My problem with smartwatches has usually come back to one thing: their cellphone dependence. Whether it’s watchOS, Android Wear, or something more esoteric like Pebble or any of the various other platforms we’ve seen, they generally offer a window – but not much more – to my phone, and then call it a day. The promise is good, certainly. Your messages, calls, notifications, and such pop up on your wrist, whereupon you triage them and only end up pulling your phone out for the most important reactions. In practice, I find I just keep checking two devices. Most notably is integrated LTE. By finessing an antenna into the display itself, and bowing the glass a fraction of a millimeter more, Apple has somehow managed to fit in a full cellular radio that can be used for both voice and data. It’s a huge success given the simultaneous claim that battery life – based on a mixture of WiFi, Bluetooth, and LTE connectivity – is the same all-day promise too.The SIM card is electronic and fully integrated, which means you’ll be dependent on your carrier for provisioning and such. Considering this is still a companion device for your iPhone, even if you can leave that iPhone at home at times, that shouldn’t be too significant a drawback. You’ll pay $70 more than the WiFi/Bluetooth-only Apple Watch Series 3 for the privilege of cellular connectivity, and in the US it’ll be supported on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.My enthusiasm about it stems from its ability to stand alone. Yes, I still won’t be able to do everything my iPhone can from my wrist, though watchOS 4 should add to that list. Yet there’ll be less of the feeling of redundancy, I suspect: that sense of “why am I wearing this, if my phone is already in my pocket.”The question remains, of course, whether Apple’s battery promises pan out, and if even watchOS 4 supplies sufficient functionality to give the Apple Watch Series 3 legs when it’s the only gadget you have on you. If you’re a keen fitness fan then the new heart rate monitoring, barometer, and other features might be enough to sway you. The rest of us might be one step closer to smartwatch success, but the proof will be in the pudding. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The Apple Watch Series 3 goes some way to addressing that, at least as far as I can tell from my brief time with the new smartwatch at Apple’s event in Cupertino today. Outwardly, only the red dot on the Digital Crown distinguishes it from its predecessor, the Series 2 which will remain on sale at a lower price point. Inside, though, there are some big changes. Despite an enthusiastic start with smartwatches, my wrist has, for the past six months at least, stayed conspicuously bare of tech. The new Apple Watch Series 3 might well change that. Somehow managing to squeeze in cellular connectivity, the LTE Apple Watch begs a spot on my wrist by virtue of its iPhone-free existence.
Google Tasks’ appeal might be it simplicity. The default behavior is to add a task and you’re done. Need to add a due date or a note? You can do that, too. Want to have separate lists for, say, personal and work tasks? Easy peasy. You can even add subtasks if you want. Need anything more? You’re out of luck.That is pretty much all that Google Tasks does for now. No timed reminders (only due dates). No priorities, though you can reorder tasks as you see fit by holding down on an item until you can drag it up and down the list. You can edit the task to move it to a different list, but that’s pretty much all there is to the app. It is pretty much just a mobile window to the same Google Tasks on the Web, nothing more. The great thing about Google Tasks is that if you have a Google account, which you most likely have if you’re an Android or even just a Gmail user, you’re pretty much set up to use it. Bonus if you’ve actually used the Google Calendar Tasks functionality before. Simply install the app and it will automatically detect your Google account, requiring almost no setup. In fact, it doesn’t even have the usual onboarding tutorial to tap through.Tasks immediately dumps you on a screen for viewing and adding tasks. If you’re in anyway familiar with Google’s apps, you might feel a bit out of place. Tasks has an odd design that barely checks the boxes of Google’s own Material Design language. Mind, it’s bare, minimal, and clean. It also has those animations that Google loves to use. But it just doesn’t sit right as far as coherence with other Google apps go. It’s probably no secret that Google has its own todo system, appropriately called Google Tasks, that barely anyone, not even Google, uses. It can officially only be accessed from Google Calendar’s web interface and unofficially from third-party apps that try to supply a need that Google has ignored until now. There have been many wishes and requests for Google to step up and provide an official mobile app for Google Tasks. That day has finally arrived but does the Google Tasks app for Android and iOS measure up to the challenge? We take a brief look to find out. Google Tasks can’t hold a candle to even the most basic todo list app. It seems to be designed to be an analogue to iOS’ built-in Reminders app, though it fails to copy over some features like priorities. It could simply be symptoms of being a version 1.0 app or it could very well be the end game. For now, at least, more powerful apps like Todoist and even Microsoft To-Do can sleep easy knowing Google is far from catching up to them.Download: Google Tasks (Android), (iOS)
Story TimelineHere’s what the stunning Cortana-powered GLAS thermostat will cost youGoogle Assistant, Alexa, Siri, Bixby, Cortana feature showdownAlexa x Cortana demo video: Microsoft and Amazon, BFF Right now, talking with one of those virtual helpers could leave you doubting the “intelligence” part of AI. A big part of that is their difficulty identifying meaning: effectively picking up on the thread of a conversation, and using that to understand different requests and commands. Semantic Machines is taking a different approach. It has built a number of machine learning components which work together for a smarter AI that can hold that conversational thread. That includes a Conversation Engine which pulls semantic intent from voice or text and then creates a self-updating, learning framework to comprehend the nuances of that discussion. A new speech recognition engine has been built in-house, together with a proprietary speech synthesis engine so that the AI can talk back just as naturally as the user.Reinforcement learning is a big component for the system. For a start there’s a proprietary data capture and annotation system, which the Microsoft Azure team is likely to be looking at with great interest, and which Semantic Machine plans to use to build a huge training system for AI using both speech and text. That also includes reinforcement learning, with real-time feedback from individual conversations going on to improve the AI’s efficacy as a whole. AdChoices广告While it’s not alone in looking to smarter AI and machine learning, Semantic Machine’s roster of experts do have some serious credentials among them. That includes Larry Gillick, formerly chief speech scientist at Apple; Dan Roth, who created Voice Signal Technologies, one of the foundation parts of voice interface systems on the iPhone and more; and professor of computer science, Dan Klein.“With the acquisition of Semantic Machines, we will establish a conversational AI center of excellence in Berkeley to push forward the boundaries of what is possible in language interfaces,” David Ku, CVP and chief technology at Microsoft AI & Research, said of the acquisition. “Combining Semantic Machines’ technology with Microsoft’s own AI advances, we aim to deliver powerful, natural and more productive user experiences that will take conversational computing to a new level.”Artificial Intelligences – and how they can power smart assistants – are in vogue right now, and not just in smartphones. The growth of home AI technology, led by Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant, has arguably been even more aggressive than in mobile devices, though Microsoft has struggled to make a dent there. Cortana, its assistant, has cropped up in a couple of devices, including Harman-Kardon’s Invoke smart speaker. Nonetheless, it’s failed to gain the same sort of developer traction. Microsoft has acquired Semantic Machines, an artificial intelligence startup which could help Cortana hold more natural dialog with users. The California company has focused its efforts on so-called “conversational AI,” moving beyond the more basic back-and-forth currently supported by the Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Amazon’s Alexa.
BMW says it went back to basics with that, throwing out any of its existing motorbike design language and starting from scratch. The idea is that the bike should meet “the basic functionality needs, the technical architecture, and the digital reality of today’s users,” Alexander Buckan, Head of Vehicle Design at BMW Motorrad, suggests. What the designers discovered was that an electric drivetrain actually makes that a lot easier. Of course, this is no dull vision of urban trundling. It’s definitely distinctive, with the BMW Motorrad Concept Link probably not looking out of place on a sci-fi movie set. Liquid Metal Titanium trim at the front is paired with a semi-matte finish back body. LEC front lights are narrow, while the side panel contours are designed to help with aerodynamics as well as keep more unpleasant weather conditions away from the rider. The rear lights are built into the side panels.Into the sober colors, BMW injects some orange flare. That comes from the orange cables that hook up the battery pack and the drive unit, along with trim along the sides and atop the dashboard. That links wirelessly to the owner’s smartphone, pulling out calendar details and automatically plotting navigation to the next appointment. It could even figure out a music tracklist to go with that drive, and offer the option of direct or scenic routes. Gone are the traditional instruments, however, replaced with a projection display onto the windshield. That shows speed, navigation, and battery status, while secondary information gets a touch-sensitive display to itself below the handlebars. Touch-sensitive buttons on the handlebars are included too, and can be customized to the rider’s choice of functions. The stunning BMW Concept 8 Series isn’t the only automotive tease BMW has this week, it also rolled out a brand new vision of zero-emission biking. The BMW Motorrad Concept Link made its debut alongside the Concept 8 Series at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2017, the latest design study from the automaker as it looks ahead to what urban mobility will be like in the years to come. In the case of this particular electric bike, that means styling that manages to be both futuristic and retro simultaneously. That’s because it can put flat energy packs down in the underfloor of the bike, minimizing the space they take up and keeping the center of gravity low. The drive unit mounted on the rear wheel means no bulky engine in the middle of the frame. Instead, there’s space for luggage with a sliding door. The bench seat can be adjusted lengthwise, and is easier to climb onto. BMW says the motorbike was designed to be flexible. While a seat bench is one possibility, it could also be adapted into a single-seater. The side panels could be customized, too, making it more unique to the rider. There’s even a range of matching, connected clothing; swipe a section of the arm on the the BMW Motorrad Concept Link jacket, and the luggage compartment automatically opens. Right now, of course, BMW has no intention of taking the motorbike concept from design study to production vehicle. All the same, don’t be surprised if an EV bike is on the company’s roadmap as it looks to make greater use of electrification. Update: We’re out at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este this week, and have updated with some live photos of this striking electric motorbike. Let us know what you think in the comments!
Story TimelineThe 2020 BMW M340i is a compelling return to formThe new 2020 Porsche 911 is all about how you feelThe 2020 Lincoln Aviator pulls out the stops to sweep up in midsize SUVsForget hamsters, the 2020 Kia Soul EV is charming by itself 2020 Jeep GladiatorTo say enthusiasts have been waiting a long time for a Wrangler pickup is a serious understatement. Jeep, though, has finally delivered, and better still it looks like it hasn’t just done some underwhelming badge-engineering. The 2020 Jeep Gladiator looks like the real deal. 7,650 pounds of towing capacity, and up to 1,600 pounds of payload. A 3.6-liter V6 as standard, with a 3.0-liter diesel following in 2020 with a healthy 442 lb-ft of torque. And a choice of capable 4×4 systems, including Tru-Lok locking differentials, beefy 33-inch tires, and more. Audi e-tron GT Concept The LA Auto Show 2018 wasn’t lacking in alluring supercars, concepts, and EVs, but some of the cars stood head and shoulders above the rest. Whether for their electric ambition, for putting a fresh spin on a classic, or just for being drop-dead delicious, these best-of-show models each have something to recommend them. Read on for our top five most noteworthy cars of the LA Auto Show 2018. Concept cars are easy grist for the auto show mill: it’s easy to get a few quick headlines for an expensive, impractical one-off. The Audi e-tron GT, though, may be a concept car but it’s one with production firmly in mind. In fact, the automaker expects to have a production version by late 2020. AdChoices广告That’s impressive, considering you’re looking at a seductive grand tourer with Quattro all-wheel drive, around 250 miles of range, and a super-fast charging system that could take you from zero to 80-percent in about twenty minutes. 0-62 mph would take around 3.5 seconds, meanwhile, with a top speed electronically limited to 149 mph. All with four people cosseted in plenty of cabin space. We can’t wait.2019 Mazda3Undoubtedly one of the most important models in Mazda’s line-up, the 2019 Mazda3 gets a few privileges in return. For a start it debuts the latest iteration of the automaker’s newest version of Kodo, the stylish design language that has made Mazda’s most recent models some of the best-looking mainstream cars on the road. Second, it brings the company’s fiendishly clever Skyactiv-X engine technology to dealerships. It promises significantly more economy than a gas engine but with the torque of a diesel. That’s wrapped up in two handsome designs, a hatchback and a sedan, and a cabin that’s a step above most other cars in the class. The big question is whether the fact that it’s a mild hybrid – recuperated power is used to run the Mazda3’s electrical systems, but not actually in propulsion – will count against it. Rivian R1T and R1SRivian may not be a name you’re familiar with now in EVs, but by late 2020 the startup is hoping to be as recognizable as Tesla. That ambition comes with not one but two all-new models, the Rivian R1T pickup truck and its sibling, the R1S SUV. Both take advantage of the automaker’s new “skateboard” architecture. That effectively packages up the four electric motors, braking system, battery, inverters, and all the rest of the drivetrain components into a lower slice. On top of that, Rivian has the flexibility to mount whichever body style it prefers. So, the R1T gets a pickup body with numerous extra cargo spaces – including a front trunk and a body-spanning nook where a gasoline truck’s fuel tank would be – while the R1S has space for seven and their cargo. 2019 Honda PassportDoes the world need another 5-seater family SUV? That’s the wrong question to be asking when it comes to the 2019 Honda Passport. The right one is “just how popular will this new mini-Pilot be?” and we suspect the answer is “very popular indeed.” It’s smaller, but still packs plenty of space for both passengers and luggage. Clever cargo boxes, bins, and cubbies should help keep things organized, while Honda’s latest infotainment system and Honda Sensing as standard tick the tech and active safety boxes. It’s a category Honda is perennially successful in, and for good reason, and the 2019 Passport should be no different.You can find all of our LA Auto Show 2018 coverage in the SlashGear Cars hub
Digital Ransom: Google Photos“Michael has so many pictures of his kids he had to get two phones with two numbers and he pays two bills,” – Pamela Morgan Halpert (née Beesly), The Office, May 16, 2013. Remember the world before automatic cloud-based data storage? Michael Scott remembers. Now, there’s profit to be had by companies that will store your photos on their computers. One of those companies is Google, with the service called Google Photos. Google Photos was first introduced in May of 2015.Google Photos is a great system, really. They allow you to upload your photos automatically to their servers, at which point you’re allowed access and the ability to search with a wide variety of parameters. You can search for all photos of Pam, for example. I found out the hard way that Google Photos has a dark side. Back in May of 2016, I discovered that Google’s Gmail is paired with Photos and Google Drive in a way that makes each dependent on the other (so to speak). When I reached my data storage limit, Gmail stopped working. When Gmail stopped working, my professional life came to a screeching halt, so I needed to address my cloud storage addiction. It turned out that the “free space” I’d gotten when I bought a Chromebook (2TB or so) expired after a 2-year period.Once the 2-year period was over, I’d (of course) filled up more than the standard batch of “free” storage offered by Google to any individual. So until I either started paying a subscription fee for more storage with Google, or I deleted most of my data, I was unable to use Gmail.A company that holds your data (your photos, in this instance) may also hold your memories, and your digital past. In the year 2019, for some people these photos can mean everything – they might pay any amount to keep these photos safe. It’s also possible that these photos mean nothing to you – maybe you’d rather there be no evidence that you ever captured a photo at all? The company still has that proof, whether they’d like to allow you access or not. NOTE: Another great example of a real-world ransom for digital data is with the 2017 then-new fee structure at Photobucket. For over a decade, Photobucket allowed people free access to upload photos and embed photos on 3rd-party sites. Then they opened the trap door and broke all 3rd-party access to image embeds for those users who did not want to pay their new fees. Those fees, mind you, were approximately $400 USD a year.The Potential for CatastropheWithout any malicious or capitalistic intent, a major data storage company is subject to potential accidental destruction. I recommend you view the following clip from the film Blade Runner 2049, here called the “Wallace Headquarters Scene”, also referred to as the “Data Hoarder Scene”. In this futuristic science fiction film, they discuss “the blackout” where most of the world’s digital data was destroyed. This isn’t a likely situation, but it does point toward the possibility that any one catastrophe, be it one server or many, could mean the end of your data.It could mean the loss of all of your activity on Facebook, and all the comments and discussions you had with family members over the last decade. It could mean the destruction of something so innocuous as your collected Spotify playlists. What might happen to your life right this minute if Apple’s iCloud system was (god forbid) destroyed? What can you do?The simplest answer is to disconnect. I could go through all the various services to which you’ve been uploading your data and tell you how to download the lot, but those companies almost always keep copies of what you’ve already uploaded, despite your future actions. Not in ALL cases, but in most.But in the future – let’s say you’d like to make sure your photos and videos are safe as possible. And private as possible, for good measure.The most extreme way to keep your media to yourself is to use a camera without any access to the internet. Or a smartphone with no SIM card and/or any access to the internet. Once you’ve got that ready, take some photos, capture some video, and send that data to an external storage drive. I do not know the quality of the product here, because I’ve not yet used it, but here’s an example: OWC Envoy Pro Ex (not pictured here). It’s a device you connect to your PC or Mac with a USB-C cord, and transfer data. It appears on your desktop like any other folder. You just drag data over and drop it in.Once you’ve put your precious data on one drive, get another. Copy your data to a second drive for extra safekeeping. Keep one drive in your closet, and another one in a safety deposit box. Put your bitcoins in that deposit box drive, and keep all your digital comic books on your drive at home. Gradual transition, not instant fixI don’t recommend you jump up and drop all your cloud-based data right this minute. It’s not particularly simple to do with any great speed, anyway. Instead, I’d like to recommend that you consider your future, especially when it comes to catastrophe, digital ransom, and internet outage. When you have no access to the internet, what do you have left? What’ve you lost, right now, if all your various internet-based services go offline forever? Consider it! Your grandpa and grandma were right about keeping all those buffalo nickels in a big glass jar – they were just a few decades too early. Today I’d like to direct your attention to your photo collection. You’ve taken hundreds or thousands of photos in the last few years, right? Do you know where all those photos ended up? If you wanted to see the first photos you ever captured using a smartphone, could you do it right now? Story TimelineFind My iPhone exploit patched following celebrity photos leakFlipboard reveals nine-month data breach: Here’s what was exposedHow companies are using your data
A view from the base of Mars’ Mount Sharp taken by the Curiosity rover. The rock layers in the foreground dip toward the base of the mountain, indicating ancient water flow. NASA/JPL-CaltechThe Gale Crater, the dried up lake bed on Mars on which the Curiosity rover landed, could once have supported life according to scientists.Using data from Curiosity and working alongside NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) and sedimentology and stratigraphy teams, Christopher House, professor of geosciences and director of the NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium, was tasked with determining if life could ever have existed in the now barren Gale Crater.Curiosity detected lots of mudstone with fine layers in the locale, suggesting there was once water there. “Gale Crater appears to have been a lake environment,” House confirmed in a statement. “The water would have persisted for a million years or more.”Eventually, the lake became filled with sediment and turned into stone. But just because there was no longer a lake, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t still water present near the surface. “The whole system, including the groundwater that ran through it, lasted much longer, perhaps even a billion or more years,” House explained. “There are fractures filled with sulfate, which indicates that water ran through these rocks much later, after the planet was no longer forming lakes.”The team are particularly interested in the presence of sulfur gases, as these are given off by sulfate and sulfide minerals like pyrite. Sulfur is an essential element for life, and pyrite forms in sediment in the presence of organic matter. So detecting pyrite could indicate that the area once supported life.The chemical makeup of the crater is studied by the SAM researchers who use an instrument which heats up rock samples, then measure the molecules given off using a mass spectrometer.“It’s been fun to be involved in the daily operations, decisions like where to take a measurement, or where to drive, or whether we should prioritize a particular measurement over a different measurement given the limited amount of time on the surface,” House said. “Each day is limited by the power that the rover has and how much power the rover will need. It has been a great learning experience for how missions operate and a great opportunity to collaborate with scientists from around the world.” Mars 2020 will capture high-definition color images from the Jezero Crater See a fly-over of Mars and track the path Curiosity will take up Mount Sharp Curiosity rover finds evidence that water once existed on the surface of Mars Armed and ready: Mars 2020 rover is fitted with its robotic arm Methane mystery: Curiosity detects highest-ever levels of methane on Mars Editors’ Recommendations
This pair of stories from the Des Moines Register, based on a meeting with Gov. Terry Branstad, details Branstad’s plans for state employees’ health benefits and efforts to develop a state alternative to the health law. Des Moines Register: Branstad: State Employees Must Pay For Health Care; Predicts Obama Will Fail In IowaIowa’s state employees would be required to pick up 20 percent of their health care costs under a demand Gov. Terry Branstad will make during union negotiations this year, he said today in a meeting with The Des Moines Register. If successful, it would cost state workers roughly $46.3 million a year. Most state employees currently pay nothing in health care premiums (Clayworth, 6/12).Des Moines Register: Branstad Working On ‘Obamacare’ AlternativeGov. Terry Branstad said Tuesday that he has been working with leaders from the insurance and hospital industries to form an Iowa alternative to President Obama’s health-reform plan. “We’ve had kind of a working group that’s been looking at this for a long time,” Branstad told Des Moines Register writers and editors. The governor said the state has several advantages, including that it has a history of providing high-quality, low-cost care and that relatively few of its residents lack health insurance (Leys, 6/12). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Iowa Gov. Wants State Workers To Pay For Part Of Health Care
The study of six states finds they want more help as they look to expand their programs under new rules in the health law.Medpage Today: GAO: States Need Help With New Medicaid RulesStates want and need more guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in order to expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a government study finds. The timing of these guidelines could affect states’ ability to meet ACA implementation deadlines, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released this week. … [T]he GAO selected six states to examine — Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, and Virginia — all of which are taking steps to expand their Medicaid programs under the ACA (Pittman, 8/3).In the meantime, a plan to move poor children to California’s Medi-Cal dental managed care program is derailed in part by poor performance in a similar program in Sacramento –CHCF Center for Health Reporting/Sacramento Bee: State Heeds County WoesCash-strapped California is aggressively moving its poorest residents to managed health care, whether they’re seniors, rural residents or people with disabilities. So, when Gov. Jerry Brown proposed earlier this year to transfer the nearly 900,000 poor children in the Healthy Families insurance program into Medi-Cal, he saw it as another opportunity to reduce costs by expanding dental managed care. But something happened between then and now, and that something was Sacramento County. Sacramento County’s poorly performing Medi-Cal dental managed care program foiled Brown’s plans, legislators say (Bazar, 8/5).Finally, other outlets look at efforts to move Medicaid enrollees to managed care plans and Maine’s request to alter its program –CQ HealthBeat: Questions Remain About States’ Ability To Oversee Managed Long-Term CareState Medicaid programs are increasingly turning to managed care to deliver long-term services, but some officials worry that some states do not have the resources to adequately oversee these health plans, said experts at an Alliance for Health Reform briefing on Friday. An increasing number of states want to expand managed care, which is often used for relatively healthy populations in Medicaid and in employer-sponsored coverage, but until recently had not been widely considered for elderly people and those with disabilities who need long term care (Adams, 8/3).The Associated Press: Federal Officials Ponder Maine’s Medicaid RequestThe federal Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it had received a formal request filed … (by Maine), which contends the cuts, amounting to $20 million in savings, are needed to balance the state budget. The planned cuts, due to take effect Oct. 1, cover three areas. They would eliminate Medicaid coverage for 19- and 20-year-olds, cut back access to Medicaid for elderly people already eligible for Medicare and increase eligibility requirements for non-disabled, non-pregnant adults on Medicaid (Adams, 8/3). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. GAO Finds States Need More HHS Guidance On New Medicaid Rules
First Edition: August 30, 2013 Today’s headlines include the latest news on congressional efforts to avert a financial crisis as well as coverage of the news from the Internal Revenue Service, Treasury Department and Department of Health and Human Services about how same-sex marriage will be recognized.Kaiser Health News: A Reader Asks: I Get Coverage Through My Estranged Husband. Can I Choose To Go To The Marketplace?Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews offers caution about the financial implications of that switch (8/30). Read the question and answer.Kaiser Health News: Florida Is No. 2 In Nation For Rate Of UninsuredThe Miami Herald’s Daniel Chang, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News, reports: “Florida has the nation’s second-highest rate of uninsured residents younger than 65 — a total of about 3.8 million people, or about 25 percent of the state’s population, including more than 500,000 younger than 19, according to U.S. Census data released Thursday” (Change, 8/30). Read the story.Kaiser Health News: Group Health Omits Abortion Coverage From Plans Sold On State ExchangeThe Seattle Times’ Carol M. Ostrom, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News, reports: “Group Health Cooperative will not cover abortion in its individual health-insurance plans being offered through the Washington state marketplace put in place by the Affordable Care Act, but says women who buy them will be able to access the service without paying more. Group Health said it made the decision not to include the coverage because of murky regulations about how it would have to account for federal money in plans that offered abortion” (Ostrom, 8/30). Read the story.Kaiser Health News: Capsules: IRS Ruling On Same-Sex Couples Has Implications For Health Law; Survey: HHS Will Allow ‘Unbanked’ People To Use Prepaid Debit Cards On Exchanges; Americans Have Low Health Insurance LiteracyNow on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Mary Agnes Carey reports on the IRS ruling: “The decision from the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service means that the income of legally married same-sex couples will be considered in determining eligibility for enrollment in the health law’s Medicaid expansion and for subsidies to purchase coverage in the law’s online marketplaces, or exchanges” (Carey, 8/30).Sarah Varney reports on the Department of Health and Human Services decision to let “unbanked” people used prepaid debit cards to pay for insurance: “At the urging of advocates for low-income consumers, the Obama administration said Wednesday that it is moving ahead with a rule requiring health plans accommodate households that do not have traditional bank accounts. One in four of the uninsured eligible for federal insurance subsidies does not have a bank account, according to a report released earlier this year by the tax preparation firm Jackson Hewitt” (Varney, 8/29).Also on the blog, Marissa Evans reports on a survey examining public understanding ofhealth coverage buzz words: “Premium, deductible, copay, all basic health insurance terms many Americans don’t understand, according to a recent poll. More than half could not correctly define at least one of these common financial terms related to health insurance, according to poll results released by the American Institute of CPAs” (Evans, 8/29). Check out what else is on the blog.The New York Times: Talks To Avert A Fiscal Crisis In The Fall End With No ResultOver the past weeks, the Senate group — which called itself the “sounding board” — had moved away from the kind of “grand bargain” Mr. Obama had sought, which would combine higher tax revenues and changes to social programs like Medicare to produce trillions of dollars in deficit reduction. Instead, they aimed simply to replace the automatic across-the-board cuts known as the sequester over the next eight years with other budget changes. Mr. Obama, in his most recent budget plan, had accepted $200 billion in sequester savings over eight years, and both sides appeared ready to leave in place small cuts to entitlement programs in the sequester legislation (Weisman, 8/29).The Washington Post: White House, Republican Senators Give Up On Budget TalksThe end of the talks comes just over a week before Congress is to return from its summer break to confront a series of imminent deadlines, including the risk of a government shutdown Oct. 1 and potential default on the national debt a few weeks after that. … Through multiple meetings with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the group discussed a range of options, including a “grand bargain” that would involve a complete restructuring of Medicare, according to people familiar with the meetings, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private talks. The group also discussed a smaller deal that would replace much of the remaining sequester savings — about $500 billion over the next eight years — with narrower reforms to Medicare, Social Security and other mandatory-spending programs, such as farm subsidies (Montgomery, 8/29).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Republican Senator Says Budget Talks With White House Officials Yield ‘No Common Ground’But the budget talks have always split over Obama’s insistence that any reduction in programs such as Social Security or Medicare be accompanied by tax increases or closed loopholes for the rich that would generate more revenue. Obama did win more than $600 billion in tax increases over 10 years on wealthier taxpayers earlier this year and Republicans have said they would not cede more (8/29).The Wall Street Journal: Budget Talks Fail To Bridge DivideRepublicans have offered to replace the bulk of the sequester cuts—$518 billion over eight years—with other, more targeted cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlement programs, according to a GOP official familiar with the discussions. They offered to raise revenues to reduce the deficit, the official said, but not, as the White House wanted, to replace the sequester (Hook, 8/29).NPR: Study: Price Shocks On Health Exchanges Appear UnlikelyWith new health insurance exchanges set to launch in just over a month, there’s been a lot of chatter about how shocking the rates might be. One possibility is that adding sick people to a more comprehensive benefits package will cause premiums to soar. Last spring, the Society of Actuaries predicted an average increase of 32 percent because of to the law, which prompted an outcry from opponents of the law (Rovner, 8/29).Los Angeles Times: California Unveils Ads For New Health Insurance MarketThe state faces the daunting challenge of trying to reach more than 5 million people who are uninsured or don’t receive health insurance at work. Now officials are preparing to advertise on television and radio, in print and online — much of it in Spanish — to persuade consumers unfamiliar with the federal health law to sign up. The state is purposefully avoiding Hollywood stars in its opening sales pitch. Instead, the state’s ads revolve around people worrying about getting care and paying their medical bills in hopes that those stories will counter persistent political attacks and widespread confusion about the Affordable Care Act (Terhune and Gorman, 8/29).The Wall Street Journal: Subsidies for Older Buyers Give Health Insurers a HeadacheBut the federal subsidies that make this possible for older people are causing headaches that insurers are struggling to understand. The programs reverse a long-standing tenet of the insurance business: That riskier customers pay more. The subsidies can be far more generous to older people than younger ones, the analysis of Ohio’s marketplace shows (Weaver and Radnofsky, 8/29).The Wall Street Journal: A New Kind Of Insurance Head-Scratcher: Estimating Future IncomeUnder the health law, millions of Americans will face a new test of their fortunetelling skills: precisely predicting their next year’s income. The federal health-care overhaul creates a potentially rich new class of benefits for people—namely, federal subsidies they can use to buy insurance on the new marketplaces created in each state. Eligibility for subsidies is based on income (Radnofsky and Weaver, 8/29).The Washington Post: Obamacare Affects Executive And Legislative Employees DifferentlyExecutive-branch employees won’t automatically lose their existing health coverage when they become eligible soon for the insurance exchanges forming under President Obama’s healthcare law, according to the federal personnel office. Agency officials began driving that point home this week amid continued confusion and concerns about how the so-called Obamacare legislation will affect health-benefits for federal employees (Hicks, 8/30).The Washington Post: Adults In The Northeast And Midwest Are Relatively Well-Insured. The Rest Of The Country Not So Much.More than one in four Texans under the age of 65 lacks health insurance, more than any other state in the nation. Florida is next, followed by Nevada, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Those results are from a new Census Bureau report released Thursday morning detailing health insurance rates at the state and county level. The report is a fascinating read if you’re into health policy and demographics, but we found one map—the first—especially interesting (Chokshi, 8/29).Politico: President Gearing Up For Major New Obamacare PushThree years after signing Obamacare into law, President Barack Obama finally looks eager to talk about it. The White House is mapping out a strategy to deploy the president, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden in what will be their most coordinated effort yet to sell Obamacare, senior administration officials said (Budoff Brown, 8/30).Politico: The Obama-Clinton Health Care BondBill Clinton will attempt again next week to do for Obamacare what has long eluded its namesake: Cut through the political noise and change the perception of a law much of the public doesn’t like or understand. His speech at Clinton’s presidential library in Arkansas Wednesday is a continuation of the relationship that benefited the former and current president in the 2012 campaign. It’s a role Clinton has played before on behalf of the Affordable Care Act, which is rooted in the failed effort by he and his wife, Hillary Clinton, to pass comprehensive health care reform two decades ago (Haberman and Millman, 8/30).The Wall Street Journal: Labor Official Sees Progress On Health-Law ConcernsUnions are making some progress in getting the Obama administration to address their concerns about the new health law, and Labor Secretary Tom Perez is playing a central role, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Thursday. “We’ve been working with the administration to find solutions to what I think are inadvertent holes in the act. I’m hopeful that we’ll get something done in the very near future,” Mr. Trumka said at a breakfast with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor (Trottman, 8/29).The New York Times: Gay Marriages Get Recognition From the I.R.S.Separately, the Health and Human Services Department said Thursday that Medicare would extend certain key benefits to same-sex spouses, “clarifying that all beneficiaries in private Medicare plans have access to equal coverage when it comes to care in a nursing home where their spouse lives.” But federal agencies are not moving in lock step. Instead, they are creating a patchwork of regulations affecting gay and lesbian couples — and may be raising questions about discrimination and fairness in the way that federal benefits are distributed. Medicare and Treasury officials have said they would use a “place of celebration” standard for determining whether gay couples are eligible for benefits. That means same-sex couples would receive benefits as long as they are legally married, regardless of where they live (Lowrey, 8/29).Los Angeles Times: IRS, Treasury Will Recognize Same-Sex Marriage Across State LinesThe change in policy follows the Supreme Court’s decision in June overturning a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act that barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages for purposes such as insurance benefits, immigration and tax filings. … Beneficiaries of a private Medicare plan will also be able to enter the same nursing home as their same-sex spouses, the Department of Health and Human Services said. “Today’s announcement is the first of many steps that we will be taking over the coming months to clarify the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision and to ensure that gay and lesbian married couples are treated equally under the law,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act has wide-reaching implications for federal benefits, but individual policies are being clarified by the agencies that administer them (Koseff, 8/29).The Washington Post’s Wonk Blog: The IRS And Medicare Will Now Recognize Same-Sex Marriages. All Of Them.This is a big first step to general federal recognition of same-sex marriages. And the government took a second step, too. The Department of Health and Human Services ruled Thursday that legally wedded same-sex couples, wherever they live, are eligible for certain Medicare benefits reserved for married couples. In its memo, HHS “specifically clarifies that this guarantee of coverage applies equally to couples who are in a legally recognized same-sex marriage, regardless of where they live.” … It’s still not all federal government roses for these couples. Social Security uses a place of residence rule, and has issued instructions to personnel to deny claims for spousal benefits from same-sex couples living in states where such marriages are not recognized. But the overall trend is toward a federal government that offers benefits to as expansive a set of same-sex married couples as possible (Matthews, 8/29).NPR: Money May Be Motivating Doctors To Do More C-SectionsObstetricians perform more cesarean sections when there are financial incentives to do so, according to a new study that explores links between economic incentives and medical decision-making during childbirth. About 1 in 3 babies born today is delivered via C-section, compared to 1 in 5 babies delivered via the surgical procedure in 1996. During the same time period, the annual medical costs of childbirth in the U.S. have grown by $3 billion annually (Vedantam, 8/30).The Texas Tribune/New York Times: With Youth Tanning Law, Texas Aims to Lower Melanoma RiskSoon, Texas will join a number of states that bar minors from tanning indoors, which experts say greatly increases the risk of melanoma in those under 18. Senate Bill 329, written by State Senators Joan Huffman, Republican of Southside Place, and Sylvia R. Garcia, Democrat of Houston, automatically became law in June without the governor’s signature and will take effect on Sunday (Serrano, 8/29).The New York Times: N.F.L. Agrees To Settle Concussion Suit For $765 MillionThe National Football League has agreed to pay $765 million to settle a lawsuit brought by more than 4,500 players and their families, largely closing the legal front in the league’s battle against accusations that it concealed what it knew about the dangers of repeated hits to the head (Belson, 8/29). Check out all of Kaiser Health News’ e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Battle Over Health Law Brings Gov’t To Brink Of Shutdown This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. A stopgap bill to fund the government when the fiscal year ends Oct. 1 continues to be caught up in Republican efforts to defund, delay or derail the health law. Federal agencies have contingency plans in place.The New York Times: Senate Action On Health Law Moves To Brink Of ShutdownThe Senate is expected to reject decisively a House bill that would delay the full effect of President Obama’s health care law as a condition for keeping the government running past Monday, as Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, expressed confidence that he had public opinion on his side. Angering Republicans who lead the House, Mr. Reid kept the Senate shuttered on Sunday, in a calculated move to stall action on the House measure until Monday afternoon, just hours before the government’s spending authority runs out at midnight (Peters and Weisman, 9/29).The Wall Street Journal: Government Heads Toward Shutdown The nation braced for a partial shutdown of the federal government, as time for Congress to pass a budget before a Monday midnight deadline grew perilously short and lawmakers gave no signs Sunday they were moving toward a resolution. … House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) urged Senate leaders to pass legislation that the Republican-controlled House had approved early Sunday morning, which would fund the government through mid-December. But that prospect was remote, as the House legislation included a one-year delay of the new federal health law that Democrats have vowed to reject, as well as a repeal of the new law’s tax on medical devices (Hook and Peterson, 9/29).The Associated Press: Who’ll Blink? Dems, GOP In Shutdown Stare DownWith the government teetering on the brink of partial shutdown, congressional Republicans vowed Sunday to keep using an otherwise routine federal funding bill to try to attack the president’s health care law. … Since the last government shutdown 17 years ago, temporary funding bills known as continuing resolutions have been noncontroversial, with neither party willing to chance a shutdown to achieve legislative goals it couldn’t otherwise win. But with health insurance exchanges set to open on Tuesday, tea-party Republicans are willing to take the risk in their drive to kill the health care law (Taylor, 9/29).Politico: Obamacare Medical Device Tax Assumes Big Role In Spending BattleAlong with a one-year delay in the president’s health law, House Republicans have included provisions repealing the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices in their bill to fund federal agencies into the next fiscal year. And some have suggested the move to wipe out that tax might — at some point— become a path to compromise with the Senate. But Senate Democratic leaders have so far opposed the device tax as part of a short-term spending bill (Faler and Norman, 9/29).The New York Times: Federal Agencies Lay Out Contingency Plans For Possible ShutdownAs Congress continued to spar on Saturday over a stopgap spending measure to keep the government running, federal agencies made contingency plans for a potential shutdown. … Although more than half of the Department of Health and Human Services would be furloughed, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries would continue to receive services. Retirees would continue to get checks from the Social Security Administration. The rollout of President Obama’s health care law, with the first insurance marketplaces to go online starting on Tuesday, would continue because most of the money for that program was provided by the Affordable Care Act and other laws (Schmidt, Shanker and Siddons, 9/28).CQ HealthBeat: More Than Half Of HHS Employees Would Be Furloughed In ShutdownIf the federal government shuts down next week, the Department of Health and Human Services’ contingency plan calls for furloughing more than half of its 78,198 employees. Services such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s flu program and the majority of the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety activities would be suspended, according to a plan the agency posted on its website late Friday (Bunis, 9/27).In other congressional action – Reuters: U.S. House Passes Bill To Regulate Drug CompoundingThe U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday passed legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration more authority to regulate companies that compound sterile drugs and ship them across state lines. The bill, called the Drug Quality and Security Act, now goes to the Senate for a vote. House and Senate committees agreed on the legislation on Wednesday (9/28).
The New York Times: What Health Insurance Might Do Alert (or at least health-care-obsessed) readers have no doubt been following the coverage of a new study on mortality in Massachusetts in the years following Romneycare’s coverage expansion, the gist of which — the authors found a striking, Massachusetts-specific decline in death rates for the non-elderly — tends to confirm liberal assumptions about the benefits of health insurance, and undercut the conservative and libertarian argument that insurance doesn’t have the impact on health and mortality that most people expect. The study’s findings are an almost-diametrical reversal of the results from Oregon’s Medicaid experiment, which were much discussed around this time last year (here’s my contribution), and which seemed to strengthen the conservative critique of Obamacare’s pursuit of comprehensive coverage. So now it’s liberalism’s turn to claim vindication, and to press Obamacare’s critics to give ground in the debate (Ross Douthat, 5/7). The Boston Globe: Exit Plan For Health Site Mess Deserves Scrutiny Of Its OwnHaving decided that fixing the current website is a lost cause, officials at the troubled Massachusetts Health Connector today will recommend buying a software product from a different vendor, hCentive. But the Connector also wants to prepare to join Healthcare.gov, the federal website, in case hCentive’s “off-the-shelf” website product can’t be adapted in time to let Massachusetts residents secure health plans for 2015, for which enrollment starts on Nov. 15. That course has left the state’s health insurance plans deeply concerned, and understandably so: Having invested heavily to prepare for the dysfunctional website, they’ll now have to prepare to work with two different websites (5/8).The Wall Street Journal: Disconnected In Massachusetts The FBI is reportedly investigating criminal fraud by the architects of Oregon’s ObamaCare program, but maybe the G-men should take a look on the East Coast too. Like Oregon two weeks ago, Massachusetts announced on Monday that it is dumping its dysfunctional insurance exchange and defaulting to the federal version—though in fairness to Governor Deval Patrick, his crimes are merely against competent government (5/7).Los Angeles Times: The Insurers Speak: Yes, People Are Paying Their Obamacare Premiums Things continue to get tough for the Obamacare dead-enders, those increasingly lonely opponents whose only comeback against the flow of good news about the Affordable Care Act is to conjure up absurd arguments against it (I mean you, Cato’s Michael Cannon) or, if all else fails, make stuff up (Michael Hiltzik, 5/7). The New England Journal Of Medicine: Here To Stay — Beyond The Rough Launch Of The ACA Come 2017, outright repeal will remain unlikely for three reasons. First, all major parts of the ACA except the individual mandate are popular — including the insurance-market reforms, the subsidies to make insurance affordable, closure of the drug-benefit “doughnut hole,” and the incentives for most employers to provide affordable insurance as a fringe benefit. Second, lawmakers who support repeal will not want to snatch insurance coverage from an estimated 37 million people who will be insured thanks to the ACA in 2017. Third, repeal would cut into the sales and profits of health care providers and suppliers of all stripes. Although repeal of the ACA is therefore unlikely, amendments are certain (Henry J. Aaron, 5/7).The New England Journal Of Medicine: Health Care Reform After The ACA The ACA creates new subsidies for insurance purchased on the exchanges and expands Medicaid eligibility, increasing the pressure from entitlements on state and federal budgets. Subsidies shift the burden but do not reduce the cost. … If Republicans gain a Senate majority in the fall, they … can be expected to advance targeted proposals to eliminate the ACA’s most unpopular and unworkable aspects and substitute market-based alternatives. Such proposals will embrace the possibility of a more decentralized, less regulatory, and more consumer-driven model of health care. I believe that will be the direction of the next phase of health care reform in 2017, no matter who is elected President (Joseph R. Antos, 5/7).The Washington Post: Medicaid: Will McAuliffe Play The Cuccinelli Care? As Bill Clinton once famously said: “It depends upon what the meaning of the word is.” Ain’t that the truth. Last year, GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli strongly opposed Democratic rival Terry McAuliffe’s promise to expand Medicaid. That was a partisan difference. But earlier in 2013, Mr. Cuccinelli had occasion to address a question sitting at the heart of the Medicaid expansion debate in a nonpartisan way: Who has the legal right to expand the program? (Norman Leahy and Paul Goldman, 5/7). news@JAMA: Good Prospects For Reform In Long-term CareThe rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to dominate the noisy politics and media attention devoted to health care. But there is one important area of health system reform where there’s a remarkable and growing degree of nonpartisan and constructive debate quietly focused on solving problems—that concerns long-term care (LTC), including long-term supports and services (LTSS). True, a new LTC program was deemed unworkable and stripped from the ACA after being signed into law. And last year’s Commission on Long-Term Care failed to reach agreement, spawning both official and alternative reports (Butler, 5/7).The New England Journal Of Medicine: Vivek Murthy For Surgeon General By obstructing the President’s nomination of Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, the NRA is taking its single-issue political blackmail to a new level. With the record of past surgeons general as their guide, senators should do what is right for the health of our country by confronting the NRA and voting their own conscience. Dr. Murthy is an accomplished physician, policymaker, leader, and entrepreneur. He deserves the President’s continued backing and should be confirmed (Dr. Gregory D. Curfman, Stephen Morrissey, Debra Malina and Dr. Jeffrey M. Drazen, 5/8).The New England Journal Of Medicine: Insourcing Health Care Innovation Many health care professionals find it irritating when management gurus recommend solving health care’s problems with approaches they would “copy and paste” from unrelated industries — a former chief executive of a manufacturing company claims that the same simple lessons that enabled him to transform his own industry can improve value in health care, or a business-school professor offers an eight-point leadership plan that she’s translated into health care as easily as if she’d translated it into French. Many people who work in health care value outside perspectives and are open to new approaches — and yet bristle at facile recommendations emerging from these translations. … The challenge of health care innovation lies in combining contextual understanding with fresh perspectives (Dr. David A. Asch, Christian Terwiesch, Kevin B. Mahoney and Roy Rosin, 5/8).The New York Times’ Opinionator: In Delivery Rooms, Reducing Births Of Convenience San Francisco General is largely a hospital for the poor. It’s the city’s safety net hospital, known for providing free care for all who can’t afford it, and for its display — while you wait and wait — of the parade of humanity in all its glory. It might be surprising, then, that according to data compiled by the state it is probably the safest place in California to have a baby (Tina Rosenberg, 5/7).The Washington Post: Pfizer’s Offer To Buy AstraZeneca Shows That U.S. Needs Corporate Tax Reform The hot read among policy wonks these days is “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” by French economist Thomas Piketty. He warns of a long-term trend toward ever-concentrated wealth and urges a global wealth tax to prevent it. While that might be a bad idea even if it were politically feasible, there is merit to the broader notion that industrialized countries could better coordinate taxing wealth, corporate and otherwise, that flits around the world in search of the lowest rates. Case in point: U.S. drug maker Pfizer’s $106 billion offer for Britain’s AstraZeneca, which could enable Pfizer to flag itself as a British company and pay taxes at Britain’s 20 percent rate rather than this country’s 35 percent (5/7).The Washington Post: D.C.’s Bad Mental-Health Report Card For the third year in a row, an assessment of children’s mental health in the District of Columbia has found the city lacking in its ability to reach and help those most in need. It’s long been apparent that this failure affects not only children with problems and their families but also the larger society that must contend with the costly consequences of that non-treatment. Officials need to wake up to the fact that, unless they pay better attention to the mental well-being of children, they have little chance of reducing the dropout rate, cutting juvenile crime or producing self-sufficient adults (5/7).WBUR: Five Things Marathon Allure Can Teach Us About Improving Everyday HealthHealth behavior change is hard; if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. But running a marathon is also hard, and lately it seems that just about everyone is doing it. The health care industry could learn a lot from the increasing popularity of the marathon about how to design programs that help people make positive health behavior changes (Bradley Stulberg, 5/7).Los Angeles Times: Endorsement: David Jones For Insurance Commissioner Outraged by rapidly rising premiums for auto insurance, California voters passed Proposition 103 in 1988 to turn the insurance commissioner’s job into an elected office with the power to reject proposed changes in the rates for property and casualty insurance. Since then, the commissioner has been arguably the most important consumer protection official in the state, overseeing more than 600 insurers that collect $123 billion in premiums for health, auto, home and other policies. This year, voters will choose among three candidates offering sharply contrasting views on how best to provide that protection, and it’s a debate worth having. Nevertheless, the best candidate for the job is the one who has it already, Democrat Dave Jones (5/7). Viewpoints: Insurance And Death Rates; Massachusetts ‘Exit Plan’; Obamacare Premiums This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
The Wall Street Journal: CVS Gives Preferred Status To Gilead’s Hepatitis C Drugs This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The U.S. market may be a step closer to having the first biosimilar available for patients. In documents released today, FDA reviewers determined that there are “no clinically meaningful differences” between Neupogen, an Amgen medicine that is used to fend off infections during chemotherapy, and a biosimilar version that is being developed by Sandoz. … Biosimilar drugs are cheaper versions of expensive and complex medicines made from biological matter and are among the biggest-selling medicines in the world. A number of biosimilars are available in Europe, where the products have been allowed since 2005. (Silverman, 1/5) In Industry Battle Over Hepatitis C Drugs, CVS Sticks With Sovaldi And Harvoni CVS Health Corp., which is one of the primary drug benefit managers in the nation, says it will give preferred status to the two expensive drugs made by Gilead, rather than another new drug made by AbbVie. The battle for supremacy in one of the fastest-growing pharmaceutical markets intensified on Monday, with CVS Health Corp. saying it will make Gilead Sciences Inc. ’s drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni the exclusive options for patients with hepatitis C. A competing treatment made by AbbVie Inc., called Viekira Pak, will be excluded from CVS’s drug formulary of approved medications, except in cases when it is medically necessary, CVS said in a letter sent to employment-benefit consultants that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. (Walker, 1/5) Reuters: CVS To Cover Gilead Hepatitis C Treatment Over AbbVie Regimen The Wall Street Journal’s Pharmalot: FDA Staff Recommends Novartis Biosimilar Version Of An Amgen Drug CVS Health Corp, one of the largest U.S. managers of drug benefits, said it would give preferred status to the hepatitis C treatments from Gilead Sciences and cover a new competing treatment from AbbVie Inc only as an exception. The latest salvo in the battle to grab market share for new all-oral treatments for the liver-destroying hepatitis C virus follows a move last month by CVS rival Express Scripts Holding that favored AbbVie’s regimen after negotiating a price discount below what Gilead had been charging its commercial customers. (Berkrot and Humer, 1/5) Also in the news, a new drug moves closer to the U.S. market.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma said Thursday that the agency is working to improve a new rule requiring hospitals to post chargemaster prices on their websites after experts said the data wouldn’t help consumers. Acknowledging that chargemaster prices aren’t accurate out-of-pocket costs for insured patients, Verma maintained the requirement is an “important first step” to increase price transparency. She said the agency is “working toward” addressing the concerns but also said “there is no reason hospitals can’t do more.” (Castellucci, 1/10) Modern Healthcare: Community Health Systems Falls Short Of 2018 Hospital Divestiture Target In other hospital news — CMS Chief Acknowledges Flaws In Hospital Price Transparency Requirements But Says They’re An ‘Important First Step’ Since Jan. 1, hospitals must post a list of their standard charges in a machine-readable format on their website and update the information at least once a year, but many experts have said that those numbers are meaningless to consumers. Modern Healthcare: Verma: Chargemaster Rule Is ‘First Step’ To Price Transparency Community Health Systems generated $400 million in gross proceeds on hospital divestitures in 2018, less than half of its $1.3 billion target, leaders from the hospital chain said Wednesday. Thomas Aaron, the Franklin, Tenn.-based hospital chain’s CFO, confirmed before an audience at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference on Wednesday afternoon that the company fell short of its 2018 goal by about $900 million. The hospital chain had repeated the goal on multiple occasions last year, including in its third quarter results. (Bannow, 1/10) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
advertisement Traders exchange high fives before the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Dec. 26, 2018.Richard Drew/AP Recommended For YouColumbia Care Announces Listing on Frankfurt Stock ExchangeHalo Announces Lease Buy Down of its California FacilitiesGermany’s Scholz sounds alarm on cryptocurrencies such as Facebook’s LibraFutures flat after JPMorgan results; Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo eyedItalian builder Salini backs plan to buy Astaldi to revive industry Reddit Email Bloomberg News ← Previous Next → U.S. stocks staged one of the biggest rallies of the 9 1/2 year bull market after coming within points of seeing it end, with major indexes surging at least 4.9 per cent. Crude jumped almost 10 per cent. Canadian markets were closed Wednesday, Boxing Day.All but one member of the S&P 500 finished in the green, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped more than 1,050 points for its biggest-ever point gain and the Nasdaq 100 rallied 6 per cent in a surge last seen in March 2009. Small caps joined the rally with a 5 percent advance.Consumer shares paced the rally, with Amazon jumping 9.5 per cent after reporting record holiday sales. Each member of the FAANG cohort rallied at least 6.4 per cent, while energy producers surged as crude powered past US$46 a barrel. All 30 Dow members gained, with Nike and Apple rising more than 7 percent. Newmont Mining was the only S&P 500 member to fall.“It was probably a pretty good retail-oriented holiday and that probably has a lot to do with what’s happening today,” said Kim Forrest, a senior portfolio manager at Fort Pitt Capital Group.President Donald Trump said a day earlier that the rout that took stocks down 19.8 per cent from a record provided a “tremendous opportunity to buy.” Investors also welcomed assurances by Kevin Hassett, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, that Jerome Powell’s job is “100 per cent” safe. Oil’s best rally since 2016 added to the equity surge. Stocks are looking to stop one of the most miserable Decembers on record, as a host of headwinds combined to drag down America’s benchmark index.A reminder that consumers — a key part of the American economy — remain on solid footing helped soothe anxiety created by fears of a global slowdown and personnel churn in the U.S. administration. A late report that a U.S. government delegation will travel to Beijing in two weeks to hold trade talks gave stocks a final push higher.“The thing that the Fed chairman won’t be axed, that has a lot to do with everyone being happy Powell gets to keep his job and that the turmoil about this has abated for today,” Forrest said. “You have the market leaning one way or the other, and it can often do what it’s doing today, which is go higher. On Monday the market leaned lower. It’s an outsize move.”Hassett was the latest government official to try to calm the markets after Bloomberg’s report Friday that President Donald Trump asked about firing Powell. Steven Mnuchin was criticized for saying he called bank chiefs to gauge liquidity. Trump expressed confidence in Mnuchin on Tuesday.Crude surged, the greenback was stronger versus its major peers and Treasuries fell. Exchanges throughout Europe remained closed for the holiday.Elsewhere on Wednesday, Japanese equities closed higher on a wave of late buying after fluctuating throughout the day. Korean shares tumbled after a holiday, and Shanghai stocks fell for a second day. Markets in Australia and Hong Kong were closed.West Texas Intermediate crude rebounded to trade above US$44 a barrel. The offshore yuan was little changed after China released new rules promising to treat all companies equally, the latest positive step on the trade and investment front since further U.S. and Chinese tariff hikes were paused.“There’s a lot of uncertainty in the short-term and that makes sense,” Gershon Distenfeld, AllianceBernstein co-head of fixed income, said on Bloomberg TV. “We’re going to have a lot of volatility. But this base case of ‘the world is coming to an end’ just given the fundamental data out there doesn’t make any sense.” Comment Facebook What you need to know about passing the family cottage to the next generation Share this storyU.S. stocks surge in best rally since March 2009 Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn December 26, 20186:14 PM EST Filed under News Sponsored By: Twitter Join the conversation → 0 Comments Jeremy Herron and Vildana Hajric Featured Stories More U.S. stocks surge in best rally since March 2009 The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped more than 1,050 points for its biggest-ever point gain and the Nasdaq 100 rallied 6 per cent
Twitter Recommended For YouCarlos Ghosn sues Nissan-Mitsubishi in the Netherlands -paperAustralian territory gives major status to solar plan by Singapore’s Sun CableIran says UK-flagged tanker was in accident with fishing boat and ‘ignored distress call’Iran says British-flagged tanker was in accident with fishing boatWhite House to host meeting with tech executives on Huawei ban -sources American Apparel shelves L.A. flagship store project However, things could later change More The decision comes at a point in time when many retailers are choosing to focus on e-commerce.Andrew Burton / Getty Images 0 Comments Facebook April 26, 201911:42 AM EDT Filed under News Retail & Marketing American Apparel may not be returning to brick-and-mortar after all — at least not yet.Owner Gildan Activewear Inc. said its plan to open a flagship store in Los Angeles, announced a year ago, has been put on hold as the Montreal-based apparel company focuses on e-commerce and wholesale clients. The store remains “a possibility, just one that we have decided to delay for the time being,” according to spokesman Garry Bell. American Apparel is back with a new bricks-and-mortar store in L.A. American Apparel stages a comeback with a few twists and a Canadian owner American Apparel bankruptcy leaves retail future in doubt, Gildan says not obligated to keep employees Gildan bought the rights to American Apparel — but not the stores, which closed — in a 2017 bankruptcy auction. A year ago, the company said the planned L.A. location would let it gauge trends and complement e-commerce operations. Chief Executive Officer Glenn Chamandy said at the time that Gildan was thinking about franchising the brand or opening more stores.Bell said the company’s primary focus has been expanding its clients base in the “imprintables markets” — the wholesalers who buy blank T-shirts and other items to customize them for sports teams or events. The company has also expanded its e-commerce reach to 220 countries, he said.Bloomberg News Reddit Bloomberg News Share this storyAmerican Apparel shelves L.A. flagship store project Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Email Comment Sandrine Rastello Join the conversation →
The hybrid mode (gas plus battery) is more than 3 seconds quicker, but also a lot louder. We assume that it’s an acceptable level of acceleration for the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid, which is certainly not a sports car.A better result would require higher power than the 135 kW currently provided by the electric motor. We assume Honda will improve the Clarity PHEV in the coming years, thus resulting in a quicker car with even more electric range than its current 47-mile rating. Source: Electric Vehicle News Honda Clarity PHEV It’s not a speed demon by any means, but it performs well enough.Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is currently one of the best-selling PHEV in the U.S., which means that the cars are disappearing from dealers lot relatively quick. In the past three months, the Clarity PHEV outsold all other plug-in hybrids in the U.S., including the popular Toyota Prius Prime.So, obviously, it’s a popular car and one of the often asked questions when it comes to PHEVs is – How does it perform in electric-only mode versus with gas assist?How quick is the acceleration of the Clarity PHEV? Well, it depends on the driving mode – all-electric or hybrid. Here is a video test by AvtoWowEVs:EV mode: 0-60 mph in 12.8 secondsHybrid mode: 0-60 mph in 9.5 seconds Honda Clarity PHEV: KBB To Conduct 1-Year Ownership Review Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on March 9, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle News 2019 Honda Clarity PHEV Promoted In New Walkaround Video Honda Clarity PHEV Outsells Toyota Prius Prime Plug-In Hybrid Again
Source: Charge Forward Damon, a new motorcycle startup from Canada, has rolled out an electric motorcycle prototype showing off the company’s new tech. The company has taken an innovative approach that offers safety and rider-awareness features not yet seen in the electric motorcycle industry. more…Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1zk7Eb8r-s&list=PL_Qf0A10763mA7Byw9ncZqxjke6Gjz0MtThe post New variable geometry electric motorcycle with 360º radar and rear camera appeared first on Electrek.