Facebook defends Russia response, updates plan to curb misbehavior

Facebook Inc Chairman and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday defended his response to Russian election meddling on the world’s largest social media network and issued a new plan aimed at stifling misbehavior while maintaining a vibrant hub for online speech.


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Did Alt-Right Brothers Plan Pittsburgh-Style Attack Before Suicide?

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

New court documents have shed fresh light on a possible plot in Washington, D.C., planned for the same day as the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre in October.

The case centers on 23-year-old Edward William Clark, who killed himself on Washington’s isolated Roosevelt Island on Oct. 27, just hours after the synagogue shooting allegedly perpetrated by Robert Bowers.

Clark, according to relatives interviewed by the FBI, believed in a “race revolution” and “wanted to expedite it.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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11.6.18 International airfares to increase; Eliminating home internet with your cell phone plan

Some of the discount international airlines are in financial trouble. This could lead to increasing airfare prices when traveling overseas; Sprint has a cell phone plan that could help you eliminate the need for at-home internet. 

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clark.com

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Hello? It’s I, Robot, And Have I Got An Insurance Plan For You!

“Anna” will not stop calling. She really, really wants to sell you health insurance.

What a lot of consumers really, really want is to smack Anna upside her robocalling head.

As health insurance open-enrollment season gets underway in California and nationwide, automated phone calls offering Affordable Care Act or other health plans are spiking — and driving many consumers to the brink. California residents may have it worst, because its open-enrollment period is twice as long as in other parts of the country.

“It’s at epidemic levels at this time of year,” said Aaron Foss, founder of Nomorobo, who estimates his spam call-blocking service, based in Long Island, N.Y., headed off more than 850,000 health-related robocalls in October alone — nearly five times their interceptions for September, Foss said.

Nomorobo tracked about 820 different robocall pitches for health insurance in the last week of October. More than 100 of them were from the robot Anna.

Almost all of these calls are illegal, according to rules published by the Federal Trade Commission in 2009. Many offer skimpy health plans that don’t cover what you might need, insurance regulators and consumer advocates say. Others, they say, are downright fraudulent, with unscrupulous insurance “brokers” taking payment and promising insurance that never comes through.

Alice Cave, 62, a retired data analyst from Alexandria, Va., who spends winters in Tucson, said she’s gotten so many of these calls that she typically won’t answer her phone unless she recognizes the number. On Monday, expecting a call from a California reporter, she answered her cellphone.

It was “Anne.” (Anna’s robot cousin? Other relatives include “Jordan,” “Allison” and “Mandy,” though variants on Anna remain most prevalent.)

“She was saying, ‘I really need to talk to you — we’ve got deals on health insurance.’ I thought, ‘God, what a crock,’” Cave said. “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Anything that comes in on the phone, I’m going to be skeptical. Why would they offer me this deal? I already have great insurance. It’s crazy.”

Some fed-up consumers try to stymie robocallers, with amusing results. Twitter user Jon Heise in June confounded his robot by insisting, after whatever it said, that he was a “meat popsicle.” Eventually, it hung up.

It’s not all fun and games. In California, the Department of Insurance is investigating health insurance robocalls, said Janice Rocco, deputy commissioner for health policy and reform. In late August, the agency filed a court order against Health Plan Intermediaries Holdings LLC, accusing the Florida company of deceptive and misleading practices in selling “Obamacare” plans that didn’t comply with the health law. The company could face fines of up to $ 10,000 per violation, Rocco said.

In this case, the company’s robocalls featured “Anne,” according to the court order. In its legal response, the company did not admit to the agency’s allegations and denied responsibility. A hearing date has not yet been set, Rocco said. (Arkansas’ insurance commissioner issued a cease and desist order against the company in 2016.)

Under federal law, calls using prerecorded messages are legal only for such things as doctor appointment reminders, flight cancellations, credit card fraud alerts and political candidates. Calls to sell products and services are not.

In a typical robocall sales pitch, a friendly female voice comes on the line. Sometimes the call appears to originate from major insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield or Aetna or from a local number a caller might suppose is a school or neighbor.

Often, the voice will ask the consumer to dial “1” to enroll or “2” to opt out of future calls. Both options can be a trap, experts say.

“If you pick up, you become a lead that’s sent to health insurance agents or brokers,” Nomorobo’s Foss said. And option 2 doesn’t put you on a do-not-call list; it merely lets the spammers know they’ve hit a working number, he added.

A reporter from Kaiser Health News connected with one of the insurance brokers behind one of these robocalls by pressing the dreaded “1.”

A man identifying himself as “Ray Khan” said he’s a licensed insurance broker and provided a National Insurance Producer Registry number. The reporter was unable to locate Khan in that national registry with that number, which was not assigned to anyone.

Khan asked for the reporter’s Social Security number and other personal information. He said he did not have an office and that enrollment needed to be done over the phone. He referred the caller to a website that does not provide information about plans offered but is a platform for consumers to be contacted by brokers.

“It’s a legitimate company. We work for different insurance carriers,” Khan said. “You have to trust someone if you want to do it.”

That’s exactly what you shouldn’t do — trust folks who call you out of the blue, according to the Department of Insurance’s Rocco. “Someone selling a comprehensive medical plan is not going to be reaching you via a robocall,” Rocco said.

Most of what’s sold through these automated calls are so-called skinny plans that don’t comply with Affordable Care Act requirements, or are short-term insurance plans, which typically offer coverage for only a few months and often don’t cover preexisting conditions or prescription drugs. Such plans have been outlawed in California, starting Jan. 1.

Despite state and federal crackdowns — some involving multimillion-dollar fines — robocalls aren’t going away anytime soon. So the best thing for consumers to do when they receive one is to just hang up or, like Virginia resident Cave, not respond to unfamiliar numbers, advises the Federal Communications Commission.

Instead, check out the federal Obamacare exchange, healthcare.gov, or your state’s marketplace.


This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation.

Kaiser Health News

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AMC Theaters isn’t done rubbing the success of its subscription movie plan in the face of ailing MoviePass. The nation’s largest theater chain on Monday sent out an e-mail announcing that its subscription plan, titled A-List, which allows users to see up to three movies a week for $ 19.95 per month, now has 500,000 paying…
Technology News & Reviews | New York Post

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Trump Faces Opposition To Plan To End Birthright Citizenship By Executive Order

President Donald Trump has injected additional controversy into the contentious debate over immigration by revealing plans to sign an executive order ending “birthright citizenship” for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born on U.S. soil.
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Don’t Be Dopey: Here’s How to Get the Most Out of Your Disney Dining Plan

Most families roll up to the gates of Magic Kingdom dreaming of Mickey hugs and Space Mountain thrills. My family blows right past Snow White on a quest for cheeseburger spring rolls and Dole Whips. It’s all the pixie dust we need.

To transform the Manhattan-sized property into a playground for your taste buds, Walt Disney World has developed the Disney Dining Plan. The plan proposes to save you time and money as you eat your way around the World, and most people claim they can at least break even.

I’ve broken down the price of the Standard Disney Dining Plan to see how much you’ll save over buying food and drink outright — and I’ve added 10 years of my own Disney Dining Plan hacks to help you get the most out of your meals with Mickey.

Get to Know the Standard Dining Plan

Guests who stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel are eligible to purchase a Disney Dining Plan. The plans provide a certain number of credits to each person in the resort room. These credits can be redeemed at over 200 table and counter service restaurants across the parks and resorts. There are a few different dining plans: Quick Service, Standard and Deluxe.

The Quick-Service Dining Plan includes only fast food-style counter service meals, and the Deluxe Dining Plan comes at a premium price and includes extras like wine and more than one table service meal every day.

We’ll be looking at the Standard Dining Plan, which includes both counter service and table service meals.

2018 Standard Disney Dining Plan Cost-Per-Night:

Adults: $ 75.49

Children 3 to 9: $ 25.80

For each night of your stay, the 2018 Standard Dining Plan includes:

  • 1 table-service meal credit: includes entree, nonalcoholic beverage and dessert; or buffet.
  • 1 quick-service meal credit: includes entree with beverage.
  • 2 snacks.
  • 16-ounce souvenir mug, refillable at all resort beverage stations.

Note that your dining credits are for each night of your stay, not each day. This will come into play for our strategy later. In the meantime, let’s see how to get the most out of that refillable mug.

Your Mug Runneth Over

A photo of a refillable mug at Disney World.
The refillable resort mugs at Walt Disney World Resort can reap savings after the first drink. Rain Blanken/The Penny Hoarder

The refillable mug bundled into the price of your Disney Dining Plan retails for $ 18.99, but it’s actually worth so much more — if you do it right.

For a six-night stay, this mug averages out to a cost of $ 3.16 per day.

Fountain beverages average about $ 3.99 (price varies per location) per 16 ounces, so you’re already saving on that first drink. But don’t just snag a pop with dinner. If you grab coffee in the morning, a soda in the afternoon and hot chocolate in the evening, your mug is worth $ 11.97 in drinks on the first day of your stay.

In fact, the high-tech chip on the bottom of the mug will allow you to fill that bad boy for free every two minutes. (Please don’t drink a sweet tea every two minutes.)

The mugs are not usable in the parks but are usable across the 30 Walt Disney World resorts — not only the one you’re staying in.

When my husband and I heard of this fantastic tomfoolery, our eyes met and it clicked. With gleeful smiles, we remembered we had packed our own plastic bottle of rum in our luggage. Yep, that’s right, parents. If you pack in your own booze, the rum and Cokes at Disney resorts are close to free.

That’s about $ 7 per drink saved over visiting the bar, not including the tip. But drink responsibly, Penny Hoarders. You can’t bring alcohol into the parks, and if you’ve saved over $ 40 with this tip today, go back to your room and watch Dumbo for some pink elephant life lessons. No one likes a Disney lush.

All-You-Care-To-Eat Restaurants

Disney dining plan
Cousins Vinnie Harris and Evelyn Long share a bottomless milkshake at the Whispering Canyon Cafe. Rain Blanken/The Penny Hoarder

A buffet sounds like a great way to use a table-service credit, right? But not all buffets at Walt Disney World provide the same value. Here are a few that are your best bets and book up fast. I recommend making reservations for these months in advance of your trip.

Dinner at Whispering Canyon Cafe, $ 51 value: Yee-haw! The servers at this Disney World Wilderness Lodge Resort restaurant double as entertainers here, and you’ll likely experience a napkin shower or two. Li’l cowpokes could be led through a parade or even ride a wooden horse through the restaurant.

The All-You Care-to-Eat Skillet ($ 33.00 for adults for now, $ 35.15 starting December 16, 2018) on the menu has barbequed favorites and down-home sides. Order the bottomless milkshakes ($ 9.00) to maximize your value, and order the Granny Smith Caramel Apple Tart with gelato ($ 9.00)

Disney dining plan
A breakfast platter, including Mickey-shaped waffle, at Ohana in Disney’s Polynesian Resort, which offers character greetings and a view of Cinderella’s castle. Rain Blanken/The Penny Hoarder

Breakfast at Ohana ($ 40.47 adult, $ 24.50 child): Located at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, your luau morning begins with

Mickey, Stitch and friends visiting for photos and hugs right at your table. To start your day off with some magic, cast members will conduct a Hawaiian parade with the kids.

The all-you-care-to-eat breakfast of eggs, sausage, Mickey waffles and more is served in a large pan in the middle of the table and continuously refilled by your server. You’ll have a view of Cinderella’s Castle across the Seven Seas Lagoon as you dine, and the monorail can take your full bellies straight to the Magic Kingdom.

Dinner at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at Epcot ($ 64.97 adult, $ 39.41 child): Your vacation dollar often comes down to time well spent, and character greeting lines can eat into your time at Disney. Let the princesses come to you.

At Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, Belle will give your little princess a royal greeting at the door, offering a special photo opportunity and some time to chat about the royal life. Up to five princesses will later come right to your table for photos and then lead the kids in a royal parade.

The meal includes access to a traditional all-you-care-to-eat Norwegian cold bar (unlimited smoked salmon, anyone?), then your choice of an entree (like “Tradisjonell Kjøttkake“ traditional Norwegian meatballs) and a dessert platter for the table to share.

Dinner at Cape May Cafe ($ 55.38 adult, $ 30.89 child): This seaside-themed restaurant at Disney’s Beach Club Resort is a seafood lover’s dream. No protocol, parades or waiting here — just hit the buffet until you can’t.

Grab crab legs by the bucket and eat all the mussels, clams and salmon you can handle. Since seafood typically comes at a premium, the value here is particularly delicious.

Don’t Go Signature. Unless…

A woman dressed in traditional Hawaiian gard performs with children wearing leis.
Young guests join an entertainer onstage during the Spirit of Aloha dinner show at Disney World. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resorts

Dinner shows, private dining and some upscale “signature” restaurants require two table service credits per meal.

Most character meals and buffets use one table service credit, so there’s no need to go signature unless you’d like to splurge for something extra special, like dining with Cinderella in her castle.

One consideration for signature dining and meal credit splurging: Do you have extra credits?

Remember, the dining plan gives a credit for each night of your stay. The credits don’t expire after the night is over, so you’re likely to have some left over from the day you arrived.

To get the most out of your first night’s meal credits, the standard advice is to arrive on Disney property early. But let’s get real; most of us aren’t arranging our flight plans around making it to lunch.

The silver lining to an afternoon or evening arrival is that you’ve created a surplus of credits to eat like a king during your stay. The value of the extra credits is negligible because you didn’t have time in the morning or afternoon to use them on your arrival day anyway. Allot those extra credits to meal experiences that cost two table service credits.

Often, guests realize only on the last day that they have extra credits to spend and end up leaving with 20 Mickey rice cake treats in their suitcase. Be sure to check your receipt after every meal transaction to keep tabs on your credits.

Don’t Get Breakfast

A Mickey-shaped waffle may be on your list of Disney food goals, but it’s better to pay out of pocket for the pleasure. Breakfast is by far the cheapest meal of the day across Disney parks and resorts, so your dining credits are best reserved for lunch and dinner.

The parks typically open at 9 a.m., so a quick bite in the room is the most cost- and time-efficient solution for families eager to make the most of their ticket price. Microwaveable breakfast options can be packed in your luggage or scored via a local delivery service. You can even use the in-room coffee maker to pipe out hot water for instant oatmeal.

My only exception to this rule is the absolutely magical all-you-can-eat character buffet at the previously mentioned Ohana. It can get some character greetings out of the way for the day, helping you to avoid those long lines at Magic Kingdom. This is a good trade-off to maximize your park ticket price.

Skip the Soda at Counter-Service Locations

A styrofoam cup of chowder
Substitute the New England Clam Chowder (menu price of $ 6.49) as an extra side instead of a fountain soda to maximize your Disney Dining Plan value at Columbia Harbour House in Magic Kingdom. Rain Blanken/The Penny Hoarder

This is a little-known dining plan hack that could really pack your bag with portable munchies. At most quick service locations, you can swap your beverage out for a snack-type item or bottled water.

Quick service restaurants with a fountain beverage station offer free cups of water, so there’s really no need to use the beverage portion of your quick service credits.

“Snack” category items are labeled as such on the menu and include everything from soup to fries to cheesecake. Swap them for wrapped treats to stash in your bag for munching on during parades or waiting for the fireworks.

Alternatively, if someone in your party just isn’t that hungry when you stop, you can score a side item like chili or fries and even save their whole quick service credit for later.

This strategy also increases the value of your credits. For example, it’s possible to swap a $ 3.99 soda at Pinocchio’s Village Haus for $ 4.99 breadsticks. If you do this for all sodas during your trip, you’re racking up the savings every time you skip a sugary drink.

Swap for Snack Credits

A big chocolate frosted donut with whole rasberries on top at Disney World.
The Croissant Doughnut with Chocolate Hazelnut Cream at the annual Epcot Food & Wine Festival’s Taste Track booth is a good use of a snack credit, retailing at $ 6.50. Rain Blanken/The Penny Hoarder

At a quick service location, you can ask the cashier to swap one quick service credit for three snack credits. This is especially handy during the fall Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, where pop-up kiosks around World Showcase allow you to sample tastes from around the globe.

Some food and wine festival items have a higher ticket price but are still available as snack credits. Shoot for anything over $ 5 to maximize your value.

My go-to is the lobster roll at a booth near the American Adventure Pavilion which retails for $ 7.75, making it one of the best uses of a snack credit. The escargot croissant at the France pavilion is priced at $ 5.75, and the Croissant Doughnut with Chocolate Hazelnut Cream near Test Track hikes your snack credit up to a $ 6.50 value.

Use Snack Credits for Souvenirs

Chocolate bars at a souvenir store in Disney World.
A $ 5.99 Mickey chocolate bar is a great use of a leftover snack credit and makes a great souvenir for folks back home. Rain Blanken/The Penny Hoarder

Did you know that the wrapped Mickey-shaped rice cakes in the souvenir shop count as a snack credit? So do the Chip ’n’ Dale trail mix packs and sleeves of Disney cookies, or the new Mickey chocolate bars in flavors like Strawberry Truffle or Key Lime Pie. Look for any snack marked with the Disney Dining Plan snack icon.

If you have people back home to buy souvenirs for, consider using a snack credit to appease their Disney needs. You’ll likely have a few snack credits left over at the end of the trip, and these treats are as exclusive to Walt Disney World as any other (likely pricier) souvenir.

So How Much Can You Save?

A woman with a backpack and wearing Mickey Mouse ears shaped liked donuts looks across a lagoon during sunset at Disney World.
Rain Blanken, sporting donut ears and perhaps contemplating her next Disney dining hack, looks across Epcot’s Crescent Lake at sunset. Photo by Evelyn Long

For our example of an adult on the standard Disney Dining Plan ($ 75.49), here is a day of maximizing your value:

  • Quick Service Credit: Lunch at Pinocchio’s Village Haus: Chicken Parmesan Pasta, $ 12.99 and swapped fountain drink for a side of breadsticks, $ 4.99.
  • Table Service Credit: Dinner at Whispering Canyon Cafe: $ 51.
  • Snacks: Dole Whip float for $ 5.99; funnel cake with powdered sugar at $ 6.99.
  • Refillable Mug: Coffee in the morning and a soda in the evening for about $ 8.

Total Value: $ 89.96

In this example, you’ve already exceeded the day’s food plan cost by $ 14.47. This is excluding extra savings like only visiting the most valuable meal options I listed above, using your refillable mug more than twice and mixing your own adult drinks.

But you don’t have to spend your vacation tallying up the numbers. The reason many people get a Disney Dining Plan is so they can relax; like a cruise, the food is paid for up front.

Just try to beat the average meal value every time, swap those sodas for packaged snacks and use the refillable mug as much as you can. I promise you’ll go home with far too many Mickey-shaped rice crispy treats.

Rain Blanken (@RainLovesDisney) is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She is a former Disney Vacation Planner, and has written on budget travel for About.com, WorldofWalt.com and InsidetheMagic.net.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.


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How Juul’s plan to teach students about vaping went up in smoke

The leading maker of e-cigarettes, Juul Labs, attempted to roll out an anti-vaping curriculum in schools earlier this year, offering school districts thousands of dollars and new technologies to implement it, according to documents and emails obtained by CNN.


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Kobe Bryant Sets Ambitious Plan For Books In 2019-2020

(AP Photo) 

NEW YORK (AP) — Kobe Bryant, Oscar winner and former NBA great, has big plans for books in the next few years.

Bryant’s Granity Studios plans to release five middle grade and young adult novels in 2019 and 2020. According to a press release issued Thursday, each novel was “conceptualized” by Bryant and written with a “notable” fiction author.

Projects for next year include The Wizenard Series: Training Camp featuring a “diverse cast” of young males and Legacy and the Queen, about a young black woman and her tennis match against a superstar known as “The Queen.”

Earlier this year, the Granity film Dear Basketball, Bryant’s ode to the sport that made him famous, won the Academy Award for best animated short.

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Mindy Kaling has questions about Trump’s proposed citizenship plan

Mindy Kaling is no fan of President Trump’s proposed plan to nix the constitutional right to citizenship for anyone born in America.

The actress and author tweeted her disgust with the idea Tuesday, hours after Trump put it into play.

“Wait. I was born in the United States to two Indian professionals…

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Could Trump’s plan for lowering prescription drug prices work?

Trump proposed having Medicare base what it pays for some expensive drugs on average prices in other industrialized countries, such as France and Germany.
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Trump Adds A Global Pricing Plan To Wide Attack On Drug Prices, But Doubts Persist

President Donald Trump’s new pledge to crack down on “the global freeloading” in prescription drugs had a sense of déjà vu.

Five months ago, Trump unveiled a blueprint to address prohibitive drug prices, and his administration has been feverishly rolling out ideas ranging from posting drug prices on television ads to changing the rebates that flow between drugmakers and industry middlemen.

Thursday, Trump proposed having Medicare base what it pays for some expensive drugs on the average prices in other industrialized countries, such as France and Germany, where prices are much lower. The proposal is in the early stages of rule-making and awaiting public comments.

The U.S., Trump said, will “confront one of the most unfair practices, almost unimaginable that it hasn’t been taken care of long before this.”

The proposal was met with hope and skepticism, with several experts saying they were happy the administration was taking on Medicare Part B’s rising drug prices but questioning its approach.

Walid Gellad, director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing at the University of Pittsburgh, said in an online post that the administration’s proposed solutions were unclear. And, he said, they would “face insurmountable challenges.”

While some industry watchers pointed to the announcement as a political move, Wells Fargo pharmaceutical analyst David Maris said that this is a broader effort by the president and his administration to attack the root causes of high drug prices.

“The reality is he could very easily not take this on and do what other administrations have done and let the prices keep rising.”

Trump, too, promised more to come and said he will soon announce “some things that will really be tremendous.” On Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that, as promised in the blueprint, there would be more changes to Medicare Part D, which covers most prescriptions. Ian Spatz, a public policy expert and senior adviser at Manatt Health, said the overall blueprint was “unprecedented in terms of how many different ideas and areas of ideas that it contained.”

Nothing would happen overnight. The proposal to require drug prices in TV ads could be delayed by litigation and notably, if implemented, does not include any penalties for companies who fail to post their prices.

The proposed rebate rule was delivered to the Office of Management and Budget in July. Matt Brow, president of industry consulting firm Avalere Health, said he expects the administration to publish the rule for comment by year’s end.

Trump’s international pricing plan is not as far along as the rebate proposal. Rather, it is an “advanced notice of proposed rule-making.” The proposed rule could come in spring 2019, and Azar said the new model could begin in late 2019 or early 2020.

Yet, on Friday, Azar signaled the proposal could change, telling an audience at the Brookings Institution that the administration is “open to any number of alternative ideas.”

Avalere’s Brow said there is a good chance the proposal will change significantly.

“The sweeping nature of the proposal makes the stakes higher and makes it harder to implement,” Brow said.

If the administration moves forward, it would bypass Congress and implement a pilot under the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation’s purview. The pilot would phase in over five years and apply to 50 percent of the country. Azar said there would be no changes to Medicare benefits and no restrictions on patient access.

The proposal focuses on drugs covered under Medicare Part B, which are administered in hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices. It also would alter the reimbursement formula for doctors and providers and would allow private-sector vendors to purchase drugs and then sell them to doctors and hospitals. Medicare would reimburse those vendors at the international pricing level.

Currently, doctors and hospitals administering Part B drugs are reimbursed the average price of a drug plus 6 percent. President Barack Obama’s administration attempted to alter Part B as well but drew intense lobbying opposition and eventually withdrew a proposed pilot project.

Allan Coukell, senior director for health programs at Pew Charitable Trusts, said removing incentives that reward doctors for purchasing costlier drugs and bringing in a new way to control prices “makes a lot of sense.” Drug spending within Medicare Part B reached $ 22 billion in 2015, and drug costs have increased by an average of 8.6 percent annually since 2007.

Stephen Ubl, president of the industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, said imposing foreign price controls from countries with socialized health care systems would harm patients and hinder drug discovery and development.

Azar, a former executive at pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly, told reporters Thursday that “you may hear the tired talking points” that this will affect innovation. He disputed that idea, concluding that “less than 1 percent of pharma [research and development] could potentially be impacted by this change.”


KHN’s coverage of prescription drug development, costs and pricing is supported in part by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

Kaiser Health News

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http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

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Trump outlines new plan to lower Medicare drug prices, end ‘rigged’ system

Under the administration's proposal, the Department of Health and Human Services would permit Medicare to create a new payment model that would bring drug prices in line with what other nations pay.
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Kaiser Permanente Medicare Plan Earns Highest Rating in the State

HONOLULU — The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a federal agency, has rated Kaiser Permanente Hawaii’s 2019 Medicare plan the highest rating of 5 out of 5 stars in its annual Star Ratings program. Kaiser Permanente is the only Medicare plan in Hawaii and one of just 14 in the nation to receive 5 stars this year.

The Medicare star quality rating for 2019 is based on plans’ performance in up to 45 care and service quality measures across 9 categories. CMS assigns a rating to individual Medicare health plans ranging from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) stars based on measures related to staying healthy, managing chronic conditions, member experience, customer service and pharmacy services. Five-star plans can participate in a Special Enrollment Period and continue to enroll individual (direct pay) Medicare members from January 1 to September 31, in addition to the regular annual enrollment period of October 15 to December 7.

“From the doctor’s office to the pharmacy to member services, our entire staff is dedicated to providing high-quality, integrated care and coverage to help our kupuna members stay healthy as they age,” said Linda Puu, vice president of Quality, Safety and Care Experience. “We’re proud to be recognized as the leading Medicare plan in Hawaii by CMS, which oversees Medicare administration and has the highest standards for measuring quality of care and health plan performance.”

The CMS rating follows a recent accolade given by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, a leading health care quality assurance organization. Earlier this year, the NCQA Medicare Health Insurance Plan Ratings awarded Kaiser Permanente Hawaii’s Medicare plan with a 5 out of 5 score, making it the only 2019 plan in Hawaii and one of just eight plans nationwide to receive the highest rating.

Data for the Medicare star quality rating is drawn from the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set, the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, Health Outcomes Survey and CMS administrative data from audits, complaints and “secret shopping.” For more information about the CMS star ratings, visit medicare.gov. To learn more about the star ratings and see Kaiser Permanente’s ratings by region, visit kp.org/medicarestars.

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 12.2 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/share.

The post Kaiser Permanente Medicare Plan Earns Highest Rating in the State appeared first on Kaiser Permanente.

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Dollar Tree and Family Dollar Plan to Hire 25K at Oct. 17 Hiring Event

The chain of discount stores known for saving everyone a few dollars is looking to put dollars in people’s pockets.

Dollar Tree, Inc. is hosting its third annual nationwide hiring event on Oct. 17 with plans of hiring 25,000 new associates.

Interviews will be held at every Dollar Tree and Family Dollar store in the U.S. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time. The company currently has over 15,000 locations and can be found in all 48 contiguous states.

Both full- and part-time roles are available, including positions such as store manager, assistant store manager, cashier and stocking associate. And, of course, the company is jumping on the seasonal hiring train, so temporary roles for the holidays are open.

The job listings don’t specify pay rates, but Glassdoor offers some insight: Store managers earn an average of $ 44,806 a year, assistant managers earn an average of $ 41,205 a year, and cashiers and stockers earn an average of $ 8.00 per hour.

The company’s benefits program includes a 401(k) plan, medical plans, paid time off, a wellness program, life insurance, disability insurance and an employment assistance program aimed at maintaining a positive work-life balance.

A Dollar Tree press release says there is potential for new employees to be promoted into a higher role later on, adding that in 2017 nearly 40,000 associates moved up the company’s  ladder.

This is a one-day only hiring event, but don’t get too stressed if you can’t make it in person. Interested applicants can also apply online at www.dollartree.com/careers or www.familydollar.com/careers.

If you do plan on attending the event, here are some tips on how to stand out from the competition. And while you’re there, maybe pick up some cheap, Halloween goodies so you don’t find yourself in a decimated candy aisle at 8 p.m. on Oct. 31.

Kaitlyn Blount is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Read her full bio here.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.


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Viewpoints: Trump Says ‘Medicare For All’ Plan Would Eventually Lead To Massive Rationing Of Health Care

President Donald Trump writes about his views on the Democrats’ “Medicare For All” plan, which has become a litmus test among progressive candidates. Editorial pages look at other health issues, as well.
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US moves ahead with plan to give Mexico $20M that it doesn’t want to deport migrants

The Trump administration is moving ahead with a plan to pay Mexico $ 20 million to deport migrants from that country and prevent them from reaching the U.S.
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Without Safety Net Of Kids Or Spouse, ‘Elder Orphans’ Need Fearless Fallback Plan

It was a memorable place to have an “aha” moment about aging.

Peter Sperry had taken his 82-year-old father, who’d had a stroke and used a wheelchair, to Disney World. Just after they’d made their way through the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, nature called. Sperry took his father to the bathroom where, with difficulty, he changed the older man’s diaper.

“It came to me then: There isn’t going to be anyone to do this for me when I’m his age, and I needed to plan ahead,” said Sperry, now 61, recalling the experience several years ago.

Sperry never married, has no children and lives alone.

Like other “elder orphans” (older people without a spouse or children on whom they can depend) and “solo agers” (older adults without children, living alone), he’s expecting to move through later life without the safety net of a spouse, a son or a daughter who will step up to provide practical, physical and emotional support over time.

About 22 percent of older adults in the U.S. fall into this category or are at risk of doing so in the future, according to a 2016 study.

“This is an often overlooked, poorly understood group that needs more attention from the medical community,” said Dr. Maria Carney, the study’s lead author and chief of the division of geriatrics and palliative medicine at Northwell Health in N.Y. It’s also an especially vulnerable group, according to a recently released survey of 500 people who belong to the Elder Orphan Facebook Group, with 8,500 members.

Notably, 70 percent of survey respondents said they hadn’t identified a caregiver who would help if they became ill or disabled, while 35 percent said they didn’t have “friends or family to help them cope with life’s challenges.”

“What strikes me is how many of these elder orphans are woefully unprepared for aging,” said Carney, who reviewed the survey at my request.

Financial insecurity and health concerns are common among the survey respondents: a non-random sample consisting mostly of women in their 60s and 70s, most of them divorced or widowed and college-educated.

One-quarter of the group said they feared losing their housing; 23 percent reported not having enough money to meet basic needs at least once over the past year; 31 percent said they weren’t secure about their financial future.

In the survey, 40 percent of people admitted to depression; 37 percent, to anxiety. More than half (52 percent) confessed to being lonely.

Carol Marak, 67, who runs the Facebook group, understands members’ insecurities better than ever since suffering an accident several weeks ago. She cut her finger badly on a meat grinder while making chicken salad for dinner guests. Divorced and childless, Marak lives alone in an apartment tower in Dallas. She walked down the hall and asked neighbors — a married couple — to take her to the emergency room.

“I freaked out — and this wasn’t even that big of a deal,” Marak said. “Imagine people like me who break a hip and have a long period of disability and recovery,” she said. “What are they supposed to do?”

Sperry has thought a lot about who could be his caregiver down that road in a circumstance like that. No one fits the bill.

“It’s not like I don’t have family or friends: It’s just that the people who you can count on have to be specific types of family and friends,” he said. “Your sister or brother, they may be willing to help but not able to if they’re old themselves. Your nieces and nephews, they may be able, but they probably are not going to be willing.”

The solution Sperry thinks might work: moving to a continuing care retirement community with different levels of care when he begins to become less independent.  That’s an expensive proposition — entry fees range from about $ 100,000 to $ 400,000 and monthly fees from about $ 2,000 to $ 4,000.

Sperry, a longtime government employee, can afford it, but many people aging alone can’t.

Sperry also has a short-term plan: He wants to retire next year and relocate from Woodbridge, Va., to Greenville, S.C. — a popular retirement haven — in a home with design features to help him age in place. Those plans could be upended, however, if his widowed mother in Pennsylvania requires extra care.

In the meantime, Sperry is resolved to be pragmatic. “Do I look at my situation and say ‘Gee, there’s not going to be anyone there for me’ and start feeling sorry for myself? Or do I say ‘Gee, I’d better figure out how I’m going to take care of myself?’ I’m not going with pity — I don’t think that would be very pleasant,” he said.

Planning for challenges that can arise with advancing age is essential for people who go it alone, advised Sara Zeff Geber, a retirement coach and author of “Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers: A Retirement and Aging Roadmap for Single and Childless Adults.” A good way to start is to think about things that adult children do for older parents and consider how you’re going to do all of that yourself or with outside assistance, she said. In her book, Geber lists the responsibilities that adult children frequently take on: They serve as caregivers, help older parents figure out where to live, provide emotional and practical support, assist with financial issues such as managing money, and agree to serve as health care or legal decision-makers when a parent becomes incapacitated. Also, older parents often rely on adult children for regular social contact and a sense of connectedness.

In New York, Wendl Kornfeld, 69, began running year-long workshops for small groups of solo agers four years ago. Though married, she and her 80-year-old husband consider themselves future solo agers living together. “We figured out a long time ago one of us was going to survive the other,” she said.

At those gatherings, Kornfeld asked people to jettison denial about aging and imagine the absolute worst things that might happen to them, physically and socially. Then, people talked about how they might prepare for those eventualities.

“The whole purpose of these get-togethers was to be fearless, face issues head-on and not keep our heads in the sand,” Kornfeld said. “Then, we can plan for what might happen, stop worrying and start enjoying the best years of our lives.”

Kornfeld took her program to New York City’s Temple Emanu-El three years ago and is working with several synagogues and churches interested in launching similar initiatives. Meanwhile, elder orphans have begun meeting in-person in other cities, including Chicago; Dallas; Portland, Ore.; San Diego; and Seattle, after getting to know each other virtually on the Elder Orphan Facebook Group.

Kornfeld applauds that development. “So many solo agers identify as being introverted or shy or impatient with other people. They have a million reasons why they don’t go out,” she said. “I tell people, this may be hard for you, but you’ve got to leave the house because that’s where the world is.”


KHN’s coverage related to aging and improving care of older adults is supported in part by The John A. Hartford Foundation.

Kaiser Health News

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It’s official: Toys R Us will live on. The iconic retailer’s debtholders are forming a new company, Geoffrey LLC that will control the Toys R Us and Babies R Us brands, including e-commerce assets and data associated with the brands, the debtors said late Tuesday night. They also plan to open stores in the US…
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