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Rural News

Medicaid ‘Buy-In’ Could Be a New Health Care Option for the Uninsured

Pew Trust | Posted on January 14, 2019

Even as calls for “Medicare for All” grow louder among Democrats in Washington, D.C., at least 10 states are exploring whether to allow residents to pay premiums to “buy in” to Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor. Currently, Medicaid recipients pay for their coverage in only a handful of states, and the buy-in plans that states are considering might not offer the full range of benefits available to traditional beneficiaries. But advocates say the policies might be an appealing option for people hard-pressed to pay for plans on the health care exchanges, and spur competition that could lower prices for everybody.The concept of enrolling all Americans in Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly, is probably a nonstarter in politically polarized Washington — at least for now. So, states have started looking at other ways to provide health care to more people at more affordable prices.Nevada’s legislature passed a Medicaid buy-in program in 2017, only to have its then-Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, veto it, saying the state needed more time to study the plan. Legislative supporters say they are planning to file a new bill shortly and are optimistic about passage. The state now has a Democratic governor. Studies of a buy-in option also are ongoing in California, Delaware, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. And newly elected governors in Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin have pledged support for Medicaid buy-in. 

Storm Lake: a study in rural resilience, diversity and hope

Daily Yonder | Posted on January 9, 2019

The small city of Storm Lake, Iowa, is full of surprises. Its population grows with each Census. Its public-school students speak 23 languages. It still has two newspapers, one of which won a Pulitzer Prize. Art Cullen shows the complexity of today’s rural America in the book Storm Lake.

Rural investments could be the next big opportunity

Daily Yonder | Posted on January 9, 2019

Rural America’s slow recovery from the Great Recession isn’t entirely bad news, says the founder of the Rural Opportunity Initiative. For smart public and private investors, it could provide a chance to get ahead of the pack.Rural companies and entrepreneurs in the U.S. share many similarities and common challenges with those in the developing world, McKenna says, a fact that made Georgetown, with its global economic development focus, a natural home for the initiative. One of those common challenges? That decades after the Great Recession, rural places continue to struggle to invigorate their economies. But the slow pace of rural recovery could actually be a positive marker of potential for investors, McKenna said.

Rapid Response Lowers Eradication Costs of Invasive Species: Evidence from Florida

Choices Magazine | Posted on January 9, 2019

While government agencies have developed guidance documents with specific recommendations for early detection and rapid response (National Invasive Species Council, 2016; U.S. Department of the Interior, 2016) and some international agreements mention invasive species, there are no clear science-based national policies to deal with invasive species in the United States. Instead, response efforts have been established on a case-by-case basis, and policy makers and stakeholders play a big role in deciding which invasions are targeted for control or eradication and when those efforts are to take place. Here we offer evidence that the economic costs associated with invasive species is in large part determined by the response time between arrival of a pest and the beginning of eradication or control efforts. To make our case, we first discuss the three phases of a biological invasion and the main strategies—in terms of response time—that policy makers have followed to deal with the threat. We also present a review of representative biological invasions that have affected Florida’s agriculture industry, categorized by the invasion phase in which eradication efforts were implemented. Finally, we discuss policy implications and recommendations.

Senators start session with focus on bills bridging ‘two Vermonts’

VT Digger | Posted on January 9, 2019

Senate leader Tim Ashe challenged his colleagues on Wednesday to bring legislation to the table this session that will raise the standard of living for the “other Vermont,” those in rural areas or urban pockets struggling to get by. “I challenge each of you,” Ashe said upon being re-elected as the Senate president pro tem, “I challenge each committee you will serve on, and I challenge myself, to never let go of this one question, what can we do to improve life in the other Vermont?”

Rural Recycling Hit Hard by Shifting Scrap Market

Pew Trust | Posted on January 9, 2019

Big cities have shielded their residents from the impact of China’s decision last year to curtail the solid waste it will accept from other countries. But rural and small-town residents are starting to get squeezed by a change that is wreaking havoc on the global recycling market. Hannibal, Missouri, population 18,000, has stopped accepting recyclable plastics labeled with the numbers 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7, such as yogurt containers and shampoo bottles. Villages near Erie, Pennsylvania, no longer take glass. And in Columbia County, New York, nestled in the Hudson Valley, residents soon will have to pay $50 a year to dump their materials at one of the county’s recycling centers.China, for decades the world’s largest importer of waste paper, used plastic and scrap metal, last year stopped accepting certain kinds of recyclables and tightened its standards for impurities in scrap bales. In making the changes, China’s Ministry of Environment Protection cited environmental damage caused by “dirty wastes or even hazardous wastes” mixed in with solid waste that can be recycled into raw materials.

What the Explosion of the Dollar Store Says About the State of Our Cities

Strong Towns | Posted on January 9, 2019

But according to a new report from the Institute for Local Self Reliance, the dollar store model isn’t just another cheap place to pick up toilet paper. It’s a symptom of some of the most pernicious forms of neighborhood decline—and, ILSR argues, it’s actually speeding that decline in a race to extract the last traces of wealth from failing communities. In this episode of Upzoned, Chuck and Kea dig into ILSR’s findings, and talk about where they agree (and don’t) with the institute’s policy prescriptions that might help end the dollar store scourge. It’s a deep dive into a nuanced problem, and a nice teaser for our upcoming webcast with ILSR co-director Stacy Mitchell.

Panel addresses ‘What’s Right About Kansas’

Hays Post | Posted on January 9, 2019

“That’s the thing about rural Kansas,” Corie Brown wrote. “No one lives there, not anymore.” The Los Angeles author’s assessment on rural Kansas in particular and Kansans in general was the outcome of an odyssey across the state for an online article published in April 2018. Its title, “Rural Kansas is Dying: I Drove 1,800 Miles to Find Out Why,” set the stage for her thesis.She interviewed farmers, university professors, politicians, local food system supporters and farm group leaders about the state’s rural population and community decline and what could be done to mitigate it. She found little hope in their responses.While many felt some of her conclusions were accurate, many who were interviewed felt disappointed that she did not place more emphasis on the efforts being made to address the problems and challenges rural communities and farmers face. They ended up feeling used, and none more so than Marci Penner, who had recommended many of the locations and people for the interview.After asking people to identify what makes their community livable, the answers largely centered on its people. “People are engaged in a community and the dedication to its quality of life,” Hendrickson said. “This has to be measured, but nobody measures it. We don’t have a happiness scale, though that might be more important than the gross domestic product.”

Roadkill studies aim to help animals cross the road

Daily Camera | Posted on January 9, 2019

t's more a question of "Where did the chicken cross the road?" At least, that is the question state transportation and wildlife officials hope to answer when they compile and release stats on roadkill in an effort to make sure animals get to the other side.Every year, the Colorado Department of Transportation releases a report on the number, type and location of every animal that did not survive its foray onto the highway. "We break it down by month, species, highway and if you want to go deeper, we even have certain stretches of highway," said Jeff Peterson, CDOT wildlife program manager.Peterson said the studies are primarily used to determine highways or areas that are proving especially dangerous for animals."The obvious thing is we're finding out where animals are not successful in crossing the road," Peterson said. "If there's a big problem with animals, we might recommend a bridge or fencing to make it better for the animals."The numbers also are how CDOT decides where to place animal crossing signs, which actually are based on statistics, Peterson said."We get our biologists involved to look at animal movement and corridors to try to find the problem areas to mitigate potential safety concerns with people and obviously animals," spokesman Jason Clay said. "Our collaboration with CDOT has been great. It's a huge safety hazard, and is bad for wildlife and very dangerous for humans as well."

These species went extinct in 2018. More may be doomed to follow in 2019

USA Today | Posted on January 9, 2019

They'd been on our planet for millions of years, but 2018 was the year several species officially vanished forever.  Three bird species went extinct this year, scientists said, two of which are songbirds from northeastern Brazil: The Cryptic Treehunter (Cichlocolaptes mazarbarnetti) and Alagoas Foliage-gleaner (Philydor novaesi), according to a report from the conservation group BirdLife International. According to BirdLife, the other extinct bird is Hawaii's Po'ouli (Melamprosops phaeosoma), which has not been seen in the wild since 2004 (the same year the last captive bird died). A disturbing trend is that mainland species are starting to go extinct, rather than island species: “Ninety percent of bird extinctions in recent centuries have been of species on islands,” said Stuart Butchart, BirdLife’s chief scientist and lead author on the paper.“However, our results confirm that there is a growing wave of extinctions sweeping across the continents, driven mainly by habitat loss and degradation from unsustainable agriculture and logging," he said.