Inquiries

Big Pharma hides costs with bait and switch

Big Pharma hides costs with bait and switch

Drug companies offer copay breaks to get big insurance payments

THE ADS FOR high-end prescription drugs seem ubiquitous. Invokana, Xarelto, Abilify, and Humira are just a few names familiar to anyone with a television. The drugs are some of the stars of the more than $5 billion in direct-to-consumer advertising the pharmaceutical industry does each year to convince patients to ask their doctors to prescribe(...)

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Wynn shipping contaminated soil around nation

Wynn shipping contaminated soil around nation

Cleanup of 500,000 tons of toxic dirt from casino site sent to landfills in seven states and Canada

THE CLEANUP OF the Wynn Resorts casino site in Everett is a case of addition through subtraction. Before the Wynn tower could start going up, all of the contaminated soil on the property had to be removed. An estimated 500,000 tons of dirt containing PCBs, arsenic, lead, ash, petroleum products, and asbestos were carted off(...)

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Nickeled and dimed

Nickeled and dimed

Dartmouth officials give little in public records requests

THE TOWN OF Dartmouth is certainly a stickler for the rules, unwilling to forego a nickel copying fee for a document disclosing a legal settlement involving hundreds of thousands of dollars. CommonWealth sent a public records request to Town Administrator David Cressman for a copy of a settlement agreement between Dart-mouth and its former police(...)

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Running away from homelessness

Running away from homelessness

Back on My Feet invites homeless people to run with them to feel included and healthy

Microphilanthropy is an occasional feature that calls attention to small acts of generosity that people do for the benefit of others and highlights little-known needs that could benefit from generosity, even on a small scale.  GOVERNMENT POLICY MAKERS, community activists, and social workers have designed many different programs with the goal of avoiding or remedying(...)

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Rural schools caught in ‘death spiral’

Rural schools caught in ‘death spiral’

Enrollment changes can have big impact in sparsely populated districts

ON A SUNNY October day, students play at recess outside Hawlemont Elementary School tucked into the wooded hills of Charlemont, which are electric with fall color. As they head back to class, Wayne Kermenski, the principal, calls them over to visit the animals behind the school’s newly constructed post-and-beam barn. They jump at the opportunity.(...)

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Renewables not cheap

Renewables not cheap

Wind, solar far higher cost than ‘polluting energy’ sources

IN DECEMBER, A company called CleanChoice Energy mailed out a sales pitch to electricity customers in eastern Massachusetts. The letter acknowledged that 100 percent renewable energy from solar and wind would cost “a little more” than “polluting energy,” but said the added expense was worth it. “That’s because the energy you are choosing is better(...)

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T subsidy confusion

T subsidy confusion

Passenger subsidies rise -- but maybe not

THE MBTA’S OPERATING subsidy per passenger seemed to increase last year compared to the year before, but officials say the primary difference was in how the figures were calculated. In 2015, the T said the subsidy per passenger on the Red, Orange, and Blue lines was 61 cents. That compared to $1.39 per passenger on(...)

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Contributing to debate

Contributing to debate

Public school debate teams give students more than just a good argument

Microphilanthropy is an occasional feature that calls attention to small acts of generosity that people do for the benefit of others and highlights little-known needs that could benefit from generosity, even on a small scale. IF YOU WENT to a high school with reasonable resources, there was almost certainly a debate team. It’s possible the(...)

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The toughest mile

The toughest mile

State provides funding to wire rural towns for internet

IN 2008, THE Patrick administration set out to wire 123 cities and towns in western Massachusetts for broadband. But eight years, 1,200 miles of fiber-optic cable, and nearly $100 million later, the effort has stalled with 44 communities still without high-speed internet. The towns that remain essentially disconnected—or, in the words of state officials, “unserved”—represent(...)

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Drawing a line

Drawing a line

Engineers and architects battle over regulation

IT’S NOT QUITE a gang war with combatants brandishing mechanical pencils but there’s a brewing battle over state regulations that engineering companies say are arcane and outdated but architects insist are necessary for the “health, safety, and general welfare” of the public, especially for projects involving tax dollars. Under Massachusetts regulations, only a licensed architect(...)

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