Day: November 16, 2020

Private Health Insurance Market Competition Has Weakened: GAO

A bar chart showing that the number of highly concentrated individual major medical markets started at 33, in 2011, climbed to 41, when the ACA exchange system came to life, fell below 40 for three years, then spiked up to 46, in 2018. (Credit: GAO)

The level of competition in the U.S. commercial health insurance market has dwindled since 2010, when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) came to life.

Analysts at the GAO have published data supporting that conclusion in a new private health insurance market concentration study.

The analysts prepared the report because of an ACA provision that requires the GAO to brief Congress on health insurance market concentration every two years. ACA drafters hoped the new programs and subsidies created by the new law, such as the ACA public exchange program, and the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan Program, would cut the cost of health coverage, and improve the quality, by increasing the level of competition.

Resources

  • A copy of the GAO analysis of private health insurance market concentration is available here.
  • An article about an American Medical Association analysis of competition in the commercial health insurance sector is available here.
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Revised Mask Order in Ohio as COVID-19 Cases Increase

The Ohio Department of Health’s July 23, 2020 Order regarding facial covering mandates has been amended in light of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Ohio. The order became effective today, Nov. 16, 2020. See the order here.

This new order includes the following additional mandates for retail stores (enterprises offering goods to the public) only.

  1. Each business will be required to post at all public entrances to the store:

    1. A face covering requirement sign;

    2. A notice of the maximum-capacity limit (as determined by the Department of Health’s May 29, 2020 Order) to ensure a minimum of six-feet physical distance throughout the location; and

    3. A notice of the accommodations available to individuals that are unable to wear masks, as described in 2(F) below.

  2. Each store will be responsible for ensuring customers and employees are wearing masks and take additional measures to ensure compliance with

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Hand tally of presidential race finds new ballots

ATLANTA (AP) — A hand tally of the presidential race in Georgia has turned up more than 2,500 votes in one county that weren’t previously counted, but election officials said Monday that isn’t expected to alter the overall outcome of the race.

Nearly 5 million votes were cast in the presidential election in Georgia, and Democrat Joe Biden had been leading Republican President Donald Trump by about 14,000 votes. The Floyd County election board chairman said he didn’t have an immediate breakdown of the newly discovered ballots but unofficial results previously reported showed Trump with 70% of the county’s votes to 28.4% for Biden.

“The reason you do an audit is to find this kind of thing,” said Gabriel Sterling, who oversaw the implementation of the new statewide election system for the secretary of state’s office.

Sterling said this appears to be an isolated problem and that there are “no

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The Average Cost of Divorce in 2020

Divorces that go to trial are significantly more expensive due to the added legal fees involved. A dispute over alimony, or spousal support, also adds substantially to the price tag — even more than child-related disputes.

Are divorces expensive? They can be. Here are the fees involved

Uncontested divorces are generally quite affordable. In the case of a contested divorce, you could be looking at over $10,000. These can include attorney’s fees, court costs, and other miscellaneous fees and expenses.

Average attorney fees: $11,300

Working with an attorney can add substantially to your costs; however, a lawyer may be able to protect your rights regarding custody, support, and division of marital property.

According to Martindale-Nolo research, the average hourly rate for a divorce lawyer was $270 and the average total cost for legal fees per spouse was $11,300 (though the median was $7,000). However, not all attorneys charge the same

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FLORIDA TODAY hosts live discussion on Edwards case, PTSD and the criminal justice system

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Following the release of Brevard County Jail footage of veteran Gregory Edwards last week, FLORIDA TODAY will host a live conversation about mental health, PTSD and the criminal justice system.

The conversation with three experts will happen Wednesday at 6 p.m. and will be livestreamed on floridatoday.com and FLORIDA TODAY’s Facebook page. 

Engagement Editor Isadora Rangel will moderate the discussion with:

  • Jessica Travis, one of the attorneys who represented FLORIDA TODAY in its lawsuit against the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office to release the footage;
  • Scott Robinson, attorney and veteran;
  • Roy Bedard, a law enforcement expert employed by FLORIDA TODAY during the court case against the sheriff.

Edwards, a former U.S. Army medic, was having a PTSD episode when he was arrested by West Melbourne Police in 2018. After getting into a fight with corrections deputies at the Brevard County Jail, when he was pepper-sprayed and tasered, he was left

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Virginia police chief fired as felony charges dropped in Confederate vandalism case

The police chief of Portsmouth, Virginia, was fired Monday in what she suggested was a politically motivated move moments before criminal charges were dropped against a prominent state senator and several local Black leaders accused of conspiring to damage a Confederate statue during a protest this year.

The latest twist in the case involving state Sen. Louise Lucas, a high-ranking Democrat and Virginia’s most senior Black legislator, drew praise from Democrats who condemned the charges against her and the others.

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe tweeted: “Our hero Louise Lucas and her fellow proud Portsmouth citizens deserve

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How law-and-order evangelicals helped shape today’s criminal justice system

(RNS) — When it comes to mass incarceration, American evangelicals are complicated. So says Aaron Griffith in his new book, “God’s Law and Order: The Politics of Punishment in Evangelical America.”

On the one hand, evangelicals led the charge for greater law and order in the postwar era, with the National Association of Evangelicals favoring the death penalty and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover penning regular columns in the pages of Christianity Today on combating lawlessness.

On the other hand, evangelicals saw crime as a missionary opportunity, launching innovative ministries to bring compassion and healing to prisoners across the country. Former Nixon aide Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship is perhaps the best-known example of evangelicals providing faith-based programming to those in prison and advocating for criminal justice reform legislation.

Griffith has the background and education to tell this story. He grew up in an evangelical family, attended Wheaton College as an

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Company news: Dennis Murphy joins US Attorney’s Office in Syracuse

The US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York in Syracuse announced that Dennis Murphy has been hired as a new law enforcement coordinator.

Murphy, who earned a master of science degree in criminal justice, has significant law enforcement experience. Since March 2016, he has investigated fraud cases for the US Department of Agriculture.

He began his law enforcement career as an officer for the town of Camillus Police Department in January 1986. He transferred to the city of Syracuse Police Department in October 1990 where he worked as a detective, detective sergeant and detective lieutenant. While at SPD, he worked in the anti-crime, narcotics, sex crimes and major crimes units, and spent 12 years as an operator on the emergency response team.

After retiring in April 2012, he worked for the New York State Justice Center as a supervising criminal investigator, where he oversaw three offices

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All charges dropped, attorney charged with extortion

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What I’m Hearing: The Giants seem to be turning their season around in a big way, but northjersey.com’s Art Stapleton explains why the team isn’t letting the recent success go to their heads.

USA TODAY

All armed robbery charges against former New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker have been dropped, according to a statement from the Broward State Attorney’s Office received by NorthJersey.com and USA TODAY Network on Monday morning.

The Giants released Baker, one of their 2019 first-round picks, as he was awaiting arraignment on four separate charges of robbery with a firearm for an incident that took place in his native Florida back in May.

In concert, William Dean — an attorney representing three of the four alleged victims in the case against Baker —was arrested on Monday morning for alleged extortion related to soliciting a cash payout on behalf of the three men in exchange for

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DeAndre Baker has charges dropped as attorney charged with extortion; ex-Giant seeks NFL return

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New York Giants
USA Today

Former New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker may have a path back to the NFL. 

Baker was released by the Giants this past offseason due to his alleged involvement in an armed robbery in Florida. On Monday, the State Attorney’s office dropped the charges against Baker and charged South Florida attorney William Dean with extortion. Per several reports, Dean told Baker’s attorney that his clients — three men who recanted statements last week accusing Baker of victimizing them in a robbery — would do “anything you want, so long as the money is right,” and attempted to extract $266,000 per client from Baker. 

Baker’s attorney, Bradford Cohen, released a statement to NFL.com and indicated that his client is seeking a return to the NFL. “I’ve been saying this from Day 1, that this was an extortion scheme and that Deandre was the victim. This event

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