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Feeding your neighbors: Jersey Shore food pantries see growing need
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Feeding your neighbors: Jersey Shore food pantries see growing need

The Peoples Pantry in Toms River is helping those in northern Ocean County.
Some 4,000 people in northern Ocean County come to this food pantry every month. “These are the idyllic suburban communities where people come, people work hard and never would you think you would find that kind of need in such an idyllic place,” said Carlos M. Rodriguez, executive director of Fulfill, formerly known as the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
(Photo: Doug Hood ) There are 130,000 people in Ocean and Monmouth counties who receive food and other assistance from the pantries that are supplied by Fulfill, Rodriguez said.
Today, the urgent post-disaster need has died down, but food pantry workers say they are still helping to feed thousands of working-poor families and struggling seniors.
Contreras said cuts in the federal food stamps program have made it harder for the people he helps to eat.
Monthly benefits dropped from $649 to $640 for a family of four.
Schuchard said as rents have risen at the Jersey Shore, struggling families she sees are placing more of their income into housing and relying more on food pantries to eat.
People’s Pantry Executive Director Patricia Donaghue said the rising cost of food and housing at the Jersey Shore is pinching residents’ grocery budgets.
According to Fulfill, the percentage of children living in poverty in Ocean and Monmouth counties increased from 9.3 percent in 2005 to 14.5 percent in 2015.

Easing the Burden on Caregivers
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Easing the Burden on Caregivers

Eleanor Thomas and her sister have reorganized their schedules and finances to take care of their 93-year-old mother, Elising Roxas, who needs round-the-clock care.
“A lot of women, especially single women, need to work,” said Ms. Thomas, 63, who lives in Mililani, Hawaii.
How can they possibly do all of that the same time?” A new program in Hawaii, the Kupuna Caregivers Act, is designed to help lift some of the burden on people caring for an elderly family member at home by paying them stipends of up to $70 a day.
The money can be used for caregiving supplies, to supplement lost wages or to hire help.
For low-income families, Medicaid offers some options.
The program would provide $100 a day to support caregiving across a range of care situations including at-home care, assisted living and nursing homes.
The Maine People’s Alliance is collecting signatures for a ballot initiative calling for universal home care, which would make home caregiving available to people over 65 or those with disabilities.
The proposed budget for this program would be funded by a 1.9 percent Social Security tax on people making over $127,000.
The proposed legislation in Washington is limited to 365 days (consecutive or not) of caregiving support and the Kupuna Caregivers program is starting with a six-month trial period.
But they offer options for families that can’t afford private insurance and don’t want to spend down retirement savings to qualify for Medicaid.

Michigan comp medical payments lower than most other states: Study
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Michigan comp medical payments lower than most other states: Study

Workers compensation medical payments in Michigan are among the lowest in the country, according to a study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute.
The study released Thursday examined medical payments per workers compensation claim with more than seven days of lost time in Michigan compared with other states.
In Michigan, medical payments per claim were limited to 2.2% per year, due in part to lower prices paid for professional services as well as lower payments per service for hospital outpatient services, according to the study by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based WCRI.
Prices paid for services by nonhospital providers were 14% lower in Michigan than the median study state due to lower fee schedule rates.
In Michigan, the maximum workers comp fee schedule rate was 34% above the Medicare rate, which is lower than most other states, according to the study.
“Michigan had among the lowest medical payments per claim among the study states.
Lower-than-typical medical payments per claim in Michigan were a result of lower prices paid for professional services as well as lower payments per service for hospital outpatient services,” said Boston-based Ramona Tanabe, executive vice president and counsel at WCRI.

Do Your Children Receive Health Coverage Through CHIP?
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Do Your Children Receive Health Coverage Through CHIP?

Funding for the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, has all but run out, and Congress has not agreed on a plan to renew it.
CHIP covers nearly nine million children whose parents earn too much for Medicaid, but not enough to afford other coverage.
The program costs the federal government roughly $14 billion a year.
Some states are warning residents that the program may end.
For instance, Colorado and Virginia recently sent letters to CHIP families, warning them that they may have to shut down the program soon if funding does not come through.
Other states are preparing to do the same.
New York Times reporters writing about health care are looking to talk to families whose children get health coverage through CHIP.
Your name and comments may be published, but your contact information will not.
A reporter or editor may follow up with you to hear more about your story.
If the program is suspended, do you have another health insurance option for your children, such as insurance through your job or the Affordable Care Act marketplace?

In this small Kentucky town, they aren’t waiting on Washington to fix things
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In this small Kentucky town, they aren’t waiting on Washington to fix things

Less than a third of its 6,580 residents are working.
CNNMoney first traveled to Beattyville in January, and found a town full of hope that an unconventional new president could bring positive change and believed Trump’s promises that he would create more jobs.
But is it gonna solve Eastern Kentucky’s problems? “Trump does need to get us work back here,” says Maggard, who voted for Trump and thinks he’s done a good job so far.
Beattyville is luckier than many Eastern Kentucky towns.
Larry Phillips owns an auto repair shop in Beattyville that used to get more business from the coal trucks that once rumbled through town.
He voted for and still supports Trump, who he thinks may still bring the coal industry back in time. “The one thing about here is we have to learn to support each other,” says Shouse. “The people that are the ones that’s working, we’re the needy ones,” says Shouse.
Regardless of what the tax proposals in Congress or the budget hold, Beattyville residents say they’re not waiting to find out what will happen in Washington.

Florida bill to expand PTSD benefits for first responders criticized
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Florida bill to expand PTSD benefits for first responders criticized

A Florida bill that would cover mental health treatment for first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder absent any physical injuries under workers compensation moved forward last week, but opponents have questioned its cost and the standard it would use to judge benefits eligibility.
Under the bill, law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics are entitled benefits under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law for mental or nervous injuries, regardless of whether the injury is accompanied by physical injuries requiring medical treatment, according to the bill’s latest text.
Under the current law, first responders can’t receive workers comp for PTSD without an accompanying physical injury.
“Post-traumatic stress and cancer-causing exposures are priority legislation for the Florida Professional Firefighters …when our firefighters seek treatment for mental health concerns, they should not be tied to a physical injury.
376 has received pushback from the Florida League of Cities, a policy group that represents the state’s municipal governments, which believes the bill would be too costly for Florida taxpayers.
Ohio is a smaller state … so the impact in Florida could be even greater.” Mr. Cruz said that the intent isn’t to deny first responders treatment, but the issue is workers compensation coverage.
“The bill was amended in committee, and I think two big issues we have with the current version of the bill is the broadness of the events that are covered,” he said.
Without restrictions and clear evidentiary standards, mental stress claims can flood the system and result in workers compensation simply becoming general health insurance for psychological injuries.” Sen. Book will continue discussions with the Florida League of Cities about their concerns, according to a spokeswoman for Sen. Book.
In other states that have passed similar legislation, the cost increase has not been an issue and there are greater costs at many levels if first responders are not receiving PTSD treatment without also having an accompanying physical injury, the spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.
In April, the Vermont House of Representatives passed a bill that would provide workers comp coverage to first responders with work-related PTSD.

N.C. high court clarifies intersection of comp and civil cases
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N.C. high court clarifies intersection of comp and civil cases

The North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday overturned a state appeals court decision that caused civil cases statewide to fall stagnant as lawyers grappled with injuries involving both civil litigation and workers compensation, according to one legal expert.
The case of Easter-Rozzelle v. City of Charlotte called into question whether an injured worker has rights to civil actions involving third parties and whether a worker gives up the right to comp if he or she sues a third party, said Edward Pauley, an attorney with Wallace and Graham P.C.
“Because of this (earlier) Court of Appeals ruling we couldn’t settle civil claims; a lot of (workers comp) insurers were using this case as leverage,” said Mr. Pauley, who filed an Amicus brief on behalf of North Carolina Advocates for Justice when the case went to the state Supreme Court, a final destination following years of back-and-forth between the state’s comp commission and the courts.
When his employer discovered the settlement, and that he had been injured on his way to the doctor’s appointment, it attempted to deny the comp claim.
“(The City of Charlotte) asserted that (Mr. Easter-Rozzelle) should be stopped from claiming compensation for the head injury because ‘the motor vehicle accident resulted in a settlement with a third party and the distribution of the settlement funds without preserving defendant’s lien,’” court records state.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals in 2015 reversed the commission’s ruling.
Mr. Easter-Rozzelle’s lawyers took the issue before the state Supreme Court, which ruled on Dec. 8 that the injured worker had not waived his right to workers compensation and that the city is entitled to reimbursement of its lien from benefits due to the worker per state law.
“It was creating an era of uncertainty.
I can settle a case, a civil case, and proceed with the workers comp claim.
(The state Supreme Court is) saying you can never waive your worker comp rights, but if you recover (in a civil case), your employer has a right to a lien.”

Workers comp sector leads in insurer financial impairments: Best
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Workers comp sector leads in insurer financial impairments: Best

The U.S. workers compensation industry experienced more financial impairments during a 17-year period from 2000-2016 than any other property/casualty line of business, according to an A.M. Best Co. Inc. special report released Tuesday.
Overall, 354 property/casualty insurers became impaired during the study period.
According to the study, the workers compensation sector accounted for 26% of the impairments; commercial lines insurers represented 22% of the impairments, split between other liability/commercial multi-peril at 15% and commercial auto at 7%; and 23% of impairments were split among specialty lines.
Best defines impairments as being situations in which a company has been placed, via court order, into conservation, rehabilitation and/or insolvent liquidation.
Supervisory actions undertaken by insurance department regulators without court order were not considered impairments for this study unless delays or limitations were placed on policyholder payments, Best said in a statement.
Specific causal factors were identified for 91 of the impairments, with fraud or alleged fraud the leading cause and present in 23 of the impairments, while 21 impairments related primarily to affiliate problems.
Catastrophe losses, largely in Florida and Texas, were responsible for 18 impairments, while 16 companies suffered impairment after experiencing rapid growth, the according to the statement.
Of the 354 impaired companies during the period, 45% were rated by Best at some point during the period between the date of impairment and three prior year-ends.
The study concludes that there has been a significant decline in the number of impairments that Best has been involved in rating in recent years.
From 2007-2016, there were 174 U. S. property/casualty impairments, of which 21% were rated by Best at a point during the period between date of impairment and three prior year-ends, compared with 45% for the 2000-2016 period, according to the statement.

Police Calls |Mother assaults pregnant daughter
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Police Calls |Mother assaults pregnant daughter

Mansfield City Schools, 124 N. Linden Road, Mansfield – Officers Monday were told of another video showing an assault by two 16-year-old girls assaulting a 16-year-old girl.
One of the suspects was issued a summons via the previous report.
100 block of Blymyer Avenue, Mansfield – A 30-year-old man told officers Monday a 51-year-old woman knocked on his door and demanded to know “where the drugs are.”
The victim’s mother attempted to stop the woman from leaving but she was not able to.
Rowland Avenue, Mansfield – A 29-year-old woman told police Monday an incarcerated ex-boyfriend has had unknown men contact her in reference to a police report and upcoming jury trial.
The 24-year-old male suspect was arrested and a bag of suspected Posh was found in his pant’s pocket.
One male was issued a warning and released.
800 block of King Street, Mansfield – An officer Tuesday at 2:01 a.m. attempted to stop a vehicle in reference to the registered owner showing suspended.
The 49-year-old woman was placed under arrest and found to be driving under suspension and with warrants out of the Richland County Sheriff’s Office and Mansfield Police Department.
She was issued a summons on a charge of drug paraphernalia and read and served a warrant.

Why Millions of Children Could Lose Their Health Insurance in 2018
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Why Millions of Children Could Lose Their Health Insurance in 2018

There are 8.9 million children in the U.S. whose health depends on the federally-funded Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and in a matter of months — and in some cases mere weeks — these children could be out of luck.
It could be said that Congress faces a race against the clock.
Unlike the tax bill, CHIP is an immensely popular piece of legislation.
If reauthorization doesn’t happen, the vast majority of states will run out of money by the end of spring, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
He spoke tearfully while holding his 7-month-old son Billy, who has undergone several operations to address a congenital heart condition.
“Now CHIP has become a bargaining chip — it’s on the back burner while they work out their new tax plan,” Kimmel said.
“This is not just a failure of one program,” Sen. Mike Rounds, a Republican from South Dakota, said on Tuesday.
“This is the failure of Congress for the last 43 years to do their work on time.
Right now, there’s talk of keeping the program funded through the larger government funding bill that Congress has to pass by Dec. 22 in order to avoid a government shutdown.
Republicans will likely need Democratic votes to pass it, and Democrats could potentially hold out their support if the package contravenes their priorities: a dearth on non-military funding, perhaps.