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Darts and laurels

Dart to the short but troubled history of the NC Tracks program, the state’s new $486 million computer system that was supposed to greatly improve the processing of Medicaid claims. A recent state auditor’s report found that the system, which went online last July, has logged more than 3,200 known defects, with hundreds still awaiting a fix. Although officials with the Department of Health and Human Services said the most serious problems had been resolved by year’s end, the N.C. Medical Society says it continues to field complaints from patients and doctors. Then, at week’s end came news of another DHHS snafu. The agency said Medicaid cards for almost 49,000 children were mailed to the wrong addresses. The cards contain personal information including the child’s name, Medicaid ID number, date of birth and primary care physician.
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Laurels to Rev. Billy Graham for once again making the top 10 in Gallup’s annual list of the world’s most admired men. Graham, 95 and in fragile health, has made the list 57 times since 1955, the most of any other person and a remarkable testimony to his enduring impact as a religious leader. Second is former President Ronald Reagan, with 31 appearances on the top 10 most-admired list.
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Dart to the increase in house fires that inevitably accompanies the onset of extended cold weather in North Carolina. In many cases, the culprit involves space heaters, which account for about one-third of home heating fires and four out of five home heating related deaths, according to the National Fire Prevention Association.
Poorly maintained chimneys are another frequent cause of preventable house fires. Dried-out Christmas trees can also create fire hazards — additional motivation to start taking down the holiday decorations.
Fire officials say prevention is largely a matter of paying attention to heating safety. Keep combustible materials away from space heaters, follow any ventilation guidelines and have chimneys regularly inspected and cleaned. Check smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors, if you didn’t do so when turning your clocks back in November.

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