National / International News

Dame Laura backs Turnberry changes

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 04:01
World women's number one Dame Laura Davies insists Donald Trump's changes at Turnberry will improve the course.

Engineers create origami bridge

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 03:59
Engineers have successfully tested a mobile bridge based on origami that could be deployed in disaster zones.

Toxic pills death woman 'had bulimia'

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 03:53
A student thought to have taken "highly toxic" diet pills bought online suffered from bulimia, an inquest hears.

VIDEO: Reaction to 'diet pill' death inquest

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 03:40
The mother of a woman believed to have died after taking "diet pills" purchased on the internet, is giving her reaction after an inquest into the death.

Austria bans neo-Nazi car reg codes

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 03:35
Austria cracks down on personalised number plates used by neo-Nazis, by banning lesser-known codes with hidden far-right symbolism.

Blair's 1980s warning evokes memories of Foot

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 03:31
Tony Blair's warning to Labour not to repeat the mistakes of the 1980s brought back memories of former party leader Michael Foot, writes Jawad Iqbal.

Man banned over festival dog deaths

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 03:30
A security guard who left two dogs in a hot security van during last year's Creamfields music festival is banned from keeping animals for life.

Plea to free jailed Angola activists

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 03:27
A leading rights group calls for the release of at least 13 people, including a rapper, held in Angola for allegedly plotting to oust the president.

VIDEO: Recreating a masterpiece - by numbers

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 03:24
The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich is inviting visitors to recreate what is regarded by some as "the Sistine Chapel of the UK".

Olympic champions to race in Derby

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 03:20
Several British Olympic champions will race in August's Revolution Series in Derby to gain Rio 2016 qualifying points.

Aston Martin plea from David Cameron

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 03:15
Prime Minister David Cameron appeals for Aston Martin to open a new plant in Wales.

Ferrari files for US share listing

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 03:09
Italian sports car manufacturer Ferrari has applied to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

Wildfires In Montana, California Scorch Thousands Of Acres, Trigger Evacuations

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-23 03:07

The fire at Glacier National Park forced the evacuation of a park inn and campground. In California, a fire in Napa was threatening 150 structures.

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Sharknado 4 confirmed by Syfy channel

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 03:05
A fourth instalment of cult TV movie phenomenon Sharknado is confirmed as the third movie premieres in the US, with fans getting to decide what happens next.

What The College Kids Are Reading

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-23 03:03

A look at the books schools around the country have assigned to incoming freshmen.

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$48 billion Anthem-Cigna deal could be close

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-07-23 03:00

Multiple news sources report that Indianapolis-based health insurer Anthem is in final negotiations to acquire competitor Cigna of Bloomfield, Connecticut. The deal would value Cigna at approximately $48 billion, or $188-per-share, according to unnamed sources.

Aetna announced earlier in July that it would buy rival Humana for $34.1 billion in cash. Both deals would face extensive scrutiny by federal antitrust regulators at the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission. Many analysts consider it unlikely that both deals would be approved, since they would reduce competition for health insurance customers and concentrate more pricing power in insurers' hands. 

The wave of proposed mega-mergers comes as insurance companies face financial pressures under the Affordable Care Act, which has been reaffirmed in recent Supreme Court decisions that turned back major legal challenges to the law.

If the mergers succeed, the number of major national health insurers would be reduced from five to three: Anthem, Aetna and UnitedHealth Group.

Management professor J.B. Silvers at Case Western Reserve University says there are compelling benefits to the bottom line for insurance companies to consolidate under Obamacare. He says the financial risk of healthcare is being shifted away from insurers, onto healthcare providers and the government. That leaves insurers needing to make more of their profits from paying claims. “Paying claims is a volume business, so this gives them some economies of scale, and it will lower their costs,” says Silvers. “Plus, the fact there are a lot more people buying health insurance because of Obamacare makes it a more lucrative market than it's ever been.”

Healthcare economist Vivian Ho at Rice University says insurers are being driven to merge by another key constituency in the rapidly-changing healthcare industry: healthcare providers. She says Obamacare has driven hospitals to merge, doctor’s groups to get bigger, and hospitals to acquire doctor’s groups. That’s increased the providers’ power to negotiate favorable deals with insurers. She says insurers are trying to consolidate to even the playing field.

Ho points out that even if the biggest insurers succeed in merging and cutting costs, they can claim some of the financial benefit won’t go to their bottom line, because of complicated rules on profit-taking under Obamacare. “I think the insurance companies are going to say, ‘We have to pay 85 percent of our premiums on health care expenditures, so that means cost savings will be passed on to the consumer,’” says Ho.

Ho says insurers have figured out ways to get around these Obamacare limits, for instance, by categorizing more client services as ‘health care expenditures.’

Antitrust regulators, meanwhile, will closely scrutinizing these proposed deals, to determine whether the merged insurers are likely to end up with too little competition — nationwide, or in specific geographic and medical markets, such as Medicare — or whether the merged insurers will gain too much power to set terms and prices for consumers, hospitals, doctors, and employers.

PODCAST: Improving infrastructure with bikes

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-07-23 03:00

On today's show, we'll talk about news that the number of people signing up for unemployment benefits fell to a low not seen in four decades. Plus, we'll talk about the merger between two health care giants: Anthem and Cigna. And Portland Oregon’s two defining cultures – tech and bikes – have come together to improve transportation infrastructure using a new app that will anonymously track behaviors, and preferred routes of cyclists, with or without the app. The data from these combined technologies will act as a guide for decision-making when planning bike lanes, routes, and signals.

Ikea safety alert as two boys die

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 02:54
A US safety watchdog raises concerns about Ikea chests of drawers after two children were killed in the US last year when dressers fell on them.

Defiant French farmers blockade Lyon

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 02:51
French farmers station hundreds of tractors on routes into Lyon, as attempts by President Francois Hollande to end a row over meat and dairy prices fall on deaf ears.

PSNI assist with Ibiza death probe

BBC - Thu, 2015-07-23 02:49
The Police Service of Northern Ireland is assisting an investigation by Spanish police following the death of a man from County Antrim in Ibiza last weekend.