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  • 5 things small businesses need to know this fall Sep 21, 2014 7:34 AM
    What do small business owners need to pay attention to this fall? Heath care, Internet Security and new technology make the list. Here are five things that small businesses need to be on top of over the next several months: Health Care Small business owners who bought employee health insurance policies before the end of 2013, sidestepping the law’s requirements for a year, could pay between 10 percent and 20 percent more when it’s time to renew, says Michael Stahl, chief marketing officer of HealthMarkets Inc., a broker based in North Richland Hills, Texas. They’ll also have to decide on plans. Policies issued under the law have significant changes including the requirement that pre-existing conditions be covered. Some owners may decide it’s better if workers purchase their own government-subsidized coverage on health insurance exchanges. Companies whose coverage took effect Jan. 1 of this year and complied with the law could see increases between 5 percent and 10 percent for 2015, Stahl says. Not all small business owners will have to make these decisions this year. Employers with 50 to 99 workers have until 2016. Companies with fewer than 50 workers are exempt. Internet Security Home Depot Inc.’s news that it was hacked should prompt small businesses to improve Internet security, says Charles Tendell, CEO of Azorian Cyber Security in Denver. Small companies tend to be vulnerable to hacking because many don’t have strong Internet security. Businesses should install software designed to protect computers from viruses and what’s called malware, programs used to harm computers or steal information, Tendell says. If companies offer WiFi to customers or visitors, it should be separate from their operations. Owners should consider hiring an Internet security expert who can show them where their vulnerabilities are and suggest a solution, Tendell says. Owners should also train employees to help avoid hacking attacks. New Technology Businesses interested in accepting Apple Pay, the digital payment system linked to the new iPhone 6, will need to invest in equipment that processes contactless payments. Contactless payments are transactions made by tapping a smartphone, credit card or key fob on an electronic device. The iPhone 6 will be in stores starting Friday. Small business owners should also look ahead to October 2015, when credit and debit cards will be required to have embedded chips rather than magnetic strips, says Denee Carrington, an analyst with Forrester Research. Businesses will need new equipment to accept those cards, but the good news is they can already buy equipment that also processes contactless and swipe transactions. Microsoft is expected to release its Windows 9 operating system for laptop and desktop computers by early next year. But owners shouldn’t rush to buy it until they know whether it’s compatible with computers, hardware like printers and software they use to run their companies, says David Rosenbaum, president of Real-Time Computer Services, a technology services company in New York. If owners have aging PCs that need to be replaced before there are more answers about Windows 9, they’re better off getting machines with the better-known Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, Rosenbaum says. Internet Sales Tax After the November elections, Congress could act on legislation that would force retailers and other companies to collect sales tax in states where they don’t have a store or other physical locations. Under current federal law, online, phone and mail-order transactions are exempt from sales tax. The legislation has support in the Senate, which passed a preliminary bill earlier this year. It faces opposition in the House. The legislation is supported by retailers required to collect the tax. They can lose business to out-of-state retailers who don’t have to collect it. Small retailers contend it will cost them time and money to collect the tax. Tax Deductions The size of companies’ 2014 tax bills will depend on whether Congress raises what’s called the Section 179 deduction. It allows small companies to deduct up-front rather than depreciate the cost of equipment like computers, vehicles, furniture and manufacturing machines. The deduction, set at $500,000 during 2013 to help businesses continue their recovery from the recession, fell to $25,000 for 2014. The House has voted to set the deduction permanently at $500,000. Senate leaders have opposed that increase. The House also voted to revive a tax break called bonus depreciation, which allows businesses to immediately deduct up to 50 percent of the cost of property and equipment. It also faces Senate opposition.

     
  • Drugstores, retailers dive deeper into vaccines Sep 21, 2014 7:38 AM
    The nation’s biggest drugstores and other retailers are grabbing larger chunks of the immunization market, giving customers more convenient options outside the doctor’s office to protect themselves against the flu, pneumonia and other illnesses. In fact, nearly half of all flu vaccines provided to adults are now administered in nonmedical settings like drugstores or worksite clinics.

     
  • Healthier District 211 lunches draw USDA attention Sep 20, 2014 7:15 AM
    A USDA official had lunch at Palatine High School on Friday, asking students how well they like the new, healthier federal lunch program. Audrey Rowe got a mixed bag of answers, but overall lunch sales are up in District 211, officials said.

     
  • Illinois awards $25.8 million in health outreach grants Sep 19, 2014 5:18 PM
    Most of the same Illinois organizations that helped consumers sign up for insurance in the first year of President Barack Obama’s expanded health coverage will receive additional funding for a second year, state officials announced Friday.

     
  • Horizon stockholders approve Vidara acquisition Sep 18, 2014 10:18 AM
    Deerfield-basedHorizon Pharma stockholders approved the company’s acquisition of Vidara Therapeutics, opening the company to move its headquarters to Ireland.

     
  • Bartlett OKs medical pot production in business park Sep 17, 2014 5:30 AM
    Bartlett trustees on Tuesday night agreed to let a medical marijuana grower start planting in an industrial park -- with some strings attached. Chief among the conditions is winning a state license to grow the drug. Illinois allows only one cultivation center in each state police district. In the district including Bartlett, the grower may have to beat out up to 50 other applicants.

     
  • Batavia leaders support medical marijuana grow center Sep 16, 2014 5:36 AM
    Batavia aldermen threw their support Monday behind a company's effort to open a medical marijuana cultivation center in town. They authorized the mayor to write to state agriculture department officials in support of PharMar Farms' application. “We are impressed with the business acumen and organization and believe they can be a solid provider in the state's plan to furnish this needed treatment to the citizens of Illinois,” the aldermen wrote.

     
  • Abbott named a Top 10 company for working mothers Sep 16, 2014 9:26 AM
    Abbott Laboratories was named among the Top 10 companies in Working Mother’s 100 Best Companies list, which commends companies for establishing a corporate culture that supports working moms.

     
  • Palatine council nixes proposed medical marijuana dispensary Sep 16, 2014 5:34 AM
    After a lengthy debate Monday night, the Palatine village council rejected a proposal to allow the establishment of a medical marijuana distribution center in the village. The petitioner disagreed. “If your head is wrapped into this 1970s and 1980s head shop of black lights and incense you're in the wrong place emotionally,” attorney Kerry Lavelle said.

     
  • Google buys startup Lift Labs to expand disease research Sep 14, 2014 7:11 AM
    Google Inc. is acquiring health- technology startup Lift Labs to add to its Google X research unit, as the company pursues new methods to address neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.

     
  • iPhones with bigger screens may find eager buyers among seniors Sep 13, 2014 7:22 AM
    After pioneering the smartphone market, Apple is moving away from its focus on smaller screens. While bigger displays make it easier for a younger crowd to read digital books, play games or watch movies, the large screens also let people who need reading glasses boost the size of the font and images on their smartphones without sacrificing screen real estate.

     
  • Fungus threatens organic coffee farms Sep 13, 2014 4:16 PM
    Global warming has been a friend to the fungus, enabling it to thrive in elevations that used to be inhospitable. The worst worldwide outbreak in 30 years has meant diminished yields, lower income and laid-off workers from Peru to Mexico. Organic growers face additional loss as they look for ways to save their livelihoods while at the same time avoiding chemical solutions.

     
  • Alexian Brothers says no to medical pot firms' donations Sep 13, 2014 7:30 AM
    Alexian Brothers Health System officials are saying thanks but no thanks to potential medical marijuana growers and sellers who have promised to donate funds if they can open in Elk Grove Village. “Alexian Brothers Health System believes that a complex issue such as this requires a great deal of evaluation and consideration and does not intend to be a recipient of any donated funds from these programs,” a statement reads.

     
  • Advocate, NorthShore merger means 16 hospitals, 3 million patients Sep 12, 2014 11:25 PM
    The merger of Advocate Health Care and Northshore University Health Care System announced Friday aims to create the largest health care system in Illinois that will focus heavily on outpatient and home care and provide more technology to communicate with patients. The merger could be approved later this year when the newly christened Advocate Northshore Health Partners will have a combined 16 hospitals in Chicago, the suburbs and central Illinois.

     
  • Health law’s calculator lets employers offer substandard insurance Sep 12, 2014 7:35 PM
    A flaw in the federal calculator for certifying that insurance meets the health law’s toughest standard is leading dozens of large employers to offer plans that lack basic benefits such as hospitalization coverage, according to brokers and consultants.The calculator appears to allow companies enrolling workers for 2015 to offer inexpensive, substandard medical insurance while avoiding the Affordable Care Act’s penalties, consumer advocates say.

     
  • Mt. Prospect won’t hold public hearings over pot dispensaries Sep 12, 2014 8:16 PM
    Mount Prospect will be able to approve medical marijuana dispensaries in town without going to a public hearing first, the village board ruled this week.

     
  • NCH CEO to meet with suburban seniors Sep 11, 2014 6:50 PM
    Local seniors will soon have the opportunity to sit down with the CEO of Arlington Heights-based Northwest Community Healthcare for a discussion about health care needs in their communities. The Meet the CEO event is scheduled from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 16, at the NCH Auditorium.

     
  • Hospitals, doctors 'crazy' busy with virus sweeping suburbs Sep 12, 2014 11:25 AM
    Suburban doctors offices and emergency rooms have been filled with people this week, particularly children, suffering from persistent coughs and wheezing that likely result from a respiratory virus spreading around the U.S. known as enterovirus 68. “It's been crazy,” said Dr. Daniel Reaven, the assistant medical director of the emergency department at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights.

     
  • Elk Grove endorses plans from 9 medical marijuana companies Sep 10, 2014 11:08 AM
    Nine companies are seeking to become either a seller or grower of medical marijuana in Elk Grove Village, but they’ll have to compete with each other and likely many others to earn one of a limited number of state licenses to do so.

     
  • DuPage County Health Dept. offers tips on virus prevention Sep 12, 2014 9:51 AM
    With the recent increase in respiratory illness reports in many parts of the nation and Illinois, alongside the upcoming cold and flu season, the DuPage County Health Department is recommending increased awareness and actions to help control and prevent the spread of illness, toward keeping our community safe and healthy.

     
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