Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger explains in a letter to the editor, printed on tomorrow's editorial page and online now, why Republicans are rejecting the Medicaid expansion:
Investors Title Co., a Chapel Hill-based issuer and underwriter of title insurance policies, reported Tuesday that revenue increased 23.6 percent in the third quarter tas the company benefited from an increase in home sales and refinances.
The company had revenues of $32.28 million in the quarter. Net income increased 29 percent to $3.16 million, or $1.50 per diluted share, compared to $2.44 million, or $1.14 per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2011.
"We are pleased to report a strong quarter, as we benefitted from continued strength in refinance and purchase activity and further expansion of our agent base," said Chairman J. Allen Fine, in a statement.
Hundreds of injured workers, union members, AARP members and others descended upon the General Assembly this morning to voice their support of the state's workers' compensation system.
They also overflowed a House Insurance Committee meeting this afternoon that featured a workers' comp expert who testified that the cost of workers' comp claims for North Carolina employers is well above average.
The demonstration of support and the expert testimony are the opening salvos of what undoubtedly will be a bruising battle over workers' comp. A bill to overhaul the system and reduce worker benefits is expected to be introduced Wednesday by Rep. Dale Folwell, the Winston-Salem Republican who is speaker pro tem.
The lobbying by workers, who sported stickers that declared "VOW now/Value Our Workers," was designed to get in front of the issue, said Victor Farah, a Raleigh attorney who represents injured workers. Organizers included the N.C. Advocates for Justice, a trial lawyers' group, the AFL-CIO and the AARP.
A federal judge this week granted class action status to a lawsuit by retirees against phone companies Sprint Nextel and Embarq for canceling the retirees' health benefits and life insurance.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren in Kansas opens the retirees' lawsuit to some 14,000 phone company retirees, and thousands of spouses, in 18 states.
Previously, the suit represented 17 retirees, including 11 from North Carolina, seeking to have their health benefits restored. The case also represented 756 retirees, all in North Carolina, for age discrimination.
The retirees allege that for more than three decades, phone company representatives made promises verbally and in writing that their retiree benefits were guaranteed for life. Some took early retirement to lock in on the benefits.
Liberty National Life Insurance Company plans to add 400 new sales agents and sales managers in the coming months as it expands its presence in the Triangle.
The company, which currently employes between 80 and 100 people at three branches in Raleigh and one in Durham, provides life and supplemental health insurance.
Bobby Hicks, the company's branch manager for recruiting, said the expansion will allow Liberty National to expand into new markets. The company has seen increased demand for its products as health care costs have increased, Hicks said.
Liberty National sales agents operate on commission.
Starting today, Golden Rule Insurance Company will offer two new health insurance plans in North Carolina and West Virginia targeted at people who need short-term coverage.
The plans, called Short Term Medical Plus and Short Term Medical Value, are specifically meant to cover people who are between jobs, graduates looking for work, students who are no longer covered by their parents' plans and other people whose health care coverage is affected by some kind of life transition.
Residents can choose from one to 12 months of coverage under both plans and can apply for additional months and consecutive short-term plans if they need to.
Deductibles for the plans range between $250 and $10,000. According to the company, here are a few examples of what the plans would cost for people in our area, depending on which plan options were chosen:
*a young adult, ages 19 to 24, living in the Raleigh area choosing 1 to 6 months of coverage could expect to pay between $28 and $134 a month.
*a young family, parents in their mid-30s with two children under age 10, could expect to pay between $81 and $397 a month.
*An empty nester couple, in their late 40s, could expect to pay between $93 and $421 a month.
Indianapolis-based Golden Rule is a subsidiary of UnitedHealthcare that specializes in offering health coverage to people not covered by employer plans.
An Asheville business executive voiced his support in favor of a proposed 10 percent decline in workers' compensation insurance rates at a public hearing this morning.
"Anything that can help small employers in this economy is beneficial," said Dan English, president of Employee Administrative Services. Employee Administrative is a professional employer organization, or PEO, that provides human-resources functions to small businesses as
well as providing workers' comp insurance policies.
English was the only member of the public present at the outset of today's hearing conducted by the state Department of Insurance. The paltry attendance was no surprise given that insurers earlier this month requested a 9.6 percent decrease, which comes on top of last
year's 4.4 percent decline.
N.C. Mutual Life Insurance's financial strength has been downgraded by credit rating company A.M. Best.
Best cited the Durham-based company's lower surplus and continued operating losses, even though "losses have significantly declined from the prior year." N.C. Mutual is the nation's oldest and largest black-owned insurance company.
N.C. Mutual's financial strength rating was lowered to C+, or marginal, from B-, or fair, Best said in an announcement issued today.
Last week's overhaul of the state-backed Beach Plan already has paid a dividend: increased competition in the homeowners insurance market.
AAA Carolinas today announced that, thanks to the legislature's reforms, its insurance subsidiary plans to start offering homeowners insurance in North Carolina beginning next month.
State Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, who supported the overhaul, issued a statement hailing AAA's action. Department spokeswoman Johanna Royo said that the department expects other insurers to follow AAA Carolinas' lead.
Finally, some good news amid the recessionary gloom for North Carolina drivers.
About one million auto insurance policyholders in North Carolina are due more than $50 million in refunds next year under the settlement of a rate dispute between the Insurance Commissioner and auto insurers.
The settlement announced this morning eliminates a 9.4 percent rate hike sought last year by the N.C. Rate Bureau, which represents 144 auto insurers, and instead reduces rates by one-half percent.
The agreement also cancels an additional 1.4 percent rate increase insurers sought earlier this year and prevents them from seeking a rate hike until 2011.
“This settlement is a great deal and is terrific news for North Carolina consumers,” said Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, who noted that the settlement makes premiums slightly lower than they were in 2006.
The new premiums go into effect Nov. 1 but are retroactive to Jan. 1.