If you’ve ever gone to a high-end arcade, there’s a decent chance you’ve played within a ‘game pod’ — that is, an enclosed booth with a semi-spherical screen that surrounds the player’s vision. These are often used for things like fighter jet games, mech battles, and similar, but they could also be used as an immersive way to watch video. While those game pods are usually low-resolution, this new technology is quite the opposite. A new type of virtual reality experience doesn’t require users to wear a VR headset. The system was created by researchers in Japan who replaced the headset with a large semi-spherical display, one that is coupled with a mechanical chair that physically moves the viewer in sync with the imagery. The technology has been demonstrated with a new ‘8K:VR Ride’ video that is something like a theme park ride. As the ride’s name suggests, the technology utilizes an 8K super-high-definition 4K display, which itself is inside of a theater where it measures 17ft across and about 11ft in height. Joining it is a seat connected to machinery that moves the viewers into the air, tips them forward and back, and slants them at angles to match whatever they’re watching.In the case of this ride, viewers appear to be shot into the air quickly, where they then fly over a city, at one point zooming downward at the landscape rapidly. The seat moves in sync with these visual movements, tipping the viewers forward or back to add to the realistic sensations. Because the screen fully engulfs the viewers’ vision, it is easy to become immersed in the environment.The system was developed by Wonder Vision alongside NHK Enterprises, NHK Media Technology, and RecoChoku Labs. The technology will be demonstrated this upcoming October at the Digital Content Expo 2017 in Japan, though it was already showcased at SXSW this year. Plans for the technology aren’t clear, but it is easy to see how it could be utilized by theaters and theme parks, among others.SOURCE: Phys.orgImage via The Japan Times
The Galaxy Note 8 is here at long last and it was everything we heard it would be and then some. There is quite a bit of fuss being made over its $1,000 price tag, at least before the iPhone 8 hits that price point as well next month. That said, there might be some things going for Samsung’s latest phablet that could make that four-digit price worth its salt. Here are eight of them. The S PenAside from the dual cameras, which we’ll get to later, the S Pen is really the only reason you’ll even consider shelling out $1,000 for a smartphone. Naturally, this is also where Samsung has devoted much, though not all, of its attention. If you’ve experienced the Galaxy Note 7 first hand, you’ll be familiar with many of the features you’ll meet in the Galaxy Note 8, albeit with some added perks. For example, it has the same 4,096 levels of pressure, but now matches the color of the phone it comes with. Translation has leveled up to process whole sentences and there’s a new Live Message feature that turns your scribbles into animated shorts. And that’s on top of the general productivity and creativity that a built-in stylus offers.All in all, the S Pen makes a significant improvement over the Galaxy Note 5 even if it’s only an incremental step forward from the Galaxy Note 7. We don’t speak of that phone anymore, anyway.IP68 even without the S PenAnother example of an incremental improvement is waterproofing. The Galaxy Note 7 was already IP68 rated and its S Pen was similarly waterproof. The problem was that the phone alone wasn’t completely protected without the stylus tucked inside. Samsung has finally fixed that seemingly ridiculous limitation which, in truth, is a bit harder to pull off. It’s hard to keep the water out if you intentionally leave a gaping hole.So the Galaxy Note 8 is now IP68 water proof, even without the S Pen inside. More than just bragging rights, this means that users can have more confidence and peace of mind to use the Galaxy Note 8, S Pen and all, in whatever condition they find themselves in. Inspiration sometime comes at the most unexpected moments and places, and your Galaxy Note 8 will always be ready to capture it.Screen Off MemoProductivity gurus often advise against using phones for jotting down ideas or information quickly because of the time it takes for you to take out your phone, unlock it, launch the right app, and begin typing. The improved Screen Off Memo flies in the face of such conventional wisdom.You basically have the digital equivalent of a 100-page notepad at your fingertips with the Galaxy Note 8, completely editable and reusable. It takes the same amount of time to start scribbling on the screen as taking out a notepad and pulling out a pen. It might actually be faster since you don’t have to flip to the next blank page. And unlike a physical notebook, you can always keep a memo on top. This is a productivity junkie’s must have device.Two apps are better than oneSamsung has been doing split screen multitasking for years now but, thanks to Android 7.0 Nougat, that features has been brought into the limelight. While stock Android tries to catch up with what Galaxy Note owners have been enjoying for quite a while now, Samsung has added another feature to spice things up: App Pairs.Truth be told, you can survive even without this feature, but productivity is about being efficient and spending less time on mundane tasks. If you find yourself often launching apps only to split them in specific pairs, then App Pairs is going to be a huge timesaver.Large Infinity DisplayIt’s almost too easy to dismiss the Galaxy Note 8’s screen since we’ve seen it before. It is practically a slightly larger and flatter Galaxy S8+ screen. But those two differences, even if subtle, have significant implications for the Galaxy Note 8 beyond its entertainment value.A larger screen means you also have more room to draw and write. That’s the same reason why Samsung made the edge’s curve sharper than that on the Galaxy S8+. The curve drops further towards the edge, which not only leaves more room but also helps prevent the S Pen from sliding over the edge too easily.OIS on both lensesSamsung is admittedly late to the dual camera party but it arrived with guns blazing. Putting optical image stabilization on both telephoto and wide-angle cameras, while keeping the entire structure as compacts as it can be, is no small feat. And yet it is also one of the most desired feature among smartphones with high quality dual cameras. Even better, the OIS works for both stills and videos. No users no longer have to make an upfront decision, which could take time and cause stress, which camera to use or to worry that their video will turn out to be rather shaky.Telephoto *and* wide-angle simultaneouslyPart of not having to make users choose when they just want to capture the moment is not having to decide which of the two cameras to use in the first place. Sometimes you want to capture the whole surrounding but also want to focus on a specific subject. Sometimes you also want to change your mind. For once in a lifetime moment, you don’t get a second chance. Fortunately, the Galaxy Note 8 save you from having to make that choice in the moment. Sure, it’s limited to the certain camera modes, but, that’s the mode most will use anyway. Plenty of RAMAlthough Samsung has long boasted of its capability of producing RAM modules that could amount to 6 GB in total, it never actually used that much in any of its smartphones. Until now that is. There’s still some debate on whether smartphones really need 6 GB, much less 8 GB, of RAM and, truth be told, mobile platforms should be optimized enough that they should run flawlessly with just 4 GB.But 6 GB of RAM plays a special role in the Galaxy Note 8 specifically. It will be useful for making DeX work as if it were really a desktop computer. DeX gives the illusion of running a regular desktop and users are more likely to tax their smartphones beyond their usual capacities. Having enough wiggle room with 6 GB RAM is definitely a s must and it’s a bit disappointing that the Galaxy S8 or even the Galaxy S8+ didn’t have as much.Wrap-upSamsung is, as always, billing the Galaxy Note 8 as a phone for those who want to do more, be it watching more videos, creating more art, or being more productive. In that respect, the Galaxy Note 8 does seem fit for the job. It’s far from perfect, of course. There are still a few kinks that Samsung needs to iron out, like Bixby and DeX. And the price tag, is going to loom over it like a ghost. But if you are looking for a productivity beast and have the cash to spare, or are able to get a sweet deal, the Galaxy Note 8 is definitely the smartphone to beat.
Truth be told, that camera system might also be called a “dual dual camera” or a “2×2 camera”, because that is practically what it is. As leaked before, there are two cameras on the back, 16 and 2 megapixels, and two on the front, 13 and 2 megapixels. This means that your bokeh needs are covered, whichever side you use.Equally interesting is the Maimang 6’s screen. It is a 5.9-inch 2160×1080 screen, which means an aspect ratio of 18:9 not unlike that of the LG G6 and LG V30. This makes it Huawei’s formal entry into the FullView type of screen. The difference, however, is that there are still very noticeable bezels top and bottom and some at the sides. This is no bezel-less phone.The rest of the Maimang 6’s specs are on par with a 2017 mid-range smartphone. That means Huawei’s custom-made Kirin 659 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of expandable storage. There’s a non-removable 3,340 mAh battery inside. It runs Huawei’s EMUI 5.1 custom experience on top of, sadly, Android 7.0 only.If the Huawei Maimang 6 is indeed the Huawei Mate 10 Lite, we could expect somewhat of the same in the Huawei Mate 10 in two weeks. Except with better specs and perhaps, this time, a nearly bezel-less design. There might also be an embedded fingerprint scanner, though it’s more certain that Huawei will play on the machine learning capabilities that its Kirin 970 processor will give the phone.VIA: Vmall Even before the Huawei Mate 10 could break cover, it seems that its “smaller” sibling has gotten a head start. In China, Huawei officially revealed the Maimang 6. A weird name for English-speaking markets, the smartphone might be known internationally by another name: the Mate 10 Lite. If true, then we are already getting a glimpse of the direction tht Huawei is taking its handsets, which, unsurprisingly, includes an 18:9 “FullView” display and an odd but totally not groundbreaking “quad-camera” system.
With a price tag averaging $500, the Xiaomi Mi 9 can definitely give consumers pause for thought in making their next smartphone purchase. Sadly, all that goodness won’t matter to US buyers as the company continues to withhold its best products from that market. Of course, one of Samsung’s main points for the Galaxy S10 is its cameras but the jury and the reviews are still out on that one. In the meantime, Xiaomi Mi 9 is already here with its whopping 48 megapixel Sony IMX586 camera, a 12 megapixel telephoto camera, and a 16 megapixel super wide angle shooter. And until Samsung proves otherwise, the Mi 9 is already second (or third) best on DxOMark’s list.DxOMark notes how the Mi 9 yields consistently accurate exposure and color balance in still photos while noise levels are kept under control. Even the LED flash produces excellent results in low light situations, one of the best the benchmark testers have seen so far. Granted, they also found the dynamic range to be a bit limited and close-up inspection reveals less fine details compared to the competition, but the still photography performance is pretty much one of the best, it says.Unlike most smartphones, however, it seems that the Mi 9 shines brightest in video recording, in no small part to that Sony sensor. It records in 4K by default and has smooth image stabilization despite the high resolution. DxOMark has given it the highest video score it has so far. Xiaomi’s decision to unveil its latest flagship just hours before Samsung may have been a stroke of genius. It was, in effect, showing off what you can have at half the Galaxy S10’s price. The one thing, however, that Xiaomi’s affordable flagships have not been traditionally known for are their cameras. That might be changing with the Xiaomi Mi 9 now that DxOMark has placed it near the top of the list, besting everyone else except titleholder Huawei. Story TimelineXiaomi Mi 9 features land days before debut, Explorer Edition includedHuawei P30 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 9 show off camera capabilities with full moon shotHow Xiaomi Mi 9 details out-style Galaxy S10 on launch day
Apple’s new iPad (2019) won’t follow the iPad Pro in dropping two of the tablet’s most popular features, a new report claims, with the iPad 7th generation said to stick fairly closely to the existing design. Apple left some tablet users frustrated with the two new iPad Pro models in 2018, after dropping Touch ID in favor of Face ID facial recognition. Even more annoying, the iPad Pro (2018) also did away with the 3.5mm headphone jack. Instead, buyers would need to use a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter if they had existing headphones they wanted to listen with. That’s a strategy we’ve seen Apple – and indeed others in the smartphone industry – follow in recent years, but adopting it on the iPad Pro still came as something of a surprise. After all, the tablet has more chassis space, critics pointed out, which would arguably leave more room for an old-school jack. Of course, Apple would rather iPad Pro owners pick up a pair of AirPods, and go entirely wireless. Where that might leave the new iPad (2019), then, has been a topic of some discussion. According to supply chain sources speaking to Japanese rumor site Macotakara, however, the iPad 7th generation won’t go the same way as the latest iPad Pro. In fact, both Touch ID and the 3.5mm headphone socket are tipped to remain. If true, there are a few potential reasons why Apple might have made that decision. On the one hand there’s the cost benefit of not shifting away too far from the existing tablet’s industrial design. If Apple can reuse the same design as the iPad 6th generation, that should make the tooling process less expensive. There’s also arguably more room for push-back from budget users, too, who may be more unwilling to spend money upgrading their headphones to support either Lightning or Bluetooth. For Apple, too, Touch ID sensors are less expensive than the complex TrueDepth camera array which Face ID relies upon. If the iPad 7th generation is to remain as affordable as the current model – which starts at $329 – then the Cupertino company will need to balance its upgrades with relatively low-cost components.Other specifications for the new iPad are unconfirmed. Differing reports have suggested that Apple may either stick with a 9.7-inch display, or alternatively switch to a 10-inch touchscreen – albeit in the same form-factor, using narrower bezels to accommodate the slightly larger panel. At the same time, Apple could well release a new version of its smaller tablet, which has gone neglected for some time. The iPad mini 5 has not been confirmed yet, but Apple may well choose to update it at the same time as it reveals the 2019 iPad, the sources suggest. Story TimelineiPad mini 5, 10-inch iPad coming first half of the yeariOS 12.2 hints at upcoming iPod Touch, iPad modelsiPad mini 5 tipped to cut costs, even with feature boost
Disclosure: SlashGear uses affiliate links, If you click on a link in this article and buy something we’ll get a small cut of the sale. Amazon has added a new smart display to its Alexa-powered range, with the Amazon Echo Show 5 arriving at $89.99. The new model has a 5.5-inch touchscreen with a camera above it; in a nod to privacy, there’s both a button to disable the microphone and camera and stop Alexa from listening, and a switch that slides a physical shutter over the camera. The Echo Show 5 slots in-between Amazon’s existing Echo Show and the much smaller Echo Dot, at least in size. The former has a 10-inch display, while the latter has a circular 2.5-inch screen. However it’s also the cheapest smart display that Amazon sells. The screen can be used for the usual Alexa features, like playing videos on Vevo, NBC, and Prime Video, and – in the pipeline, Amazon says – how-to videos from wikiHow. There’s also visual recipes, with navigation controlled by voice and clips to show different stages of preparing a meal. Amazon is pitching the Echo Show 5 as a smart home control hub too. There’s a new dashboard that offers on-screen controls for things like connected lighting, cameras, thermostats, and more. Alternatively, Alexa can control individual devices and groups by voice command. Alexa routines are being added to, too, with more support for customization. There’s the ability to add things like nature or other sleep sounds within nighttime routines, while morning routines can include Alexa Sunrise, the screen gradually brightening before the alarm is due to go off.A new ambient lighting mode can automatically adjust the backlighting according to the room lighting. There’s now a shortcut menu available – accessed by swiping left from the right side of the screen – which has shortcuts and other features. Of course, one of the biggest use-cases is video calling. If you have multiple video-enabled Echo Show devices at home, you can use them as a multi-room intercom system. Alternatively there’s Amazon’s own video calling system along with Skype support. Flick the shutter switch, meanwhile, and the camera is physically covered. Alexa is getting a new privacy talent, too. Amazon is making it more straightforward to delete the audio records it keeps of Alexa interactions. By saying “Alexa, delete everything I said today” users will be able to clear out her cache of saved audio files. Soon, Amazon says, you’ll be able to be more granular, and say things like “Alexa, delete what I just said.”Amazon Echo Show 5 is available to preorder now, priced at $89.99. It’s offered in Charcoal and Sandstone finishes, and there’ll be a magnetic stand which tilts the smart display for $19.99. They’ll ship in in the US, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia from June 26, before arriving in India in July. A Mexico release is planned for shortly after.
Of course, none of these happen by magic and merchants will have to do the work to make that magic happen. Some of these features are still coming or will still expand but those that are already here available are just waiting for partners to flip the switch and make it happen. You’d think that a mobile payment system would be as simple as managing your credit cards or payment options and letting you easily buy stuff over the Internet or on your phone. While that is indeed the core purpose of platforms like Google Pay, it has long outgrown that basic function. Google is now giving developers and users a quick preview of upcoming Google Pay features that will not only make it easier to buy things but even get on your plane. One of the most nerve-wracking parts of making online purchases is making sure you’re seeing the right price before you finalize the payment. More often than not, the product price isn’t actually what you’ll end up paying, especially when you factor in additional fees like shipping. Google Pay will soon reflect those factors in real-time so users won’t have to go back to the merchant site just to double check.Things can also get complicated when you have more than one payment option, making you double check if you’re actually using the right one. Changes to Google Pay’s purchase button will make that clearer and will even tell you if you need to sign in first.AdChoices广告Google Pay, however, is more than just about payment despite its name. Like a true digital wallet, the platform’s Passes feature lets you manage loyalty cards and even boarding passes. After completing a check-in via Google Assistant, the user’s boarding pass will appear on Google Pay, allowing them to digital keep track of their travels just like their purchases. Google Pay will also automatically pull in loyalty programs from specially marked emails in Gmail so you won’t have to do it manually one by one.
Umbilical cords from the power unit feed electrical systems in the car. Power management can be done via a dedicated screen that is fitted discreetly inside the vehicle. The original powertrain can be added back in after conversion if desired. Heritage EV conversions are expected to start in 2019. Aston Martin says that its process to convert classic Aston cars to EV drivetrains is a way to future-proof the classic cars. Aston claims to have the world’s first reversible EV powertrain, but Jag did announce its reversible EV transplant for the E-Type back in August.The conversion to EV power mitigates any future legislation that might restrict the use of classic cars. The conversion is built around what Aston calls a “cassette” EV powertrain. Knowledge to create this cassette powertrain was gleaned during the final phase development of the Rapide E and future planning of the new range of Lagondas vehicles.Components from the Rapide E program will be used to create the EV cassette. The very first ride to get the EV powertrain conversion is an original 1970 DB6 MkII Volante. The EV systems sit on the original engine and gearbox mountings and is enclosed in its own cell.AdChoices广告 Aston Martin is taking a page from the Jaguar playbook and is offering up the ability to put an electric powertrain into a classic Aston Martin. Jaguar did this with its E-Type and made the retrofit process reversible so real E-types could be converted to EV and back if needed. Aston is now doing the same thing.
What was said by Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri is that “eventually” Ferrari will stop supplying engines to Maserati. The CEO says that is a good thing from its perspective. Camilleri says that the change will allow Ferrari to move a lot of the labor that has been involved with engines to the car side of the business.Maserati has used Ferrari engines in its cars since 2002. The last Ferrari engined Maserati we talked about was the Levanti GTS last summer. The engine sharing came about because Ferrari and Maserati were both under the FCA umbrella at the time. However, Ferrari was spun off from FCA in 2015.After being spun off from FCA Ferrari continued to supply Maserati engines including a 3.8-liter twin turbo V8, 3.0L twin-turbo V6, and a 4.7L naturally aspirated V8. Ferrari will stop providing engines to Maserati in 2021 or 2022. After that date, Ferrari will only supply itself with engines.AdChoices广告What Maserati will do after that remains to be seen. It could reach into the FCA parts bin for engines, which hardly seems to have anything appealing for Maserati or it could develop its own engines. Maserati has already said no to a future powered by batteries, but many will wonder if that might change with Ferrari’s announcement. Maserati has made no official announcement at this time. The only places you could traditionally get a screaming Ferrari engine was to buy a Ferrari or a Maserati. During the recent Ferrari Q1 earnings call the most significant revelation from the event was that Ferrari plans to stop supplying Maserati with engines. The Ferrari engine is a major selling point for the Maserati brand.
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. News outlet explore issues related to hospital quality of care, costs and a predicted shift from inpatient to outpatient treatment. Kaiser Health News: Health Care’s ‘Dirty Little Secret’: No One May Be Coordinating CareCoordinated care is touted as the key to better and more cost-effective care, and is being encouraged with financial rewards and penalties under the 2010 federal health care overhaul, as well as by private insurers. But experts say the communication failures that landed [Betsy] Gabay in a rehab center, rather than in surgery, remain disturbingly common” (Rabin, 4/30).Bloomberg: Hiring A Guide To The Medical Bill MazeWhen Annrose Isaac’s twins were born prematurely, she thought her insurer would cover their stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. “The hospital was in our network, but it turned out the physician in the NICU who saw our daughters didn’t participate with our insurer,” says the Westwood (New Jersey)-based financial planner. “All of a sudden we were getting bills for over $30,000” (Braham, 4/29).Modern Healthcare: Healthcare Leaders Expect Big Shift Toward Outpatient CareAs the care delivery models of hospitals and health systems evolve, healthcare executives and materials and practice area managers predict a major shift in admissions from inpatient to outpatient settings. According to Premier healthcare alliance’s spring 2013 Economic Outlook, 69% of the survey participants predict that outpatient volume will rise in 2013, as compared to last year’s volume. And as outpatient admissions are projected to increase, nearly 24% of respondents suggest that inpatient volume this year will drop (Landen, 4/29). The Challenges Of Coordinating Care
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. New Psychiatric Diagnostic Manual Released Long-awaited update of “the psychiatrist’s bible” has stirred controversy.Marketplace: How Much Is The DSM-5 Worth?Controversy has dogged the new DSM-5, what people like to call “the psychiatrist’s bible,” and it won’t even be officially released until this weekend. Really, the book is a manual clinicians use to diagnose and classify people with mental illness. While it sounds pretty dry, there’s a whole lotta drama around this book. The federal government has questioned its value. … some practitioners are boycotting it and there are charges that it’s not ready for prime time. Before I say anything more about the DSM-5, here are a couple of facts about the DSM IV. It’s 19 years old and it still brings in about $4-5 million a year (Gorestein, 5/17). Reuters: Psychiatrists Unveil Their Long-Awaited Diagnostic ‘Bible’The long-awaited, controversial new edition of the bible of psychiatry can be characterized by many numbers: its 947 pages, its $199 price tag, its more than 300 maladies (from “dependent personality disorder” and “voyeuristic disorder” to “delayed ejaculation,” “kleptomania” and “intermittent explosive disorder”) (Begley, 5/17).Medpage Today: APA Leaders Defend New Diagnostic GuideThe fifth edition of the “psychiatrist’s bible” was officially released here in all its 947-page glory, with its developers offering a spirited rebuttal to their critics. Known as DSM-5, the new version of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was launched at a press briefing to kick off the organization’s annual meeting. Most of the changes from the previous edition had already been made public, at least in general outline (Gever, 5/18).McClatchy: Child Mental Health Disorder Rising, Cost Society $247 Billion AnnuallyUp to one in five American youngsters – some 7 million to 12 million by one estimate – experience a mental health disorder each year, according to a new report billed as the first comprehensive look at the mental health status of American children. And the rate is increasing, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which produced the study, released Thursday (Pugh, 5/16).
The Obama administration’s surprise announcement will delay penalties for one year — until after the mid-term elections — and raises doubts about the implementation process at a crucial moment. Officials said the extension was a response to business requests for more time to navigate complex regulations. Kaiser Health News: Delay In Major Health Law Provision Raises Doubts At Critical Stage Of RolloutThe Obama administration’s decision Tuesday to delay a major component of the Affordable Care Act — the requirement for employers with at least 50 workers to offer health coverage — postpones another feature of the law and hands ammunition to critics who contend it is unworkable. But it could have a relatively small effect on the number of Americans who gain medical insurance next year. The law’s other two major provisions, expanding Medicaid and requiring individuals to obtain coverage or pay a penalty, were projected to add far more people to the ranks of the insured than the employer mandate, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Those measures are still in effect, although many states have opted not to expand Medicaid next year (Hancock and Appleby, 7/2). Kaiser Health News: Employers To Get An Extra Year To Implement Health Law Requirement On CoverageThe Obama administration Tuesday announced a one-year delay in the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that businesses with 50 or more employees offer coverage to their workers or pay a penalty. Administration officials said the delay was in response to employers’ concerns about the law’s reporting requirements (Carey, 7/2). The New York Times: Crucial Rule Is Delayed A Year for Obama’s Health LawIn a significant setback for President Obama’s signature domestic initiative, the administration on Tuesday abruptly announced a one-year delay, until 2015, in his health care law’s mandate that larger employers provide coverage for their workers or pay penalties. The decision postpones the effective date beyond next year’s midterm elections (Calmes and Pear, 7/2).The Washington Post: White House Delays Health-Care Rule That Businesses Provide Insurance To WorkersThe White House on Tuesday delayed for one year a requirement under the Affordable Care Act that businesses provide health insurance to employees, a fresh setback for President Obama’s landmark health-care overhaul as it enters a critical phase. The provision, commonly known as the employer mandate, calls for businesses with 50 or more workers to provide affordable quality insurance to workers or pay a $2,000 fine per employee. Business groups had objected to the provision, which now will take effect in January 2015 (Goldfarb and Somashekhar, 7/2).The Wall Street Journal: Health Law Penalties DelayedSome companies had bet the law was going to be overturned by the Supreme Court last year, or by a new presidential administration after the 2012 election. After it withstood those legal and political challenges, some firms said there was too little time remaining before the provision was due to kick in. “They realized they were not ready, and we were not ready,” said Neil Trautwein, vice president at the National Retail Federation, an employer trade group. “At the very least, this will give retailers and chain restaurants a chance to breathe.” The decision follows media reports that companies had already cut back on some workers’ hours to avoid exposure to penalties under the new health-care law. Those who work fewer than 30 hours a week aren’t counted as full-time employees, according to the law (Radnofsky, 7/2).Los Angeles Times: Obama To Delay Healthcare Law’s Employer MandateThe one-year delay, announced by the Treasury Department late Tuesday in response to complaints from businesses, marks a major retreat in implementing the 2010 Affordable Care Act. It also underscores the immense pressure the administration is under as it tries to roll out the extremely complex law. By next year, most Americans were supposed to be guaranteed access to health coverage even if they have preexisting conditions (Levey, 7/2).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Administration Delays Central Element Of Health Care Law Until After 2014 ElectionsTuesday’s move — which caught administration allies and adversaries by surprise — sacrificed timely implementation of Obama’s signature legislation but might help Democrats politically by blunting an election-year line of attack Republicans were planning to use. The employer requirements are among the most complex parts of the health care law, designed to expand coverage for uninsured Americans (7/2).Politico: Key Obamacare Rule For Business Delayed For YearThe delay, revealed just as the administration was stepping up efforts to educate the public about enrollment this fall, is at least partial proof of what Republicans have been predicting for months: that the health law is way too complex to be ready to go live in 2014. And that’s a message that may well resonate all through next year – including the 2014 midterm elections (Norman and Haberkorn, 7/3).NPR: U.S. Pushes Businesses’ Health Insurance Deadline To 2015U.S. businesses that had been looking at possible penalties if they don’t provide health insurance to their employees by January are getting an extra year before they must comply with the new law, the White House says. The requirement, part of the health care overhaul known as “Obamacare,” affects all companies that have at least 50 employees (Chappell, 7/2).USA Today: Obama Administration To Delay Part Of Affordable Care ActThe announcement by the Internal Revenue Service comes after numerous complaints from businesses that the requirements were too complicated and difficult to implement in time. … Other key parts of the law, including the health exchanges where individuals can buy insurance, are on schedule. The exchanges will open on Oct. 1, wrote Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Obama, in a White House blog released Tuesday (Kennedy, 7/2).Politico: 6 Questions About The Obamacare MandateThe bombshell announcement came from the Treasury Department on Tuesday night, catching even the administration’s close allies by surprise: A key part of Obamacare will be postponed for one year. The employer mandate — or as the administration calls it, the shared responsibility rules — was put on hold. Businesses won’t have any new requirements to cover workers, or penalties if they don’t, until 2015. The news came just as the White House was building momentum for its public education campaign and trying to send out signals that everything was on track for enrollment to begin in October. Tuesday’s announcement throws such assurances off course (Haberkorn, Millman and Norman, 7/2).Reuters: U.S. To Delay Key Health-Reform Provision In 2015The move raised questions about the future of other provisions of the law, including the mandate for individuals to obtain health coverage in 2014, and followed widespread complaints from businesses and their lobbyists about reporting requirements for employers with 50 or more full-time workers (Morgan, 7/2).Marketplace: Affordable Care Act Mandate Delayed (Audio)Late this afternoon the Obama administration said it’s gonna delay a key part of the Affordable Care Act — the part that would force companies to provide health insurance coverage for their workers or pay a $2,000 fine. Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Mark Mazur, wrote on the department’s Web site: “We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively. We recognize that the vast majority of businesses that will need to do this reporting already provide health insurance to their workers, and we want to make sure it is easy for others to do so.”McClatchy: Obamacare ‘Employer Mandate’ Delayed Until 2015After months of conferring with fretful employers, the Obama administration announced Tuesday that it will delay enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s so-called “employer mandate” until 2015. A signature provision of the federal health care overhaul, the contentious measure would have required firms with more than 50 full-time employees to provide affordable health insurance or face a penalty of $2,000 per employee in 2014, when the law was set to be fully implemented (Pugh, 7/2).PBS NewsHour: Key Provision Of Health Reform Law Delayed Until 2015Delaying the law’s “employer responsibility” provision would give employers more time to comply and give the government more time to consider ways to “simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law,” according to a blog post from Mark J. Mazur, the assistant secretary for tax policy at the Department of Treasury. Most of the employers impacted by the delay already offer coverage to workers, Mazur said. He added that the announcement did not delay the Oct. 1 scheduled start of the online marketplaces, or exchanges, or the subsidies intended to help individuals with low to middle incomes purchase coverage or the requirement that most individuals purchase coverage or pay a fine (7/2). Fox News: Administration Delays Key ObamaCare Insurance MandateThe Obama administration announced Tuesday that it is delaying a major provision in the health care overhaul, putting off until 2015 a requirement that many employers offer health insurance. The announcement was made late Tuesday by the Treasury Department, at the beginning of the holiday week while Congress was on recess. It comes amid reports that the administration is running into roadblocks as it prepares to implement ObamaCare (7/2). NBC News: Employers Get An Extra Year To Provide Health Insurance (Video)On Tuesday the government said they could have more time to get it done. Saying the goal is to implement reform in “a careful, thoughtful manner”, assistant Treasury secretary Mark Mazur said the administration would spend the extra year finding ways to simplify the process (7/2). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Employers Get Extra Year To Carry Out Health Law Coverage Mandate
The Health and Human Services secretary is testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee today, as critics question her leadership of the department.The Associated Press/Washington Post: Sebelius Heads To Hill To Defend Health Law And Her Job As Problems Plague Website’s RolloutEager to cast blame, lawmakers are preparing to grill President Barack Obama’s top health official over problems with the rollout of the government’s health care website. A growing number of Republicans in Congress are calling for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to step down or be fired because of problems consumers are having signing up for insurance coverage on the government’s new website (10/30).The Wall Street Journal: Sebelius To Testify Before House PanelThe testimony by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who has borne the brunt of criticism over the HealthCare.gov website, comes a day after Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee. Ms. Tavenner apologized on Tuesday, saying the site “can and will be fixed” (Schatz and Radnofsky, 10/30).Politico: As Turmoil Swirls, Kathleen Sebelius Takes Hot SeatNot so long ago, Kathleen Sebelius was a popular two-term governor with bipartisan appeal, a possible Democratic vice presidential prospect, a woman whom President Barack Obama could entrust with overhauling the nation’s health insurance system. Even Bob Dole volunteered to introduce her at her confirmation (Dovere and Haberkorn, 10/30).NBC News: How Did Obamacare Site Go So Wrong? 5 Questions Sebelius Must AnswerMarilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, apologized outright on Tuesday at a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee. Last week, officers of four of the main government contractors that built and are running different parts of the site, said the final testing had been too rushed — and a CMS spokesperson agreed. Now, it’s time for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to take her turn at hearing today. These questions remain unanswered (Fox, 10/30). Fox News: Sebelius To Face Grilling At Hearing On Glitch-Ridden Obamacare Website RolloutIn written testimony released ahead of Wednesday’s hearing, Sebelius vowed to improve the website and said the consumer experience to date is “not acceptable.” But she defended the law itself and said extensive work and testing is being done. “We are working to ensure consumers’ interaction with HealthCare.gov is a positive one, and that the Affordable Care Act fully delivers on its promise,” she said in the prepared remarks. Sebelius blamed the website contractors and the “initial wave of interest” for the glitches, but expressed confidence in the experts and specialists working to solve “complex technical issues” (10/30).Bloomberg: Republicans Seeking Obamacare Accountability Tag SebeliusA day after her deputy apologized for the botched Obamacare exchange, U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will have to stare down accusations that she wasn’t forthcoming enough about the potential problems. Republicans said they primarily want to know at a hearing today about the lack of transparency ahead of the rocky Oct. 1 debut of the insurance exchange, which is supposed to let people compare and buy health plans (Wayne, 10/30).The Washington Post: Kathleen Sebelius, Welcome To An Unwelcome Washington Tradition: The Deathwatch.It’s Kathleen Sebelius’s turn now. On the Hill, they’re calling for her resignation and tossing around words like “subpoena.” Pundits are merrily debating her future. (She’s toast! Or is Obama too loyal to fire her so soon?) Her interviews, more closely parsed than usual, seem wobbly. Though never a colorful presence on the political scene, she’s suddenly a late-night TV punch line (Argetsinger, 10/29). Sebelius Faces Withering Criticism On And Off Capitol Hill This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Highmark Inc., which sells plans in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia, will stop covering power morcellation, a technique often used in hysterectomies, after the Food and Drug Administration advised doctors against it because it may spread cancer. The Wall Street Journal: Health Insurer To Stop Covering Uterine ProcedureIn the procedure, a bladed device is used to cut up common uterine masses called fibroids, often in hysterectomies, so the tissue can be removed through tiny incisions in minimally invasive surgery. Highmark is the first insurer known to be halting coverage of power morcellation, and the move is the latest in a series of mounting pressures on use of the tool. … The FDA estimates the instruments were being used in 50,000 hysterectomies a year (Levitz, 8/2).Reuters: U.S. Insurer To Stop Coverage Of Gynecological ProcedureA health insurer with 5.2 million members in three Eastern U.S. states said on Saturday it would stop providing coverage for a procedure called laparoscopic power morcellation that is used in gynecological surgery and may inadvertently spread cancer. Highmark Inc, which has customers in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia, will stop covering the procedure on Sept. 1, company spokesman Aaron Billger said in an email. It is the first insurer to halt coverage of power morcellation after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advised doctors in April against it (Walsh, 8/3). Health Insurer To Stop Covering Uterine Procedure
State Highlights: La. Struggles With State Worker Health Program Costs; Aging In Ky. 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 selection of health policy stories from Hawaii, Louisiana, Kentucky, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Missouri.The Associated Press: Hawaii Public Hospitals Cut While Hurting For CashPublic hospitals across Hawaii are finding ways to reduce staff and cut services because they don’t have enough money to make ends meet. Executives from the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. told lawmakers Friday that even after layoffs they are facing a $30 million deficit in 2015. One hospital on Maui chose to close its adolescent psychology unit because it couldn’t sustain the appropriate staffing levels to provide the services. It’s also considering cuts to oncology and dialysis services if the situation doesn’t improve (9/20). The Associated Press: Health Insurance Program Still Hemorrhaging CashDespite sweeping changes enacted by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration, the [Louisiana] health insurance program for state workers and public school employees will have to use $88 million from its reserve fund to cover its costs this year. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Office told lawmakers Friday that the Office of Group Benefits will spend an estimated $7.4 million more each month on claims and operating expenses than it will receive in premium payments. A “negative burn rate” continues even after premium hikes, service reductions and higher deductibles are put in place during the current budget year that began July 1, according to Travis McIlwain, an analyst with the fiscal office. To cover its costs, the Office of Group Benefits will continue to deplete a reserve fund that once stood at $500 million three years ago, but that has dropped to $207 million and is expected to shrink to $119 million by the end of this budget year (Deslatte, 9/19). The Associated Press: Kentucky Aiming To Revamp Services For ElderlyKentucky is overhauling its elderly services with the aim of stretching resources and helping aging baby boomers remain independent and live out their final years at home, rather than in an institution. The state has struggled to keep up with demand, forcing many elderly residents to remain on waiting lists for critical programs or enter nursing homes earlier than necessary (9/21). Kaiser Health News: Too Many People Die In Hospital Instead Of Home. Here’s Why.”New York City continues to lag in serious ways with regards to providing patients with the environment that they want at the end of life,” says Dr. David Goodman, who studies end-of-life care at Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine. The reasons they do this are many, but most experts agree that it has less to do with the unique characteristics and desires of people in New York and New Jersey than the health care system and culture that has evolved here. The result: More people dying in the hospital, often in an intensive care unit on a ventilator or feeding tube; more doctor visits leading to tests, treatments and drug prescriptions; and more money being spent by the government, private insurers and patients themselves (Mogul, 9/22).Georgia Health News: Kaiser Tops Georgia Rankings Once AgainKaiser Permanente of Georgia remains the highest-ranked private health plan in the state for the 10th consecutive year, according to the National Committee for Quality Assurance. The new NCQA ratings put Kaiser at No. 19 among 507 plans nationally. The next highest Georgia insurer was a Humana plan, at 147, and Aetna, at 151 (Miller, 9/19).Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Test Shows How Hospitals Battle To Balance Care, CostResults from an experimental Medicare program launched as part of health care reform efforts show that three Twin Cities health care systems all took good care of their patients, but couldn’t always cut costs at the same time. Park Nicollet, Allina Health and Fairview Health Services all agreed to act as “accountable care organizations” under the Pioneer program — overseeing the care of elderly Medicare patients, and gambling that the hospitals could profit by keeping patients healthy while lowering medical costs below expected levels (Olson, 9/21).Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Chis Abele’s Budget Would Add Money For Mental Health Care, SheriffThe proposed 2015 budget of Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele calls for no new taxes, but it would give hefty increases to two departments — the Behavioral Health Division and the sheriff’s office. Abele has proposed an estimated $3 million increase for the Behavioral Health Division, which is now run by the new Milwaukee Mental Health Board, an independent, nonelected 13-member board entrusted with overseeing the county’s mental health programs and services (Pabst, 9/21).Charlotte Observer: To Big To Be Home? Changing Medicaid Rules Force Closing Of Greensboro’s Bell HouseIn 1979, 26-year-old Doris Lentz found a home at Bell House. Next month, she’s losing it. The residents and staff she considers family, some of whom have been together for 35 years, must scatter. The dorm-like building that is home to 22 people with cerebral palsy and similar disabilities is closing because of efforts to move people out of institutions. North Carolina says Bell House is too big to qualify for federal money that’s designated to help people live full lives in their community. Lentz, who is 61, says she knows what institutional life is like. When her mother died, the young woman spent more than three years in a nursing home before coming to Bell House (Helms, 9/21).Philadelphia Inquirer: Whistleblower Suit Filed Against Abington MemorialA former billing manager at Abington Memorial Hospital has filed a whistle-blower lawsuit accusing the hospital of Medicare fraud and wrongful termination. According to the suit, Joanne Cleighton, 55, of Roslyn, had been talking to hospital officials for nearly a year about her concerns involving blood samples at the laboratory. In March, the suit says, she was fired on the same day she was scheduled to meet with the hospital’s compliance officer. In a statement, the hospital denied Cleighton’s allegations and said it would vigorously defend the case in court. The suit, filed last month in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, alleges that lab technicians were marking routine blood samples as urgent to keep the samples in-house and get paid for their testing (Parks, 9/19). Philadelphia Inquirer: Waiting To Live: Pa. And N.J. Have One Of The Country’s Longer Lists For TransplantsWhen Donald Johnson checked out of Hahnemann University Hospital on June 27, he and his family thought he was coming home to die. Johnson, 63, a Warminster resident and director of a municipal authority, had end-stage fatty liver disease and his kidneys had failed. He needed two organ transplants and had even considered going to Florida to increase his chances of getting help. He had good reason to be afraid. At the time, he was one of nearly 2,500 patients on liver transplant waiting lists in federal Region 2, which includes Pennsylvania and South Jersey. He was also among nearly 15,000 patients waiting for a kidney in Region 2, which tends to have longer waiting lists than other regions (Scott, 9/21). Philadelphia Inquirer: Community Clinics Say Delayed Payments Threaten Their SurvivalCommunity health center officials say their ability to function is being threatened by delays in resolving a long-running dispute with the state over how the centers should be paid. A federal district judge has ordered the state to change how it calculates Medicaid payments to federally qualified health centers, which serve as primary-care clinics for low-income residents. The centers sued in 2012 over changes that state officials made in how payments are determined, saying they thought the FQHCs were being overpaid. But while the courts have ruled in favor of the clinics, state officials recently asked for more time to respond to the judge’s order. Meanwhile, New Jersey’s 20 FQHCs say the payment changes are costing some facilities more than $1 million per year, making it impossible for them to cover their costs (Kttchenman, 9/19).St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Dental Benefits For Missouri’s Low-Income Adults Still On HoldWith the dust settled on Missouri’s contentious veto session, about 300,000 low-income Missouri adults are still waiting to hear whether their government-funded health plan will cover the costs of dental care. When the Republican-controlled Legislature voted in May to restore dental benefits for most adult Medicaid recipients, it seemed like a slam dunk. Republicans had cut the dental benefits from Medicaid nine years earlier, but this year rallied behind restoring dental coverage as a means to promote cost-effective preventive care and oral health. Democrats, who lamented the earlier cuts, had been advocating to restore the funding for years. But the legislative accord over dental coverage was threatened by a budget dispute with Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, over tax breaks for certain industries and lower-than-anticipated state revenues (Shaprio and Liss, 9/20).