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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:22 p.m., Wednesday, February 15, 2006

HMSA seeks 3.8 percent rate hike

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii Medical Service Association, the state's largest health insurer, is proposing a 3.8 percent rate increase for its preferred provider plan covering about 142,000 members working for almost 11,000 local small businesses.

The non-profit insurer also said it wants to hike rates 8.5 percent for its Health Plan Hawaii program covering 56,000 people.

HMSA is asking state Insurance Commissioner P.J. Schmidt to approve the rate requests so it can implement the changes on July 1.

Last year the insurer raised rates for the preferred provider program by 4.9 percent.

Wholesale gas price cap to drop 17 cents a gallon

Gasoline prices next week could fall 17 cents a gallon as Hawai'i's price cap forces wholesale prices down. However, since the caps don't set retail prices there's no guarantee prices will go down. Between Feb. 20 to 26 the maximum wholesale price for regular on O'ahu will be $1.78 a gallon, the Public Utilities Commission said yesterday. That excludes taxes and a retail mark-up.

Bill to repeal aquarium tax credits appears dead

A bill proposing to repeal $75 million in state tax credits for developers to build an aquarium at Ko Olina Resort & Marina appears dead after the state House Tourism & Culture Committee yesterday voted to hold the bill.

The vote to prevent the bill from advancing was unanimous from the nine-member committee. Two members expressed reservations, and one was excused from voting.

State reports rise in online renewal of professional licenses

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs said 2005 was its most successful yet year for the online renewal of professional licenses.

The department said 58 percent of the roughly 25,000 license renewals in areas such as dentistry, barbering and chiropractic were done online. That was more than double the number of licenses that were renewed online during the previous renewal cycle in 2003.

"The 2005 renewal statistics represent a breakthrough in the department's efforts to deliver services online," said Mark Recktenwald, DCCA director.