MORE AMERICANS SEEKING DENTAL TREATMENT AT THE ER: CHICAGO (AP) — More Americans are turning to the emergency room for routine dental problems — a choice that often costs 10 times more than preventive care and offers far fewer treatment options than a dentist's office, according to an analysis of government data and dental research.
Most of those emergency visits involve trouble such as toothaches that could have been avoided with regular checkups but went untreated, in many cases because of a shortage of dentists, particularly those willing to treat Medicaid patients, the analysis said.
The number of ER visits nationwide for dental problems increased 16 percent from 2006 to 2009, and the report released Tuesday by the Pew Center on the States suggests the trend is continuing.
In Florida, for example, there were more than 115,000 ER dental visits in 2010, resulting in more than $88 million in charges. That included more than 40,000 Medicaid patients, a 40 percent increase from 2008.
DETROIT AUTOMAKERS RACE TO KEEP UP WITH SALES: DETROIT (AP) — Auto sales are growing so fast that Detroit can barely keep up.
Three years after the U.S. auto industry nearly collapsed, sales of cars and trucks are surging. Sales could exceed 14 million this year, above last year's 12.8 million.
The result: Carmakers are adding shifts and hiring thousands of workers around the country. Carmakers and parts companies added more than 38,000 jobs last year, reaching a total of 717,000. And automakers have announced plans to add another 13,000 this year, mostly on night shifts.
But there's a downside. The newfound success is straining the factory network of the Detroit automakers, as well as the companies that make the thousands of parts that go into each vehicle. This could lead to shortages that drive up prices.
And it also has auto executives in a quandary. They got into trouble in the first place largely because their costs were too high. Now, they fear adding too many workers.
COLORADO VOTERS TO DECIDE ON RECREATIONAL POT PLAN: DENVER (AP) — Colorado voters will decide this fall whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use when the state becomes the second in the nation to put such a proposal on ballots this year.
The Secretary of State's Office said Monday that supporters of the legalization initiative collected enough signatures to get their measure before voters, meaning Colorado will join Washington state in putting a recreational pot question on November ballots.
Voters will be asked whether adults older than 21 should be allowed to use marijuana even without a doctor's recommendation. The measure would allow adults to have up to 1 ounce of marijuana or six marijuana plants. The proposal also allows for commercial pot sales, though cities and counties would have permission to ban marijuana sales if they choose.
The plan would also direct state lawmakers to put an undetermined excise tax on pot, with the proceeds going to education.
Colorado considered and rejected recreational pot legislation in 2006. And, more recently, California voters turned back a similar plan in 2010.
MARY JO BUTTAFUOCO REMARRIES IN LAS VEGAS: NEW YORK (AP) — Mary Jo Buttafuoco, who was shot in the head by former "Long Island Lolita" Amy Fisher in 1992, has tied the knot in Las Vegas.
The Daily News reports that the 57-year-old Buttafuoco wed Stu Tendler, a 53-year-old Queens-born print shop manager.
Fisher was sent to prison for seven years for shooting Buttafuoco, the wife of her former lover, Joey Buttafuoco.
Mary Jo Buttafuoco underwent several surgeries for partial paralysis on one side of her face and loss of hearing in one ear.
Her ex-husband Joey Buttafuoco, twice Fisher's age, served time for statutory rape for having sex with a 16-year-old.
TEXAS DISTRICT EMBARKS ON WIDESPREAD IPAD PROGRAM: McALLEN, Texas (AP) — A Texas school district is trying to close its digital divide by distributing thousands of Apple tablet computers in a move that could make it the largest iPads program for students in the nation.
McAllen Independent School District in the southern part of the state began distributing 6,800 devices this week — mostly the iPad tablet computers, but also hundreds of iPod Touch devices for its youngest students.
By this time next year, the district says every one of its more than 25,000 students in grades K-12 will receive an iPad or iPod Touch. The district believes it's the largest to try for complete coverage and while Apple would not confirm that, other districts the company noted as having made large investments have not made ones as big as McAllen's.
Educational use of the tablet computers is so new that there's little evidence available on their impact. Superintendent James Ponce said the district wanted to change the classroom culture, making it more interactive and creative and decided Apple's devices — even at $500 retail for an iPad2 — were the best investment.
SCIENTISTS SEE RED ON NASA CUTS OF MARS MISSIONS: WASHINGTON (AP) — NASA said Monday it is not giving up on Mars, but it will have to get there later and at a lower price.
President Barack Obama's budget announced this month canceled joint U.S.-European robotic missions to Mars in 2016 and 2018. Now top science officials say they are scrambling to come up with a plan by the end of the summer for a cut-rate journey to the red planet in 2018.
NASA sciences chief John Grunsfeld said he thinks there is a better than even chance that NASA will not miss the 2018 opportunity. That is when Mars passes closest to Earth, which happens only once every 15 years. It offers a chance at fuel cost-savings and the ability to send up more equipment.
Agency officials who met with upset scientists on Monday seemed intent on salvaging a program that took some of the deepest science spending hits in the president's budget. Until this month, NASA had been ramping up its Martian ambitions.
Meanwhile, in the middle of this year, the most high-tech rover ever, Curiosity, will land near the Martian equator in search of the chemical building blocks of life. The more scientists study Mars, the closer they get to answering whether microbial life once existed there, a clue to the ultimate question: Are we alone?
NEB. FOUNDER BOYS TOWN ORPHANAGE UP FOR SAINTHOOD: OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest whose efforts to help troubled Omaha youth were made famous by Spencer Tracy's Academy Award-winning portrayal of him in the 1938 movie "Boys Town" has been nominated for sainthood.
Archbishop George Lucas posted an announcement on the doors of St. Cecilia Cathedral on Monday saying the Omaha Archdiocese had begun the process of seeking sainthood for the Rev. Edward Flanagan.
"We are humbled and overjoyed," said Steven Wolf, president of the Father Flanagan League, which has long sought sainthood for Flanagan. "We see this as a response to the Holy Spirit that is moving through an international groundswell of devotion that, as best we can measure at this time, includes devotion to Father Flanagan by the faithful in nine countries and 36 states here in the U.S."