Today in Globe Business
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, which has been seeking higher health insurance premiums from customers, amassed a surplus of $723.8 million at the end of 2009, more than 3 1/2 times the amount required by regulators for solvency protection, according to a report scheduled to be released today.
The report by Consumers Union, an independent research and educational group, shows that nonprofit Blue Cross Blue Shield plans across the country set aside billions of dollars in surpluses over the past decade at the same time they consistently raised premium rates, sometimes by double-digits in a single year.
Such increases might have been avoided or moderated if the insurance companies used some of their reserves to stabilize rates, the report said. It recommended that regulators consider surpluses as part of their rate reviews and reject hikes from insurers with excessive reserves, a practice Massachusetts officials say they already embrace.
Massachusetts hospitals say in a new report that they have substantially slowed the rise in their costs in the past 18 months, saving insurers and employers billions of dollars, and showing that they do not deserve all the blame for skyrocketing health insurance premiums.
The Massachusetts Hospital Association is releasing the analysis today, as the Legislature is considering imposing mandatory short-term cost controls on the hospital and insurance industries, including provisions hospitals find unappealing.
The House bill, which is expected to be debated today, would grant the state broader powers to review — and reject — large hospital construction projects and contracts between insurers and providers that pay hospitals rates that are far from the statewide average.
My trouble is I don’t watch enough television. If I burned through the national average, watching 35 hours a week, I would probably love Hulu Plus, the new pay-to-play video service.
Hulu.com is a partnership of major media producers — News Corp., which runs the Fox TV network; the Walt Disney Co., owners of the ABC network; and NBC Universal. Of the big four broadcast networks, only CBS is missing.
The free version of Hulu launched in 2008 and quickly became a popular way to catch the show you missed last night. It was a poor man’s TiVo; no need to invest in a digital video recorder when you could watch yesterday’s episode of “House’’ on any Internet-connected computer.
The Massachusetts High Technology Council and the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, which have been critics of the costs of clean energy, are each calling for federal climate legislation they say will create jobs and keep local businesses competitive.
Today, the council is expected to outline its recommendations for climate legislation being considered by the US Senate.
Such support is a significant policy shift for the council and AIM, two of the highest-profile trade groups in the state, and one that signals that beyond the state’s environmental and clean technology sectors, there is local business backing for a national green energy policy. Another prominent trade group, the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, is offering its support as well.
When Acquia Inc. launches its new service today, the goal will be . . . simple.
The service, called Drupal Gardens, is designed to make the creation of complex websites easier than it has ever been before. And the Woburn company — which sells products and services for Drupal, a website creation software platform that is popular with developers — hopes to achieve that goal via “ridiculous simplicity,’’ according to Jeff Noyes, the head of user experience for the firm.
Noyes’s job title, in case there’s any doubt about the company’s priority, is “director of simplicity.’’