Lawmakers approve plan requiring counties spend more on community mental health

INDIANAPOLIS — Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties would be required to spend more of their budgets on mental health services under a measure headed to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.House Enrolled Act 1141, which won final legislative approval Tuesday, changes how the maximum county payment to community mental health centers is calculated, and removes conditions that currently allow counties to contribute less than the maximum.If signed into law, Lake County would pay approximately $175,000 more each year and Porter County about $150,000, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.LaPorte County only would owe about $15,000 more because state data show it already nearly pays the maximum required appropriation.Community mental health centers operate in all 92 counties and largely are the front line in Indiana's battle against drug addiction.Holcomb has declared that combating the state's opioid abuse crisis is one of his top priorities as governor.The legislation passed the House, 92-2, and the Senate, 48-0.See the latest in our Crossing the Line series here Crossing the Line — Wind Gusts Crossing the line separating Indiana and Illinois sometimes means dealing with different laws and customs. Readers are asked to share ideas for this weekly feature. This week: Wind gusts.It's often said that March weather comes in roaring like a lion and goes out peaceful like a lamb.That's something most any resident of Illinois or Indiana can confirm as they struggle to cope with strong winds in the first weeks of this month.But folk wisdom aside, weather records show the highest recorded wind gusts in both states, excluding tornadoes, occurred at other times of the year.According to the National Weather Service, the highest wind gust in Chicago was 87 miles per hour during a snowstorm on Feb. 12, 1894.And even though Chicago is known as the "Windy City," the Illinois state capital of Springfield has a higher recorded wind gust: 98 mph on June 14, Continue Reading

Heroin Addicted Baby Dies After 9 Days — Mom Gets 30 Years in Prison

A Maryland judge sentenced a mother whose baby was born addicted to heroin to 30 years in prison for the death of her son on Monday. The newborn boy suffered a traumatic brain injury, had rarely been fed during his nine days of life, and was most likely born addicted to heroin. Anne Kirsch, 37, of Baltimore gave birth to Matthew Kirsch Jr. in October 2015, at work in the repair bay of an auto repair shop, the Baltimore Sun reported.Prosecutors told the jury that the baby boy was apparently born with a heroin addiction and had to suffer from the excruciating effects of withdrawal, the local newspaper stated. Kirsch admitted that she used heroin when she was pregnant as well as the night before her son died. The infant also suffered from malnutrition and physical abuse. An autopsy revealed the child had “a traumatic brain injury consistent with having his head slammed against a flat surface,” the local publication reported. The doctors who examined him also said his stomach was empty and that he died after being abused and neglected.The judge convicted Kirsch of child abuse and manslaughter last year. In a related case, the court sentenced Matthew Kirsch, Sr. (39) to 15 years in prison last July after he pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death. If he violates the terms of his release, he will receive an additional 10 years in prison. Anne Kirsch will receive an additional 45 years in prison if she violates the terms of her release. The state attorney for Baltimore said in a released statement: “My heart breaks that this child suffered through nine days of heroin withdrawals, blunt force trauma, and starvation.” Marilyn Mosby added, “Both parents had an obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of the life they chose to bring into this world.” Last November, Breitbart News reported that Mexican drug cartel super-labs that increase the purity of illegal drugs, including heroin, and a prescription Continue Reading

Indiana may no longer charge sales tax on food sold through vending machines

INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers buying food from vending machines next year might pay a little less if state lawmakers in coming days approve a proposal to exempt those purchases from the 7 percent Indiana sales tax.The House on Monday voted 93-0 for Senate Bill 124. It now returns to the Senate, where it previously was approved 47-0, for a final decision on whether to send it to Gov. Eric Holcomb for enactment.Under the plan, food sold through vending machines would be exempt from sales tax, just as it is when purchased at a grocery store or other retailer.State Rep. Dave Ober, R-Albion, the sponsor of the measure, said it's a simple matter of fairness that identical food items should be taxed the same way no matter how they're sold.The sales tax exemption only would apply to food products. Candy, soft drinks and other vending machine staples not classified as "food" under Indiana law still would be subject to sales tax, just as they are in stores.However, the proposed statute does not mandate vending machine operators reduce their food prices if they currently include sales tax.The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency projects the change will shrink Indiana sales tax revenue by approximately $5 million a year.As a result, if the measure becomes law, it would not take effect until July 1, 2019, to give lawmakers time next year to adjust for the anticipated revenue reduction as they craft Indiana's new two-year state budget.Crossing the Line Crossing the Line — Wind Gusts Crossing the line separating Indiana and Illinois sometimes means dealing with different laws and customs. Readers are asked to share ideas for this weekly feature. This week: Wind gusts.It's often said that March weather comes in roaring like a lion and goes out peaceful like a lamb.That's something most any resident of Illinois or Indiana can confirm as they struggle to cope with strong winds in the first weeks of this month.But folk wisdom aside, weather records show the highest recorded Continue Reading

Paid parental leave still eludes Americans

Story highlights 1993's Family and Medical Leave Act mandated 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave Only 14% of civilian workers had access to paid leave in 2016 (CNN)Twenty-five years ago today, on February 5, 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act. The first and only federal leave legislation in the United States, it guarantees nearly 60% of employees 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave to take care of a new baby, a sick relative or their own serious medical condition. While happy with the new legislation, family leave advocates -- some of whom had spent the better part of a decade fighting for the policy -- didn't consider it an outright victory at the time. The law was better from nothing, yes, but also far from ideal. It leaves out lots of men and women (it doesn't cover freelancers and those who work at companies with fewer than 50 employees, for example), it offers nothing in the way of income replacement, and the time period is too short, at least compared with more family-friendly countries such as France, the Netherlands and Spain, all of which offer 16 weeks at full wage replacement. "We always knew that we needed to expand it," said Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work, a network of 27 state coalitions pushing for paid sick days and paid family leave. Moms who need mental health care the most aren't getting it Bravo and others advocates have continued the fight, making gains on the state level and encouraging businesses to expand their paid leave policies and offer them to more employees, including men and part-time workers. Read More They've also turned paid leave into a talking point used by politicians on both sides of the aisle, most recently heard as a pledge from President Donald Trump during last week's State of the Union address. Even with all these successes, the federal policy has remained unchanged since Clinton signed it a quarter-century ago. The United States Continue Reading

Health effects of fish oil: Where do we stand?

Story highlights Oily fish and fish oil contain omega-3s, which contain essential fatty acids Research on omega-3s has varied through the centuries (CNN)Study after study will say that adding fish to your diet is a healthy move. Using fish oil supplements, though, is under near-constant debate. The latest salvo: a new study that says the risk for some childhood allergies might go down if the mother takes fish oil and probiotic supplements during pregnancy. The federal advisory committee that wrote the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 advises adults to eat about 8 ounces of a variety of seafood each and every week. This guideline is intended to provide you with healthy amounts of two essential omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Read More These nutrients play important roles in brain function, normal growth and development, metabolism and curbing inflammation, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Our bodies cannot manufacture these fatty acids, so we must consume them. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, are rich in both DHA and EPA. (There's a third omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in walnuts, canola oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds. Our bodies can convert ALA, in limited quantities, to DHA and EPA.) For stress, superfoods are better than comfort foods Despite the plentiful options for adding DHA and EPA to our diet, many people prefer to hack the process by taking fish oil supplements, the same way you'd drink vegetable juice instead of eating actual veggies. "A lot of people don't know why they take fish oil," said R. Preston Mason, a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and president of Elucida Research, a biotechnology research company. "You take fish oil for the omega-3 content. ... People have heard it's good for you, so they take it. It's a booming industry." In fact, fish oil is the third Continue Reading

Winter Jam in Reading: Christian singer Kari Jobe reveals pain in ‘Garden’

Two years ago, Christian singer Kari Jobe was at a wonderful place in her life. She was a year past her second straight No. 1 Christian album, pregnant with her first child and preparing to start writing songs for her fifth album.Then tragedy struck. Jobe’s sister, who also was expecting, had a stillborn child 7 ½ months into her pregnancy, throwing the singer not only into mourning, but into fear and doubt for her own unborn child.“It just was one of the most heart-wrenching seasons of our lives,” Jobe says. “It was just these, oh man, just all of these emotions and all of these uncharted waters for our family.”Jobe says she channeled the hurt into the writing sessions for her new album, knowing “so many people have experienced something similar, or gone through difficult stuff. So I was like, ‘Well, I just want to write through this, and my experience — what God’s doing, what God’s saying to me. I think it would really help other people.”Out of those sessions came “The Garden,” a deeply personal collection of worship songs that, released nearly a year ago, not only reached No. 2 on the Christian chart, but also surprisingly crossed over to No. 22 on the secular Billboard’s Albums chart.Jobe will bring that success to a headlining spot on Christian music’s biggest tour, the annual multi-act Winter Jam, which this year has her sharing the stage with Christian rock band Skillet and Building 429, tour founder Newsong and seven other acts.The tour comes to Reading’s Santander Center at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan.18.After 22 successful years (in 2015, with Skillet as the headliner, Winter Jam was the No. 22 tour by ticket sales, eclipsing Madonna and The Rolling Stones, according to Pollstar,) this year will raise its admission price from $10 to $15 at the door.Jobe, in a phone call from a tour bus in Athens, Ga., where it was snowing, says she could easily have dealt with her Continue Reading

How to tell if you’re at risk for drug and alcohol addiction

Factors affecting the likelihood of drug and/or alcohol addiction are many. It can affect people of any age, sex or economic status. But certain elements do affect the likelihood and speed of developing an addiction: - Family history of addiction If a blood relative such as a parent or grandparent has drug or alcohol problems, there can be a greater chance of becoming addicted to either one or both yourself. There is a genetic predisposition that appears to play a role in creating a more likely scenario of falling into this trap. - Having a mental disorder Anyone with a mental disorder such as depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or post-traumatic stress syndrome, will be more susceptible to chemical dependence. - Being male Males have a more likely issue with being dependent on either drugs or alcohol probably due to men being more risk takers than women. Women, however, will become addicted much faster than men. - Lack of family involvement This can be a primary stimulate igniting the need to search out comfort from a chemical substance when little comfort or parental supervision was experienced growing up. Lack of close bonds between parent and child or with siblings can lead to feelings of not belonging, not being understood, having little guidance or direction, or feeling unloved, which all can increase the risk of addiction. - Peer pressure During childhood and adolescence, who you befriend has a strong influence on choices you will make, good or bad. If your peer group is experimenting with using drugs or alcohol, there is a much greater chance you'll be persuaded to follow their lead. - Experiencing depression, anxiety or loneliness These painful psychological feelings are sometimes overwhelmingly hard to ignore, making it tough to function normally day to day. In order to compensate for those difficult feelings, using drugs or alcohol can Continue Reading

Children of Heroin, Part III: Surviving trauma

As a 7-year-old, Isaac Grey Edelhauser awoke one day to find his mother gone from their home.“The day she left, instead of saying goodbye to me in the morning, she left a note,” recalled Isaac, now 15, of Lacey. “The lack of knowledge affected me. It was like— oh, she’s gone now. I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t even know what heroin was. It hurt to have - you know…I missed my mom.”His father was already gone. Both his parents have said they are heroin addicts who have struggled with their addictions since before Isaac was born.Isaac, in fact, had his first taste of addiction while he was in her womb.Isaac was born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, a drug withdrawal syndrome in infants. Shortly after birth, Isaac was treated with methadone because his mother was on a low dose of that drug during her pregnancy. Methadone eases the withdrawal from opioids in infants - in this case methadone itself - as they are weaned from it.Hidden behind the death toll of the heroin and opioid epidemic is its devastating effect on children and others. But unlike the tens of thousands of NAS babies and silent victims of drug abuse, Isaac shows no physical or emotional scars. Heroin addiction hurt his family, but he thrived because his parents remained in his life, he said, with parental supervision passed to his grandparents. READ: Children of Heroin, Part I, Chapter I: 'Stabbed in the heart' READ: Children of Heroin, Part I, Chapter II: Addiction READ: Children of Heroin, Part I, Chapter III: Death of a father READ: Children of Heroin, Part II: Born on drugs READ: Somerset County prosecutor takes aim at drug abuse READ: Hunterdon County waging fight against heroin addiction READ: New START for Hunterdon County addicts READ: Heroin discussion to focus on risk to kids READ: Heroin addicts share recovery stories READ: Heroin: The killer in your home Continue Reading

Doctors and midwives face off on the best place for mothers to give birth: Home or hospital

Midwives and doctors are longtime rivals in the politics governing where women should give birth: Home or hospital. But that tension, typically played out privately between pregnant women and their health care providers, was laid bare this month in the case of two Idaho midwives suspended by the state after three babies died during a 14-month period between 2010 and 2011. The Baby Place in Meridian remains open, but its midwife owner, Coleen Goodwin, and her daughter, Jerusha Goodwin, are barred for now from practicing, in part over decisions allegedly influenced by their distrust and frayed relationships with doctors in hospitals where they felt mistreated or disrespected. A former employee who trained at The Baby Place said hostility the Goodwins developed for doctors ultimately led to delays in emergency transports to hospitals. Dani Kennedy told The Associated Press this antagonism caused them to make decisions against the best interests of mothers and babies, broadening the historic midwife-doctor divide to a wide gulf - with tragic consequences. Coleen Goodwin "did hesitate to transport, and that was really upsetting to me," said Kennedy, who trained at The Baby Place between 2007 and 2010. She left to open a practice in Hawaii, in part over these concerns. "I wanted to work in an environment where I was able to make my own decisions about the care of my clients," she said. Kennedy was interviewed by Idaho investigators who began scrutinizing the Goodwins after one of the three mothers who lost babies lodged a complaint with the state. The Goodwins, whose website indicates they've helped 1,400 women give birth, declined interviews, including on Monday. A receptionist who answered the phone declined to say who is providing services to women following the Goodwins' March 23 suspensions. St. Luke's Health System spokesman Ken Dey in Boise declined to comment specifically about the Goodwins' interactions with doctors at the hospital's Continue Reading

Corrections & Clarifications

To report corrections & clarifications, contact:Please indicate whether you're responding to content online or in the newspaper.The following corrections & clarifications have been published on stories produced by USA TODAY's newsroom: February 2018Life:An earlier version of this report incorrectly credited the 1996 Summer Olympics performance of The Power of the Dream. Celine Dion sang the theme at the opening ceremony; the song was performed again at the closing ceremony by Rachel McMullin and a choir of other children.​ Sports: A previous version of this graphic incorrectly located hockey player Megan Keller's hometown on the map. Sports: An earlier version of this story misidentified the U.S. hockey player who is quoted in the third paragraph. Opinion: An earlier version of this column mischaracterized who could receive a tax credit for campaign donations. It would be refundable and available to all Americans who file taxes. Sports: A photo in some editions Feb. 8 incorrectly identified the person next to New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. The person was special teams coach Joe Judge. Sports: A headline in some Feb. 12 editions had an incorrect result of Serena and Venus Williams’ doubles match in the Fed Cup. The sisters lost. Twitter: On Feb. 11, a previous tweet misidentified Olympic gold medalist Jamie Anderson. Continue Reading