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Archive for July, 2009

Small Business, Big Deals: Healthcare’s bite on small business

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

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President Obama’s push for health care reform could have a big impact on small businesses. Today, our Small Business Big Deal series takes a look at how one health care provider juggles caring for her patients, while running a business and providing health care for her own employees.

A dentist’s office may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a small business, but Doctor Phyllis Cook said that is the best way to describe her practice.

“If you don’t run the practice as a business, you aren’t here to be able to take care of patients the same way you’d like to,” said Dr. Cook.

Like most small business owners, Cook said she provides a service or product that people need. “In the retail world, you call those people customers, in our world you call them patients; but it’s still the same thing that we want to give them patient care, good quality, customer service.”

Cook started her practice in Wilmington 10 years ago with only 4 employees. Since then, her practice has moved, and grown. Doctor Cook now has nine employees and, like most small business owners, she has felt the pinch of this recession.

“Sometimes my patients say, ‘doc is this economy affecting you?’ I say yeah, I don’t live in a bubble,” Cook added.

Employees like Jennifer Patterson had their hours cut from 40 hours a week to 38. “For all of us it was just better to get a few hours cut then to have one person be lost,” she said.

And they are learning how to work in both the front and the back of the office. “Well it helps a lot because I’ve worked with insurances before, I’ve worked with financial aspects so if patients ask me I can answer general questions,” said Patterson.

As a health care provider, Cook must deal with insurance from her patients. “It only allows them a thousand dollars coverage for the year and the majority of those services are for preventive care.”

And for her employees, Cook said, “When I first started, smaller in number of employees, I was able to offer them the benefit that I paid for 100% of their health coverage.”

But with more employees, and rising costs for health care and insurance, Cook has been forced to look for alternatives, and she’s not alone. According to the US Public Interest Research Group more than half of the 46 million uninsured Americans are small business owners, employees and their dependents.

To help get through the recession Doctor Cook has set up what she calls a study group with other dental professionals. She said speaking with other members of the industry helps her find new ways to bite down during the tough economic times.

“Study club allows us to rely on each other. Our opening meeting is how to recession proof your practice. When you can work together like that once again: win, win,” Cook said.

As part of President Obama’s proposal for health care reform, small businesses would receive a tax credit for providing quality employee health care. However, small businesses that don’t provide health care at all would be subject to some hefty fines.

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videoPresident Obama’s push for health care reform could have a big impact on small businesses. Today, our Small Business Big Deal series takes a look at how one health care provider juggles caring for her patients…

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Associated poll

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Marino on Money: July 28

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

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As we approach the end of the summer, the discounts are here, and there should be even more once school starts.

Recently, I have heard the term “stay-cation”. That is where you take a vacation, but stay home. Look around. There is plenty to do in our region, including a new theme park in Myrtle Beach called the Freestyle Music Park. I recently went with my family and it was wonderful. If you want to stay in town, try changing some of your normal habits to give yourself the feel of vacation.

What don’t you normally do when on vacation? Do you check your answering machine at home? Do you watch a lot of TV? Do you surf the internet of check your email during a normal day of vacation? If not, then take a vacation from these activities. Turn off the ringer on the phone, hide the remote control, and don’t turn on your computer. This will provide some of the mental break we experience when on vacation.

If want to travel somewhere, there are many ways to save money. I will discuss some of those Wednesday.

If you have a financial question for Ross, you can use the Marino on Money page.

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videoHave you been dying for a summer getaway, but don’t have the cash? In this week’s Marino on Money, Ross has some tips for fun in the sun, on the cheap.

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RC Soles sees state budget go “back to square one”

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

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There is still no state budget as lawmakers are “back to square one” in the words of Senator RC Soles.

Soles said the process had to start over after Governor Bev Perdue “strongly hinted” she would veto the tax plan the House and Senate were working on.

Soles said Tuesday it may take all three sides, the House, Senate and Governor, sitting down in one room to reach a compromise. “She can be a hardliner in the sense that she can veto whatever we send over there, but she can’t enact any legislation that we don’t send,” he said. “You have to get the House and the Senate and the governor together to ever be successful. So it depends on whether they all want to work together or not.”

Despite the differences among the sides involved in the budget debate, Soles said he still think it can be resolved within a couple of weeks.

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There is still no state budget as lawmakers are “back to square one” in the words of Senator RC Soles.

Soles said the process had to start over after Governor Bev Perdue “strongly hinted”…

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Associated poll

More: continued here

N.C. Senate panel denies Boseman’s bill to stop Titan cement plant

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

RALEIGH | A North Carolina state senator responding to constituent fears that a proposed cement plant would pump pollution into the coastal air and water has failed again to derail the project.

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NC town board approves contract for deputies

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

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SPRING LAKE, N.C. — The board of alderman in a North Carolina town has approved a contract to allow county deputies to patrol the town in a vote that drew more attention because it occurred after a slaying.

The Fayetteville Observer reported Tuesday that the Spring Lake board drew applause from people at the meeting after it unanimously approved a contract with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

Some deputies have handled law enforcement duties for the town since May, when a judge effectively stripped the police department of its remaining powers. That came after two officers were indicted and the police chief resigned.

On Sunday, 66-year-old Ranesh Rai was shot and killed at the Donut Connection where he worked as his sister and a customer watched. Authorities have identified three men wanted in the robbery and shooting.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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The board of alderman in a North Carolina town has approved a contract to allow county deputies to patrol the town in a vote that drew more attention because it occurred after a slaying.

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Associated poll

More: continued here

 

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