Mass. announces open enrollment for health program
The 175,000 people in Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Care system have the right to switch insurers if they want.
An open enrollment period began on Monday and extends through June 25, 2009.
State officials say that participants who are happy with their current insurer don’t have to do anything. Nor do people new to the system. But anyone interested in switching can choose among the five providers for the next month.
Commonwealth Care provides subsidized health insurance for people earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s $32,500 for an individual and $66,000 for a family of four.
Participants also can’t be eligible for other government insurance or an employer-sponsored insurance program.
State Senate budget carries ban on texting while driving
The Massachusetts Senate approved a ban on Internet use while driving as it wrapped up debate on its version of the state’s upcoming budget.
Drivers would be banned from sending text messages, e-mailing or reading the Internet while behind the wheel under the terms of the budget approved late last Thursday.
Senators stopped short of requiring hands-free devices for talking on a cell phone.
Bus, train, trolley and other public transit drivers would be banned from even holding a cell phone while driving. They could only carry one for emergency purposes.
Drivers would face a $75 fine and an insurance surcharge for violations. Transit drivers would face a $500 fine.
The $27.35 billion budget now moves to a House-Senate conference committee.
UMass gets federal grant to study special education
AMHERST — Two professors at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, have been awarded an $800,000 federal grant to improve special education.
Mary Lynn Boscardin and Rebecca Gajda of the School of Education will use the four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to research the best ways to teach students with disabilities from diverse backgrounds.
Special education administrators then could use the research to design and deliver services to those students.
The grant will also be used to study the interaction between public schools and the government agencies that implement federal and state policy.