AETNA to track racial disparities in care
One of the nation's largest insurance providers will investigate and track racial and ethnic disparities that run rampant throughout the health care system in order to develop interventions that improve the quality of care for minority members. "A critical component of this effort is our pledge to use the data only for determining appropriate educational, outreach and quality improvement initiatives, and not to determine eligibility, rating or claim payment," said Aetna Chairman and CEO John W. Rowe, M.D. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, ethnic and racial gaps in health care persist. In some cases, they have widened among African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders, when compared to the U.S. population as a whole. Research showed that minorities experience higher levels of infant mortality, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, HIV infection than white Americans do. The report also showed that African Americans have a lower incidence of cancer screening and management, and child and adult immunization.
First African American portrait to be on display at Capitol
Representative Joseph H. Rainey (R-SC), the son of a slave who served in the U.S. Congress for eight years, will be the first African American representative to have his portrait in the U.S. Capitol. Rainey was elected to the state senate in 1870 in a special election to represent the First District of South Carolina. He used his appointment to the Committee on Freedmen's Affairs to advocate an end to racial discrimination and use of the military to protect black voters from violence perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan.
More setbacks for Sep. 11 aid
Small businesses trying to get back on their feet after the terrorist attacks in New York City will have to wait months not weeks for aid promised by the World Trade Center Recovery Grant Program. Grants totaling $530 million were awarded to 14,233 companies, surpassing the program's allocated budget by $49 million. The program awards grants to downtown businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 employees. "The agency is working to make up the difference by reallocating unused funds from other September 11 programs," said Alex Dudley a spokesman for the Empire State Development Corp., the state agency that runs the program. "[We are] requesting assistance from the Lower Manhattan development Corp., which received $2 billion in federal money to rebuild the downtown area." The size of the grant depends on the proximity to ground zero. Businesses that were in or near the World Trade Center are generally eligible for up to 25 days' worth of losses, up to $300,000.
Brokerage Firms Settle Through Tax Write-Offs
In a decision that is sure to benefit future firms accused of biased stock ratings, firms will be able to limit the cost of government settlements through tax write-offs and insurance claims, said an industry spokesman. The settlement has reduced the securities industry's taxable profits by $2.2 billion, according to the latest New York State Assembly Economic Report. An additional $1.1 billion could be written off as an "operating expense" as a result of the settlement. This will also reduce the firms' corporate taxes and cut Wall Street bonuses to individuals, which entails a substantial source of personal income tax revenue for New York and other states suffering deficits.