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Death of Megan Rondini ‘deeply saddening’ for Alabama; family attorneys plan federal complaint

Megan Rondini (Facebook)

The University of Alabama has released a statement regarding a former student who committed suicide after attempting to press criminal charges for rape. Megan Rondini was a UA student from Texas when she was reportedly raped by a man from a powerful Tuscaloosa family in 2015. According to Rondini’s story, told to Buzzfeed News[1] by her family and friends, the 20-year-old was mistreated by Tuscaloosa police, the university, and DCH Regional Medical Center. Rondini hanged herself in February 2016.

Her parents have hired Birmingham lawyer Leroy Maxwell Jr. of the Maxwell Firm to represent them in filing a federal Title IX complaint against the university, and with possibly other complaints. Maxwell told AL.com the complaint will be filed by the end of June.

“Megan was loved by everyone who came in contact with her. Her loss is everyone’s loss. Title IX, the University of Alabama, the Tuscaloosa Sheriff’s department and the overall judicial system in Tuscaloosa let her down on every level. Through litigation our firm is committed to doing everything in our power to shine a light on Tuscaloosa’s systemic problem with sexual assault,” he said. A spokesperson for UA released a statement after Rondini’s story was published by Buzzfeed. That statement is below.

“The University of Alabama has been deeply saddened by the death of Megan Rondini, and we continue to offer our sympathy to her friends and family.

Information published by news outlets this week has unfortunately ignored some significant facts. When Megan went to the hospital, a University advocate met her at the hospital to provide support and stayed with her throughout the examination process. Megan also received information from University representatives regarding services available to her on campus, including counseling through the University’s Women & Gender Resource Center. When she sought counseling and her first therapist identified a potential conflict as defined by her professional obligations, Megan was immediately introduced to another therapist, who provided care and support. Additionally, the UA Title IX Office was in contact with Megan, including offering academic accommodations and helping to streamline her withdrawal when Megan elected to return to Texas. Because the reported incident occurred off-campus, the University’s police department was not involved in the formal criminal investigation. We hope these recent news accounts, which do not tell the full story, will not discourage others from reporting sexual assault or seeking help and support.”

This story will be updated when a federal complaint is filed.

References

  1. ^ Buzzfeed News (www.buzzfeed.com)

Senate’s proposed Medicaid cuts worry Alabama health care providers

Alabama health care organizations and advocacy groups Thursday expressed concerns about possible cuts to Medicaid in the Senate health care bill, saying it could affect hospitals and pediatric offices.

Senate's Proposed Medicaid Cuts Worry Alabama Health Care Providers CLOSESenate's Proposed Medicaid Cuts Worry Alabama Health Care Providers

More than 178,000 Alabamians purchased individual plans on the federal insurance exchange over the winter time. HHS statistics show who’s buying them, where they live and how much they earn. Brian Lyman / Advertiser

Senate's Proposed Medicaid Cuts Worry Alabama Health Care Providers

Michael Reynolds, European Pressphoto Agency Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says the Republican working group on Obamacare repeal includes all 52 GOP senators, not just the all-male group drafting the legislation. Senate Majority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks during a news conference alongside Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., on Capitol Hill on May 9, 2017. (Photo: MICHAEL REYNOLDS, Michael Reynolds, European Press)

The Senate version of legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act appears to make even deeper cuts to federal funding[1] for Medicaid than a version that passed the U.S. House of Representatives in May. That could mean trouble for Alabama s health care system, which relies on Medicaid.

Our initial impressions are that it s going to be devastating for Alabama s hospitals, our Medicaid, our health care delivery system, said Danne Howard, executive vice president and chief policy officer for the Alabama Hospital Association. Requests for comment were sent on Thursday to the offices of U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby and Luther Strange, both R-Alabama. Medicaid covers over 1 million Alabamians, despite strict coverage requirements. Childless able-bodied adults almost never qualify. Parents of children eligible for Medicaid can receive benefits if they make 18 percent of the poverty line about $3,629 a year. The program chiefly covers children who make up more than half of recipients the elderly and the disabled. The program covers about half the births in the state and plays a major role keeping hospitals open and pediatricians seeing patients.

Senate's Proposed Medicaid Cuts Worry Alabama Health Care ProvidersBuy Photo

Photos by Mickey Welsh / Advertiser Dr. Cathy Wood works with young patients at her practice, Partners in Pediatrics, in Montgomery on Wednesday. Dr. Cathy Wood works with young patients at her practice, Partners in Pediatrics, in Montgomery, Ala, on Wednesday June 24, 2015. (Photo: Mickey Welsh / Advertiser)

A large portion of their practice is Medicaid, said Dr. Cathy Wood, president of the Alabama chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. It s getting harder and harder to provide care in rural communities generally, just because of medicine in general. Take away the financial security of saying these patients are going to be funded, and you re going to get fewer and fewer. The federal government and the state split the costs of the program. The state has struggled to pay for its share, due to rising costs and legislators unwillingness or inability to raise taxes or create new revenues for the General Fund. But the federal match is generous: Alabama gets about $2.35 from the federal government for every state dollar it spends. The Alabama Medicaid Agency says the state in fiscal year 2015 received $4.1 billion from the federal government for the program. The bills in Congress would drop the match and replace it with a per capita block grant that would provide a fixed amount of money per enrollee. The House version would have used 2016 as a baseline, which could cut funding to the state because Alabama already spends less on Medicaid than other states and did not take a Medicaid expansion.

The Congressional Budget Office has yet to score the bill and its specific effects. According to The Washington Post[2], the Senate version would put the block grants in place in 2021 and would allow them to grow more slowly than the House version, which could mean deeper cuts. The loss of federal money would require the Alabama Legislature to raise taxes to replace the lost funds, or reduce services. The Republican-controlled bodies have never shown any willingness to increase taxes[3]. That would likely mean cuts to the program[4], which could extend waiting times for patients, even those with private insurance, and lead to closures of hospitals and primary care practices, particularly in rural areas that count on Medicaid.

Senate's Proposed Medicaid Cuts Worry Alabama Health Care ProvidersBuy Photo

Alabama House of Representatives gather during the legislative special session on Tuesday, August 23, 2016, at the State House in Montgomery, Ala. (Photo: Albert Cesare / Advertiser, Albert Cesare / Advertiser)

Kimble Forrister, executive director of Alabama Arise, a group which works on poverty issues, called the bill bad for Alabama and bad for America in a statement.

The Senate bill would be devastating for children, seniors, working families, and people with disabilities across Alabama, the statement said. This mean-spirited plan would slash Medicaid and force millions of low and middle-income Americans to pay more for insurance that covers less. Howard said with few services offered by Alabama Medicaid already, the state would have to cut reimbursements to doctors in Medicaid or adult prescription services, which she called unconscionable.

Strange and his opponents in this summer s Senate primary have, for the most part, expressed wariness[5] about block granting Medicaid but not said if that would be a deal killer for them. Wood said providers were uneasy at the thought of Montgomery having fewer dollars for health care, and more control over how it s spent.

It seems like if you had federal participation the way we had it, there was some security there, she said. It made us feel like OK, we can scratch here. The federal government holds the state government accountable. Now it may not.

Read or Share this story: http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/news/politics/southunionstreet/2017/06/22/senates-proposed-medicaid-cuts-worry-alabama-health-care-providers/421824001/

References

  1. ^ appears to make even deeper cuts to federal funding (www.montgomeryadvertiser.com)
  2. ^ to The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com)
  3. ^ never shown any willingness to increase taxes (www.montgomeryadvertiser.com)
  4. ^ cuts to the program (www.montgomeryadvertiser.com)
  5. ^ expressed wariness (www.montgomeryadvertiser.com)

Deadly shooting at local bar

Deadly Shooting At Local Bar

(IMG:WPMI) Deadly shooting this morning at Shotgun Willie’s.

MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI)

A bar shooting turns deadly in Mobile. Police are investigating at the scene of Shotgun Willie’s on Halls Mill Road. The call came in just after 4:00 this morning.

We know that at least one person was shot and killed. The victim’s name has not been released at this time. According to a co-worker of the victim, the victim was a security guard at the club. The co-worker said the victim had thrown a person out of the bar earlier in the night, then that person returned with a gun and shot the victim. Officers were chasing a suspect, however, it has not been confirmed whether that suspect has been caught.

Local 15 will continue to follow and bring you updates as they become available.

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