Above The Fold 06.04.09

What the Stimulus Package giveith – the economy takith away…Dear John, Your prescription records and your social security numbers have been exposed. Bad touch of luck. Love, Virginia…Upstate New York towns and villiages get Senate go-ahead to form Voltron – of sorts…Doc’s need help with “virtual erector sets”….

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that newly employed workers from the Recovery Act may be thrown back onto welfare rolls in Los Angeles County due to the state’s budget crisis. If the Legislature approves Gov. Schwarzenegger’s plan to cut welfare-to-work programs, 10,000 potential new jobs in L.A. County would be lost the Times said. “The county is larger than most states, and we are asking the federal government to treat us like a state, circumventing Sacramento,” David Sommers, who works for county Supervisor Don Knabe, said. “The feds have the money to help, and we have the means. We can’t allow anything to get in the way.”

The state of Virginia is mailing individual notifications to 530,000 people whose prescription records may have contained Social Security numbers to alert them to potential identity theft risks, the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot reports. The data breach occured in April and the hacker, who has not yet been identified, demanded $10 million in ransom for the information they had acquired. More than 35 million prescriptions were contained in the breached database.

A bill that would make it easier to cut or consolidate local government in New York passed the state Senate Wednesday, the New York Times reports this morning. New York State attorney general Andrew M. Cuomo drafted the legislation, which simplifies what is now a byzantine set of laws specifying how voters or government officials can choose to dissolve or merge towns, villages and the hundreds of special districts that provide water, sewage treatment and other services throughout the state, the Times said. “New York is now at an historic crossroads decades in the making,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement. “I look forward to this bill finally giving New York’s overburdened taxpayers the ability, where appropriate, to streamline their governments and cut their property taxes.”

The Chicago Tribune reports that if small private physicians don’t get funds and support to equip their offices with the latest technology and quality data, there will be little hope for an effective implementation of electronic health records in the president’s health care reform plans. “Unless you create an organization among all of these small practices, there is going to be a great disconnect because a lot of the [health-care reform] plans are predicated on organized groups,” said Dr. Lee Sacks, executive vice president and chief medical officer at Advocate, which operates nine Chicago-area hospitals. “Ninety percent of Americans like to get their care in small practices, but you have to help them operate like the bigger practice.”

Florida’s Department of Children and Families has scrapped plans to hire an outside firm to develop a portable device for caseworkers, the Associated Press reports. New York-based CMA Consulting Services complained to Attorney General Bill McCollum’s office about the awarding of a contract to Interview USA, who landed the contract, and now, the head of DCF has acknowledged mistakes were made in the bidding process. DCF has decided to keep the project in-house.

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