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Goodbye “godsend”’: Expiration of child tax credits hits home

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Goodbye “godsend”’: Expiration of child tax credits hits home

By JOHN RABY, FATIMA HUSSEIN and JOSH BOAK, Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — For the first time in half a year, families on Friday are going without a monthly deposit from the child tax credit — a program that was intended to be part of President Joe Biden’s legacy but has emerged instead as a flash point over who is worthy of government support.

Retiree Andy Roberts, from St. Albans, West Virginia, relied on the checks to help raise his two young grandchildren, whom he and his wife adopted because the birth parents are recovering from drug addiction.

The Robertses are now out $550 a month. That money helped pay for Girl Scouts, ballet and acting lessons and kids’ shoes, which Roberts noted are more expensive than adult shoes. The tax credit, he said, was a “godsend.”

“It’ll make you tighten up your belt, if you’ve got anything to tighten,” Roberts said about losing the payments.

The monthly tax credits were part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package — and the president had proposed extending them for another full year as part of a separate measure focused on economic and social programs.

But Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, from Roberts’ home state of West Virginia, objected to extending the credit out of concern that the money would discourage people from working and that any additional federal spending would fuel inflation that has already climbed to a nearly 40-year high.

According to IRS data, 305,000 West Virginia children benefited from the expanded credit last month.

Manchin’s opposition in the evenly split Senate derailed Biden’s social spending package and caused the expanded tax credits that were going out in the middle of every month to expire in January. This is whittling down family incomes at the precise moment when people are grappling with higher prices.

However, families only received half of their 2021 credit on a monthly basis and the other half will be received once they file their taxes in the coming months. The size of the credit will be cut in 2022, with full payments only going to families that earned enough income to owe taxes, a policy choice that will limit the benefits for the poorest households. And the credits for 2022 will come only once people file their taxes at the start of the following year.

West Virginia families interviewed by The Associated Press highlighted how their grocery and gasoline bills have risen and said they’ll need to get by with less of a financial cushion than a few months ago.

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Cape Cod Academy’s Jaeden Greenleaf joins the exclusive 2,000-point club

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Cape Cod Academy’s Jaeden Greenleaf joins the exclusive 2,000-point club

Cape Cod Academy senior guard Jaeden Greenleaf became the 77th player in state history to reach the 2,000-point plateau earlier Thursday evening. The Boston Herald All-Scholastic scored 34 points, including a 3-pointer with 4:38 remaining to go past 2,000 points in a 79-50 win over Dennis-Yarmouth to improve to 7-0.

CAREER 2,000-POINT LIST
1. Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir New Leadership 2004-09 3,070
2. Rebecca Lobo Southwick 1987-91 2,710
3. Jermaine Watson L-S, Thayer, Tabor 1997-01 2,665
4. Kristin Feldman Learning Center 1993-00 2,659
5. Kelsey O’Keefe Quaboag 2000-06 2,650
6. Bryan Edwards Cohasset 1983-88 2,563
7. Sarah Behn Foxboro 1985-89 2,562
8. Wayne Turner Beaver CD 1991-95 2,542
9. Ronnie Perry Catholic Memorial 1972-76 2,481
10. Sean Connolly Bishop Fenwick 1994-98 2,473
11. Mike Bradley Worcester Burncoat 1993-97 2,444
12. Keri Flynn Rockland 1995-00 2,405
13. Ayla Brown Noble & Greenough 2000-06 2,358
14. Katie Kerr Marian 1992-96 2,352
15. Adam Harrington Pioneer Valley 1994-98 2,347
16. Robin Christian Jamaica Plain 1981-85 2,332
17. Kendall Currence Falmouth Acad. 2015-2018 2,310
18. Marvin Safford Holy Name 1969-73 2,289
19. Jake Jason Old Colony 2016-2019 2,273
20. Ron Teixiera Catholic Memorial 1961-65 2,250
21. Matt Palazzi St. John’s (S) 1980-84 2,239
22. Emmanuel Bangandozou, Bancroft 2013-17 2,236
23. Lekia Cowen Hopedale 2003-08 2,210
24. Nicole Boudreau Andover 2008-12 2,200
25. Jessalyn Deveny Westford Academy 1997-01 2,195
(tie). Luke Dagley South Shore Christian 2012-17 2,195
27. Carla Berube Oxford 1988-95 2,190
28. Scoonie Penn Salem 1991-95 2,189
29. Azar Swain Rivers 2014-17 2,185
30. Jillian Danker Minnechaug 1994-98 2,179
31. Casey Arena Bishop Fenwick 1988-92 2,166
32. Nicole Wolff Milton Acad./Walpole 1998-02 2,164
33. Shaquana McDonough Learning Center 2004-09 2,163
34. Jon Garrity Duxbury 1968-72 2,156
35. Gerry Corcoran Norwell 1999-03 2,155
36. Katie Benzan Noble & Greenough 2011-16 2,153
37. Maddie Mullin Beaver Country Day 2013-17 2,142
38. Brianne Stepherson Masconomet 1992-98 2,139
39. Naomi Graves Hampshire 1973-78 2,137
40. Lynne-Ann Kokoski Smith Academy 1999-04 2,124
41. Michelle Edwards Cathedral 1980-84 2,121
(tie). Gwendolyn Carpenter, Mt. Everett, 2013-19 2,121
43. Kevin Miranda Avon 2003-07 2,116
44. Fiona Mannion, Latin Academy, 2016-2020, 2109
45. Colleen Hession Williston-North. 1996-02 2,096
(tie). Lenworth Williamson Pingree 2005-09 2,096
47. Jen Moussette Hampshire 2000-05 2,094
48. Caroline Ducharme, Noble & Greenough, 2017-2021
49. Chris Vetrano Andover 2000-04 2,090
50. Anthony Taylor NCC 1990-94 2,089
51. Duane Anderson Worcester Voke 1986-90 2,086
52. Chris Herren Durfee 1990-94 2,083
53. Tajanay Viega-Lee Fenway 2009-13 2,082
54. Jimmy Sullivan Dom Savio 1974-78 2,081
55. Ghared Boyce Everett 2005-08 2,073
56. Glenn Gariepy Bellingham 1962-66 2,070
57. Jes Hambley South Hadley 1994-99 2,069
58. Menel Lamadzema Mystic Valley 2013-17 2,067
59. Heman Honore St. Clement 2002-06 2,056
60. Samantha Herrick Lenox 1987-92 2,055
61. Justin Bennett Learning Center 1993-98 2,047
62. Paul Moran Swampscott 1981-85 2,043
63. Shaleyse Smallwood O’Bryant 2000-04 2,037
64. Deric McCottrell Avon/St. Sebastian’s 2006-11 2,035
65. Steve Zieja Hopkins Academy 1995-99 2,033
66. Tom Donahue St. Mary’s (B) 1971-75 2,031
67. Saleek Marshall Avon 2006-12 2,027
68. Necole Evans Springfield Central 2002-06 2,025
69. Caitlin Fisher Beaver Country Day 1996-00 2,024
70. Kerri Downs Everett 1995-99 2,019
71. Anna Kelly Lexington 2013-16 2,015
72. Shante Dezrick Avon 2004-10 2,013
73. Karen Walsh Old Colony 1992-96 2,009
74. Thad Broughton St. Mary’s (L) 1997-02 2,007
75. Bruce Seals Natick/Ashland 1994-98 2,001
*(tie). Jaeden Greenleaf Cape Cod Academy 2019-2002 2,001
77. King Gaskins Catholic Memorial 1968-72 2,000

* – still active

 

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Brigham and Women’s research group finds ‘pleasant surprise’: Black patients 50% more likely to utilize telemedicine than white patients

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Brigham and Women’s research group finds ‘pleasant surprise’: Black patients 50% more likely to utilize telemedicine than white patients

Telemedicine, which gained wider popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic and is likely to become a permanent fixture of the health care system, has become especially popular in two patient groups: Black patients and women, according to a new study out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“Given the digital divide, we expected to see differences and the use of virtual care among these populations,” said Dr. Gezzer Ortega of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Center for Surgery and Public Health, who authored the study, of the Black patients in particular. “But it was a pleasant surprise when we noticed that there was over-utilization within these groups.”

Ortega’s study broke its data into two phases: March 24, 2020 to June 23, 2020, during the stay-at-home advisory in the state, and the rest of the year. The goal was to compare patient appointments for different groups during that time, and determine the breakdown of in-person, video and audio appointments for new patient consultation within the hospital’s Division of General and Gastrointestinal Surgery.

Ortega said the research team chose to focus on surgeries because of the existing disparities in care and outcomes among groups for these procedures. He added that the team specifically chose to study the gastrointestinal division over other areas of medicine “because it’s one of the large divisions within our department, and it also reflects a broad population of care that we see,” he said.

During the early days of the pandemic, the study, published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, found little difference in the races of the people seeking care in-person or remotely, though he noted that Hispanic and Latino patients used the audio-only feature at higher rates than average, as did older patients, those with lower education levels, and those with a primary language other than English.

In the second phase of the study, which stretched from June 24 to Dec. 31, 2020, the gap for Hispanic and Latino audio-only appointments declined, likely reflecting improved digital literacy and access.

Notably, these gaps remained for the other groups throughout the study. “It’s important for us to have the flexibility of audio and video because there are certain circumstances where a patient may not have broadband access to do video, or may not have the capacity or the privacy to do a video call,” Ortega said.

Still, he said anything is better than nothing, but video calls are even better because they provide doctors with nonverbal cues impossible to read over the phone. In-person appointments, he added, are the best option.

However, the rate of use of telemedicine for Black patients was double compared to white patients, though Ortega said more research is needed to determine what those those reasons are on “a cultural nuance and personal level,” he said.

Women were also more likely to use telemedicine throughout the study, he said, which likely reflects the reality that women took on additional caretaking roles during the pandemic.

Ortega said that the study results point to the need for expanded broadband access to close health care access gaps. Digital literacy training, patient outreach to enroll in telemedicine services, and user-friendly, multilingual digital health care platforms would also help, he said.

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Boston Police commissioner search committee hears input

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Boston Police commissioner search committee hears input

The search committee for the next Boston Police commissioner hasn’t settled on any candidates yet, Mayor Michelle Wu said at the start of a meeting geared toward getting locals’ opinions about what they want in the city’s next top cop.

Wu told the 200-plus people assembled that the commission hasn’t “ID’d or spoken with” anyone yet to lead the department, and said that they want to hear from the community first, starting with the meeting Thursday night and then with at least one more.

The suggestions came in largely around what priorities for the new top cop should be. Different people suggested focuses on gun violence, mental health — both responding to calls about it and also the cops’ own wellbeing — response times, “social justice,” gender violence, transparency and accountability for officers who break the rules.

Of course, some people had completely different options about who should be commissioner. One man toward the start of the meeting said the city should look outside the department for a fresh set of eyes and a willingness to shake things up. Near the end, another man said the city should promote from within to find someone who knows the streets.

The next police commissioner will be the first permanent head of the department in what will be more than a year. Now-former Police Commissioner William Gross departed in the early days of last February amid rumors of a mayoral run — though health issues ultimately sidelined him. Then-Mayor Martin Walsh quickly appointed Gross’ replacement, the commissioner’s chief of staff Dennis White, but White only lasted a couple of days on the job before decades-old domestic allegations surfaced.

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