CONSUMERS

Federal regulators are on track to loosen regulations of cable and telecom companies.

The Federal Communications Commission will vote Dec. 14 on a plan to undo the landmark 2015 rules that had placed Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon under the strictest-ever regulatory oversight.

The vote is expected to repeal so-called net neutrality rules, which prevent broadband companies from slowing down or blocking any sites or apps, or otherwise deciding what content gets to users faster.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker was expected to sign legislation on Monday that would cement in state law the Obama-era mandate for free birth control regardless of changes in federal policy or future repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Health insurer Anthem's dispute with Hartford HealthCare is over. The state's largest insurer, and one of its largest hospital groups announced on Saturday that they had come to terms, in the seven week-old contract dispute.

Jeff Stevens decided to give up alcohol when he was 24.

He's 50 now — and he's had no regrets about going sober for the sake of his health. Except for one thing: He has really missed good beer.

"If you're drinking, you have an infinite amount of things you can drink," Stevens says. Shelves are full of craft IPAs, stouts and bitters. "Whereas only about half the bars I've been to have a non-alcoholic beer. And if they do, it's usually just one choice."

Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton
Kevin Gutting / Daily Hampshire Gazette

Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Massachusetts, has just launched a major software transition, requiring hundreds of employees to change the way they record and read patient information.

The Health Connector website goes live Wednesday for hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents expected to shop for health insurance for the coming year.

But after a year packed with pledges to repeal the Affordable Care Act and recent funding cuts, what’s left for many people is a lot of confusion.

So, let’s clear some things up.

A blackout in Somerville, Massachusetts, earlier this month.
matt flickr.com/photos/sandcastlematt / Creative Commons

More than 200,000 Bay State residents are expected to be without power into Tuesday and full restoration of electricity could take days, according to Gov. Charlie Baker, who said lingering winds made it difficult Monday to recover from the powerful storm that ripped through the state overnight.

Open enrollment for people who buy their own health insurance starts Wednesday and ends Dec. 15. That means there are only 45 days to shop for coverage. The shorter enrollment period this year is just one of the changes to the process for buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Here are five important factors to keep in mind if you plan to sign up for ACA coverage for 2018.

1. The health law has not been repealed.

Despite the efforts of President Trump and the Republican-led Congress, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land.

Updated at 4:12 p.m. ET.

The Senate has voted to get rid of a banking rule that allows consumers to bring class-action lawsuits against banks and credit card companies to resolve financial disputes. Critics say Republicans and the Trump administration are siding with Wall Street over Main Street and that the shift will block consumers from joining together against the likes of Wells Fargo and Equifax.

The state of Vermont has one year to prepare for something it has never had: a Target store. After years of pleading from some residents and anti-big-box sentiment from others, the retail giant says it will finally open a store in South Burlington in 2018.

The news prompted a "Breaking News" banner on the local paper's website. As they're saying over at Vermont Public Radio: "This is not a drill."

In response, Adam Maxwell wrote on the VPR Facebook page: "Welcome to 1995, Vermont!"

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