Archive for December, 2012

Fracking and the potential risks beneath the rock

December 19, 2012 1 comment

fracking630Hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking” as it is commonly called) is nothing new. The technique, pumping high-pressure, chemical-laced water and sand down a well to extract oil and gas from rock, has been used by drillers since the 1970’s, when the U.S. government and various energy groups first conducted research studies and pilot demonstrations of the method. But it’s the current scale of fracking projects, and the controversy surrounding them, that has brought the issue into focus.

From 2007 to 2010, shale gas production more than tripled to over 5 trillion cubic feet and is on track to double again over the next two decades, according to federal government data and the Energy Information Administration. Energy companies continue to lease land across the U.S. and build new wells in Texas, Illinois and Iowa. Proponents see Read more…

A look at healthcare M&A and antitrust coverage

healthcareMAThe PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) ushered in a new era of mergers and acquisitions activity in the healthcare arena, one which the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been evaluating with increased scrutiny. As healthcare systems scramble to acquire physician practices and other smaller facilities, the FTC is on the prowl to ensure these transactions do not have a dampening effect on competition in a given market. As an example, the FTC recently threatened to take Reading (Pa.) Health System to court over its planned acquisition of a neighboring outpatient hospital, arguing the transaction would raise prices and lower quality. The threat alone was enough to make Reading back out of the deal. This is just one example of several FTC antitrust actions against healthcare organizations since 2009, a trend which is expected to increase Read more…

Compliance standards for D&O policies from Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

December 12, 2012 Leave a comment

BribeTNLast month, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released A Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), a 120-page report detailing how the two agencies enforce various elements of the law, including specific explanations about compliance programs, anti-bribery and accounting provisions. The guide aims to clarify FCPA enforcement efforts and procedures and serve as a supplemental resource for U.S. businesses, foreign officials and non-governmental officials who may be impacted by the statute.

The FCPA, established in 1977 as a result of the SEC’s investigations of over 400 U.S. companies’ questionable financial activity with foreign governments, seeks to reduce Read more…

Avoiding business interruption losses on campus

December 6, 2012 Leave a comment

flood-smWhile the majority of discussions concerning coverage following Hurricane Sandy have focused on homeowners and commercial businesses affected by the disaster, institutions such as colleges and universities have their own unique concerns and struggles to cope with after a storm. These losses remind us of the need to review and carefully draft policies to guard against future catastrophes, primarily in the case of business interruption losses and other nuances specific to higher education institutions.

Without a doubt, business income losses are very difficult to face and require time to adjust. For those in the higher ed field, the challenges may prove to be even more complicated. The smallest adjustment to a policy can sometimes be the difference between protecting revenue or facing a major loss.  Read more…

One man’s stick is another’s carrot

December 3, 2012 Leave a comment

The Obama administration issued proposed regulations for commentary concerning key elements of the Affordable Care Act last week. One of those elements clarifies and cements key wellness provisions in the law. Starting on January 1, 2014, businesses will be able to offer incentives to employees amounting up to 30% of the cost of their insurance premium for participation in wellness plans.

According to recent reports from insurance consultant, Mercer, large businesses are increasing their enthusiasm for what is referred to by insurance practitioners as CDHP, or Consumer Driven Health Plans. The general concept is that consumers (formerly known as employees) should be given incentives to find more cost-effective solutions for both the purchase of healthcare services and participation in prevention strategies. Read more…