A past contract for a vendor to oversee mental health and behavioral care in the state doesn't seem to be working out, and a contract for BWI concessions soon to be up for approval by outgoing officials is looking "rigged" according to some. Plus election news, state life expectancy, schools and their resouirce officers, and allegations of internal bias in state police ranks. It's all here and more in News You Can Use.
First, a caution (national data, not just Maryland): Studies show children are more likely to be struck by a car on Halloween than on any other day of the year. (Philadelphia Inquirer) Stay safe out there, trick-or-treaters. Pluribus News
Who’s the winner as BWI concessions franchise is up for bids?
“Since the Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued to find bidders for the new contract, the state’s proposal has been amended twice in ways that appear to benefit one of the interested companies — New Market Development, a new entity associated with two of the state’s wiliest and most durable political players, Major Riddick and Bruce Bereano.
“….The sequence of events so far has left some airport management professionals wondering about the integrity of the process. And they are also questioning the efficacy of putting such a financially consequential and long-lasting decision in the hands of a lame duck Board of Public Works.” Maryland Matters
Who’s the loser as state picks apparently shaky provider to oversee behavior health care?
Audit Criticizes Health Vendor Oversight: Maryland state health officials botched oversight of a vendor they hired to pay mental health providers, causing accounting nightmares for clinicians and delays in care for patients in crisis, according to an audit released Friday by the state Department of Legislative Services. Wapo
- The report published Friday finds the state agency failed to monitor Optum and its Minnesota-based United Behavioral Health Inc. company as it handled claims for roughly 260,000 people receiving Medicaid benefits for mental health and substance abuse treatment. The lack of oversight has cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in potential overpayments and denied or under-reimbursed claims from the Federal government, the audit concluded. Daily Record. (paywall)
- Some of the system’s flaws prevented Maryland from tapping approximately $28.8 million in federal reimbursements, the review found. And although the state was eligible to claw back as much as $20.5 million from the vendor, the health department did not do so “despite the vendor’s ongoing failure to provide an operational system or comply with certain requirements,” the audit found. Maryland Matters.
-- Roundup from Maryland Reporter
Punchbowl News Tuesday: Former President Barack Obama is endorsing Maryland Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wes Moore. Obama praises Moore as a leader who can bring Marylanders together and build an economy that works for all residents.
Moore will become the first Black governor of Maryland if he defeats far-right GOP nominee Dan Cox in November.
BIDEN TO END MIDTERM PUSH IN MARYLAND: President Biden will end his midterm push in Maryland, the same deeply Democratic state where he launched his fall tour to persuade the economy-weary public to keep Democrats in power. WaPo
CNS: Yes on 4 gets official and activist support Members of the Maryland House of Delegates and community members, including retired law enforcement and former Baltimore Ravens player Eugene Monroe, said Thursday legalization of recreational cannabis would create new jobs and investment opportunities and save the state money by eliminating the incarceration of thousands of residents annually on marijuana possession charges. CNS
Pluribus News picks up on Maryland Matters article about state extreme weather event alert system:
Maryland Weathervane: The state is building the Maryland Mesonet, a network of automated weather-observing equipment meant to provide early warnings of storms and floods in the face of rising extreme weather events. Several Midwestern states have existing mesoscale networks that warn of tornadoes. (Maryland Matters)
Another one from Pluribus News: Quote of the Day
"We used to think the problem gambler was the little old lady at the slot machine, now it's the 20-something male who's sports betting."
— Diana Goode, executive director of the Connecticut Council of Problem Gambling, which has seen a 134% spike in calls and texts in the year since sports betting and online gaming was made legal. (Middletown Press)
Marylanders’ Life Expectancy Drops: Life expectancy in Maryland fell from 79.3 years in 2019 to 78.6 in 2020. The leading cause of death in the state was heart disease, followed by malignant neoplasms — also known as tumors – then COVID-19, according to the CDC. Heart disease was the third leading cause of death nationally. The last time life expectancy in Maryland dropped was in 2016, when it fell from 79.5 the year before to 79.1. CNS/MarylandReporter
UM EXPANDS TUITION AID FOR LOW-INCOME IN-STATE STUDENTS: The University of Maryland College Park announced Monday that it is increasing efforts to bring affordability to in-state students by launching a need-based financial aid program called Terrapin Commitment. The program will provide up to $20 million a year and will ensure that tuition and fees are fully covered for in-state and full-time students who are eligible for the Pell Grant and have unmet financial needs. WUSA-9.
- “We don’t want any of our students who are from certain socioeconomic backgrounds who are Pell-eligible to really carry any loans or any debt going forward,” President Darryll J. Pines said in an interview. WaPo.
--Roundup: Maryland Reporter
UM J-school project publishes school board candidate survey -- The Local News Network at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, a new initiative launched during the Fall 2022 semester, this month published its first project, a voter guide to every school board election in Maryland.
The Local News Network (@LNNMaryland on Twitter) surveyed 155 candidates, 102 of whom responded. All 102 Q&As, organized by Maryland county, were published on the Capital News Service website. The network has also published stories regarding trends in the survey responses — the first finding that pandemic-related learning loss and other academic concerns were listed as more important to candidates than such hot-button issues as teaching critical race theory. Merrill Monthly
Do School Resource Officers Make Schools Safer? Amid nationwide concern about school shootings and other violent incidents, all 24 Maryland school districts have employed school resource officers at some time since the 2016-2017 school year, and all but one retain them still. But now, at least five years on, the state says it has no proof that resource officers make schools safer. Capital News Service in MarylandReporter.com
MD State Police Accused of “Systematic” Bias Against Officers of Color
Maryland State Police troopers have filed a lawsuit against the agency alleging discrimination against officers of color, just months after federal authorities opened their own investigation exploring the same accusations.
The class-action complaint, filed this week in U.S. District Court by current and former officers, accuses state police of denying officers of color promotions, imposing harsher penalties on them compared with White officers and allowing a work environment that subjected them to racist comments. WaPo
A lot of the regulatory guidelines for electric vehicle charging stations are set at the very local level – cities, towns, counties. Although some cities have developed guidelines, checklists and websites for EV infrastructure applications, said one research institute director, “in too many cases…, charging station providers have found it can take up to two years to get the necessary permits.” More from Utility Dive.
And this Roundup by our national affiliate People’s Action in a week when Congress is home scrounging votes
From Pro Publica: “Big Oil Companies Are Selling Their Wells. Some Worry Taxpayers Will Pay to Clean Them Up. Shell and ExxonMobil are selling their California wells despite oil selling at high prices. Experts say one reason is looming liability for environmental cleanup.”
In this NY Times Magazine article “Beyond Catastrophe A New Climate Reality Is Coming Into View,” David Wallace-Wells talks to many climate experts and finds that the worst predictions of increases in global temperatures have been tempered but we are still on track for a 2 degree increase in global temperatures and we have a lot of control over our futures. The green transition has become profitable and some climate scientists are becoming decidedly more optimistic.
People in Oregon will vote on a ballot initiative that would amend its constitution to make healthcare a human right.
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