News Briefs from Around the State - Southern Maryland Headline News

News Briefs from Around the State

Md. Redistricting Data to be Released Next Week

Redistricting data for Maryland and three other states will be released next week, said U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves, at the National Press Club in Washington Wednesday.

"Summaries of population totals, as well as data on race, Hispanic origin and voting age" will be included in the release, according to a statement from the Census Bureau.

Redistricting data based on the 2010 census is released to all 50 states on a rolling basis between the beginning of February and April 1, a legal deadline, Groves said. The data will be used by state legislatures to draw lines for legislative representation, Groves said.

The Census Bureau considers two main factors in determining the release order of redistricting data, Groves said: The complexity of certifying the data—some states' data takes longer to process—and each state's election schedule.

States with off-cycle elections, in 2011, are likely to receive redistricting data earlier than states that do not have elections until 2012, said Cathy McCully, chief of the Census Redistricting Data Office.

Maryland's statewide elections are not scheduled until 2012 but the state's data release was expedited because Baltimore City Council elections are scheduled for next fall, McCully said.

Virginia, Louisiana, New Jersey and Mississippi will be the first states to receive redistricting data, which will be released later this week. In addition to Maryland, Arkansas, Indiana and Iowa will receive data next week, Groves said.

--By Capital News Service's Steve Kilar

PGCC Awarded $200,000 in Health Care Scholarship Funds

Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States has awarded Prince George's Community College $200,000 to support low-income students in the nursing and allied health fields.

In its first year, the scholarship fund will provide $101,110 in tuition assistance and fees to 27 students in the college's health sciences division, said Mona Rock, coordinator of public relations for PGCC. The remaining balance will be put into a trust by the Prince George's Community College Foundation to continue the scholarship into the following year.

The 27 students receiving assistance in the first year will continue to receive the funds for a second year, Rock said, and the scholarship fund is expected to provide tuition assistance to nearly 60 students in the first two years.

Students already enrolled in one of the college's health programs, as well as low-income professionals in the health care industry who wish to go back to school to advance their skills in the field, are eligible to apply for the awards, said Rock. Recipients will be chosen by a committee.

The Kaiser scholarships will help PGCC students prepare for positions such as emergency medical technician, registered nurse, paramedic and dental assistant—all professional programs offered through the college's health sciences division.

"It's a great opportunity... for the students, said Rock. "These are high-demand jobs."

--By Maryland Newsline's Madhu Rajaraman

Maryland Beats Va., D.C. in Scorecard of Children's Health

Maryland outperforms both Virginia and the District of Columbia in insuring children of any age up to 18, according to the 2011 Child Health Scorecard released by The Commonwealth Fund Wednesday.

Maryland is tied for 13th place with Connecticut, while Massachusetts is ranked first for child insurance coverage. The District and Virginia failed to make the top 15, both checking in at 18th. Texas is last at 51st.

Cathy Schoen, the TCF senior vice president for Policy, Research and Evaluation, attributed Maryland's success rate with insuring children to the state's extensive charity pool.

"Maryland is a perfect example of a state whose leaders have said, 'You know what, let's take care of our working poor, and give them access to decent insurance,'" said Schoen at a conference call Tuesday touting the grade book.

Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, two of Maryland's largest insurance companies, offer child-only policies, according to published reports. This is a practice they plan to continue at least until the new health care law passed last March takes effect in 2014.

"Maryland has had a long history of taking advantage of federal programs," said Karen Davis, Commonwealth Fund president.

Still, while both Schoen and Davis applauded Maryland's efforts to insure children, they lamented the lack of coverage for parents nationwide.

"Different factors complicate insuring an entire family," said Davis. "One is the nature of employment. If adults work in the service, tourism or agriculture industries, you're just less likely to have employer coverage."

Interestingly enough, the District ranks in the lower quartiles in every category, including Access and Affordability (20), Prevention and Treatment (39), and the Potential to Lead Healthy Lives (51).

Davis said that the nation's capital sees an infant mortality rate two to three times that of states like Massachusetts, a state where universal health care coverage is the law.

When all categories are included, Maryland continues to be ranked 18th, while the District is 39th and Virginia is 24th spot.

-- By Capital News Service's Jessica Harper.

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