A Congressional panel visited Memphis this week in an effort to find ways to improve U.S. freight transportation.
The bipartisan panel toured FedEx facilities and the Port of Memphis, in addition to meeting with representatives of the region’s freight transportation community. The freight panel is a special panel of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
“Transportation accounts for up to 10 percent of a product’s total cost, so bottlenecks and limitations in our transportation system can significantly drive up the cost of everything we buy,” said Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.), who chairs the freight panel. “By coming to Memphis, an important hub for U.S. freight transportation, the panel was able to see firsthand how efficiencies can be replicated and where challenges continue to exist throughout our national transportation system.”
Memphis-based Southern Airways Express said it has received final approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to begin operations.
The airline’s website, iFlySouthern.com, also is now available for booking flights from Memphis to Destin, Fla., Panama City, Fla. and Gulf Shores, Ala. Later this month, Southern Airways Express also will add service from Memphis to New Orleans.
“We expect our summer 2013 schedule to be in full swing by June 26th, in time for family vacations and Independence Day travel,” said Stan Little, CEO and Chairman of Southern Airways Express.
The airline, which is backed by local investors who have chosen to remain anonymous, will help fill nonstop service gaps left by major carriers, Little said. Fares on all flights will range from $129 to $249 each way.
A study produced by the Society of Actuaries predicted medical claim costs could jump 32 percent nationally by 2017 for individual policies under the Affordable Care Act. The research study was widely written about in the press, including The Daily News.
Kaiser Health News and Politico Pro are now reporting the study failed to note the close ties between the actuaries making the forecasts and the insurance industry.
“Undisclosed in the SOA report was the fact that about half the people who oversaw it work for the health insurance industry that is warning about rate shock. The chairman of society committee supervising the project was Kenny Kan, chief actuary at Maryland-based CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield,” Kaiser Health News and Politico Pro reported.
Optum, the sister company of UnitedHealthcare, performed the research for the study. UnitedHealthcare is the nation’s largest private health insurer, the news organizations jointly reported.
Supporters of the Affordable Care Act pointed out that the actuary society’s study failed to factor in the potential for competition to lower prices and the subsidies people will receive to purchase coverage.
Arkansas lawmakers in the state’s Republican-controlled legislature last week endorsed a plan to accept federal Medicaid money under the Affordable Care Act, but to use the new money to buy private insurance for eligible residents.
The Obama administration and federal officials haven’t approved the Arkansas plan, but the outcome is sure to be closely watched in Tennessee.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam also has said he will not expand TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program. Haslam favors a model similar to the one proposed in Arkansas: the state would use federal funds to purchase private insurance for residents who can’t afford it. Ohio also is seeking permission from the Obama administration to pursue a similar option.
The TennCare expansion would have covered an estimated 140,000 of the state’s 1 million uninsured residents, the Associated Press reported. Haslam has said leveraging federal dollars to purchase private insurance will insure 175,000 state residents.
FedEx Corp. said today it won a $10.5 billion contract to provide domestic air transportation services for the U.S. Postal Service.
The Memphis-based shipping giant had previously warned that the contract could be transitioned to another provider, like rival UPS, and that the terms and conditions of the new arrangement could be “less favorable” than the current contract, which expires in September 2013. The new contract begins in October 2013.
FedEx will keep the Postal Service contract to provide airport-to-airport transportation of Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail for another seven years.
“Following a rigorous evaluation of technical aspects, pricing, and other factors in the proposals, the Postal Service determined that the FedEx proposal represented the best value,” the agency said in a prepared statement.
The new deal allows for service improvements, capacity flexibility and other operational benefits, the Postal Service said.