One of the current problems with the smart home scene is the myriad of platforms and languages available. And now even giants like Apple and Google have jumped into the market, bringing their own voice-activated smart assistants along for the ride. Fortunately for iDevices owners, they don’t have to worry about which one to use.iDevices made a name for itself with smart home devices that didn’t need a dedicated hub to function. That fits in perfectly with things like HomeKit and Google Home, as those practically become such hubs. iDevices owners need just to enable the assistant in the mobile app and controlling appliances, switches, and devices is as easy as saying “OK Google”. Or “Hey Siri”, if you prefer.Setting up the connection between Google Assistant and iDevices is also simple. Just download the iDevices Connected app and enable Google Assistant integration in that app. Then head on over to the Google Home app to add the iDevices service. This works whether you have a Google Home or just a Google Pixel phone.With Google Assistant, iDevices becomes one of the first in the connected home market to support Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant at no extra cost. Even better, iDevices’ products, like the Socket and Switch, can make any appliance smart so you won’t have to replace your favorite appliances just to get into smart home trend. That’s probably one of the most ironic things you’ll hear. A brand that is so easily associated with Apple’s ecosystem is adding support for an exclusive Google product. But don’t let the name fool you. iDevices line of connected home products is actually compatible with more than just Apple’s HomeKit platform. In fact, with Google Home now in the bag, its smart switches and sockets now support Apple’s, Amazon’s, and Google’s smart assistants.
Apple has released updated iterations of the Apple Watch since the original model’s arrival in 2015, but the first model is still on many wrists. That makes Apple’s recent disclosure disappointing: “watchOS 5 will not be available on the original Apple Watch,” the company says.Apple will be releasing watchOS 5 this fall as a free update, but you’ll need at least the Apple Watch Series 1 model to get it. Yes, that means the ultra-expensive luxury original Apple Watch models are soon going to be legacy devices. Remember the $10,000 gold and $17,000 18-karat Rose Gold models? Those, too, are nearing their end.What kind of features will original Apple Watch owners miss out on? There’s the new workout modes, Yoga and Hiking, plus the ability to automatically detect when a workout starts and ends. As well, Apple is adding a Walkie-Talkie mode to the Apple Watch, which is exactly what it sounds like, plus its Podcasts app for mobile listening with AirPods. You can find all the details here.SOURCE: Apple Newsroom The original Apple Watch is officially in its final days. During its WWDC 2018 keynote today, Apple took the wraps off watchOS 5 and all the great features customers can expect. There’s a lot to be excited about — robust fitness and health tracking, podcasts, and more. However, none of these things will be available on the original Apple Watch, which isn’t in the pipeline to get watchOS 5.
Story TimelineAmazon Alexa is learning how to whisper – and moreAmazon Basics Microwave with Alexa would be ridiculous if it wasn’t so cheapAmazon Echo Auto gives your car an Alexa copilot You won’t be satisfied until you’ve sifted through every possible permutation of no-name security camera? Go at it, my friend, Amazon has you covered. Even the AmazonBasics range, its curated selection of just the “essentials,” has swollen to the point where it could fill the shelves of a small store.Now, it’s Alexa’s turn. This week, Amazon took what was already a fairly comprehensive Alexa-powered range and hit the expand button. The new Echo Dot and Echo Plus are fairly obvious updates to existing products, but they brought with them a whole array of other hardware. Some sensible, some not so. The differences, in some cases, are fairly granular. Do you go for an Echo Dot 3rd-gen, for instance, at $49.99, or save $15 and get an Echo Input? Then there are more meaningful questions, like do you really need the Alexa-connected Echo Wall Clock?It’s hard not to see this scattershot approach as being a direct attack on Google. The search giant has made headlines in recent months with Assistant-powered Smart Displays, not to mention some analysts suggesting the AI has now overtaken Alexa in terms of deployments. Google is expected to only crank up its efforts, with new hardware – including a Smart Display of its own – likely to debut alongside the Pixel 3 at its early October event. Whatever Google brings there, though, it’s unlikely to match the sheer breadth of products that Amazon announced yesterday. It’s tough to imagine Google making a microwave of its own, or indeed a wall clock. The Assistant may be compatible with a whole array of smart plugs, but Google has never felt the need to put its own name on them. That’s because it has been following a similar strategy to the connected ecosystem as other big names, like Apple. Produce a core portfolio of devices, set out your vision (and, more mundane, the APIs and guidelines required for others to accede to that vision), then allow the third-party ecosystem to flourish around you. Amazon does that too, of course, and indeed the company was bullish on the exponential growth of Alexa-compatible devices and services from third-party manufacturers and developers. However it’s not afraid to get down into the trenches and do the extra work itself. If you’re a manufacturer of connected devices, that might be an ominous thought. Certainly, the Alexa Connect Kit that appliances like the AmazonBasics Microwave use is about as easy a way to integrate your product with Amazon’s AI as you could hope for. Then again, if Amazon is making devices on its own, do you really have the stamina to compete head-to-head? I’m always wary of ascribing human sentiment to business strategy, but there’s certainly a sense that Google and Apple might see this piecemeal strategy as being beneath them. Amazon, in contrast, has no such hangups. It wants Alexa to be as widely adopted as possible, and if that involves trying to explain to skeptical media why ordering your AI to microwave a potato by voice is not only possible, but preferable, then so be it. Sarcasm and cynicism roll off Amazon’s determined hide like syrup off a Teflon bib. Somebody, among its thousands of engineers and developers, believes integrating Alexa into a battery-powered wall clock is A Good Idea, and so we get a battery-powered wall clock with Alexa support. That microwave might sound faintly ridiculous, but if it pushes the Alexa ecosystem – and gives the Amazon Dash replenishment service a shove, too – then it’s worth doing nonetheless. Certainly, Amazon is willing to allow other companies to fill the niches in its grand vision of Alexa everywhere. The AmazonBasics Microwave, for example, is less about making a smart appliance and more about pitching the ease and affordability of the Alexa Connect Kit. Where a HomeKit device-maker might feel they have some breathing space to take their time, though, without worrying that Apple itself will storm in and occupy their niche if they don’t deliver quickly enough, I’m not sure Amazon inspires the same confidence. Being everywhere has served Amazon well over the years in retail. For Alexa, the same strategy may achieve the same. The opposite of a “scorched earth” policy, more akin to a haze of dandelion seeds that take root wherever and whenever they land. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but ubiquity is the key to adoption. Too much choice is the Amazon way. While the retail behemoth is known for its 24/7 shopfront and speedy shipping, the core of its success has always been the ridiculous depth of its catalog. Want to choose between hundreds, maybe thousands of novelty BBQ aprons? You got it. Amazon September 2018 Event Gallery
Volvo is announcing a recall of 74,000 cars and SUVs in the US this morning. The reason for the recalls stems from a problem with seat belts in the vehicles. Apparently, seat belts in these cars can detach from the buckle during a crash and fail to hold passengers in, which sounds like a pretty big issue. Thankfully, Volvo is getting to the problem before it causes any serious damage. The company says there haven’t been any reports of injuries yet, which is definitely good news. Volvo has received reports of the faulty seat belts, though, prompting it to issue the recall before any kind of tragedy takes place.The recall affects V60, S60, S90, XC60, and XC90 model cars and SUVs. The affected cars were manufactured in a relatively short window of time, with production dates ranging from February 16, 2015 to August 22, 2016. Volvo first started hearing of the seat belt issues back in August, so presumably the problem isn’t present in any new cars to roll off the assembly line after that.The defect stems from faulty buckle studs within the seat belt. Those studs can come loose and allow the buckle to release from the frame, which in turns means that the seat belt could potentially fail during a crash. Volvo says that folks with affected vehicles will be able to get the seat belt fixed at no charge through Volvo dealerships starting December 12.AdChoices广告So, it seems like the process of getting these defective seat belts fixed will be relatively painless, which is always a bonus. It’s also good to see Volvo getting to the issue before these faulty seat belts cause any serious injuries. We’ll keep an ear to the ground for any more details, but for now, this sounds like a pretty cut and dry recall.SOURCE: Associated Press Story Timeline2016 Volvo V60 Polestar T6 Review – Swedish mettle2017 Volvo S90 first-drive – Sweden declares war2018 Volvo V90 Preview – Roll out the welcome wagonVolvo and auto safety firm team on self-driving car tech spin-offThe 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country might just charm America into wagons
The original Speak & Spell was introduced in 1978, offering kids an advanced — for the time — gadget that prompted them to spell words in a now-retro voice. The child typed the words using the device’s keyboard, each letter appearing on the small display as they typed, and then pressed a button to submit their answer. Correct spellings would be rewarded with the robotic phrase, “You. Are. Right.”The model was phased out in the early 90s, and obviously is quite obsolete in modern times. That doesn’t make it any less appealing from a nostalgic standpoint, nor any less useful for parents who want an educational gadget for kids who are too young to trust with a more expensive tablet or phone.That’s where the new Basic Fun! model will come in. According to Gizmodo, the updated model will feature the same iconic look, but with a somewhat more modern LCD display. The big change will involve the robotic voice, which is based on different, newer technology.The original model’s synthesizer has been replaced with voice recordings simply processed to imitate the synthesizer’s robotic tone. This eliminates that bit of nostalgia, but results in clearer words that — unlike the original model — are more likely to be consistently comprehensible. Other changes will include spoken instructions for each game mode and (we hope) better battery life.The model will be available from Basic Fun! for $25 this autumn. The popular kids gadget Speak & Spell commonly found in households through the 1980s is being revived by company Basic Fun!, according to a new report. The revived model brings the same iconic look as the original, including the bulky shape and physical keyboard. Though the iconic robotic voice remains, it has been tweaked to improve its pronunciation, meaning it won’t sound quite how you remember it.
Story TimelineAmazon Kindle 2019 Review: A brighter ereaderAmazon Echo Link Amp goes on sale for audiophile Alexa fansAmazon Alexa recorded audio clips aren’t as secret as you think [Update] Today we’re going to go over the current list of brands Amazon owns, showing you which products you might think you’re buying from someone else. We’ll begin with the brand “Solimo”, the brand that sells the energy drinks that are making the rounds in the viral share-zone today. This is just one product in a collection of products sold by Amazon’s various private label organizations. You’re likely an Amazon customer, and you’ve likely purchased a product or two from a company you’d not heard of before said purchase. Let me tell you about your potential future. One day you’ll find yourself surrounded by products you believe are made by a wide variety of differing companies, all of which sell their goods through Amazon. But they’re actually all manufactured by one company. That company is Amazon. Most big retailers do it. They sell products in their store that they, themselves, have manufactured. Where in the distant past, these products might’ve been labeled with the same brand as the store, or labeled “generic” to some degree, now they’ve got private label brands. According to the December 2018 (latest available) Nielson Total Consumer Report, private label product growth in the USA was at 4.6% year-over-year, well and above that of the closest store brand category. Nielson monitored the different sorts of private label products in the 52 week period ending in October of 2018 and found the following products growing fastest: Grass Seed, Antiseptic, Pollock (Seafood), Insect Repellent, Pet Beds, Snack Combos, Fragrance Oils, Lunch Combos, Meal Kits, and Dessert Bars.AdChoices广告private label brands are the fastest growing and most effective way in which retailers like Amazon are directing cash toward themselves exclusively. You might want to take a peek at the big Amazon private label brands list at This Just In to start to wrap your brain around the scale at which Amazon is operating this project. As of January 8th, 2019, TJI Research reported that Amazon had at least 135 private label brands. They also found Amazon working with over 330 Amazon exclusive brands. You’re not just seeing this now because you’ve not been paying attention. It’s really, truly, just taking effect recently. Look at the chart above, also from TJI, showing the number of Amazon private label brands, starting in 2007 and really ramping up in a MAJOR way in late 2016. This is only the beginning. Given Amazon’s place as most successful online retailer and one of the top five retailers (online or off) worldwide, we’ll feel the squeeze soon. Or maybe since the number one retailer worldwide (Walmart) already had private label brands for a while, everything will be just fine. Stay tuned and we’ll just see.
The 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor is getting an update for the new model year, sticking with the go-anywhere-fast mantra but upgrading the shocks, tech, and cabin. Hardly shy and retiring already, the V6 EcoBoost powered performance pickup has carved out a niche for itself among those who prize truck utility with 450 horsepower. For 2019, that horsepower is going to be even more useful, Ford promises. The big change is to the suspension, with the introduction of exclusive FOX Racing Shox with a new Live Valve technology. A collaboration between the Raptor team and FOX, it keeps the 13-inch front suspension travel and 13.9-inch rear travel, but adds a new adjustable damping system. The 2018 truck used variable damping that was based on wheel travel. The 2019 Raptor, however, uses sensors in the suspension and the body to adapt the compression rates being used in real-time, depending on the terrain being crossed. That, Ford says, pays dividends in handling and comfort, and also helps avoid bottoming out in more aggressive off-road conditions. Considering one of the F-150 Raptor’s party tricks is taking off over sand dunes, it makes for a fairly unusual set of programming. “Not many trucks need sensors to detect when you are midair,” Hermann Salenbauch, global director of Ford Performance vehicle programs, points out. “Raptor sets the dampers to full stiffness to help smooth shock performance as the truck lands.”Even if you’re not airborne, there are improvements too. A new Trail Control system is effectively cruise control for low-speed, off-road conditions. Set to between 1 mph and 20 mph, depending on driveline position, it automatically controls the power and braking to each individual wheel, leaving the driver to focus solely on steering. As for style, on the outside there are new colors for the 2019 model year, including Ford Performance Blue, Velocity Blue, and Agate Black. The rear gets a new appliqué too, and there are optional headlock-capable wheels with a new design. As before, you get a beefier body-kit than the regular F-150, and Raptor buyers can choose between the SuperCab or the SuperCrew body style, each with a 5.5 foot box. MORE 2017 F-150 Raptor ReviewInside, there are new Recaro sport seats, with extra bolstering in the seat back and cushion. Optionally, you can have them finished with blue Alcantara inserts and matching accent stitching, borrowing the style from the Ford GT supercar. A very different vehicle, yes, but equally crazy in its own special way.Ford says the new 2019 F-150 Raptor will go on sale in late 2018, with pricing to be confirmed closer to that point. By way of example, though, the current 2018 Raptor starts at just over $50k. As with the existing pickup, Ford will build the 2019 model at its Dearborn Truck Plant. 2019 Ford Raptor F-150 Gallery
Each of the vehicles at the intersection can decode that information and then provide drivers with visible and audible feedback to help avoid accidents. Honda has committed to using 200 vehicles for evaluation in the 33 different ongoing projects. Honda offers no information on when or if the technology will be commercialized for the masses.SOURCE: Honda AdChoices广告 All drivers have been at an intersection at some point where you were unable to see around a building or obstacle to tell if another vehicle was coming the opposite direction. To help drivers cope with those sorts of dangerous intersections, Honda is showing off its Smart Intersection tech for vehicle-to-everything communication (V2X). The tech is designed to reduce collisions at intersections. The tech has been deployed in the real world in a partnership with the City of Marysville as part of the 33 Smart Mobility Corridor project. Honda says that collisions at intersections account for about 40% of all collisions and nearly 20% of the 35,000 traffic-related deaths that happen in the US each year.The Smart Intersection tech uses Honda proprietary object recognition software in conjunction with cameras mounted around the intersection and V2X communications. The technology lets the cars see through and around buildings and walls in “virtually all-weather conditions” to help drivers see and identify hidden hazards. Smart Intersections have four cameras mounted above traffic lights at each intersection corner. The cameras get a birds-eye-view of the surrounding vehicle and pedestrian traffic at the intersection up to 300-feet out. Vehicle types as well as pedestrians can be classified and then information on what is coming is sent out to cars via a dedicated short-range communicating signal.
Editors’ Recommendations U.K. opens its first checkout-free store, but it’s not Amazon Go Amazon Go store opens in New York City — and it’s the first to accept cash Walmart wants to save billions while integrating autonomy into its supply chain A prototype robotic grocery store has just launched in Tel Aviv Mastercard’s Digital Wellness program uses A.I. to make online paying safer Walmart may be some time away from following in Amazon’s footsteps when it comes to checkout-free stores, so until then, it has to find its own ways of reducing cases of theft at the final stage of a customer’s shop.Current efforts include the use of computer vision technology at self-checkout counters, Business Insider reported this week.The big-box retailer confirmed its use of A.I.-powered surveillance, adding that it’s currently in operation at around 20% of its U.S. stores.The system, called Missed Scan Detection, does what it says, deploying advanced cameras to look for underhand behavior taking place at Walmart’s checkouts.If the software powering the system understands that an item has passed the scanner without being scanned, an alert is automatically sent to a member of staff who will then investigate to find out what happened. It’s not clear if the technology is advanced enough to detect all of the various different tricks some determined shoplifters deploy at self-checkout counters, though it’s likely that Walmart is working to further develop the system.Walmart spokeswoman LeMia Jenkins told Business Insider that to date, the company has invested more than $500 million in a bid to tackle crime at its stores.One answer to shoplifting may be provided by a setup similar to Amazon’s checkout-free Go stores, which use cameras and sensors to track customers as they make their way around the premises, calculating the cost of their shop and automatically charging their Amazon account when they leave. The technology is even clever enough to notice if you return an item to the shelf from your bag should you decide later that you don’t want it.There are currently 11 Amazon Go stores operating across the U.S.Walmart tried a low-tech version of the Go store in 2018 — called “Scan & Go” — where customers used a barcode scanner to add up the cost of their shop as they made their way around the store. But it soon ditched the system following poor feedback, low customer take-up — and theft at an even higher level than at self-checkouts, according to one former Walmart executive.Another admittedly drastic solution would be for Walmart to move its entire operation online. The company has certainly been making efforts to enhance its online shopping experience lately with a revamped website and improvements to its delivery service.
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Roundup: Ky. Judge To Hear Christians-Only Health Insurer Case A selection of health policy stories from Kentucky, Rhode Island, Connecticut, California, Minnesota and Massachusetts.The Associated Press: Ky. Judge To Review Christian Health Care CaseA judge has scheduled a hearing for later this month in a longstanding dispute between Kentucky and a Christians-only health care plan. The case pits the Kentucky Department of Insurance against Medi-Share, a Florida-based cost-sharing ministry that helps to pay medical bills for churchgoers across the country. Lawyers for the state have asked Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate to hold Medi-Share in contempt of court for continuing to operate in Kentucky. Medi-Share asked for a hearing to explain changes the ministry has made to comply with Kentucky insurance regulations (8/6).The Associated Press/Boston Globe: 4 R.I. Hospitals Cheer Increase In Medicare MoneyFour Rhode Island hospitals on Monday celebrated news that the federal government will pay them more money to care for patients on Medicare. Kent Hospital, South County Hospital, Newport Hospital and Westerly Hospital will collectively receive about $7.1 million more for the 2013 fiscal year after the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services increased their Medicare reimbursement rates. Previously, different hospitals in the state had three different reimbursement rates, so hospitals in some cases just a few minutes’ drive from each other were paid differently. Hospital officials say that created problems retaining the best workers (8/6).HealthyCal: Got Docs?A new county health plan for low-income residents, Riverside County Health Care, created in January 2012, was expected to ease the economic burden and address health disparities. So far, however, it’s falling short of expectations. The plan promises a full range of medical services: primary care, mental health services and access to specialists. The idea is that an up-front investment in comprehensive care will have a long-term payoff in fewer emergency room visits and hospital stays. Riverside County, as well as 46 other counties in California, are in the process of rolling out new health plans for the poor—essentially an expansion of Medicaid—in anticipation of the full implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act in 2014 (Urevich, 8/6).Medscape: Mayo Clinic Settles False-Claim Charges For $1.26 MillionThe Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, last week agreed to pay $1.26 million to settle federal charges of knowingly billing Medicare, Medicaid, and other government health care programs for nonexistent pathology work. The Mayo Clinic says it inadvertently submitted the errant claims until September 2007, when it discovered and corrected its mistake. It reimbursed the government roughly $260,000 about a year later, after receiving a federal subpoena about its pathology billing practices. The payment was voluntary, according to the Mayo Clinic. The settlement reached last Thursday calls on the Mayo Clinic to pay the government an additional $1 million (Lowes, 8/6).Boston Globe: State Nursing Shortage Worsened In 2011, Report SaysA nursing shortage appears to be on the rise in Massachusetts, according to the latest workforce report from the Massachusetts Hospital Association and the regional chapter of the Organization of Nurse Leaders (Conaboy, 8/6).California Healthline: Appropriations Committee OKs Oral Chemo BillThe Senate Committee on Appropriations yesterday approved AB 1000 by Henry Perea (D-Fresno), which requires insurers to cover oral chemotherapy medication. … The oral chemotherapy bill, after being approved on a 4-1 vote in committee, now heads to the Senate floor for a vote. The biggest question about AB 1000 has not come directly from insurance companies, but from the state’s Department of Finance, which has been concerned about the potential cost to California if oral chemotherapy is not included in the essential health benefits package, a concept that is a central underpinning of the health benefit exchange (Gorn, 8/7).
Viewpoints: Fighting To A Draw On Medicare; A Coming Era Of Austerity This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The Wall Street Journal: The Death Of ‘Mediscare’Since Nov. 6, Republicans have, for perfectly understandable reasons, expressed their deep disappointment with the election results. But even in defeat something significant and positive occurred: Republicans fought Democrats to a draw on the issue of Medicare (Dan Senor and Peter Wehner, 11/29).The New York Times’ Taking Note: Medicare Off The Menu But the charge has everything to do with the other conversation going on in Washington today as the two parties try to avert a fiscal deadline of spending cuts and tax hikes. Republicans have demanded that Democrats put painful Medicare cuts on the table in exchange for tax hikes on the rich, yet they ran an entire presidential campaign on the misleading notion that Mr. Obama was cutting Medicare too much. Now they sit mute across the table from White House negotiators, refusing to expose themselves by saying what Medicare cuts they actually want to make, and demanding that Democrats go first (David Firestone, 11/29). Chicago Sun-Times: Democrats Should Pay Heed To Dick Durbin On Medicare, MedicaidProgressives in this country would be wise to listen to Dick Durbin, Illinois’ senior senator. The No. 2 Democrat in the U.S. Senate this week essentially pleaded with his fellow progressives to give up the false notion that raising taxes on the wealthiest will alone solve the nation’s crippling debt problem. This comes as talks on averting the Jan. 1 fiscal cliff of tax hikes and crippling spending cuts near a crescendo. Durbin is right — and the sooner progressives and Democrats get that, the sooner they can get to work on shaping the cost-cutting to Medicaid and Medicare that must be part of any realistic long-term deficit-reduction plan (11/29). The Washington Post: Austerity And Morality America is entering a period of prolonged austerity. The entitlement commitments made by past generations have been rendered untenable by demographics and health cost inflation. The problem is no one’s particular fault, but it is very, very large. Failing to get our borrowing under control would deny our children the lives we have had in this country (Michael Gerson, 11/29).The Washington Post: Cliff-Jumping With Barack Why are Republicans playing the Democrats’ game that the “fiscal cliff” is all about taxation? … Where is the other part of President Obama’s vaunted “balanced approach?” Where are the spending cuts, both discretionary and entitlement: Medicare, Medicaid and now Obamacare (the health care trio) and Social Security? (Charles Krauthammer, 11/29).The New York Times: Class Wars Of 2012 Consider, as a prime example, the push to raise the retirement age, the age of eligibility for Medicare, or both. This is only reasonable, we’re told — after all, life expectancy has risen, so shouldn’t we all retire later? In reality, however, it would be a hugely regressive policy change, imposing severe burdens on lower- and middle-income Americans while barely affecting the wealthy. Why? First of all, the increase in life expectancy is concentrated among the affluent; why should janitors have to retire later because lawyers are living longer? Second, both Social Security and Medicare are much more important, relative to income, to less-affluent Americans, so delaying their availability would be a far more severe hit to ordinary families than to the top 1 percent (Paul Krugman, 11/29).Los Angeles Times: Dislodging Obamacare Democrats are likewise deluding themselves if they think the law is safe because Obama wields the veto pen. The greatest threat to Obamacare was never a Romney presidency but Obamacare itself. The law remains vulnerable because of its unpopularity, the compromises that unpopularity forced on its authors and the Supreme Court’s ruling that part of it is unconstitutional. These factors guarantee repeal will remain a viable issue, and — I predict — that the president will ultimately sign a bill making major changes, at the very least (Michael F. Cannon, 11/30).The Washington Post: A Much-Needed Medicaid Reform Medicaid has grown dramatically since its inception in 1965. It now accounts for 8.5 percent of all federal spending, and just under a quarter of all state spending. Between 1970 and 2010, the program quintupled from half a percent of gross domestic product to 2.7 percent. Federal forecasters expect Medicaid to reach 3.7 percent of GDP by 2020 — due in large part to increased enrollment under health-care reform. Any serious plan to reduce the federal debt has to deal with spending, and, given the foregoing numbers, any serious plan to deal with spending has to address Medicaid. The question is how (11/29).Baltimore Sun: Facing The Fiscal Cliff, Obama Can’t Back Down AgainAs official Washington nervously ponders the approaching fiscal cliff and the potential economic chaos it entails, President Barack Obama faces a precipice of his own in the challenge of making use of his re-election victory. Unless he emerges from this, the last major crisis of his first term, with the appearance of political strength and skill in navigating it, he risks losing public confidence that he has the stuff to take the country where he wants it to go in his second term. More than the specific details of any deal with House Speaker John Boehner and his resistant Republican cohorts on taxes and spending, Mr. Obama needs to demonstrate more steel in confronting GOP obstructionism than he showed in the previous showdown over deficit reduction (Jules Witcover, 11/30).Minnesota Post: REAL ID, No Child Left Behind, And The Future Of The Affordable Care ActThe ACA’s health care exchanges appear to be the next in a series of ambitious federal programs that share the following lineage: The establishment of sweeping goals without clear funding mechanisms, followed by implementation during a period of economic crisis. While Congress may be able to muster the political will to enact such programs, the federal government increasingly seems to be unable to whipsaw states into complying with the vast complexities and costs of their mandates. … It is almost certain that the ACA’s directive to run millions of uninsured Americans through (largely) non-existent state exchanges will face similar hurdles (Matt Ehling, 11/29).Detroit Free Press: GOP Continues Health Care TantrumIf you thought the Detroit City Council was the main attraction at the Museum of Governance by Self-Delusion, perhaps you’ve not met the members of the Michigan House of Representatives. The House’s GOP majority failed this week (for at least the third time) to pass legislation that would set up a Michigan-based nonprofit to manage the health care exchanges required under the Affordable Care Act. This, after the Supreme Court decreed this summer that health reform is here to stay. And after the Nov. 6 election handed a second term to President Barack Obama and two more U.S. Senate seats to the Democratic majority (11/30).Kansas City Star: Struggle Over Medicaid Is Shaping Up In MissouriAs you may have heard, some sore losers who didn’t like the way the national election turned out have petitioned for Missouri to secede from the union. That prompted a more fun-loving group to ask that the rest of the nation be treated to a gigantic pizza party in the event of Missouri’s departure. It’s probably a bit early for the partiers to be firing up the ovens, however. Before it takes on the rest of the union, Missouri must resolve the war within itself. Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon threw down the gauntlet Thursday when he announced his 2014 budget would include federal money to vastly expand the state’s Medicaid program (Barbara Shelly, 11/29). Los Angeles Times: Patients’ Choices Narrower, Yet Cost Of Insurance Rises It’s hard enough having a serious condition like cancer or kidney failure. It’s even worse, some might think, when your health insurer says you have to buy your medicine from the pharmacy of its choice — or pay the full amount for expensive life-saving drugs elsewhere. Yet that’s precisely what Anthem Blue Cross is telling people who require so-called specialty medicines, which are used for complex conditions and can cost thousands of dollars a month (David Lazarus, 11/30). Los Angeles Times: Safe Peanut Butter, And Beyond Citing the conditions at Sunland as well as its history of health violations, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration put at least a temporary hold on those plans Monday, suspending operations at the plant and exercising for the first time its new authority to shut down potentially dangerous food facilities. Luckily for consumers, this was made possible by the Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law nearly two years ago — and long overdue even then. But other, much more sweeping changes required by the law haven’t yet been implemented (11/29). The Seattle Times: Dental Therapists Are Not The Right Fit For Washington StateSome believe dental therapists could be used to provide care to additional Medicaid patients and extend hours for community health centers. We can achieve the same result by employing more young, unemployed dentists looking for work in this struggling economy, or by increasing the number of dental residents who are already expanding capacity in community health centers. The problem is not due to a shortage of dentists but a shortage of dental funding (Danny Warner, 11/28).
A selection of health policy stories from California, Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina and Colorado.San Jose Mercury News: Hospital Bidder Sues Union, Alleging ExtortionIn a surprising move, an anti-union Southern California hospital chain hoping to buy the struggling Daughters of Charity Health Care System is suing employee unions under the federal RICO Act, saying the unions are trying to thwart that deal and others by using extortionist tactics aimed at forcing it to cave into union demands. The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco by Prime Healthcare Services accuses Service Employees International Union and SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West; the union federation Change to Win; and three union leaders of conspiring to “target and attack Prime with the ultimate objective of either unionizing Prime, thereby altering its cost structure and business model, or eliminating Prime from the market altogether” (Seipel, 8/26).Dallas Morning News: Janek Accuses Xerox Of “Reckless” Misuse Of Medicaid DataTexas Medicaid officials, already in a legal battle with Xerox Corp. over the company’s alleged failure to prevent widespread dental fraud, filed another lawsuit Tuesday accusing Xerox of improperly taking large quantities of medical records and not protecting patients’ confidentiality. The state Health and Human Services Commission said it filed a lawsuit in state district court in Austin seeking return of the patient data. … Xerox spokesman Kevin Lightfoot, though, said in an email that “the data represents proprietary Xerox information and was retained with the state’s knowledge” (Garrett, 8/26).The Texas Tribune: Texas Files Second Lawsuit Against XeroxThe state of Texas on Tuesday announced a second lawsuit against former contractor Xerox, alleging the company failed to turn over client health records relating to its operation of the state Medicaid program. The announcement comes three months after the state announced it was suing the company over allegedly misspent money, after thousands of requests for medically unnecessary braces were approved (Walters, 8/26).The Associated Press: Health Benefits Changes Planned for Louisiana State WorkersLouisiana’s state government employees and retirees face increased out-of-pocket costs, higher deductibles and new health service limitations as Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration reworks state insurance plans to keep the program from financial disaster. Financial analysts say those in the insurance program in many instances will be paying more and getting less. Critics of the changes say workers and retirees are being held responsible for the Jindal administration’s mismanagement of their program (8/26).Raleigh News & Observer: DHHS Medicaid Planner Leaves Highly Paid JobA woman state health officials hired a year ago to work on Medicaid alternatives — a new position that paid $95,000 annually despite her thin resume — is resigning. Margaret “Mardy” Peal will leave Sept. 19, to take advantage of an opportunity that will allow her, a single mother, to be at home with her children more often, according to her resignation letter. … Her hiring at DHHS drew criticism because it fit into a pattern of controversial personnel decisions by Secretary Aldona Wos, including high pay for young, inexperienced officials, and a contract with someone who works for her husband’s company (Jarvis, 8/26).The Denver Post: Colorado Not Monitoring Psychotropics For Imprisoned YouthsColorado has poor controls over the administration of powerful psychotropic medication to youths in corrections facilities, with state officials unable to show they are doing enough to monitor for harmful side effects, according to a state report released Tuesday. The report, which focused on the state’s Division of Youth Corrections, sampled the medical records of 60 youth offenders, 57 of whom were prescribed psychotropic medication (Osher, 8/26). State Highlights: Calif. Hospital Chain Sues Union; Texas Sues Xerox Again This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
It’s time to push back and impose sanctions on Chinese products, says Peter MacKay Former Minister of Foreign Affairs talks about what should be Canada’s strategy going forward in trade dispute Comment 14 Comments More Share this storyIt’s time to push back and impose sanctions on Chinese products, says Peter MacKay Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Reddit Twitter Peter MacKay, Partner at Baker & McKenzie, talks with Financial Post’s Larysa Harapyn about what should be Canada’s strategy going forward as it continues to face trade disputes with China. Facebook Email Join the conversation → July 3, 201911:27 AM EDT Filed under News Economy Larysa Harapyn Recommended For You’We were experiencing headwinds’ — Canopy Growth stock heads south on poor sales ramp-upShaw Communications is selling its stake in Corus Entertainment for $548 millionB.C. vows to appeal after top court says province can’t restrict oil shipments across its bordersProtests, legal challenges planned to block Trans Mountain expansionFINCAD Now Accepting Applications for its 2019 Women in Finance Scholarship
Three battery versions of this Volkswagen electric are expected.We are about a year away from the market launch of all-new new Volkswagen I.D. electric hatchback (in Europe, as North America will not get it). The German manufacturer is now apparently preparing to begin tests of pre-production versions at the Ehra-Lessien proving ground in eastern Germany.According to the latest news, there are three battery/powertrain versions. The base will offer basic performance and some 330 km (205 miles) of range using about 48 kWh battery.Volkswagen EVs VW Launches New “Electric For All” Campaign – 10 Million EVs! 39 photos Volkswagen Factory Will Build Up To 500,000 Battery Packs Per Year Production Volkswagen I.D. Hatchback To Look Like Concept The price of cheapest I.D. is expected to be around £32,000 in UK ($42,000 or €35,700) or £27,500 after £4,500 Plug-In Car Grant.The second version will get more battery capacity, for close to 450 km (280 miles) of range and more power.The third version probably will offer the maximum of the MEB platform, which could be up to 600 km (373 miles) and even more power, but even rumors don’t contain numbers yet.It’s also expected that there will be 7.2 kW or 11 kW on-board chargers, as well as 125 kW DC fast charging capability. Source: autoexpress.co.uk Source: Electric Vehicle News Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on September 24, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News
Musk Spills A Bunch Of China Battery Gigafactory Details Breaking: Another source to confirm that Tesla will high possibility to deliver Model 3 to China in Q1 2019. My previous tweet on Nov 04th 2018https://t.co/aJEhK4tfns…$TSLA #Tesla #Model3 #TeslaChina pic.twitter.com/bLTE0V5xZV— Vincent (@vincent13031925) November 15, 2018 Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on November 15, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News Tesla Model 3 Initial Chinese Production Targeted At 3,000 Per Week Source: Electric Vehicle News Long-range, all-wheel-drive version will be firstTesla Model 3 will be launched in China within 5 months, by the end of the first quarter of 2019 or, more specifically, in March, according to the latest reports that confirm the Model 3’s arrival in the world’s biggest EV market.Tesla is expected to deliver the Long-Range all-wheel-drive versions (normal and Performance) at first, which sounds reasonable from a business perspective.Tesla in China Tesla Model 3 Deliveries In China To Begin In March 2019 Because of the 40% import tax, costs of delivery and probably lack of subsidies for U.S. made cars, those initial Model 3s will not be able to fully compete with the broader offering of Chinese electric cars. That’s precisely why Tesla is building a production facility in China. Once complete, that import tax will vanish, thus making the Model 3 more competitive there.Chinese media reported: Recently, we learned from relevant channels that Tesla Model 3 Performance and AWD long range version will be the first to enter China . It is expected that customers who ordered these two versions will also receive the first delivery. $TSLA #TeslaChina pic.twitter.com/IlZa0ZYxLa— Vincent (@vincent13031925) November 15, 2018
Source: Electric Vehicle News Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on March 6, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle News We hope this updated comment system will help on all sides, as well as ease the upcoming transition.The bad good news is, InsideEVs has outgrown its current platform. We’ve had a multitude of successes since our site redesign over a year ago, though, as expected, there have been some issues. Fortunately, most are behind the scenes, so they don’t impact users to a significant degree. With that being said, we are aware that there are still concerns on the front end, and our current platform doesn’t allow us to appropriately address them. One of the biggest issues we’re working to address is the comment system, which has slowed the site down in many ways.Why is this is positive news rather than negative?In any industry, growth is something to be proud of. For InsideEVs, it means newfound success and finally getting to move to a more up-to-date and solid platform. No worries, however, it doesn’t mean we’re going through another site redesign. The site, as you know it, will remain relatively unchanged. However, it will be faster, offer more developer support, and provide us the ability to fix many of your concerns, like image and graph sizing issues for starters.It will be another month or more before we’re able to complete the transition, so we’ll keep you posted along the way. For now, to prepare for the new platform, we’re going to initiate a pilot program for comments, which requires you to register. Again, it won’t change the comment section as you know it. You’ll still be able to use your current screen name and remain anonymous to other users. However, there will be some accountability on the back end, so we gain the ability to pinpoint those who are harassing and threatening us, as well as potential hackers.This is simply a pilot program since we have no way of knowing exactly how it will play out. If it causes undue frustration and further issues on our end or yours, we’ll revert back to the current setup until we transition. Once we’re on the new platform, we’ll have more up-to-date options related to the comment system in general.We will set the pilot program live today (Wednesday, March 6, 2019 @ 9:30 AM ET). At that point, we’ll be able to run some tests on it and figure out exactly what’s involved, as there’s no way to test it thoroughly ahead of launch. Yet another reason that we need to move to a more up-to-date platform. If we need to provide you more information to make the process easier, we’ll update this post accordingly. We’ll also be sure to watch the comment section and read your posts so that we may engage and/or make any necessary adjustments or offer assistance.As always, thank you all for the incredible support over the years. Everything we do is an attempt to improve the site and your overall experience.
NIO ES6 test drives already began. Soon, the company will start deliveries.Source: Electric Vehicle News