Small Businesses Look for Help on Health Care CoverageBURLINGTON, VT, June 16, 2008 – Most Vermont small businesses see it as their responsibility to provide health coverage to employees, but all are struggling with the rising cost, according to a survey report released today by AARP Vermont. AARP conducted an independent telephone survey of some 400 Vermont business owners with 50 or fewer employees. Clearly, the study exposes a group that is buried under the escalating costs of health care and being forced out of the market, while battling high energy costs and an economy in recession. The survey reveals a better understanding of what Vermont’s small business owners have been experiencing due to increasing health coverage costs, their opinions surrounding the issue and whether the Catamount Health Plan would appeal to them if made available.The findings showed that most small employers offer health coverage because they need it for themselves and because they feel a responsibility to do so, not for competitive or bottom-line reasons. Some 57% of respondents offer coverage, with larger employers more likely to provide the benefit, and nearly all say the premiums have risen over the past several years. In response, a significant number of businesses (48%) have changed to high-deductible plans which require employees to pay premiums and satisfy a hefty deductible before receiving any coverage. Other responses to rising costs include increasing employee contributions (27%), reducing benefits (26%) and even dropping plans altogether (16%). This pattern does not serve the interests of Vermont consumers and burdens the health care system itself. Nevertheless, it is likely to continue with more and more organizations reporting they will have to take similar actions in the next few years as premiums continue to rise.Catamount Health – the new, affordable, comprehensive insurance plan available to uninsured Vermonters – is currently not open to small businesses. If made available, affordably, to small businesses and the self-employed, the majority are likely to consider enrolling in the plan, according to the survey results. Of those not currently offering any health coverage benefit, fully 80% would consider enrolling in the plan if they could while 60% of those already offering insurance would look at switching to Catamount.AARP worked closely with lawmakers and others in pushing for the development and passage of the Catamount Health Plan. As the organization now works toward enrolling more uninsured Vermonters in the plan and improving plan provisions, it has become clear that smaller employers – the bulk of the business community – are a key in getting coverage to many residents with no coverage or costly high-deductible plans. Furthermore, hundreds of Vermont small business owners and sole proprietors are AARP members and are very concerned about the crisis in health care costs.”We ask our elected leaders in Montpelier to open the doors to affordable health insurance to small Vermont businesses – the backbone of our business community,” said Jim Leddy, AARP state president and one of the architects of the state sponsored plan. “The status quo is no longer acceptable. The only alternative for these businesses can not be to reduce, drop or not offer health insurance at all,” he said. “Quite simply, offering the Catamount Health Plan to small businesses, their employees and the self-employed is part of the solution to covering the uninsured and dealing with the rising cost of health care.”Leddy explained that AARP and the Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security are working to bring small businesses together to speak for themselves on the issue. It is expected that a proposal will go before the Legislature next session to approve a version of Catamount Health for small businesses. “We want to give voice to the thousands of small business owners struggling to take care of their employees. We hope these findings will help inform the debate in Montpelier,” said Leddy.AARP is part of a coalition representing the voice of Vermont small businesses and sole proprietors. It encourages those who want to help push for an expansion of Catamount to small businesses to contact Heather Riemer at the Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security at 1-802-343-1705.The survey interviews were conducted by Woelfel Research, Inc. in late March and early April of 2008 with a random sample of Vermont businesses as compiled by Dun & Bradstreet.AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization with 128,000 members in Vermont and 39 million members nationally. Through a wide array of special benefits, services, and information resources, we help our members make important choices, reach their goals and dreams, and make the most of life after 50. ###
As of today, the Serbian football player Milos Stojcev is officially the player of the Greek FC Atromitos.Milos Stojcev, now the former player of FC Sarajevo, will continue his career in the Greek FC Atromitos. This 28-year-old football player yesterday successfully passed the first stage of the medical examinations, and did the second part today. After it was determined that there are no obstacles for cooperation, Stojcev signed a three-year contract with Atromitos.Stojcev arrived in Sarajevo in 2013 and palyed 39 matches in which he scored five goals and won the Cup of B&H and the title of the champion. Stojcev embarked on his career in Crvena Zvezda, and had previously played for Sopot, Grbalj, Bezanija, Vojvodina, Borac from Cacak, Sporting Kansas City, Akzhayik, Leotar from Trebinje, and Atyrau.Milos indebted the Atromitos jersey with the number 18.(Source: klix.ba/ photo sportsport)
Snails are not exactly what you would call intelligent, but their brains might prove a good model for designing artificial robot brains. A new study from researchers at the University of Sussex shows how just two neurons in a snail’s brain can drive complex behavioral decisions. Specifically, researchers watched freshwater snails “decide” whether or not to have a snack.Decision-making neurophysiology, especially in more complex animals, is still poorly understood. So, starting with a relatively simple snail brain seems like a good first step. The outcome of this decision-making process is elementary, but the process might not be. The snail has to integrate information from its environment, figure out how it feels about that, and act based on its state. This is, after all, the sort of thing you want a robot to be able to do.The researchers used electrodes to measure electrical activity in the snail’s brain while it was searching for food. They discovered that the snail used controller and motivator neurons to determine whether or not it would eat. The first cell relayed information about the discovery (or not) of food. Meanwhile, the second cell told the first if the animal was actually hungry. You need both of these to eat at the right time. If there was no food present, the circuit would shut down to save energy.This might mean that the sort of decisions that can lead to complex tasks are actually very easy to design. Thus, a robot doesn’t necessarily need a server closet full of CPU cores cranking away on gigabytes of data to make decisions. This could make our future robot overlords much more efficient when they decide which humans to eliminate and which to enslave. Everyone wins.