Business Notebook

June 30, 2014 

Local & State

Midlands

BlueChoice HealthPlan unveils new product

BlueChoice HealthPlan of South Carolina last week rolled out a new product combining incentives for employees who use Patient-Centered Medical Homes (PCMH) and wellness tools. Engagement Plus offers a lower co-payment when employees used a PCMH practice, which is designed to create a system of care around each patient’s needs. The product is available to companies with 100 or more employees. Employees also earn points for engaging in certain healthy activities, such as getting an annual physical or filling out an online personal health assessment. Points can then be redeemed for gift cards and merchandise. BlueChoice is an independent licensee of the BlueCross and BlueShield Association.

Coast

Court strikes down licensing regulations requiring tour guides to pass knowledge test

Tourists, beware. A federal court ruling Friday may mean tour guides soon won’t have to prove they’re experts. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down licensing regulations that required Washington’s ubiquitous guides to pass a 100-question exam testing their knowledge of the capital’s attractions and history. The ruling could signal broad changes for popular tourist destinations such as the Holy City. Charleston requires tour guides to be licensed by the city’s Tourism Commission in order to give tours for hire. Guides must pass a challenging written and oral exam about Charleston’s history, architecture, significant people and horticulture and then pay about $100 to register and obtain the study book for the exam. The cost of the tour guide license is based on their projected income. Barbara Vaughn, public information officer for Charleston, said city officials can’t comment on the matter until the legal department reviews the case.

Nation & World

Madoff trustee can’s sue financial instituions for thier role in fraud

The Supreme Court will not let the trustee working to recover money for Bernard Madoff’s investors sue major financial institutions for their role in Madoff’s massive fraud.

The court refused Monday to hear an appeal from trustee Irving Picard, who wants to pursue tens of billions of dollars from UBS AG, HSBC Bank PLC and other institutions.

Picard, as trustee for the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, has brought claims in bankruptcy court alleging that the institutions were complicit in Madoff’s vast Ponzi scheme because they provided him with financial services while ignoring obvious signs he was a con artist. A federal appeals court ruled that Picard doesn’t have legal standing to make claims against the financial institutions that Madoff’s burned customers could make themselves.

Farmers plant lowest amount of corn since 2010 but more soybeans than eer

American farmers have planted less corn than in any year since 2010 but more soybeans than ever, as expected.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says in its annual Acreage Report released Monday that farmers planted 91.6 million acres of corn. That’s 4 percent less than last year but still the fifth-largest corn crop planted since 1944. Analysts expected some farmers to devote more acreage to soybeans because of a drop in corn prices.

The USDA says farmers planted a record high 84.8 million acres of soybeans, up 11 percent from last year. Seventy-six percent of the corn crop is in good to excellent condition, compared with 63 percent last year.

Court rules ex-BP executive can be tried on charge of obstructing Congressional probe

NEW ORLEANS A federal appeals court in New Orleans says a former BP executive can be tried on a charge that he obstructed a Congressional investigation into the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision posted Monday reversed a ruling by U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt.

The case involves allegations that David Rainey failed to disclose information from BP PLC indicating that the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion could have been far higher than estimates that were being made publicly.

Engelhardt had ruled in favor of defense lawyers who said the law that Rainey was charged with breaking refers specifically to congressional committees, but not subcommittees. A three-judge 5th Circuit panel disagreed, saying the law includes congressional subcommittees. Kristy Rupon, The (Charleston) Post and Courier and The Associated Press contributed.

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