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Mass. settles with insurer in premium dispute

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 Mass. settles with insurer in premium dispute

Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration has reached an agreement with the state’s largest private health care insurer on premium increases the insurer can charge small businesses and individuals.

The Massachusetts Division of Insurance agreed that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts can increase its rates from .4 percent to 12.9 percent.

On April 1, the Division of Insurance rejected 235 of 274 rate changes filed by the state’s health insurers, saying they were excessive. Some of the insurers appealed the decision.

The original rate increases Blue Cross requested ranged from 9.3 to 22.6 percent. The settlement is not retroactive, so it will not affect the lower rates paid since April 1.

Blue Cross says the settlement ends months of uncertainty and confusion for customers. The insurer said the new rates will go into effect Sept. 1.

 Cahill: Mass. Lottery ended fiscal year up $44M

Casino gambling may be dead for the year, but the Massachusetts Lottery is seeing an uptick in demand.

State Treasurer Timothy Cahill said the lottery posted a $903 million profit for the 2010 fiscal year that ended June 30.

That’s a 5 percent or $44 million increase over the 2009 fiscal year.

Cahill said the 2010 profits exceeded initial projections for the year by nearly $90 million. He credited the jump in part to the introduction of new games and a decrease in spending at the agency.

Those new games included Powerball and a $10 instant ticket. The state also added dozens of new KENO agents.

The lottery posted profits of just $859 million in the 2009 fiscal year.

All lottery profits are returned as state aid to cities and towns.

 Shaq back in market – for new nickname

Now that he’s signed with the Boston Celtics, Shaquille O’Neal is looking for a nickname that will fit in with his new city.

The Celtics’ website trumpeted the signing of “The Big Shamrock” this week, when O’Neal signed a deal that will reportedly pay him the veterans’ minimum over the next two seasons.

O’Neal wrote on Twitter: “hello green town. ok what u got 4 nicknames? make um good.”

In a variety of online polls, “The Big Shamrock” and “The Big Leprechaun” are leading the way along with “The Green Monster.” Also receiving votes: “The Jolly Green Giant,” “The Shamroq,” “Red Auershaq,” “Shaqachusetts” and “Tip-in O’Neal.”

No word yet from O’Neal on whether he has a preference.

O’Neal has been known as “Shaq-Daddy,” “The Big Shaqtus” in Phoenix and “The Big Witness” in Cleveland.