Daily Archive : Tuesday September 12, 2017

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    Postcard From The Hill: Senators Shelve Histrionics In Search Of Obamacare Fix

    After a summer of flame-throwing over the Affordable Care Act’s repeal, Republicans and Democrats are now engaged in a serious collaborative effort to find a legislative solution that would ward off predicted premium rate hikes this year. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and his colleagues are up against a tight deadline to craft a bill to steady premiums in the Affordable Care Act’s shaky markets. Insurers must nail down plans late this month for the coming enrollment season. If that weren’t challenging enough, the Tennessee Republican and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, have insisted their bill also be simple, bipartisan and balanced. Two much-discussed ideas so far are funding subsidies that help moderate-income consumers pay out-of-pocket costs for health care and giving states more leeway on insurance coverage and plans for their residents. Over three hearings in two weeks, senators solicited ideas and insights from bipartisan panels of governors, state insurance commissioners, government researchers and insurance company executives. Before the hearings, there were informal “coffee sessions” so that non-committee members from both parties could drop by to ask questions. Noticeably absent: Democratic press conferences griping about the Republicans’ failure to permit hearings or seek input on their plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Such public airings were a fixture last summer when a Republican task force chosen by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell drafted a replacement bill that was defeated in late July. Civility has ruled the HELP committee’s hearings, kept them policy-focused - and mostly as dry as day-old toast. They are nearly incomprehensible to anyone but health policy experts. On Tuesday, Alexander queried a witness about the nuances of segmenting invisible high-risk pools, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) asked about two types of reinsurance. The committee’s members are a cross section of each party’s politics - from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on the right to Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on the far left. But all 23 members get the same time to question witnesses - five minutes each. On occasion, Alexander is lenient with Democrats and Republicans alike, allowing them extra time to get detailed policy answers from witnesses. There is no talk of death spirals, collapsing markets or sabotage - terms that colored past debates about Obamacare. Instead, HELP senators bat around the nuances of actuarial equivalence, budget neutrality and reinsurance programs. “So far, we’ve had focused, substantive discussions in our first two hearings - and in our many conversations off the committee - on areas of significant common ground around these goals,” Murray said in her opening statement Tuesday. This atmosphere is the antithesis of the rancor that hung over the “repeal and replace” debates. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), a former comedian, has even had time to joke with Republicans. Partisan posturing hasn’t been entirely missing at these hearings, though. Warren used some of her questioning time last week to denounce the Trump administration’s threats to end reimbursements to insurance companies for the “cost-sharing reduction” discounts they provide to enrollees with incomes under 250 percent of the federal poverty level. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) used his time to advocate for reducing federal spending on Medicaid. Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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    Blue Cross to pull small-business plan from state’s ACA exchange

    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois will no longer offer group plans for small businesses through the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange, the company announced this week.

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    Bill Rancic, the first candidate hired by Donald Trump during the first season of “The Apprentice,” talks to the Schaumburg Business Association about the success he has had and how to capitalize on one's strengths in a local business.

    First 'Apprentice' Bill Rancic talks Trump, TV, tenacity in Schaumburg

    Bill Rancic, the first winner of Donald Trump's “The Apprentice,” shared his insights on success and failure as an entrepreneur, how reality TV changed his life, and his former boss' presidency at a Schaumburg Business Association breakfast Tuesday.

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    Verizon Wireless volunteer Dainah Malave takes calls Tuesday night in Rolling Meadows during the “Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief” telethon being broadcast live nationally.

    Verizon volunteers aid in hurricane relief telethon

    Verizon Wireless volunteers Tuesday staffed a center in Rolling Meadows taking calls during the “Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief” celebrity telethon broadcast live nationally on a variety of networks.

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    Delnor Hospital in Geneva has revamped its special-care nursery, as part of the renovation of its NewLife Maternity Center. The changes offer more privacy and comfort for the infants and their families, as well as new equipment and improved monitoring ability.

    Delnor’s special nursery offers more space, privacy to families

    Delnor Hospital in Geneva is ready to open remodeled nurseries, including a special-care nursery that increases space and privacy.

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    As pressure builds on Equifax to explain how criminals hacked into a massive trove of data on 143 million Americans, the list of unanswered questions is long.

    Analysis: Three big questions Equifax has not answered

    As pressure builds on Equifax to explain how criminals hacked into a massive trove of data on 143 million Americans, the list of unanswered questions is long. But most boil down to three big ones.

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    Google appeals $2.9 billion EU fine even as it plans fixes

    Google has appealed a $2.9 billion fine imposed by European Union regulators

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    Del Monte closing Indiana plant, shifting work to California

    Del Monte Foods plans to close a northern Indiana tomato processing plant with about 100 workers and shift its production to a central California facility

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    On Tuesday, Apple plans to unveil three phones, including a premium model that could cast a halo over the rest of the line, and perhaps even the rest of the smartphone industry.

    What to expect at today’s big Apple reveal

    On Tuesday, Apple plans to unveil three phones, including a premium model that could cast a halo over the rest of the line, and perhaps even the rest of the smartphone industry.

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    Television ratings another casualty of Hurricane Irma

    The Nielsen company says its measurement of who is watching television is delayed because its Florida processing plant was closed because of Irma

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    Wendy Parks

    COD names Parks communications chief
    College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn has named Wendy E. Parks director of public relations and communication.

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    New tech goodies from Apple creates buzz for suppliers

    The only thing that is certain about what Apple says in Cupertino, California, is that it's going to create a number of winners and losers in the tech industry

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    Chris Mergenthaler

    Mergenthaler joins Darwin Realty as associate
    Darwin Realty in Elmhurst announced Chris Mergenthaler has joined the company as an associate.

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    Ice Miller names Matha Director of Diversity and Inclusion
    Ice Miller LLP has named Kristen Matha Director of Diversity and Inclusion.

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    Bell and Howell spins off new sorting, labeling company
    Bell and Howell is spinning off a new company focused on developing innovation in the sorting and labeling equipment and software industry for companies that handle large volumes of mail and parcels.

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    Discover expands efforts to aid hurricane victims

    Discover Financial Services is expanding efforts to support the American Red Cross’s disaster relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

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    Mondelez named to Dow Jones Sustainability Index
    Mondelez International has again been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for both the North America and World indices.

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    Display planned of big Coke bottles in western Indiana city

    Big Coca-Cola bottles will be displayed around a western Indiana city as part of an effort to celebrate the history of the uniquely shaped container

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    Reactor at Cook Nuclear Plant being shut down for refueling

    A nuclear reactor in southwestern Michigan is being shut down for refueling and maintenance

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