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Humana Wins Another Round in Tricare Dispute

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has ruled against Minnesota-based UnitedHealth in a protest over the awarding of the lucrative Tricare military contract.

Humana previously held the contract, which allows the company to provide insurance and benefits to military members, retirees and their families in the south. Humana lost a renewal bid to UnitedHealth in 2009, but appealed the decision. In 2010, the GAO ruled that Humana’s bid had not been properly considered and, after another review, changed its decision. UnitedHealth then appealed that decision on the grounds that Humana’s proposed reimbursements to doctors were too low. On Tuesday afternoon, the GOA rejected the protest. The final decision is up to the Department of Defense.

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Local News

Humana Aims To Eliminate Hiring Smokers

It was reported today that Humana intends to stop hiring smokers, where the action is legally permitted. The company wants to encourage healthy behavior among workers and already has a policy of not hiring smokers in southwestern Ohio.

However, there are states that prohibit barring employment on the basis of smoking.  Kentucky state law says that “It is an unlawful practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire, or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against an individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment… because the individual is a smoker or nonsmoker.”

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Arts and Humanities Local News

“The End” Opens at Humana Festival

The End is coming to the Humana Festival of New American Plays. Not the end of the festival—it lasts until April. But the latest play to debut at the festival is an apocalyptic romp titled is The End. It features various calamities involving asteroids, aliens, zombies and Hollywood celebrities.

Amy Attaway is co-director of The End.

“Ultimately the play is really about people and how people deal with the idea of impending doom. The idea of the end approaching at varying speeds and by varying methods. It’s really about how people handle that,” he says.

Other plays in this year’s festival were submitted to Actors Theatre by individual playwrights. But for The End, Actors Theatre commissioned five different playwrights to create the script as a vehicle for the theatre’s acting apprentice company.

One other way The End is not like other plays in this year’s Humana Festival: The start time. The End takes the stage Friday and Saturday at 11:00 at Actors Theatre.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Actors Theatre Hosting Panel Discussion on Festival Culture

As part of this year’s Humana Festival, Actors Theatre has invited the leaders of a number of local festivals to take part in a panel discussion Saturday on Louisville’s festival culture. Representatives from the IdeaFestival, Festival of Faiths, Derby Festival and the St.James Court Art Show will take part in the discussion titled, “Louisville: City of Festivals – The Ecology of a Great Gathering Place.”

“As we celebrate our 35th anniversary of the Humana Festival and with such a plethora of vibrant festivals happening in our city, I think this is a great opportunity for all the different leaders of those festivals to get together and really delve into some of the questions surrounding how Louisville has evolved to be such a great festival city,” says Actors Theatre spokesperson Kirsty Gaukel.

Last year, Louisville was awarded the World Festival and Event City award from the International Festival and Events Association.

The discussion begins at 11:00 a.m. at Actors Theatre. The event is free, but tickets are required for admission.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Fourth New Play Debuts in Humana Festival

The fourth new play is set to debut at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre.

The play is called Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them. Its author is A. Rey Pamatmat

“The play is about three kids who are abandoned on a farm and the ways that they figure out how to take care of themselves and each other until the outside world comes in and is not happy with the decisions that they’ve made about their own upbringing.”

Pamatmat drew from his own experiences growing up on a farm in Michigan for the script. He is also one of the co-authors of the play The End, which will debut later this month at the Humana Festival.

Edith Can Shoot things and Hit Them has its first preview performance tonight (Friday), it opens Sunday at Actors Theatre.

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Local News Politics

Humana’s Department of Defense Contract Challenged

The dispute over a profitable Department of Defense insurance contract continues.

Last month, Humana won its appeal to retain the DoD’s TRICARE contract to provide health benefits to active and retired military personnel and their families in the south. Humana lost the contract to Minnesota-based UnitedHealth two years ago, but quickly filed the appeal, saying the DoD did not equally judge insurers.

Now UnitedHealth has challenged the decision in favor of Humana’s appeal. The company says it provides better quality and prices for the DoD and healthcare providers.

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Local News Next Louisville Politics

Talks Resume In Humana, U of L Doctors Dispute

Talks have resumed between Humana officials and a University of Louisville doctors group in hopes of settling their contract dispute.

The stalemate has dragged on for nine months.

A brief statement from Humana says there have been recent, productive discussions and that the insurer and doctors hope to settle their contract dispute soon.

The physicians’ previous contract expired last June 30, with the two sides unable to come to terms on reimbursement rates.

The group, called U of L Physicians, includes more than 550 doctors in 78 areas of medicine.

The stalemate has meant higher, out-of-network costs for many patients under the care of the U of L doctors.

Neither side is saying much else about how the talks are going.

The doctors group says it’s committed to finding a solution to the impasse.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Humana Festival Continues With Maple and Vine

The Humana Festival of New American Plays is entering its second week. That means the second of the Festival’s seven new full-length plays is set to premiere. It’s a drama called Maple and Vine.

“Maple and Vine is about a modern couple feeling somehow dissatisfied and unhappy with their 21st century lives and they meet a man from a fully-contained kind of gated community where everyone goes about their lives pretending that it’s 1955,” says playwright Jordan Harrison.

Harrison is a four-time veteran of the Humana Festival. His play Kid Simple debuted at the festival in 2004 and has since been produced more than forty times in theatres around the country.

Maple and Vine opens Sunday at Actors Theatre.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Humana Foundation Increases Support for Humana Festival

The Humana Foundation has increased the amount of money it will give to Actors Theatre for the Humana Festival of New American Plays to the highest level in the festival’s history.

It costs Actors Theatre about $1.5 million to put on the festival, and the Humana Foundation will be contributing almost half of that. The foundation will contribute $700,000 toward the festival each year for the next three years. That’s a $25,000 annual increase over the previous award.

Actors Theatre Managing Director Jennifer Bielstein says she and the staff are grateful for the gift and that they place a priority on getting the most out of every contributed dollar.

“Compared to our peer organizations who have the same size operating budget as us, we produce double the number of plays that they produce, so we’re highly efficient with every dollar that we spend,” she says.

Bielstein says the theatre reduces costs with the help of more than a thousand volunteers and through its intern and apprentice programs. The festival also receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. Bielstein says Actors Theatre’s goal is to break even on the Humana Festival each year.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Humana Foundation Pledges $2.1 Million To Festival Through 2013

The Humana Foundation has renewed its commitment to Actors Theatre and the Humana Festival of New American Plays.

The Humana Foundation has approved a three-year grant totaling $2.1 million to fund the festival through 2013. It includes funding for this year’s festival, which opens this week.

Virginia Judd is the executive director of the Humana Foundation. She says the association between Humana, Actors Theatre and the festival has been beneficial for all sides.

“People just talk about it as Humana. Wonderful recognition for us, even if they don’t know, especially visitors from out of town, exactly who we are. And the festival generates so much excitement in the community and provides a boost to the local economy. It’s something we’re very proud to support,” she says.

Since Humana began supporting the festival in 1979, the company and its foundation have given Actors Theatre more than$21 million, most of it dedicated to supporting the Humana Festival.