Nation, World Briefs: Health insurance firm delays 39% rate increase

  • Sat Feb 13th, 2010 10:30pm
  • News

Health insurer Anthem Blue Cross will postpone its plan to raise rates for some California residents who buy insurance on their own, after reaching a deal Saturday with regulators. Anthem’s planned rate hike, which the state estimates would affect about 700,000 customers, averaged 25 percent and would have been as high as 39 percent for some. Anthem Blue Cross of California agreed to postpone the increase from March 1 until May 1 so California could have outside experts review the company’s complex and detailed plan filing, including data on the medical costs it expects to incur.

Golden Gate suicide netting

Directors of the agency that oversees the Golden Gate Bridge have moved a step closer to approving a suicide barrier along the historic span. The board voted 16-0 to approve an environmental impact report that examines the consequences of hanging steel nets 20 feet below the bridge deck on each side. About 25 people per year die in jumps from the bridge. Suicide prevention activists have long pushed for the barrier, while detractors have argued the money would be better spent on mental health services.

New York: Handcuff donation

Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates said he’s donated the handcuffs used on him during his arrest last year outside his home to the Smithsonian Institution’s black history museum. Gates said in today’s edition of The New York Times Magazine that he donated the handcuffs to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Gates said he met with Sgt. James Crowley several months ago at a cafe, where the officer gave him the handcuffs. Gates’ arrest last July by police investigating a report of a possible break-in at his home near Harvard University sparked a national debate over racial profiling.

Indiana: Three die in blaze

A man trying to find a way out his burning two-story rental home got trapped in its bathroom Saturday and could only listen in horror to the screams of two of his children, who died in the fire along with his girlfriend, authorities said. The bathroom door, which had no doorknob, closed behind him and he couldn’t open it. The man escaped by breaking a window and jumping out. He tried to re-enter the burning home on Indianapolis’ east side but was driven back by dense smoke and flames shooting from its windows.

Haiti: American identified

The body of another person in the Lynn University group visiting Haiti during last month’s earthquake has been identified. School officials said Saturday that the U.S. State Department notified the family of Richard Bruno that his body had been found. Bruno joined the Lynn University faculty four years ago and was an assistant professor in the College of Liberal Education. Bruno was part of a 14-member group from Lynn who were in Haiti on a “Journey of Hope” service trip. One Lynn student remains unaccounted for. The group was staying in the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince.

India: Terror bomb in bakery

A bomb detonated in a crowded bakery popular with foreigners killing nine people and wounding 57, officials said today, the first terrorist attack in the country since the 2008 Mumbai massacre. The blast Saturday in Pune, 125 miles southeast of Mumbai, threatened to damage new efforts to reduce tensions between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan, with Hindu nationalist leaders placing blame for the attack on India’s Muslim neighbor. One foreigner was among the dead.

Egypt: Drive-by shooting

Three Muslim men accused in a drive-by shooting that killed seven people outside a Coptic church pleaded not guilty on Saturday, a judicial official said. Egypt’s prosecutor general has charged the three with murder and threatening national security in the Jan. 6 attack on Coptic Christmas Eve in the southern town of Nag Hamadi. Six members of the ancient community and a Muslim guard were killed while nine other people were wounded.

Nigeria: Riders electrocuted

At least 20 bus passengers were killed in Nigeria on Saturday when a cable fell onto the bus and electrocuted people inside, police said. Police confirmed 20 deaths, but a spokeswoman said the toll could climb further. A journalist saw more than 10 bodies, some charred beyond recognition, at a local hospital in Port Harcourt. Another 10 people were seen being treated for gashes and burns. Most of the dead had been passengers aboard the bus, though some had been passing nearby.

From Herald news services