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Gov: Focus should be on premiums, not severance

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Gov: Focus should be on premiums, not severance

Gov. Deval Patrick has again declined to criticize Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts over a hefty severance payment to its former CEO, telling reporters his job isn’t “managing individual companies or individual compensations.”

Patrick did say during a sometimes testy exchange with reporters Friday that he isn’t condoning Blue Cross’ judgments. But he said he’s focusing on legislation to control spiraling premiums.

Patrick was questioned for a second day about the $11 million severance and compensation package for Cleve Killingsworth, who resigned from Blue Cross last March after five years as chief executive.

Republicans have taken Patrick to task for remaining silent on Killingsworth after his campaign last year criticized the $1.7 million salary his GOP challenger, Charles Baker, earned while CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

Official: Boston schools store expired food

A Boston city councilor says kitchens in some of the city’s public schools are storing food well beyond expiration and “use-by” dates.

Councilor John Connolly says a recent review of four school cafeterias found meat, cheese and other frozen foods with expiration and use-by dates that in some cases dated to 2009.

Connolly says he has filed a public records request for the school department to release all information related to “expired food inventory.” He says he’s concerned because for many students, the meals they get in school are their only meals of the day.

A spokesman for the schools says the district’s frozen food storage policies comply with federal guidelines that describe expiration and use-by dates as recommendations, not requirements. The spokesman says the food is still considered safe.

Kerry files bill aimed at helping Haitians into US

Sen. John Kerry co-sponsored a bill Thursday that would allow some Haitians to join family members in the U.S. and would help them gain permanent residency.

The Massachusetts Democrat, along with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, introduced the Haitian Emergency Life Protection Act, or HELP bill, after writing President Barack Obama in January with six other U.S. senators about those Haitians seeking to come to the United States.

Under the proposed bill, 35,000 Haitians with approved family-based petitions would join their families and work in the U.S. until they become eligible for permanent residency.

“I’ve heard tragic stories from many Haitians in Massachusetts who haven’t seen or heard from their loved ones for months and if bureaucracy is the only thing standing in the way then we need to fix it, end of story,” Kerry, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement. “Our legislation creates a commonsense process to reunite families as quickly as possible.”

Currently, some Haitians whose petitions have been granted would have to wait up to 11 years due to visa backlogs.

Mass. woman files $100M lawsuit against Cigna

An employee of Cigna Healthcare Inc. has filed a $100 million federal lawsuit claiming the health insurer engages in a widespread pattern of gender discrimination and harassment against women.

Contracting manager Bretta Karp of Shrewsbury says in the suit filed last week in Boston that the Philadelphia-based company favors male employees over women for promotions, pays men more, and tolerates harassment and intimidation of female employees.

Karp says she was denied promotions and raises and had her responsibilities reduced despite favorable performance reviews.

The suit also alleges that when female employees complain, the company does little or nothing. The suit seeks class action status.

Cigna says in a statement that it is committed to diversity and equal opportunity, prohibits any form of discrimination, and intends to defend itself.

Associated Press