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No contract for Blue Cross Georgia, Piedmont Healthcare

About a half-million Piedmont Healthcare patients will have to find new healthcare providers to avoid out-of-network prices, after the the company and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia could not agree to new contract terms.

The previous contract ended at midnight without a new deal, said Piedmont spokesman Matt Gove.

The negotiations affected about a half-million current patients across the state. In recent days, a major group of customers received new insurance cards from Blue Cross with their doctor’s name replaced. More than 100 lawmakers received a letter Thursday from Piedmont suggesting that Blue Cross intended to end the contract. The insurance provider posted a note to its customers Friday detailing how they could be affected.

Negotiations have gone down to the wire previously, but Piedmont has sued Blue Cross and its parent company, Anthem Inc., over a decision to no longer pay for some in-hospital MRIs and for emergency room visits the insurer deemed unwarranted.

Read the full story here.

Georgia’s new distracted driving law: What’s legal, what’s not?

The Hands-Free Georgia Act takes effect July 1. The law will require drivers to use hands-free technology when using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. But “hands free” isn’t as clear cut as it sounds. Here’s a look at what would and would not be allowed.

Prohibited

*Holding or supporting, with any part of the body, a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device (for example, an iPod).

*Writing, sending or reading any text-based communication, including a text message, instant message, e-mail or internet data while holding your device.

*Watching a video or movie other than watching data related to the navigation of your vehicle (i.e., your mapping app or GPS screen).

*Recording a video.

RELATED: With Ga. hands-free driving law, Cobb cities plan to nix their versions

Allowed

*Speaking or texting while using hands-free technology.

*Using a GPS system or mapping app.

*Wearing and using a smart watch.

*Using an earpiece to talk on the phone.

*Using radios, CB radios, CB radio hybrids, commercial two-way radios, subscription-based emergency communication devices, prescribed medical devices, amateur or ham radios and “in-vehicle security, navigation or remote diagnostics” systems.

*There are circumstances where you can handle an electronic device while driving: Reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, fire, a crime or delinquent act or a hazardous road condition. You can also use your hands if you’re lawfully parked (not at a stoplight – “lawfully” means off or beside the road in an area open to parking).

*Some people are exempt from the hands-free requirement if they’re performing official duties: police, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, ambulance drivers, other first responders and utility employees or contractors responding to a utility emergency.

RELATED: What about using Spotify, Pandora or streaming music while driving?

On Reddit: AJC’s David Wickert AMA about Georgia Cellphone Law

You can learn more about the law at myajc.com.

3 former presidents to attend Zell Miller funeral

Three former U.S. presidents are scheduled to attend Zell Miller’s funeral Tuesday in Atlanta. 

Presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are each also expected to speak at the funeral for Miller, a former governor, U.S. senator and father of the HOPE scholarship who died Friday at the age of 86

The Miller Institute Foundation, which was founded in honor of Miller’s legacy, confirmed the former presidents’ plans to participate in the service. 

The service at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church is set for 11 a.m., and at its conclusion the family will travel to the Georgia Capitol, where Miller’s body will lie in state in the rotunda. 

The Tuesday service is the second of three public memorials for the famed Georgia politician. On Monday, hundreds crowded into a theater on the campus of Young Harris College, where Miller was a history professor. 

On Wednesday, Gov. Nathan Deal and several of his predecessors are expected to speak at the executive state funeral for Miller in the Capitol rotunda. 

Read more AJC coverage of Miller’s life: 

Zell Miller to lie in state at Capitol, other services announced 

An appreciation: How Zell Miller helped shape an AJC reporter's life 

In the end, Zell Miller sought to repair those burned bridges 

Former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller, 86, dies

KY GOP official accused of exposing himself in department store bathroom

A Kentucky dentist and chairman of his county’s Republican Party has lost his political post and is facing criminal charges following a weekend arrest in Tennessee on charges of indecent exposure and resisting arrest. 

David Narramore, 54, of Whitesburg, was arrested Saturday night at a Belk department store in Kingsport, Tennessee. WJHL in Johnson City, Tennessee, reported that Kingsport police officers were called to the store by a loss prevention officer. 

The man told the officers that he was in a stall in the store’s men’s room, when the person in the next stall, later identified as Narramore, began rubbing his foot with his own. Narramore is also accused of exposing his genitals to the man, WJHL said.

The employee detained Narramore and held him in the loss prevention office until Kingsport police arrived, the news station said. 

When officers attempted to arrest Narramore, he refused to put his hands behind his back, WJHL reported. When he continued to pull away and fight the officers, they used a Taser on him. 

The Taser had no effect, and the officers wrestled him to the ground to handcuff him, police said. 

>> Read more trending news

Narramore, who complained at the scene of chest pains, was evaluated by paramedics before being booked into the Kingsport City Jail. He was released the next day after posting $2,250 bail. 

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Narramore resigned his post with the Republican Party’s Letcher County branch following the arrest. 

“Dr. Narramore is clearly going through some personal issues,” Tres Watson, communications director for the state GOP, told the Herald-Leader. “We wish him well as he attempts to deal with (his) personal struggles.”

 

Gov. Chris Christie shuts down N.J. government

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ordered a government shutdown at midnight Friday after funding for a new state budget failed, NJ.com reported.

>> Read more trending news

The shutdown came after last-ditch attempts to reach a compromise between Christie and New Jersey Democrats who control the state legislature failed.

“This order is necessary to maintain the protection, safety and well-being of the people of New Jersey while I attempt to convince the Legislature to send me a fiscally responsible budget that I can sign and reopen New Jersey’s government,” Christie said.

The shutdown is the second in state history and will close government facilities like state parks and motor vehicle service offices, NJ.com reported. It will not affect organizations like the New Jersey State Police and psychiatric hospitals, and the state lottery will remain in operation.

College student becomes youngest elected to Florida House of Representatives

Amber Mariano cut her four classes on Tuesday, but the third-year political science major at the University of Central Florida more than likely won’t be penalized by her professors. In fact, she might get extra credit.

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Not only was she studying the political process, she was winning at it.

Mariano, a Republican candidate who turned 21 on Oct. 18, became the youngest person ever elected to the Florida House of Representatives, winning District 36 by 719 votes over incumbent Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy. Before Mariano, the youngest person elected to the Florida House was Adam Putnam, who was 22 when he won in 1996 and is now Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture.

“It was honestly the best night of my life,” Mariano told WFTS.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that the margin was 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent out of 66,939 ballots cast in Pasco County, located north of the Tampa Bay area — according to final but unofficial results.

Mariano the youngest of any gender since 1996, when Adam Putnam, then 22, won his first statehouse race.

According to her website, Mariano gained experience on the issues of education and health care during her time working for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in Washington, D.C. During the 2016 Florida legislative session, she worked for state representatives Rene “Coach P” Plasencia and Scott Plakon. She received endorsements from Rubio and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Mariano, who plans to attend law school after graduation, is no stranger to politics. Her father, Jack Mariano, won re-election to a fourth term as a Pasco County commissioner.

“We didn’t expect this opportunity to present itself so quickly in her life,” Jack Mariano told WFTS. “But I will tell you at 6 years old she said she wanted to be the first woman president.

“So it’s been in her blood from way back when.”

“He says I’m leapfrogging him. He just wanted me to follow my dream,” Amber Mariano told WFTS.  “And this is my dream.” 

Here's how to endorse a political candidate on Facebook

For those who use Facebook as an outlet to voice their political opinions, one feature makes the boldest statement: officially endorsing the candidate of your choice on the social media platform.

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To endorse a candidate, users only have to complete five steps: 

  1. Click the Endorsement tab on the political figure's Facebook page
  2. Click Endorse
  3. Choose the audience you want to see your endorsement post
  4. Write something to go along with your post
  5. Click Post

According to Facebook, users who post their endorsements to a public audience can be featured on candidates' pages if the candidates decide to repost any specific endorsement status.

Only pages that mark a figure as a politician, political candidate or government official can have the endorsement option.

Among those who can be endorsed are presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Duke, a Great Pyrenees that won a third one-year term as honorary mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota, in August, and Mayor Stubbs, a cat that has been the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, since the 1990s.

Photos: Democratic National Convention Day 3

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