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GMCB reduces BCBS rate request to a 4.2% increase and MVP to 2.7%

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 4:37pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB) announces its decision regarding Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont’s (BCBSVT) and MVP Health Care’s (MVP) requested rate increases for insurance plans offered through Vermont Health Connect (VHC) in 2021. After a complete review, the Board decided to reduce BCBSVT’s rate request to 4.2% and MVP’s rate request to 2.7%, resulting in a total premium reduction of approximately $18.9 million. The Board denied administrative increases for both companies, while allowing small increases (0.5%) to reserves due to the current uncertainty and increases tied to medical and drug spending.

VDH COVID-19 Update: 17 new cases, college students tested on return

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 3:51pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, on Friday spoke about the return of students to college campuses. He noted that a few students have already tested positive. And at least one positive result (a UVM student) came back before the student even left their home state. Levine said that one positive result will not count as a Vermont case, but any out-of-state student who tests positive while in Vermont will count as a positive case in Vermont. As for the relatively high case count reported today (17), Levine said in looking at the data he could not see a relationship between college students beginning to return to Vermont and today's number. Vermont's daily count is around six cases. Vermont has the lowest case count and the fewest cases per capita in the nation.

Migrant Justice distributes $200,000 in relief funds to immigrant farmworkers

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 2:31pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Human rights group Migrant Justice has disbursed nearly $200,000 in direct aid to immigrant farmworkers around Vermont. The funds – distributed through the Vermont-based organization’s “Covid Solidarity Fund” – were directed primarily to dairy workers throughout the state who have been excluded from federal stimulus payments and other government support programs. Over 400 immigrant farmworkers and family members received aid payments of $420 each. Migrant Justice created the solidarity fund following the federal government’s issuance this summer of “Economic Impact Payments” – better known as stimulus funds – of $1,200 to most Americans. The program excluded individuals without social security numbers, as well as their spouses and children.

BED awarded $550,000 to help Burlington businesses impacted by COVID-19

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 2:24pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Burlington Electric Department yesterday was awarded a $550,000 CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the US Department of Commerce. The grant will be used to capitalize and administer a new revolving loan fund (RLF) that will complement an existing RLF to provide loans to coronavirus-impacted businesses in Burlington to help them make building ventilation and energy efficiency improvements.

John Klar withdraws from Vermont governor race

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 2:01pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Republican gubernatorial candidate John Klar from Brookfield has withdrawn his Independent filing to run for Governor in 2020. He said in a statement today that his focus will now be to support the many qualified Republican candidates for office in November, especially those who have stood up with him to focus attention on Vermont’s looming economic problems, particularly its underfunded state pensions system and unsustainably expensive schools.

Quiros pleads guilty to Jay Peak EB-5-related fraud, faces 8 years

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 1:33pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The United States Attorney’s Office announced that today Ariel Quiros, 64, of Key Biscayne, Florida, pleaded guilty before Chief Judge Geoffrey W Crawford in United States District Court in Burlington to three felony charges in connection with his involvement in the Jay Peak Biomedical Research Park EB-5 investment project, also called the AnC Vermont project. Quiros pleaded guilty to conspiring with co-defendants William Kelly, Jong Weon (Alex) Choi, and William Stenger in a multi-year wire fraud scheme to defraud immigrant investors seeking green cards through the EB-5 program.

Scott extends State of Emergency, allows cities to limit crowd sizes, alcohol sales

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 12:16pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott today at his press briefing extended his State of Emergency another month to September 15. It was set to expire Saturday. He also is allowing, as part of the amended executive order, any local municipality to set their own limits on gathering sizes and also allowing them to limit alcohol sales and set a curfew based on hours for those sales. Scott in particular is responding to concerns in Burlington as college students return. The governor also mentioned that around the nation, spikes in new cases have come from large parties often associated with groups larger than those allowed. The governor also said that Vermont now has the lowest per capita number of COVID-19 cases as well as the fewest total cases.

Long-time state parks director Craig Whipple to retire

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 10:58am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR) today announced that long-time State Parks Director Craig Whipple is retiring. During his 14 years as Director of State Parks, Whipple was instrumental in creating many programs that have increased access to the parks, including the First Day Hikes series of free, guided New Year’s Day hikes at parks across the state; the Parks prescription program that provides free state parks day-use passes prescribed by physicians; and the Venture Vermont outdoor challenge that encourages families to explore the outdoors and receive a free state parks pass for their adventures.

Four employers join forces to reduce healthcare costs

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 6:12am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The City of South Burlington has selected Marathon Health, a provider of onsite health centers that enable employer organizations to optimize the health of their workforce, to offer employees and their families primary care, health assessments, lifestyle coaching, and chronic condition management. Employees from Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC), an organization dedicated to helping students of all ages achieve their educational goals, Hickok & Boardman HR Intelligence, a human resources and employee benefits consulting firm in Burlington, and Twincraft Skincare, a natural skincare product manufacturer in Winooski and Essex, are joining the City of South Burlington to offer access to the health center. A nurse practitioner and medical assistant staff the health center, which opened July 8, 2020.

Vermont gets $2.1 million from CARES Act to capitalize revolving loan funds

Thu, 08/13/2020 - 5:22pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Senator Patrick Leahy (D), Senator Bernie Sanders (I) and Representative Peter Welch (D) Friday welcomed the award of $2.1 million in federal CARES Act funds to capitalize and administer Revolving Loan Funds (RLFs) that will provide critical gap financing to small businesses and entrepreneurs adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic across Vermont. The grants are administered by the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA).

SBA loan applicants beware of Email phishing scams

Thu, 08/13/2020 - 5:06pm -- tim

​Vermont Business Magazine The Small Business Administration is sending a cyber warning alert to loan applicants seeking federal aid in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Email phishing campaigns are where malicious actors are impersonating the SBA and its Office of Disaster Assistance to collect personally identifiable information for fraudulent purposes have surfaced. The SBA is particularly concerned about scam emails targeting applicants of the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program asking them to verify their accounts using a third-party online platform to collect personally identifiable information.