This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up and thumbs down on the issues from the past week.

Up

The decision by two insurance companies to provide coverage for intensive therapy for children with autism is a good step. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota and the Sanford Health Plan will offer coverage under some of their insurance plans starting Jan. 1. The Legislature rejected a bill earlier this year to mandate coverage. Sandy Smith, president of the North Dakota Autism Center in West Fargo, called it a “huge” and a “positive” development. The therapy can be very expensive so this could be very helpful for families. It’s good the insurance companies are stepping forward with this coverage.

Down

The potential loss of paratransit service to Lincoln at the end of the year is disappointing. Lincoln needs to raise about $20,000 so Bis-Man Transit can continue the service. Voters in a special election earlier this year rejected a measure that would have set aside 2 mills to pay for the service. There are Lincoln residents who count on the service to get them to work, medical appointments and to do other business. Some have homes in Lincoln and it isn’t practical to move. Hopefully, a solution can be found.

Up

Hazen dedicated the new Sakakawea Medical Center on Wednesday, a facility that will provide state-of-the-art care. Hazen has had a medical facility for years because of the dedication of residents. They have raised money over the years through a variety of activities, some as simple as bake sales. The new facility was funded in part by donations and fundraisers. It’s truly a community facility because the residents have worked hard to fund it and maintain it.

Down

Bismarck Police and Metro Area Ambulance responded to another overdose last week. A 36-year-old man apparently overdosed on heroin and was given a half-dose of Narcan. He was revived and taken to a hospital. The overdose follows four cases the previous week. The overdoses are becoming regular, pointing to the area’s drug problem and the potential for drug deaths. These overdoses should serve as a warning to users, but most don’t believe it will happen to them. It’s a tough situation for first responders to face, trying to save someone from self-inflicted damage. It’s going to take a community effort to solve the drug problem.

Up

North Dakotans got to bask in the glory of having a Miss America on Nov. 3 and 4. Cara Mund, who won the crown in September, visited Williston and Bismarck that weekend. There was a celebration at the Bismarck Event Center and Mund took time to visit children at Sanford Health. Mund demonstrated what a good ambassador she has become for North Dakota. Her year as Miss America should help spread the word about North Dakota and what makes it special. She no doubt will boost the interest in the state’s pageant.

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