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Best Newscast--Alabama Public Radio-- 12/22/2014

Governor Robert Bentley statements about possibly expanding Medicaid is drawing political heat. Members of the Tea Party sent Bentley a letter asking him to promise never to expand the federally funded health system for the poor. The Alabama Hospital Association says it appreciates the Governor being open the idea. Bentley says he’s exploring a possible state-designed program that uses a Medicaid block grant to bring private insurance coverage to people at the poverty line. The Governor says he’d like to include the requirement that recipients look for a job or get job training…

Heart-failure patients at UAB Hospital will soon be able to receive even more care. The U-A-B School of Nursing has received a one-point-five million dollar grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. Doctor Maria Shirey is the Assistant Dean for Clinical and Global Partnerships at UAB. She says the goal is to make things easier for the patients…

“The ideal is to keep patients home and comfortable and functional as compared to them being involved in a revolving door type of syndrome, coming back into the emergency department.”

Shirey says the grant will be spread out over three years. The clinic is currently accepting referrals of patients who meet their clinic criteria which includes heart patients who are uninsured.

Charter schools could be one issue state lawmakers talk about when they meet in session next year. Alabama is one of eight states that do not allow charter schools, and some legislators want to change that. Charter schools are new publicly funded schools that operate outside the rules and regulations of regular public schools. Republicans made a push for charter schools in 2012, but the legislation fizzled. Opponents said the charter schools drain resources from the state's existing public schools.

A lot of Santa’s helpers this week are wearing brown. United Parcel Service says it’s hired close to a thousand seasonal workers in Alabama to help with the holiday rush. They’ll be busy today with an estimated thirty four million UPS packages scheduled for delivery today. The company expects today to be the busiest delivery day of 2014. UPS spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg says there are other high volume days, but today is the biggest…

“We really plan for all of the ten days before Christmas to be really busy times. We have busy times around Valentine’s Day and in May around graduation period.”

UPS is also preparing for the first week after Christmas. That’s for all the return shipments from customers not happy with what they received. Federal Express and The U.S. Postal Service saw their peak days last Monday.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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