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U.S. News Archive
May 29 - May 31, 2001



This page contains news for the period May 29, 2001 through May 31, 2001.  

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Thursday, May 31, 2001

New York health plan to cover uninsured single adults without kids

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that Gov. George Pataki of New York announced Wednesday that a deal to begin providing medical coverage to 600,000 uninsured New Yorkers has been reached by the state and the Bush administration.

The new health insurance program, called Family Health Plus, will cover low-income single adults without children who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid benefits but who do not receive medical coverage from their employers.

"There are hundreds of thousands of hardworking New Yorkers who go to work every day but can't afford health care," said Pataki. "Today we take a huge step toward making sure that quality affordable health care is available to every New Yorker."

Tommy Thompson, the federal secretary of health and human services, joined Pataki on Wednesday.

"This could truly be the most important health care program in America," Thompson said, calling New York the first state in the nation to allow a government health insurance program for single adults who do not have children.

The program is expected to cost $1.1 billion in the next 3 1/2 years. Fifty percent of it will be federally funded, while the state and local governments will each contribute 25 percent.

New York will begin accepting people into managed care companies across the state starting in September.

A single adult between the ages of 19 and 65 who does not have children can make up to $8,590 a year and still be eligible for coverage.   A family of four can earn up to $26,000 and be eligible.

Having a will would be beneficial in the long run

A story published today by the Star Tribune reports that about 70 percent of adult Americans die without leaving a will. Attorney Mike Smith, a partner at Larkin, Hoffman, Daly & Lindgren Ltd, in Bloomington says that, "People think once they put their last wishes down on paper, it's like asking for the bus to hit them tomorrow."

Reluctance may also stem from not wanting to part with the $500 to $750 that many lawyers charge for basic wills and trusts.

But lawyers point out many compelling reasons to have a will:

  • Without one, unmarried partners are not heirs under state law. Assets would go to children, parents or siblings.
  • With a will, you can limit or exclude those receiving assets from your estate. Without a will, minor children receive proceeds from the estate at age 18.
  • A will can minimize estate taxes and probate expenses.
  • Without a will, guardians for minor children are chosen by a probate court judge.
  • If you have a child with a disability or other special needs, a will can spell out the kind of care you wish your child to receive after your death.
  • A will can cut through the complexities of step families, in which each partner may want to protect certain assets for one's own children.
  • A will allows you to choose your personal representative or executor.

But not all wills are so complicated that they require the assistance of a lawyer. "You could write your will in a bar on a cocktail napkin," Smith said. "As long as the will is signed by two witnesses, it's legal." State laws simply requires the person to be at least 18, mentally competent and not under duress.

There are several other inexpensive routes for those with fairly simple wills like purchasing a computer software, or taking a community education classes, or by checking Internet sites.

Some people may be tempted to save money by creating a will via software and then asking a lawyer to review it at a much lower cost than drafting one from scratch. It's a good idea to have a lawyer look it over for ambiguities, but Attorney Stephen Elias an editor at Nolo Press says it's more difficult for a lawyer to do so if he or she didn't write the document. "They will want to do it in a way they're used to," he said. Elias suggests looking for a lawyer who is supportive of self-help law.

Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Oklahoma TV documentary series looks at parenting and non-traditional families

A story published today by the Daily Oklahoman reports that Oklahoma's OETA "Stateline", a monthly documentary series  will be focusing on nontraditional families and parenting.

Five families gave OETA producers and reporters virtual around-the- clock access to their lives. "It was a challenge to find people who would let us into their lives," executive producer Bill Perry said.

The documentary series entitled, "Instructions Not Included", will debut at 7 tonight with repeats at 9 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Sunday.

The stories share a common theme: parents who love their children and are willing to make personal sacrifices for their children's well-being.

"I think a good parent loves their kids and loves being with their kids," said Brian Ahearn, who decided to homeschool his three children from his home outside of Stillwater to better accommodate their hectic lifestyle. His wife, Tina, handles the schooling and, as a black belt, also helps instruct them at their tae kwon do class.

Homeschooling is becoming a more popular educational option, involving about 5 percent of Oklahoma children.

Grandparents raising children also is becoming more prevalent. Timothy Brewer raises two grandsons at his north Oklahoma City home.

Megan Dlugokinski began working out of her home before her first child was born. Now with three children under 5, she heads Oklahoma Bizymoms, a support group for work-at- home moms. Dlugokinski said the Internet is making working at home a more viable option.

Leon Richards is a stay-at-home dad, taking daily care of his 3-year- old daughter on his farm near Hardesty in the Panhandle. He also has two stepdaughters who attend school in Hardesty, where his wife, Beverly, is a teacher.

Unmarried couple Herwanna Martin and Marvin Jones raise their 2-year-old daughter at their apartment in Moore. Jones is working toward a computer programming degree.

Safe-sex programs study released

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that a review of some 250 studies found that sex education and other programs that tell teen-agers how to avoid pregnancy and AIDS do not encourage them to experiment and in some cases discourage it.

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, which sponsored the review identified a handful of programs that have succeeded in reducing teen pregnancy, including a handful that talk straight to teens about sex and a couple that concentrates on community service, giving teens constructive alternatives.

However, there remains no clear evidence about whether ``abstinence-only'' programs, a favorite of conservatives, are effective, the review said, even as the Bush administration proposes an increase in federal funding.

``The overwhelming weight of evidence shows that sex education that discusses contraception does not increase sexual activity,'' concludes the report, ``Emerging Answers,'' written by researcher Douglas Kirby, a senior researcher at ETR Associates in Scotts Valley, Calif.

Four years ago, Kirby conducted a similar review of studies about teen pregnancy prevention and concluded that almost none of the programs that had been evaluated made a difference. This time, he reports, the findings are more optimistic.

Teen pregnancy, abortion and birth rates have been falling since 1991, and birth rates are now at their lowest level recorded, with about 50 out of every 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19 giving birth in 1999, a 20 percent drop since 1991.

Kirby's report found eight programs that showed evidence of success: five sex education programs; two community service programs that included group discussions; and one intensive program that combined sex education, health care and activities such as tutoring.

All the effective sex education programs employed what's sometimes called ``abstinence-plus.'' They delivered a ``clear message'' that abstaining from sex is the safest choice for teens, but those who are sexually active should protect themselves from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

The report, which examined only programs that had been scientifically evaluated, also concluded:

 --Family planning clinics probably prevent many teen pregnancies, although there is insufficient evidence to prove it. Some studies have found that clinics were able to increase use of birth control by providing top-quality educational materials, discussing the patient's sexual and contraceptive behavior and sending a clear message about what works.

 --Programs that provide free condoms at school have produced mixed results in reducing sex and pregnancy, although studies have consistently shown that these programs do not increase sexual activity.

 --Generally, short-term programs of any stripe were not effective.

Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Single parents  forming travel networks to assist them in planning vacations

A story released today by the Daily Newsletter of Budget Travel Online reports that single travelers have long been on the short end of the travel package stick. Single travelers sometimes have to pay almost the price of two adult fares for a private room. In recent years, some tours have started offering "single parent specials," but they often turn out to be "special" in name only. When you do the math, they turn out to be nothing more than a slight reduction on the usual two-adult rate.

Driven mad by the lack of options, many single parents have started networks to exchange travel advice, options, and recommendations on their own.

One of these single parents is Brenda Elwell, who runs www.singleparenttravel.net and writes a monthly newsletter for the site.  The monthly newsletter is filled with advice for single parents, such as how to teach a child to read a map (while you're driving), how to plan activities that everyone will enjoy, and how to budget day-by-day expenses on your trip.

What Elwell has learned in the course of her travelling experiences is that high prices are just one the aggravations for the single parent. Activities on packages are another. Take for example a typical cruise or resort, the usual family package separates children from the adults during the day. The kids go to daycare or play games with other kids, and the parents play golf or take in some sun. Many parents want a break from their usual responsibilities and are more than happy to have the children out of their hair for the day. But single parents tend to work long hours, and want to spend their vacations together with their children. At many resorts the evening activities are focused on romantic things for couple to do like dancing, hot tubbing, etc. "Single adults with children feel out of place in most resorts," says Elwell. "They are just not set up for them, and it's not fair."

Parents Without Partners (www.parentswithoutpartners.org) is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting single parents and their children. Its Web site occasionally has links to travel resources and articles aimed at single parents. Single Parent Central (www.singleparentcentral.com) and Single Parent Magazine (www.singleparentmagazine.com) also host general online message boards where you can find occasional discussion of travel issues.

More Web sites and resources will surely arise in the future as travel organizations realize that there is a large market of people who are single parents. But be careful if you're surfing the web looking for single parent travel opportunities. Most websites in the net, they found turned out to be dating or mail-order bride services, and swingers' vacations.

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