Price Adjustments

Price Adjustments

Local legislators are asking state insurance regulators to investigate a health insurance company doing business in Knox County. Local druggists call the health insurance companies when they fill a prescription. They agree on a price. The prescription is filled and the company then pays the drug store.

The health insurance company in question has been calling local druggists to say the prices of past prescriptions have been "adjusted" and they will pay less than the agreed price going back the last year. One local druggist told legislators they have hit him for $20,000.

The druggists say an after-the-fact change in the agreed price is a violation of state law. They have complained to the state without result but hope legislators can get results.

Protest Vote

In order to get all 50 Republicans to vote to take over the state House, Soon-to-be Speaker Jason Mumpower had to get seven Republican members who have voted for Democratic Speaker Jimmy Naifeh in the past to vote with the rest of the Republicans. One defection would give Naifeh the speaker's chair again, even though Republicans have a one-vote advantage in numbers.

The key player was former Minority Leader Steve McDaniel, who has been a Naifeh ally in the past. Indeed, he was the Republican co-sponsor of Naifeh's infamous state income tax bill in 2002. McDaniel brought the dissidents to Mumpower and ran for Speaker Pro Tem, the second most important leadership post. This rankled a lot of conservatives who have consistently voted against Naifeh and who could imagine opponents running against them for voting for the sponsor of the income tax.

This prompted state Rep. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains to challenge McDaniel at a caucus meeting on Monday. McDaniel won the vote, the members worried that blowing up the deal would prevent Mumpower being elected Speaker. But Niceley opened the door for conservatives to protest, which did not endear him to the Republican leadership. The Republicans will put up their slate for an official vote at an organizational meeting of the House in January with Mumpower and McDaniel expected to take control.

More Recession Woes

Former Knoxville publishing magnate Chris Whittle made the Wall Street Journal last week—not for another hyper-ambitious scheme to launch a television network, open a national chain of schools, or privatize the State Department. Like a lot of us, it turns out, he's downsizing. He apparently decided he didn't need every one of the 11 acres of his waterfront estate in East Hampton, and is willing to let go a 3.7 acre chunk of it for $27 million. The property includes what had been a four-bedroom, four-bath guest house designed by once-trendy New York architect Peter Marino.

Whittle, who used to live in a log cabin near Vestal, tried to sell the whole Hamptons thing six years ago for $45 million, the article points out, but then he discounted it to $36 million. When it didn't sell after that, he apparently said to hell with it, and kept his estate. Now 61, he apparently still lives with his Italian-born wife, Priscilla, and two daughters. Whittle's main post-Knoxville project has been Edison Schools, which was never quite as big a deal as the revolutionary new high-tech public-private national school network promised when he launched it here in 1992. Now known as EdisonLearning (do they teach their elementary-school kids that they sometimes need to separate words with a space?), they do operate 120 public schools around the country.

The article mentioned that Whittle was no longer affiliated with Edison, which was news to us—and that he was "based in Knoxville, Tenn." Anybody seen a fellow with artfully rumpled hair and a bow tie hanging around downtown lately?