Day: August 12, 2016

The wails of August: Humana and Aetna bit by surprise consumer focus on price

The unexpectedly close attention consumers are paying to prices on marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act is contributing to millions of losses at Humana and merger partner Aetna, leading both insurance giants to retreat as fewer healthy people than forecast have signed up, according to a new story by The New York Times.

The result: Louisville-based Humana said it plans to largely exit the marketplaces, reducing coverage to no more than 156 counties in 2017 vs. 1,351 today.

Mark Bertolini
Bertolini

Aetna of Hartford expects a loss of more than $300 million in Affordable Care Act business this year; it previously said it was a break-even operation. And it told investors in its second-quarter financial report that it’s halted plans to enter more states. “We are evaluating our footprint as it exists today to understand what solutions we can put forward to either fix the business or exit the business,” CEO Mark Bertolini told Wall Street analysts.

Louisville oral surgeon dies regretting his mother denied him a career as a professional wrestler

Grave stones detailThat’s one reading of this week’s Voice-Tribune obituaries, where Dr. W. Ronald “Ron” Harris‘ sendoff takes pains to note that Harris wrestled so well on his high school team, he won a wrestling scholarship to an unidentified Florida university. But! “His mother didn’t tell him he was accepted there until later,” the obit says. “She wanted more for her son.”

He wound up at the University of Louisville, according to the society news weekly. Harris died Aug. 5.

CJ owner Gannett files suit to get court records on Donald Trump’s divorce from Ivana to see if she accused him of rape

Joined by The New York Times, Gannett Co. argues in papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court today that the rape allegation — which Trump has denied — is of public interest in the GOP presidential campaign of the twice-divorced and thrice-married New York billionaire, according to the New York Daily News.

The filing notes that a 1993 biography of Trump reported that Ivana Trump — his first wife — told friends her husband had “raped” her in 1989 during a fit of rage. Trump and the former  Czech model Ivana Zelníčková married in 1977 and divorced 14 years later in 1991. By 1995, they’d patched things up enough to star in a Pizza Hut commercial where they joked about their divorce settlement:

Gannett bought The Courier-Journal from the Bingham family in July 1986 for $300 million. With the CJ and USA Today, Gannett now owns 110 dailies across the U.S. and the U.K. Adjusted for inflation, $300 million would be equivalent to $660 million in today’s dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.

Photo, top: While that photograph is undated, Ivana Trump’s hair screams 1980s; more hairstyles from that era.

Soft and creamy: This master’s description of a special bourbon hitting stores next month sounds like classic food porn

“It starts off as soft butterscotch with candied orange peel. It transitions into a creamy vanilla in the middle and finishes with subtle anise and moderate spice. It’s like eating black jelly beans in the middle of an orange grove.”

— Jackie Zykan, Old Forester master bourbon specialist, describing the 2016 Birthday Bourbon commemorating Brown-Forman founder George Garvin Brown‘s birth going on sale next month.

Here are his additional notes: color, deep reddish umber; nose, complex and cinnamon, wood-spiced with nutty chocolate, dark caramel and rich oak notes all brightened with a dash of crisp citrus fruit; taste, mulled spice sweetness and fruity with bright citrus peel highlights; finish, long and warm with mulled fruit character lingering on.

(Ironically in a Sam Malone of “Cheers” way, Boulevard Publisher Jim Hopkins doesn’t drink alcohol.)

KFC is bubbling over with ideas — a gravy fountain, for one; 170 years later, there’s more to toast than ever Sept. 2; and Haier and GE Appliances union prep for contract talks

A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 12:29 p.m.

KFC sent fans into a food frenzy when its official U.K. and Ireland Twitter account tweeted a photo of its latest invention: the “Gravy fountain of dreams.” Employees at the fast food giant said the fountain is “only at head office for now,” but they’re reportedly trying it out in stores across the Kingdom. No word on whether it will make it across the gravy pond (Mirror). Reaction approached crack-addict levels:

BROWN-FORMAN: This year’s annual batch of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon celebrating founder George Garvin Brown‘s Sept. 2 birth is bigger than usual — 14,400 bottles total, about 1,000 more than last year. Woodford Reserve master distiller Chris Morris, who set aside this year’s batch way back on June 4, 2004, isn’t sure why it’s so much more plentiful. “[It] could be the result of many factors,” he says, “such as the cooperage [barrel and cask makers] made some extra tight barrels that day or we had a lot of slow growth oak in the barrels.” Birthday Bourbon is bottled at 97 proof and has a retail price of $79.99 — $1.2 million if you could somehow round up all of it at once (Men’s Journal).

Birthday Bourbon
Available next month.

How’s it taste? Imagine the food equivalent of a porno movie.

Bottled in a decanter-style glass, the commemorative whiskey was initially launched 15 years ago. “In 2002, when we first introduced Birthday Bourbon, the market for premium Bourbons was almost nonexistent; Birthday Bourbon represented a ‘first’ in this category,” Morris said in a press release. “But 15 years later, global interest for premium Bourbons and well-crafted whiskeys is at a record high.” Each barrel in the Birthday Bourbon selection is drawn from the same day of production; 2016’s totals 93 barrels. It goes on sale nationwide starting next month (press release).

George Garvin Brown
Brown

Brown was born in Munfordville, Ky., on Sept. 2, 1846 — coming up on 170 years ago — and moved to Louisville in 1862, where he attended Male High School. He worked as a pharmaceuticals salesman until starting the company in 1870 with the original Old Forester brand, when he was 24. Brown married Amelia Bryant Owsley in 1876, and they had two children, Owsley and Robinson. George died in 1917 and is buried in Cave Hill Cemetery (Explore Kentucky History).

PIZZA HUT: VentureBeat says Domino’s has beat Pizza Hut to launch a Facebook Messenger bot, but it could be smarter (Venture Beat).

HAIER says the wages of about 4,000 union-represented Appliance Park workers “are not in line with market realities,” as the Chinese conglomerate and labor leaders get ready for next week’s contract talks. They will be the first since China’s Haier bought GE Appliances in June for $5.6 billion (WDRB and Business First).

AMAZON is opening a distribution center in Etna, N.J., on Sept. 14, and has already taken nearly 2,000 applications for a planned 1,500 jobs there. Company officials have said the center could eventually employ 3,000 during peak periods. Construction on the 855,000 square-foot, four-floor center started in mid-2015 (Newark Advocate here and here). Amazon employs 6,000 workers at distribution centers in Jeffersonville and Sherphardsville; more about its Louisville-area operations.