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Medicare’s drug-coverage gap is a cost-control idea that has never been popular.

In 2011, the gap will start after Medicare beneficiaries and their insurance plan have spent $2,840 on medications.

After that, seniors are responsible for roughly the next $3,600. That’s the “doughnut hole.”


Disabled to get boost on smart phones

The blind will have greater access to the Internet through smart phones, and devices such as iPhones and BlackBerrys will have to be hearing-aid compatible, under legislation Congress has sent to the president.

Mark Richert of the American Foundation for the Blind said Wednesday that the measure was one of the most comprehensive bills in decades to improve access for the disabled. “It breaks down barriers for all of us,” said Mr. Richert, who is blind.

The video-accessibility act passed the Senate last month and was approved by the House late Tuesday.

The measure sets federal guidelines for the telecommunications industry assuring that the blind will have access to the Web through improved user interfaces for smart phones. Also, over time, more than 60 hours a week of video programming must have audio descriptions.


White House awards $60K for healthy apps

The White House is giving out $60,000 to University of Southern California students and other contest winners who created phone apps to encourage exercise and healthy eating.

The $20,000 grand prize, announced Wednesday, goes to a team of USC students for their app called “Trainer.” The app gives users a virtual creature that stays alive as the user does real exercise, tracking physical activity with interactive webcam technology.

The Agriculture Department sponsored the digital game and phone-app contest, which received 95 eligible entries. Next up will be a contest to create healthy recipes for school lunches that appeal to kids.

The contests are part of first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to combat childhood obesity.