Hospitals and insurance companies are sometimes so focused on their own interests that they miss opportunities to help their patients.
It’;s an age-old problem St. Luke’;s University Health Ne2rk and Geisinger Health System hope to fix under a collaborative agreement, announced Wednesday, that will extend Geisinger-based insurance throughout the Lehigh Valley.
St. Luke’;s, the health-care provider, and Geisinger, the insurer, will share information about best practices and individual patients that will lead to better care and lower prices, according to both organizations.
“When you get to the heart of it, we are 2 organizations focused on taking the best care of patients and we’;re excited to partner with a health-care system that aligns with our vision and values,” said Geisinger CEO Dr. David T. Feinberg, who spoke at a news conference at St. Luke’;s Anderson Campus in Bethlehem Township.
One of the nation’;s largest rural health-care systems, Geisinger serves more than 3 million people in 45 counties in central, south-central and northeast Pennsylvania, and also in southern New Jersey with the addition of AtlantiCare last year, according to its website.
It was founded by Abigail A. Geisinger, the daughter of a wagon-maker, in Danville in 1915. Today the physician-led system has about 30,000 employees, including 1,600 physicians on 12 hospital campuses, 2 research centers and a 510,000-member health plan.
Geisinger has a reputation as a progressive and innovative organization. In a speech before Congress in 2009, President Barack Obama cited Geisinger by name, lauding the system for its “high-quality care at costs below average.”
Officials at Geisinger say its savvy flows from its dual roles as health-care provider and insurer, and that St. Luke’;s will now benefit from this competitive advantage as well through the organizations’; collaboration.
For example, as an insurer of a patient, Geisinger will have a complete record of that patient’;s medical tests and prescriptions, which is information it can share with the patient’;s doctor so the doctor can both identify opportunities for additional intervention and avoid unnecessary duplicative care. This is especially helpful with high-risk patients with chronic illnesses, according to Geisinger officials.
“It’;s an integration,” explained St. Luke’;s CEO Richard A. Anderson, through which “a lot of the friction in health-care goes away.”
Anderson, who also spoke at the news conference, said discussions between the 2 organizations began more than 2 years ago.
“Geisinger sought to team up with St. Luke’;s based on its reputation for exceptional quality, strategic vision and willingness to implement new and innovative models of care in collaboration with physicians,” states a news release distributed at the conference.
Geisinger already collaborates similarly with hospitals in Maine, West Virginia and Delaware. But for St. Luke’;s, the agreement represents the ne2rk’;s foray into the insurance side of the health care business.
Fountain Hill-based St. Luke’;s has 10,000 employees, making it the second-biggest employer in the Lehigh Valley. In addition to its 6 hospitals with more than 1,000 beds, it comprises more than 200 outpatient care practices.
Its 6th hospital is expected to open in Bartonsville, Monroe County, in October.
An immediate consequence of the agreement announced Wednesday is that 10,000 St. Luke’;s employees and their dependents will be enrolled in the Geisinger health plan at the start of the new year, allowing St. Luke’;s to save $500,000 annually, the ne2rk said.
Lehigh Valley residents who purchase insurance through the individual market also will be able to opt for the Geisinger plan, as will employees of businesses that choose to offer it.
Additionally, St. Luke’;s and Geisinger will introduce a Medicare Advantage product for Medicare recipients in the Lehigh Valley. The objective is to improve management of chronic conditions and access to services not covered under traditional Medicare and Medigap plans, according to the news release.
2 weeks ago, St. Luke’;s main competitor, Lehigh Valley Health Ne2rk, announced a similar collaborative agreement with the insurer Highmark Blue Shield.
“We will share data, resources and information to ensure that patients are getting the preventive services, tests, follow-up care and education they need in the most efficient manner, without duplication of care and unnecessary steps,” Gregory G. Kile, LVHN’;s senior vice president of insurance and payer strategies, said in a news release at the time.
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Federal employees will have a rare opportunity starting Thursday to join or to increase existing coverage in the government-sponsored life insurance program without restrictions.
The open season in the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance program, which will continue through September, will not apply to retirees, however.
About 2.4 million federal employees, including employees of the semi-independent U.S. Postal Service, are enrolled in the program, about 89 percent of those eligible, according to the Office of Personnel Management, which administers a contract with the MetLife insurance company to run the program.
FEGLI is term-type insurance that offers “basic” coverage equal to an employee’s salary rounded to the next $1,000 plus $2,000; an option for $10,000 in additional coverage; an option for up to 5 times the employee’s salary rounded to the next $1,000; and optional coverage of up to $25,000 each on a spouse and children under age 22.
Premiums for each type of insurance vary by age. Enrollees pay the full cost except that most employing agencies pay 2-thirds of the cost of basic insurance; the USPS pays the full cost of that coverage for its employees.
Due to claims patterns, some premium rates increased and some others decreased effective in January.
[Some federal employee life insurance rates to rise; others to see decrease]
Unlike the federal health insurance and vision-dental insurance programs, which hold an annual open season, the life insurance program has no set schedule of open seasons. Officials said the FEGLI open season is not linked to the recent premium changes but rather to the time that has passed since the most recent one in 2004.
“We do think that employees should look hard at this and if they haven’t reassessed their insurance before they should do so now,” Alan Spielman, OPM assistant director for healthcare and insurance, said in a conference call with reporters.
During the prior open season, officials said, about 146,000 changes were made, including new enrollments and increases in existing coverage.
However, coverage choices — and the resulting changes in premium costs to the employee — won’t take effect for a year, until October 2017, which he said is “necessary in a life insurance program to maintain the stability of a premium base.”
Employees make coverage elections on a form available through personnel offices and at www.opm.gov/forms; some agencies use electronic versions. OPM stressed that enrollees “should be careful to elect all FEGLI coverage they want on their Open Season election, not just the coverage they want to add or increase. Any coverage not elected is waived or cancelled.”
Outside of an open season, employees may join the program or increase coverage only immediately after hiring, after experiencing a life event such as marriage, or after undergoing a medical examination. Enrollees may cancel or decrease their coverage at any time.
Retirees can continue the coverage they had while actively employed — although they may not newly enroll or increase coverage — so long as they had that level of coverage for at least the 5 years before retiring. That means that employees newly joining the program or increasing coverage during the open season could not continue that coverage into retirement if they retire before October 2022.
Also continuing through September is an opportunity for those enrolled in the federal long-term care insurance program and who are affected by upcoming premium increases to restructure their benefits to soften the impact or, in most cases, to stop paying premiums while remaining eligible for a reduced paid-up benefit.
[Costs skyrocket for feds’ long-term-care insurance]
The annual open season to join or change coverage in the health insurance and vision-dental insurance programs will run November 14-December 12.
Colorado’s anti-fracking crack-up by Michelle Malkin Creators Association Copyright laws 2016
In case a pair of intense green ballot measures along with the Rugged Mountains with no one within the liberal mass media is focusing, does the particular collapse create a sound?
Recently, 2 anti-fracking initiatives supported by deep-pocketed environmental lobbying heavyweights, like the Sierra Membership and Greenpeace, failed to collect enough signatures. The more animal of the attempts, Initiative 79, would have enforced a mandatory 2, 500-foot problem around all of oil and gas functions — basically halting going in up of ninety 5 percent associated with Colorado’s energy-rich land region.
These extreme attempts in order to sabotage the particular oil and gas sector didn’t simply miss simply by inches. They will missed with a mile higher and broad.
Colorado Admin of Condition Wayne Williams announced that followers of the 2 measures overtaken the required unique threshold although not by sufficient to compensate for your number of signatures that were turned down during a arbitrary sampling. Among the initiatives gained 77, 1000 signatures from about 98, 000 necessary to qualify for the particular ballot; another, 79, 1000. Every other condition initiative advertising campaign (on problems ranging from principal election change to smoke taxes in order to assisted suicide) this year strike the tag.
Worse intended for eco-activists, the particular secretary associated with state documented that the request for the sobre facto hydraulic fracing moratorium incorporated “several possibly forged personal lines” and it has been known the state lawyer general regarding investigation. A minumum of one hired unique gatherer informed KUSA-TV that will homeless guys in Colorado filled out types with “bulls—. ”
Selection fraud? Exactly what election scams? Yep, that will election scams.
Despite huge funding through such darkish money contributor as billionaire hedge account manager switched climate alter warrior Mary Steyer, the best green propaganda machine retains coming up brief. The enviros failed to collect enough signatures for a comparable measure 2 yrs ago. Skittish Democrats, which includes Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, have distanced themselves from your eco-radicals, because the energy industry generates a large number of jobs plus billions of bucks to the condition economy.
Something the anti-frackers have been effective at: production self-serving standard excuses for their problems. They lamented that their particular allies did not spend sufficient on them. These people carped that will their competitors spent a lot of on other them. These people whined the secretary associated with state’s workplace was “biased” against all of them for tossing out unacceptable signatures.
Plus they pouted whenever their artificial attempt to que incluye reporters directly into believing that will their steps would get in the ballot blew up within their faces 3 weeks back. A day right after volunteers paraded into the admin of state’s office along with dozens of containers of signatures, an official mentioned that a many the containers were half-full — or even half-empty.
Hypocritical save-the-planet troops who bemoan our reliance on foreign essential oil are hellbent on strangling the hydraulic fracing revolution, that has doubled household U. S i9000. oil result and assisted drive fuel prices straight down.
Here’s the actual job-killing fractivists just will not admit: Coloradans like their particular thriving power sector, and they also want to retain it.
Is Hillary Clinton focusing? She has promised to her lefty voter foundation that regardless of reaping a lot of money from precious fuel advertising campaign finance bundlers, she will make sure that there are not really “many areas in America exactly where fracking will certainly continue to happen. ” It is as very clear a risk as Leader Barack Obama’s campaign promise to make electrical power rates “skyrocket. ”
Let us hope that will as the anti-fracking crackup gets into the Rockies, so will go the nation.
Editor’;s Notice: This record is a part of a project upon voting legal rights in America created by the Carnegie-Knight News21 plan and premoere appearance here.
TOPEKA, Kan. — For years, Kris Kobach offers fought against unlawful immigration. This individual helped create 2 from the nation’;s the majority of strict migration laws within Arizona plus Alabama plus helped create a now-defunct nationwide immigration protection system.
Right now Kobach, the particular Republican admin of condition for Kansas, is involved in courtroom fights more than his repetitive attempts in order to require Kansans to provide evidence of citizenship to join up to election. Although he’;s repeatedly dropped in courtroom, one situation that continues to be open may determine whether a large number of Kansans can vote within November’;s nearby and condition elections.
The tale began this year when Kansas passed the particular Secure plus Fair Polls Act. Legislation, written by Kobach, requires these registering in order to vote right after Jan. one, 2013, to offer documentary evidence of U. S i9000. citizenship, like a birth certification or a passport. Kansas could be the only condition trying to impose a proof associated with citizenship requirement of voter sign up, although Kobach wants all of those other country to follow along with.
“The (SAFE Act) is a model regarding other says, ” this individual told News21. “The concept of proving nationality has been around for some time, it’;s been necessary for a while, as well as the people associated with Kansas assistance it. inch
The respond also needed voters signing up after January. 1, this year, to distribute photo id when signing up to election and to display a photo IDENTIFICATION when voting in person. Whilst photo IDENTIFICATION laws happen to be overturned in certain states since discriminatory, issues to the Kansas law are more focused upon its evidence of citizenship necessity.
Voting legal rights advocacy organizations that have fought against Kansas’; nationality requirement believe it would be an excessive amount of a burden for those who don’;t have entry to the necessary files. Kobach states the law has been intended to avoid voter scams, including simply by non-U. Ersus. citizens.
Yet Kobach refuses any link between their concern regarding illegal migration and his stress about voter fraud.
“That’;s been broadly misreported within the press, inch he informed News21. “Reporters say ‘Oh, Kobach offers on this subject with unlawful immigration, right here he is referring to voting, he or she must be concerned about illegal aliens voting. ‘ Actually, it could more frequently the problem that people that are noncitizens that are legally right here will election. ”
To get Kansas’; August. 2 principal election, a situation judge overruled Kobach plus allowed folks who registered in order to vote personally at a section of automobiles location without having providing evidence of citizenship in order to vote within local, federal and state elections. The particular judge will never decide till Sept. twenty one whether these types of more than 6teen, 000 Kansans will be able to election in nearby and condition elections within November.
Kobach has background fighting unlawful immigration
Just before Kobach has been elected since secretary associated with state this year, he invested much of their career being a lawyer, legislation professor plus state standard combating unlawful immigration.
Whenever he worked well for then-U. S. Lawyer General Steve Ashcroft, Kobach led the team that will designed plus implemented the particular now-defunct Nationwide Security Entry-Exit Registration Program. It was a brief program started in 2002 after the September. 11, i b?rjan p? tv?tusentalet, terrorist assaults to report the appearance, stay plus departure of individuals from mainly Middle Far eastern and Northern African nations. The United states Civil Protections Union known as it discriminatory, and the Division of Homeland Security consistently suspended this program in 2011.
Kobach also assisted write Arizona’;s Senate Expenses 1070, the particular Support Our own Law Enforcement very safe Neighborhoods Operate. Signed in to law this year, it requires law enforcement to confirm the migration status of the detained person during a good arrest or even lawful prevent if there is “reasonable suspicion” which the person is just not legally in the united states.
But in this year, U. S i9000. Supreme Courtroom ruled that will immigrants no more must bring their migration papers which police are usually prohibited through arresting thought illegal migrants without a bring about. The courtroom also hit down the provision within the Arizona legislation that produced seeking or even having a work as an unlawful immigrant a situation criminal offense. Nevertheless , the Best Court maintained the law’;s “reasonable suspicion” provision.
Kobach also co-wrote Alabama’;s Home Bill 56, the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Resident Protection React, which was agreed upon into regulation in 2011. This had basically the same “reasonable suspicion” supply as Az SB 1070, but also necessary individuals to offer proof of nationality when signing up to election, although the condition is not presently enforcing this particular provision.
Presently, Kobach features counsel for your Immigration Change Law Company, an advocacy law firm having a mission to shield Americans in the “harms plus challenges presented by bulk immigration, inch according to the website. This is a supporting company of the Federation for United states Immigration Change. The company calls upon Kobach’;s legislation office, Kobach Law LLC, for lawyer on a case-by-case basis, based on Dave Beam, a speaker for the federation.
Kobach furthermore wrote 2 pages associated with anti-illegal-immigration plan in the 2016 GOP system, according to mass media reports. He’;s said this individual supports His party presidential applicant Donald Trump’;s plan to create a wall throughout the southern edge of the Oughout. S. The particular party system also promotes all says to need documentary evidence of citizenship designed for voter sign up.
“On best of not really doing their current work, he has already been trying to concentrate on nationwide migration policy, inch said Brandon Johnson, the particular executive movie director of a Wichita-based nonprofit known as Community Procedures Recovery Empowerment. “He continues to be instrumental within crafting the particular Republican Party’;s platform with their meeting, and he is constantly on the do individuals types of issues. ”
Ann Mah, the Democratic consultant for Kansas District 53, said Kobach’;s immigration plus election philosophies are connected. “He a new lot of ethnic overtones whenever he frequency (the SECURE Act), inch Mah informed News21. “He implied plus directly mentioned several times that will illegal migrants are voting in Kansas and they’;re robbing your polls. ”
Nevertheless , Kobach have not convicted any kind of non-U. Ersus. citizens associated with voter scams in Kansas with prosecutorial powers he or she gained this past year.
“I failed to have one individual person, within 9 weeks of signing up voters, make an effort to register who had been not a lawful citizen states, ” mentioned Carri Brand new, a Wichitan who has operate voter sign up drives within Kansas plus used to work with the Bernie Sanders strategy. “Kobach will be on a witch hunt, he is making our own life tough, and I desire he would cease. ”
Kobach: Voter scams ‘amazingly frequent’;
Altogether, considering that Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback gave Kobach the power to prosecute voter scams as admin of condition in Come july 1st 2015, they have secured simply 4 convictions. All 4 defendants were lawful citizens from the U. H.
Steven Gaedtke, a Vietnam War experienced, pleaded accountable Dec. 3 or more, 2015, in order to voting within the same political election cycle both in Kansas plus Arkansas. This individual was fined $ 5 hundred plus courtroom costs.
Randall Kilian has been found responsible April twenty one of voting in the exact same election period in both Kansas and Co. A seo press releases from the Kansas secretary associated with state stated Kilian’;s work was component of a structure to dual vote within the 2 says. Kilian had been ordered to pay for a dollar 2, 5 hundred fine.
Per week later, Jordan Hannum pleaded guilty in order to voting within the same selection cycle both in Kansas plus Nebraska. He or she was fined a total associated with $ 5, 500.
Upon May 4, Ron Weems pleaded responsible to voting in the exact same election routine in both Kansas and Co. He seemed to be fined dollar 5, 5 hundred.
The SECURE Act does not take a supply to prevent dual voting throughout state ranges. However , Kobach told News21 that dual voting is usually “amazingly frequent” across the country.
“The reality from the situation is the fact that (the SECURE Act) relies largely upon anecdotal proof, ” mentioned Djuan Clean, the marketing communications director designed for Sunflower Local community Action, the Wichita-based advocacy organization.
Yet Clay Barker, the professional director from the Kansas GOP, said within an email that will just because proof of fraud will be scarce, is not going to mean scams doesn’;t can be found.
“It’;s difficult to know how usually (voter fraud) occurs, inch Barker mentioned. “It’;s among those crimes in which the idea would be to never obtain caught, therefore no one actually knows this happened. Which is idea. If you do it right, nobody will even understand it occurred. ”
Kansas uses the particular Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck program in order to those who are signed up to election in more compared to one Oughout. S. condition. The program, be depleted of the Kansas secretary associated with state’;s workplace, has thirty participating claims. It analyzes voter sign up data from your 30 individuals and fits double-registrants starting with name, last-name, birth day and the final 4 numbers of Interpersonal Security figures, if all those numbers can be found. All fits are flagged as people that could potentially election in the exact same election routine in 2 states.
“The millions of ballots that have been sifted through never have found any kind of that were individuals who were unrecorded immigrants, that is what the idea of (the SAFE Act) is, such as (Arizona) TRAFIC TRAVIS 1070 just before it, inch Wash mentioned. “It had been all constructed upon the racist, xenophobic narrative. inch
Kansas regulation faces lawful challenges
“I knew whenever we passed (the SAFE Act) back in last year there would be 3 phases: laws, implementation plus litigation, inch Kobach informed News21. “It was nearly a given the ACLU and the Little league of Women Voters would attempt to stop our own law simply because they lost within the Legislature plus they are both deceased set towards these kinds of defenses for the condition of our polls. And so I completely expected these to sue. inch
But he or she told News21 that he did not expect this particular many legal cases at the same time.
Within September 2013, the ACLU sued Kobach, contending the fact that proof of nationality requirement divided Kansas voters into 2 “separate plus unequal lessons. ” Within June 2013, the Oughout. S. Best Court dominated that claims could not need proof of nationality for people who sign-up using the Oughout. S. Selection Assistance Commission’;s national email voter sign up form. Kobach was permitting those who signed up in Kansas with evidence of citizenship in order to vote in most elections, yet prohibited people who registered using the EAC type – with no proof of nationality – through voting within state plus local polls in Kansas.
This The month of january, Shawnee Region District Determine Franklin Theis ruled that will Kobach noesn’;t need the expert to prohibit those who sign-up with the EAC form through voting within local plus state polls.
Meanwhile, John Newby, the previous Johnson Region, Kansas, political election commissioner below Kobach, has been appointed professional director from the EAC within November 2015. On January. 29, he or she sent characters to the assistants of condition of Kansas, Georgia plus Alabama letting them require evidence of citizenship for all those registering using the EAC type.
After Kobach received Newby’;s letter, this individual asked Theis to reexamine his judgment. However , Theis stood simply by his choice.
The Little league of Women Voters sued Newby in Feb over the customization of the 3 states’; EAC forms. Upon June twenty 9, a Oughout. S. area judge dominated that registrants using all those states’; EAC forms should in fact supply proof of nationality. The little league plans in order to appeal the particular judge’;s choice. Georgia plus Alabama aren’;t enforcing any kind of proof of nationality requirement within this election routine because they terribly lack the time or even money to do this, state authorities told News21.
Also within February, the particular ACLU once again sued Kobach, about a 30 days after Theis’; original judgment, arguing how the state’;s evidence of citizenship necessity violates the particular National Voter Registration Respond. It searched for an purchase requiring Kansas to register voters who attemptedto register in a department associated with motor vehicles area without evidence of citizenship.
Government Judge Jules Robinson purchased Kobach to join up the voters affected by the particular proof of nationality requirement. In answer, Kobach submitted an attract the tenth Circuit Courtroom of Is of interest in Denver colorado, which maintained Robinson’;s judgment in 06. Kobach authorized the voters, but produced them entitled only for government elections.
A brief Kansas guideline entered simply by Kobach upon July twelve ordered selection officials to provide voters whom registered on the DMV however, not provided evidence of citizenship the provisional ballot. The political election officials had been instructed in order to strike the particular provisional ballot votes pertaining to local plus state contests.
So the ACLU sued Kobach on This summer 19, once again arguing that will Kobach got created a 2-tiered voter enrollment system by which voters are usually split into “separate and bumpy classes. inch
On Come july 1st 29, Shawnee County Area Judge Lewis Hendricks purchased that all registrants who hadn’;t provided evidence of citizenship be permitted to cast nearby, state and federal ballots in Kansas’; Aug. 2 primary selection. The DMV registrants who seem to had not offered proof of nationality were nevertheless given provisional ballots, yet all of their ballots for nearby, state and federal polls were measured, according to Tabitha Lehman, the particular Sedgwick Region election office.
Hendricks can decide September. 21 as to what should take place in the Nov election.
“There are so many modifications so often, inch Johnson, with all the Community Functions Recovery Empowerment, said from the frequent judicial rulings. “(Kobach) keeps wanting to push this particular 2-tiered factor due to their fear of unrecorded immigrants voting … (but) even the recorded people are puzzled now. inch
Voters encounter struggles whenever registering
Jessica Larson, the 21-year-old University or college of Kansas student learning journalism, plus women, sex and libido studies, offers attempted to sign-up to election in Kansas twice. The girl failed each times.
Larson is through Nebraska, and he or she has failed to deliver proof of nationality when signing up to election because the girl birth certification and passport are at the girl parents’; home. “It’;s very hard to get that will together, inch she stated. “It appears like a lot. inch
If a individual attempts to join up to election in Kansas and would not provide evidence of citizenship, picture ID or even fulfill various other registration specifications, that person is positioned on a “suspense list. inch After getting placed on checklist, they have ninety days to finish their particular registration procedure. If their registrations aren’;t finished after that period, they are cleared from the listing.
As of This summer 12, twenty 6, 228 individuals were on the Kansas suspense checklist, more than one 5 percent from the state’;s authorized voters. Over fifty percent of the individuals on the listing aren’;t associated with a politics party. Over 57 % of the individuals on the listing are also millennials, or individuals born in between 1981 plus 1998.
Eileen Panek, the 21-year-old KU student through Wichita learning athletic education and pre-physical therapy, has been on the uncertainty list since July twelve because he furthermore did not supply proof of nationality. His paperwork are also on his parents’; home.
“If you’;re prepared to go out plus vote, you need to be allowed to, even though you’;re within this country less a resident, ” Panek said. “If you’;re going to go out plus make that will effort, you have to be allowed to. inch
Critics from the proof of nationality requirement state it disenfranchises more than this prevents voter fraud. Yet Bryan Griffin, a 48-year-old registered voter in Sedgwick County, Kansas, said your dog is never experienced trouble using the state’;s evidence of citizenship necessity. He furthermore said in case a person is not really responsible sufficient to carry a photograph ID, after that that person just isn’;t responsible sufficient to election.
“I no longer even understand why this really is debated, inch he mentioned. “(I’;ve) asked yourself why 1 did not need to have a form of IDENTIFICATION to election 20-some yrs before the subject matter was actually brought up simply by lawmakers. inch
ACLU consultant: System the ‘massive mess’;
“Kansas offers voting laws and regulations that are totally unique, inch said Doug Bonney, the particular legal movie director of the ACLU Foundation associated with Kansas. “No other condition has done exactly what Kansas has been doing, and it has triggered a massive clutter. ”
However Kobach informed News21 he can continue to force for Kansas and other claims to impose proof of nationality. “Kansas does a service towards the rest of the nation, ” he or she said, “by not only applying these laws and regulations, not only creating a model with regard to other claims to look at, but additionally fighting the particular legal fights that the people that dislike photograph ID plus dislike evidence of citizenship, wish to fight. inch
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NEW YORK, Aug 31 (Reuters) – Amtrak secured a partial U.S. appellate court win on Wednesday in its efforts to recoup insurance coverage after the railroad service sustained more than $1 billion in losses during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lower-court judge in 2015 erred in finding Amtrak could not claim up to $125 million in coverage for replacing undamaged portions of tunnels under the East and Hudson Rivers in New York City.
The 3-judge panel said that ruling was premature because Amtrak had yet to submit its repair plans to the Federal Railroad Administration and did not know what changes to undamaged portions of the tunnels the agency would require.
But the court declined to overturn separate decisions by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan that, among other things, capped Amtrak’;s coverage at $125 million for damage caused by an inundation of water in the tunnels.
The 2nd Circuit also upheld Rakoff’;s ruling that corrosion of Amtrak’;s equipment after the railroad pumped out the seawater was not an “ensuing loss” that would be exempt from the $125 million flood sublimit.
A lawyer for Amtrak declined to comment. Lawyers for the insurers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
With winds extending more than 1,000 miles, Sandy made landfall in the mid-Atlantic states on Oct. 29, 2012, damaging or destroying more than 650,000 homes.
New York and New Jersey bore much of the storm’;s impact, and service on Amtrak’;s busy Northeast Corridor was halted or disrupted for weeks afterward.
Amtrak, whose formal name is National Railroad Passenger Corp, said it had property damage of more than $1 billion, largely in 2 tunnels that connect to New York’;s Pennsylvania Station.
The railroad said its insurers agreed to pay up to $675 million per covered occurrence but have only paid $30 million.
In 2014, Amtrak sued several insurers, including PartnerRe Ltd’;s Partner Reinsurance Europe Plc, Aspen Specialty Insurance and Swiss Re’;s Westport Insurance Corp.
The case is National Railroad Passenger Corp v Aspen Specialty Insurance Co et al, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. No. 15-2358. (Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)
The city of Jonesboro hosted 2 flood insurance meetings Tuesday to open up discussions on flood insurance and how to get it.
Carl Watts, a liaison with the National Flood Insurance Program, explained that even if you are not in a high-risk flood area, you can still purchase it.
Part of Watts’; presentation touched on federal disaster assistance versus flood insurance premiums. Watts explained that federal disaster assistance is usually a Small Business Administration loan that must be paid back with interest.
“For a $50,000 loan at 4% interest, your monthly payment would be around $240 a month ($2,880 a year) for 30 years,” the presentation showed. “Compare that to a $100,000 flood insurance premium, which could be as low as $400 a year ($33 a month).”
Lynda Houge was one of many homeowners to attend the meeting. Despite having flood insurance for 30 years now, Houge said after the most recent flood, she’;s grateful she has it and encourages others to do the same.
“The water actually filled my whole back yard and ran over the road, and I was packing my bags getting ready to walk out the door and the rain stopped,” Houge said. “Even though I’;m not in a flood zone, we don’;t know when it’;s going to come, we don’;t know when that flood’;s going to come, so be prepared.”
If you were unable to attend the meeting, the City of Jonesboro recorded the entire meeting and will upload it to their website over the coming days. The slideshow from the presentation will also be available.
To see if your home or business is in a Special Flood Hazard Area or Moderate- to Low-Risk Area, visit floodsmart.gov and type in your address.
Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.
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Kentuckians who obtain health insurance through the state exchange can say goodbye to competition. In nearly half the counties, residents next year will have only one option on Kynect — Anthem — if they want health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
That’s a big switch from this year, when Kentuckians in all counties could choose from at least 2 insurers, and most could choose from at least 3.
Aetna, UnitedHealthcare and WellCare are abandoning the Kentucky market altogether, according to an analysis of data IL obtained from the Kentucky Department of Insurance.
Even so, a national health insurance specialist told IL that consumers should see little impact as companies enter and leave the exchange.
“Some carriers are clearly not succeeding … and they’re taking a pause,” said Kevin Lucia, a senior research fellow and project director at the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute.
Big health insurance companies including Louisville-based Humana have said that they are struggling with higher-than-expected costs incurred by customers who sign up for insurance through the exchanges, which are a central part of the health care act, known informally as “Obamacare.”
The insurers have said that the premiums they have collected from those new customers have not been enough to cover their health care costs. (Humana said this month that its second-quarter profit fell 20 percent and that it expected to lose $208 million more this year on the exchange business than previously projected.)
As a result, some insurers are reducing the number states and counties in which they are offering plans. For example, Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna, which wants to buy Humana for $37 billion, said this month that it would offer plans in only 242 counties next year, down from 778 this year. The company had offered plans in 8 Kentucky counties this year. Next year, it won’t offer exchange plans anywhere in Kentucky.
Humana will offer plans in only 9 Kentucky counties next year — down from 15 this year.
Humana spokeswoman Kate Marx told IL via email that “a number of persistent issues” prevent the company from being able to offer affordable, high-quality and attractive individual insurance products.
And while those struggles have prompted the company to propose “a number of changes” for 2017, Marx said Humana has not released county-specific information.
The state told IL that the deadline to file plans for 2017 has passed and that insurers will not have any opportunity to introduce new plans for next year.
While those insurers are re-evaluating how to participate, others are succeeding and expanding their offerings, Lucia said. Meanwhile, state and federal government agencies are taking steps to entice more insurers to participate in the exchanges, such as:
Altering the periods during which people can sign up for insurance.
Tweaking the risk adjustment mechanism, which redistributes funds from plans with lower-risk enrollees to plans with higher-risk enrollees.
“You have a lot happening at once,” Lucia said. “Basically, it’s every carrier is having a different experience.”
For example, Baptist Health and CareSource are expanding their footprint in Kentucky — but not nearly enough to offset the departures of the other insurers.
Other states are seeing similar developments. The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance told IL that the number of counties in which Tennesseans have just one option on the state exchange is rising from zero this year to 57 next year — similar to Kentucky’s trajectory from zero to 54.
The data prompted Tennessee’s top insurance regulator to tell The Tennessean newspaper that the state exchange was “very near collapse.”
The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services told IL that insurers, because of their ACA-related losses, “are left with the choice of increasing rates, reducing benefits or pulling out of the exchange markets altogether.”
The cabinet would not tell IL how it would describe the health — or frailty — of Kentucky’s exchange and would not say what, if any, steps it was taking to entice additional insurers to offer policies. The governor’s office could not be reached.
The declining number of options in Kentucky and Tennessee reflect a national trend: A recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that the number of states in which customers will have access to plans from only one insurer will rise to 5 next year from one this year.
The foundation said that 9 additional states will have “significantly more” single-insurer counties next year. That list of 9 includes Tennessee — though not Kentucky.
The foundation also said that the share of exchange customers who have access to plans from at least 3 insurers is falling to 62 percent next year from 85 percent this year. Meanwhile, the share of customers who have access to plans from only one insurer is spiking to 19 percent from 2 percent.
Lucia said the lack of options in Kentucky means that many consumers will not get a benefit from the competition that the health care act intended to create — but Kentuckians still will see a number of plan options — even if from the same insurer — and those who receive federal subsidies will see little to no higher out-of-pocket costs.
With many dynamics, Lucia said the ebb and flow of the offerings are not a surprise given the complexity of the market and the changes brought on by the health care act.
Before the ACA, he said, many insurers made money by discriminating against sick people. Now, insurers have to make money with a diverse pool of customers, including some with very high risks for health services, and some are still figuring out how to properly price their policies.
“It’s a totally different situation,” Lucia said. “We are just at the beginning,” he said of the health care act. “This is a marathon.”