Health exchange works to counter confusion over Obamacare

Major last-minute changes at the federal level to the Affordable Care Act and additional rate increases at the state level threaten to undermine enrollment in health insurance this year, but Maryland health exchange officials are sticking to a goal of signing up at least as many people as last year. The exchange, where people who do not get insurance through work can buy coverage, enrolled more than 140,000 people in private plans and about 280,000 in the expanded Medicaid program during the last year’s enrollment period for 2017 insurance coverage. (Balt. Sun)

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Trimming the fat: Baltimore workers begin gnarly task of removing 'fatberg'

Baltimore’s Public Works Department is trying a different approach to remove the “fatberg” — a gigantic glob of congealed fat, wet wipes and other detritus — that’s been growing in the city’s sewer system. After discovering the putrid mass near Penn Station last month, workers began to scrape off parts of it to be sent to the landfill on Quarantine Road. A more aggressive course of action was rolled out Monday: A high pressure nozzle is blasting the fatberg, the pieces of which will then be sucked up through a giant vacuum. (Balt. Sun)

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Controversial abortion provider to open clinic in Bethesda on Tuesday

A controversial abortion provider plans to start a Bethesda office Tuesday, and abortion opponents have planned a protest for opening day. AbortionClinics.org advertised on its website that it plans to start offering “advanced gestation abortion care” in Bethesda, in addition to an office it currently runs in Nebraska. The Bethesda office is in Wildwood Medical Center building on Old Georgetown Road. (Bethesda)

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Handicapped drivers must pay for parking in Mount Vernon beginning Oct. 30

Drivers with disabilities will be required to pay for parking in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood beginning Oct. 30 — the fourth expansion of the city’s ProjectSPACE program, designed to combat the abuse of disability placards. Forty single-space parking spots will be reserved for drivers with disabilities, and 75 multi-space, EZ Park meters will be lowered to the latest Americans with Disabilities Act standards, the city announced Monday. (Balt. Sun)

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Baltimore County Council OKs parking deal with ... Baltimore County

Without discussion, the Baltimore County Council approved a contract to rent parking spaces for public safety employees from another arm of the government. The council voted 6-0 on Monday to approve the $272,000 in payments that will go to the Baltimore County Revenue Authority for 320 to 330 spaces in the Towson Square parking garage through the end of 2018. Councilman Todd Crandell, a Dundalk Republican, was absent. (Balt. Sun)

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Harford Council adopts bills relaxing septic reserve, sediment control regulations

The Harford County Council has approved a bill that relaxes a regulation on private sewage disposal systems, or septic systems, used by residences and businesses in areas that don’t have public sewer service. The council also recently enacted legislation that relaxes some existing regulations governing sediment controls at construction sites and the length of time developers have to complete their projects before being required to renew their county permit. (Aegis)

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October 16 // After police union rejects contract, city solicitor says both sides will continue negotiations

After Baltimore police officers resoundingly rejected a city-proposed labor contract with their police union Thursday night, both city and union officials hinted Friday that negotiations will continue. The union had characterized the rejected contract as the city’s “final offer,” but Andre Davis, the city solicitor, played down the idea that the city was ready to walk away from the negotiating table or that the vote had left the city on unsound footing. “I do not believe we’re in limbo at all. Officers reported for their shifts today and they will tomorrow,” Davis said Friday. “The next step will obviously be determined by the parties, individually and collectively.” (Balt. Sun)

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Fentanyl makes its way from Chinese labs to Baltimore streets, with deadly consequences

In a laboratory somewhere in China, a chemist is producing the fentanyl that will kill an opioid user in Maryland. Within China’s vast drug industry, which produces much of the global supply of pharmaceutical ingredients, laboratories are taking advantage of cheap labor and lax oversight from Beijing to churn out new versions of the cheap, powerful and often deadly synthetic opioid faster than U.S. authorities can identify, classify and ban them. From China — the largest producer of fentanyl worldwide — the drug is sent daily by plane or ship to Mexico, where traffickers and truckers push it along well-worn paths of illicit narcotics north to the United States. In Baltimore and other cities, well-established gangs push the powder and pills to consumers. (Balt. Sun)

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