Friday June 14, 2013

Vt. board begins review of rates under exchange

MONTPELIER (AP) -- The board overseeing efforts to overhaul Vermont’s health insurance system has begun reviewing the rates customers will be expected to pay under the Vermont Health Connect exchange.

The Green Mountain Care Board has received recommendations from the Department of Financial Regulation on the proposed rates to be offered by insurers Blue Cross Blue Shield and MVP, and is expected to set the rates by July 8.

Details of the proposed rates are posted on GMCB’s website: http://gmcboard.vermont.gov/ , and a public comment period is open until 5 p.m., June 17.

The board also has set two public hearings on the rates at the Statehouse next week. MVP rates will be discussed from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Blue Cross rates from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday.

N.H. woman unharmed in Vt. deer-car crash

BRATTLEBORO (AP) -- A driver is unharmed after she collided with a deer on Interstate 91 in Brattleboro.

Forty-four-year-old Ronda Hathorn of Enfield, N.H., tried to brake to avoid the deer on southbound I-91, but her left front bumper/fender area struck it about 7 a.m. Thursday.

The deer didn’t survive.

Late Wednesday, a car driven by 57-year-old David Paquette of Middlebury collided with a bear on U.S. Route 7 in Salisbury. Paquette was not injured; the bear’s fate wasn’t immediately known.

Obama declares disaster 3 Vt. counties

WATERBURY (AP) -- The president has declared a major disaster in parts of northern Vermont for public infrastructure damage during severe storms and flooding last month.

Gov. Peter Shumlin said Thursday that the declaration will allow communities in Chittenden, Essex and Lamoille counties to get at least 75 percent reimbursement for repairs to roads, bridges and other public infrastructure damaged during the thunderstorms.

Shumlin says a preliminary damage estimate found at least $15 million in damages. The state says a number of local roads were completely washed out and impassable from the Memorial Day weekend rain.

Hassan signs bill on N.H. historic buildings

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Gov. Maggie Hassan has signed into a law a bill that encourages the preservation of historic buildings in New Hampshire.

The bill enable a towns and cities to appraise historic stores at a reduced rate to enable their continued operation.

The focus of the bill is historic village stores like Robie’s in Hooksett, which secured a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in the year 2000.

When Lloyd Robie -- the fourth generation of Robies to own the store -- grew too old to run it anymore, town activists banded together and bought it to keep it open.

Hassan says preserving stores such as Robie’s -- a prominent campaign stop for 60 years -- is critical to maintaining a sense of history and knowledge of the state.

N.H. can end Medicaid expansion later

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The federal government is assuring New Hampshire officials the state won’t be penalized if it expands Medicaid to cover an estimated 58,000 poor people and later decides to end the expanded services.

Cindy Mann, director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, wrote Gov. Maggie Hassan Thursday that New Hampshire can drop coverage at any time.

Hassan, a Democrat, and the Democratically-controlled House are pushing to expand Medicaid under the federal overhaul law.

Senate Republican leaders are not convinced the government will keep its funding commitment. They also say once started, New Hampshire would have a hard time ending the program.

N.H. conservatives back immigration reform

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Several prominent conservative leaders in New Hampshire are voicing their support for the immigration reform bill being debated in the U.S. Senate.

Former Republican State Chairman Fergus Cullen says opposition to immigration reform translates into support for what he called a broken system.

Another former GOP chairman -- developer Steve Duprey -- said the bill is the right thing to do for America.

The Republicans gathered at Thursday’s press conference in Concord also lauded Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s support of the bill.

The measure sets out a 13-year journey to citizenship for some 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. It also sets goals for border security as a prerequisite to allowing the path to citizenship to begin.

It has the backing of both Ayotte and Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.