March 21, 2017

Around the nation: Sesame Street's newest Muppet—Julia—will have autism

Daily Briefing
    • Arizona: Arizona lawmakers are working on a set of policies designed to protect patients from so-called surprise medical bills from out-of-network providers. According to the Associated Press, patients frequently are hit with such bills when in-network hospitals contract with out-of-network specialists. Under the bill, patients, insurers, and providers would be required to first try to settle the dispute in an informal phone call before advancing to arbitration if an agreement cannot be reached. If the bill is higher than $1,000, patients can ask the Arizona Department of Insurance to assign an arbitrator to settle the dispute (Silber, AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/18).

    • California: San Francisco City Librarian Luis Herrera said in a February letter to staff that he was considering offering voluntary staff training on how to use the opioid overdose antidote naloxone. The idea surfaced after a person with substance misuse issues was found dead in one of the Civic Center library's restrooms, according to the AP (Associated Press, 3/19).

    • New York: The iconic television show "Sesame Street" has introduced a new Muppet who has autism. Julia is "a shy and winsome 4-year-old, with striking red hair and green eyes," David Folkenflik reports for NPR. Julia's autism will come through in subtle ways. For instance, Big Bird may have to repeat himself multiple times to get her attention. Stacy Gordon, the veteran puppeteer selected to play the part who also has a son with autism, said, "I really wish that kids in my son's class had grown up with a 'Sesame Street' that had modeling (of) the behavior of inclusion of characters with autism" (Folkenflik, NPR, 3/20).

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