Wisconsin health-care helpers getting a late start

“We know that there are folks out there who are having difficulty enrolling,” said Bobby Peterson, executive director of ABC for Health, a Madison-based public interest law firm.

Three weeks after the launch of federal health care exchanges, just one of the six organizations selected to receive a total of $1 million in federal funds to help Wisconsinites enroll is up and running. J.P. Wieske, spokesman for the state Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, blamed the delay on the federal government. “Functionally, when you don’t get a grant until Aug. 15 and you’re supposed to start Oct. 1, you’re going to have problems,” Wieske said. Continue Reading

Frac sand health fears rise as mining booms in Wisconsin

Environmental Health and Safety Manager Duane Wilke said he has a vested interest in making sure the Superior Silica sand processing plant in New Auburn keeps the dust down: his 15-year-old daughter. “I would never do anything to harm the air quality, to harm my own daughter,” he said.

Like some other west-central Wisconsin residents, Frances and Dean Sayles are frustrated with the state Department of Natural Resources’ lack of a comprehensive approach to addressing concerns surrounding potential health problems from crystalline silica dust. Now some residents, academics, local government officials and even a frac sand producer have begun taking action. Continue Reading

Prions — in plants? New concern for chronic wasting disease

CWD national map - August 2012

Prions — the infectious, deformed proteins that cause chronic wasting disease in deer — can be taken up by plants such as alfalfa, corn and tomatoes, according to new research from the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison. The research further demonstrated that stems and leaves from tainted plants were infectious when injected into laboratory mice.The findings are significant, according to the researchers and other experts, because they reveal a previously unknown potential route of exposure to prions for a Wisconsin deer herd in which the fatal brain illness continues to spread.
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Walker now backs funding for disabled workers

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks with attendees of the Governor’s Small Business Summit in Stevens Point on Wednesday.

Gov. Scott Walker has announced plans to change course and seek full federal funding of a program that helps people with disabilities find jobs. Advocates at Disability Rights Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Rehabilitation Council credit a report by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism for new legislation aiming to fully fund the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, an arm of the state Department of Workforce Development. Continue Reading

Wait list long, caseloads high

Thousands of people with disabilities must wait for months to access state employment services, although the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation has not requested the full amount of federal funds available to it for the past three years, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has found. Continue Reading

Tainted fish

Fish advisories map

The four groups of chemicals that trigger consumption advisories — PCBs, mercury, dioxins and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfate) — have all been associated with endocrine disruption. Continue Reading