OPERATIONS

NRF exec chairs new benefits coalition

BY Dan Berthiaume

Washington, D.C. – A broad-based group of organizations including large and small employers, pharmacy benefit managers, providers, health benefits advisers and health plans from across the country have launched the Affordable Health Benefits Coalition (AHBC). The Coalition’s main priority is advancing policy ideas that it says will help people obtain more affordable health coverage.

The newly-formed AHBC is chaired by National Retail Federation (NRF) VP and employee benefits policy counsel Neil Trautwein and directed by Stacey Rampy, a principal at Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti. The Coalition is advancing a number of policy priorities including:

  • Balancing the often competing priorities of affordability and benefit design in future consideration of essential health benefits;
  • Ensuring flexibility for employers and health plans in benefit package designs including high value provider networks and cost-sharing; and
  • Adopting additional means to promote continuous coverage.

“The Affordable Health Benefits Coalition seeks to focus the health care debate on the affordability of health care coverage,” Trautwein said. “The AHBC will promote regulations and non-partisan policies that improve the affordability of coverage and care.”

The Coalition includes a wide variety of members including: NRF, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW), National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), American Rental Association (ARA), Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC), National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR), Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), American Supply Association (ASA) and the Council for Affordable Health Coverage (CAHC).

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REAL ESTATE

Report: Developer says West Monroe, La., will get shopping center

BY Dan Berthiaume

West Monroe, La. – Real estate developer Gerard Thibodeaux reportedly said that he expects West Monroe, La. to have a long-planned retail shopping center built in the next several years. According to the Monroe News Star, Thibodeaux said a study shows the West Monroe/Monroe trade region, which includes parts of Arkansas and Mississippi, offers 300,000 consumers.

The city of West Monroe reportedly has a list of potential retailers for an anchor store and would prefer a department store/apparel retailer as the anchor. It is estimated the center would generate $100 million in annual retail sales and contribute $2.5 million to the city budget each year.

West Monroe has about 500,000 sq. ft. of retail space available, which Thibodeaux said would require the center to be constructed in several phases. The center would also include a lifestyle center offering non-shopping activities.

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News

Staples woos business owners with new point-of-sale system

BY CSA STAFF

Staples now carries Square Stand, hardware developed by Square that helps brick and mortar businesses turn an iPad into a complete point of sale, at stores and online.

Business owners will be able to process test payments using Square Stand and Square Register, Square’s free point-of-sale software, at many Staples locations. Businesses that purchase a Square Stand from Staples in November will receive a free $200 Staples gift card.

"Business owners trust Staples when it comes to finding great products that help them run and grow their business," said Square hardware lead Jesse Dorogusker. "With Square Stand in Staples, we are making it even easier for merchants to replace their old point-of-sale systems with fast, beautiful and easy-to-use hardware from Square."

Square Readers are sold in more than 30,000 stores nationwide including at Apple, Best Buy, Staples and Starbucks, as well as in more than 10,000 stores in Canada and Japan.

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