first_imgUS Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced that 6,244 Medicare beneficiaries in Vermont, and three million people nationwide, have received prescription drug cost relief through the Affordable Care Act. To date, three million eligible beneficiaries who fell into the drug coverage gap known as the ‘donut hole’ during 2010 have been mailed a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate check.‘For too long, many seniors and people with disabilities have been forced to make impossible choices between paying for needed prescription medication and necessities like food and rent,’ said Secretary Sebelius. ‘The Affordable Care Act offers long overdue relief by lowering prescription drug costs each year until the donut hole is closed.’Eligible beneficiaries who fell into the coverage gap during 2010 are continuing to automatically receive rebate checks. These checks are only the first step in how the Affordable Care Act will reduce prescription drug costs for beneficiaries in the donut hole each year until it is closed in 2020. Starting this year, eligible beneficiaries in the coverage gap will receive a 50-percent discount on covered brand name medications while in the donut hole. In addition, in 2011 Medicare will begin paying 7-percent of the price for generic drugs during the coverage gap.Also today, Secretary Sebelius released a new video message on the new benefits the Affordable Care Act provides in 2011 for people on Medicare. You can watch the video message here.The closing of the donut hole is just one of the ways seniors benefit from the Affordable Care Act. In addition to savings on prescription drugs, the law provides new benefits to Medicare beneficiaries when they visit their doctor starting this year:As of January 1, 2011, Original Medicare no longer charges out-of-pocket costs for the ‘Welcome to Medicare’ physical exam and, for the first time since the Medicare program was created in 1965, Original Medicare now covers an annual wellness visit with a participating doctor, also at no cost.In addition to these annual wellness visits, most people with Medicare can now receive critical preventive services, including certain cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies, for free.Also this year, the Affordable Care Act will provide qualifying doctors and other health care professionals providing primary care to people on Medicare a 10-percent bonus for primary care services. This will help ensure that those primary care providers can continue to be there for Medicare patients.People with Medicare can learn more about these new benefits, search for participating doctors in their area, and find other helpful information by contacting a trained customer service representative toll-free at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visiting is external)Additionally, the Affordable Care Act makes Medicare stronger and more secure for all beneficiaries. These provisions under the new law increase benefits to beneficiaries and help to extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by 12 years.An analysis issued by the Department of Health and Human Services estimates that under the Affordable Care Act, average savings for those enrolled in traditional Medicare will amount to more than $3,500 over the next 10 years. Savings will be even higher ‘ as much as $12,300 over the next 10 years ‘ for seniors and people with disabilities who have high prescription drug costs. Total savings per beneficiary enrolled in traditional Medicare are estimated to be $86 in 2011, rising to $649 in 2020. For a beneficiary in the donut hole, estimated total savings increase from $553 in 2011 to $2,217 in 2020.The Affordable Care Act establishes a new Innovation Center that will research, develop, test, and expand innovative payment and delivery arrangements to improve the quality and reduce the cost of care provided to patient with Medicare, Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage. Innovations that are found to work can be rapidly expanded and applied more broadly’helping to transform the health care system into one that provides better care at lower cost.· The Affordable Care Act contains important new tools to help crack down on criminals seeking to scam seniors and steal taxpayer dollars. The law strengthens the screenings for health care providers who want to participate in Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP, enables enforcement officials to see health care claims data from around the country in a searchable database, and strengthens the penalties for criminal wrongdoing. The reduction in waste, fraud, and abuse returns savings to the Medicare Trust Fund to strengthen the program into the future. Seniors are encouraged to contact 1-800-MEDICARE to report any solicitations of personal information or suspected fraud, waste, or abuse, or go to is external).For more information on how the Affordable Care Act benefits seniors, visit is external). ###last_img read more

first_imgJason Day moved closer to claiming the world number one spot after opening up a five-shot lead after the second round of the BMW Championships in Chicago. Eventually settling for a 61, Day pushed on to record an eight-under round of 63 for an 18-under total as he seeks his fifth tournament win of the season. Jordan Spieth is seven shots behind Day after a five-under 66 gave him a half-way total of 131, while Rory McIlroy – whom Day will usurp as number one with victory – is a further two shots behind. Day quickly overcame the disappointment of missing out on a first-round 59 at Conway Farms when he made a barnstorming start to his second round – birdieing the second and third holes before picking up another shot at the eighth to reach the turn in 32 shots. If his front nine was impressive, his back nine was even better as he recorded four birdies from the 10th before signing off with an eagle at the par-five 18th. The only blot on his copy book was a bogey at the 13th and Day was understandably happy with his first 36 holes as he goes in search of a fifth title of the year – and second since his clinical triumph at the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in August. “Overall it’s been a good last two days for me so I’ve just got to keep trying to do it,” Day told the PGA Tour website. “Everything feels good right now. I said earlier that if I could describe it (his play) right now it would be ‘free’. “I’m just going out there and trying to get the next birdie and the next birdie after that. I’m just trying to push forward as much as possible. I feel good about my game. Day’s 36-hole total of 124 tied the all-time PGA Tour record and left him well ahead of fellow Americans Daniel Berger and Brendon Todd who are tied for second. Day came close to becoming only the seventh man in history to card a 59 when he resumed his rain-delayed first round on Friday. Press Association “I’ve got two more days left. We’re going to have a tough day tomorrow with a northerly wind that’s blowing from 10 to 20 miles an hour so we’ll have to try to stay patient. “There’s two days left and (I’m) trying to win this one.” World number two Spieth could well be overtaken by Day in the world rankings depending on how one another fares this weekend, but the Texan was nevertheless keen to wax lyrical about his Australian rival. “I feel like I should be paying to come watch this – it was special,” Spieth, who finished runner-up to Day at the US PGA Championship last month, said after carding five birdies, an eagle and two bogeys in his round. “I was very pleased at the way we fought back – being patient, off to a quiet start, watching Jason just continue to go deeper and deeper under par, missing a couple of short putts. “The way we finished gave myself just a bit of an outside chance but what he’s doing right now on the golf course is something I haven’t watched or witnessed in my own group live. “If he continues this pace then he won’t get caught, if he lets up a little but then hopefully we can come in.” McIlroy runs the risk of losing his world number one ranking this weekend but he is not going down without a fight. The Northern Irishman recorded four birdies and an eagle in his six-under-par 65 round – but he feels he should be fewer than nine shots off the lead. “It definitely feels like I could have been a lot of shots lower than I was,” he said. “(I) hit the ball well from tee to green – that hasn’t been the problem over the last few weeks – it’s just been converting the chances I’ve given myself. “Being six under for the round after 14 holes, with a few opportunities coming up, I put myself in a great position. “On 15 I didn’t make birdie, hit it to three feet on 16 and missed that, hit it to 10 feet on 17 – I hit a good putt there but it didn’t go in – and 18 put myself in a great position off the tee and only made a good five in the end so it could have been a lot better. “But six under is still a good score – a lot of positives to take from it – but I know I’m going to have to shoot a couple of really low ones over the weekend to have a chance.” Justin Rose, meanwhile, is a further shot back on eight under overall after following up his first-round 70 with a 64 which contained eight birdies and a bogey. Fellow Englishmen Paul Casey and Ian Poulter are six and four under overall respectively while Scotland’s Russell Knox is even par. last_img read more

first_imgAccording to an internal Department of Homeland Security memo, top military and Homeland Security officials are considering whether to classify fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction, or WMD.The synthetic opioid, which has been repeatedly blamed for a rise in drug overdose deaths in this country, concerns national security officials due to its potential lethalness in terror attacks.The memo explains that DHS officials have been meeting with the Pentagon about potentially assigning the drug an official WMD designation in an effort to stop its availability on the black market.DHS assistant secretary for countering weapons of mass destruction James McDonnell writes in the memo, “Fentanyl’s high toxicity and increasing availability are attractive to threat actors seeking non-conventional materials for a chemical weapons attack.” It was sent to then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen last February.The National Institute on Drug Abuse says fentanyl and its derivatives are behind 30,000 of the 72,000 overdose deaths in this country over the past two years.Versions of it are produced throughout in China. They can also be purchased on the dark web.The Chinese government responded last year to pressure from the Trump administration by adding fentanyl to China’s list of controlled substances, in an effort to also curb its manufacturing and distribution across that country.Andy Weber, the former assistant secretary of defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, says, “Now that there’s actually a market where one can buy large quantities of fentanyl analogues, it eliminates the capability gap and it makes it accessible to terrorist groups. It’s a game changer. In my lifetime I’ve never seen a weapon of mass destruction that is part of an existing black market.”According to weapons experts, the threat posed by fentanyl and its derivatives is more significant than that posed by other officially-designated weapons of mass destruction such as ricin.The U.S. first took notice of the potential danger posed by fentanyl 17 years ago, when Russia’s military pumped the drug into the ventilation system of a theater that had been taken seized by Chechen rebels. That resulted in the deaths of dozens of hostages.Weber adds, “That’s when we at the Pentagon started to realize that militaries were developing fentanyl analogues as a form of chemical weapon and that we needed to start working on countermeasures.”Designating fentanyl as a WMD would make it easier for national security officials to redirect resources toward building technology that would detect shipments of the drug.The memo adds that the U.S. Department of Defense has been working to develop capabilities to fight fentanyl and other non-traditional chemical weapons, but “certain operational [countering weapons of mass destruction] entities at DOD and elsewhere have been slow to act due to concern of getting pulled into the counter-narcotics mission.”last_img read more

first_imgInvestigators believe the suspects smashed into a locked gun cabinet at one of their parents’ homes and later used the weapons to open fire on their classmates.Classmate, 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo was killed in the shooting, and eight others were injured.The pair also reportedly sprayed painted an explicative and the numbers 666 on one of their parents’ vehicle’s and tried to set it on fire in an attempt to make it look like their actions were a result of bullying.Alec McKinney’s father was jailed for a weapons offense and domestic violence before being deported to Mexico, according to reports.Both suspects are due back in court on May 15th to face murder and attempted murder charges.Prosecutors have until 10 am next Wednesday to determine which charges to pursue against the two shooting suspects.District attorney George Brauchler said he ‘hasn’t decided whether to file adult charges against McKinney, whose age is the youngest at which Colorado law allows prosecutors to file adult charges without a ‘judge’s review.The attack happened less than a month after the 20th anniversary of the deadly Columbine High School shooting in nearby Littleton, Colorado. Formal charges are expected next week against two Colorado teens accused of killing one classmate and wounding eight others at their Denver area charter school.Eighteen-year-old Devon Erickson and 16-year-old Maya McKinney are being held without bond in connection to Tuesday’s shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch.Maya who identifies as male is known in the community as ‘Alec.’Related content:REPORT: 1 of 2 CO school shooters transgender, minor girl identifying as boylast_img read more

first_imgWorld number two Roger Federer is on course for an 8th Basel Open title after he came from a set down to beat French Opponent Adrian Mannarino in three sets during their quarterfinal clash.The top seed saw off Mannarino 4-6 6-1 6-3 to book his place in the last four where he will meet David Goffin of Belgium on Saturday. Goffin defeated American Jack Sock 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 to reach the semis.In the other semifinal, world number four Marin Cilic will take on Juan Martin del  Potro of Argentina.Croatian star Cilic beat 100th-ranked Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 7-6(3) 5-7 7-6(4) in just over three hours to secure a last four place while Juan Martin del Potro got the better of Roberto Bautista 6-2 2-6 6-4 to stay in contention for the last two ATP World Tour Finals spots in London.Relatedlast_img read more