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Who are the uninsured? That group of people who have stood as one of the primary reasons for the clamor for health care reform. They are not all the same and “one size does not fit all,” says Dr. Duane “Pete” Pettersen, who is also a independent health insurance agent.
To focus more directly on the problems of the uninsured would be better than overhauling the entire health care system, said Pettersen.
The uninsured make up about 15 percent of the US population (perhaps as high as 17 percent in Montana), explained Pettersen in speaking to the recent “Forum on Healthcare/Health Insurance Reform from a Free market Perspective,” sponsored by the Montana Policy Institute (MPI). The percentage has remained constant for more than 25 years.
From a report done by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association in which US Census Bureau data was analyzed, it was determined that of the 46 million people considered uninsured:
—34 percent of the uninsured are eligible for a government program but have not signed up for it or enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP.
—32 percent are high-income earners and chose not to purchase insurance, although they could likely afford the premium.
—14 percent are temporarily uninsured. And most were uninsured for less that 60 to 90 days and were primarily age 18-26, which is the college graduate rate. Others were in between jobs. Seldom were people in this group uninsured for more than six months.
— 20 percent or 9.2 million people were long-term uninsured.
Pettersen pointed out that the state of Montana is currently paying a bureaucracy $2.75 million a year to enroll 30,000 children in CHIPS. – “80 percent of whom will be dropping current private insurance in order to enroll.” The program would see a significant savings if regular, trained insurance agents were used to enroll people into the program.
People who chose not to insure should be incentivized to make a better choice, said Pettersen – “Just the opposite of what we are doing under HR 3200.”
Young people who are temporarily uninsured could be approached in several ways including being able to remain insured on their parents’ policy until age 26, offering limited affordable temporary policies, suggested Pettersen.
The long-term insured need specific assistance, he said.
“In solving the uninsured issues and the challenges oto the total health care system, we need to look further at allowing insurance policies that are affordable,” said Pettersen. “Why is it that Montana politicians have added 41 benefit mandates that are requied to be covered by all insurance policies? (Idaho has 14 such mandates) Why is Montana the only state in the nation with a complete “unisex rating system,” limiting companies and products that are provided in Montana vs. across the state line in Idaho? Why are Montana citizens all required to purchase a Lexus automobile with all the options rather than a choice of a basic For or Chevy” questioned Pettersen.
According to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance the impacts of mandated benefits currently increase the cost of basic health coverage from a little less than 20 percent to more than 50 percent, depending on the state and how many mandates are required. Montana ranks 14th in the number of state mandated benefits.
A new study shows most residents of Montana with employer-based health plans would lose their current coverage under health care legislation that is currently being considered in Congress.
An analysis was commissioned by the Heritage Foundation to examine the impact to Montana residents if Congress passes the American Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. The Lewin Group, a highly respected health care policy and management consulting firm, has released a study that shows under such a plan:
—62 percent of Montana residents with employer-based coverage would lose their current insurance. Of the estimated 489,200 Montana residents with private health insurance, there would be a decline of 256,700 people with private coverage.
Entrepreneur, business owner and land developer George Frank has been named 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year representing Montana. Frank, a life-long resident of Billings, received the honor from the American Business Defense and Advisory Council at an event held this summer in Washington, D.C.
I have no idea why I was selected to receive this recognition,” Frank says. “But, I’m deeply honored.”
From humble beginnings during childhood that included being a newspaper carrier, Frank began his successful business career as a billiard lounge operator and professional pool player. Today, he is owner and president of CNJ Distributing Corporation. Over the course of 50 years, Frank has created numerous businesses across the United States and has created jobs for several thousand people—from blue collar workers to white collar professionals.
In the late 1960s, he created and opened the first Corner Pocket billiard lounge in Billings that spawned Corner Pockets of America, Inc., a national billiard franchise company. The franchise company changed its name in 1985 to Doc & Eddy’ and focused on the upscale restaurant and entertainment business.
Amid recent reports that there may be another oil field beneath the Bakken, every bit as big, Montana must face the reality that the discovery will mean little to it if economic conditions in the state don’t change.
There’s not a single oil rig in operation in Montana.
Oil rigs are the equipment that finds and opens up new wells, explained Roy Brown, Montana State Senator, Billings, an experienced oil man who ran for Governor during the last gubernatorial election. Montana’s existing wells continue to produce but since an oil well produces less and less as it ages, total production in the state is certain to continue its decline, unless there is some inducement for exploration in Montana.
The decline in revenues from the oil patch are being profoundly felt throughout the state, not least of which is in the coffers of state and local governments. Taxes generated by oil and gas in Montana dropped this year to $32.4 million from $83.9 million in 2008, according to the July distribution notice from the Montana Department of Revenue.
NorthWestern Energy will officially break ground Thursday on a $201.8 million natural gas-fired electric generation facility.
The Mill Creek Generating Station, which was first announced in 2008, is expected to hire about 125 workers during construction and 10 workers during operation of the facility.
MDU Resources Group, Inc. announced that it has acquired the assets of Total Corrosion Solutions Inc. (TCS), a full-service cathodic protection company based in Billings, Mont.
TCS will become part of Bitter Creek Pipelines, the gathering pipeline and energy services subsidiary of MDU Resources. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. MDU Resources anticipates the acquisition will be accretive to 2009 earnings per share.
“Adding TCS to Bitter Creek’s operations strengthens and broadens our portfolio of field energy services in the Rocky Mountain region, by enhancing our ability to provide innovatively engineered solutions for detecting, preventing and controlling corrosion on many different types of buried or submerged metal structures,” said Paul Hopfauf, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Bitter Creek Pipelines.
TCS operates throughout the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain region and provides services to industrial customers that operate pipelines, well-casing systems, underground and above-ground storage tanks, municipal water supply systems, along with facilities at chemical plants, power plants, refineries, and compressor plants. TCS operates with approximately 40 employees.
“We welcome TCS’s management and employees to the team,” said Terry Hildestad, president and chief executive officer of MDU Resources. “TCS is a well-managed, successful operation with an excellent reputation for quality work, and it will be an excellent addition to our energy services group
Montana is one of America’s most difficult states in which to manage a business, and its legal code makes it easy game for lawsuit hunters to bag unsuspecting small business owners. That’s why NFIB, the state’s leading small business association, and Personnel Plus! are teaming for a seven-city tour of one-day seminars aimed at keeping entrepreneurs one step ahead.
The tour comes to Billings, Sept. 9, where James A. Nys, chief human resources management consultant for Personnel Plus! teaches small business owners how to avoid the many pitfalls in operating their enterprises. Mr. Nys holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Montana and a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) designation from the Society for Human Resource Management. Among the topics of discussion are:
• Wage and Hour law in Montana
• Non-discretionary time off (maternity, military, jury duty, others)
• Harrassment and discrimination
• Polygraph, drug-and-alcohol testing, and background investigations
• Records retention requirement
• Independent contractors (how you cannot use them)
• Avoiding wrongful discharge
• Montana laws that differ from the federal government’s or other states
Johns Manville , a Berkshire Hathaway company and global building products manufacturer, announced the acquisition of Corbond Corporation, a company based in Belgrade, Montana. In acquiring the company, John Manville introduced JM Corbond III, a high-yield closed-cell spray foam insulation product that complements JM’s line of Formaldehyde-free fiber glass building insulation. Corbond Corporation has been manufacturing the advanced spray foam insulation for 26 years.
Corbond is now a wholly owned subsidiary of JM. Corbond employees will continue operating out of the company’s Belgrade manufacturing facility, where JM plans to build a product demonstration and training facility.
“As part of the JM family, we now have access to world-class research and development to meet the extraordinary potential of a product we devoted 26 years to perfecting,” said Corbond founder Neal Ganser, who will remain involved in the business. “This is a win for our customers, and a great fit for JM and for Corbond.”
The Big Sky Business Journal
P.O. Box 3262
Billings, MT 59103