3 ways insurers can discourage sick from enrolling
Insurers can no longer reject customers with expensive medical conditions thanks to the health care overhaul. But consumer advocates warn that companies are still using wiggle room to discourage the sickest — and costliest — patients from enrolling.
Some insurers are excluding well-known cancer centers from the list of providers they cover under a plan; requiring patients to make large, initial payments for HIV medications; or delaying participation in public insurance exchanges created by the overhaul.
Advocates and industry insiders say these practices may dissuade the neediest from signing up and make it likelier that the customers these insurers do serve will be healthier, and less expensive.
Video games come of age as spectator sport
NEW YORK (AP) — Video games have been a spectator sport since teenagers crowded around arcade machines to watch friends play "Pac-Man." And for decades, kids have gathered in living rooms to marvel at how others master games like "Street Fighter II" and "Super Mario Bros."
But today there's Twitch, the online network that attracts millions of visitors, most of whom watch live and recorded footage of other people playing video games —in much the same way that football fans tune in to ESPN.
Twitch's 55 million monthly users viewed over 15 billion minutes of content on the service in July, making Twitch.tv one of the world's biggest sources of Internet traffic. According to network services company Sandvine, Twitch generates more traffic in the U.S. than HBO Go, the streaming service that's home to popular shows such as "Game of Thrones" and "Girls."
10 things to know about corporate inversions
WASHINGTON (AP) — Burger King is drawing a lot of flak over plans to shift its legal address to a foreign country by merging with Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain.
The transaction is called a corporate inversion, a maneuver that is becoming popular among companies looking to lower their tax bills.
Burger King executives insist they are not trying to escape U.S. taxes. But some members of Congress aren't buying it, mainly because the corporate headquarters of the new parent company will be in Canada.
Cantwell targets small business loan gender gap
NEW YORK (AP) — Women still have a hard time getting small business loans. Sen. Maria Cantwell is determined to close the gap.
Cantwell, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, introduced legislation in July that would make it easier for women-owned companies to get loans and government contracts. The Washington state Democrat sees lending to small businesses as key to job creation because loans give companies the means to expand. But women owners in particular struggle to get loans from banks, and that is limiting their ability to hire.
Although women own nearly a third of businesses in the U.S., their companies receive only 4.4 percent of loan dollars, according to a report by the committee's Democratic members.
SEC adopts rules on loan-backed securities
WASHINGTON (AP) — Financial firms that sell securities backed by loans, like the kind that fueled the 2008 financial crisis, will have to give investors details on borrowers' credit record and income under action taken Wednesday by federal regulators.
The Securities and Exchange Commission adopted the rules for securities linked to mortgages and auto loans on a 5-0 vote.
The commissioners also imposed new conflict-of-interest rules on the agencies that rate the debt of companies, governments and issues of securities. That vote split 3-2 along party lines, with the two Republican commissioners opposing adoption of the rules.
US economy forecast to grow by 1.5 percent in 2014
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday forecast that the U.S. economy will grow by just 1.5 percent in 2014, undermined by a poor performance during the first three months of the year.
The new assessment was considerably more pessimistic than the Obama administration's, which predicted last month that the economy would expand by 2.6 percent this year even though it contracted by an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the first quarter.
The economy grew by 0.9 percent during the first half of 2014.
Looking ahead, the CBO said it expected the economy to grow by 3.4 percent over 2015 and 2016, and predicted that the unemployment rate would remain below 6 percent into the future.
Time Warner Cable says outages largely resolved
NEW YORK (AP) — Time Warner Cable said Wednesday that service was largely restored after a problem during routine maintenance caused a nationwide outage of its Internet service for hours.
The company said it is still investigating the cause of the problem, which occurred with its Internet backbone — the paths that local or regional networks connect to in order to carry data long distances.
The problem affected all of Time Warner Cable's markets and started at 4:30 a.m. Eastern, sparking widespread complaints on social networks. Service was largely restored by 6 a.m. The company is working to bring all customers back online.
Time Warner Cable, which is in the process of being bought by rival Comcast Corp. for $45 billion, has about 11.4 million high-speed data subscribers in 29 states. The Federal Communications Commission is reviewing the deal.
IMF chief Lagarde under investigation in France
PARIS (AP) — Christine Lagarde, the chief of the International Monetary Fund, was put under official investigation for negligence in a French corruption probe that dates back to her days as France's finance minister.
After a fourth round of questioning before magistrates on Wednesday, Lagarde said she was returning to her work in Washington, and called the investigation "without basis." She is the third IMF managing director in a decade to face legal troubles.
Lagarde and her former chief of staff have faced questions about their role in an arbitration ruling that handed 400 million euros ($531 million) to a French businessman with a checkered past.
Spiders force Suzuki to recall midsize cars
DETROIT (AP) — Spiders have forced Suzuki to recall more than 19,000 midsize cars.
The automaker says spider webs can clog a fuel vapor vent hose in some 2010 to 2013 Kizashi cars, cutting off air flow. If that happens, it can cause the gas tank to deform, causing cracks, fuel leaks and possible fires.
The recall was prompted by seven reports of the problem. Service centers will replace the vent line with one that has a filter on the end. They'll also replace gas tanks if necessary.
The problem hasn't caused any accidents or injuries in the U.S., Suzuki said in documents posted Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Owners will be notified this month. Those with questions can call Suzuki customer service at (800) 934-0934.
By The Associated Press=
The Dow Jones Industrial average rose 15.31, or 0.1 percent, to 17,122.01. The S&P 500 added 0.10 of a point to 2,000.12. The Nasdaq composite fell 1.02 points to 4,569.62.
Benchmark U.S. crude rose 2 cents to close at $93.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 22 cents to close at $102.72 on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 1.7 cents to close at $2.746 a gallon. Natural gas rose 4.6 cents to close at $3.957 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil rose 1.6 cents to close at $2.861 a gallon.