JUDGE RULES AGAINST
RETIREE TAX REFUNDSRICHMOND, Va. - A state judge has ruled that Virginia does not owe about $400 million in refunds to federal retirees who were taxed illegally until last year.
Alexandria Circuit Judge Donald H. Kent's ruling last week makes Virginia the first state to win a lawsuit stemming from the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last year that several states had taxed retirees improperly, the attorney general's office said in a statement.
Virginia revised its income tax laws in response to the ruling. Before the ruling, the state had allowed state government retirees' pensions to be tax-free, but had taxed the pensions of federal government retirees.
The high court said all retirees must be taxed the same. In a special session in April, the legislature enacted a tax break for all pensioners. A
revision of that tax break that would make it less costly is pending in the legislature this year.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Undercover agents from the Florida Department of Insurance last week swept through three Florida panhandle counties, searching for dishonest insurance agents.
One person was charged with selling insurance without a license, and five agencies are still under investigation for violations, the department said.
The undercover operation was targeted at operators of storefront businesses who sell insurance without licenses, steal premiums, force customers to buy more insurance than they want or need and fail to deliver policies purchased by consumers.
THREE INSURERS WIN
AWARD OF $18 MILLION
LOS ANGELES - Three insurance companies have won an $18 million award in a racketeering case against two bankrupt brothers who billed the companies for diagnostic tests that were unnecessary or never performed.
Aetna Life Insurance Co. said that it, Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. and Employers Health Insurance Co. were awarded the judgment against David and Michael Smushkevich under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Despite the award, the companies may never collect. The brothers are bankrupt and believed to have left the United States. The judgment was entered Thursday in a Los Angeles federal court when the two defendants failed to appear.
The two brothers had been based in Los Angeles and operated a mobile medical diagnostic laboratory business that Aetna says was alleged to have been involved in massive health care fraud, totaling more than $100 million in claims for diagnostic tests.
SOCIAL SECURITY'S FUTURE
IS DOUBTED BY MANY
WASHINGTON - Nearly half of working American adults do not believe Social Security will be able to pay them benefits when they retire, a survey says.
The December survey of 1,001 adults found that 49 percent of those who had not yet retired were confident that Social Security would be able to pay them benefits, 47 percent did not expect to get benefits and 4 percent were unsure.
The survey released by The Gallup Organization was commissioned by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a non- profit, non-partisan research group.
The survey found that confidence in Social Security benefits was highest among those closest to retirement.
ROCKEFELLER TO DELIVER
HMO KEYNOTE ADDRESS
Sen. John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee's Medicare and Long-term Care Subcommittee, will deliver a keynote address at the 13th HMO Policy Conference taking place Feb. 26 and 27 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.
The meeting focuses on the health care agenda of the 101st Congress.
Sen. Rockefeller, also chairman of the Pepper Commission, which has been charged with seeking solutions to the problems of access to care and long-term care, will address the conference on reform of the nation's health care system.