December 14 // Anti-violence program Roca, funded by private donors, coming to Baltimore, Mayor Pugh says

Mayor Catherine Pugh said Wednesday that an anti-violence program that focuses on the most troubled teenage boys and young men is coming to Baltimore, thanks to $10 million donated by charities and business leaders. Pugh had been seeking $16 million to bring the program, called Roca, to Baltimore for four years. She received commitments from several private foundations totaling $3.5 million, and at a meeting with the Greater Baltimore Committee last week secured $6.5 million more from businesses. (Balt. Sun)

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CareFirst initiates programming, funding efforts to combat opioid problem

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield is committing new programming and $1.5 million to help combat the region's ongoing opioid epidemic. The state's largest insurer announced several initiatives during a press conference at City Hall Wednesday, all aimed at addressing opioid use and addiction problems among its members. The programs include developing a network of addiction recovery centers to which members in need of treatment can be referred, enhanced prescription drug monitoring and new limits on allowable prescription quantities and durations for certain drugs. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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Mayor approves $10 million for affordable housing

Mayor Catherine Pugh and the Board of Estimates Wednesday approved the allotment of $10 million in future bond money for affordable housing. The money, which would start flowing in the summer of 2019 and continue through mid-2021, is higher than originally contemplated by the Pugh administration, but still far short of the $40 million sought by the Baltimore Housing Roundtable. (Brew)

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Hopkins favored out-of-state patients over locals to increase revenue, lawsuit claims

A former supervisor in the patient appointments department at the Johns Hopkins Health System Corp. has accused the medical system in a lawsuit of prioritizing out-of-state patients over Maryland residents to boost revenue. Anthony C. Campos said in the lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court that his department was directed with the task of “filling the plane” with patients from outside Maryland. The directive to bring in more of these patients came from the highest ranks at the medical system, the lawsuit contends. (Balt. Sun)

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Maryland health exchange extends deadline to enroll in Obamacare

Marylanders seeking health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act will get an extra seven days to sign up, state officials announced Wednesday. The new enrollment deadline is December 22 rather than Friday. The deadline was extended by a week to accommodate procrastinators and avoid a last-minute enrollment crush at the end of this week. (Balt. Sun)

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Baltimore Co. to require more employee training to prevent sexual harassment

Baltimore County employees will be required to undergo sexual harassment prevention training every three years under a policy change announced Wednesday by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. Under current policies, county workers undergo an hourlong training session once, when they are newly hired. But Kamenetz cited “the revelations across the nation over the past few months [that] have been very disturbing” in making the change. (Balt. Sun)

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Proposed monitoring plan for Baltimore, Justice Department consent decree to be released for public comment Jan. 8

The public will soon have a chance to comment on a proposed monitoring plan for Baltimore’s implementation of police reforms mandated under its consent decree with the Justice Department, according to an updated timeline approved by U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar on Wednesday. According to the new schedule, the independent monitor team led by Venable attorney Kenneth Thompson submitted a draft plan to the city and the Justice Department on Dec. 5, which will undergo internal revisions based on comments from the parties before an updated version is released for public comment on Jan. 8. (Balt. Sun)

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Coastal bays get mediocre grade, but environmentalists are optimistic

Environmentalists are confident that small steps are being made to improve the health of the waterways that hug inland shores. It's the third year in a row of a mediocre grade on the Maryland Coastal Bays Program's report card, but an easy fix was never promised. Frank Piorko, the program's executive director, was positive about this year's average rating of a C-plus, saying it was a sign of a slow progress toward a cleaner watershed. (Daily Times)

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