Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Monday became the latest Republican governor to announce support of the health-care law’s Medicaid expansion — and the third since Republicans gained more power at the state and federal levels in the November midterm elections.
Like most other Republican governors who want to take the Affordable Care Act’s generous federal funding, Haslam is offering a plan that deviates from the Medicaid expansion envisioned under the law. Haslam, who made the announcement almost a month after his reelection, said the Obama administration has verbally approved the approach.
“We think we have a plan in Tennessee that fits our citizens and also is an answer to budget challenges we’d face in the future,” Haslam said.
The Tennessee plan, which Haslam said will be debated by a special session of the state legislature, is a two-year waiver program with two tracks. It will offer vouchers to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level — or about $16,100 for an individual — to help purchase employer coverage they would otherwise struggle to afford. Other newly eligible individuals can sign up in health plans modeled after health reimbursement accounts, with people earning above the poverty level required to pay premiums and copays. Haslam’s administration did not immediately offer details about how those payments are structured.
Haslam joins Govs. Matt Mead of Wyoming and Gary R. Herbert of Utah in offering a Medicaid expansion plan in the month since midterms. Nine Republican governors have expanded Medicaid, while Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is negotiating with the government on leveraging an existing state program to expand coverage.
— Jason Millman
Nut rage imploded the career of a Korean Air Lines executive and embarrassed her family and country. Now South Korean retailers are experiencing the unexpected upside: a boom in sales of macadamias.
The flavorful macadamia nut was unfamiliar to many South Koreans until Cho Hyun-ah, the daughter of Korean Air’s chairman, ordered a flight attendant off a Dec. 5 flight in New York City after she was served them in a bag, instead of on a plate. Cho resigned last week amid a storm of criticism about the tantrum that forced the flight to return to the gate.
Auction, South Korea’s second-largest e-commerce Web site, said Monday that sales of macadamias surged nearly 12-fold during the previous five days without any promotions. It said macadamias previously made up 5 percent of its nut sales but were now accounting for almost half.
South Korea’s largest online shopping retailer, Gmarket, said macadamia nut sales jumped 20 times during the six days to Sunday compared with the previous week.
— Associated Press
● U.S. manufacturing output in November surpassed its pre-
recession peak. The Federal Reserve said factory production rose 1.1 percent last month, up from a 0.4 percent improvement in October. Manufacturing output has risen 4.8 percent over the past 12 months. It’s now above the previous high set just before the downturn began in December 2007. Total industrial production grew 1.3 percent in November.
● U.S. home builders are feeling slightly less confident in their sales prospects heading into next year. The National Association of Home Builders-Wells Fargo builder sentiment index slipped this month to 57, down one point from 58 in November. The index also found that sentiment had improved in the West and Northeast, but took a step back in the Midwest and South, which accounts for half of the new-home market.
● At least 42 people have died and 58 have been injured in crashes involving General Motors cars with defective ignition switches. Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer hired by GM to compensate victims, updated the totals Monday. Feinberg said he has received 251 death claims and 2,075 injury claims since August. The fund so far has deemed 100 claims eligible for compensation.
● A former account manager for Bernard L. Madoff was sentenced to six years in prison for her role in his epic multibillion-dollar fraud, ending a series of proceedings for five former employees that resulted in prison terms dramatically below what prosecutors sought. U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain announced the sentence for 53-year-old JoAnn Crupi, calling it “a justly harsh result for someone whose work was so integral to the unspeakable fraud perpetrated by Bernard Madoff.”
● A survey of Chinese factories said manufacturing activity contracted in December. HSBC’s preliminary purchasing managers’ index released Tuesday fell to a seven month low of 49.5 from 50 in November. Numbers above 50 indicate expansion. China’s economy expanded at a five-year low of 7.3 percent last quarter, below the official full-year target of 7.5 percent.
— From news services
● 8:30 a.m.: Housing starts for November
● Earnings: Darden Restaurants.