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  • A local hospital is now refusing to accept a Christian-based medical plan that covered more than 200 patients in the past year. One of those patients told consumer investigator Jim Strickland she got the news in the middle of her cancer treatment. The hospital told her she needed to pay cash before she left the doctor's office. Laura Alley, a 39-year-old runner, discovered a lump on her neck months after giving birth to her fifth child. 'You know, first thing I start to think about is, 'What am I going do without my wife?'' Laura's husband Nick Alley said. Nick said paying for her treatment was not on his mind because they thought they were covered. Then came a phone call from the finance office, in the middle of chemo. 'I'm sitting there, with a needle in my arm, receiving chemotherapy in my arm, and they are telling us that we are not going to be able to leave, until we pay them $41,000,' Laura said. RECENT INVESTIGATIONS: Researchers using sunlight to filter greenhouse gases from the air City officials' business class trip to South Africa cost $90K, records show Private drug dogs allow parents to search children's rooms The Alleys have Medi-Share, a medical co-op which satisfies the Obamacare mandate for health coverage. Members pay in and share each other's medical expenses. It's not insurance, but does use an insurance network called Private Healthcare Systems to negotiate rates. The Alleys said they made sure Medi-Share was accepted before Laura began treatment at Georgia Cancer Specialists, run by Northside Hospital. 'I sat in front of them, in front of their computers, and handed them my card three or four times, and no problems whatsoever,' Laura said. A spokesperson for Northside Hospital told Channel 2 by email in part: 'We have a contract with PHCS. We have never had a contract with Medi-Share. Because we thought Mrs. Alley was part of the PHCS plan (PHCS did not tell us otherwise), we billed PHCS for her care. PHCS gave her bills to Medi-Share, who underpaid on our contracted rates with PHCS. 'When we contacted PHCS about the underpayment, they alerted us that the patient did not have insurance with PHCS, but rather was a Medi-Share member. 'We have never said that we accept Medi-Share. Our contract was with PHCS. Once we realized this confusion, we corrected Mrs. Alley's account. Because she does not have insurance, she is considered a self-pay patient. We have provided her with multiple options to reduce and satisfy the remaining balance on her account. 'We did not tell the patient that she was 'pre-certified.' When our staff called PHCS to ask if pre-authorization was needed, they told us that it was not.' Why Alley says this statement doesn't tell the whole story, and what experts say you need to know about this type of healthcare coverage, Wednesday on Channel 2 Action News at 5 p.m.
  • Transgender military veterans say President Donald Trump's latest policy isn't in line with reality. Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that transgender people will be barred from serving in the U.S. military. Current Department of Defense policy allows for transgender service members to serve openly and says, 'They can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military solely for being transgender individuals.' Following the president's announcement, some people are wondering what will happen to transgender military members who are openly serving now. 'First of all trans people have served in the military since day 1, since the Revolutionary War,' said Monica Helms, founder of the National Transgender Veteran Association. Helms is transgender and a decorated Navy veteran. Her concerns about the ban and advice for service members, on Channel 2 Action News at 5. 'Just because they're trans doesn't mean they can't do the job anymore.' Transgender, decorated NAVY vet on POTUS trans troop ban @wsbtv 5 pic.twitter.com/k9t0ehh7G6-- Nicole Carr (@NicoleCarrWSB) July 26, 2017
  • Sixty-nine years ago on July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman issued an executive order abolishing racial discrimination in the United States armed forces. >> Read more trending news “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin,” executive order 9981 stated. While the issued order established the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, or the Fahy Committee, segregation in the military wouldn’t officially end for months. >> Related: Trump: Transgender people won't be allowed in the military The number of black Marines grew quickly, from 1,525 to 17,000 in May 1949. Full integration, according to the Truman Library, didn’t happen until the Korean War in 1953, “when heavy casualties forced segregated units to merge for survival.” >> Related: These 18 countries allow transgender people in their militaries Before executive order 9981, blacks and other minorities serving in the military were segregated into separate units, often performing menial tasks. Segregation within the armed services came to an official end in November 1954 with the deactivation of the 94th Engineer Battalion, the country’s last black military unit. Read executive order 9981 below: EXECUTIVE ORDER 9981 Establishing the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity In the Armed Forces. WHEREAS it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country's defense: NOW THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, by the Constitution and the statutes of the United States, and as Commander in Chief of the armed services, it is hereby ordered as follows: It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale. There shall be created in the National Military Establishment an advisory committee to be known as the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, which shall be composed of seven members to be designated by the President. The Committee is authorized on behalf of the President to examine into the rules, procedures and practices of the Armed Services in order to determine in what respect such rules, procedures and practices may be altered or improved with a view to carrying out the policy of this order. The Committee shall confer and advise the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Secretary of the Air Force, and shall make such recommendations to the President and to said Secretaries as in the judgment of the Committee will effectuate the policy hereof. All executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government are authorized and directed to cooperate with the Committee in its work, and to furnish the Committee such information or the services of such persons as the Committee may require in the performance of its duties. When requested by the Committee to do so, persons in the armed services or in any of the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall testify before the Committee and shall make available for use of the Committee such documents and other information as the Committee may require. The Committee shall continue to exist until such time as the President shall terminate its existence by Executive order. Harry Truman The White House July 26, 1948  
  • The Atlanta Falcons' roster looks more solid entering training camp than some of the team's office furniture. Dan Quinn, the Falcons' coach, joined general manager Thomas Dimitroff at a news conference on Wednesday as players reported for camp. Quinn prepared to sit behind a microphone when he noticed his chair appeared to be unsteady. 'It's either broken or this is a setup,' Quinn said, drawing a laugh from reporters. He appeared to be genuinely worried as he tested the wobbly chair before Dimitroff offered to switch. 'You want to change? Because you're a little bigger than I am,' Dimitroff said. Quinn declined the offer, gently lowered himself into the chair, and made it through the news conference without incident. The chair may be one of the few targets for change in Quinn's third training camp with the team following a surprise Super Bowl season. The Falcons must replace only three Super Bowl starters: defensive end Dwight Freeney, right guard Chris Chester and fullback Patrick DiMarco. They believe they'll be better with the return of cornerback Desmond Trufant from a pectoral injury, the additions of veterans Dontari Poe and Jack Crawford and rookie Takkarist McKinley to the defensive line, and the added maturity of other defensive starters drafted in the past two years. 'We think we can get a lot better in this camp and that's certainly our aim as a team,' Quinn said. Despite that optimism, Quinn said the competition will be tough in the NFC South. 'That climb now begins,' he said. 'This division is a bear.' The Falcons were a surprise NFC champion in 2016, improving from 8-8 in Quinn's first season to 11-5. But much of the feel-good story was obliterated by the team blowing a 28-3 second-half lead in the Super Bowl loss to New England. An offseason focus was improving the depth of the defense which faded in the second half against the Patriots. Dimitroff said the bolstered defensive line 'is a manly group.' More reason for excitement: The Falcons will open their new $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium . A potential distraction in training camp could be the contract status of running back Devonta Freeman . Dimitroff hoped to have a contract extension for Freeman before camp, but he said 'no update' when asked Wednesday about those talks. Freeman is set to earn $1,797,000 in the final year of his rookie contract. Quinn said no player will be held out of Thursday's opening practice because of injury. Wide receivers Julio Jones (foot) and Taylor Gabriel (strained lower leg) and McKinley (shoulder) will be limited to individual work with the hope they will soon join team drills. Quinn said McKinley had 'a good report from the doctors.' Jones had minor foot surgery in March. He missed two games last season with a sprained left toe and also missed practice time in the second half of the season with foot problems. He still had 83 catches for 1,409 yards and six touchdowns and was selected first-team All-Pro for the second consecutive season. The Falcons have had success with Jones being ready for games after missing practice time during the week. 'We try to limit him based on his past and follow that model,' Quinn said. 'It's been a good one. ... Some days he gets more (practice). Some days he gets less.' Jones was healthy enough to go jet skiing in Lake Lanier, near the Falcons' practice facility, recently. Atlanta TV station WXIA reported a diver was searching on Tuesday for a $100,000 earring Jones lost while falling off the jet ski. NOTES: S Ricardo Allen signed a one-year, $615,000 deal. ... The team waived OL Cam Keizer. ... Quinn listed wide receiver, linebacker and running back as deep positions where he expects to see good competition. ___ For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • President Donald Trump said Wednesday that “tremendous medical costs” were partially behind his decision to bar transgender Americans from serving in the military. However, a report from The Washington Post showed that estimates for the cost of caring for transgender service members amount to just a fraction of what the military currently spends on erectile dysfunction drugs. >> Read more trending news The president did not provide any numbers to support his claim. However, the Post reported, a study commissioned by the Department of Defense and published last year by the Rand Corp. estimated that it would cost a maximum of $8.4 million per year to pay for transition-related care. According to the report, the funds amount to “a 0.04 to 0.13 percent increase” in health care costs. The American Medical Association said in a statement that there is “no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from military service.” “AMA policy also supports public and private health insurance coverage for treatment of gender dysphoria as recommended by the patient's physician,” According to the Rand study on the impact of transgender individuals in the military, the financial cost is a rounding error in the defense budget and should not be used as an excuse to deny patriotic Americans an opportunity to serve their country. We should be honoring their service - not trying to end it.” >> Related: Trump: Transgender people won't be allowed in the military The Rand Corp. estimate amounts to about one-tenth of the amount the military spends each year on erectile dysfunction prescriptions, the Post reported. A 2015 analysis of Defense Health Agency data by the Military Times showed the Department of Defense spent $84.24 million in 2014 on prescriptions for erectile dysfunction drugs. In the period between 2011 and 2014, the newspaper reported, the military spent $294 million on erectile dysfunction prescriptions, “the equivalent of nearly four U.S. Air Force F-35 Join Strike Fighters.” >> Related: What is the difference between transgender and transsexual? A separate study on the costs of transgender health care, published in 2015 in the New England Journal of Medicine, estimated that about 12,800 transgender troops were serving in the military and eligible for health care. The cost to provide transition-related care would amount to about $5.6 million annually, or 22 cents per member per month, according to the study. Aaron Belkin, the study’s author and director of the Palm Center research institute, wrote that, “Though my utilization and cost estimates are quite close to actual data provided by an allied military force, it seems clear that under any plausible estimation method, the cost amounts to little more than a rounding error in the military's $47.8 billion annual health care budget.” >> Related: These 18 countries allow transgender people in their militaries White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday afternoon that the decision to bar transgender people from service was a “military decision” made in the face of what the president saw as policy that “erodes military readiness and military cohesion.” It was not immediately clear whether the ban would include people who are currently transgender and serving in the military. Sanders said the White House and Defense Department would work together to determine how to implement Trump’s plan.
  • The city of Snellville is going after businesses that cut down trees without seeking permission first.  The new ordinance approved by the city council this week raises the fine from $356 to $995 a day until the tree is replaced.  City Councilman Dave Emmanuel says the change was proposed after a major shopping center in Snellville cut down 33 trees without prior permission a few years ago.  “When people look at it and say, ‘Well we’ll ask for forgiveness rather than permission’, that forgiveness is going to be really expensive now,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  The ordinance requires a business to go through the city’s planning department. “You can get a permit and there are ways you can remove a tree if it’s a problem,” says Emmanuel.  The owners of the shopping center on Hwy 124 that broke the previous ordinance ended up paying the city around $30,000 in fines are restitution.   Resident Laura McKlveen thinks it’s a good way to prevent a mass clearing of trees in the city.  “Just as a city as a whole, this has just become like asphalt. There’s nothing beautiful in the area anymore. It’s not natural.”