Advertise here
Advertise here

urges

now browsing by tag

 
 

Flu season is getting worse, Ohio Department of Health urges flu shot

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The flu season is worsening, but health officials say there’s still time to fight back.

Two hundred and fifty-seven Ohioans have been hospitalized for the flu so far this season, above the five-year average for this period. But the Ohio Department of Health says it’s not too late to get a vaccine to prevent the illness.

The department and the federal Centers for Disease Control recommend that everyone six months and older contact health care providers for the shot as soon as possible. It takes about two weeks for the shot to have its full effect.

The flu season picks up in October and can last into May. The peak period is December through February.

According to the CDC, about three of every five Americans have not been vaccinated this season, and neither have two out of every three pregnant women.

“Pregnant women and their young infants are at high risk for serious complications from the flu,” said Dr. Clint Koenig, medical director of the Ohio Department of Health.

Influenza can produce fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some cases prove fatal.

Vaccines are offered at many medical facilities, pharmarcies, health departments, schools and workplaces. For more information, see flu.ohio.

Shulkin urges emergency aid for VA private health care soon

In a fresh warning, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Wednesday there could potentially be delays in providing medical care to tens of thousands of veterans if lawmakers don’t act soon to approve billions in emergency funding for the ailing private-sector Choice program.

In a statement, Shulkin said he was heartened by several congressional bills that would provide longer-term fixes to the Department of Veterans Affairs program by giving veterans wider freedom to see private doctors at taxpayers’ expense. But pointing to the lack of a clear consensus so far, Shulkin made clear he would be “open” to emergency short-term funding from Congress for now “to ensure our veterans receive uninterrupted care.”

“As we have made clear for many months, Congress needs to pass a bill this year,” Shulkin said.

His statement comes as lawmakers wrestle over legislation that would overhaul Choice, amid the threat of a government shutdown over the federal budget and disagreements over cost and how much access veterans should have to private doctors.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee last week passed a $54 billion bipartisan plan over five years to revamp Choice, which provides $4 billion in emergency short-term funding for Choice and other VA programs for 2018 and also expands a popular caregivers program. But the measure faces some resistance from Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Jerry Moran of Kansas, who are co-sponsoring a separate bill intended to give added access to private care “rather than relying on the VA bureaucracy to determine eligibility criteria.”

The House Veterans Affairs Committee, led by Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., meanwhile, has yet to reach agreement on how to pay for the $39 billion cost of its long-term proposal to revamp Choice. Republicans have proposed $2.1 billion in emergency short-term funding for Choice in a separate bill that would also establish a presidential commission to review VA facilities for possible closure, which is opposed by Democrats.

“At this time, the committee is working with the department to review the Choice account and determine when that account will need additional funding,” said Tiffany Haverly, Roe’s spokeswoman.

In September, the VA warned that Choice could run out of money sooner than expected in late December or early January, even after Congress approved $2.1 billion in emergency funding in August that was intended to last until February. Earlier this year, it began limiting referrals to outside doctors in July when money first began to run low and veterans reported delays in care.

The Choice program currently allows veterans to see private doctors if they must wait more than 30 days for an appointment or travel more than 40 miles to a VA facility. President Donald Trump has pledged to triple the number of veterans “seeing the doctor of their choice,” raising concerns among major veterans’ groups about “privatization” of VA care.

More than 30 percent of VA appointments are currently made in the private sector.

———

Follow Hope Yen on Twitter at https://twitter.com/hopeyen1

EU urges internet companies to do more to remove extremist content

(Reuters) – Internet groups such as Facebook (FB.O), Google’s YouTube (GOOGL.O) and Twitter (TWTR.N) need to do more to stem the proliferation of extremist content on their platforms, the European Commission said after a meeting on Wednesday.

Social media companies have significantly boosted their resources to take down violent and extremist content as soon as possible in response to growing political pressure from European governments, particularly those hit by militant attacks in recent years.

But Julian King, EU security commissioner, said that while a lot of progress had been made, additional efforts were needed.

“We are not there yet. We are two years down the road of this journey: to reach our final destination we now need to speed up our work,” King said in his closing speech at the third meeting of the EU Internet Forum, which brings together the Commission, EU member states, law enforcement and technology companies.

The EU has said it will come forward with legislation next year if it is not satisfied with progress made by tech companies in removing extremist content, while a German online hate speech law comes into effect on Jan. 1.

The Commission is keen to avoid a patchwork of national laws on the issue, and favors a self-regulatory approach.

Over the summer, Microsoft (MSFT.O), Facebook, Twitter and YouTube formed a global working group to combine their efforts in removing extremist content from their platforms, and last year formed a database of known “terrorist” images and videos which now contains more than 40,000 hashes, or digital signatures.

On Wednesday, the members of the Internet Forum presented a report with updates on progress made by companies and Europol in detecting and removing extremist content online.

The report, reviewed by Reuters, encourages the companies to remove “new and historical terrorist content, and to develop solutions to identify and remove terrorist content within 1-2 hours of upload, to the extent it is technically feasible, without compromising human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

The Commission wants companies to use automatic detection technologies more and act faster on referrals from member states and Europol.

“It is feasible to reduce the time it takes to remove content to a few hours,” said Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU home affairs commissioner.

“There is a lot of room for improvement, for this cooperation to produce even better results, starting with the reporting from the companies, which must become more regular and more transparent.”

Facebook last week reported progress in removing extremist content from its platform, saying it was removing 99 percent of content related to militant groups Islamic State and al Qaeda before being told of it, although it did not say how many items it was removing.

The Counter Extremism Project (CEP), a non-profit organization, said efforts by the companies were encouraging but did not make a strong case for continued self-regulation.

“Instead, what the EU Internet Forum should aim to deliver are concrete, industry-wide policies on blocking or rapidly removing illegal content and consistent enforcement of those policies,” said David Ibsen, Executive Director of the CEP.

Reporting by Julia Fioretti; Editing by Mark Potter

PM’s internet safety adviser urges end to password sharing

016c4__99085694_8198d30b-62cb-4b50-ab5b-a7f48ff80233 PM's internet safety adviser urges end to password sharingImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Baroness Shields has advised password-sharing MPs to rethink their approach to cyber-security

The prime minister’s special representative on internet safety has said that MPs should not be sharing their work computer passwords with staff.

Baroness Shields’s advice follows an admission by three Conservative MPs that they had given their login details to their assistants.

There have also been suggestions that the practice is relatively commonplace.

Sharing passwords is not a breach of the UK’s Data Protection Act.

But House of Commons staff are explicitly banned from disclosing their own passwords. And documents posted online by the Associated Press news agency indicate MPs are advised to act likewise.

“Never share your password or write it down where others could find it,” states one guide written for MPs.

“We can arrange for your staff to access your mailbox, calendar and documents through their own accounts.”

Evolving risks

Baroness Shields – who served as Minister for Internet Safety and Security before adopting her current role – told the BBC that she did not plan to make a formal intervention.

But she suggested that MPs should reconsider out-of-date practices.

“I don’t think anybody should be sharing their passwords,” she said.

“It used to be that you could share passwords, there wasn’t this constant threat.

“But the way cyber-threats have evolved is that we need to anticipate the next threat.

“There is always someone trying to get in – trying to view emails or understand what’s going on, and you have to assume that you are always under threat.”

The matter came to prominence over the weekend, when Nadine Dorries – MP for Mid Bedfordshire – tweeted that a “frequent shout” in her office was “What is the password?”

Skip Twitter post by @NadineDorries

End of Twitter post by @NadineDorries

She had made the point to cast doubt over claims that First Secretary of State Damian Green must have been responsible for viewing pornography allegedly found on his computer.

But the intervention meant that she and two other MPs that have since acknowledged password-sharing – Will Quince and Peter Grant – have become embroiled in controversy themselves.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has said it is also looking into the matter.

Community urges action on SLO County Jail, mental health improvements

A mental health treatment wing in the San Luis Obispo County Jail and an emergency detoxification center are two projects that grabbed the attention of the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday among a list of recommendations for improving local mental health treatment.

Supervisors received recommendations from two ad hoc committees tasked with identifying problems at the jail and County Health Agency and suggesting solutions for preventing people from cycling through the criminal justice system.

“These are things that are urgent — they’re needed right now,” Atascadero Mayor Tom O’Malley told the board during public comment.

Following a $5 million settlement the county said it would pay the family of a mentally ill jail inmate who died in custody in January, the county created a Sheriff’s Task Force on Mental Health to bring together stakeholders to prevent similar deaths. Officials have said that the jail is overburdened with inmates with serious chronic medical and mental health problems.

Never miss a local story.

Sign up today for unlimited digital access to our website, apps, the digital newspaper and more.

In October, the supervisors voted to enroll the county in the Stepping Up Initiative, a national campaign in which local governments pledge to keep people with serious mental health needs out of the criminal justice system. Since then, the Mental Health Task Force was renamed the Stepping Up planning committee, which finalized a three-page list of recommendations to improve local treatment that included options for increasing mental health treatment at the jail, improving training for law enforcement and building detox and urgent care walk-in clinics.

A second executive committee made up of county officials prioritized those recommendations before the list went before the board Tuesday.

These are things that are urgent — they’re needed right now.

Atascadero Mayor Tom O’Malley

Separately, the county is also awaiting results of a review by a third-party consultant also tasked with providing recommended changes. Results of that review, requested by county administration, are expected within the first two months of 2018, County Counsel Rita Neal told the board.

A request for proposals to contract outside medical and mental health services at the jail is also expected to be released early next year.

Of the possible improvements already in motion, the Sheriff’s Office is expecting to open its newly constructed medical facility building at the jail in May 2018, Sheriff Ian Parkinson told the board Tuesday. The facility’s former building can be repurposed to provide an on-site mental health treatment and housing area.

“That process is moving forward in every which way we can,” Parkinson said.

Tuesday’s hearing was attended by the county’s seven police chiefs, officials from the jail and County Health, members of the county Grand Jury and several residents who say their families have been affected by a local lack of services.

Los Osos resident Linda Martin, who said her daughter injured herself after being denied medication and placed in a County Jail safety cell in 2016, said treatment of inmates at the jail now is a “crisis.”

Related stories from The Tribune

 Community urges action on SLO County Jail, mental health improvements

Long to-do list for SLO County Jail calls for a mental health facility, more staff

 Community urges action on SLO County Jail, mental health improvements

Locked away: SLO County residents say treatment worsened family members’ mental illness

“Competent psychiatrists need to be put in place right now,” Martin said.

That urgency was echoed by San Luis Obispo attorney Stew Jenkins, who urged the board to shore up funding for solutions that could be enacted quickly, such as hiring more staff at the jail.

“While (requests for proposals) are prepared, people are going to continue to die,” Jenkins said.

While (requests for proposals) are prepared, people are going to continue to die.

San Luis Obispo attorney Stew Jenkins

Aurora William, executive director of ECHO shelter in Atascadero, said the current system for people struggling with mental illness and substance abuse has “left us with a lot of families that are fragmented.” William told the board that a local detoxification facility is long overdue.

The board was set to simply receive and file the committee’s recommendations, but each supervisor added additional direction to staff about what they want to know next time the issue comes before the board, likely early next year.

Supervisor Bruce Gibson said that he wanted staff to select the top three to five recommendations or projects that make the most strategic sense to start first and come back with cost and time estimates.

Gibson also suggested shifting the leadership of the overall effort to the county’s administrative office, rather than the Sheriff’s Office, which he said would be better at engaging non-government stakeholders such as the faith and business communities. No other official backed Gibson’s recommendation.

Supervisor Adam Hill asked for staff to provide an update on the proposed 91-bed psychiatric hospital in Templeton approved by the county in March 2016. Behavioral Health Director Anne Robin said the county has not received an update from the developer on the private hospital in some time, but the most recent estimates have the facility completed in 2021, Robin said. An update on the project will come back before the board early next year.

While supervisors Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton said they wanted the Sheriff’s Office to continue moving forward with prioritizing the various improvements, Compton added that she wanted more information on mental health urgent care centers and identifying potential partners for such a facility.

Lastly, Supervisor John Peschong said he wanted staff to consult with the county’s lobbyist to see if there are legislative avenues to increase the number of beds in the county’s psychiatric facility, which is federally licensed for 16 beds.

Mental Health effort urges Ohioans to ‘Be Present’ for youth

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A statewide multimedia campaign has been launched in Ohio to get needed help to young people struggling with bullying, undue stress or societal pressure that puts them at risk of hurting themselves.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ Be Present campaign, unveiled last week, encourages the peers, friends, classmates and siblings of at-risk youth to step up to help.

Department Director Tracy Plouck said the campaign can connect them to a variety of resources.

“Many young people experience stress or anxiety as they find their way, and some have experienced trauma or have an evolving emotional disorder,” she said. “Be Present will raise awareness about the struggles young people face and link them to local and state resources, information, crisis intervention and other forms of care, if needed.”

The campaign includes a website, a multiplatform presence on social media, print ads and digital public service announcements on Pandora Radio.

Using the tagline, “Your Presence is a Present,” it’s especially aimed at youth who are victims of bullying; those struggling to overcome mental or emotional problems or other stressors; and those most at risk of harming themselves, including LGBTQ youth.

The campaign will be rolled out in stages over the next five to seven months. A series of regional kickoffs are planned in partnership with local schools, the Prevention Action Alliance and the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation.

The website features an online toolkit to help young people demonstrate “the power of presence,” the department said, by getting involved at one of three levels: Friend, Advocate and Leader.

Friends need not register to gain access to videos, email updates, activity calendars and other campaign materials.

Advocates need to register and, if they’re under the age of 18, get parental permission. They can access demographic profiles, tutorials, campaign material downloads, and messaging tools.

Leaders need a username and password. They receive access to more intensive training and certification opportunities.

Mental Health effort urges Ohioans to ‘Be Present’ for youth

“Many young people experience stress or anxiety as they find their way, and some have experienced trauma or have an evolving emotional disorder,” she said. “Be Present will raise awareness about the struggles young people face and link them to local and state resources, information, crisis intervention and other forms of care, if needed.”

Mental Health effort urges Ohioans to ‘Be Present’ for youth

Ohio has launched a statewide multimedia campaign to raise awareness about the mental health struggles at-risk youth can face and to encourage their peers, friends, classmates and siblings to step up to help.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ Be Present campaign was launched recently. It will roll out in stages over the coming months.

Director Tracy Plouck (plowk) says many young people experience stress and anxiety during transitions from middle school to high school and then to college and self-discovery. She said that anxiety can contribute to isolation, depression and other mental health issues.

The campaign includes a website, a multiplatform presence on social media, print ads and digital public service announcements on Pandora Radio. It provides visitors with an online toolkit of resources.

Never miss a local story.

Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access.

Pope urges guaranteed health care for all people

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Thursday urged lawmakers to ensure that health care laws protect the “common good,” decrying the fact that in many places only the privileged can afford sophisticated medical treatments.

The comments came as lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have been debating how to overhaul the nation’s health insurance laws.

 Pope urges guaranteed health care for all people


 Pope urges guaranteed health care for all people

In a message to a medical association meeting at the Vatican, Francis expressed dismay at what he called a tendency toward growing inequality in health care. He said in wealthier countries, health care access risks being more dependent on people’s money than on their need for treatment.

“Increasingly, sophisticated and costly treatments are available to ever more limited and privileged segments of the population, and this raises questions about the sustainability of health care delivery and about what might be called a systemic tendency toward growing inequality in health care,” the pope said.

“This tendency is clearly visible at the global level, particularly when different countries are compared,” Francis said. “But it is also present within the more wealthy countries, where access to health care risks being more dependent on individuals’ economic resources than on their actual need for treatment.”

Without citing any countries, Francis said health care laws must take a “broad and comprehensive view of what most effectively promotes the common good” in each situation, including looking out for society’s most vulnerable people.

The Vatican meeting explored end-of-life issues and Francis repeated decades-old church teaching forbidding euthanasia.

He also reiterated Vatican teaching that says “not adopting, or else suspending, disproportionate measures, means avoiding overzealous treatment. From an ethical standpoint, it is completely different from euthanasia, which is always wrong.”

On end-of-life, the pope said, countries must “defend the fundamental equality whereby everyone is recognized under law as a human being.”


 Pope urges guaranteed health care for all people


 Pope urges guaranteed health care for all people


 Pope urges guaranteed health care for all people


 Pope urges guaranteed health care for all people


Send questions/comments to the editors.

Trump urges lawmakers to end health mandate, cut top tax rate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congressional Republicans pushed ahead on Monday on a U.S. tax code overhaul as a Senate panel considered the issue, but risks lay ahead with major intraparty disputes unsettled and President Donald Trump returning soon from Asia as the debate heats up.

While overseas at a leaders conference, Trump tweeted some tax bill suggestions early on Monday that were starkly different from the two Republican plans being considered in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

He called on lawmakers to add a highly risky provision to their tax effort: repealing the individual mandate included in the 2010 Obamacare health insurance law that requires Americans to have health coverage or pay a tax to Washington.

Neither of the two Republican plans includes such a politically divisive measure. Efforts by Republicans to dismantle Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, collapsed dramatically months ago.

Trump has pushed hard for adding the mandate repeal to the tax-cut package. He tweeted the same suggestion on Nov. 3 just before he departed for his multi-nation Asian tour.

In his latest tweet, he also urged slashing the top tax rate for high earners to 35 percent from 39.6 percent, despite criticism from Democrats that the Republican tax bills are deficit-expanding giveaways to the rich and corporations.

The House retains the existing top tax rate in its bill, while the Senate proposes cutting it slightly to 38.5 percent.

Trump is set to return to Washington on Tuesday. A White House aide confirmed that the president would speak to House Republicans on Thursday ahead of their expected tax bill vote.

“I am proud of the Rep. House Senate for working so hard on cutting taxes { reform.} We’re getting close!” Trump wrote in his Monday Twitter post.

“Now, how about ending the unfair highly unpopular Indiv Mandate in OCare reducing taxes even further? Cut top rate to 35% w/all of the rest going to middle income cuts?” he added.

CLOCK IS TICKING

Since taking office in January, Trump has not scored a major legislative accomplishment, while frequently shifting positions and confusing lawmakers on Capitol Hill on various issues.

Many Republicans view a win on overhauling the tax code as crucial to avoiding having to go to the voters in 2018’s congressional elections with no achievements to show for a year in control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.

The clock is ticking for them. The House is expected to vote soon, perhaps on Thursday, on a tax bill approved last week at the committee level. House tax committee Chairman Kevin Brady said he was confident Republicans had the votes for passage.

Brady told reporters in a Capitol hallway that including a repeal of the Obamacare individual healthcare mandate in the tax bill “remains under consideration.”

The Senate tax committee will debate its tax plan all week before heading home for the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday.

When both chambers return near the end of November, they will have only 12 legislative days before the end of 2017.

In that time span, Republicans hope to iron out differences between the two tax plans over the deduction for state and local taxes, the timing of a corporate tax rate cut and the future of the estate tax on inheritances.

Each of the Republican tax plans would add about $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade, another issue causing dissension among Republicans.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he hoped to have a tax bill ready in the week after Thanksgiving. Between now and then, an army of lobbyists will be pressuring lawmakers to protect favored special-interest tax breaks.

On Dec. 8, a three-month extension of the spending authority for the federal government expires, requiring congressional action that could divert lawmakers from the tax overhaul.

A lengthy amendment introduced on Monday to the Senate tax plan by Republican Orrin Hatch, chairman of the tax panel, would remove a provision that lets working Americans over 50 make tax-free catch-up contributions to their retirement plans.

Democrats have kept up steady criticism of the Republican tax bills and how they were drafted. Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate measure was developed in secret by a small group that held no public hearings and ignored Democrats.

“And the reason for such reckless haste is all too obvious: the product is a wretched one … it is focused on the wealthy to the exclusion of the middle class,” he said in a statement.

Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Peter Cooney

Dakotas nonprofit urges people to get health coverage early

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A Dakotas nonprofit is urging people who buy their own health insurance to sign up early during the Affordable Care Act open enrollment period that started Wednesday.

The enrollment window for 2018 health coverage through the federal marketplace runs until Dec. 15. This year’s sign-up period is six weeks shorter than last year’s.

Community HealthCare Association of the Dakotas CEO Shelly Ten Napel said in a statement that community health centers and their health care partners are working to inform people that coverage and financial help are available.

She said people who plan to renew or enroll in a health plan should get prepared and sign up early to ensure coverage. Counselors and navigators are ready to help people sign up, Ten Napel said.

“With a shortened enrollment period and steep cuts at the federal level for marketing and outreach efforts, it is critical that we spread the word about open enrollment and arm South Dakotans with the information they need to enroll, apply for financial assistance and seek enrollment support,” she said.

The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation said that for the 2017 open enrollment period, over 21,000 people in North Dakota and more than 29,000 people in South Dakota selected a marketplace plan.

Behrend computer science alum urges students to ‘Build their Road-map’

ERIE, Pa. — In 2004, during Matt Stanton’s junior year at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, the then-computer science major was writing source code in one of the college’s computer labs.

He remembers typing away, and then, one misplaced semicolon later… boom.

Good luck signing onto a computer over the next four hours. It could not be done.

“Everybody who was trying to use Linux (operating system) on campus couldn’t do so. I didn’t even know how I had done it. That was just dumb luck,” said Stanton, whose coding error brought down the entire server across campus. “Thankfully, I didn’t get in trouble because it really was an accident. They also later fixed the issue, so a student would not be able to do this again.”

While the memory provides a good laugh, Stanton is thankful that his legacy at Penn State Behrend extends beyond a semicolon. The Russell, Pennsylvania, native was among the college’s first computer science graduates, earning his degree in 2005.

Stanton now works as the senior vice president for client relations and program excellence at Libera Inc., a software development company based in Jamestown, New York. He returned to campus earlier this month to serve as the keynote speaker for a ceremony recognizing that the college’s computer science program has been accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, the recognized accreditor of university programs in applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology. The Behrend program is the only accredited computer science program at Penn State, and the designation is retroactive to 2015.

ABET accreditation demonstrates a program’s commitment to providing its students with a quality education. Accreditation is a voluntary, peer-review process that evaluates program curricula, faculty expertise, facilities, institutional support and other factors.

“I’m excited to see that accreditation, and just excited for the program overall,” Stanton said. “The ability of the degree to allow someone to excel, even outside of writing code, is impressive. It’s really about solving problems, and I think it’s a big reason why I have done well in my career.”

The theme for Stanton’s presentation was “Building Your Road-map,” and one of the points he emphasized was how the industry has changed as technology has expanded. After his talk, a panel of nine students discussed internships, their course study and the evolution of the computer science program. Several of the panelists have already received job offers, so the discussion offered them an opportunity to pick Stanton’s brain, as he has been able to watch the industry grow from a front-row seat.

“Everything has changed. The programming languages have changed. The processes we’re following have changed. There’s no way we could succeed today with what we did in 2005,” Stanton said.

Yet, in some ways, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

According to Stanton, one of the top benefits of the computer science program is that students are taught to keep learning new technologies and adapt to the market.

“The power of the languages and the ability to develop web-based solutions has exploded, but the structures and patterns we learned back then are still very relevant,” Stanton said.

In the future, Stanton said he expects all software development to be done on a mobile platform. As people become more and more mobile, he expects that they will be using their phones for work and will want all of their information there.

When he first started coding, Stanton was using a single-processor computer, which likely had less RAM than every smartphone currently on the market. When he first started at Libera, the company had eight employees. Now, it’s close to 50.

He knows more change will come, but that’s a good thing.

“They’ve continued to improve the hardware at the pace of the software that runs on it,” Stanton said. “Today, everything has to be cross-platform and in general, the consumer is a lot more computer savvy, so they’re going to continue to push us to make a better product.”

Kate Brown urges Oregonians to buy health insurance in open enrollment period

Gov. Kate Brown wants all Oregonians who don’t get health insurance through their employer, Medicare or Medicaid to sign up for coverage during the open-enrollment period that begins Nov. 1.

Starting Wednesday, Oregonians can sign up for, renew or change health insurance policies at Healthcare.gov. While most Oregonians get their health coverage through their employer or the government, slightly more than 210,000 obtain insurance through the individual market.

Brown is scheduled to promote open enrollment when she visits the offices of the Cascade Aids Project in Portland Monday afternoon.

ObamaCare has resulted in millions of Americans getting health coverage since its 2010 passage. Nationally, the number of uninsured Americans plummeted from 48 million to 20 million. In Oregon, the uninsured rate fell from 17 percent to 5 percent.

But that signature policy achievement has been marred by repeated double-digit insurance rate hikes for millions of Americans. The price increases have been particularly acute for those who buy insurance through the individual market.

Some of those people purchase their coverage through the healthcare.gov website set up in conjunction with the passage of Obamacare. Others buy equivalent policies directly from insurers.

Republicans in Congress, with the enthusiastic backing of President Trump, have tried three times since he took office to repeal Obamacare. They’ve failed each time. But the administration did manage to slash spending on advertising in advance of this open enrollment period.

There is some concern among Oregon politicians and public health officials that fewer people will sign up for insurance this year because of the rising costs and diminished advertising.

In response, Oregon increased its own ad buys by $433,000.

The health insurance business depends on large pools of customers to function efficiently. Carriers need to spread the cost of health care for sicker customers among many more healthy ones.

Boosters of the Affordable Care Act argue that even given the higher premium prices, lowering the uninsured rate has been good for the economy. Oregon’s hospitals and health systems have saved about $500 million a year in previously uncompensated hospital care since 2013, according to the state.

— Jeff Manning

INTERVIEW: Health care is a human right, senior UN official says; urges protection for medical workers

24 October 2017 – Health is a human right and health care workers are human rights defenders, the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights has said, reminding Governments to provide healthcare for their citizens and to protect professionals who deliver these services.

“We see health not only as the absence of disease and not only a question of access to services, but in fact the right to be human is a manner that you have your physical and mental integrity upheld,” Kate Gilmore said in an interview with UN News.

Similarly, health care workers are part of the “machinery of human rights defence,” yet are increasingly being targeted for doing their jobs.

“In conflict settings, there has been a marked spike in the targeting of hospitals, of doctors, of ambulances and of nurses. And this is not only quite unconscionable,” the Deputy High Commissioner said, noting these attacks are also against international humanitarian law and the basic rules of war to which each Government has signed up by virtue of being a member of the United Nations.

“But in other settings, too,” she continued. “In non-conflict settings, health workers who work with communities that are subjected to terrible bigotry, those working with those suffering leprosy, historically health workers providing services to those living with HIV and AIDS, workers whose priority is sexual and reproductive health.”

Ms. Gilmore noted “a pattern across the globe of health workers being targeted for providing compassionate, humane care rooted in medical science.”

She denounced such attacks calling them “wrong, unfair and unjust.”

Ms. Gilmore, along with Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour, will participate at a dialogue today at the UN Headquarters in New York on how human rights, including the right to health, are reflected in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Hear more from her in this interview with UN News.

AUDIO: UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore.

Interview: Health care is a human right, senior UN official says; urges protection for medical workers

24 October 2017 – Health is a human right and health care workers are human rights defenders, the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights has said, reminding Governments to provide healthcare for their citizens and to protect professionals who deliver these services.

“We see health not only as the absence of disease and not only a question of access to services, but in fact the right to be human is a manner that you have your physical and mental integrity upheld,” Kate Gilmore said in an interview with UN News.

Similarly, health care workers are part of the “machinery of human rights defence,” yet are increasingly being targeted for doing their jobs.

“In conflict settings, there has been a marked spike in the targeting of hospitals, of doctors, of ambulances and of nurses. And this is not only quite unconscionable,” the Deputy High Commissioner said, noting these attacks are also against international humanitarian law and the basic rules of war to which each Government has signed up by virtue of being a member of the United Nations.

“But in other settings, too,” she continued. “In non-conflict settings, health workers who work with communities that are subjected to terrible bigotry, those working with those suffering leprosy, historically health workers providing services to those living with HIV and AIDS, workers whose priority is sexual and reproductive health.”

Ms. Gilmore noted “a pattern across the globe of health workers being targeted for providing compassionate, humane care rooted in medical science.”

She denounced such attacks calling them “wrong, unfair and unjust.”

Ms. Gilmore, along with Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour, will participate at a dialogue today at the UN Headquarters in New York on how human rights, including the right to health, are reflected in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Hear more from her in this interview with UN News.

AUDIO: UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore.

Trump urges House GOP to move quickly on budget, tax cuts

President Donald Trump warned House Republicans on Sunday that 2018 would be a political failure for the GOP and disappointment for the nation if they fail on tax overhaul.

A GOP aide familiar with the conversation said Trump told the lawmakers again and again that the party would have a steep price to pay in next year’s midterm elections if they failed to pass his plan. It would slash the corporate tax rate to 20 percent and double the standard deduction used by most average Americans.

The president also said that, beyond the looming elections, his plan was the right thing to do for the country, the person said.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both joined the House GOP conference call in which Trump called on members to adopt the budget passed by the Senate this week, so that they can move on to passing his tax reform plan

Trump told the members they were on the verge of doing something historic by passing the tax cuts, according to one Republican official. That official, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss publicly what was intended as a private update for members.

The Senate last week passed a budget that includes rules that will allow Republicans to get tax legislation through the Senate without Democratic votes and without fear of a Democratic filibuster. The House had passed a different budget, but House Republicans signaled Friday they would simply accept the Senate plan to avoid any potential delay on the tax measure.

Republicans are desperate to rack up a legislative win after a series of embarrassing failures that have come despite the fact that the party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House. At the top of the list: their stalled attempts to pass legislation repealing and replacing “Obamacare.” If tax reform doesn’t pass, many in the party fear an all-out revolt in 2018.

On the call, House Speaker Paul Ryan told members he hoped to pass a revised Senate budget bill this week to increase the chances that tax reform can be enacted by the end of the year.

The leaders emphasized the need for the House to pass the Senate budget to avoid negotiations between the two chambers that could slow the process, said two lawmakers on the call, who also spoke on condition of anonymity. They said the goal is for House passage of the budget this week, putting the House on track to approve a tax bill by Thanksgiving.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, had told Fox News Sunday earlier Sunday that the House was working “very quickly to accept the Senate amendments,” and said the plan “may save as many as 10 or 12 legislative days, which is a big deal.”

Trump, who spent much of the weekend at his golf course in Virginia, will also work to rally support for the plan on the Hill Tuesday at a lunch with Senate Republicans.

But as the focus turns to taxes, Congress continues to struggle with health care legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he’d be willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor — if Trump makes clear he supports it. A proposal by two senators – Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democrat Patty Murray of Washington – would extend for two years federal insurance payments that Trump has blocked, in an effort to stabilize insurance markets. But Trump has offered mixed signals, alternately praising and condemning the effort – confusing Democrats and Republicans alike.

Asked whether he would bring the bill to the floor, McConnell said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he was waiting “to hear from President Trump what kind of health care bill he might sign.”

“If there’s a need for some kind of interim step here to stabilize the market, we need a bill the president will actually sign. And I’m not certain yet what the president is looking for here, but I will be happy to bring a bill to the floor if I know President Trump would sign it,” the Republican said. He added of Trump: “I think he hasn’t made a final decision.”

The plan unveiled last week likely has 60 votes in the Senate, mostly from Democrats, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Sunday urged McConnell to bring it to the floor “immediately, this week.”

“This is a good compromise,” Schumer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Trump at first suggested he supported the temporary fix as he continues to hold out hope for repeal-and-replace legislation. But White House officials said later that Trump would only sign an interim bill that lifted the tax penalties that Obama’s health care law imposed on people who don’t buy coverage and employers who don’t offer plans to employees, among other demands Senate Democrat say are non-starters.

Mulvaney said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Trump doesn’t want to back a plan “without also getting something for folks who are being hurt.”

“I think there’s actually a pretty good chance to get a deal,” he said. “It’s just Murray-Alexander in its current form probably isn’t far enough yet.”

McConnell also pushed back against former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s efforts to recruit candidates to challenge Republican incumbents who support McConnell’s leadership, arguing that what Republicans need is candidates who can win.

“Look, this is not about personalities. This is about achievement. And in order to make policy, you have to actually win the election,” he said on Fox News Sunday. “And some of these folks that you’ve been quoting, as I said are specialists on nominating people who lose.”

———

This story has been corrects to attribute McConnell, Mulvaney quotes to Fox News Sunday,

———

Associated Press Congressional Correspondent Erica Werner contributed to this report.

Schumer urges McConnell to put bipartisan health care bill ‘on the floor immediately’

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged a quick vote on a bipartisan health care bill he said has the support of every Senate Democrat, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’ll bring it to the floor only if he’s confident President Trump will sign it.

“I would urge Sen. McConnell to put it on the floor immediately this week. It will pass, and it will pass by a large number of votes,” Schumer said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The bill is supported by “all 48 Democrats” as well as 12 Republicans, enough for a 60-vote majority, Schumer said.

The legislation was negotiated in a deal between Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander and Washington Democrat Patty Murray. It is a short-term fix rather than a sweeping overhaul of the health care system, and would fund subsidies to insurance companies that Trump announced plans to end. Without those subsidies, insurers have said that premiums would soar.

Miracle cure: A bipartisan Obamacare breakthrough?

Trump has sent mixed signals on the deal, at one point saying he opposed it as a bailout to insurance companies but also calling it a “good start” he was open to supporting.

McConnell said he’ll bring the legislation up for a vote only with Trump’s clear support.

“What I’m waiting is to hear from President Trump what kind of health care deal he might sign,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

McConnell said he’ll bring the legislation up for a vote only with Trump’s clear support.

(Joshua Roberts/REUTERS)

“We need a bill the President will actually sign. I’m not certain yet what the President is looking for here, but I’ll be happy to bring a bill to the floor if I know President Trump would sign it.”

Trump sends mixed signals on bipartisan Obamacare deal

Schumer said his Republican counterpart should call a vote immediately.

“This is a good compromise,” he told NBC. “Let’s not forget, what this bill does is prevent premiums from going up 20%, even more in some states. That falls on everybody’s back. And if Republicans think that if premiums go up they’re going to avoid the blame, if Sen. McConnell thinks that, he’s wrong.”

He said Democrats were not interested in re-negotiating the deal to gain more GOP support. “We are sticking to the agreement we have,” he said.

Schumer hit Trump for his waffling on the agreement.

McConnell slams Bannon as expert at ‘nominating people who lose’

“The right wing attacks it, and he backs off,” he said. “That’s the whole problem. The President is not leading on issue after issue after issue.”

Tags: chuck schumer mitch mcconnell obamacare donald trump Send a Letter to the Editor Join the Conversation: facebook Tweet

Collins urges Trump to back effort to restore health subsidy

A key moderate Republican urged President Donald Trump on Sunday to back a bipartisan Senate effort to shield consumers from rising premiums after his abrupt decision to halt federal payments to insurers, calling the move “disruptive” and an immediate threat to access to health care.

“What the president is doing is affecting people’s access and the cost of health care right now,” said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who has cast pivotal votes on health care in the narrowly divided Senate. “This is not a bailout of the insurers. What this money is used for is to help low-income people afford their deductibles and their co-pays.”

“Congress needs to step in and I hope that the president will take a look at what we’re doing,” she added.

Her comments reflected an increasing focus Sunday on the bipartisan Senate effort led by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., to at least temporarily reinstate the payments to avoid immediate turmoil in the insurance market, even as Trump signaled he wouldn’t back a deal without getting something he wants in return.

The payments will be stopped beginning this week, with sign-up season for subsidized private insurance set to start Nov. 1.

“The president is not going to continue to throw good money after bad, give $7 billion to insurance companies unless something changes about Obamacare that would justify it,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who golfed with Trump Saturday at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia.

“It’s got to be a good deal,” Graham said.

In his decision last week, Trump derided the $7 billion in subsidies as bailouts to insurers and suggested he was trying to get Democrats to negotiate and agree to a broader effort to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law, a bid that repeatedly crashed in the GOP-run Senate this summer.

The payments seek to lower out-of-pocket costs for insurers, which are required under Obama’s law to reduce poorer people’s expenses — about 6 million people. To recoup the lost money, carriers are likely to raise 2018 premiums for people buying their own health insurance policies.

Alexander and Murray have been seeking a deal that the Tennessee Republican has said would reinstate the payments for two years. In exchange, Alexander said, Republicans want “meaningful flexibility for states” to offer lower-cost insurance policies with less coverage than Obama’s law mandates.

Still, congressional Republicans are divided over that effort. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney has suggested that Trump may oppose any agreement unless he gets something he wants — such as a repeal of Obamacare or funding of Trump’s promised wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

On Sunday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., described Trump’s demand for a sit-down with congressional Democratic leaders as “a little far down the road.” She noted the bipartisan effort in the Senate and said ultimately it will be up to a Republican-controlled Congress and executive branch whether the federal government can avert a shutdown by year’s end.

The government faces a Dec. 8 deadline on the debt limit and government spending.

“We’re not about closing down government. The Republicans have the majority,” Pelosi said. “In terms of the health care, we’re saying ‘Let’s follow what Sen. Murray and Alexander are doing.”

Collins praised the Senate effort so far, which included public hearings by the Senate health and education committee. Still, she acknowledged a potentially tough road in reaching broader agreement.

“I hope we can proceed, but Democrats will have to step up to the plate and assist us,” said Collins, who is a member of the committee. “It’s a two-way street.”

The scrapping of subsidies would affect millions more consumers in states won by Trump last year, including Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, than in states won by Democrat Hillary Clinton. Nearly 70 percent of the 6 million who benefit from the cost-sharing subsidies are in states that voted for the Republican.

Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio said Sunday his state had anticipated that the insurer payments would be halted but not so quickly. He called for the payments to be reinstated right away, describing a hit to Ohio — a state also won by Trump last November — for at least the “first two or three months.”

“Over time, this is going to have a dramatic impact,” Kasich said. “Who gets hurt? People. And it’s just outrageous.”

Nineteen Democratic state attorneys general have announced plans to sue Trump over the stoppage. Attorneys generals from California, Kentucky, Massachusetts and New York were among those saying they will file the lawsuit in federal court in California to stop Trump’s attempt “to gut the health and well-being of our country.”

Collins appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and CNN’s “State of the Union,” Pelosi also spoke on ABC, Graham appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” and Kasich was on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Clinton urges Congress to reauthorize children’s health care program

Hillary Clinton7a608_clintonhillary_101916gn_lead Clinton urges Congress to reauthorize children's health care programHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies DNC, RNC step up cyber protections Gun proposal picks up GOP support MORE issued her strong support for the Children’s Health Insurance Program in a series of tweets Monday night, urging Congress to re-authorize the program, which expired last month.

“This hasn’t gotten enough [attention]: For the first time, Congress missed the deadline to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program,” Clinton said.

Clinton then shared a video about a family who was impacted by CHIP, and warned that families will soon receive notice that their children’s health insurance is at risk.

The former Democratic presidential nominee praised the Senate Finance Committee for passing a bipartisan reauthorization bill last week and urged her followers to contact their representatives about the bill.

Clinton, then the first lady, was a champion of CHIP when it first made its way through Congress during former President Bill Clinton7a608_clintonhillary_101916gn_lead Clinton urges Congress to reauthorize children's health care programBill ClintonAll five living former presidents to attend hurricane relief concert The Hill’s 12:30 Report The Hill’s 12:30 Report MORE’s first term in office.

Congress missed a deadline to reauthorize the CHIP program, which helps states provide inexpensive health insurance to children in low-income families.

Despite the Senate releasing a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the program for five years, a vote was never scheduled.

Three states and Washington, D.C., are expected to run out of money from the program by December, and the majority of states will run out by March, according to a July report from the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission.

Another study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 10 states would run out money by the end of the year.

The deadline to reauthorize the program passed after Senate Republicans spent several weeks pushing to pass an ObamaCare repeal bill co-sponsored by GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy7a608_clintonhillary_101916gn_lead Clinton urges Congress to reauthorize children's health care programWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyBen Shapiro: Who died and made Jimmy Kimmel Jesus? Dems look to turn ObamaCare tables on GOP in ’18 Congress misses deadline to reauthorize childrens’ health care program MORE (La.) and Lindsey Graham7a608_clintonhillary_101916gn_lead Clinton urges Congress to reauthorize children's health care programLindsey Olin GrahamDurbin: I had ‘nothing to do’ with Curbelo snub Republicans jockey for position on immigration Overnight Health Care: House passes 20-week abortion ban | GOP gives ground over ObamaCare fix | Price exit sets off speculation over replacement MORE (S.C.). That bill was never brought to the Senate floor after three Republicans announced their opposition to it.

iPhone: US government urges Apple to switch on hidden FM radios inside handsets

Your iPhone might have a secret chip in it that could save your life. But it’s not switched on.

The US telecoms regulator has asked Apple to activate the FM radios that are in some of its phones so they can be used to relay messages in an emergency, like a storm, that knocks out data connections.

But Apple says that only some of its phones have the chip, and that it’s not been installing them in recent models. Neither the iPhone 7 or 8 have the right technology, “nor do they have antennas designed to support FM signals, so it is not possible to enable FM reception in these products”, the company said in a statement.

  • 1/10

    Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, introduces the iPhone x during a launch event in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2017

    REUTERS/Stephen Lam

  • 2/10

    Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, introduces the iPhone X during a launch event in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2017

    REUTERS/Stephen Lam

  • 3/10

    Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, introduces the iPhone X during a launch event in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2017

    Reuters

  • 4/10

    Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, introduces the iPhone x during a launch event in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2017

    REUTERS/Stephen Lam

  • 5/10

    Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, introduces the iPhone x during a launch event in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2017

    REUTERS/Stephen Lam

  • 6/10

    Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, introduces the iPhone x during a launch event in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2017

    REUTERS/Stephen Lam

  • 7/10

    Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, shows Animoji during a launch event in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2017

    REUTERS/Stephen Lam

  • 8/10

    Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, speaks during a launch event in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2017

    REUTERS/Stephen Lam

  • 9/10

    Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, introduces the iPhone x during a launch event in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2017

    REUTERS/Stephen Lam

  • 10/10

    Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, speaks about the iPhone X during a launch event in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 12, 2017

    REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Apple is the only major phone company that hasn’t yet activated the chips, the FCC said. “I hope the company will reconsider its position, given the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria,” chairman Arjit Pai said in a statement.

0eba8_iphone iPhone: US government urges Apple to switch on hidden FM radios inside handsets

Apple said that it has activated and engineered a whole range of different systems in its phones, all intended to keep their users safe. The company has “engineered modern safety solutions into our products. Users can dial emergency services and access Medical ID card information directly from the Lock Screen, and we enable government emergency notifications, ranging from Weather Advisories to AMBER alerts,” it said in a release, making clear that all the same it wouldn’t be able to comply with the FCC request.

The company has been showing off some of those security and privacy features this week, as part of the launch of a new website and the new phones.

It’s not clear whether the FCC could force Apple to turn on the chips in the phones that do have them, or to compel them to install the feature in future phones. It didn’t reply to Apple’s statement that it couldn’t actually comply with the request.

Mobile phone networks have been wiped out in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, after storms there. The FM radios allow the phones to pick up signals far more easily and over longer distances, allowing them to be used to relay information even when normal networks are down.

The FM radios will have come as part of other internal parts bought by Apple to add into its phone. As such, it’s likely that Apple never actually intended to use them, and it’s possible that they couldn’t even be turned on.

  • More about:
  • iPhone
  • Apple
  • FCC




Advertise here