid budget to ensure its 80,000 CHIP kids keep their coverage through April.

“I’m absolutely opposed to kicking these vulnerable families off of access to health care,” says Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. “It’s appalling to me that Congress is not taking action and is not doing their jobs on this issue.”

Measures to fund the program passed in their relevant committees in the House and Senate in October, but then hit a snag when lawmakers couldn’t agree on other budget cuts to pay for CHIP.

Ariel Haughton says lawmakers should have gotten ahead of the problem.

“They could have worked on something in August or July, and passed it in September,” she says, “instead of just letting funding lapse and playing this game of chicken with our children’s health insurance.”

Lawmakers and staffers in Congress say CHIP funding will likely be included in an end-of-year spending bill. But as of now, there is no CHIP funding bill scheduled for consideration.

Lake Land to offer computer coding certificate program – Journal Gazette and Times

Regarding the new levy, Lake Land will seek $12.4 million in property tax revenue. Bryan Gleckler, vice president for business services, said this is an increase of 4.99 percent from the revenue brought in by the previous levy. He said this is a general increase to meet rising operational cots. He has estimated that the new levy will result in the tax bill for a $100,000 house, for example, increasing by $9 per year.

Springfield, Vt., School District to Start a Computer Science Program

The Springfield, Vt. School District is launching a computer science program for middle and high school students, the first of its kind in Vermont, Superintendent Zach McLaughlin announced in a news release last week. The program will start rolling out in January, and is slated to fully materialize in the 2018-2019 school year.

In addition, the Springfield School Board has voted to make one semester of coding a high school graduation requirement, also a first-in-the-state initiative.

“As we follow societal trends, we know that (students’) lives will be intertwined with computer science,” McLaughlin said in the news release. “Whether as a community member, a voter or a wage earner, our students’ worlds will be impacted by the growing integration of technology with all aspects of their lives. Computer science skills will set our graduates up for success.”

McLaughlin did not return telephone and email messages seeking further comment on the initiatives.

The program’s emphasis on hands-on learning is meant to provide widely applicable experience that will sharpen students’ computer literacy and problem-solving skills. In addition to computer science coursework, the program will likely include extracurricular activities such as a “First Robotics” team and a “3D Vermont” club. Organizers of the program hope to hire a computer science coach, as well as several mentors to lead workshops, activities and one-on-one projects with students.

The program will also take measures to include young women and to promote gender equality in computer science in general. Marguerite Dibble, a Vermont native and founder of the award-winning game design company GameTheory, will help develop a “Girls Coding” program and other school activities in her capacities as senior consultant to school district’s initiative.

“Technology, when used to its best potential, can provide empowerment and opportunity for many,” Dibble said in the news release. “As an industry, technology needs to diversify and broaden, and to do that we need to teach tech enthusiasm in a way that focuses on creativity, empathy and impact.”

The entire initiative is part of a broader collaboration with Springfield Regional Development Corporation and the Center on Rural Innovation, a Vermont-based organization that supports the economic development of small-town communities through digital growth.

“If we can build a program that helps all kinds of kids see through mentorship, hands-on experiences and self-discovery that technology skills can be a platform of opportunity for many diverse and exciting careers,” said Dibble, “that will be a great success.”

— EmmaJean Holley

Internet safety topic of Reinhardt PTA’s program

The Reinhardt Elementary School PTA sponsored an Internet safety session for the community on Nov. 30. District Attorney Kenda Culpepper, and police officers Monica Hardman and Curtis Bennett shared information about predators, how predators lure children, what different social media apps are used for, cyberbullying and Internet fraud.

Culpepper said parents should make sure their children’s social media profiles are private and their geolocations are off. She added that predators study children and their interests based off these profiles.

“The purpose of this conversation is so that you start having this conversation with your child,” Culpepper said.

She added that one out of five children have received a sexual solicitation over the Internet, that one out of four children who use the Internet has received sexually explicit material and that 14 percent of teens have had a personal meeting with someone they met online.

Hardman discussed several social media apps and their uses, including Kik, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Ask.fm, Tinder, YouTube, Snapchat, Yik Yak and many more.

She urged parents to “be nosy” when it comes to phone activity.

“It’s your phone, you’re paying for it,” she said. “Having a phone is a privilege, so be nosy.”

Culpepper also shared statistics about cyberbullying and how often it goes unreported. Hardman briefly discussed “David’s Law”, which makes it a Class A misdemeanor and allows a temporary injunction against social media accounts used to electronically harass or cyberbully someone under age 18 through text message, social media, websites or other means with the intent of causing them to commit suicide or harm themselves.

Bennett said even though Rockwall is a great community, phones have global reach, which means children are exposed to people from all over the world.

Culpepper added that parents have to be aware, even at Reinhardt, where she knows how engaged the staff is.

“We are extremely lucky to be in this Reinhardt community,” she said. “But keep in mind that as parents it is our job to make sure we are engaged with our own children and we’re talking about those uncomfortable conversations.”

Internet safety topic of Reinhardt PTA’s program

The Reinhardt Elementary School PTA sponsored an Internet safety session for the community on Nov. 30. District Attorney Kenda Culpepper, and police officers Monica Hardman and Curtis Bennett shared information about predators, how predators lure children, what different social media apps are used for, cyberbullying and Internet fraud.

Culpepper said parents should make sure their children’s social media profiles are private and their geolocations are off. She added that predators study children and their interests based off these profiles.

“The purpose of this conversation is so that you start having this conversation with your child,” Culpepper said.

She added that one out of five children have received a sexual solicitation over the Internet, that one out of four children who use the Internet has received sexually explicit material and that 14 percent of teens have had a personal meeting with someone they met online.

Hardman discussed several social media apps and their uses, including Kik, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Ask.fm, Tinder, YouTube, Snapchat, Yik Yak and many more.

She urged parents to “be nosy” when it comes to phone activity.

“It’s your phone, you’re paying for it,” she said. “Having a phone is a privilege, so be nosy.”

Culpepper also shared statistics about cyberbullying and how often it goes unreported. Hardman briefly discussed “David’s Law”, which makes it a Class A misdemeanor and allows a temporary injunction against social media accounts used to electronically harass or cyberbully someone under age 18 through text message, social media, websites or other means with the intent of causing them to commit suicide or harm themselves.

Bennett said even though Rockwall is a great community, phones have global reach, which means children are exposed to people from all over the world.

Culpepper added that parents have to be aware, even at Reinhardt, where she knows how engaged the staff is.

“We are extremely lucky to be in this Reinhardt community,” she said. “But keep in mind that as parents it is our job to make sure we are engaged with our own children and we’re talking about those uncomfortable conversations.”

Girl Scouts launches computer science program to encourage STEM …

The goal of this program is to encourage girls to consider and pursue careers in fields such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics and data science. By educating girls in these topics, the thinking goes, they may have more confidence to pursue theses fields later in life. This first phase of this program will function as a pilot in select cities early next year. It’s planned to be fully implemented across the country in the fall of 2018.

The Girl Scouts and Raytheon are also introducing the Cyber Challenge, where girls in the computer science program will team up to show off their coding skills. The pilot of that program will happen in 2019.

This is just another chapter in a history of the Girl Scouts promoting and supporting STEM among their members. Last year, the organization teamed up with Netflix to get kids more interested in STEM. And in 2017, the Girl Scouts introduced badges in cybersecurity, robotics and computer science.

Girl Scouts launches computer science program to encourage STEM careers

The goal of this program is to encourage girls to consider and pursue careers in fields such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics and data science. By educating girls in these topics, the thinking goes, they may have more confidence to pursue theses fields later in life. This first phase of this program will function as a pilot in select cities early next year. It’s planned to be fully implemented across the country in the fall of 2018.

The Girl Scouts and Raytheon are also introducing the Cyber Challenge, where girls in the computer science program will team up to show off their coding skills. The pilot of that program will happen in 2019.

This is just another chapter in a history of the Girl Scouts promoting and supporting STEM among their members. Last year, the organization teamed up with Netflix to get kids more interested in STEM. And in 2017, the Girl Scouts introduced badges in cybersecurity, robotics and computer science.

Xbox Game Preview program: Everything you need to know

02510_xbox-one-s-3 Xbox Game Preview program: Everything you need to know

Xbox Game Preview brings games to Xbox One and Windows 10 ahead of release. Here’s what you need to know about the program and how it works.

Video game distribution continues to change in the digital age, with developers building on their titles beyond the initial release. While post-launch content and monetization schemes are dominating the industry following this shift, this also allows developers to improve upon the experience first delivered. In some cases, the means studios can even sell titles ahead of release, completing the title through updates over the months, or even years, ahead.

This is where Xbox Game Preview comes in – Microsoft’s solution for distributing in-progress titles over Xbox Live. Here’s everything you need to know, and how to get started titles in preview.

What is Xbox Game Preview?

02510_xbox-one-s-3 Xbox Game Preview program: Everything you need to know

Xbox Game Preview is a program offered by Microsoft, which allows creators to publish their Xbox One and Windows 10 titles while still in development. Over time, developers with games in the program are expected to deliver regular content updates, with the eventual goal of releasing as a full-fledged title.

Sharing traits with equivalent programs on rival platforms, such as Steam Early Access, this allows games to get into the hands of the public faster and evolve on player feedback. However, these systems aren’t perfect – programs like Game Preview have come under fire in the past for giving developers a chance to sell games without providing a complete product. Many of the titles in Game Preview aren’t held to the same quality standards as full releases, with bugs and issues more frequent. Furthermore, content can be lacking during early days in the program.

Playing Xbox Game Preview titles

02510_xbox-one-s-3 Xbox Game Preview program: Everything you need to know

Despite being acknowledged as a work in progress, Game Preview titles are still distributed via the Microsoft Store alongside the remainder of its curated library. These are clearly marked in the store with “Game Preview” on the cover art and listing title.

Microsoft allows developers to charge when in the Game Preview program, although usually at a discount until the official release. However, all Game Preview titles have a free trial available, which grants one hour of gameplay before a purchase. This provides a chance to ensure players are comfortable investing in a game, without worries of major gameplay or technical issues. After completing the trial period, all progress transfers to a purchased copy.

Xbox Game Preview titles can be found on Xbox One under a special category of the Microsoft Store. On Windows 10 the Microsoft Store doesn’t offer the same curated section, meaning titles must be found in the “Xbox” section. Most Game Preview games on Xbox One and Windows 10 also offer [Play Anywhere[(/xbox-play-anywhere-faq) support, with cross-platform purchasing, saves and multiplayer.

Restrictions on Game Preview titles

02510_xbox-one-s-3 Xbox Game Preview program: Everything you need to know

Microsoft has attempted to combat the stigma associated with pre-release titles by implementing tighter restrictions than many competitors. Xbox Game Preview titles see a tight certification process to debut through the program and provide future updates. With only a small handful of titles today, Microsoft delivers a level of curation not seen on many other “Early Access” services.

Once accepted into the program, few restrictions are imposed on Game Preview titles. Gameplay obviously must abide by various content guidelines and pass the certification process, but otherwise, developers are given a fair amount of freedom. This gives more flexibility to developers than traditional full-scale release, while still being bound to the Microsoft Store.

Many games first hit Xbox Game Preview without support for achievements and other Xbox Live feature, though games in the past have been known to implement them at a later date. Similarly, downloadable content packs can also be released for games through Game Preview, though is uncommon to see.

Xbox Game Preview titles

02510_xbox-one-s-3 Xbox Game Preview program: Everything you need to know

Since the debut of Xbox Game Preview back in 2015, a stronger selection of titles has embraced the program. Games of varying scales and genres are in development today, with ten games currently available in preview. These are all the games available through Xbox Game Preview and their respective platforms.

  • Astroneer (Xbox One/Windows 10)
  • Conan Exiles (Xbox One)
  • Fable Fortune (Xbox One/Windows 10)
  • Ghost of a Tale (Xbox One)
  • GWENT: The Witcher Card Game (Xbox One/Windows 10)
  • Mutant Football League (Xbox One)
  • Pit People (Xbox One)
  • Snooker Nation Championship (Xbox One)
  • Subnautica (Xbox One)
  • We Happy Few (Xbox One)

Xbox Game Preview has also helped the development and launch of many Xbox One games, which are now available as full titles on the Microsoft Store. Elite: Dangerous, ARK: Survival Evolved and The Long Dark are all products of Xbox Game Preview. Several titles have also been announced for Game Preview in the months ahead, as listed below.

  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
  • Deep Rock Galactic
  • Wreckfest
  • Session

We’ll be sure to update this list going forward, as new titles enter and leave Xbox Game Preview.

Xbox Game Preview is a promising program on Xbox One and Windows 10, giving developers another route for building and delivering their services. Serving up an option for games to hit the Microsoft Store ahead of launch delivers benefits to both consumers and developers, shipping early access to games with a flow of real-world feedback. What are your thoughts on Xbox Game Preview? Make sure to drop them in the comments section below.

Michigan: Outback Bowl will help health of players, resiliency of program

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan will get another chance to match wits with a Southeastern Conference opponent.

Michigan (8-4) learned Sunday that it will face South Carolina (8-4) in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 in Tampa, Fla.

Despite ending the regular season with losses against top-10 opponents Wisconsin and Ohio State, Michigan has a chance to close with a bowl win and will get the opportunity to redeem itself with a win against an SEC foe.

Michigan’s recent run against SEC teams hasn’t been spectacular. The Wolverines defeated Florida 33-17 in its season opener Sept. 2 in Arlington, Texas, but lost to Alabama in the 2012 season opener and lost to Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl in January 2011.

A win against an SEC opponent also would be a demonstration of Michigan’s resiliency and health. Michigan can avoid a 3-game losing streak and likely will field a healthy roster as it makes its seventh bowl appearance since 2010.

Michigan also earned its third consecutive bowl berth under coach Jim Harbaugh. Continuity is one thing, but winning bowl games is another. Michigan is 1-1 in bowl games with Harbaugh but there’s a fine line between finishing 8-5 and 9-4 — and Michigan doesn’t want to end its season on a three-game slide.

Michigan closed its 2016 slate by losing three of its last four games and cannot afford another late-season swoon. A bowl game would be a prime opportunity to make an impact in the final stretch of its schedule.

Because Michigan doesn’t play again until Jan. 1, the health of the team will have time to improve prior to the bowl game. The Wolverines could welcome back quarterback Brandon Peters, who was knocked out of the Wisconsin game on Nov. 18 with a concussion and did not play against Ohio State the following week.

Wide receiver Tarik Black also could return, which would boost the Wolverines’ inexperienced receiving corps. The freshman wide receiver has missed the past eight games after undergoing surgery to repair a broken left foot. Black was one of Michigan’s top receivers when he sustained the injury Sept. 16 in a win against Air Force.

While Michigan faces questions regarding its starting quarterback and the aptitude of its receivers, South Carolina has shown an ability to move the ball through the air. Quarterback Jake Bentley is fourth in the SEC with 2,555 yards and 16 touchdowns on 226-of-362 passing with 11 interceptions. However, Bentley has been sacked 26 times and faces a Michigan defensive line that has recorded 39 sacks.

The Outback Bowl also could bring about a defensive look: Michigan enters the game with the No. 3 defense in the nation (268.7 yards), while South Carolina’s offense is No. 109 (340.2 yards) and has relied primarily on the pass (212.9 yards).

Author of GOP Tax Plan Says Children’s Health Insurance Program Is Held Up “Because We Don’t Have Money …

The lead author of the Senate Republican tax plan, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah, said that the federal government no longer has the money to fund the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP.

“The reason CHIP is having trouble [passing] is because we don’t have money anymore,” Hatch said. “We just add more and more spending and more and more spending, and you can look at the rest of the bill for the more and more spending.”

CHIP is an $8 billion program. The Senate bill passed in the early hours of Saturday morning includes $6 trillion in tax cuts, financed by $4.5 trillion in tax hikes elsewhere. Hatch, though, promised CHIP would still pass. “We’re going to do CHIP, there’s no question about it in my mind. It has to be done the right way,” he said.

As the expiration date for CHIP loomed over the end of September, lawmakers similarly assured the public they would reauthorize the popular bipartisan program that provides coverage to nearly 9 million kids and roughly 370,000 pregnant women.

After all, when CHIP was last up for reauthorization in 2015, Congress got the job done with more than five months to go. In fact, CHIP — which passed in 1997 — has never had a lapse in funding except for just five days when President George W. Bush twice vetoed its reauthorization. Congress responded with some short-term financing until CHIP could be formally reauthorized in 2009 under President Barack Obama.

Well this year, April came and went. Then May. Then June. Then Congress stressed they would definitely get to it before the August recess. Except then a new effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act took hold, crowding out all else. When the Obamacare dismantlement effort died, legislators said, “No, no, it will be coming back.” Then they promised to reauthorize CHIP at least before it expired in September. “Well… okay we’ll get it done in October — states still have some federal funding left in their reserves,” they said next. And then, “All right, we hear you, we’ll definitely deal with it before Thanksgiving.”

Now it’s December and lawmakers are saying, “Don’t worry, we’ll get it done by the end of the year.”

As tax reform picks up, health experts are feeling nervous. Never mind that more than 60 percent of Americans say CHIP reauthorization should be a top federal priority, while only 28 percent say tax reform should be.

“Under normal circumstances I’d say, ‘Yeah they’ll pass it,’” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, a children’s advocacy group. “But we’ve been promised this for months now and Congress has shown no ability to focus on this, to get it done.”

The consequences of Congress’s inaction are already visible. While most states had some funds remaining in their coffers to last them a few months past CHIP’s expiration date, Governing magazine reported this week that Minnesota has officially run out of federal CHIP money. For now Minnesota officials say they’ll work to bridge the funding gap, but not all states have laws that allow for that. Colorado also started sending out notices this week to CHIP enrollees, letting them know the state will be shutting down the program by January 31 if Congress doesn’t act soon. Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington are also expected to run out funds in early 2018, and the federal centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services say that “the majority of states [are] projected to exhaust funding by March.” Even temporary enrollment freezes can lead to major drops in coverage. Researchers at Georgetown’s Center for Children and Families report that Arizona’s enrollment fell by more than 60 percent when the state temporarily froze the program in 2009, and North Carolina’s enrollment fell by nearly 30 percent when it froze CHIP for 10 months in 2001.

Even if states think that Congress might come through with funding, they have to prepare for the eventuality that it won’t — regardless of how much that costs, or how much confusion it creates.

“The way Congress is doing this is devoid of any understanding of how programs run,” said Lesley. “I used to work in state government. If you’re running a program, and there’s uncertainty, you have to plan to close it down. You have no choice.”

So what’s the hold up?

Part of it involves Congress fighting over how CHIP will be paid for, with legislators looking for $8 billion in what’s known as “offsets.” There are rules requiring Congress to determine where these offsets — or money for new spending— will come from, but these rules are often waived. Just last month, when Congress passed a bill to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel created through the ACA to make cost-saving recommendations, legislators waived the $18 billion offset requirement. And now Congress is preparing to pass a mammoth tax reform bill that the Joint Committee on Taxation said Wednesday would fall almost $1 trillion short of paying for itself. Offsets be damned.

Before this, Congress paid for CHIP using tobacco taxes, but those weren’t locked in, so that revenue now just goes to the federal treasury. “There’s enough money that CHIP shouldn’t ever have to be paid for by more offsets, yet now it’s expiring so none of that $2 in tobacco taxes, raised for CHIP, applies to CHIP,” said Lesley. “So here we are in reauthorization having to find offsets yet again.”

In early November, the House passed a bill, 242-174 largely on party lines, to reauthorize CHIP by taking money from the ACA’s public health preventative care fund, which pays for programs like opioid treatment and vaccinations. Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., charged that Republicans were capitalizing on CHIP reauthorization as a new way to sabotage the ACA. Pallone proposed changing the payment schedule of Medicare Advantage Plans to fund CHIP, but Republicans rejected that in the Rules Committee.

In mid-September, Hatch and ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced a bipartisan agreement to reauthorize CHIP for five years, but they haven’t yet brought the bill to the floor. They also haven’t made clear where the offsets will come from. Experts suspect that Senate leaders kept it off the floor because they worried it might have been derailed by partisan amendments, and they wanted to avoid politicizing CHIP in the way that the ACA and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, have been. 

Cynthia Pellegrini — the senior vice president of public policy at the March of Dimes, an advocacy group focused on infant and maternal health — told The Intercept that her group has been hearing through the grapevine that the Senate has likely reached a bipartisan deal on offsets, though she doesn’t know more than that. But since Senate Democrats are unlikely to vote for anything that harms the ACA, that offset deal, Pellegrini said, “by definition” would exclude the public health prevention fund.

Passing CHIP on its own would allow for less horse-trading, but the clock has likely run out for that this year.

“There are procedural barriers to just putting up CHIP as an independent bill no matter what,” said Pellegrini. “In this climate, it would have to go through cloture, and have to have floor time. The Senate only has 15 or 17 more legislative days — though they may extend that into Christmas week — but there is literally no time left with everything else they want to be doing to put it up by itself. With the budget, CR [continuing resolution], tax reform, potentially Iran, all these bills have piled up. The question is, can they combine CHIP with other bills in a package and get it through faster?”

One option could be to move it through a strategy known as “hotlining” — in which the Senate gets the unanimous consent of all 100 members and moves it through rapidly on a voice vote. That means the package they’d be approving would either be very noncontroversial or very bipartisan.

Whether Congress can hotline CHIP will depend on if leaders can put forward something attractive enough that every senator would support — or at least not oppose it so much as to make a stink. The Senate could possibly package CHIP with other bills it is trying to get through by the end of the year — like Home Visiting reauthorizationMedicare extenders, or disaster relief.

Another option is to include CHIP reauthorization in a continuing resolution that provides short-term funding for fiscal year 2018. The current continuing resolution expires on December 8, so Congress may try to include CHIP in its next one. House Republicans are also trying to push a two-week continuing resolution to fund the government until December 22, which would require yet another continuing resolution after that for 2018. CHIP reauthorization could conceivably be included in either of those, too.

A Wyden spokesperson told The Intercept that the senator “remains optimistic common sense and decency will prevail over partisan politics.”

Lesley of First Focus — who helped draft the original CHIP bill in 1997 — said it’s frustrating that this whole debate over offsets isn’t even about expanding coverage, just maintaining the status quo. “We would say this provides an example of why next time we need to recapture all those tobacco dollars and create a trust fund for CHIP so this never happens again,” he said.

Top photo: Ana Elsy Ramirez Diaz holds her son, Milan Rojas Ramirez as he is seen by Dr. Margaret-Anne Fernandez during a check-up visit at INOVA Cares Clinic for Children on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in Falls Church.

WALLACE STATE NEWS: Computer Science program debuting Swift App Development program during spring semester

fc1f8_avw WALLACE STATE NEWS: Computer Science program debuting Swift App Development program during spring semester

fc1f8_avw WALLACE STATE NEWS: Computer Science program debuting Swift App Development program during spring semester
fc1f8_avw WALLACE STATE NEWS: Computer Science program debuting Swift App Development program during spring semester

fc1f8_avw WALLACE STATE NEWS: Computer Science program debuting Swift App Development program during spring semester

fc1f8_avw WALLACE STATE NEWS: Computer Science program debuting Swift App Development program during spring semester

fc1f8_avw WALLACE STATE NEWS: Computer Science program debuting Swift App Development program during spring semester

fc1f8_avw WALLACE STATE NEWS: Computer Science program debuting Swift App Development program during spring semester

fc1f8_avw WALLACE STATE NEWS: Computer Science program debuting Swift App Development program during spring semester

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fc1f8_avw WALLACE STATE NEWS: Computer Science program debuting Swift App Development program during spring semester

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Children’s Health Insurance Program In Jeopardy In Colorado



SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Come February, 75,000 families in Colorado might lose health insurance for their children. That insurance comes through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. And that program pays for health care for children, mostly from working-class families whose parents make too much to receive Medicaid. The program is funded by Congress, but Congress has let that funding expire. States have been using extra funds to try to get by. Now half a dozen states are close to running out of those federal funds, including Colorado.

Gretchen Hammer directs Medicaid in Colorado. She oversees CHIP there. Ms. Hammer, thanks very much for being with us.

GRETCHEN HAMMER: It’s a pleasure.

SIMON: Please help us understand how CHIP funding normally works.

HAMMER: So the federal government pays a portion of the costs of the CHIP program, and states pay the other portion. Right now the federal government pays 88 percent of the costs of the CHIP program in the state of Colorado. And the state, through a variety of different funds, pays for the other 12 percent.

SIMON: And that money’s about to expire?

HAMMER: Yes. The federal financing for the CHIP program expired on September 30. States have the authority to continue to spend federal dollars that they had not spent. And so we anticipate that we’re able to continue to spend those currently allocated dollars until January 31. But after that, there will be no additional federal money for us to continue to operate the program.

SIMON: Unless Congress changes that.

HAMMER: That is correct. Congress can act at any time to reauthorize funding for the program at a national level.

SIMON: What would be the effect of losing that funding be in your state?

HAMMER: So at this point in time, we’re anticipating that we would need to close the program. With such a significant federal investment, it is really difficult for states to find the needed resources to continue the program without any federal financing. So we have notified families and have been preparing the different parts of the program to cease operations on January 31.

SIMON: When you use phrases like close the program and cease operations, I mean, does that mean children will no longer be able to get health care?

HAMMER: Well, what we’re hoping is that families, with enough notice, will be able to look at other options for their children. Some children may be able to get onto their parents’ employer-sponsored coverage. There is also the chance to shop on the state-based marketplace. And some may be able to receive tax subsidies to help support the affordability.

SIMON: But it sounds like a lot of other people would have no alternative.

HAMMER: There is a chance that families may not be able to find something that is affordable.

SIMON: And what happens to the health care system in Colorado if February comes, and there are – I don’t know – thousands of Coloradans who have to come to the hospital, but their care won’t be funded?

HAMMER: It is certainly a concern, and it would be the same thing that happens, unfortunately, today when an uninsured child or uninsured pregnant women has to access services. The hospital and the care provider work with that family. And to the extent that they need to, they become financially responsible for the services that they’ve received.

SIMON: Do you hope Congress re-ups the CHIP program?

HAMMER: We certainly believe that the CHIP program has been very successful. It provides peace of mind and coverage for families, for their children and certainly for pregnant women. The CHIP program in Colorado, and I think nationally, has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support. It’s been proven to be very effective. And we’re hopeful that Congress will act.

SIMON: Gretchen Hammer directs Medicaid and CHIP in Colorado. Thanks so much for being with us.

HAMMER: It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF RRAREBEAR’S “ESSENCE”)

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DxO One Camera for Android is Now Available in an ‘Early Access’ Program ($499)

The primary reason why smartphone enthusiasts know about DxO Labs is because it’s the company behind DxOMark, the popular smartphone camera reviewing website. It isn’t the only service DxO Labs offers, though. The company now also has DxO One, a camera attachment for the iPhone, and has their own image editing software too.

033ff_DxO-One-Android DxO One Camera for Android is Now Available in an 'Early Access' Program ($499)

In October, DxO Labs announced that the DxO One would be coming soon for Android, two and a half years after its release for the iPhone in June 2015. It has a 20MP 1-inch sensor (similar to the Sony RX100 series) with a f/1.8 max aperture.

The DxO One is pocketable because it doesn’t have a primary display of its own. Instead, it has a small onboard OLED display and it relies on a smartphone’s display for the viewfinder in order to frame photos. The Android version connects to smartphones via the USB Type-C port. The primary reason it can take better photos than most smartphones is because it has a larger sensor with 1-inch sensor size, compared to smartphone sensors, which range in size from 1/2.3-inch to 1/3.1-inch. It supports RAW photography via Super RAW, and records up to 4x slow motion video.

Now, DxO Labs has announced that the One camera is now available in an ‘Early Access’ program for $499. The $499 price includes the camera, a waterproof case for submerging the camera attachment up to 45-meters, and DxO Photolab – the company’s image processing software. Normally, the case and DxO Photolab have price tags of $59.90 and $199 respectively.

Users can head to DxO’s website and enter their email and phone model to order the DxO One camera. Strangely, the DxO One will support only a limited list of smartphones for now, instead of supporting every Android smartphone with a USB-C port. The current list of supported phones includes the HTC U11, Huawei Mate 9, Huawei P10, LG G6, LG V20, Moto Z, Nexus 5X, Nokia 8, Nubia Z11 mini, Samsung Galaxy A5 2017, Samsung Note 8, Samsung Galaxy S8 and Huawei Honor 9. If users have any other smartphone, they can select “other” and then specify their brand of phone.

The Android version of the DxO One will have full image and video capture capabilities out-of-the-box, but it won’t have support for Facebook live streaming and time-lapse right away. DxO Labs says that it will add the aforementioned features and more in the coming months.


Source: DxO LabsVia: Android Central

Taft ISD showcases their full-immersion computer science program

CORPUS CHRSITI (KIII NEWS) – Students at Petty Elementary School in Taft are currently coding full-time as part of the Taft Independent School District’s full-immersion computer science program, the first of its kind in South Texas.

The district showcased the program on Thursday.

“When I saw this program at a national conference, I just thought this is great,” Taft ISD Superintendent Joe Lopez said. “This is what we need in Taft. This is where Texas is headed.”

The students learned problem-solving skills through algorithms on campus issued laptops.

“It has to do with high-level order thinking skills. It’s providing them with the skills for future careers,” Lopez said.

Parents were able to see Thursday for the first time what their children have been working for the last three months.

“It’s called ‘My Story,’ and it tells us about me and my friends, and it tells you what you like to do, what you like to eat,” first-grader Kinzie said.

Taft is the only school district in Texas south of Houston to implement the coding program. A few elementary schools offer a coding section, but it is rare to have a program run throughout the year.

“By the time they leave fifth grade, they will be Java trained, which means pretty much when they get to high school we are looking at dual-credit certification,” Lopez said. “Graduating with a certification.”

The skills the students are learning now will help them prepare for advances in technology later.

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New group pregnancy care program starts at health department.

Women receiving prenatal care at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department will now do so together, in supportive pregnancy groups meant to increase participation and decrease preterm birth and infant mortality. 

The program was announced Thursday during a community baby shower where expecting mothers enjoyed lunch, played games, and won prizes. 

The supportive group pregnancy care model allows pregnant women in similar pregnancy states to connect and attend appointments together. 

It will begin in January with groups of eight to 12 women, and is funded by a $48,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare, which also finances a program in Akron, in partnership with March of Dimes.

“The benefits of it are the sessions are typically longer, where you’d normally have 10 minutes with your provider, now the session is 90 minutes and you get the benefit of everyone sharing in the conversation,” said Lisa Amlung Holloway, state director of program services and public affairs for the March of Dimes Ohio chapter. 

“We know support structures are created, and women really like it.”

Group pregnancy care is one of eight interventions championed by March of Dimes to reduce preterm births. Preterm births for participants decrease by about a third, Ms. Amlung Holloway said. 

Celeste Smith, minority health coordinator for the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, said she’s “ecstatic” to partner with the two entities to bring such groups to the department.

“This will be the standard of care here,” she said. “There is a lot of evidence of better outcomes, particularly in the African-American community, when women are coming together and doing group prenatal care … We’re really excited to have the support to pilot this project.”

Preterm birth before 37 weeks’ gestation is the leading cause of infant mortality in Ohio. In the United States, 9.8 percent of births were preterm in 2016; in Lucas County it was 11.2 percent. 

In Ohio and in Lucas County, black babies are far likelier to die before their first birthday than their white counterparts. In 2016, the Lucas County black infant mortality rate was 14.2 per 1,000 live births compared with 5.0 for white infants.

Health officials hope efforts like the one announced Thursday, sometimes called “centering” programs, will lead to decreased infant mortality.

“Centering pregnancy has been around for a long, long time, but it’s expensive, so for a department like ours to come up with those dollars, this is a great opportunity,” Ms. Smith said.

A similar supportive group pregnancy program runs through Neighborhood Health Association and the Ohio Department of Health. Those interested in the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department program can call the department at 419-213-4100.

Contact Lauren Lindstrom at llindstrom@theblade.com, 419-724-6154, or on Twitter @lelindstrom.


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The iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year in Review

I now have an iPhone X and have returned my iPhone 7 Plus, thus completing one full cycle of Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, and I thought I’d share my impressions and answer any questions you may have.

For those out of the loop on the iPhone Upgrade Program, here’s a quick refresher: in the United States, cell phones used to be sold via carrier on a two-year contract. You’d get the phone at a cheap, subsidized price, usually $200 or so, and would pay off the rest of the phone’s cost as part of the service fee for the next two years.

Carriers tired of this approach, and after T-Mobile successfully implemented an installment plan for buying the iPhone 5 in 2013, the industry began phasing out subsidized phones and contract service.

Some pundits, like Jay Yarrow, formerly of Business Insider, claimed that this would doom Apple. But as we now know, that was far from reality, because Apple adapted to the new environment.

Many people don’t want to cough up the $649 to $1149 for a new iPhone all at once, so carriers started offering installment plans that let customers pay the phone off over 24 months. Most of these plans let you trade in a phone after a year or so for a new one, assuming the phone is in decent condition. Apart from activation fees, this installment approach costs you nothing extra beyond perpetual device payments. If you pay off a phone instead of trading it in, it’s yours to keep.

Apple, seeing a market opportunity, launched its own installment program, the iPhone Upgrade Program, which is essentially the same as the carrier installment plans, except that it includes AppleCare+, which explains why its monthly fee is higher than plans from the carriers.

(I got a chance to use AppleCare+ with my iPhone 7 Plus, since I stupidly broke the screen while on vacation just days after acquiring it. Getting it fixed required a typical Apple Store visit with the two-hour drive, two-hour wait in the snooty mall with no food, followed by a two-hour drive home. However, I paid only $29 plus $2.68 in sales tax for the repair instead of the usual $149 fee. You get two screen replacements with AppleCare+ at that price before you have to start paying full price to fix a cracked screen.)

Now, to take some of the mystique out of all of this: the iPhone Upgrade Program is actually an interest-free loan administered by Citizens One. Every year, when you order a new iPhone through the program, Citizens One checks your credit (a “hard pull,” which can negatively affect your credit score) and issues you a new loan if you’re approved.

Despite being administered by a third party, the iPhone Upgrade Program has some uniquely Apple pros and cons.

iPhone Upgrade Program: Hands On Experience — My first impression of the iPhone Upgrade Program in 2016 was not great. It was the middle of the night, and not only was I sleepily fumbling to order an iPhone 7 Plus quickly, I also had to fill out a loan form. It wasn’t onerous, but when you’re fighting the rush and unstable servers, every second counts. Everything went through, but the extra paperwork prevented me from getting the iPhone 7 Plus on day one — it arrived a week after launch.

737aa_tn_iPhone-Upgrade-Program-form The iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year in Review

I know, that’s the very definition of first-world problem, but I do this for a living so I’m under pressure to get Apple products as soon as possible so I can tell you about them. Also, it stands to reason that iPhone Upgrade Program customers are Apple’s most loyal and want each new iPhone right away.

After you place your order, there’s no way to know if Citizens One has approved you until you receive an approval email. That could take hours or even days, so if you’re trying to beat a rush, it adds extra stress. And if you’re denied or entered something incorrectly, which is easy to do in the middle of the night, you’re set for an even longer delay. I hope Apple improves this onboarding process in the future.

However, Apple made up for it this year, when it came time to order the iPhone X. Several days before pre-orders began, I was prompted to open the Apple Store app, choose my model, and work through the approval process beforehand. When pre-order madness hit in the middle of the night, it took only a couple of taps on my iPhone to complete my upgrade. Some iPhone Upgrade Program customers didn’t receive their iPhones on the first possible day, but it seemed to give us better odds. As it should, since we’re giving money directly to Apple instead of a third-party seller.

The process of returning my iPhone 7 Plus was easy. A few days after my iPhone X arrived, I received a nondescript cardboard box containing a bag, a SIM removal tool, two pieces of tape, and instructions. All I had to do was reset the iPhone 7 Plus, pop out its SIM card and replace the empty tray, drop it in the bag, put the bag in the box, tape up the box, tear away the shipping label to expose the return label, and hand it to the FedEx guy when he next delivered a package. It’s almost as painless as Apple could make it; if you’ve ever sent a device to Apple for repair, that’s a similar experience.

737aa_tn_iPhone-Upgrade-Program-form The iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year in Review

A few days later, I received an email from Apple letting me know that my trade-in was complete and that my loan had been closed. That was a relief, because my iPhone 7 Plus had a gouge in the back. If Apple had been dissatisfied with its condition, I could have been charged a repair fee. Fortunately, Apple doesn’t seem to be that particular, although I presume a cracked screen would require repair.

Where the iPhone Upgrade Program Fails — Apple products are like rides at Disney World: they work great as long as you’re behaving as expected, but the second you go off the rails, things get messy. The iPhone Upgrade Program is no different.

As long as you stick to the plan, the iPhone Upgrade Program works flawlessly. But the second you need to change a payment method, want to pay off a device early, or need to make up a payment, you have to deal with Citizens One, because Apple handles none of that.

Amazingly, I made it over a year without creating a Citizens One account, and I only did so for research on this article. Which is good, because the process is agonizing. I didn’t keep a count, but it probably took 30 to 40 attempts to create a username/password combo that Citizens One would accept. Check the screenshot for the inane list of password requirements.

737aa_tn_iPhone-Upgrade-Program-form The iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year in Review

Once I logged in, there wasn’t much the Citizens One Web site would allow me to do. You can change the payment method, and that’s about it. I dug around until I found a link about paying off my iPhone early, and it told me to call them. Ugh.

But in my experience, Verizon, from which we bought my wife’s iPhone, isn’t any better. Although the Verizon site offered a large, red, PAY OFF YOUR DEVICE button, I couldn’t get it to work, and I ended up paying off my wife’s iPhone via chat.

Ideally, I should be able to just make early payments or pay off an iPhone entirely from the Web site, without having to have a conversation with anyone. My suspicion is that Apple and the carriers don’t want to make this easy, because they want you paying in perpetuity.

If you’re an iPhone X user on the iPhone Upgrade Program, you might find yourself dealing with a hassle in 2018, especially if you want the latest iPhone immediately. The iPhone X arrived a month after the iPhone 8, but if Apple releases the next top-tier iPhone in less than 12 months — the minimum number of payments Apple requires before you can trade up — you may have to wait, because Apple won’t cut you any breaks:

You will still be eligible to upgrade next year. However, your new upgrade eligibility date will be determined by the start date of your new iPhone Upgrade Program loan. Please note that you are eligible to upgrade after six months in the program, as long as you have made the equivalent of at least 12 payments.

The most annoying part about the required cycle is that if you have to wait even a week to order a new iPhone, you may be waiting even longer to receive it as shipping times slip further and further out. I hope Apple has a solution for next year — either an easy, negligible fee to upgrade early or reserved iPhones for iPhone Upgrade Program members.

I’ll withhold judgement until next year, but if the iPhone Upgrade Program makes me wait a long time for the next iPhone, I’ll seriously consider alternatives.

Is the iPhone Upgrade Program Right for You? — When the iPhone Upgrade Program debuted, you had to go to an Apple Store to purchase or trade in an iPhone. It was hard to endorse then, but now that you can complete the entire cycle remotely, it’s a lot easier to recommend.

The iPhone Upgrade Program is probably the best bet for dedicated iPhone fans who always want the latest device but don’t want to pay all at once. And if you tend to be rough on your devices, AppleCare+ is a far better deal than the insurance offered by the carriers.

Here are two questions to ask before signing up:

  • Do you need or want AppleCare+? For iPhones with exorbitant repair costs, like the iPhone X, AppleCare+ is a good idea. But if you don’t have an Apple Store nearby, AppleCare+ may not be your best bet for insurance.

  • Are you tempted by non-Apple phones? If you’re considering an Android phone, you may not want to be locked into Apple’s program. (However, perusing Apple’s fine print, it appears that you can get out of your commitment a year early by upgrading to a new iPhone and then returning it. Your mileage may vary.)

For many Apple fans, I think the iPhone Upgrade Program is a financial win because you don’t have to pay for AppleCare+ up front. You can keep the iPhone if you wish, but if you want to switch, you can do so after 12 payments. It offers more flexibility than buying it outright.

Also, if you’re wondering: yes, you can buy more than one iPhone through the iPhone Upgrade Program. The trick is, when you come to the choice of “I’d like to enroll” or “I’m already part of the program,” choose “enroll.” That lets you set up a second Citizens One loan.

Despite some small caveats, Apple has rewarded my faith at every step. I originally signed up for the iPhone Upgrade Program with the hope that the company would allow trade-ins by mail the following year, and that came to pass. Over the next few years, I anticipate the iPhone Upgrade Program will become Apple’s preferred way to sell iPhones, and those customers will be incentivized to buy directly from Apple. For serious Apple fans who want the latest iPhone every year without a large up-front payment, it’s the best choice.

Program for offenders with mental health or addiction issues produces positive results

INDIANAPOLIS — A review of a state program launched two years ago to improve recovery and reduce recidivism among felony offenders who have mental health or addiction issues shows the program is producing positive results.

“There are a lot of individuals in the criminal justice system who have a mental health or substance-abuse problem who are now getting the additional services they need,” said Brad Ray, co-author of the review. Ray is an assistant professor in the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI and director of the Center for Criminal Justice Research.

The Center for Criminal Justice Research, part of the IU Public Policy Institute, conducted the review of Recovery Works for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction, which manages Recovery Works.

Recovery Works was designed to provide criminal offenders with the help they need to address mental health or substance-abuse issues. Most of the offenders have no health insurance to pay for the evidence-based services they receive to aid their recovery and their ability to lead successful lives.

“Mental health or substance-abuse problems often interact with criminogenic and social risk factors that contribute to patterns of repeat offending,” Ray said. “If we can address these issues as thoroughly as possible, we should see fewer of them in the system.”

From November 2015 through May 2017, the program assisted 12,042 individuals. The majority were referred to the program by probation and parole agencies.

The typical client is a 34-year-old single, unemployed white male. Most clients have a high school degree or GED equivalent and an average annual income of $7,500.

The most common substances used by Recovery Works clients are alcohol and opioids. Approximately one-third of the clients have used needles to inject drugs, and 13.4 percent have shared a needle to inject drugs; among those who reported having used opioids, 29.6 percent reported needle-sharing.

The review found that among those Recovery Works clients who remained in the program for at least six months, there were statistically significant increases in rates of employment and insurance coverage and decreases in self-reported arrests. Although not statistically significant, there were also increases in clients’ average family income.

Other review findings show 7.7 percent of the program’s clients were incarcerated for the first time after enrolling in Recovery Works. Clients who had been previously incarcerated in the state Department of Correction fared worse; the review found that 13.8 percent of those who were previously in the Department of Correction were reincarcerated after enrolling in Recovery Works.

###

Colorado warns residents kids’ health program will shut soon if feds don’t act

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96187_104864754-GettyImages-830589776-1.530x298 Colorado warns residents kids' health program will shut soon if feds don't act

The state of Colorado began warning residents Monday that a health insurance program for children will cease operations next month if Congress fails to approve funding for it.

While Colorado’s warning is dire, the state’s Children’s Health Plan Plus program actually has enough money in its coffers to continue operations through Jan. 31, even as Congress drags its feet on renewing funding.

Other states are not so lucky — and are even closer to running out of cash to operate their own programs that had received funding from the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Almost 9 million kids are currently covered by CHIP, along with about 370,000 pregnant women. CHIP, which had cost about $15 billion annually in federal funding, provides health benefits to low-income children who do not otherwise qualify for Medicaid.

Nearly a dozen states are preparing to join Colorado in alerting enrollees in their kids’ health program that CHIP funding is on the verge of running out.

Governing.com reported Monday that Minnesota appears to be the first state to actually run out of CHIP funds. But the state will tap $35 million of its own money to keep its program going for several weeks.

While CHIP is popular across political lines, authorization for spending on the 20-year-old program expired at the end of September.

Since then, Congress has been unable to agree on a deal that would newly authorize $75 billion in CHIP spending for the next five years.

Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, Ohio and Oregon are on track to drain their kids’ health program by the end of 2017 or in early January, according to Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families.

And in addition to Colorado, five other states will run of CHIP money by January or February: Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

The majority of states are “projected to exhaust funding by March 2018,” the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a letter on Nov. 9.

That letter also said that states would have to transition CHIP enrollees to Medicaid or notify customers that they should apply for Obamacare coverage.

On Monday, Colorado health officials sent out letters to enrollees urging them to begin researching their options for obtaining private health insurance in the event that Congress doesn’t approve new funding.

More than 75,000 children in Colorado and almost 800 pregnant women are covered by the program, which is available to low- and middle-income families.

96187_104864754-GettyImages-830589776-1.530x298 Colorado warns residents kids' health program will shut soon if feds don't act

“It is critically important for families to start planning for potential changes in their health coverage if the federal government doesn’t renew funding for the CHP+ program,” said Gretchen Hammer, Colorado’s Medicaid director.

“We remain cautiously optimistic Congress will renew federal funding, but we want our families enrolled in CHP+ to be aware that changes may be coming and not be caught off guard should the program come to an end.”

Officials noted that a number of families that lose health insurance coverage for their kids would qualify for financial aid that would lower their cost of an Obamacare private insurance plan sold through the state’s health exchange.

And if they do lose CHIP coverage, the affected children would be allowed to sign up for an Obamacare plan even outside of the open enrollment window, which ends this month.

“It’s frustrating that our CHP+ families are facing this uncertainty, especially during the holiday’s,” said Tom Massey, interim executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.

96187_104864754-GettyImages-830589776-1.530x298 Colorado warns residents kids' health program will shut soon if feds don't act






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