Many of Huawei’s lowest-tier phones can be found associated with the nation’s cheapest prepaid services. Net10, Tracfone, and Straight Talk all offer Huawei smartphones at a $20 or lower price point. Such phones may have had high appeal at one point in time, but things have changed and many consumers are choosing to spend a little more money to get much, much better quality.This has been reflected by Huawei’s revenue numbers; the company isn’t making much from these phones at all, and it has decided to ditch them entirely. Huawei consumer division head Richard Yu confirmed the decision in a recent interview with Bloomberg, where he said, “We are giving up the very low-end devices because the margin in this is extremely low, and it’s not making enough profit for us.”That’s to say, Huawei doesn’t make much money from the ‘burner’ Android phones it does sell, and they’re not exactly a high-demand product. Of course, budget phones as a whole aren’t in danger of disappearing, as there will always be a consumer base that doesn’t want to spend much. ZTE still produces many of these very-low-cost smartphones, and Motorola has done an excellent job of cornering the market for slightly-more-expensive-but-still-cheap smartphones with things like the Moto E4.This is all part of a grander plan for Huawei, which aims to overtake competitors Samsung and Apple to hold the highest market share. That’s an ambitious goal, one that involves addressing the major growth slowdown experienced by Huawei this year (compared to 2016). The company is working to shed unnecessary costs and overhaul its business methods, as well as making further expansion into Japan, China and Europe a big priority. For some consumers, Chinese company Huawei is synonymous with ‘cheap phones’ — you can still find some of its handsets in convenience stores, big-box stores and online auction websites for very low prices, but those days are numbered. The company has big ambitions — namely to unthrone Apple and Samsung in terms of market share — and part of that ambition will require dropping its lowest-tier handsets entirely.
T-Mobile has revealed all the official details for its customers who want to get the iPhone X. The new iPhone will be going up for preorder starting this Friday. Ahead of that, T-Mobile has revealed the pricing for the handset under both its equipment installment option and its JUMP! On Demand option. Pre-orders open at 12:01AM PT on October 27. READ: iPhone X release nightmare: Here’s the problemIf you’re a T-Mobile customer (or you plan to make the switch this week), you’ll be paying $30/month and a $279.99 down payment to get the 64GB iPhone X from T-Mobile; the total device cost is $999 USD. If you’re wanting the higher capacity 256GB iPhone X, you’ll need to pay a downpayment of $429.99 followed by $30/month; total device cost is $1,149.99 USD.T-Mobile has another option, though — its JUMP! On Demand plan. If you’re one of those customers, you won’t pay anything down for the 64GB model and the monthly price will $41.56; the total price is $999.99. The 256GB model, though, comes with a $429.99 down payment requirement for JUMP! On Demand customers followed by a $24/month rate. The total cost of that phone is the same as above: $1,149.99.Existing iPhone owners (assuming it is no older than the iPhone 6 and that it isn’t the iPhone SE) can trade in the handset and get up to $300 off an iPhone X bought under the equipment installment plan. Those who get the iPhone X under T-Mobile’s upgrade program will also get the option of upgrading to a new iPhone once the handset is paid at least half off. That’s an alternative for those who don’t choose to get the new phone through Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program. The Uncarrier says this iPhone upgrade option is a one-time perk provided to iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X owners for free.
The game is HQ Trivia, and the reason its so popular might have a lot to do with the prizes it gives. Real money – cash prizes. That’s what the app professes to include. Whether the game actually gives money or not is irrelevant for the time being. What is relevant is the massive success of the app itself.The folks behind HQ Trivia suggest they had a Christmas Day record number of players for their in-app game show at 730-thousand+. The more players join, the higher the prize pot is, but the likelier it is that the prize will be split into smaller portions. The concept might seem harmless, but the end result is something out of Black Mirror. If you really want to make some money, buy some Bitcoin. The amount of time you spend on this app will not result in a cash prize higher than you’ll get for the amount of labor you put in to your job per hour. Unless you love the most simplistic questions on earth and don’t mind spending your time on an app with diminishing returns taking shape in the worst way.AdChoices广告Have a peek at an article in The Atlantic by Ian Bogost to get a longer look at why this app represents our end of days. It’s not as innocent as it looks. Or if you’re all about that trivia and want to cash in on a prize that might reach up to a whole $10, head over to Google Play right this minute!UPDATE: Per the creators of HQ Trivia – “Android update: we’re in limited beta as of Christmas Day & are working quickly on patches, so we can continue to roll it out to more testers throughout the week. Our goal is to make it available to ALL by Jan. 1.” HQ Trivia was the biggest game on iOS in the year 2017 – now its expanding beyond its iPhone borders. Android device users that found themselves jealous of their iPhone-using relatives playing HQ Trivia this holiday season can now rejoice. Android users can now head to Google Play to pre-register for the app to get updates about when the app will be available for download. Story TimelinePandora for Android TV updated with Premium plan supportAmazon Prime Video app is now on Android TV with a big catchAndroid Wear may soon be sweeter than iPhone XLG V30 Android 8.0 Oreo update starts rolling out today
Story TimelineGalaxy S9 leaks: Groundbreaking camera and a tough decisionGalaxy S9 VS S8 VS S9+ VS S8+ pre-release war of specsYou’re going to want the Galaxy S9+Galaxy S9 Intelligent Scan to combine face, iris recognition Many rumors and reports claim that the phone and its big brother, the Galaxy S9+, will launch sometime in March, with some disagreement on when exactly that will be. We’re getting a better idea of when Samsung plans to the launch the Galaxy S9 today, at least as far as its domestic release is concerned.A new report from ETNews claims that Samsung will fast-track the launch of the Galaxy S9 after revealing it in Barcelona on February 26 (or February 25 for those of us here in the US). Just a few days later – on March 2 – it will open up pre-orders in South Korea. That pre-order period will last one week, ending on March 8 with the phone presumably launching shortly after that. While this information only applies to South Korea, we can probably expect something similar for the rest of the world in this age of global launches.This shortened pre-sale period suggests that Samsung is looking to get the Galaxy S9 in the hands of consumers quickly. ETNews points out that other major Android manufacturers like Huawei and LG won’t have big reveals scheduled for MWC, so in launching the Galaxy S9 earlier than usual, Samsung could get a leg up on the competition when it comes to spring flagship season. It would also give Samsung a chance to capitalize on slow iPhone X sales, assuming a rumor we heard today is accurate.AdChoices广告The report from ETNews also gives us an idea of how much the Galaxy S9 will cost when it does eventually arrive. We’re told that the the Galaxy S9 will cost 950,000 to 999,000 KRW ($886 to $932 USD), representing a slight increase over the cost of the Galaxy S8, which clocked in at 935,000 KRW ($871). We’ll see if any of these rumors hold true soon enough, so stay tuned. It was only a few days ago that Samsung started sending out invitations to its Galaxy S9 reveal event. After months of rumors, we finally have confirmation that Samsung will reveal the phone during an Unpacked event at MWC 2018. It’s great that Samsung finally made that official, but now we shift our attention to when the company’s new flagship might actually launch.
Automatic backups are an important way to make sure documents and other files aren’t missed during manual backups. No effort is needed to shuttle the content off to the cloud; the user merely places the files in folders earmarked for automatic backup and the software takes care of the rest.The Folder Protection feature arrived first for business users earlier this summer and now it is available to all OneDrive users, including personal accounts. In addition to providing file safety, the feature also syncs files between multiple Windows 10 computers the user may toggle between, eliminating the need to manually transport and update files.Users don’t need to backup all of these folder options — just Documents can be automatically backed up, for example. To setup Folder Protection, users can click on the Windows notification icon, then open the Activity Center. Within that, choose More > Settings > Auto Save > and finally Update folders. Choose which folders will be backed up automatically, then click Start Protection.SOURCE: The Verge Microsoft has updated its OneDrive cloud storage service with new auto-backup options, making it easier for users to make sure all of their content is safety stored with as little effort as possible. Microsoft calls the feature Folder Protection, offering a Windows 10 prompt that instructs users on how to setup that automatic backups. Desktop, Documents, and Pictures are all options.
That’s not exactly surprising, considering the so-called iPhone Xs is going to be the direct successor of the iPhone X. At least in terms of design and dimensions, there will be a 1:1 correspondence between the two. That means the same 5.8-inch screen and the same notch.That does make it a bit harder to judge the veracity of these hands-on photos. There is visually nothing to identify it as the iPhone Xs. Not even a screenshot of the Settings app to confirm that claim. All we have is the word of the Weibo account holder. Not that there’s much to see here anyway. Nor do we need to wait that long for the real deal to finally be unveiled. Apple’s big event is just a few hours away and we’ll finally get to see the three new iPhones and, admittedly, the iPhone Xs might be the least interesting of the three. Unless you’re dead set on not having a gigantic phone in your hand.The iPhone Xs Plus, or Max, is going to be Apple’s phablet contender at 6.5 inches. But while the 6.1-inch iPhone Xr or Xc may seem like a nice middle size, it will have a lot more compromises, like in the LCD screen. Needless to say, Apple may have a 2018 iPhone X for everyone, including those who might not want to change anything at all. The leak problem isn’t just confined to the Android world. Granted, there are more things to leak there but an iPhone leak is almost worth five Android ones. Especially considering how rare the former is. That’s why there’s bound to be some buzz when alleged hands-on photos of the upcoming iPhone Xs pop up just a day before the official Apple event. The catch? It looks exactly like the iPhone X.
Rumors about “regramming” on Instagram have been around for months, and though the feature still doesn’t officially exist, new reports continue claiming it may one day be a reality. This week brings one such claim, with the report alleging that a “seamless sharing” feature is being tested internally as a way for users to share other users’ posts. Though it’s not uncommon to see Instagram users sharing other people’s content, it’s not something that’s officially possible, and it has resulted in more than a few copyright disputes. In its present form, users must make a copy of someone else’s post, then share it directly with their followers while giving credit in the description.That could change in the future, assuming Instagram ever releases a re-sharing feature. The Verge claims in a new report that it interviewed someone with knowledge of the company’s alleged internal feature, also viewing some screenshots showing the tool. The re-sharing feature is said to look visually unpolished at this point.Instagram, for its part, stated that it isn’t developing a feature for sharing others users’ content, nor is it testing such a feature. Unlike the existing post-sharing feature available for Stories, this alleged tool will allow someone to share another person’s post within their own account feed.AdChoices广告Such a feature remains controversial. Some users are unhappy about the potential for other users to share their content without permission, potentially using it to help build up an account without putting in any work of their own. Others express concern that a re-sharing feature will ruin the experience, resulting in people seeing posts from users they don’t follow and aren’t interested in.SOURCE: The Verge
As a bit of a refresher, the P100D’s 0 to 60 MPH time was quoted as 2.5 seconds back in August. Tesla also said that the car could manage a quarter-mile in 10.78 seconds. With this incoming update, Musk says the “Easter egg” that enables these increased speeds should should allow for those times to drop to 2.4 seconds and 10.6 seconds, respectively.That’s quite the Easter egg. Tesla likes to include hidden bonuses in these software updates, but few do what this one claims to. While these improvements may not seem that massive when we’re strictly looking at the numbers, it’s still pretty incredible that Tesla has managed to do this through a software update.After sending out this tweet, Musk was asked if this update will apply to P90D vehicles that were upgraded to P100Ds post-purchase. “All P100D vehicles produced to date, as well as new,” Musk replied. “This is purely a software optimization.” So, it sounds like all owners of P100Ds will be getting this update when it’s eventually released.There’s no specific word on timing yet, other than it’ll be out next month. We’ll likely hear more as plans for the OTA update are finalized, but that may not be for a few weeks yet. In any case, we’ll keep an eye open for more information, so stay tuned.SOURCE: Elon Musk (2) Story TimelineTesla Model X SUV teaser easter egg revealedElon Musk shows off “any song, any time” Easter Egg in Tesla’s Model S Tesla put James Bond Lotus submarine Easter egg in Model S softwareTesla’s latest Easter Egg makes the charge port a rainbow of color It looks like Tesla’s Model S P100D, which captured attention back in August for its ridiculous capabilities, is about to get faster. In a tweet today, Elon Musk said that a software update coming next month will shave some time off of the P100D’s already impressive 0 to 60 and 1/4 mile times. If there was ever a question before, it can now be laid to rest: Yes, you are indeed living in the future.
With the in-display ultrasonic fingerprint readers installed in the Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus, screen protectors needed an adjustment. Instead of spreading out all across the display glass, standard screen protectors need a bit of a dip – or a full-fledged hole. In order for one’s fingerprint to be read by the ultrasonic ID scanner in the device’s display, a full-fledged and thick pane of protective film (in this case likely an extra pane of glass) cannot sit on top. This solution from Samsung requires that the hardware be as close to the surface of the phone as possible. Only a TINY amount of space can be allowed between the hardware and the fingertip as it is scanned. The same source as reported above spoke about the difficulties involved in attempting to create screen protectors for the newest Galaxy S smartphone set. SEE TOO: 10 unique features on Galaxy S10 The Galaxy S10e shouldn’t be an issue as the fingerprint scanner is on the side of the phone. It’s only the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus that are giving accessory-makers a bit of pain. Aside from the screenshot from the video, you’ll notice photos here from a third source showing a screen protector with a circular cutout.We’ll see these devices all in full detail come February 20th, 2019. At that time we’ll see the Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10, and Galaxy S10 Plus revealed in full and likely put on pre-order within 24 hours after the fact. We’re expecting that the Samsung Galaxy S10 family will be released on March 9th, 2019 – give or take a few days. In a hands-on video leaked by a case-making brand, the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus seems to have inadvertently revealed a secret. A secret beyond the obvious set of specifications, specifications which have leaked in GREAT detail over the last several weeks. We’ve got all that good stuff here too – but first, that little oddity sitting right up front. What’s the deal with this big hole in the screen protector? Story TimelineGalaxy S10, S10e try to look cool in Blue rendersGalaxy S10 likely set to lean on these selfie featuresGalaxy S10 reservations open before reveal with trade-in program As mentioned a few weeks ago by another 3rd-party accessory-maker, there’s a bit of an issue with the way Samsung’s front-facing in-display fingerprint reader works. This isn’t an issue with how Samsung handles their own phone. It’s not an issue Samsung would even really consider an issue as such – it’s more of an issue for case-making brands in assuming they’d be able to do business as usual when it came to screen protectors.
Smaller than the Tiguan, it has a bold trapezoidal grille flanked with integrated dual headlamps. Black contrasting body-trim is there partly for style and partly for increasing bodywork ruggedness. There’s also chrome trim that runs up the A-pillar, along the roofline, and back to the C-pillar. VW says that’s to give the T-Roc a coupe-esque look, though we’re not sure anybody will be convinced. Better is the optional bi-color finish which gives the pillars a different paint job compared to the body. LED tail lamps and daytime running lamps are standard. Oddly, though, for all VW’s lip service to the future being electrified, it has gone entirely old-school with the T-Roc’s engines. There’ll be six in total, all turbocharged. Half will be diesel TDI’s, while the other half will be gas TSI’s; some will have front-wheel drive and manual transmissions, while others will have the dual-clutch 7-speed automatic with either FWD or 4Motion all-wheel drive options. Volkswagen has a punchy new compact crossover, the 2018 VW T-Roc, promising more style in a smaller footprint ideal for urban drivers. Fourth of the automaker’s SUV line-up, the T-Roc manages to be far more visually interesting than its sober, sensible predecessors, while VW claims it’ll be more engaging to drive than you might expect, too. That’s no bad thing, since none of the company’s existing SUVs could really be confused as entertaining on the road. Inside, there’s space for up to five. The rear seats drop down to expand the 445 liter cargo space to up to 1,290 liters; they also fold in a 60/40 split, should you need to balance passengers and load. A power hatchback is also available.As for the tech, there’s Front Assist area monitoring with emergency city braking and pedestrian monitoring as standard, along with automatic post-collision braking and lane-keeping assistance. Air conditioning, and VW’s Composition Color infotainment system, are also standard-fit. Tick the right boxes, meanwhile, and you can add adaptive cruise control, rear traffic alerts and blind-spot monitors, parking assistance, traffic jam assistance, and emergency assistance. Adaptive chassis control and progressive steering can be added for more eager drivers, and there’s also the option of keyless entry. Two higher-level trims – Sport and Style – will add things like contrast-color interior panels and sport comfort seats. VW says the T-Roc will go on sale in Europe from November. Pricing is expected to kick off from around 20,000 EUR (~$23k), though don’t get too excited. Right now there are no plans to bring the T-Roc to the US.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has taken to Twitter to praise the team at Tesla for producing 7,000 cars in only screen days. While not all the cars were the in-demand Model 3, a full 5,000 of that number produced were Model 3 EVs. The final car in that 7,000-production run left the assembly line on Sunday morning. Whether or not Tesla could have maintained that high of a production rate is unknown. Tesla has been working hard to overcome all sorts of production challenges. These bottlenecks have been blamed on over-reliance on automation at the assembly lines where the cars are built. Tesla has also blamed battery issues and other production bottlenecks for delays. Tesla had to work very hard to reach the 5,000 Model 3 units in a week goal. That work involved setting up another complete assembly line inside a giant tent outside the main factory.AdChoices广告Tesla is known for making so-called “burst builds” that are meant to estimate how many cars it could produce over an extended period. Analysts watching Tesla have warned investors to be wary of “burst rates” because these levels of Model 3 production aren’t sustainable. Tesla has yet to begin building the cheap $35,000 Model 3 that is the automakers’ mass market car.SOURCE: CNBC 7000 cars, 7 days♥️ Tesla Team ♥️— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 1, 2018 With that car rolling out the doors, Tesla met Musk’s goal of producing that many cars in a week a few hours after the midnight goal Musk had set. Word is that the last of the 5,000 Model 3 cars made had completed its final quality checks at around 5am PDT.
Retailers do have the tendency to jump the gun at times but, more often than not, it only happens online. However, some physical retail stores, especially Best Buy, sometimes puts out packages for keen customers to see days before they’re supposed to launch. Not that they can buy those items anyway.That seems to be the case when a reader sent Android Police sent photos of Pixel 3a XL boxes sitting in shelves within plain view. The Best Buy store in Springfield, Ohio may have overlooked the packaging and mistook it for the Pixel 3 XL. They are, after all, visually indistinguishable.The boxes do confirm some details, like the “Just Black” color and, based on a different leak, “Purple-ish”. The 6.0-inch Pixel 3a XL will also come with 64 GB of storage but the 128 GB model is nowhere to be seen. Neither is the smaller Pixel 3a in the picture.AdChoices广告Again, nothing we haven’t heard before but the sighting of the Pixel 3a XL as Best Buy does mean one thing. The devices are already in retailers’ stockrooms, ready to sell next week when Google gives the green light. Last year’s Pixel 3 may have been Google’s, and the entire smartphone industry’s, worst kept secret and nothing probably tops that. Although it’s not even a close second, its mid-range cousin has also seen its fair share of leaks. Those have been unofficial, of course, but the most official leak is now available thanks to Best Buy. Unfortunately, the Pixel 3a XL packaging doesn’t have much else to reveal that we haven’t heard of before.
The car is stunning on the outside and has full LED headlights. Styling cues give hints of the 1975 308 GTB. Ferrari has also revised the interior with a new HMI and a 7-inch passenger touchscreen display. Ferrari has shared images of a car that will make its world debut next month in Geneva. The car is called the Ferrari F8 Tributo and Ferrari says the car is an homage to the most powerful V8 in Ferrari history. The automaker does get a bit more specific in saying that it’s the most powerful V8 in a non-special series car. The V8 hidden under that louvered rear window is a 3902cc unit that makes 720cv and sets a record with a specific power output of 185 cv/l. The F8 Tributo is the replacement for the 488 GTB and brings improvements across the board according to Ferrari.The Tributo offers better control on the limit and greater comfort behind the wheel. Tributo buyers get 50 cv more power than the 488 GTB provided, and the Tributo is lighter than the outgoing car. Ferrari also boasts a 10% improvement in aerodynamic efficiency.The car is also fitted with Ferrari’s latest version of Side Slip Angle control. Exhaust sound as is part of Ferrari lore as performance; Ferrari promises the car will produce an “evocative soundtrack.” Other new features include a revised version of the Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer (FDE+) that can be activated in RACE mode for the first time.
Don’t get your hopes up. Here are 5 ways that Google Stadia could fail 5 questions the Google Stadia team needs to answer in its Reddit AMA Google Stadia: Everything we know so far Playing Google Stadia in 2019 requires a bundle purchase, not just a controller Google Stadia’s platform for everyone promise is already broken On Thursday, Google hosted an AMA on the Stadia Reddit where people were given an opportunity to ask the Director of Product Andrey Doronichev questions they have about the platform. The result was a more defined look at the upcoming cloud gaming service as well as a few new nuggets of information.One of the first questions addressed by Doronichev was one about free-to-play games on Stadia. As it stands, we know that players will be able to access a library of games via the Stadia Pro subscription and by individual purchases. Eventually, gamers will be able to access Uplay Plus, as well. Doronichev said there’s nothing that can be announced regarding free-to-play games but he hopes to announce some in the next few months. He also addresses Stadia being called the “Netflix of gaming.”“To be clear, Stadia Pro is not ‘Netflix for games’ like some people have mentioned,” he said. “A closer comparison would be like Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus. The Pro subscribers get 4K/HDR streaming, 5.1 sound, exclusive discounts and access to some free games. Roughly one free game per month give or take.”Doronichev elaborated on the benefits of developing for Google Stadia during the Reddit AMA, as well. In response to a question about what feature will move the needle the most for Stadia, he had this to say:“I think the biggest is the fact that game developers don’t have to limit their creativity to whatever fits in a little black box under your TV,” he said. “Since games will be running in the Cloud, we expect to see new games at scale never seen before. I can’t wait to see what that community can do with the power of this new architecture. I also think game design will evolve to accommodate for gamers accessing games anytime and on any device.”Google elected to launch the Stadia platform without hosting a beta testing phase, so curious gamers will be going in fairly blind this fall. There are elements that haven’t been shown publicly and one of Doronichev’s responses reinforced that Google is keeping things under wraps right up until launch. When asked about when the world will be able to see the user inferace, Doronichev responded that we’ll be able to see it in November once Stadia launches.“For now you have to trust me — it’s looking good,” he said.Addressing something brought up in our list of five Stadia questions Google should answer, Doronichev addressed Stadia coming to mobile devices other than the Google Pixel 3. “We’re aiming to get more devices supported next year. I really want to have Stadia gameplay on every mobile device, across Android and iOS at some point. But it’s a hard technical challenge and will take us time. Just need to start somewhere. So we’re starting with the device we know the best and can provide an optimal experience — our latest Pixel phones.” Editors’ Recommendations
Obama Defends Health Law, Saying Romney Woud End Its Consumer Protections 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 Associated Press/Florida Today: Obama: With Health Care, Romney Just ‘Doesn’t Care’ President Barack Obama slapped a “Romney doesn’t care” label on his rival’s health-care views Sunday and said Republicans want to repeal new protections for millions without offering a plan of their own. … “Gov. Romney promised that on his first day in office he’s gonna sit right down, grab a pen and repeal Obamacare,” the president said. “What that means is that right away he’d kick 7 million young people off their parents’ plan. He’d take hope away from tens of millions of American with pre-existing conditions by repealing reform,” the president said. “You know, he calls it Obamacare. I like the name. I do care. …. I don’t know exactly what the other side is proposing; I guess you could call it ‘Romney doesn’t care.’ But this law is here to stay” (Espo, 9/3). USA Today: Biden: GOP Would Turn Medicare Into ‘Voucher Care’ The Obama campaign is trying to put a new tag on Republican Medicare plans. “Voucher care.” “We are for Medicare, they are for voucher care,” said Vice President Biden on Sunday in Green Bay, Wis. “It’s basic.” Under proposals backed by GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and other Republicans, seniors would be given vouchers of a set amount to buy health insurance on the private market. The Mitt Romney campaign says it backs a “premium support” Medicare plan modeled on one used by members of Congress; recipients would choose a health care plan from a menu of approved options, and the government would make payments on their behalf to insurance providers (Jackson, 9/3). Politico: Joe Biden Takes Aim At ‘Vouchercare’ Wading into Paul Ryan territory, Vice President Joe Biden delivered a blistering critique of the GOP vice presidential nominee’s Medicare proposal and warned that the Republican ticket would turn the health care system for seniors into “Vouchercare.” As he campaigned in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin on Sunday, Biden hammered Ryan and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for endorsing a Medicare proposal that would give seniors subsidies to purchase private health care plans. Biden, echoing a common Democratic attack, accused Republicans of wanting to “end the guarantee of Medicare” (Kim, 9/2). The Associated Press/Fox News: Romney Launches GOP Response At Dem Convention Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is launching an aggressive Republican response at the site of the Democratic National Convention aimed at stealing attention and driving new questions about President Barack Obama’s leadership on the eve of his nomination for a second term. … Romney, meanwhile, will spend much of the week in New Hampshire and Vermont preparing for three fall debates with Obama, the first on Oct. 3. Ryan will play a more prominent role in day-to-day campaigning during the week (9/3).Politico: Pelosi Blasts Ryan Medicare Plan At Convention Nancy Pelosi teed off on Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan, saying Democrats “created” the senior health care program and “will not let them take it away.” In a 25-minute speech to the California Democratic Party delegation, Pelosi said that “nothing less than the character of our country” is on the ballot this November – a familiar refrain from the House minority leader, who is trying to make Republican plans to reshape Medicare a major issue for the fall campaign. … “It’s just plain wrong to privatize, voucherize and end Medicare as we know it” (Sherman, 9/3). The Hill: Nancy Pelosi Begins Convention With Attack On Mitt Romney, Republicans House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday began the Democratic National Convention with a wide-ranging attack on Mitt Romney and the Republicans over everything from Medicare and immigration to women’s health and gay rights — themes that will echo loudly this week in the run-up to President Obama’s official nomination Thursday (Lillis, 9/3).
The studies in JAMA Internal Medicine look at issues surrounding coordinated care between doctors and their patients.Los Angeles Times: Patients Who Helped With Medical Choices Had Higher Bills: StudyMany patients like having a say in their medical care. But according to a new survey, the people who say they want to take a relatively aggressive, hands-on approach may also wind up with longer hospital stays and higher bills than their peers who leave the decision making up to their doctors. A team of researchers from the University of Chicago School of Medicine reported on the survey’s findings Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine (Brown, 5/27).Reuters: Patient Communication Has Room To Grow: StudiesThere’s room — and need — for improvement in the discussions between doctor and patient that go into medical decision-making, according to research out on Monday. In four studies and a commentary published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the authors look at various aspects of doctors’ dialogue with patients about prognoses, options and treatment preferences and find little consistency (Seaman, 5/27).Also, Reuters gets early word on a new study about wellness programs -Reuters: Exclusive: ‘Workplace Wellness’ Fails Bottom Line Waistlines – RANDA long-awaited report on workplace wellness programs, which has still not been publicly released, delivers a blow to the increasingly popular efforts, Reuters has learned, casting doubt on a pillar of the Affordable Care Act and a favorite of the business community. According to a report by researchers at the RAND Corp, programs that try to get employees to become healthier and reduce medical costs have only a modest effect (Begley, 5/27). Studies Find Patients Often Choose Higher Cost Treatments, Doctor-Patient Communications Needs Improvement This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
State Highlights: Mass. Can’t Ban Painkiller, Judge Rules; Kan. And Health Care Compact Bill A selection of health policy stories from Massachusetts, Kansas, Florida, Michigan, Connecticut, Maryland, Arizona, Hawaii, Missouri and Georgia.The Washington Post: Massachusetts Cannot Ban FDA-Approved Painkiller, Judge RulesA federal judge on Tuesday blocked an effort by Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick to ban sales of a controversial new painkiller in the state, saying the governor’s move was preempted by federal law and could harm people who need the drug for pain relief. In a five-page order, U.S. District Judge Rya W. Zobel sided with the drug’s California-based manufacturer, Zogenix, which had argued that Patrick had no right to bar a medication that the Food and Drug Administration has deemed safe and effective (Dennis, 4/15).Kansas Health Institute: Governor Urged To Veto Health Care Compact BillGov. Sam Brownback would be taking a political risk by signing a bill that could eventually give state officials control of Medicare and other federal health care programs, Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger said Tuesday. Praeger, a Republican in the final year of her third and final term, said because the bill could “jeopardize” the benefits of the nearly 450,000 Kansans enrolled in Medicare signing it could alienate senior voters (McLean, 4/15).The Miami Herald: Miami Lawmakers Make One More Push To Extend Health Care To Immigrant ChildrenA bill to extend subsidized health insurance to the state’s youngest legal immigrants has stalled in the Florida Legislature, due largely to the initial $27.5 million price tag. But Rep. José Félix Díaz, a Miami Republican says the actual price is a lot lower: between $7 million and $15 million. He’s fighting to have the measure included in the state budget (McGrory, 4/15).The Wall Street Journal: Detroit Reaches Deal With Police, Firefighter RetireesOther terms in Tuesday’s police and firefighters pact include a voluntary employee beneficiary association plan, known as a VEBA, funded by Detroit to handle retiree health care, instead of the city. These retirees would also keep some representation on the board of their pension system, over which the city had proposed increasing independent oversight. All of the city’s creditors will still have a chance to vote on the city’s plan, including more than 20,000 city workers and retirees. But Judge Rhodes will have the final say on its approval (Dolan, 4/15).The CT Mirror: Medical Fraud In CT Costs Feds Millions Of DollarsReporters and lawyers have become the latest front in Washington’s war against medical fraud that, in some way, is unwinnable, even as it has resulted in the prosecution of doctors and drug companies in Connecticut and across the country. Last year, James P. Ralabate, a Stratford-based general practitioner, agreed to pay $700,000 as part of an agreement with the Justice Department to settle allegations that he and his company, Primary Care Associates, engaged in fraudulent billing at several nursing homes in Connecticut. Each year, medical fraudsters steal at least $70 billion from the federal government — probably a lot more (Radelat, 4/15).The Washington Post: Gansler Takes Aim At Maryland’s ‘Bad Spending Habits,’ Says He Would Save The State Money[Democratic candidate for governor Douglas] Gansler said major savings could be realized through reforms to the state’s procurement process, better management of the state Medicaid program and reduction of the non-violent prison population, among other strategies (Wagner, 4/15).The CT Mirror: CT Legislative Panel OKs Contract With Personal Care AttendantsA legislative committee approved a controversial first contract Tuesday between the state and the union representing nearly 11,000 personal care attendants who help the elderly and disabled remain in their homes. The workers, who originally gained bargaining rights through an executive order by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, receive hourly raises ranging from 40 to 50 cents in 2014, and from 35 to 50 cents in 2015. The agreement provides funds for worker training and orientation and limited paid time off. Though rules governing the latter still must be negotiated, workers could be eligible for limited stipends — but not full pay — when taking scheduled time off (Phaneuf and Becker, 4/15).Kansas Health Institute News Service: Mental Health Task Force Report ReleasedA 16-member task force that spent much of the past year looking for ways to improve the state’s mental health system released its findings today. “I looked forward to reading this report and working to determine which of their recommendations we want to implement,” Gov. Sam Brownback said in a prepared statement. Included in the 38-page report are an assessment of the system’s shortcomings and more than 40 recommendations for expanding access to treatment (Ranney, 4/15).The Associated Press: Plan Would Change Payments For Mental Health CareThe Florida Legislature is considering a plan that would change the way the state pays to treat people who need emergency mental health care, a move critics say would gut the current system to benefit large hospital systems. Under the current system, the state Department of Children and Families contracts with 117 public and private Crisis Stabilization Units around the state to provide emergency mental health treatment, paying nearly $300 a day per bed regardless of whether they are occupied. The system, which cost the state $61.3 million last year, guarantees that the crisis units have enough beds and staff to meet peak needs, supporters say (4/15).The Associated Press: Arizona Bill Would Regulate Health Care NavigatorsThe Arizona Senate has given initial approval to a measure that would require extra licensing and background checks for health exchange navigators who help people buy coverage. The Senate gave initial approval to House Bill 2508 on Tuesday. The bill that would require navigators to get a license through the state Department of Insurance and to pass a criminal background check (4/15).The Associated Press: Hawaii Weighs Expanded Coverage For InfertilityHawaii lawmakers are weighing whether insurance companies should be required to cover more treatments for infertility and to update a law that some say discriminates against unmarried women. The resolution (SCR 35) calls on the state auditor to study the social and economic effects of the proposal. “Women are starting their families later, which raises all sorts of concerns about access to procedures,” said Rep. Della Au Belatti, chairwoman of the House Health committee, which advanced the resolution (Bussewitz, 4/15).Stateline: States Battle Asthma As Numbers GrowIn a valley wedged between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, St. Louis often finds itself beset by a stationary air mass that only a severe storm of some kind can dislodge. St. Louis is also an industrial city with high humidity, so it’s no wonder it usually makes the list of worst places for asthmatics to live. But the state has also pioneered advances in addressing asthma treatment and costs (Ollove, 4/16).Georgia Health News: State Seeking More Choice In 2015 Health State officials said Tuesday that they plan to increase the number of insurers and health plan options for state employees and teachers next year. The State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) has been a target of fierce criticism since Jan. 1. That’s when changes to its benefit design, plus the use of just one insurer, sparked widespread complaints about a lack of choice of insurance plans and higher health care costs. Now, though, the Department of Community Health is asking for proposals for a second statewide insurer to offer a high-deductible health plan, a Medicare Advantage plan for retirees, and a statewide HMO (Miller, 4/15).Georgia Health Plans: Standalone Rural ERs Face A Serious HurdleGov. Nathan Deal’s plan to help financially ailing rural hospitals, announced last month, has drawn strong praise from legislators and health industry leaders. Deal proposed a change in licensing rules to permit a struggling rural hospital, or one that recently closed, to offer downsized services that would include an emergency department. But a drawback has emerged – one that, if unchanged, may lower the chances of these freestanding ERs being built (Miller, 4/15). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Amicus Therapeutics Inc said it was unlikely to submit a U.S. marketing application for its lead drug, to treat Fabry disease, by the end of 2015 as expected, after U.S. health regulators asked for a more comprehensive analysis of trial data. Amicus’s stock slumped as much as 59 percent to $5.69, at which point about $956 million had been wiped off the biotechnology company’s market capitalization on Friday. (Grover, 10/2) Technology holds great promise in many fields, especially health care. But it isn’t a cure-all. Investors in Teladoc learned that the hard way Friday. Shares in the largest and oldest telemedicine company fell by more than one-fifth after a report noted that health insurer Highmark won’t be renewing its contract with Teladoc for fully insured members. (Grant, 10/4) J. Michael Pearson has become a billionaire from his tough tactics as the head of the fast-growing Valeant Pharmaceuticals International. And consumers like Bruce Mannes, a 68-year-old retired carpenter from Grandville, Mich., are facing the consequences. Mr. Mannes has been taking the same drug, Cuprimine, for 55 years to treat Wilson disease, an inherited disorder that can cause severe liver and nerve damage. This summer, Valeant more than quadrupled its price overnight. Medicare will now have to cover about $35,000 for the 120 capsules he takes each month, and he will have to pay about $1,800 a month out of pocket, compared with about $366 he paid in May. (Pollack and Tavernise, 10/4) AARP, the 37 million-member organization for people 50 and older, is establishing a $40 million venture capital fund to boost innovation and technology that will serve its constituents. The fund, administered by a unit of JPMorgan Chase & Co., will invest in enabling aging at home, improving access to health care and expanding the market for preventive health services, said Jo Ann Jenkins, AARP’s chief executive officer. (Lauerman, 10/1) Reuters: US Insurers Hold Back Lilly’s Death-Defying Diabetes Drug Reuters: Novartis Biosimilar Copycat Takes Aim At Amgen’s Drug Enbrel The New York Times: Valeant’s Drug Price Strategy Enriches It, But Infuriates Patients And Lawmakers This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Drug Makers’ Seemingly Whimsical Pricing Leaves Consumers Fuming And Confused The New York Times examines how Valeant’s decision to dramatically increase the cost of a drug affects spending and patients’ decisions about care. Other outlets also look at the controversial issue of drug marketping, and AARP is setting up a technology fund to push innovations to help seniors. America’s largest health insurers are urging doctors to stick with current standard treatments for diabetes instead of flocking to a new drug from Eli Lilly & Co that is showing it can provide life-saving results for one-third of patients. Aetna Inc, CVS Health Corp and Molina Healthcare Inc said they would need further clinical data and a change in medical society guidelines on Lilly’s Jardiance before agreeing to make it easier for patients to receive the $4,800-a-year treatment. That’s a process that could take anywhere from 18 months to several years. (Humer and Pierson, 10/2) Bloomberg: AARP Starts $40M Venture Fund For Technology For Seniors The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has accepted Novartis unit Sandoz’s regulatory submission for approval of a biosimilar copy of Amgen’s blockbuster Enbrel drug, the Swiss drugmaker said on Friday. Biosimilars aim to copy biologic products, which are made inside living cells, but they can never be exact duplicates, so biosimilar manufacturers need to conduct clinical trials to show their products work as intended. (10/2) The Wall Street Journal: Why Teladoc Needs Medical Attention Reuters: Amicus To Delay Filing For U.S. Marketing Rights For Lead Drug
Advocates Hope Medicaid Buy-In Could Be A Softer, More Politically Palatable Alternative To ‘Medicare For All’ The idea would be to allow people who earn too much to qualify for expanded Medicaid to buy a Medicaid managed-care plan instead of commercial coverage. But even that proposal has hospitals balking. The state’s main health care agency is requesting $72.9 million in additional funding for the current fiscal year (FY 2019, which runs through next June 30), and $195.8 million more for fiscal 2020. The board of the Department of Community Health approved the budget requests at a meeting Thursday. The proposal now goes to the governor’s office, and after possible revisions there, to the General Assembly in January. (Miller, 8/23) In other Medicaid news — Ahead of the 2020 elections, liberal advocacy groups at the state level are pushing Medicaid buy-in—a public option Democrats increasingly view as a softer, safer policy alternative to “Medicare for all.” But healthcare providers are averse to even this more modest proposal, especially hospitals that don’t want to lose commercial reimbursements to scantier Medicaid rates. In New Mexico, more than 40% of residents are already on Medicaid, and the state is one of the pioneers in proposing Medicaid buy-in policies. Advocates hope the state Legislature will consider such a policy early next year. (Luthi, 8/23) Sherri and Thomas Croom have been foster parents to 27 children — from newborns to teenagers — during the past decade.That has meant visits to dozens of doctors and dentists for issues ranging from a tonsillectomy to depression. While foster parenting has innumerable challenges, health care coverage for the children isn’t one of them. Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor, picks up the tab for nearly all children in foster care and often continues to cover them if they are adopted, regardless of their parents’ income. (Galewitz, 8/24) Modern Healthcare: Can Lawmakers Convince Hospitals To Support Medicaid Buy-In? Georgia Health News: Medicaid Spending Growth Helps Spur Higher Budget Requests Saying Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid to about 500,000 Kentuckians must be preserved, a group led by hospital executives has launched a campaign to get lawmakers to consider broadening a state tax on health care providers to help pay for it. Norton Healthcare Vice President Riggs Lewis, the group’s president, said Wednesday that the plan would generate revenue to fund the expansion as Medicaid costs rise in future years. (Yetter, 8/22) Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal: New Group Offers A Proposal To Save Kentucky’s Medicaid Expansion Kaiser Health News: Medicaid Covers Foster Kids, But Daunting Health Needs Still Slip Through The Cracks This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
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