Concerns about integrity of public healthcare system prompt audits in BC

first_imgOTTAWA – With the blessing of the federal government, British Columbia is putting three health clinics under the financial microscope amid long-standing concerns about overbilling and the integrity of the country’s public health-care system.Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott said her department reached an agreement with B.C. to audit the three clinics in hopes of rooting out the practice of extra-billing for medically necessary care, a violation of the Canada Health Act.“The audit will determine the extent to which extra-billing and user fees have been a barrier to accessible care for people in British Columbia,” Philpott said in a statement Thursday.Philpott’s newly appointed B.C. counterpart, former NDP leader Adrian Dix, said he strongly supports the audit agreement, which was negotiated under the province’s previous Liberal government.“We have to act to ensure that access to medical care in B.C. is based on need and not on an individual’s ability to pay,” Dix said in an interview with The Canadian Press.“That is the reason the law exists and that is something that has been fundamental to Canada’s health-care system for a long time and is something we strongly support.”Health Canada and the province decided to proceed with the audits in March, he said, noting that a considerable amount of planning has flowed from that decision.“The results of the audit may have consequences … but the audits haven’t been completed yet so commenting on conclusions that haven’t been drawn would be incorrect and unfair,” he said. “We are not assuming the results of the audits.”The Canada Health Act, which imposes conditions on the provinces and territories in exchange for health care funding, prohibits so-called extra billing or user charges for services that are deemed medically necessary.Once extra-billing or user charges are confirmed, a dollar-for-dollar deduction from that region’s federal health transfer payment is required.Some $204,145 was deducted from B.C.’s March 2016 transfer payments as a result of extra-billing and user charges for insured health services that were levied at private clinics in the 2013-14 fiscal year.Extra-billing occurs when a medical practitioner charges an insured patient who receives a covered health service an additional sum over and above what is paid for by a provincial or territorial insurance plan.Questions about the public health-care system in B.C. have also been raised in a high-profile court case involving Dr. Brian Day of the Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver.In the lawsuit, launched in 2010, Day is challenging B.C.’s ban on the purchase of private insurance for medically necessary services covered by the public system, arguing it forces patients to endure long wait times that can exacerbate their health problems.The federal government is also engaged in the Cambie case, which it believes could have important implications for public health care across Canada.Dix said “some of the principles” being defended by the government in the case are similar to the questions at play in the audits.“It is what the Medical Services Commission in B.C. and the ministry of health are defending in that case,” he said.Philpott, meanwhile, has also warned other provincial counterparts about extra-billing and user fees, noting Ottawa will not tolerate the practice.She has applauded Quebec for its decision in January to ban user fees, and she has also been in discussions with Saskatchewan officials about upholding the Canada Health Act.And she has been pushing back against a Saskatchewan law that allows private MRI scans if they are ordered by a doctor and if the private clinic does a second scan to someone on the public wait list at no charge.Allowing people to pay for private scans contravenes the act, Philpott insists.—Follow @kkirkup on Twitterlast_img read more

Helmet maker vows fight against Hernandez concussion lawsuit

first_imgDEDHAM, Mass. – Football helmet maker Riddell says it intends to vigorously defend its products and its reputation against concussion-related lawsuits like one lawyers for late New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez have filed in Massachusetts against it and the NFL.Des Plaines (dehz playnz), Illinois-based Riddell says it introduced helmets designed to mitigate concussion risks more than 15 years ago.Hernandez’s attorneys filed a federal lawsuit last month after Hernandez killed himself in prison and an autopsy revealed he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (ehn-sehf-uh-LAH’-puh-thee), a brain disease found in people who’ve suffered repetitive brain trauma such as concussions.The lawsuit was refiled Monday. It accuses the NFL of hiding the dangers of football and names Riddell. It seeks damages for Hernandez’s daughter.The NFL hasn’t responded to emails seeking comment.The Patriots have been removed from the new lawsuit.___This story has been corrected to show that Riddell is based in Des Plaines, Illinois, not Elyria, Ohio.last_img read more

US home building slides 37 per cent in April

first_imgWASHINGTON – U.S. builders broke ground on fewer apartment buildings last month, pushing overall home construction down 3.7 per cent from March.The Commerce Department said Wednesday that housing starts fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.29 million in April, lowest since December. Apartment construction tumbled 12.6 per cent to 374,000. Construction of single-family homes blipped up 0.1 per cent to 894,000.Still, housing starts are up 10.5 per cent from April 2017 on a 7.2 per cent increase in single-family homes, and a 19.1 per cent surge in apartments.Home construction has grown steadily since the housing crash hit bottom in 2012. The pace of homebuilding is still below its long-run average of about 1.5 million a year, which has led to a shortage of homes on the market. Home builders are struggling with higher prices for lumber and other building materials and a shortage of skilled labourers.A healthy job market is giving Americans the confidence to shop for houses. Millennials are increasingly moving out on their own to buy their own homesDemand for housing is strong despite an uptick in mortgage rates: The rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate home loan is 4.55 per cent, up from 4.05 per cent a year ago.“We expect housing starts to continue to gain ground through 2018, supported by positive fundamentals such as low unemployment and healthy wage increases, which are expected to offset higher mortgage rates,” Leslie Preston, senior economist at TD Economics, wrote in a research note. “At the same time, tight inventories and rising prices will continue to support homebuilding.”In April, housing starts fell 16.3 per cent in the Midwest, 12 per cent in the West and 8.1 per cent in the Northeast. They rose 6.4 per cent in the South.Building permits, an indicator of future construction, fell 1.8 per cent in April to a seasonally adjusted 1.35 million.last_img read more

Elon Musk proposes Los Angeles tunnel to Dodger Stadium

first_imgLOS ANGELES, Calif. – Traffic-weary baseball fans could someday travel to and from Dodger Stadium on a public transportation system underneath Los Angeles — if Elon Musk’s latest bold plan comes to fruition.The billionaire’s Boring Company tweeted a proposal Wednesday for autonomous, zero-emissions electric sleds that would run through a tunnel between the stadium and a location in the city’s Hollywood area.The company says the so-called Dugout Loop system would be privately funded and not require tax money.Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted that it’s exciting to see innovative ideas aimed at reducing traffic on LA roads.A proposal to build a gondola from Union Station to Dodger Stadium was announced in April.Musk is currently building a test tunnel from his SpaceX rocket plant to a point near Los Angeles International Airport.last_img read more

SP declares candidate on Ghaziabad Lok Sabha seat

first_imgGhaziabad: The Samajwadi Party (SP) on Friday declared the name of its candidate on Ghaziabad Lok Sabha seat. Party officials informed that the name announced is one among the 16 candidates declared by the Samajwadi party on various Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh. As per reports, the list released by the Samajwadi Party, which is contesting the Lok Sabha polls in alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party of Mayawati, named Senior leader Surendra Kumar alias Munni Sharma as their candidate from Ghaziabad. Also Read – Gurdwara Bangla Sahib bans single use plasticSharma, a native of Muradnagar area is Samajwadi Party’s district president from Ghaziabad. The residents of Ghaziabad had been demanding for a local candidate to be elected as member of parliament from the district. With Sharma’s name in the list, the other competent political parties might get a tuff competition. Meanwhile, the Bhartiya Janta Party and Congress party are yet to declare their candidate from Ghaziabad. The SP-BSP alliance had kept the Ghaziabad Lok Sabha seat for Samajwadi Party.last_img read more

Rahul rakes up Rafale deal corruption in Amethi

first_imgAmethi (UP): Raking up his often-repeated poll theme of alleged corruption in the Rafale deal, Congress president Rahul Gandhi Monday exhorted people to ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi what he got in return for benefiting Anil Ambani with Rs 30,000 crore in the fighter jet deal. Mocking at the prime minister’s “main bhi chowkidaar campaign” he said, “When his (Modi’s) theft was caught in the Rafale deal, he says ‘hum sab chowkidar hain.” Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsAddressing an election rally in his parliamentary constituency here, Rahul said, “When the prime minister comes and makes false claims, just ask him why he gave Rs 30,000 crores to Ambani and what Ambani did for him in return.” Addressing the rally in Tiloi area here, Rahul Gandhi said, “Soon after the Congress comes to power after the Lok Sabha elections, an inquiry would be instituted in the Rafale deal and the truth will be before everyone.” Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday “What the former former (French) President Francois Hollande said and what is in the French defence files will come out. Only two persons’ names will come out – first Anil Ambani and second Narendra Modi,” he said. He asked the audience if anyone has seen a “chowkidar” before the house of a farmer or a labourer, Gandhi said for some time now, every farmer has been forced to do ‘chowkidari’ of his agriculture field. In Amethi, Rahul Gandhi is pitted against Union Minister Smriti Irani, who, in a rally in the constituency on Sunday, urged voters to bid farewell to their “missing MP” in this election. The voting for Amethi is scheduled to be held on May 6 in the fifth phase of elections. Dwelling on the Congress poll promise of NYAY – the Nyuntam Aay Yojna or the minimum income scheme which envisages a grant of Rs 6,000 a month to 20 percent of the poorest people in the country, he said there was a thinking behind it. “Prime Minister imposed Gabbar Singh Tax (GST) and the money that was taken from your pocket went to those thieves abroad. The moment money went out of your pocket, you stopped purchasing and the factories closed down leading to unemployment,” he said. “Twenty-seven thousand youths lose their jobs every 24 hours,” he claimed, adding “this is the work of the chowkidar”. Talking of the Congress’ promise to create employment opportunities in the country, if voted to power, Rahul Gandhi, went on to say that after 2019, 33 per cent women will be seen in the legislature and also in government jobs. He made the statement apparently in passing without making any specific promise to bring in the Women Reservation Bill in parliament, if voted to power, to reserve 33 percent of legislatures’ seats for women. He also promised to make recruitment on 22 lakh vacant posts in government, adding that 10 lakh youths will get jobs in Panchayats. Recalling his family ties with Amethi, he said on coming to power, the Congress will see to it that all the people harassed here in the past five years are compensated. Addressing another election meeting in Barabanki earlier he said on coming to power, the Congress will take “historic decisions for farmers” and bring out a separate budget for them. Campaigning for party candidate Tanuj Punia, he alleged Modi has run a government which “helped just 15 people” in the past five years and took a sudden decision on demonetisation and made the entire country stand in queues.last_img read more

Workshop on conservation of red pandas

first_imgDarjeeling: A step by step approach has been adopted for the conservation of red pandas. Reintroducing zoo bred pandas in the wild is the main objective of this. As a step in this direction a workshop titled “Red Panda Global Species Management Plan was flagged off in Darjeeling.”We are working towards releasing four captive-bred red pandas in the Singhalila National Park in September or October this year,” said Vinod Kumar Yadav, member secretary, West Bengal Zoo Authority and Additional Principal Conservator of Forests, Government of West Bengal. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaPreparations are on for this. “We have already submitted plans for this to the Government of India. Genetic studies; DNA finger printing, habitat evaluation, including satellite mapping, drone images are being combined for this project,” said Yadav. The red pandas will first be released in a special enclosure in Gairibas following which they will be released in the wild. “The conservation programme is a step by step approach. Last year we had a national level workshop involving the Central Zoo Authority and the states like West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarkhand. The national workshop paved way to this four-day long global programme which is now being held in Darjeeling. After we successfully introduce red pandas in the Singhalila National Park our next goal will be to introduce them in Neora Valley. This is how we plan to augment the panda population in the wild,” added Yadav. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayA 17 crore programme for 10 years named Special Survival Plan is underway. The expansion of the special breeding facility at Tobgaydanra, Darjeeling is also covered under this programme. In order to introduce fresh blood lines in the captive breeding programme in the Darjeeling zoo, red pandas will be brought in from foreign countries including Australia. The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (PNHZP) popular as the Darjeeling Zoo, is the coordinating zoo for the red panda breeding programme (Project Red Panda) in India. The project was initiated in 1990. At present there are 13 female and 8 male red pandas. In 1999, a pair of zoo bred red pandas — Minnie and Sweetie — were released in the forests of Gairibans below Sandakphu. Again in September 2004 another pair Neelam and Dolma were released in the wild in September 2004. Later Sweetie was found to have given birth to a cub in the hollow of an oak tree, thereby bringing the Project Red Panda to a full circle. A red panda census had been launched in 2018. “The census is being conducted in two parts. We have physically identified the red pandas individually, found their nests. In the other part genetic analysis is being done from the scat of red pandas. In this way we will come out with the red panda population” stated Ravi kant Sinha, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife.) Representatives including experts from USA, Holland, Australia, Hungary, Singapore and Nepal are attending the 4 day long conference in Darjeeling.last_img read more

Electronic tongue can taste spicy foods more accurately than humans

first_imgWashington: Scientists have developed an electronic tongue that can ‘taste’ spicy foods more accurately than humans. Spicy food wears out taste buds quickly. This can be a problem for people who make and sell spicy food. “At low concentrations, or low spiciness, it’s hard to discriminate between two samples,” said Courtney Schlossareck, a graduate student at Washington State University in the US. “It’s also hard to tell a difference between two samples at high concentrations,” said Schlossareck. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince Salman ‘snubbed’ Pak PM Imran, recalled his private jet from US: ReportThe e-tongue’s ability to differentiate between the spiciness of foods could come in handy for industry, according to a study published in the Journal of Food Science. A problem with testing spicy foods is that people can only test a few samples before their taste buds give out. After a few bites, taste buds can not distinguish differences in taste at all. However, the e-tongue can handle as much heat as any scientist can throw at it and maintain accuracy. “This would allow testers to narrow a selection down to two or three samples for a human tasting panel if they start from 20 different formulations,” Schlossareck said. “That would take days to do with people tasting them,” she said. That is because real people need to wait at least five minutes between samples. Even then, only a few samples can be tested because the spiciness lingers and can throw off results, she said.last_img read more

Pellegrini forsees a bright future for Rice

first_imgManuel Pellegrini is confident that youngster Declan Rice will have a bright future after he netted his first goal for West Ham.Rice who turns 20 on Monday, has mustered 50 first team appearances for the Hammers and bagged the winning goal against Arsenal.The youngster extended his deal through to 2024 and revealed that he will make a call on his international future soon after meetings with Gareth Southgate and his Republic of Ireland counterpart Mick McCarthy.“I am sure that Declan will be a top player,” Pellegrini disclosed via the Evening Standard.Mason MountRice tips Mount for greater things Taimoor Khan – September 11, 2019 Declan Rice says that Mason Mount is going to match the exploits of Frank Lampard when he was in his prime during his playing…“He is improving in every game that he plays and is now more used to give us a good build up in front and not so many passes that before he played back.“He is very strong in aerial duels, strong in 1v1 and has a good technique which he demonstrated today in the goal he scored so I am sure that we are seeing a top player soon.“Not only for West Ham but also for the national squad he decides to play.”last_img read more

Crews Respond To Funny River Controlled Structure Fire

first_imgHowie Kent with the Division of Forestry: “The wildland part of it originated from the structure that was burned and it spread into the wildland towards some trees, and we had response from helitack and a couple of engines. We caught the fire at 2/10 of an acre, so just under a quarter of an acre.”  Facebook0TwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享The Division of Forestry and Central Emergency Services responded to a ‘controlled’ structure fire that spread into wildland area around mile 17 on Funny River Road, on Saturday, June 2. Kent: “An individual thought it was under the general burn permit, but that was not the case. Any kind of burning like that requires Department of Environmental Conservation permitting, which we do not do.”  A burn ban was instituted Sunday morning for the entire Kenai Peninsula due to increased winds and high fire danger. The ban has been temporarily lifted as of this afternoon.center_img An individual was burning a 30ft x 40ft structure that was not covered by a general burn permit. According to Kent, the fire had the potential to be much worse if crews had not responded as quickly as they did.last_img read more