Nation roundup for April 26


Prom rejection motive in killing?

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A 16-year-old girl was stabbed to death inside a Connecticut high school Friday, and police were investigating whether a boy attacked her because she turned down an invitation to be his prom date.

Maren Sanchez was stabbed in a hallway of Jonathan Law High School in Milford, about an hour’s drive from New York City, around 7:15 a.m. Staff members and paramedics performed life-saving measures on the girl, but she was pronounced dead at a hospital, police said.

The 16-year-old boy was taken into custody. His name wasn’t released because of juvenile offender laws, said Police Chief Keith Mello.

Imani Langston, who describes herself as one of Sanchez’s best friends, said students were gathered in an auditorium when a teacher came and told them had Sanchez been stabbed.

“She basically just explained to us that Maren Sanchez got stabbed in the throat for saying no about going to prom” with the suspect, she said.

Langston said she saw the suspect taken out of the school in handcuffs. She said Sanchez and the boy were friends but had never dated. She said Sanchez had helped to organize the junior prom and was looking forward to attending with her boyfriend. The dance was scheduled for Friday night but was postponed because of the stabbing.

National Guard suicides increase

WASHINGTON (AP) — Suicides among Army National Guard and Reserve members increased last year, even as the number of active-duty troops across the military who took their own lives dropped by more than 15 percent, according to new data.

The overall totals provided by the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps give some hope that prevention programs and increased efforts to identify troops at risk may be taking hold after several years of escalating suicide rates. But the increase among Army National Guard and Reserve members raises questions about whether those programs are getting to the citizen soldiers who may not have the same access to support networks and help that their active duty comrades receive.

Not only did suicides among Army National Guard and Reserve members increase from 140 in 2012 to 152 last year, but the 2013 total exceeded the number of active-duty soldiers who took their own lives, according to the Army.

There were 151 active duty soldier suicides last year, compared with 185 in 2012, Army officials said.

The Pentagon released a report Friday that provided final data for 2012 suicides and some preliminary numbers for 2013. But the department data differs a bit from the totals provided by the services because of complicated accounting changes in how the department counts suicides by reservists.

Ore. gives up on health exchange

DURHAM, Ore. (AP) — After months of trying to get its problem-plagued online health exchange to work, Oregon on Friday officially gave up on the state portal and decided to switch to the federal website — the first state in the nation to do so.

An early adapter and early enthusiast of the Affordable Care Act, Oregon was once seen as the national leader in health care reform.

The progressive state’s ambitious vision for its exchange, its colossal multimillion-dollar failure, and the inability to fix the glitch-filled site illustrate the complexity of the health care law and the challenges for states that decided to build their own exchanges.

Oregon, which so far has failed to enroll a single person in coverage in one sitting through its exchange, decided to ditch the exchange because officials said fixing it would be too costly at $78 million and would take too long. Switching to the federal system will cost just $4 million to $6 million and is the least risky option.

Oregon’s exchange is seen as the worst in more than a dozen states that developed their own online health insurance marketplaces.

Oregonians must use a time-consuming hybrid paper-online process to sign up for insurance. The state also had to hire more than 400 workers to aid in the manual enrollment process.

— that despite $134 million Oregon paid its main technology contractor Oracle Corp. to build the online exchange. Oregon received a monthlong enrollment-deadline extension because of the technology problems.

Several other states, which have experienced major problems with their exchanges, are also debating their futures — although it’s unclear how many, if any, will switch to the federal portal. Already, one other state has chosen to replace its site: Maryland recently decided to adopt the technology used on Connecticut’s successful exchange.

Of the 14 states and the District of Columbia that built their own exchanges, some portals are running smoothly, including in California, Washington state, Connecticut and Kentucky. But in a half dozen states, technical troubles have cropped up after exchanges launched last October, marring implementation of the health-care overhaul.

Exchange glitches have led states to firing technology contractors, exchange leaders resigning, cost overruns, and officials trying to figure out how — or if — to salvage their portals.

Nevada, whose portal has also been wracked with problems since it went live Oct. 1, is sticking with its state-run exchange, at least for now. The state is awaiting an analysis by Deloitte Consulting on problems with the system built by Xerox and recommendations on whether the exchange should be fixed or scrapped.

In Hawaii, where the exchange site also had a rocky start and the state has enrolled just 8,000 people, some lawmakers were talking about switching to the federal exchange, though there is no formal process to consider the switch at this time. Instead, legislators are considering giving up to $3.5 million to Hawaii’s troubled exchange next year so it can stay afloat.

 

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