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Rural News

Report: Privatized Medicaid program serves fewer people, costs more

Houston Chronicle | Posted on February 14, 2017

The privatization of a state program that transports poor Texans to medical appointments has cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars more while serving fewer than half as many people, according to a Legislative Budget Board report that some officials tried to withhold from the public. In the five years since Texas began privatizing the management of the Medical Transportation Program, the number of Medicaid recipients using the program has dropped from 350,000 to 150,000, the number of substantiated complaints has doubled, administrative costs have quadruped and the overall per-ride cost to the public has nearly tripled, the report authors found. The privatization effort was designed to reduce fraud, and anti-fraud measures may have caused some of the drop in users. Still, the budget board found, privatization has left out thousands of people and cost taxpayers an estimated $316 million more than would have been spent if the state still was running the program.

New study helps explain how garbage patches form in the world's oceans

Science Daily | Posted on February 14, 2017

A new study on how ocean currents transport floating marine debris is helping to explain how garbage patches form in the world's oceans. Researchers developed a mathematical model that simulates the motion of small spherical objects floating at the ocean surface.

No link between immigration and increased crime, four decades of evidence finds

Science Daily | Posted on February 12, 2017

Political discussions about immigrants often include the claim that there is a relationship between immigration patterns and increased crime. However, results of a new study find no links between the two. In fact, immigration actually appears to be linked to reductions in some types of crimes, according to the findings.

Who owns Texas water?

The Eagle | Posted on February 11, 2017

As Texas population continues to increase, so will demands for water. The answer to the question of who owns Texas water will continue as a point of argument.  Water availability has become such a critical issue that many statewide meetings, legislation and court cases revolve around the subject. A recent state-wide conference, devoted to water, was the Texas Section Society of Range Management annual meeting held in Uvalde. The opening remarks presented by Charles Porter addressed the question of water ownership.  Porter suggested looking at three geological water containers – natural surface, diffused surface and groundwater – to determine ownership. Each container has different ownership and regulations. Porter is an author, speaker, fulltime visiting professor at St. Edward’s University, and a water rights and real estate expert nationwide.  

Texas Water Wars: Texas v. New Mexico

Texas Ag Law | Posted on February 11, 2017

In February 2013, Texas filed suit against New Mexico and Colorado in the United States Supreme Court in a battle concerning the Compact.   Although Texas sued both New Mexico and Colorado, it appears that Colorado was named only because they are party to the treaty at issue.  All of Texas’ claims are based upon alleged wrongful conduct by and in New Mexico. It may seem strange that the lawsuit was actually filed in (as opposed to being appealed to) the United States Supreme Court.  The reason for this is that the United States Constitution provides original jurisdiction to the Supreme Court for all disputes between states.  In this instance, a state must file a motion seeking permission to file the complaint and a brief explaining why the Court should hear the case.  So now that the motion has been filed, the Court will decide whether to hear the case.  In making that decision, the Court considers three factors:  (1) whether the dispute is truly between states (as opposed to disputes between state agencies or private claims); (2) the seriousness of the dispute–specifically looking at whether this type of conflict would lead to war between sovereign nations; and (3) whether an alternative forum is available to decide the dispute.

Maine veterinarians newest members in fighting opiate abuse

Bangor Daily News | Posted on February 11, 2017

Thanks to a new law that went into effect at the start of the year, whenever Dr. Amanda Bisol, owner of The Animal Medical Clinic in Skowhegan, writes an opiate-type painkiller prescription for one of her patients, she has to first run a background check on its owner. Public Law Chapter 488: An Act to Prevent Opiate Abuse by Strengthening the Controlled Substance Prescription Monitoring Program was signed by Gov. Paul LePage in 2016 and went into effect Jan. 1. In addition to establishing limits on the amount and dosage of specific painkilling drugs can be prescribed by medical professionals, the law also required all prescribers check the state’s prescription monitoring program before writing any prescription for opiate or benzodiazepine drugs.

Republicans fast-track school-voucher bill in Arizona Legislature

Arizona Central | Posted on February 11, 2017

Republican lawmakers in the Arizona Legislature are attempting to fast-track a plan to eventually offer vouchers to every public-school student and, in separate legislation, privatize oversight of the public money given to parents to pay private-school tuition and other expenses. The Legislature is training its sights on the plan to broaden eligibility for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, a school-choice program created six years ago for disabled children. Under the legislation, all of Arizona's 1.1 million students would be eligible for the program by 2020.  SAs allow families to use public-school dollars on private-school tuition and other educational expenses. ESAs would be offered to four grades in 2017-18 and incrementally to all public-school students by 2020-21.

Creating bright futures for Maine’s rural economies relies on collaboration of ideas

Bangor Daily News | Posted on February 11, 2017

Communities throughout rural Maine are up against no shortage of challenges. Facing geographic isolation, aging and declining populations, paired with the loss of traditional manufacturing or mill jobs, it can be easy to feel pessimistic about the prospects of the state’s rural backbone.But pessimism was not the mood that filled a Cross Insurance Center conference room Friday, as a daylong discussion about the future of Maine’s rural economy stoked hope and advocated for a collaborative approach to revitalizing these rural communities. “What makes us Mainers is our collectivism,” Vaughan Woodruff, owner of Insource Renewables, said. “Our future is bright, and I just want to say to everyone in rural Maine, we’ve got this. We’ve got this.”

Dam break near Nevada-Utah border | Posted on February 10, 2017

The National Weather Service says a dam has failed in northern Nevada, causing flash floods and life-threatening situations for residents near the Utah border. The weather service stated there were reports of at least 2 to 3 feet of water rapidly moving downstream Wednesday night. The Elko Daily Free Press reports the depth of water may increase as the dam continues to fail. The National Weather Service in Elko has extended the flash-flood warning. Significant flash flooding was reported in Montello and authorities have closed State Route 233.

What’s Driving Population Declines in More States?

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on February 9, 2017

Eight states lost population between 2015 and 2016, and 12 others recorded their lowest population increase of the decade, as economic woes and lower birth rates hit some states harder than others.  Connecticut, Illinois, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming lost population. The last time so many states registered a drop in population was from 1986 to 1987, when oil prices collapsed. Twelve Western and Southern states, along with the District of Columbia, lost population then.  Meanwhile, Alabama, California, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Virginia saw anemic growth of between 0.02 and 0.66 percent in the number of people living inside their borders. That’s less than the nation’s increase in population of 0.7 percent and the lowest growth those states had experienced since 2010.