January 30, 2009
A national panel of insurance regulators yesterday voted down a plan that would have propped up life insurers by allowing them to operate with thinner financial cushions.
The life insurance industry had pleaded for the relief, saying some companies need help urgently to weather the economic crisis.
Opponents said the plan would have weakened insurers’ ability to keep promises to policyholders and would have made it harder for consumers to know how much confidence to have in any individual insurer.
“This will pull the wool over the eyes of millions of Americans,” J. Robert Hunter, a former regulator who now focuses on insurance issues for the Consumer Federation of America, said at a hearing Tuesday on the proposals that comprised the plan.
Read Article: Washington Post
Labor, riding high after quick wins with President Barack Obama, faces the harsh reality that the Democratic-controlled Congress will not find it easy to push more fiercely contested legislation to improve the status of workers or the unions trying to organize them.
Obama on Friday issued executive orders that union officials say will undo Bush administration policies favoring employers. Among the orders, federal contractors would be required to offer jobs to current workers when contracts change, and they would be prevented from receiving reimbursement for expenses meant to influence worker decisions on joining unions or engaging in collective bargaining.
A day earlier, the new president signed the first bill of his administration, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which allows more leeway for women and others seeking justice over pay discrimination.
Read Article: San Diego Union Tribune
The battle will continue over $300 million that Sprint Nextel charged customers who prematurely canceled their calling contracts.
A California judge issued a new ruling this week ordering a new trial in the class-action case. The former Sprint customers were challenging the company’s ability to charge so-called early-termination fees of as much as $200 each if they scrapped service before the expiration of their calling contract. Sprint is challenging the new ruling.
Cell phone companies say they resort to such fees to protect their ability to recover subsidies that allowed patrons to receive free or reduced-price phones. But customers sometimes say that the quality of service degrades long before contracts are up and that they want other options. Or they would like to sign up for better offers with other companies.
Read Article: Kansas City Star
A lawyer for a South Burlington couple whose young son was apparently sickened by contaminated peanut crackers has reinforced a lawsuit against a Georgia food processing plant that health officials say was the source of the salmonella poisoning.
Christopher Meunier, 7, was hospitalized for six days in late 2008 after he developed salmonella poisoning, said his parents, Gabrielle and Daryl Meunier. The strain of salmonella was tied to the Peanut Corp. of America, according to the federal Food and Drug Administration. The lawyer, Bill Marler, is suing the company on behalf of the Meuniers.
PCA supplied peanut butter and peanut paste to a wide variety of food companies. More than 180 peanut butter containing products produced by many companies contained ingredients from PCA and have been recalled, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Sunday, at least 501 people in 43 states had become ill from the salmonella outbreak, the CDC said. Four of the illnesses were reported in Vermont. The outbreak has contributed to eight deaths, federal health officials said.
Read Article: Burlington Free Press
The Chicago area’s largest provider of medical care said today it has reached an agreement on providing free and discounted medical care to uninsured patients as part of a class action lawsuit it has been battling.
Advocate Health Care, which operates eight hospitals in the Chicago area, is like scores of nonprofit hospitals across the country that have been under fire over how much charity care they provide. Under the settlement, which an Advocate spokeswoman said still has to be approved by a Cook County Circuit Court judge, the hospital operator would provide charity care assistance to individuals earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level or $82,500 for a family of four.
Advocate has agreed to apply its existing financial assistance policy “retroactively to eligible uninsured individuals who received medically necessary services at an Advocate hospital” from Nov. 1, 2000 to present.
Read Article: Chicago Tribune
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