In the Region Md. insurance chief upholds fine against...

BUSINESS DIGEST

May 17, 2001

In the Region

Md. insurance chief upholds fine against HMO for denying care

Maryland Insurance Commissioner Steven B. Larsen yesterday upheld his agency's largest fine against an HMO for denying medically necessary care - $125,000 imposed against Connecticut General Life Insurance. The fine, imposed in July, came after the insurer denied coverage for additional inpatient rehabilitation for a patient who had received skull surgery.

According to Larsen's ruling, Connecticut General challenged the law under which the Maryland Insurance Administration hears patient appeals over whether care is medically necessary, and has the medical file reviewed by independent doctors. Larsen ruled that federal law did not prevent Maryland from setting up the review system.

Larsen said Connecticut General has indicated it would appeal the ruling in court. There have been court tests of similar review systems in Texas and Illinois, producing contradictory rulings which may eventually be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the insurance administration.

Connecticut General officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

3 city cleaning companies to let 400 janitors unionize

Three of Baltimore's largest commercial cleaning contractors have agreed to allow about 400 Baltimore janitors to unionize, union officials said yesterday.

The agreement with My Cleaning Service Inc., United States Services Industries and Initial Contract Services will recognize the Service Employees International Union at various downtown buildings if a majority of the janitors who clean those offices fill out union cards.

The janitors, who had walked off the job to protest bad working conditions, are hoping the agreement paves the way to later negotiate for full-time hours and better wages and health benefits.

PSINet to forgo quarterly dividend

PSINet Inc., an Internet-service provider whose shares have fallen 99 percent in the past year, said it won't pay a quarterly dividend as it considers filing for bankruptcy or finding a buyer.

Its board did not declare a dividend yesterday on its Series D preferred shares, the company said in a statement.

PSINet, the company name on the Baltimore Ravens' stadium, said it is continuing to consider alternatives, including a bankruptcy reorganization, a sale or restructuring payments due bondholders and other creditors.

Antex Biologics loss grows to $1.6 million

Antex Biologics Inc. reported yesterday that its first-quarter net loss widened to $1.6 million from $1.2 million in the year-ago period as revenue fell and expenses increased.

But the Gaithersburg-based developer of vaccines said its per-share loss, spread out over significantly more shares than in the year-ago quarter, remained at 20 cents. The company had a weighted average of more than 11 million common shares outstanding in the first quarter, compared with 6.6 million in the 2000 first quarter.

Revenue was $47,865, compared with $129,763 in the year-ago quarter. Research and development costs grew to $1.1 million from $1 million a year ago, and general and administrative expenses rose to $630,994 from $433,198.

MICROS Systems lands 6 contracts

MICROS Systems Inc., a developer of high-tech, point-of-purchase computer systems, said yesterday that it has landed contracts with several well-known restaurants and hotels for its products. Amounts were not disclosed.

The Columbia-based company will install a system in Charlie Trotter's restaurants in the Chicago area. The Wine Spectator magazine recently named Trotter's the best restaurant in the country.

MICROS also will install its systems in Boston's Bull & Finch Pub - the inspiration for the hit TV series "Cheers" and now a Boston tourist attraction; two sister establishments, The Hampshire House and 75 Chestnut; and Paradise Island Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, and has a renewed contract with Panera, Inc., which operates 282 bakery-cafes.

Group 1 Software's profit rises 19% to 53 cents a share

Group 1 Software of Lanham yesterday reported a 19 percent gain in net income for the fourth quarter of 2001.

The company reported net income for the quarter of $3.7 million, or 53 cents a share, on revenue of $27 million. That compared with net income a year earlier of $3.1 million, or 45 cents a share, on total revenue of $25.5 million.

For the fiscal year, net income increased 42 percent to a record $8.8 million, or $1.28 per share, compared with $6.2 million or $1 per share in 2000. Group 1 reported a 14-percent increase in total revenue to $93.3 million, up from $81.8 million in 2000.

Southwest to extend flights to mystery city

Southwest Airlines Chairman and Chief Executive Herbert D. Kelleher said yesterday that carrier will expand service to a new city this fall.

He declined to identify the city, other than to say it is east of the Mississippi River - cities lobby furiously for Southwest service, hoping it will bring lower fares. An announcement should come within a week, Kelleher said.

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