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Archive for the 'Health policy' Category

Business group back greater insurance rate scrutiny


The head of the Westchester County Association called for greater regulation of the insurance industry in the wake of a recent settlement requiring Oxford Health Insurance to refund $50 million in overcharges to about 37,000 small businesses.
President William M. Mooney Jr. said he supports a proposal that would require the state Insurance Department to approve rate increases. The agency currently reviews increases after the fact; a review of Oxford led to the refund settlement.
“Our own Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Healthcare Crisis has been advocating this measure be passed for the past three years,” Mooney said in a statement. “We are pleased that the governor also recognizes the need for lawmakers to restore the tools to better monitor and manage the marketplace for health insurance rates.”

Posted by Jerry Gleeson on Friday, June 6th, 2008 at 4:56 pm |
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Tobacco opponents recognize allies


A coalition of tobacco opponents today honored several businesses and local officials in the Lower Hudson Valley for their efforts in reducing tobacco use and exposure.
POW’R Against Tobacco, Reality Check Youth Action Partners, Tobacco Free Schools, and POW’R Cessation Center sponsored the event at the Thayer Hotel in West Point.
Recognized: Sal Zuccaro of the North Brewster Deli, who stopped selling tobacco products; Mamie Duncan-Gibbs of Youth Theater Interactions in Westchester County, who no longer accepts sponsorship or funding from tobacco companies; Marion Breland Oswald of Reachout Haverstraw, for helping POW’R Against Tobacco with a local initiative; Rockland County Executive Scott Vanderhoef, who signed legislation banning smoking in private cars with children under the age of 18; and DeCicco Markets, which stopped selling tobacco at its six grocery stores in Westchester and Rockland.

Posted by Jerry Gleeson on Thursday, May 29th, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
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Emerging Health Information Technology of Yonkers said yesterday it has been awarded a contract to provide Medicaid eligibility verification, service authorization, claims scrubbing and validation, and payment analysis to Jewish Home Lifecare.
Terms of the contract were not disclosed. Emerging Health is a subsidiary of Montefiore Medical Center.

Posted by Jerry Gleeson on Monday, May 19th, 2008 at 3:03 pm |


IBM computers to tackle global rice shortage


When you think of IBM, you think of computers, not rice bowls. But for the billions of people around the world who rely on rice as a staple food, a new initiative by Big Blue could mean heartier meals.

A worldwide network of computers created by IBM will be tackling the looming rice shortage by helping researchers at the University of Washington research stronger, more nutritious and climate-tolerant rice strains.

IBM’s World Community Grid — a network of more than 1 million personal computers linked together to donate idle time to science — has accepted the Nutritious Rice for the World project as its latest effort.

Robin Wilner, vice president of Global Community Initiatives at IBM’s Armonk headquarters, said this is the ninth project for the grid, which was started in 2004.

“As a corporation, we’re a member of all of the communities where IBMers live and work and where our customers live and work. We need to be involved in solving problems that affect those communities, whether it’s looking for a cure for AIDS, creating diagnostic tools for cancer or finding more nutritious, disease-resistant rice,” she said.

IBM is not only providing technical assistance to the project, it’s donating computer time. Almost a third of IBM’s employees have signed up to allow their PCs to be used by the World Community Grid’s projects.

“More than 100,000 of us have World Community Grid on our laptops. Whenever we are on the phone, like we are now, my laptop is working to find out about the proteins in rice because I’m not typing,” she said.

The idea behind the grid is that unused computer power can add up to deliver the performance of a supercomputer to an organization that couldn’t afford to buy one for itself.

The University of Washington researchers will use the grid in a project that is expected to take 12 to 18 months. Without IBM’s help, it would 200 years to complete the rice study using just the computers the researchers have at hand.

The project involves mapping the structure of rice proteins using three-dimensional models on the computer to find ones that yield more rice, repel bugs, resist drought or contain more nutrients.

Anyone with a computer and Internet access can donate their time.

The project is supported by a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Wednesday, May 14th, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
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Study shows drug prices vary considerably


For consumers who pay for prescription drugs out their own pockets, a new price study by Yonkers-based Consumer Reports finds it pays to shop around.

The consumer publication’s research showed that not only that prices vary from store to store for the same, but the differences can be dramatic — even within the same chain, depending on location.

Consumer Reports placed calls to 163 pharmacies nationwide to gauge price differences among four prescription drugs, three name brand medicines and one generic. For a three-month supply of pills for the urinary incontinence drug Detrol, for example, the price ranged from $365 to $551.

The magazine also found significant price disparities for the two other name-brand drugs it studied: for Plavix (which prevents blood clots), the spread was $382-$541, and for Levoxyl (for treating hypothyroidism), prices ran from $29 to $85. And for the generic alendronate (for osteoporosis), the price range was $124 to $306.

The magazine’s small scale market-basket study showed Costco was the cheapest for the four drugs CR sought quotes for, followed by AARP.com and Wal-Mart. Walgreens and Rite-Aid were among the priciest for the four drugs.

Besides calling different stores and comparison shopping, other cost-saving tips include:

• Don’t rule out independents: Though they’re not the cheapest overall, many mom-and-pop pharmacies are highly competitive and offer top notch service.

• Talk to your employer: Benefits administrators can provide details about pharmacy benefit managers, also known as PBMs.

• Buy generics: They can cost 20 to 50 percent less than their brand name equivalents.

• See if there’s a discount program: Some stores have programs for those 50 and older; other programs are open to anyone without insurance.

The full report is available for free now at www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org, or in the June issue of Consumer Reports magazine available on newsstands tomorrow.

Posted by David Schepp on Monday, May 5th, 2008 at 6:00 pm |
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Business in the Burbs is our online news blog about businesses based or operating in the Lower Hudson Valley. Visitors here will also find items of interest to consumers in the region. Most contributions are from business reporters and editors covering Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties.


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