02-23-2024  3:07 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Amid Fentanyl Crisis, Oregon Lawmakers Propose More Funding for Opioid Addiction Medication in Jails

Democrats are looking to counterbalance restoring criminal penalties for possession with expanding access to treatment for a potentially growing number of people in the criminal justice system. The proposal would create a million grant fund for jails looking to provide opioid addiction medication. Federal data shows only 24% of jails provide such medication to people with prior prescriptions.

KGW Apologizes After Airing Racist Image

Television station KGW says it deeply regrets inadvertently showing a racist image during a segment called “The Good Stuff,” which invited viewers to share “cheesy, silly, or memorable” photos from the past. The 1950s image showed children throwing balls towards a sign prominently displaying a racial slur. KGW apologised for “the profound hurt this image inflicted upon our viewers and staff, particularly members of our Black community.” Leaders of the Portland NAACP chapter said they were appalled

Rep. Blumenauer Talks Retirement from Congress and His Plans to Help Put Portland Back Together

U.S. Representative for Oregon has held his seat for nearly 30 years.

NEWS BRIEFS

Black Community Input Helps Fuel George Park Project

The effort is an innovative partnership between the City, Portland Parks Foundation, and The Kidz Outside ...

Renewal of School Local Option Levy Will be on May Ballot

If approved by voters, the levy renewal would maintain the current tax rate and continue to fund approximately 660 teachers and other...

Wyden, Merkley Announce $70,000 for the Oregon Food Bank

“Nothing is more important than making sure folks in need have food to eat, and the resources to thrive,” Wyden...

Historic Church in Seattle Hosts Free Black History Month Film Series for All

New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, located in Seattle’s historic Central District, will host “Freedom Fridays: A Black History...

Remains found over 50 years ago identified through DNA technology as Oregon teen

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The remains of a teenager found more than 50 years ago have been identified through advanced DNA technology as a young woman who went missing from Portland, Oregon State Police said. The remains are that of Sandra Young, a high school student who disappeared...

Amid fentanyl crisis, Oregon lawmakers propose more funding for opioid addiction medication in jails

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Kendra Sawyer spoke with her dad from the Deschutes County jail and told him she loved him. Six hours later, in the throes of opioid withdrawal, the 22-year-old took her own life. A year later, Sawyer’s father, Kent, is left wondering whether his daughter,...

Mark leads Arkansas against Missouri after 26-point game

Missouri Tigers (8-18, 0-13 SEC) at Arkansas Razorbacks (13-13, 4-9 SEC) Fayetteville, Arkansas; Saturday, 12 p.m. EST BOTTOM LINE: Arkansas hosts the Missouri Tigers after Tramon Mark scored 26 points in Arkansas' 78-71 win over the Texas A&M Aggies. ...

Deen scores career-high 35, makes program-record 9 3-pointers as Bradley downs Missouri State 86-62

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Duke Deen scored a career-high 35 points and made a program-record nine 3-pointers as Bradley beat Missouri State 86-62 on Wednesday night. Deen shot 13 for 17, including 9 for 12 from beyond the arc for the Braves (19-9, 11-6 Missouri Valley Conference)....

OPINION

Message from Commissioner Jesse Beason: February is 'Black History and Futures Month'

I am honored to join the Office of Sustainability and to co-sponsor a proclamation to mark “Black History and Futures Month” ...

Ending Unfair Contracts Harming Minority Businesses Will Aid Gov. Kotek’s Affordable Housing Goals

Senate Bill 1575 will protect small businesses from state and local government’s unfair contract practices while also allowing the building industry to help the governor meet her affordable housing project goals. ...

February is American Heart Month

This month is a time to recognize that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, especially in the African American community ...

Thrilling History of Black Excellence in Our National Parks

In every facet of American life -from exploration; conquest; defense; economy; resistance; conservation and the pursuit of human rights – I can show you a unit of the National Park System where the event took place, where African Americans made the...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

A love affair unraveled before a Black transgender woman was fatally shot in rural South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A Black transgender woman and the guy she was secretly dating had just been pulled over in rural South Carolina. Dime Doe, the driver, was worried. She already had points against her license and didn't want another ticket to stop her from getting behind the wheel. Daqua...

Native American tribes gain new authority to stop unwanted hydopower projects

Federal regulators have granted Native American tribes more power to block hydropower projects on their land after a flurry of applications were filed to expand renewable energy in the water-scarce U.S. Southwest. Previously, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted developers...

HIV/AIDS activist Hydeia Broadbent, known for her inspirational talks as a young child, dies at 39

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Hydeia Broadbent, the HIV/AIDS activist who came to national prominence in the 1990s as a young child for her inspirational talks to reduce the stigma surrounding the virus she was born with, has died. She was 39. Broadbent's father announced on Facebook that she...

ENTERTAINMENT

Dreaming of summer peaches? Some gardening tips for growing a peach tree in many climates

I planted my first peach tree last June, five months before Pantone named Peach Fuzz the 2024 color of the year. How serendipitous! Today peachy tones are showing up everywhere, from TV backdrops to home furnishings, clothing and brand logos. But for me, it’s not about the trend but...

FuboTV files lawsuit over ESPN, Fox, Hulu, Warner Bros. Discovery sports-streaming venture

Streaming service FuboTV has filed an antitrust lawsuit against ESPN, Fox, Warner Bros. Discovery and Hulu, which are planning to launch a sports-streaming venture in the fall. The lawsuit has been filed in the Southern District of New York. FuboTV, which focuses primarily on live...

Far from gloomy, darker paints create a cozy, more welcoming room

Dark hues have a bad rap as gloomy and depressing. More likely, they're bringing home the good vibes, all year long. One weekend when I had the house to myself, I painted our family room Benjamin Moore’s Kendall Charcoal, a deep, earthy gray. I waited till I had two...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

A love affair unraveled before a Black transgender woman was fatally shot in rural South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A Black transgender woman and the guy she was secretly dating had just been pulled over in...

Belarus cracks down on clergy who supported protests of its authoritarian leader

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — The Rev. Viachaslau Barok was a familiar face in Rasony, a town in northern Belarus near...

AP PHOTOS: Ukraine endures a second year of war with scenes of grief, suffering and also joy

The second year of Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s full-scale invasion brought no respite for Ukrainian...

UK and EU agree to cooperate on tackling illegal immigration as post-Brexit relations thaw further

LONDON (AP) — Britain and its former partners in the European Union have struck a deal to cooperate more on...

Polish lawmakers OK morning-after pill for ages 15 and over in a first step to ease reproductive law

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s lawmakers voted on Thursday to approve over-the-counter access to the...

Senegal's president says he'll leave office in April, but gives no date for elections

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Senegal’s President Macky Sall said Thursday that he will end his term in April as...

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar the Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Medicare's basic monthly premium will rise significantly less than expected next year, the government announced Thursday. That could pay political dividends for President Barack Obama and for Democrats struggling to win over seniors in a close election.

The new Part B premium for outpatient care will be $99.90 a month for 2012, or about $7 less than projected as recently as May.

The bottom line: most seniors will pay an additional $3.50 a month next year, instead of $10.20, as forecast earlier.

Some younger retirees who enrolled recently have been paying up to $115.40 a month. Instead, they'll get a sizable break next year.

Premiums have been frozen at the 2008 level of $96.40 a month for about three-fourths of Medicare beneficiaries. That was due to the lack of a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment during the depths of the economic downturn. But Social Security recently announced a raise in monthly checks averaging $39 for 2012.

The Medicare news means the majority of seniors will have to fork over only a small part of their long-awaited COLA for premiums.

The reason for the lower-than-expected premiums has to do with the interaction between Social Security COLAs and Medicare premiums. But the Obama administration is hoping seniors will get a simple takeaway message: Medicare is under sound management.

Older voters went decisively for Republicans in the 2010 elections, after Obama's health care overhaul law cut Medicare spending to help finance coverage for uninsured working-age adults and their families.

Since then, the administration has doubled down to try to reverse any perception that Obama is steering Medicare into decline.

Earlier this year, officials had announced that premiums for Medicare's prescription benefit would remain unchanged for 2012, on average. Similarly, average premiums for popular Medicare Advantage plans will dip slightly in 2012. But those announcements do not have as much impact. Averages used by the government don't reflect individual experiences. And fewer beneficiaries are enrolled in either of those two benefits.

The Part B premium is one number that most of the 49 million people on Medicare can connect with.

Upper-income retirees pay more, and premiums for low-income beneficiaries are covered by Medicaid. But middle-class beneficiaries on tight budgets watch the Part B figure.

In a statement accompanying release of the Medicare premiums, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asserted that seniors have nothing to fear from the new health care law.

"The Affordable Care Act is helping to keep Medicare strong and affordable," she said. "People with Medicare are seeing higher quality benefits, better health care choices and lower costs."

A leading nonpartisan expert on Medicare said she doubted election-year politics are behind the lower-than-expected premiums for 2012.

"Changes in premiums are obviously important to seniors but the numbers are based on what the law requires, and determined by independent actuaries, rather than politics," said Tricia Neuman of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Neuman said the explanation is likely due to the complicated relationship between Social Security COLAs and Medicare premiums.

By law, the Part B premium is set to cover 25 percent of the cost of Medicare's outpatient care benefit.

But premiums have been frozen for most beneficiaries in recent years because federal law also says that - with some exceptions - an individual's Medicare premium cannot go up more than their Social Security COLA.

That left a relatively small share of beneficiaries, including recent enrollees, bearing the brunt of higher Medicare costs. Indeed, the so-called "standard premium" for 2011 rose to $115.40.

Back in May, when government experts originally forecast a premium of $106.60 for 2012, they were also projecting a Social Security COLA of just 0.7 percent. But the final COLA increase turned out to be much bigger, a 3.6 percent raise. And that meant rising Medicare costs could be spread among many more people, resulting in smaller increases for each individual.

"It has been an odd several years because of what has been going on with the COLA," said Neuman. "Not everybody was paying in the standard amount. Because more people are contributing, the effect of that is that the amount should go down."

Indeed, baby boomers who signed up for Medicare this year and were paying $115.40 a month will save $15.50 a month next year, an annual total of $186.

HHS also said the 2012 premium figure takes into account a fix for the biggest problem hanging over Medicare. Unless Congress acts by the end of the year, doctors will be hit with a 30 percent pay cut. But the department said since Congress is almost certain to override that cut, the cost of keeping doctors whole has been factored in to the premium calculations.

Medicare's Part B annual deductible, the amount beneficiaries pay before their coverage begins, will also drop next year to $140, a decrease of $22.

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Associated Press writer Stephen Ohlemacher contributed to this report.

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The Skanner Foundation's 38th Annual MLK Breakfast