Vermont panel looks at future of health care

Vermont’s Green Mountain Care Board is looking at what the effects might be on the state’s health care system if hospitals and other providers switch from nonprofit to for-profit status.

The board, which is designing the single-payer health care system the state is hoping to set up by 2017, devoted a session Thursday to the subject of such conversions.

The issue comes up a year after Burlington-based Fletcher Allen Health Care sought — and then dropped the idea — to sell off its dialysis units to a for-profit New Hampshire company.

It also follows the announcement that Vermont’s hospitals and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., are joining to form a for-profit accountable care organization.


Lawmakers may broaden parole officers’ discretion

New Hampshire lawmakers are recommending increasing the number of days a parole or probation officer can order a convict back to jail for minor violations.

The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Thursday unanimously approved a bill that would increase from five to 30 days the total time an inmate can be returned to jail on minor violations such as missing a drug or alcohol counseling meeting or using alcohol. The bill says parole or probation officers can issue the sentences in blocks of up to seven days per violation.


Two men facing charges of trafficking in cocaine

Attorneys for two men arrested at Boston’s Logan International Airport after allegedly trying to smuggle 22 kilograms of cocaine say the men don’t know each other and had no idea how the drugs ended up in their suitcases.

Twenty-year-old Naxel Miranda-Diaz and 28-year-old Edwin Rosario were arraigned in East Boston Municipal Court on Thursday. The men pleaded not guilty to trafficking in more than 200 grams of cocaine. A judge set bail at $250,000 and ordered them to wear electronic monitoring devices, surrender their passports and remain in Massachusetts.

Prosecutors say U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Puerto Rico intercepted about 12 kilograms of cocaine in Miranda-Diaz’ baggage. They alerted Massachusetts State Police officers, who found 10 kilograms of cocaine in Rosario’s bags.


School head defends play retelling story of Genesis

The head of a western Massachusetts charter school says a student production of a play that retells the biblical story of Genesis with gay characters will go on as planned despite objections from some who say it’s offensive to Christians.

Scott Goldman of the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Public Charter School said in a letter to parents Wednesday that the school has received email petitions and phone calls describing Paul Rudnick’s 1998 comedy “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” as “blasphemous and hateful.”

The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported that the South Hadley school has been urged to cancel the shows scheduled to be performed later this month, and some of the messages say they will try to organize protests through local churches.

“In allowing this attack on the Mother of God through the play ‘The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,’ you offend the religious faith of tens of millions of Catholic and other Christian Americans,” the petition language reads. “There is no excuse or reason for this blasphemy.”

The play is consistent with the school’s philosophy and appropriate for a high school audience, Goldman wrote.

The Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Public Charter School serves 400 students in grades 7 to 12 from more than 60 towns.

— From news service reports