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Watching medical bills

From Business Today:

Cuomo

The Department of Financial Services released a report Wednesday saying consumers are at risk for receiving unexpected medical bills they can't afford. The state's insurance regulators are looking into unexpected, out-of-network medical costs and whether some insurance companies bill too much or reimburse at too-low rates.

Smith

An investors' group is recommending National Fuel Gas shareholders to vote against a proposed executive pay package. The Amherst-based energy company's CEO David F. Smith made $7 million last year, and would get $38,000 less this year, according to the proposal. But Institutional Shareholder Services advised that Smith's paycheck is out of whack when compared to National Fuel's stock performance and the pay received by other natural gas utility executives. 

NYSSenateAlbany

As both houses prepare to pass 2012 budget proposals, Senate Republicans are passing a proposed budget of their own. Their plan includes a 20 percent tax cut for 200,000 small businesses in New York. The tax breaks would cost $65 million and bring the state's tax rate from 6.85 percent to 5.5 percent.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

 What were you doing when you were 13?

 

State pension reform approaching

From Business Today:

Cuomo

The local business community is getting behind a proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo's Tier VI pension reform aims to control state employee pension costs and save $123 billion over 30 years by limiting benefits for new hires. Andrew J. Rudnick, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, and Heather C. Briccetti, president of the Business Council of New York State, came out in support of the plan Thursday, saying the reform is a good step toward getting the state into better financial shape and making the region more friendly to businesses. But not everyone is happy about it.

LakeShore

Profits slipped at Lake Shore Bancorp during the fourth quarter. The Dunkirk-based parent company of Lake Shore Savings Bank saw profits dip 34 percent. The decline is attributed to a $500,000 write-down for an investment the bank made in an unnamed payment processing startup. Profits were $587,000, or 10 cents per share, down from $895,000, or 16 cents per share,  during the same period last year.

Witkowski

Five Star Bank will eliminate its top executive position in retail banking, a position that paid $426,757 last year. The Warsaw-based Financial Institutions subsidiary attributed the move to improving the company's efficiencies. The duties filled by the former executive vice president of the bank and regional president for the bank's Western Region,John J. Witkowski, will now be doled out to other executives. Witkowski is a former NFL quarterback.

 

Cobb

Wegmans has issued a recall of hard-cooked eggs and prepared foods made with them. Eggs sourced at Minnesota-based Michael Foods were found to contain the bacteria that causes listeriosis, which can result in illness and death.

The eggs were sold hard-cooked, pickled and Kosher and also used to make prepared foods. Fresh eggs are not affected.

No illnesses have been reported associated with the recall.

 

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

 Happy Friday!

 

The public debates hydrofracking, insurance rate hike documents go live and more

From Business Today:

LorraineJulian

The state's Department of Environmental Conservation held the first of eight public comment sessions on its rules for hydrofracking in New York. Much controversy surrounds the method of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region using hydraulic fracturing. More than 850 people appeared in Dansville for the chance to voice there opinion for or against hydrofracking.

Supporters believe hydrofracking would bring money and jobs into the region, while critics fear the method could pollute the finger lakes and spoil the water for future generations to come.

Cuomo

If you're curious about the details behind insurance companies' rate hike requests, you can now pore over the supporting documentation submitted by insurers. State regulators have posted the documents online.

It's part of an effort toward increased transparency. Past and projected financial information, assumptions and other data submitted by insurers when requesting rate hikes can now be found on the state Department of Financial Services Web site.

LifeSciences

 The Public Policy Institute of New York State has put out a report saying New York State should rank much higher in the competition to encourage the growth of life sciences companies because of the state's size and financial strength.

Despite the state's unique abilities and potential in the field, the state still struggles to compete against other states and is losing out on opportunities to create jobs. To remedy that, the report says the state should push for more investment in life sciences firms.

KimGrantAppliedSciencesGroup

In the Town of Tonawanda, members of the business community met with high school students to shed light on entrepreneurship and what it takes to be successful.

About 25 students from the Charter School for Applied Technologies met in small groups with local small business owners to chat about the perks and pitfalls of owning a business, and what is needed to do it right.The event was coordinated by the school and UB's Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership in honor of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

SJB

There's more trouble for Amherst law firm Stephen J. Baum PC. First, Freddie Mac put a ban on sending any more business its way. Now, Fannie Mae is barring them, too.

Fannie Mae's newest retained attorney list notes the local firm is "not eligible for new referrals."

Crawford

A bankrupt Jamestown furniture maker has filed notice with the state that it will close its manufacturing plant in February. The filing comes just two months after Crawford Furniture said it would close its retail stores to focus on manufacturing. Company representatives said it hopes the plant's closing will be temporary while the company ramps up its network of independent retailers to sell through nationally. But if its attempts at securing more national retail channels fails, the plant will close for good and 101 workers will lose their jobs.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

Here's one take on health care insurance companies, courtesy of some very famous comedians:

 

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