Superzoom is a sort of recording for video that really needs to be seen to be understood. Superzoom sits right next to Boomerang in Instagram’s newest array of recording types, and it includes a bit of “suspenseful music” right out the gate. This feature allows the product to be sent via Instagram Direct or shared to a story – or you could get really fancy with it and actually post straight to Instagram – crazy!Halloween Face Filters will allow the user to make themselves 2 spooky 4 U. Watch out for the most ghostly of filters freaking you out in personal messages – don’t get too ghastly! Transform into a zombie or a vampire, start up the fog machine, or flip on the spooky flashlight for flashbacks to Are You Afraid Of The Dark.Halloween stickers include spooky dismembered body parts for praise, clap, and thumbs up. They also include some candy corns, devil horns, a pumpkin, eyeball candies, a fancy apple, and a bunch of other weird aesthetically pleasing bits. All of the stickers are free to use by all users.To update, take note of the version number – it’s Instagram version 20.0 for both iOS in the Apple App Store and version 20.0 for Android in Google Play’s app store. Both are free as they’ve ever been, and both should be available immediately.Or if it’s not available, you can still take DRAMATIC pictures of yourself and zoom in on them manually yourself. That’s basically the same thing. Story TimelineInstagram is testing a ‘follows you’ feature on AndroidInstagram closes in on one billion monthly usersInstagram just gave you the tools to control commentsInstagram Stories now let you poll your friendsInstagram Stories can now be cross-posted on FacebookInstagram Live update brings split screen live videos with friends OMG there’s a new feature in Instagram that is completely hilarious and you need it immediately. This new feature comes with a collection of Halloween-themed bits and pieces, the whole lot of which is available in one download. The rest of the features available in the newest version of Instagram come in the form of stickers and face filters – they’re all pretty much the most spooky features you’ll ever see.
If there’s been a learning curve during my initial time with the iPhone X, it’s handling the loss of the home button. If you thought the change from a physical key to a touch-sensitive one a few years back was jarring to your muscle-memory, steel yourself for an even bigger evolution. Still, there are really only eight main gesture controls you need to remember.1) Swipe up from the bottom edge to return home.2) Multitasking is similar to the return home gesture, except you take a pause half way up. To close down applications, simply press and hold on one of the app. You can then swipe up or click on the “X” mark.3) Control Center can be opened by swiping down from the top-right edge4) In the event that the iPhone X locks up, you can force restart by pressing and quickly releasing the volume up button, then pressing and quickly releasing the volume down button, and finally holding the side button until the Apple logo appears.5) Turning the device off requires pressing and holding the side button along with the volume up button, then swiping to turn off the iPhone. It’s also the menu where you’ll find the SOS feature.6) You can take a screen shot by simultaneously pressing and quickly releasing the side button and volume up button.7) Double-clicking the side button pulls up Apple Pay, which also uses Face ID for swifter access to your registered credit and debit cards. 8) Lastly, you can activate Siri by pressing and holding the side button.Once again, I’ll go more into detail about the rear facing cameras. For now, though, from my initial impressions, the wide-angle f/1.8 camera with optical image stabilization (OIS) delivers images about the same as the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. Reserved only for the iPhone X is a new f/2.4 telephoto lens also featuring OIS; that’s more than welcome, because videos shot with the tele-lens should now be actually usable. I’ve left the iPhone X’s most controversial aspect to last. To say the “notch” – the section of the screen which is cut out to accommodate the TrueDepth camera – has been well discussed over the past months is an understatement. I could quite understand people being reticent about it, indeed. All the same, like the iPhone X’s physical charm, which doesn’t become clear until you have it in front of you, in the metal and glass, after a short while the notch just stops being so visible. I suspect many who thought it would be a deal-breaker will discover that, in actual fact, it’s far less of a challenge to live with. During a short product briefing, I was mesmerized by the custom-built OLED panel. It’s a true High Dynamic Range (HDR) display with a 1,000,000 to 1 contrast ratio: it means that, where Google’s Pixel 2 XL has been rightly criticized for its underwhelming and muted display, Apple’s shines bright. Apple makes its usual bold claims about having the best color accuracy compared to all the current-gen smartphones on the market, but I suspect the iPhone X can cash the checks Tim Cook & Co. are writing. As the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it’s never been clearer in the case of the iPhone X.It’s not just the panel in isolation, mind. The other strength in making photos, movies, games, and basically everything that shows up on the display come to life is Apple’s True Tone technology. While we’ve seen it on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus already, and of course the iPad Pro before that, on the iPhone X it packs a more accurate six-channel ambient light sensor, meticulously adjusting the white balance on-screen to sync up with the color temperature of the light in your surroundings. As far back as I can remember, Apple has never showcased a new, unreleased iPhone in its stores ahead of launch day. So, like most of you, since I wasn’t at the iPhone X’s media event it’s only now that got to hold it in my hands. My overriding first impression is that neither product shots nor any of the video from Apple or others do this phone justice. In particular, the gorgeous 5.8-inch Super Retina 2436 x 1125 resolution display, with its 458 pixels per inch (ppi) density. Nothing I’ve seen in the aftermath of that event on September 12 prepared me for just for how premium it feels, nestled in the palm of your hand. Story TimelineiPhone X hands-on : Apple’s OLED flagship up closeiPhone X preorders: Are you buying?iPhone X screen repairs are painfully expensiveiPhone X costs $100 more at Best BuyThe iPhone X makes a strong case to buy AppleCare+ Dear friends and SlashGear readers, if you pre-ordered the iPhone X in time for delivery on November 3, or even within a week of that, congratulations. If you didn’t pre-order for whatever reason, and have even the slightest interest in Apple’s new flagship, then I’m very sorry to tell you that when your friends, family, and colleagues show up with their shiny new iPhone X, you’re really going to wish you did. As of writing, the current shipping estimate is five to six weeks out. It’s time to cash in whatever connections, favors, or blackmail material you have with your carrier’s rep to have them set aside a unit for you. Either that, or get in line to buy one at an Apple Store this Friday. Trust me, it’s worth it. Enrolling your face is literally two steps, where you move your head around as though “painting” a circle with your nose. Over time, Face ID will track changes such as growing a beard. If you shave it all off, the system may ask for your PIN just to make sure it’s you, but then it’ll automatically start quietly learning you all over again. It doesn’t require re-enrolling your face.In practice, Face ID works so well, even after a short period I forgot it was even there. Glance at the phone, swipe up, and you’re at the homescreen. If you want even less intrusion, you can deselect the “Require Attention for Face ID” option. Then, you’re not even required to look at the iPhone before it’ll unlock. You can also uncheck it if you find that some of your sunglasses prevent Face ID from working: Apple tells me that certain lens coatings can present an issue, though I had no problems with my polarized pair. Applications that already use Touch ID should, if they’re using Apple’s APIs correctly, automatically transition to Face ID. As far as iOS is concerned, whichever version of Apple’s biometric security you have can do the same thing. I tested this with password manager LastPass, which is yet to “officially” support Face ID, and can confirm that instead of asking for a fingerprint scan, my face was sufficient to unlock the app.There’s some serious tech behind Face ID, which I’ll go more into detail in my full review. For now, just know that the TrueDepth camera is the key component. It literally maps the geometry of your face with 30,000 invisible dots. Arguably more fun, thanks to the TrueDepth Camera you can now take Portrait mode selfies. In theory, even with just one lens, the results should be on par with the dual cameras on the rear. Overall, even after a short period, it’s clear that the iPhone X feels ultra-premium. Whether the $999 / $1195 (64 GB / 256GB) price tag is too much for you, well, that’s something only you yourself can determine. If you were to ask me right now whether you should go with the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or the iPhone X, I have to say my money is on the X. The additional money spent comes out to roughly one latte a month, if you’re on a payment plan. In return for sacrificing your coffee, you get that incredible display, a smaller body than the 8 Plus but without compromising on screen size, and legitimately game-changing features like TrueDepth. Stay tuned for my full review for more. The edge to edge display curves at the edge, its toughened glass blending into the stainless-steel band that runs around the periphery. It’s made of surgical-grade stainless steel; Apple’s secret sauce remains its insistence on materials that go just that little bit further than everybody else can be bothered to. The shine reminds me of the early iPhone models. My favorite color combo is the Silver, while the Space Gray still looks good but stands out a little less. With all that screen, there’s little room for Touch ID, and so it’s replaced by Face ID. With Touch ID, there’s a one in fifty-thousand chance of a random stranger successfully unlocking your iPhone: with Face ID, it’s one in a million. If you’ve got an identical twin, then you should probably exercise some caution; the rest of us are probably safe. Most everyone I’ve talked to since the iPhone X launch has raised concerns that Apple might sell their Face ID data. The short answer is, that’s not going to happen. For a start, it’s not Apple’s business model. The more technical reason is that, like with Touch ID, your Face ID data is encrypted and protected with a key available only to the Secure Enclave, locked up on the iPhone X itself. That data never leaves the phone, and is never backed up to iCloud or anywhere else.I enrolled my Face ID sporting a face mustache, which I later removed. Did I encounter so much as a hiccup? Nope. Face ID is seamless; this is the future and should give tomorrow’s Apple devices a clear advantage over competitors as they scramble to catchup.
There’s another good reason to pick up an Essential Phone, with the company releasing its Android Oreo beta today. The new software has been pushed out via Essential’s developer site, fulfilling its promise back in October to quickly move users to the latest version of Android. Story TimelineEssential Phone first-impressionsEssential AMA: Oreo beta soon, touch fix next OTAEssential phone gets a very hefty price cutEssential phone price is at its lowest, without Family offer Of course, this isn’t necessarily something every user should jump on quite yet. Essential is targeting the first release at developers, and there may well still be bugs in the beta. The company will be hosting an AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) for developers tomorrow, from noon Pacific time, for questions around Oreo. All the same, it’s a welcome upgrade, and notable given most of the rest of the Android smartphone world is yet to get up to speed with Oreo. Google’s latest release may have been pushed out the door months ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s available for even a fraction of the devices currently in the wild. Indeed, the Oreo install rate is fairly pitiful right now.According to Google’s own numbers, only 0.3-percent of active Android devices are running Oreo today. Indeed, the majority of devices are still on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, though Android 7.0 Nougat is just a fraction of a percentage point behind. However you look at it, this is something Essential deserves credit for.Whether it’ll silence some of the lingering complaints around the Essential Phone remains to be seen. The company has been pushing out regular updates to address things like camera performance, but the handset is still getting mixed reviews from users.Essential responded with a significant price cut. You can now pick up the smartphone for just $499, several hundred dollars less than it launched at only a few months ago. Given its distinctive design and intriguing modular potential, suddenly it makes the handset look like something of a bargain. Indeed, if you’re in the market for the smallest bezels around in an Android phone, a decent screen, excellent build quality, and don’t mind taking the risk on something that isn’t made by Samsung, LG, or Motorola, there’s still a lot to like about the Essential Phone. Our early criticisms have been tempered somewhat by its now far-more-affordable price tag, and Essential delivering on its Oreo promise suggests the software story is balancing out too. You can download it from the link below. MORE Essential
Unfortunately, it seems that reassurance wasn’t entirely well-placed. Rhino Security Labs, a Seattle-based security research firm, discovered a flaw in the Cloud Cam that allows a computer within WiFi range to freeze the camera’s view, Wired reports. That, like the old movie trope of putting a photo of a corridor in front of a security camera so that it looks like nothing is happening, would potentially allow the hackers to make it look like everything was fine within the Cloud Cam’s field of view. Both live viewing of the camera’s stream, and its recordings, would be impacted. At the same time, a courier with access to the home could use the unexpected absence of monitoring to steal items or otherwise act nefariously. Amazon says that it plans to release an update this week, which will automatically upgrade the Cloud Cam so as to prevent this type of hack from taking place in future. Nonetheless, this is exactly the sort of story around Amazon Key that the online retail behemoth would have wanted to avoid. Indeed, one of the key messages of the Cloud Cam was that it would give a vital sense of reassurance for users of the Amazon Key service. To be fair, the likelihood of such a security lapse being used to burgle a house is probably quite low. The exploit affects the Cloud Cam but doesn’t give access to the connected lock: as a result, even if the video feed was spoofed, a courier with bad intent would already need to be delivering a package there, because of the way the access protocol operates. Couriers are issued with a one-time code that allows them to unlock the door once, and Amazon takes into account factors like the delivery person’s physical location and the time at which they’re present to decide whether to open the door.However, should that courier be so minded, the exploit would allow them to effectively enter the house twice. As the Rhino team explains it, the first time would be legitimate: unlocking the door with Amazon Key, bringing in a package, and then leaving again – closing the door, but not hitting the lock option in their Amazon app. Once the WiFi device with the Cloud Cam override was activated, the view from the camera inside would be frozen. That would permit the courier to re-enter – safe in the knowledge that the door was still unlocked and that they weren’t being caught on camera – for whatever reason, then leave again and finally restore the Cloud Cam functionality and lock the door. No logs of either the camera’s hacking nor the activity of the lock would be kept. MORE Amazon Cloud Cam ReviewAmazon says that it plans to update the Cloud Cam to issue an alert if it’s offline during a delivery more rapidly than it does now. Currently, if there’s a power cut or a drop in WiFi connectivity, the camera notifies its owner with a push notification. During Amazon Key deliveries, that downtime will be flagged more aggressively. Still, it’s another reason why those installing connected cameras might want to consider models with local storage too. Like Nest Cam IQ and others, the Amazon Cloud Cam doesn’t allow for local recording of video, even as a backup during network downtime; the Cloud Cam actually has 4GB of internal storage, but that’s used for firmware upgrades rather than saving video. Amazon may have pitched the Cloud Cam as a key security feature of Amazon Key, but researchers have demonstrated a huge flaw that could leave customers thinking twice about giving couriers virtual keys. Launched in October, Amazon Key offers Amazon’s most loyal users in its Prime membership scheme a way to accept packages even if they’re not home, by giving delivery people one-time access to the home with a connected lock. Figuring many would be wary of that, the Amazon Cloud Cam was pitched as a way to ensure everything was above board.
Last month, Facebook revealed that it would soon launch a tool enabling its users to check whether they’d unwittingly “liked” a Russian 2016 election propaganda post. That tool has just gone live, giving every Facebook user the chance to check their own “liking” history. The tool follows a revelation made by Facebook in recent months: that Russia was using its social media platform to manipulate the US’s most recent presidential election. The new tool is found in Facebook’s Help Center, though you can go directly to it via this link. Once there, the service will show whether your account was used to “like” any of the propaganda content created by Russian entities to stir up controversy, create division, manipulate voters, and ultimately sway the election outcome.The tool works with Instagram accounts as well as Facebook accounts; you’ll need to be logged in for it to work, obviously. If you didn’t like any Russian propaganda, you’ll see an empty box like in the screenshot above. If you did like any of it, though, that content will appear as a list in the box as shown below:If liked propaganda is identified, you’ll see the account it involves, as well as the date that you either liked the content or followed a Russian propaganda Facebook Page (or Instagram account). Back in September, Facebook revealed that it had found more than 3000 advertisements focused on political and social US issues; they were live on the social network at dates falling between 2015 to 2017. These ads were from Facebook accounts that were associated with a Russian entity called “Internet Research Agency.” The social network, following outcry from users and non-users alike, decided a couple weeks later that it would (and ultimately did) share the ads with congressional investigators.Some of those ads have since been made public.
While it is definitely easy to swap out style shells at a moments notice, their designs are pretty much fixed. It is a bit unfortunate that Motorola hasn’t applied its experience with the Moto Maker to offer consumers a way to personalize the shells to their own tastes. Good thing then, that other third-party shops offer the customization that Motorola itself could not. It’s somewhat amusing that in Motorola’s zeal to make sure everyone understands how practical and useful its Moto Mods concept is, it may have neglected the one use case that could appeal to the masses better: stylish covers. The first collection of Moto Mod style shells came out back in 2016 and was never heard from again. Now Motorola is back and this time it added something it should have provided in the first place: protection for your Moto Z phone courtesy of Corning’s Gorilla Glass. To some extent, their absence was understandable. The first style shells were meant to offer the texture of wood or nylon, which would nearly be impossible if you put glass on top. On the other hand, phones with glass backs have already come in fashion last year, so Motorola is still late to the show.Better late than never, they do say. Motorola is making up for the delay with not three but five style shells with different, and daresay “eccentric”, designs, all costing the same $29.99 These include:• Retro Stripe• Overlapping Triangles• Graphic Flowers• Expressive Curves• Colored Leaves
That involves a switch to USB-C. First off there’s the USB-C to Lightning cable, which is available in 1m and 2m lengths. Paired with a 29W USB-C Power Adapter, as Apple includes in the box with the 12-inch MacBook, it means significantly faster charging rates for the iPhone versus the standard AC adapter. It’s a convenient upgrade, but not an especially cheap one. The USB-C to Lightning cable alone was $25, for instance, and then you have to add in the adapter. If you want the 29W model, for example, you’re looking at $49. Now, it’s getting a little cheaper. The USB-C cable has been dropped to $19, as 9to5Mac spotted, at least in its 1m form. The 2m version is still the same $35 as before. It comes amid rumors of a sweeping change in Apple’s charger strategy. According to reports, the company plans to reveal a new 18W USB-C Power Adapter, complete with a new design. That would help shift Apple away from USB-A and over to USB-C, as its MacBook and MacBook Pro models use. In the process, it would bypass some of the lingering criticism that has focused on the fact that, out of the box at least, the current iPhone range can’t actually be charged by a MacBook Pro without coughing up for an adapter or a different cable.An 18W power adapter would support the faster wired charging capabilities of the latest iPhone models, like the iPhone X, not to mention what we’re expecting to see from the 2018 iPhone range. It could also supplant the 12W adapter that Apple bundles with its iPads currently. What still looks unlikely to go away any time soon is Lightning itself. Apple has faced numerous questions about whether it will abandon its homegrown connector now that USB-C has adopted some of the same advantages, like being reversible. However, as we’ve theorized before, it seems unlikely that such a situation will come about. Instead, it seems a more measured transition is likely, with Apple on the one hand retiring USB-A for power supplies much as it has done with the port for data and charging on its notebooks, and yet keeping Lightning around so as not to undermine the third-party accessory segment. Apple’s USB-C to Lightning cable has seen a quiet price cut, dropping in price by almost a quarter amid rumors of a shake up in iPhone and iPad charging. Although Apple includes a USB-A to Lightning cable in the box with each iPhone and iPad, it has also had an option for those wanting faster charging, just as long as they’re willing to pay up.
The divide between the real world and the virtual is one of the biggest problems with VR (which AR doesn’t always have). But just because there’s a very opaque screen that stands between you and the outside world doesn’t mean you have to be disconnected similarly. At least that’s what HTC is trying to stay with its new VIVE Focus System Update 2.0, its biggest update to the standalone VR headset yet.HTC’s focus, pun totally intended, is to bring a part of your smartphone, an HTC smartphone, of course, into your virtual world. With the built-in VIVE app in the HTC U12+, you will be able to see your smartphone’s notifications pop up right before your very eyes. You can also take calls, too, all without removing your headset.And that’s not the only thing you’ll be able to do with your HTC U12+ phoned paired with a VIVE Focus. In the future, you will be able to use the smartphone as a controller for VR games as well. You will also be able to connect the VIVE FOcus to the Internet using your phone, perfect for when you’re out in the wilderness and want to watch Ready Player One in VR.AdChoices广告This is actually just the tip of the iceberg for what HTC has planned, not just for its VIVE Focus headset but for its entire VIVE ecosystem. Part of these plans include being able to stream VIVE and Steam games to the Focus, removing the need for the heavyweight VIVE headset in the long run. HTC has just unveiled its 2018 flagship, the HTC U12+, proving that it’s not yet done in the mobile market. It is perhaps no coincidence that it scheduled that announcement mere days before its VIVE Ecosystem Conference (VEC). Because at its VR-centric event, it announced a reimagined VIVE Ecosystem and a new System Update 2.0 for the VIVE Focus which would, among other things, let HTC U12+ owners see their smartphone notifications inside the VIVE Focus, letting them access a part of the outside world without removing the headset.
Augmented reality stickers have become quite the attraction on social media, particularly because of the whimsical fun they bring to the table. Or to your face. or to someone else’s actual table. These AR stickers can also be effective vehicles for advocating causes, marketing film franchises, or even just showing your allegiance to one of the biggest debates of all time: dogs versus cats. Google’s new Playground camera mode for the Pixel 3 launched with only dogs under the Pets category. But since it’s National Cat Day, Google is playing fair by adding cats to the scene as well. To some extent, Playground is a rebranding of the AR Stickers that has already been available under the new AR Core platform. With the Pixel 3 and 3 XL phones, Google relaunched that into Playground with a small number of starting stickers. Those included some key characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Pets, which, until today, only appealed to canine lovers.But one of the never ending debates mankind has ever had is the tug of war for your heart between canines and felines. Google isn’t playing favorites so it took advantage of National Cat Day to add man’s other best friend, sometimes man’s owner, to the playground. You can watch these stickers be like the cats that they are, pawing at things with deadly curiosity, cleaning themselves with the utmost attention to detail, or just lazing around like the cats that they are.But Playground stickers can also interact with each other when placed on the same scene together. So what happens if you put a dog and a cat together? Fortunately, nothing disturbing as the new furry addition will simply tilts its head in curiosity and stand up in friendly greeting. And fortunately, the canine pal will be friendly as well.Unfortunately for cat lovers, the new Playground is, at least for now, Pixel 3 turf only. APKs floating around won’t do any good unless you at least have a Pixel phone. Hopefully, Google will rollout the new AR stickers to other phones but sadly not in time for cat lovers’ day.
Apple has officially unveiled iPadOS, a change to the iOS experience for the iPad. The system features a redesigned home screen alongside improved multi-tasking capabilities and new support that greatly improves the device’s usefulness for professionals. There’s a lot of be excited about, particularly the newly announced support for USB thumb drives, SD cards, and importing directly into Lightroom. In addition to offering support for SMB file sharing natively, as well as iCloud folder sharing, iPadOS enables users to directly plug in a thumb drive for transferring files. The same is true for plugging in a USB SD card reader. The new support greatly improves the iPad Pro’s usefulness as a slate for getting work done.In addition to support for USB-C thumb drives for transferring files, Apple says that iPadOS enables users to directly import images directly into Lightroom. The support speeds up the workflow for mobile photographers who use the tablet as an on-the-go alternative to the MacBook. AdChoices广告Story TimelineApple Watch independent apps cut out the iPhoneApple watchOS update tracks menstrual cycles, at lastApple Watch gets new faces, Apple apps in watchOS 6
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Simpson: Medicare On ‘Auto-Pilot’ To Squeeze Out The Rest Of Federal Domestic Spending Bloomberg: Simpson Says Medicare to Squeeze Out Government SpendingFormer U.S. Senator Alan Simpson, co-chairman of President Barack Obama’s fiscal commission, said escalating Medicare costs stand to squeeze out the rest of domestic government spending. “Medicare is on automatic pilot. It will use up every resource in the government,” the Republican former senator from Wyoming said in an interview today on Bloomberg Television. Asked about spending ranging from highway programs to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Simpson said: “The things you just mentioned will be completely squeezed out” by Medicare (Fairchild, 8/13).
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 New York Times: The Policy Verdict I In Thursday night’s debate, Vice President Joe Biden will almost certainly go after Representative Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan. And why shouldn’t he? It’s unpopular. But I’d like to make a case for that plan. It’s the best thing the Romney-Ryan campaign has going for it (David Brooks, 10/8).The Boston Globe: Making Medicaid A Block Grant Would Curb Vital ServicesOf all the federal programs discussed in last week’s presidential debate, an important one got short shrift: Medicaid. And it’s more pressing than many other health care issues, because so many elderly people rely on it as virtually their only source of funds for long-term care. There are stark differences in how the two candidates would approach Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor that also covers 60 percent of the Americans living in nursing homes. Mitt Romney aims at much larger savings, but would sharply reduce the number of people with health coverage (10/9). Forbes: Why Mitt Romney’s Plan For Pre-Existing Conditions Is Better Than Obamacare’sObamacare’s approach to pre-existing conditions, in summary, may help a tiny minority with pre-existing conditions to gain coverage in the short term, but the law will drive up the cost of insurance for everyone else, leading to adverse selection and higher premiums for all. And the price of Obamacare is steep: the individual mandate; trillions in new spending and taxes; deep cuts to Medicare providers. The Romney approach is, over the mid-to-long term, the far superior one. Romney’s plan liberates Americans to own their own health insurance, continuously, as opposed to remaining dependent upon their employers. In addition, his plan would reduce the cost of insurance, making it more affordable for Americans to maintain their coverage (Avik Roy, 10/9).Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Romney Still Running Away From Massachusetts PlanRomney had the right idea in Massachusetts, but the hard right turn taken by his party forced him to put that idea back on the shelf and pick from an old Republican wish list. What he’s left with is a bag full of stale ideas. Obamacare is far from perfect. It expanded coverage massively without fully dealing with health care’s cost beyond theoretical arguments. Nonetheless, the best approach is to salvage the Affordable Care Act — not throw it out (10/8). Medpage Today: Obama And Romney Ignored The Key IssueI wasn’t really surprised when Jim Lehrer did not use my suggested question on health care in last week’s first presidential debate. For those who didn’t read that column, or don’t remember the question, here it is: How is it possible that the U.S., the richest country in the world, is the only developed country on this planet that has not figured out how to provide basic health insurance for all its citizens? However, I was truly surprised that this issue did not come up at all (Dr. Timothy Johnson, 10/8).The New York Times: The Ups And Downs Of Electronic Medical Records The case for electronic medical records is compelling. … Small wonder that the idea has been promoted by the Obama administration, with strong bipartisan and industry support. The government has given $6.5 billion in incentives, and hospitals and doctors have spent billions more. But as health care providers adopt electronic records, the challenges have proved daunting, with a potential for mix-ups and confusion that can be frustrating, costly and even dangerous (Milt Freudenheim, 10/8). Los Angeles Times: CVS Customers Say Prescription Refills Weren’t OKd George Engelke manages his CVS prescriptions online. If he needs more of a medicine, he orders it. If he’s going to be away from his Corona del Mar home, he tells the pharmacy where to send the shipment. He’s never asked CVS to automatically refill his prescriptions. Engelke, 76, recently returned from a vacation in Montana. … He got a call from the drugstore the other day informing him that they’d taken the liberty of sending another batch of supplies to the Montana address. “I never asked them to do that,” Engelke told me (David Lazarus, 10/9). The Medicare NewsGroup: Why Are Medicare Advantage Premiums Dropping?As a private offering within the larger public fee-for-service program, the Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) program is a bit of an odd duck. Designed to give beneficiaries more insurance choices, costs have been coming down while the number of plans have been increasing. While it’s too early to say if these trends will continue, it’s important to dig into how Part C plans are structured and financed to understand the recent numbers in context. These cost savings may not continue and the recent news has been highly politicized (John Wasik, 10/8). Viewpoints: David Brooks’ Praise For Ryan Plan; Medicaid Overlooked In Presidential Debate; Romney Proposal Effective For Pre-Existing Conditions
Each week, KHN compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs.Kaiser Family Foundation/Georgetown University/NORC: Medicare Part D: A First Look At Plan Offerings In 2014 Medicare Part D continues to be a marketplace with an array of competing plans offered at a wide range of premiums and benefit designs. In 2014, Medicare beneficiaries will have a choice of 35 stand-alone PDPs, on average, up by four from 2013. … Beneficiaries receiving Low-Income Subsidies (LIS) will have access to a modestly higher number of plans for no monthly premium in 2014 compared to 2013 … Notable trends for 2014 include a growing share of PDPs using preferred pharmacy networks and adopting more formulary cost-sharing tiers. For example, a majority of PDPs now use preferred pharmacy networks where cost sharing is lower when enrollees use preferred pharmacies and higher outside the preferred network (Hoadley, Cubanski, Hargrave and Summer, 10/10). Health Affairs: Access And Cost Barriers To Mental Health Care, By Insurance Status, 1999–2010 Although access to specialty care remained relatively stable for people with mental illnesses, cost barriers to care increased among the uninsured and the privately insured who had serious mental illnesses. The rise in cost barriers among those with private insurance suggests that the current financing of care in the private insurance market is insufficient to alleviate cost burdens and has implications for reforms under the Affordable Care Act. People with mental health problems who are newly eligible to purchase private insurance under the act might still encounter high cost barriers to accessing care (Rowan, McAlpine and Blewett, 10/7).Health Affairs/Rand: Accountable Care Organization Formation Is Associated With Integrated Systems But Not High Medical Spending Medicare’s approximately 250 accountable care organizations (ACOs) care for a growing portion of all fee-for-service beneficiaries across the United States. We examined where ACOs have formed and what regional factors are predictive of ACO formation. … We found wide variation in ACO formation, with large areas, such as the Northwest, essentially empty of ACOs, and others, such as the Northeast and Midwest, dense with the organizations. Key regional factors associated with ACO formation include a greater fraction of hospital risk sharing (capitation), larger integrated hospital systems, and primary care physicians practicing in large groups. Area income, Medicare per capita spending, Medicare Advantage enrollment rates, and physician density were not associated with ACO formation (Auerbach et al., 10/7). Health Affairs: Trends Underlying Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Growth For Americans Younger Than Age Sixty-Five During [2007-2011], per capita spending on employer-sponsored insurance grew at historically slow rates, but still faster than per capita national health expenditures. Total per capita spending for employer-sponsored insurance grew at an average annual rate of 4.9 percent, with prescription spending growing at 3.3 percent and medical spending growing at 5.3 percent. Out-of-pocket medical spending increased at an average annual rate of 8.0 percent, whereas out-of-pocket prescription drug spending growth was flat. Growth in the use of medical services and prescription drugs slowed. Medical price growth accelerated, and prescription price growth decelerated (Herrera et al., 10/7). Urban Institute/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Eligibility For Assistance And Projected Changes In Coverage Among states not currently planning to expand Medicaid eligibility, the share of the uninsured eligible for assistance ranges from 34 to 53 percent. In contrast, the share of the uninsured eligible for assistance ranges from 59 to 81 percent among the states that are currently committed to expanding Medicaid under the ACA. Second, we estimate the decrease in the uninsured population under the ACA in each state. Among states not currently expanding Medicaid, we predict the number of uninsured would decrease 28 to 38 percent. Eight states committed to expansion would see the number of uninsured decline by more than half (Buettgens, Kenney, Recht and Lynch, October 2013).Here is a selection of news coverage of other recent research:Reuters: Are Blood Clots After Surgery A Sign Of Hospital QualitySome policymakers have suggested using the number of patients that form blood clots after surgery as a measure of a hospital’s quality. But a new study questions that idea. Researchers found high-quality hospitals and those that regularly check for the complications tend to have higher rates of blood clots than low-quality hospitals and those that don’t look for clots as often (Seaman, 10/7).Modern Healthcare: ACOs More Likely To Be In Markets With Hospital, Doctor Consolidation, Study FindsIn five markets around the country, accountable care organizations were providing care to more than half the Medicare patients in the traditional fee-for-service program, a new study found. In addition, ACOs were more likely to be found in markets with greater consolidation by hospitals and doctors (Evans, 10/7).Reuters: Sicker Medicaid, Medicare Emergency Patients Less ProfitableWhen a patient with private health insurance seeks outpatient care at the emergency room, the sicker he or she is, the more money the hospital stands to make, a new study shows. But the opposite is true for patients with Medicaid or Medicare insurance: the sicker the patient, the less profitable he or she is to the hospital, Dr. Philip Henneman of the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and his colleagues report in the Annals of Emergency Medicine (Harding, 10/10). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Research Roundup: Medicare Part D In 2014; Barriers To Mental Health Care
Longer Looks: How To Reduce End-Of-Life Costs; Fighting Cancer With Aspirin This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Every week, reporter Marissa Evans selects interesting reading from around the Web.The Atlantic: Even As A Doctor With Decent Insurance, I Had Difficulty Entering The Healthcare SystemI know how lucky I am to be a patient who happens to also work in the healthcare system. … Initially, I had to use antibiotic drops every hour. But my insurance would only cover one three-milliliter bottle every three weeks. Each bottle not covered by insurance cost me $130. … My own experience makes me fear that for many Americans, health insurance may not necessarily equal health care. Access and cost will still remain barriers—and can be difficult to surmount for many (Dr. Helen Ouyang, 2/24). The Wall Street Journal: The Experts: How Can We Reduce End-Of-Life Health Care Costs? A handful of policy and industry experts offer their thoughts (Rita Redberg, Gurpreet Dhaliwal, Elliot Fisher, Helen Darling, Peter Pronovost, Leah Binder, Robert Wachter, and Atul Grover, 2/25). The Texas Observer: Texas’ New Abortion Law Is Driving Women To ExtremesA few days before Christmas, the Gulers went to the obstetrician’s office for the 19-week ultrasound. They wanted to know whether to hang a pink or a blue stocking by the fireplace. But they never did find out the gender. Instead they learned that their miracle child had a brain defect so severe that the doctor described it as incompatible with life. … When Sarah asked when the doctor could schedule an induction to abort the fetus, he shook his head. “We don’t do that here.” Instead, he gave her a list of abortion clinics and told her that she had only seven days to get an abortion. “You have to hurry because there’s a ban,” the doctor told them. “You’re already at 19 weeks. By next Friday, it will be too late” (Carolyn Jones, 2/25). Forbes: Crowdfunding Health Innovation: Disruptive Companies And Funders Meet To Change Health DeliveryTwo of the most significant pieces of legislation in decades, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Jumpstart Our BusinessStartups (JOBS) Act, are poised to transform the entire spectrum of healthcare. The ACA regulates everything from health insurance requirements to tax collection. The JOBS Act regulates businesses that fund their ventures online. In tandem, these two bills have created a new world for health care innovators and investors. Ironically though, it is the innovators and investors who are joining forces to do what the ACA is unable to do: reduce costs and increase access (Nicole Fisher, 2/24). The New York Times: Progress Against Hepatitis C, A Sneaky VirusForty years ago, a beloved neighbor was bedridden for weeks at a time with a mysterious ailment. She knew only that it involved her liver and that she must never drink alcohol, which would make things worse. It was decades before the cause of these debilitating flare-ups was discovered: a viral infection at first called non-A, non-B hepatitis, then properly identified in 1989 as hepatitis C. The apparent source of her infection was a blood transfusion she had received decades earlier. … with two newly approved drugs and a few more in the pipeline, a new era in treatment of hepatitis C is at hand (Jane E. Brody, 2/24).The Boston Globe: Can Aspirin Fight Cancer?Aspirin, a medicine cabinet staple for fighting heart attacks and headaches, is also a powerful weapon against cancer, a growing body of research shows. “As mundane as it is, it’s really an incredible drug,” said Dr. John Baron, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, who studies aspirin and cancer prevention. “My general opinion is that aspirin is probably good for a large majority of the adult population.” The groups most likely to benefit from aspirin’s anti-cancer powers, research suggests, are those at extra risk for colon cancer, and people between ages 50 and 75, said Dr. Andrew Chan, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital (Karen Weintraub, 2/24).
Mass. Cutting Ties With Insurance Exchange Website Vendor After Problems The contractor, CGI Group, is also the lead contractor on the federal marketplace website.The Wall Street Journal: Massachusetts To Cut Ties With CGI Group Over Troubled Online Health ExchangeMassachusetts officials said Monday they have begun work to sever the state’s relationship with CGI Group Inc., the company behind the state’s troubled online health-insurance exchange. Massachusetts’ 2006 comprehensive health-coverage law inspired the federal law that followed a few years later. But overhauling the state’s online system to comply with the federal law’s different rules has proved daunting for Massachusetts, where tens of thousands of people have had trouble signing up for care because of problems with the site (Kamp, 3/17).The Associated Press: Massachusetts To Dump Health Website ContractorMassachusetts planned to cut ties with the contractor for its hobbled health care insurance website, state officials said Monday. CGI Group, a Montreal-based information technology firm, was also the lead contractor on the troubled federal health care website. The state hired the company last year to facilitate the state’s transitionfrom its first-in-the-nation universal health insurance program to the new requirements in the federal Affordable Care Act (Salsberg, 3/17).WBUR: Mass. To Drop Contractor Behind Flawed Health Insurance WebsiteMassachusetts is negotiating an end to its contract with CGI, the Canadian vendor that built the state’s flawed health insurance website. The site was supposed to be up last October, offering one-stop health insurance shopping for anyone in Massachusetts. But six months later, only a few functions work but have glitches, and a few are not usable at all (Bebinger, 3/17).Elsewhere, Colorado’s and Oregon’s exchanges are examined –Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Local Control Key To Colorado Exchange’s (Moderate) SuccessBeing an early adopter can be rewarding. Remember how amazing it was to have the first iPhone? But then, sometimes early adopters pay a price, like that early version of the Apple map tool that led to some wrong turns. Colorado is one of 14 states going through their own version of this with the health law (Whitney, 3/18). The Denver Post: Colorado Health Exchange Workers Are Paid More Than Similar Positions In Three Other StatesOne-fifth of the employees of Colorado’s health care exchange made more than $100,000 a year in salary and bonuses — with the executive director’s pay exceeding $190,000 in 2013, exchange records show. And nearly half of the 36 exchange employees make more than $80,000 a year (Kane, 3/18).The Oregonian: Cover Oregon: Carolyn Lawson Considers Suing State, Cites “Systematic Pattern Of Defaming”Carolyn Lawson, the self-described “scapegoat” in the state’s health exchange debacle, filed notice Monday she is considering suing the state for wrongful discharge, defamation and other charges. Lawson is the former chief information officer for the Oregon Health Authority who oversaw the Oregon health exchange project. In a five-page letter to the state she claims she was forced out after she refused to participate in the “cover-up” intended by the state to protect Cover Oregon, the public corporation overseeing the troubled health exchange (Manning, 3/17).The Oregonian: Cover Oregon: Dysfunctional Oracle Relationship Attracting Broader Press AttentionThe technology trade press is getting increasingly interested in the travails of Cover Oregon and the inability of its primary technology contractor to build a functional health exchange. The Oregonian broke the story Wednesday of a tough new report from the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Service that calls out both Oracle and the state. Computer World weighed in on Thursday on the findings of the Feb. 27 report (Manning, 3/17).And California’s reaches a milestone –The San Jose Mercury News: Obamacare: California Health Exchange Tops 1 Million, Big Motivator In Type Of Plan — PriceWith two weeks left to sign up for coverage, California’s health insurance exchange announced Monday it has surged past a major milestone — 1 million enrollments — well ahead of its March 31 goal. And a new report suggests what may be the biggest motivator for people when they are choosing a new health plan: cost. Insurers like Blue Shield of California and Health Net have seen a major jump in market share, thanks to their competitively low rates, according to a report Monday from the Kaiser Family Foundation, while Anthem Blue Cross’ dominance has softened (Seiepel, 3/17). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Finally some good news for President Trump: His new budget stands absolutely no chance of being enacted by Congress. Moving forward with the cuts outlined in the $4.1 trillion spending plan created by the budget director, Mick Mulvaney, formerly one of the most determined fiscal hawks in Congress, would no doubt have major repercussions and compound the peril of Republicans already facing upheaval over their health care proposals. It would most likely hurt some of the very voters in rural and economically distressed corners of the nation who catapulted Mr. Trump to the White House and Republicans to control of the House and Senate. The effect on those constituents would be quickly felt. (Hulse, 5/23) Longtime GOP Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky declared proposed cuts to safety net and environmental proposals “draconian.” “I don’t think the president’s budget is going anywhere,” said Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, asked if he’s concerned about the message sent by slashing the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled. (Werner, 5/23) The Washington Post: Even Some Republicans Balk At Trump’s Plan For Steep Budget Cuts The Wall Street Journal: Bipartisan Pushback Greets Trump’s Proposed Budget “I hate to say it, but I would say the budget was dead before the ink was dry,” Rep. Don Young (R., Alaska), who opposes the budget’s elimination of two programs in his state. Payments to Medicaid, the federal-state health program for the poor, would be cut by more than $600 billion over a decade from levels projected under current law in addition to proposed Medicaid cuts under the House bill repealing and replacing much of the Affordable Care Act. (Davidson, Peterson and Andrews, 5/23) The Associated Press: Icy Reception To Trump Budget From Fellow Republicans GOP senators are balking at President Trump’s proposed steep cuts to the nation’s healthcare system for the poor, worrying that it could leave millions without health plans. Trump’s budget proposal would gut Medicaid by $627 billion over the next decade, on top of the $839 billion that would be cut under the House-passed ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill. Combined, Trump and House Republicans have proposed slashing $1.4 trillion from Medicaid. (Hellmann and Weixel, 5/23) The New York Times: Republicans Will Reject Trump’s Budget, But Still Try To Impose Austerity The OMB budget says Medicaid outlays would drop by $627 billion in the decade ending in fiscal 2027, falling to $4.70 trillion. This appears to largely reflect a Trump administration plan to reduce the flow of federal dollars to state Medicaid funds beyond the reduction proposed in the House GOP bill (HR 1628). OMB then has a separate placeholder item in its budget for $1.25 trillion in expected savings from Republican revisions to the 2010 health care law. (Young, 5/23) Hillary Clinton proclaimed Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s budget shows an “unimaginable level of cruelty” for millions of Americans and children. The former Democratic presidential nominee, who recently declared herself part of the Trump resistance, lashed out at the Republican president’s spending plan in aggressive terms after being honored in New York City by the Children’s Health Fund, a nonprofit organization that helps provide health care to poor and homeless children. (Peoples, 5/23) 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 administration’s Medicaid proposals draw particular criticism from both sides of the aisle — The Associated Press: Cabinet Members Head To Capitol Hill To Defend Trump Budget President Donald Trump may have handed Republicans leery of supporting him a great gift: a spending plan that calls for deep cuts to some of the country’s most popular programs – and one they can rail against. Indeed, it did not take long for congressional Republicans on Tuesday to distance themselves from the White House’s $4.1 trillion budget blueprint, promising their constituents they’d fight Trump’s ideas. (Clark, 5/23) Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton blasts the president’s budget — Top officials in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet are heading to Capitol Hill to defend his plans to cut domestic programs and parry Democratic criticism of his tax proposals. Budget Director Mick Mulvaney appears Wednesday before the House Budget panel while Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will testify at the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. The budget contains virtually no further detail on taxes beyond the cuts the administration proposed in a one-page outline last month. (Taylor, 5/24) Proposed Cuts Land With A Thunk In Congress: ‘The Budget Was Dead Before The Ink Was Dry’ The severe cuts contained in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget are meeting stiff bipartisan resistance in Congress. The Associated Press: Clinton: Trump Budget Shows ‘Unimaginable’ Cruelty While some fiscally conservative lawmakers, particularly in the House, found a lot to praise in Trump’s plan to balance the budget within 10 years, most Republicans flatly rejected the White House proposal. The divide sets up a clash between House conservatives and a growing number of Senate Republicans who would rather work with Democrats on a spending deal than entertain Trump’s deep cuts. “This is kind of the game,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.). “We know that the president’s budget won’t pass as proposed.” (Snell, Paletta and DeBonis, 5/23) The Hill: GOP Senators Bristle At Trump’s Medicaid Cuts McClatchy: Trump’s Gift To At-Risk Republicans? A Budget They Can Bash CQ Roll Call: White House’s Proposed Medicaid Cuts Draw Quick Protests
This week, Facebook responded to a lawsuit relating to the Cambridge Analytica scandal by claiming it isn’t a social network and not somewhere you can make friends.As Ars Technica reports, the lawsuit was filed in December last year by District of Columbia (DC) attorney general Karl Racine. It stated that of the 70 million individuals who had personal information taken by Cambridge Analytica, 340,000 were residents of DC. Racine is demanding $5,000 in civil penalties per resident, which would mean Facebook has to pay out $1.7 billion.As you’d expect, the social network is fighting the case hard. The reason it has taken so long for a response to be forthcoming is because Facebook spent nearly seven months attempting to get the lawsuit dismissed. That isn’t happening thanks to a federal judge.Facebook’s response is heavy on the denials, with a “denies the allegations” being stated for most of the 76 paragraphs contained in the lawsuit filing. Curiously, one flat out denial covers Paragraph 11, which states:To begin using the Facebook website, a consumer first creates a Facebook account. The consumer can then add other Facebook consumers as “friends” and by accumulating Facebook friends, the consumer builds a social network on the Facebook website.So Facebook is denying it’s a destination that allows consumers to sign-up, add their friends, and build a social network. I’m pretty sure that’s the functionality Facebook’s entire business model is based upon, which makes this a suspicious and confusing response. Is this a lawyer that’s being a bit heavy handed with copy-pasting a denial, or some tactic in law to try and derail the lawsuit?Overall, Facebook’s defense against this lawsuit comes down to the fact it was a third-party and not Facebook directly that improperly obtained personal data. If that isn’t accepted by the court, then the social network (yes, it is one) may have to pay out billions, especially as this lawsuit is surely only going to be the first of many if it proves successful. Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images via PC Mag Next Article Register Now » 2 min read Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. Facebook Denies Being a Social Network in Lawsuit Response Add to Queue Senior Editor 67shares Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business Matthew Humphries July 12, 2019 Facebook denies a consumer can create an account, make friends, and build a social network, which are all things you can do on Facebook… This story originally appeared on PCMag Facebook
Oil rebound drives strong GDP gain, as Canadian economy moves to more solid footing Gains mark the strongest two-month increase since the end of 2017 Evidence Canadian economy exiting soft patch as wholesalers post fastest 2-month gain since 2015 June 28, 201910:39 AM EDT Filed under News Economy Email Facebook Twitter Reddit Canadian businesses’ message ahead of the election: We need immigrant workers More Share this storyOil rebound drives strong GDP gain, as Canadian economy moves to more solid footing Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Comment 44 Comments Related Stories Reuters OTTAWA — Canada’s economy grew by a greater-than-expected 0.3 per cent in April, the second strong performance in a row, suggesting a recent slowdown is ending, Statistics Canada data indicated on Friday.That marks the strongest two-month increase since the end of 2017.The gains were driven by rebounding oil output that is returning the nation’s economy to a more solid footing.Analysts in a Reuters poll had predicted GDP expansion of 0.1 per cent in April after a 0.5 per cent increase in March. The overall two-month growth was the greatest since November and December 2017. Evidence Canadian economy exiting soft patch as wholesalers post fastest 2-month gain since 2015 Inflation surges to highest in seven years, giving Bank of Canada room to hold rates Canada’s economy will have a sub-par year for growth, RBC forecasts The Bank of Canada — which is due to announce its next interest rate decision on July 10 — has repeatedly said it believes the economy will recover from recent challenges posed by low oil prices, weak household spending and trade tensions.Mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction posted a 4.5 per cent gain. Oilsands extraction jumped by 11.0 per cent as facilities in energy-rich Alberta scaled up production to take advantage of the government’s decision to ease production restrictions.The manufacturing sector though contracted by 0.8 per cent, the largest decline since August 2017, in part due to a 7.7 per cent drop in motor vehicle manufacturing as a result of temporary shutdowns at some plants and atypical production schedules.© Thomson Reuters 2019, with files from Bloomberg Unemployment is at record low, so why are Canadians so worried about job insecurity, recession and cost of living? Join the conversation →