Members named to commission studying health pricing variations


Members named to commission studying health pricing variations

A number of hospital executives and public officials will serve on a new special commission to study the variation in prices at Massachusetts health care providers. The 23-member body was established as part of a deal reached in May to avoid a controversial ballot question that would have reduced health insurance payments to the state’s largest hospital network, Partners HealthCare, and given some of that money to lower-paid competitors. The Service Employees International Union, Local 1199, agreed to pull the ballot question after Governor Charlie Baker and House and Senate leaders agreed to support new funding for community hospitals and establish a commission to study price disparities. Big teaching hospitals in Massachusetts, such as those owned by Partners, often get paid more than community hospitals for providing similar services, according to several reports. Partners’ chief executive, Dr. David Torchiana, will sit on the commission, as will Kate Walsh, chief executive of Boston Medical Center; Dr. Howard Grant, chief of Lahey Health; John Fernandez, chief of Massachusetts Eye and Ear; and Mark Goldstein, chief of Anna Jacques Hospital. Attorney General Maura Healey and Baker’s secretaries of administration and finance and health and human services will sit on the commission or appoint designees. Stuart Altman, a health economist at Brandeis University who also chairs the state’s Health Policy Commission, an agency that monitors health spending, will have a seat. Insurers, employers, and the SEIU also will be represented. The commission will be chaired by state Senator James Welch and state Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, who also cochair the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. — PRIYANKA DAYAL MCCLUSKEY


Volkswagen buys stake in truck maker

Volkswagen will buy a stake in Navistar International Corp. to gain a foothold in the US heavy-truck market, taking a gamble on a struggling US manufacturer as the German company still grapples with the fallout from the emissions cheating scandal. Navistar shares soared as much as 67 percent. VW will pay $256 million for a 16.6 percent holding and assume two board seats as part of a deal that includes technology sharing and joint purchasing, the companies said Tuesday. The automaker will pay $15.76 a share, 12 percent more than Navistar’s most recent close. The holding, which VW said it may increase later, puts it on par with the largest shareholders, activist investors Carl Icahn and Mark Rachesky. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Women ask for raises, they just don’t get them as often as men

One common theory to explain the pay gap between men and women assigns blame to women themselves: Maybe they just are not asking for raises. But a study of Australian women has found that they were asking for salary increases as much as their male colleagues — men were just more likely to actually get one. The study, released this week by the Cass Business School in London, the University of Warwick, and the University of Wisconsin found that when comparing men and women who work similar hours, men got a raise 20 percent of the time they asked, compared with 16 percent for women. About 70 percent of men and women in the sample said they had asked for a raise. — NEW YORK TIMES



US services companies grow at slow pace

US services companies grew last month at the slowest pace in more than six years, a private survey finds. The Institute for Supply Management said Tuesday that its services index fell to 51.4 last month from 55.5 in July. The August reading was the lowest since February 2010, and last month’s 4.1-point drop was the biggest since November 2008 when the US economy was in a recession. Still, anything above 50 signals growth, and services firms have now expanded for 79 straight months. New orders and hiring grew more slowly in August. Export orders fell. Eleven services industries reported growth in August; seven, including retailing, contracted.



Goldman Sachs bans partners from contributing to state, local candidates

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has banned all of its partners from making campaign contributions to state and local candidates running for office, as well as state or local officials running for federal office. As of Sept. 1, every partner is considered a “restricted person” prohibited from engaging in political activities or making campaign gifts to those candidates or officials, according to an Aug. 29 internal memo sent to partners. “The policy change is meant to prevent inadvertently violating pay-to-play rules, particularly the look-back provision, when partners transition into roles covered by these rules,” the New York-based firm said in the memo, reported earlier Tuesday by Politico. The Securities and Exchange Commission enacted the pay-to-play rule in 2010 after a series of scandals involving money managers accused of trying to improperly influence state officials to win investment-management business. Some of that influence included arranging political contributions. This year, the rule extends to the presidential race since Republican nominee Donald Trump chose Indiana Governor Mike Pence, a sitting state official, as his running mate.



Bayer ups bid for Monsanto

Bayer sweetened its takeover bid for Monsanto to $56 billion, raising its offer for a second time in its pursuit to become the world’s largest producer of seeds and pesticides. Monsanto responded that it’s evaluating the Bayer offer as well as proposals from other parties and strategic alternatives. Bayer would be prepared to pay $127.50 a share if the two sides can reach an accord, the Leverkusen, Germany-based company said late on Monday in a statement. The new offer is 2 percent more than Bayer’s previous bid and 19 percent above St. Louis-based Monsanto’s last closing price. There’s no assurance an agreement will be reached, Bayer said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


PayPal and MasterCard reach a deal

PayPal Holdings Inc. and MasterCard Inc. will end years of squabbling between the companies with an agreement announced Tuesday to give PayPal lower fees and more reach in stores, while increasing MasterCard’s online payments volume and helping its mobile-payments initiative. The deal, announced Tuesday, is another step toward resolving PayPal’s sometimes-strained relationship with credit card giants, as the two sides have fought for control over online and in-store transactions. It’s similar to an agreement PayPal inked with Visa Inc. in July that sent PayPal shares tumbling nearly 10 percent as investors worried about a lack of clarity regarding higher transaction costs. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Prices in Mass. are unchanged

Massachusetts gas prices are unchanged from last week. AAA Northeast said Tuesday that a gallon of self-serve, regular is holding steady at an average of $2.11 per gallon. That’s 9 cents per gallon lower than the national average and 16 cents lower than the Bay State price a year ago. AAA found a wide range of prices for self-serve, regular from a low of $1.97 to a high of $2.99 per gallon. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



35 convicted in French auction house scam

A Paris court convicted two auctioneers and 33 other people working for France’s biggest auction house Tuesday in a vast, long-running scam to steal thousands of valuable items worth millions of euros. The works included a Courbet painting, Chagall and Matisse lithographs, stage costumes of famous French mime artist Marcel Marceau, a Ming-period Chinese tray, and a 2.08-carat diamond. The case involved about 50 people who worked at Hotel Drouot, the biggest, oldest, and most famous French auction house. They were charged with gang-related theft, conspiracy to commit a crime, or handling of stolen goods. — ASSOCIATED PRESS