News from the Associated Press - February 4, 2014

Associated Press
February 4, 2014

Trustees: GE misleads in Hudson dredge report

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The federal trustees who will assess General Electric's liability for harm done to the Hudson River's natural resources are accusing the company of being misleading in its own report.

The Federal Hudson River Natural Resources Trustees sent an open letter to GE Monday pointedly criticizing a company report in December that found no need for it to voluntarily expand dredging. The company is scheduled this spring to begin its fifth year of dredging for PCBs on the upper river under a $2 billion federal Superfund cleanup.

The trustees claim Fairfield, Conn.-based GE did not acknowledge damage to the fisheries, waterfowl and other resources. Also, the trustees say they have previously pointed out additional areas to dredge.

GE says its report was a comprehensive and factual analysis of Hudson River data.

 

NY drug database cited in 'shopping' drop

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah says the state's new online database of drug prescriptions has cut so-called "doctor shopping" by 75 percent.

The Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing, called I-STOP, began operating in August.

Health officials say more than 66,000 practitioners have used it more than seven million times already to check prescriptions on nearly three million patients.

Doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners are now required to check the database before prescribing painkillers, with pharmacists responsible for recording related prescriptions they fill.

The law is meant to help practitioners review patient drug histories through the health department's online registry.

Doctor shopping refers to patients getting drug prescriptions and supplies from multiple practitioners.

The department uses a threshold of five prescribers and five pharmacies over three months.

 

NY health exchange insures thousands more

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The state's new health exchange reports more than 657,000 New Yorkers have completed applications for insurance while nearly 381,000 of them have enrolled for specific coverage.

The health department says enrollment for individual and family coverage since October includes 241,242 New Yorkers in the 16 commercial and nonprofit insurers in the exchange and 139,505 in government-funded Medicaid.

Open enrollments continue through March for 2014 coverage at state-approved rates. Applicants with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible for tax credits to help offset premium payments.

Another online exchange offers insurance for businesses with up to 50 employees.

 

NY commission seeks comment on new gas pipeline

WINDSOR, N.Y. (AP) - The state Public Service Commission is seeking comment on a proposed natural gas pipeline in Broome County.

Williams Field Service wants to construct a 9.5-mile natural gas pipeline parallel to its existing pipeline in the Town of Windsor, near Binghamton.

The commission has scheduled public hearings before an administrative law judge on Feb. 11 at 5 and 7 p.m. at Windsor Middle School. The hearings will be preceded by informational forums at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.

Comments also may be sent electronically to secretary(at)dps.ny.gov.

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