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Ohio ACA plans could cost more after Trump suspends billions in payments

Published: Thursday, July 12, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

CONTRIBUTED
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CONTRIBUTED(HANDOUT)

An unexpected price hike could be coming for some Ohioans who buy health insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace, following the federal government’s plan to freeze payments to insurers.

Residents will also have less help searching for the right plan after federal funding for enrollment outreach was slashed to $10 million for the 34 states where people buy insurance through the federal government’s Healthcare.gov. Funding was $36 million last year and $62.5 million under the last year the Obama administration managed the fund.

MORE: High health insurance costs squeeze Dayton startups

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Ohio marketplace enrollment  
Sign-ups were slightly down for 2018 open enrollment.   
County20182017
Butler7,3877,806
Champaign627587
Clark1,8692,074
Darke9711,005
Greene3,2273,015
Miami1,9882,162
Montgomery 10,10310,486
Preble767764
Warren 5,7455,359
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services 

While the Trump administration hasn’t repealed and replaced the Affordable Care Act, it has still been chipping away at the insurance markets created by the health law.

“I hate to use the word clever but it’s a clever way to unravel the Affordable Care Act,” said Grant Reed, analyst with McGohan Brabender, a local health benefits firm.

The payments that are being suspended by the Trump administration are part of the so called “risk adjustment” program, which takes payments from insurers with healthier customers and redistributes that money to companies with sicker enrollees. No taxpayer subsidies are involved.

Payments are made retroactively and for 2017 are $10.4 billion.

The idea behind the program is to remove the financial incentives for insurers to “cherry pick” healthier customers. The government uses a similar approach with Medicare private insurance plans and the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Reed said regulations limit insurers ability to charge more to lower their risk, so the loss of these payments could make some of these insurance companies pull back or walk away altogether rather than risk big losses. This especially will be felt by the insurers that sell plans for small groups.

MORE: Higher costs but more options ahead for Ohio ACA insurance

“I think it’s going to make virtually everyone walk away from the exchange in the small group market. You just have too much risk. You can’t do anything to protect yourself,” he said.

As of June, the 2019 rates were estimated to rise an average of 8.2 percent in Ohio. Many people qualify for subsidies that lower the final cost of these plans, but those who make too much to qualify have continued to see premiums soar.

Dayton-based CareSource is waiting for more guidance from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Scott Brockman, CareSource VP of actuarial science, said the insurer’s rates for 2019 coverage have already been filed and doesn’t anticipate any changes in the premiums submitted.

“CareSource has been in the Marketplace since the beginning of the Affordable Care Act, and we remain committed to providing affordable, quality health care coverage to our current membership and consumers who still need coverage,” he said in a statement.

The Ohio Department of Insurance, which approves final premium rates for the marketplace plans, is evaluating what potential impacts there might be for plans sold on the exchange in 2019, said spokesman Chris Brock.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Seema Verma said the Trump administration was disappointed by a New Mexico court ruling that questioned the workings of the risk program for insurers.

MORE: CareSource scrutinized over late payments as new Medicaid work arrives

The administration “has asked the court to reconsider its ruling, and hopes for a prompt resolution that allows (the government) to prevent more adverse impacts on Americans who receive their insurance in the individual and small group markets,” she said.

Unable to totally repeal the law, the White House and the Republican-led Congress have taken a series of steps that make it harder for the ACA to work as intended. Among them:

— Repealing, effective next year, an unpopular requirement that most people carry health insurance, or risk fines. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that will raise premiums by about 10 percent.

— Eliminating another set of payments to insurers, which covered discounts that the companies are required to provide low-income people on their copayments and deductibles.

— Clearing the way for low-cost insurance plans that cover less and may siphon healthier customers away from ACA plans.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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9 members of one family among 17 killed in duck boat accident on lake in Branson, Missouri 

Published: Saturday, July 21, 2018 @ 8:46 AM
Updated: Saturday, July 21, 2018 @ 8:46 AM

9 Members of Same Family Among 17 Killed in Duck Boat Accident

A duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, killed 17 people Thursday night, including the boat’s driver and nine members of an Indiana family, according to authorities. Fourteen other people were injured.

>> Read more trending news 

Update 8:45 a.m. EDT July 21: The Stone County coroner confirmed to KSDK that William Asher, 69, and his girlfriend, Rose Hamann, were among those killed in Thursday night's duck boat accident in Missouri.

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The news station reported that the couple lived in St. Louis County, Missouri. They were visiting Branson to celebrate Hamann’s birthday, which was on Monday, according KSDK.

Todd Dennison’s mother, 64-year-old Leslie Dennison, was also killed in the boat accident, the Kansas City Star reported. In an emotional and brief interview Friday, Todd Dennison told the newspaper that his mother was visiting Branson with his 12-year-old daughter, Alicia, and that they were together for less than an hour before they boarded the duck boat.

He told the Star that while in the hospital on Thursday night, his daughter told him that she could feel her grandmother pushing her upward from below while the boat was sinking.
“She said her grandmother saved her,” Todd Dennison told the Star.

Update 1:30 a.m. EDT July 21: Authorities have identified more victims in the duck boat accident.

Steve Smith and his teenage son, Lance Smith, from Osceola, Arkansas, were among those killed in the crash.

Steve Smith was a pastor and Lance Smith was preparing to open his own church in less than a week, according to CNN, first reported by The Christian Chronicle

Steve Smith’s daughter, Loren Smith, suffered a concussion during the accident but survived.

Smith’s wife, Pam Smith, opted to stay behind and was not on the boat.

William and Janice Bright from Higginsville, Missouri, near Kansas City, were also identified as victims in the crash.

WDAF reports that the couple had three children, 16 grandchildren and had been married for 45 years.

“My great nieces and nephews now have no grandparents,” Karen Abbott, William Bright’s sister, told WDAF.

Update 11:00 p.m. EDT July 20: A summer vacation ended in tragedy for nine members of an Indiana family, along with eight other tourists, killed when a duck boat capsized Thursday evening on a lake in Branson, Missouri.

The Coleman family had traveled to Branson for their annual road trip, according to The New York Times, which interviewed Carolyn Coleman.

Coleman said she lost two of her brothers-in-law and that three generations of the family died in the accident, including four young children, the Times reported.

“We just lost some wonderful people,” she said.

The Indianapolis Star reported that the four children killed in the accident were all under the age of 10.

"They were very loved," Ingrid Coleman Douglas said in a telephone interview with the Star.

Coleman Douglas said the victims included two of her uncles, cousins and their children.

"It’s a huge family on all sides. It’s unimaginable. I would never have thought I would have lost this number of people this way," she said.

Members of the Coleman family.(Gary Coleman)

Coleman Douglas identified the victims as her uncles Horace "Butch" Coleman and Irving Raymond Coleman; Horace Coleman's wife, Belinda Coleman; her cousins, Angela Coleman and Glenn Coleman; Angela's 2-year-old son Maxwell; Glenn's two sons Evan and Reece; and his 1-year-old daughter, Arya.

Glenn's wife, Tia Coleman, and Angela's older son, whose name has not been released, survived the accident, the Star reported.

Update 5:15 p.m. EDT July 20: Stone County authorities now say all 17 of the victims in the duck boat accident have been accounted for and that nine of the victims were from the same family, according to Gov. Mike Parson’s office. Two members of the family, identified by local news outlets as the Coleman family, survived. Officials said the victims range in age from 1 to 70 years old.

 

Meantime, mourners are putting flowers on the victims’ cars in the Ride the Ducks parking lot, and the community of Branson, Missouri, is holding several candlelight vigils Friday night in memory of those killed. 

One of the vigils is scheduled at Table Rock Lake where the accident happened, according to KY3-TV.

 

Update 4:30 p.m. EDT July 20: Family and friends are mourning the staggering loss of life on Table Rock Lake Thursday evening.

One woman lost nine members of her family, USA Today reported, citing Gov. Mike Parson’s office.

 

Update 2:20 p.m. EDT July 20: Branson Mayor Karen Best told The Associated Press that Bob Williams, the man who was driving the Ride the Ducks boat that sunk Thursday in a southwest Missouri lake, was a “great ambassador for Branson” who “was at every event.”

Seventeen people died, including Williams, and 14 others were injured Thursday when the duck boat capsized in Table Rock Lake, according to authorities.

Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said earlier Friday that the boat’s captain survived.

In a statement posted on Facebook, employees of Ride the Ducks Branson said the business would be closed “while we support the investigation, and to allow time to grieve for the families and the community.”

“This incident has deeply affected all of us. Words cannot convey how profoundly our hearts are breaking,” the statement said. “Thank you for your support, and we ask that your thoughts and prayers be with the families during this time.”

Update 11:40 a.m. EDT July 20: Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said Friday morning that authorities recovered four more bodies after a duck boat capsized in southwest Missouri, KSMU reported, bringing the death toll from Thursday’s incident to 17.

 

Rader said 14 people were taken to hospitals after the incident. He said the driver of the Ride the Ducks boat died. The captain survived.

Update 11:20 a.m. EDT July 20: Nearly two decades ago, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a warning about boats with overhead canopies like the one that sank Thursday on Table Rock Lake after a deadly accident claimed 13 lives in Arkansas, according to the Kansas City Star.

 

The Miss Majestic duck boat was carrying 21 passengers when it sank in 1999 in Lake Hamilton, the Star reported. Authorities found seven dead passengers trapped inside the boat when they recovered it, four of which were pinned to the underside of the canopy, according to the Star.

“Contributing to the high loss of life was a continuous canopy roof that entrapped passengers within the sinking vehicle,” NTSB officials said in an accident report.

Authorities continued searching Friday for four people who are presumed dead after Thursday’s accident in southwest Missouri. Officials said 13 other people have been confirmed dead in the incident.

Update 10:25 a.m. EDT July 20: Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said divers are going back in the water Friday in search of four people who remain missing and are presumed dead after Thursday’s duck boat accident on Table Rock Lake.

Rader said the search had shifted to “recovery mode for the bodies that are still missing,” at a news conference Friday morning.

"It's been a long night,” Rader said. “It's been a very trying night.”

 

Rader said the driver of the Ride the Ducks boat died but that the captain survived.

Update 10:05 a.m. EDT July 20: Authorities are expected to provide an update on the investigation into Thursday's deadly duck boat accident in Missouri at a news conference Friday.

Update 9:55 a.m. EDT July 20: President Donald Trump shared sympathies Friday to the families and friends of the people involved in Thursday’s deadly duck boat accident in southwest Missouri.

“Such a tragedy, such a great loss,” the president wrote Friday in a tweet. “May God be with you all!”

 

Update 8:15 a.m. EDT July 20: Officials with the State Highway Patrol said Friday that two more bodies have been found after Thursday’s duck boat accident in southwest Missouri, bringing the death toll to 13.

 >> On AJC.com: Bahamas boating tragedy brings vacation safety to the forefront

State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason Pace said four other people remained missing.

 

Original report: Stone County Sheriff Doug Rader said 14 people were taken to hospitals after the incident. Seven were being treated early Friday, he said.

The boat capsized after a strong line of thunderstorms moved through the area around 7 p.m. Thursday. Rader said weather “was a factor” in the incident.

Authorities said the boat had 31 people on board, including children, when it capsized. 

The boat had life jackets on board, according to CNN. The news network reported that other boats on the water docked before the bad weather hit.

 
Emergency responders work at Table Rock Lake after a deadly boat accident in Branson, Missouri. Officials said a tourist boat has apparently capsized on the lake. At least 8 people are confirmed dead.(Nathan Papes/AP)

The National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team to investigate and are asking anyone who witnessed the accident to come forward.

A dive team and rescue officials worked through the night to find survivors.

They ended the search around 11 p.m., according to KY3.

Rescue crews work at the scene of a deadly boat accident at Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo., Thursday, July 19, 2018.(Andrew Jansen/AP)

Emergency responders set up a staging area overnight on the lakeshore near the Showboat Branson Belle, local media reported, although the Belle was not involved in the accident.

Branson officials opened an emergency shelter inside city hall for the victims.

National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Linderberg said a top wind speed of 63 mph was measured around 7 p.m. Thursday at Branson Airport. 

“There’s nothing to slow down winds in an open area,” he said.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is watching the developments.

 

DUKW, known as duck boats, are six-wheel-drive amphibious vehicles that were used by the U.S. military during World War II and the Korean War. 

Since then, duck boat tours have become popular and are offered on lakes and rivers around the United States, including Missouri, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Alabama.

 

Ripley Entertainment acquired the Ride The Ducks in Branson in late 2017 from Ride the Ducks International, a subsidiary of Norcross, Georgia-based Herschend Family Entertainment Corp.

Ride the Ducks International manufactures amphibious vehicles and licenses them for tours at affiliates. It also operates duck tours at Stone Mountain Park in Georgia. The company formerly operated tours in several other cities, including Baltimore, San Francisco and Philadelphia. But in recent years it ended operations following deadly accidents. 

In 2015, a Ride the Ducks tour bus collided with a charter bus carrying student on the Aurora bridge in Seattle.

Five students were killed and several others injured.

A charter bus, left, and an amphibious Ride the Ducks tour vehicle collided on the Aurora Bridge in downtown Seattle on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015.(Elaine Thompson, AP)

The Associated Press and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.

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Part of road closes after car crash in Beavercreek

Published: Saturday, July 21, 2018 @ 4:00 PM
Updated: Saturday, July 21, 2018 @ 4:12 PM

UPDATE @4:08 p.m.The middle lane is now open in the 3300 block of Pentagon Boulevard after a two-vehicle accident in Beavercreek.

A Dayton man called in a bomb threat so he wouldn’t miss a flight. Now he’s going to prison.

The right lane and left turn lane remain closed at the intersection of Pentagon Boulevard and the entrance to The Mall at Fairfield Commons.

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Police on scene were unable to tell us what caused the crash.

FIRST REPORT:

A part of Pentagon Boulevard is closed after a vehicle crash in Beavercreek Saturday, according to Beavercreek dispatchers.

Emergency crews were called to the scene in the 3300 block of Pentagon Boulevard around 3: 40 p.m. 

Initial reports indicate that at least two vehicles were involved and two people were transported to a hospital.

We are working to learn more and will update this page as information becomes available.

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Historic, beloved Hamilton tree becoming a public sculpture

Published: Saturday, July 21, 2018 @ 10:00 AM
Updated: Saturday, July 21, 2018 @ 11:52 AM

The base of an oak tree, which once stood between the Fitton Center and the Hamilton Monument on Monument Avenue, is being carved into a sculptural bench.
MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF
The base of an oak tree, which once stood between the Fitton Center and the Hamilton Monument on Monument Avenue, is being carved into a sculptural bench.(MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF)

The ancient Northern Red Oak that stood until last July near the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers monument in Hamilton along the Great Miami River will be more than a memory: It’s being carved into a sculpture with a bench that will stand at the same site.

The oak was cut down last July after a large limb fell from it, leaving tree experts to conclude it was beyond saving and a potential safety risk on the public site.

RELATED: Tree, one of Hamilton’s oldest, removed over safety concerns

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The tree was so popular with people that Steve Timmer, director of the Hamilton Parks Conservancy, which maintains parks and public areas, at the time said parks officials were looking for ways to “recycle” the tree’s 61-inch-diameter base into benches or something else.

This oak tree, which stood between the Fitton Center and the Hamilton Monument on Monument Avenue, was cut down last July because it was unstable. Its base is being carved into a sculptural bench. (CONTRIBUTED)

In recent weeks, Jonathon Michaels, the owner and sculptor at Organic Art in Forest Park, has been transforming the tree’s remains into a two-sided bench, each able to seat about three adults, with sculptures of trees and waves.

The sculpture is dedicated to Fort Hamilton, which once stood on the site, and the tree itself, said Michaels, who noted one side of the back-rest will depict a tree with its roots, with another side representing a large wave with smaller rapids. Leaves and roots will wrap around the bottom part of the bench, with the waves on the other.

“I’ve been told it’s one of the oldest trees in Hamilton, and there’s a lot of special things with that tree,” Michaels said. “They wanted to incorporate that, and the river, also, so they did this, a yin-and-yang kind-of thing. So it’ll be a double-sided bench.”

MORE: Why is an arborist cutting down trees? So Hamilton’s power stays on

Workers started on the project July 10, and will be using chainsaws and other tools during evenings in coming days. Work should end this week, depending on the weather. Helping are Brady Lantz, owner of Artic Diamond, and apprentice Jerry Neeves.

The base of an oak tree, which once stood between the Fitton Center and the Hamilton Monument on Monument Avenue, is being carved into a sculptural bench.(MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF)

The City of Sculpture program is funding the project with community contributions.

Michaels is also known in this area because he’s the lead sculptor of Artic Diamond Ice Sculptures, which carves ice sculptures during Hamilton’s Ice Fest.

After the carving, the wood will be stained and burned to add shadows, depth and character. It then will be treated with a mix of a water-based polyurethane and an inhibitor that repels insects. Every five years after that, someone will have to power-wash the sculpture and again coat it with the protectant.

“It can last forever, for a long time,” with that treatment, Michaels said. “It’s definitely a permanent art.”

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Study: Doctors give patients only seconds to explain reason for visit before interrupting

Published: Saturday, July 21, 2018 @ 3:48 PM



Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Have you ever felt rushed during a doctor’s visit? Most physicians don’t give their patients adequate time to explain the reason for their visit, according to a new study. 

>> Read more trending news

Researchers from the University of Florida, Gainesville, recently conducted a study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, to explore clinical encounters between doctors and their patients.

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To do so, they assessed the initial few minutes of consultations between 112 patients and their medical practitioners between 2008 and 2015. The encounters they reviewed were videotaped in various clinics in the United States.

>> Heart attack sufferers more likely to survive if doctor is away, study says

The scientists observed whether doctors invited patients to set the agenda with questions such as “What can I do for you?” They also took notes on whether patients were interrupted while answering questions and in what manner.

After analyzing the results, they found that 36 percent of patients were able to set the agenda. However, they were interrupted 11 seconds on average after beginning their statements. Those who were not interrupted finished speaking after about six seconds. 

>> Medical errors kill almost as many as heart disease, doctors say

They said primary care doctors allowed more time than specialists as specialists generally know the purpose of a visit. 

“If done respectfully and with the patient’s best interest in mind, interruptions to the patient’s discourse may clarify or focus the conversation, and thus benefit patients,” co-author Singh Ospina said in a statement. “Yet, it seems rather unlikely that an interruption, even to clarify or focus, could be beneficial at the early stage in the encounter.”

>> Doctor burnout can cause major medical errors, study finds

While they are unclear why doctors don’t allow patients to speak longer, they believe time constraints, not enough training on how to communicate with patients and burnout may be factors. 

The scientists now hope to further explore their investigations on the ultimate experience of doctor visits and the outcomes. 

“Our results suggest that we are far from achieving patient-centered care,” she says. 

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