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EXCHANGing Views blog delivers news and expert analysis of developments in federal and state-based health insurance exchanges, including updates on policy, regulation and litigation

To keep businesses and policymakers abreast of a rapidly evolving, new area of health policy and law, McKenna Long & Aldridge has launched a new blog, EXCHANGing Views: MLA Health Vision. Updated regularly with commentary and analysis from members of the firm’s leading Health Insurance Exchange Team, EXCHANGing Views will examine developments in legislation, regulation, litigation and breaking news in the growing world of America’s health insurance exchanges.

This new blog is directed at a wide audience of readers eager to make sense of the shifting rules and active litigation environment impacting the country’s health insurance exchanges, including health care providers, insurance carriers and brokers; government service providers, Medicaid contractors and program managers; pharmaceutical companies; technology companies; federal and state policymakers; as well as those who work within state and federal health insurance marketplaces and private exchanges. EXCHANGing Views will highlight the legal, regulatory, financial and political issues affecting exchanges today and driving the changes in how they will operate going forward.

The shift of power following the recent midterm elections, granting Republican control of Congress, portends new challenges to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), both legislative and investigatory. Compounding the uncertainty troubling those operating in the ACA exchange business environment is the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case concerning whether federal tax credits are available to those who live in states where exchanges have not been established by the state but are instead run by the federal government.  The Court’s acceptance of King v. Burwell, coupled with the possibility that it could rule against the Administration, prompted the Washington Post to opine that “Obamacare risks falling into a ‘death spiral.’”

“We feel our new blog is especially timely with Open Enrollment in the exchanges starting this Saturday, November 15,” said Cindy Gillespie, senior managing director and leader of McKenna Long’s Health Insurance Exchange Team. “In the years since the ACA was signed into law, McKenna Long has developed a unique cross-practice collaboration between our policy and legal professionals helping companies and organizations navigate the new realities of health care and insurance options.”

Initial postings by EXCHANGing Views include:

  • Mapping Exchanges:  The 2015 Picture

An overview of policy and politics by Ms. Gillespie and analyst Camden Miller highlighting issues facing states as they prepare for the start of Open Enrollment. Color-coded maps illustrate some of the challenges, responses and options emanating from various regions of the country as the new Marketplace Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Counihan, aims to avoid the disaster that rocked the 2013 rollout.

  • Litigation

This two-part series covers litigation around the nation that concerns the ACA.

Part One covers challenges to the law itself, particularly the issue of what constitutes an exchange established by a state. On July 22, in an unprecedented twist, the decisions in Halbig v. Burwell (D.C. Cir.) and King v. Burwell (4th Cir.) were issued on the same day, just hours apart, with the two courts reaching the exact opposite conclusion to the same essential question.

In Part Two, Joanne Zimolzak, who leads McKenna Long’s Washington-based Insurance Litigation Section and is the firm’s Washington office managing partner, looks at challenges to exchange operation as they affect health care consumers and other stakeholders.

  • State of the States

Each Friday we will  post “Health Insurance Exchange Developments: State of the States” issued by McKenna Long’s Public Policy practice. This week  will cover developments of the last four weeks.

“We are proud to be the first team in the nation of this nature and we plan to provide clear and concise information to help our readers understand these changes and their practical impacts through this blog,” said Ms. Gillespie.

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Duo glide around world’s largest fountain in Dubai



Duo glide around world's largest fountain in Dubai 1

Paragliders Llorens and Goberna take magical flight above the Palm Fountain.

Horacio Llorens and Rafael Goberna defied gravity to perform The Breaking Pointe flight around the world’s biggest fountain at The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. Here is all you need to know:

– Spaniard Llorens is a five-time world champion and Infinity Tumbling Guinness World Record holder, who has performed a series of spectacular projects during the last five years including paragliding with a flock of starlings and with the beautiful Aurora Borealis as a backdrop.

– Brazilian Goberna was a Guinness Book of World Records winner at only 12-years-old and, in December 2016, he took to the skies above one of the seven wonders of the natural world when paragliding at Iguazu Falls.

– This time around, the duo teamed up in Dubai to showcase The Palm Fountain at the Pointe, Palm Jumeirah. They overcame a tricky preparation period to expertly glide between the fountain’s powerful jets of water.

– Spanning across the boulevard, the Palm Fountain features two giant floating platforms covering 14,000 square metres of sea water. Reaching an impressive 105 metres high and lighting up the Dubai sky with 3,000 LED lights, the fountain “dances” to hit songs from sunset until midnight.

– They undertook training first at Paramotor Desert Adventure on January 12 to test out their brakes and motors with technician Ramon Lopez finally arriving after being held up by the heavy snow in Madrid.

– Training was crucial for the challenge of flying during the night with low visibility as safety director Alan Gayton ensured they had a reserve parachute in case of a technical issue with the main parachute. Llorens and Goberna also had to study the movement of the water with great precision in order not to get caught up in the jets of water

– Flying over water, it was also mandatory to have a lifejacket with rescue boats, jet skis and divers on hand which came handy when Goberna suffered a technical malfunction on the first January 14 practice run.

– After repairs long into the night, they returned to Paramotor Desert Adventure to test out the motors again before completing the stunning flight on January 15 with Llorens and Goberna performing in harmony.

– Llorens, 38, revealed: “As soon as we got the opportunity, we wanted to fly there. We needed to know the area really well beforehand and we needed to know how to ‘play’ with the fountain – this was new for us. Such strong streams of water shooting 100 metres up is a lot, so we had to be really prepared.”

– Goberna, 26, explained: “The motor wasn’t flying so good because, prior to arriving in Dubai, it was last used in Europe at high altitude. I needed to adjust the carburettor in the air inside the motor. In the first practice flight over the water, I broke one propeller. I really couldn’t understand what was happening and then another one broke. Eventually, a backup motor was required. After a long journey, the final result was beautiful! The team worked incredibly hard to make it.”

– Llorens added: “The highlight for me was playing between the super shooters with Rafael, because it’s something we’ve never done before; it felt really new and really powerful.”

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EU sets itself jobs, training and equality targets for 2030



EU sets itself jobs, training and equality targets for 2030 2

By Jan Strupczewski

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission on Thursday announced goals for the 27-nation bloc to reduce poverty, inequality and boost training and jobs by 2030 as part of a post-pandemic economic overhaul financed by jointly borrowed funds.

The EU executive arm said the European Union should boost employment to 78% in 2030 from 73% in 2019, halve the gap between the number of employed women and men and cut the number of young people neither working nor studying to 9% from 12.6%

“With unemployment and inequalities expected to increase as a fallout of the pandemic, focusing our policy efforts on quality job creation, up- and reskilling and reducing poverty and exclusion is therefore essential to channel our resources where they are most needed,” the commission said.

The goals, which will have to be endorsed by EU leaders, also include an increase in the number of adults getting training every year to adapt to the EU’s transition to a greener and more digitalised economy to 60% from 40% now.

Finally, over the next 10 years, the EU should reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by 15 million from 91 million in 2019.

“These three 2030 headline targets are deemed ambitious and realistic at the same time,” the commission said.

The goals are part of the EU’s set of 20 social rights, agreed on in 2017, to make the EU more appealing to voters and counter eurosceptic sentiment across the bloc.

They say everybody has the right to quality education throughout their lives and that men and women must have equal opportunities in all areas and be paid the same for work of equal value.

The unemployed have the right to “personalised, continuous and consistent support”, while workers have the right “to fair wages that provide for a decent standard of living”.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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UK aero-engineer Meggitt eyes return to growth after pandemic slump



UK aero-engineer Meggitt eyes return to growth after pandemic slump 3

LONDON (Reuters) – British engineer Meggitt said that it could return to profit growth in 2021 provided there are no further lockdowns, despite a weakening in the struggling aviation market at the end of 2020 and early this year.

Pandemic restrictions halted much flying globally last year and forced plane makers Boeing and Airbus to cut production rates, dragging down suppliers like Meggitt, which makes and services parts for such aircraft.

Meggitt’s underlying operating profit plunged by 53% to 191 million pounds ($267 million) in 2020, it said on Thursday, despite continued growth in its defence business which makes parts for military jets and accounts for about 45% of the business.

Meggitt, however, said it expected air traffic to recover in the second half of the year which would help it return to profit growth over the year, although its guidance for flat revenue disappointed analysts who had expected growth of 6%.

Meggitt’s Chief Executive Tony Wood said in November that he had expected flying to start to recover by Easter, but new variants have led to more restrictions and delayed the recovery.

“It has gone back a couple of months… it’s now very much in the summer,” Wood said of the recovery in an interview on Thursday.

Further in the future, Meggitt is positioning itself for the move to lower emissions flying, and its sensors and electric motors will be used on electric urban air mobility platforms, such as flying taxis, and in hybrid aeroplanes being developed.

But Meggitt said new tax breaks announced in Britain’s annual budget on Wednesday aimed at encouraging investment would not change its plans.

“Yes, it will be a benefit. Are we looking at any acceleration as a result specifically of that? Not really,” Woods said.

Shares in Meggitt were down 1% to 427 pence at 0943 GMT. The stock has risen by 50% since news of a COVID-19 vaccine last November, but is still down 23% on where it was pre-pandemic.

($1 = 0.7165 pounds)

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Alistair Smout and Susan Fenton)

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