Old-Fashioned Company With New-Fangled Problem: Obamacare

Cleveland, OH, United States (KaiserHealth) – AmeriMark Direct started its mail order catalog business here in the’60s, and for decades, everyone assumed that health insurance came with the job.

These days, the 700-employee company doesn’t assume anything.

The old-fashioned mail-order catalog company specializes in kitsch, selling products like magnetic fashion bracelets, patio dresses, “sexual health aides” and religious-themed blankets.

The business model depends on folks like associate Kathy Miller closing a sale, without taking a breath, from the company’s call center: “You get a free gift today it’s a pair of knee highs and your total includes the merchandise, postage and handling and the replacement fee so it will come to $37.97 and I completed your order so you’re all set.”

Rising health care costs could put a damper on her cheery, Midwest tone. AmeriMark’s HR Director Greg Lyons believes the Affordable Care Act is adding to the company’s costs. “It probably affects our premiums in the neighborhood of 8 percent,” he says.

Listen to this story Click below to listen to the accompanying NPR story: Obamacare Prompts Firm To Consider Dropping Its Health Plan

Among the things that go into that 8 percent are a handful of fees and taxes that help pay for the health law. In exchange, consumers gain benefits like certain guaranteed benefits and improved coverage.

AmeriMark, like most businesses, has been coping with rising health insurance premiums for years. This year, the company’s initial estimate from a broker was a 30 percent increase in premium prices if they stayed with the same insurance provider. Lyons said they shopped around, chose a new company and altered benefits, including increasing the deductibles and co-pays. Such changes in plans have become increasingly common nationally as annual increases in health care premiums have become normal.

For many medium-sized companies, like AmeriMark, the new costs of the Affordable Care Act are an added burden on top of the health insurance premiums that have been rising for years. The largest of the new Obamacare costs, is the health insurance provider tax (HIT). It’s a tax that the federal government charges insurance companies and the size of the fee depends on how many people are being covered.

Kathy Miller takes calls for orders in AmeriMark’s order processing unit. (Photo by Sarah Jane Tribble / WCPN)

Then, insurers pass the cost on to employers. And employers, in turn, pass some or all of the cost on to employees.

It’s a kind of trickle-down sales tax, according to Clare Krusing, a spokesperson for America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group. “So like any sales tax on anything you buy it does raise the cost of that particular service,” she says. “So we are seeing that consumers are paying more in the form of higher premiums as the result of this tax.”

And as part of the Affordable Care Act, the fees help cover others.

Related Story: Brew Pub Owner Frustrated That Health Plan Prices Still Jumping

“The expansion of Medicaid and providing subsidies for low and middle income people to help them pay for health insurance and Congress needed to find some way to cover these costs,” according to Larry Levitt Senior V.P. of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

Hoping to control costs, AmeriMark’s president Louis Giesler, says there will be a full-court press on promoting health and wellness. Employees will have their blood pressure, weight and cholesterol checked annually, and they’ll be doing “biometric screenings” for their workers to “make them aware of some health-related challenges that they may not know about. And if those challenges exist we’ll try to put tools in their hands or on their computer screens or in their mailboxes to help them better understand their situations and manage it.”

AmeriMark President Louis Giesler talks with employee Debbie Maag about the company’s new program to help employees track their activity.(Photo by Sarah Jane Tribble / WCPN)

For example, some employees may have not seen a doctor recently for a wellness check. So, some workers may not realize their blood pressure is high. If a biometric screening reveals that, then Giesler the employee will take action, visiting a doctor and getting educated about the condition.

Amerimark’s workers will also be offered programs to help them quit smoking and incentives to lose weight. And, finally, AmeriMark will be asking its employees to share in paying some of these new costs.

Giesler says the company debated dropping health insurance for its employees, which would likely result in an expensive penalty, starting in 2015.

In the end, the company decided to keep providing insurance. But that may change in the future, if costs continue to climb.

This story is part of a reporting partnership with NPR, WCPN/Ideastream and Kaiser Health News.

– Provided by Kaiser Health News.

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NJ celebrated state’s 350th anniversary with history fair

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Trenton, NJ, United States (4E) – New Jersey celebrated its 350th founding anniversary on May 10 by holding the 10th “Spirit of the Jerseys” State History Fair at Washington Crossing State Park in Hopewell Township.

The fair showcased many contributions the Garden State has made to the country and world since New Jersey’s founding in 1664. A 5k Trail Run and Walk kicked off the event and a free concert by the New Jersey 63rd Army Band at 5:30 p.m. concluded the celebrations.

More than 200 historical, government and nonprofit entities and organizations partnered with the Department of Environmental Protection at the Spirit of the Jerseys Fair. Representatives of the state’s 21 counties as well as exhibitors from Delaware, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New York were at the fair.

Fairgoers were taken to New Jersey’s past by interacting with exhibitors that provided insights into the state’s long history. An interactive show allowed people to step back in time and invent with Thomas Edison, learn how to pound corn into flour, play historical games and see a historical fashion show. There was a tour at the New Jersey Hall of Fame mobile museum

Other shows were a vintage baseball game, a Revolutionary and Civil War re-enactment, a family tree workshop, a flying flea circus, storytelling, cooking, horse-plowing, 19th-century photography demonstrations, period music, petticoat and wig displays, lectures and poetry readings.

The Spirit of the Jerseys Fair was first held in 2004 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of New Jersey’s State-owned Historic Sites – a system that began in 1903 with the state’s purchase of the Indian King Tavern in Haddonfield. The goal of the fair is to engage the public in discovering the state’s history in a fun and enjoyable manner.

Food were provided by food trucks. About 20 trucks offered a variety of refreshments, snacks and meals – everything from pastries to empanadas. Among them were The Original Soupman soup truck, Cupcake Carnivale, Empanada Guy, Surf and Turf, Morris Grilled Cheese and Mary Queen of Pork.

The Soupman truck parked in front of the ShopRite plaza at 2350 Route 9 South in Old Bridge Township in Middlesex County is owned by Marcus Crawford, the first franchisee of the soup truck in the state. Soupman, Inc. (OTCQX: SOUP), owner and distributor of The Original Soupman brand of soups, is the franchiser.

Crawford also served piping hot staple soups such as chicken vegetable and other varities to attendees of the Six Flags Fast Tracks and Food Trucks Festival in Jackson last week.

The company headquartered in Staten Island, New York has several mobile soup trucks in select states. It launched the soup mobile last year at the 22nd International Franchise Expo in New York.

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Iran frees six jailed for singing, dancing to ‘Happy’

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Tehran, Iran (4E) – Six Iranians were freed Wednesday, a day after Iran’s morality police arrested them for appearing in a viral online video singing the hit song “Happy” and dancing to the tune in streets and rooftops in Tehran.

One of those arrested, fashion photographer Reihane Taravati, confirmed their release by posting her photo on Instagram with the message, “Hi, I’m back.”

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) also reported the release of the “Happy” dancers and singers.

Tavarati, two other women and three men were arrested for alleged indecency as they appeared together in their MTV version of the William Pharrell hit song and without wearing hijab. The video was posted on YouTube in March and the police tracked them down.

Under Iran’s Islamic law, women must cover their hair and wear loose-fitting clothing meant to preserve their modesty. Men and women should also not be seen together unless they are a married couple.

The dancers claimed they were filmed for an audition and did not know that the video will be released online. The director of the video remains in jail.

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Medicare Records Provide Tantalizing New Details Of Payments To Doctors

Washington, DC, United States (KaiserHealth) – Medicare’s release Wednesday of millions of records of payments made to the nation’s doctors comes as the government is looking to find more cost-efficient ways to pay physicians, particularly specialists.

The federal government published data tracing the $77 billion that Medicare paid to physicians, drug testing companies and other medical practitioners throughout 2012, and what services they were being reimbursed for.

The data cover 888,000 different practitioners. More than 6,000 procedures are included, and the full database is so large that it requires statistical software to analyze it. While the database provides tantalizing details, showing for instance the huge amount ophthalmologists are paid to treat a common eye disorder, experts cautioned that the data can be easily misunderstood and could lead to some doctors’ incomes being unfairly pilloried.

The release comes 35 years after a court-issued gag order that prevented anyone from revealing Medicare Part B payments to individual doctors, and advocates for more transparency in health care payments heralded the release as a leap forward. “Taxpayers have the right to understand what is being paid for and how it is being paid for,” said Jonathan Blum, principal deputy administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services.

He asked for the public to comb through the information to help find waste and fraud and also encouraged researchers to use it to try to determine why spending on health care for the elderly varies so much in different parts of the country. This could replicate on the physician level what the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care has been doing for decades in showing variances in Medicare’s hospital spending.

“The uses of this data can and will go significantly beyond the identification of fraud, waste and abuse,” said Niall Brennan, the Medicare official who oversaw the development of the database.

The release also comes at a propitious time for the government’s effort to refashion the way America’s health care system is financed. Earlier this year Medicare invited advice on how it should devise new ways of paying specialists to replace the current system, in which doctors are paid a set fee for each visit or procedure. The goal of these approaches is to remove the financial incentive for practitioners to do more services.

Under the authority of the federal health care law, the Obama administration has already launched experimental programs aimed mostly at hospitals and large medical groups. There are hundreds of trial efforts under way to pay medical practitioners a set fee to treat a defined ailment, such as replacing a knee, with the fee covering all aspects of the care from before the operation through the recovery and any setbacks.

Medicare is in the midst of creating a similar program for cancer specialists. In February, the government’s Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation invited suggestions on how it should fashion new payment programs that “would be designed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of specialty care, in part by clarifying the specialist practitioner’s clinical role.” The deadline for ideas and suggestions is Thursday.

Dr. Kavita Patel, a former White House health care expert and a researcher at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, said the administration’s timing was not coincidental. “They are building the case for doing targeted specialty payment models,” she said. “The administration is trying to get at the delivery system from all angles.”

Unsurprisingly, medical specialties that rely on expensive drugs, such as oncologists and ophthalmologists, appeared at the top of the list of biggest reimbursements. That’s because in 2012 Medicare pays doctors for the market cost of drugs they use plus 6 percent, Blum said. (That amount has been lowered by the spending cuts imposed by Congress, known as the sequester.)

What’s Missing

Despite their size, the Medicare records omit as much important information as they include. The records do not include any treatments doctors do on non-Medicare patients, such as people on private insurance, Medicaid and those who pay cash. The records also lack any information about roughly a quarter of Medicare beneficiaries who have coverage through Medicare Advantage private insurance plans, and for various experimental payment reforms the government has initiated. The payments for some doctors may be larger than it appears in the data because they also could have billed Medicare through a combined medical practice or other medical organization.

Fred Trotter, a heath care data expert pre-emptively warned reporters and analysts that: “We should be very careful to not draw any conclusions at the low end of the spectrum. That doctor who ‘only’ performed procedure X eleven times? That probably means nothing. What the doctor is actually doing with his/her patients is just not showing up at all.”

Procedures billed to one doctor may actually have been performed by a number of workers in one practice such as medical residents, nurses and physician assistants. A Los Angeles rheumatologist who Medicare paid $5.4 million in 2012 told The Washington Post that about $5 million of that paid for very expensive drugs and the billings also helped cover his staff of 40 people. CMS’ Brennan said that one goal of the release was to encourage each individual medical practitioner to bill Medicare directly, so that the government could get a better handle on spending.

In a note published on the website of the Association of Health Care Journalists, Charles Ornstein, a senior reporter at the investigative nonprofit Pro Publica, cautioned reporters to be careful in interpretation, writing: “Don’t just assume that because a number is large, a doctor has done something wrong.”

In addition, there’s no information about the quality of the care provided, and no information about how sick the patients were or why a particular procedure was performed. In fact, to ensure that the identity of any patient could not be known, Medicare has only included procedures that each doctor performed at least 11 times.

Large numbers of procedures performed by a doctor may be a good sign. Someone billing a lot might well be a very talented practitioner, since research has found that medical skill tends to improve the more times a physician performs the same operation.

In fact, health care experts often encourage patients to choose a doctor based on the volume of cases the physician has done. Alternatively, in some cases—probably a small number—a doctor with lots of billing could be ripping off the system. Several doctors with the biggest Medicare payments are already under investigation for potential fraud, such a Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthamologist who The New York Times said was paid $21 million in 2012. His lawyer said Melgen has followed all Medicare rules.

The back story of the gag order on this data stretches back to’79, when a Florida court issued a permanent injunction barring the government from releasing information about Medicare payments to individual physicians in any manner that would allow the doctor to be identified. In 2011, the parent company of The Wall Street Journal successfully sued to overturn the injunction as the paper prepared a detailed look at Medicare spending.

The American Medical Association complained that physicians were not allowed to review the data for inaccuracies. However, Medicare’s previous release of similar information about hospital payments did not result in reports of any major errors. Brennan pointed out that the data is based on claims medical providers billed to Medicare and were reimbursed for. “We are quite confident this data is accurate,” Brennan said.

Where Can I Find The Data?

If you just want to look up a specific doctors or a few dozen in an area, both the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have handy interactive look-up tools.

Medicare has published the data files here. Medicare has also put out a technical overview of its methods.

– Provided by Kaiser Health News.

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Icon Shoes to feature Margaret Keane art for Spring 2015 collection

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Palm Desert, CA, United States (4E) – Icon Shoes, which introduced art-printed leather shoes in 1999, will have a work of American painter Margaret Keane printed on its upcoming shoes and handbags.

The original producer of “walking works of art” by having Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup Can imprinted on leather sneakers is letting women all over the world to choose one of two arts by Keane through a Facebook voting contest. In the Facebook page “Icon Curators Contest” (http://bit.ly/1h07Jsu), Icon Shoes (www.iconshoes.com) will gather votes for the painting called “Ladies In Waiting” and “A happy day in paradise” to select which one of the Keane arts will be used as a design for the fashion house’s Spring 2015 Collection. The art with the most votes will be the print in the company’s upcoming shoes.

Since launching its Andy Warhol Campbell Soup Sneaker, Icon has become a leader in designing and manufacturing luxurious, high-quality, high-fashion shoes, handbags, and accessories. It is Icon’s goal to create leather goods that make people feel fashionable and comfortable while bringing art to the world in an innovative way.

“Icon recognized early that beautiful art is great to wear as well as collect. The finest art, the finest materials, the finest craftsmanship make ICON a true collector’s dream,” according to the company’s website, www.iconshoes.com.

With a keen eye to trending colors and textures, Icon’s talented designers and graphic artists skillfully select and reproduce classic and contemporary artwork onto its leather products. They are exacting in their attention to detail to ensure that the images are sized and positioned to complement each product type, while maintaining the integrity of the artwork they interpret. Icon’s patented printing process transfers the exclusive, licensed artwork onto high-quality leather.

Icon works closely with up-and-coming artists and their representatives, supporting them through royalties paid from every purchase of their product. This groundbreaking idea to imprint colorful and classic pieces of art into leather shoes revolutionized the world of footwear.

By using the art of talented emerging artists, as well as the masters such as Monet, Van Gogh and Klimt, Icon quickly caught the attention of celebrities, media, popular retailers, and fashion-savvy women worldwide. Icon is now a leader in luxurious shoes as well as a trendsetter in handbags and small leather goods.

Icon takes pride in producing stunning “wearable works of art” that express a woman’s individuality through function and style. The arts are from classic painters such as Alberto Vargas, Alphonse Mucha, Amedeo Modigliani, Andy Warhol, Cécile Hubené, Claude Monet, David Delamare, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Frederick Leighton, Gustav Klimt, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri Matisse, Jan Vermeer, Jim Zuckerman, Joan Miro, John William Waterhouse, Ken Done, Kitagawa Utamaro, Nelson De La Nuez, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Paul Klee, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Rex White, Rodney White, and Vincent Van Gogh.

The company went on to say, “Today, a woman needs to feel unique and special, expressing her own individuality. When she chooses the artwork that appeals to her from her Icon collection she makes a statement about who she is and her unique look at life. She shows the world her individual style and starts a conversation every time.

Icon is based in a beautiful showroom, displaying original works of art, in Palm Desert, California. Its products can be found at select boutiques and department stores in the U.S. and Canada, as well as on their website, www.iconshoes.com.

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Urban Outfitters Inc. posts $88.7M profit in Q4

Nathan Andrada – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

New York, NY, United States (4E) – Urban Outfitters Inc. reported a 7.4 percent rise in fiscal fourth-quarter profit, due to increase in sales, though problems persist for the company’s namesake brand prompting the retailer to provide a light warning about its performance for the current quarter.

Profit was at $88.7mn, or 59 cents per share, for the quarter ended Jan. 31, compared with $82.5mn, or 56 cents a share, in the previous year.

The company reported in February that fourth-quarter sales rose 5.7 percent to $905.9mn.

Gross margin slightly increased to 36.7 percent from 36.6 percent, helped by sharp improvement in the markdown rate of the company’s Anthropologie brand. The positive performance was mostly offset by higher markdowns at the company’s namesake brand.

Comparable retail sales, which include those in the company’s catalog and online businesses, gained 1 percent in the fourth-quarter. Same-store sales rose 10 percent at Anthropologie and surged 20 percent at Free People, but declined 9 percent at the Urban Outfitters brand.

Teen-focused retailers are faced with intensifying competition from fast-fashion players such as H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB and Forever 21 Inc., hurting sales at Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and others. Weak customer traffic at malls has also concerned analysts, though Urban Outfitters continues to post increasing sales.

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Obama shops at Gap store, gives thanks to pay raise

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

New York, NY, United States (4E) – President Barack Obama on Tuesday shopped for clothes at a Gap store in Manhattan in a gesture of thanks to the fashion retailer’s decision to raise the minimum wage of its workers.

Obama bought a gray and white striped sweater and a bright coral sweater for her daughters, Sasha and Malia, plus a blue workout jacket for wife and First Lady Michelle Obama at the Gap outlet on 42nd Street. A store clerk offered Obama to sign up for a Gap card to get a discount, but he declined.

After shopping, Obama congratulated Gap “for doing the right thing” in raising the minimum hourly pay of its workers this year to $9 and to $10 next year.

“It’s not only good for them and their families, it’s also good for the entire economy,” the President said, referring to Gap employees.

The Obama and fellow Democrats had called for businesses to raise the country’s minimum wage to $10.10 as Republicans and business and labor groups opposed a legislated wage increase.

The shopping trip in Manhattan came before Obama was to attend two Democratic party fundraisers in New York City. A Democratic National Committee fundraiser will be held at the private home of Alan Patricof, the founder of a successful New York venture capital fund. Patricof also raised money for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Senate and presidential campaigns.

Supporters attending the fundraiser will pay $32,500 each, according to Washington Times.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will also have its own fundraiser at another private home.

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Changes To Health Law Rules Include Extra Month To Enroll In 2015

United States (KaiserHealth) – The Obama administration on Wednesday released a broad set of regulatory changes to the health law that would give some consumers additional time to stay in plans that do not comply with all its coverage requirements and all consumers more time to enroll in coverage come 2015.

In response to reporters’ questions, an administration official said repeatedly that March 31 remains the enrollment deadline for consumers who want to get coverage on the health insurance exchanges this year. After problems with the rollout of the health law’s web site and lower-than-expected enrollment, there had been speculation that the deadline would be extended.

The rules changes, released jointly by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury Department, were published now to provide certainty and clarity for consumers, employers and insurers, officials said. “Unlike last year, we’re putting out the policies early, they’re clear, people can rely on them,” an administration official said.

Administration documents also said the provisions were developed “in close consultation” with several members of Congress, including Senate Democrats Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. Both lawmakers are facing tough re-election campaigns this fall.

The changes include:

Allowing consumers who hold individual policies purchased before the health law went into effect and that do not meet the law requirements to stay in those plans for another two years if their state allows it and the insurer continues the plan. In November, President Obama had given individuals a one-year extension.

Extending the enrollment period for 2015 coverage from Nov. 15, 2014 until Feb. 15, 2015, one month longer than previously scheduled.

Changing the law’s reinsurance and risk corridor provisions, which are designed to help insurers manage the financial risk of taking all comers while keeping premiums affordable. The cap at which “reinsurance” kicks in would be lowered for 2014 from $60,000 to $45,000 in claims per person, then rise to $70,000 next year, with a reinsurance cap of $250,000 per person. Administration officials also said they would implement the risk corridors provision, which has been criticized by Republicans as a “bailout” for insurers, in a budget neutral fashion, with payments in equaling payments out.

Giving states until June 15 to determine if they want to operate their own health exchanges in 2015. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia currently operate their own exchanges, with the federal government operating them everywhere else.

Increasing annual limits for cost-sharing – deductibles, copays and coinsurance — limits for exchange policies in 2015. For individuals, those limits would rise to $6,600 from the current $6,400 and for families to $13,200 from the current $12,700.

In a statement, America’s Health Insurance Plans president and chief executive officer Karen Ignagni said her group was still reviewing the series of changes.

“There is broad agreement that if more young and healthy individuals choose not to participate in the new marketplaces, it could lead to higher premiums for those consumers that remain in the exchanges,” she said “That is why it is crucial that sufficient steps be taken to stabilize the market…”

Republicans criticized the decision to allow people to remain longer in plans that do not comply with the health law.

“Once again, the Obama administration has shown it will do whatever it takes to hide the true impact of ObamaCare from the American people – at least until after the next election,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. “The fact is Americans should be able to keep the insurance – and the doctors and hospitals – of their choosing, as the president promised. Pushing this off for two more years isn’t a solution at all.”

Robert Laszewski, a consultant and former insurance industry executive, said in a note to his clients that allowing people to keep policies that don’t meet the law’s standards doesn’t bode well for insurers. Those policyholders need to sign up for new coverage – often at higher rates – to offset the costs of enrollees who are older or sicker, he said.

Brian Haile, senior vice president for health policy at tax service Jackson Hewitt, said adding a month to what was previously planned for the open enrollment period next year is a good idea. “Given that so many Americans are cash-strapped during Christmas,” he said, “the extension … to Feb. 15, 2015 is hugely beneficial to them – and the overall enrollment effort.”

Julie Appleby contributed to this article.

– Provided by Kaiser Health News.

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Bill Gates, at $76B, regains title as world’s richest person

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

New York, NY, United States (4E) – Microsoft founder Bill Gates regained his title as the world’s richest person when the Forbes magazine’s billionaires list released on Monday estimated his current fortune at P76 billion.

Gates earned $9 billion from Microsoft shares last year, according to the U.S. business magazine, to top the list and end Mexican media mogul Carlos Slim Helu’s four-year reign as the world’s richest person. Slim dropped to second place with a net worth of P72 billion.

Still at third spot is Spain’s retailing mogul and Zara fashion chain owner Amancio Ortega with a $64 billion wealth followed by Warren Buffett, CEO and chairman of U.S. conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, with $58.2 billion.

Americans led the Forbes list of 1,645 billionaires holding $6.4 trillion with 492, way more than China’s 152 and Russia’s 111. The Americans include gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and fashion designer Michael Kors.

The list has 268 new billionaires, including Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook vice president Jeff Rothschild, WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, Workday co-founder Aneel Bhusri, and World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon.

A total 172 in the list are women, 42 of whom are new billionaires. They include Oprah Winfrey, Spanx’s Sara Blakely and fashion designer Tory Burch.

Forbes calculated the worth of each billionaire in the list based on their assets, including stakes in public and private companies, real estate, yachts, art and cash.

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Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to launch U.S. e-commerce website

Nathan Andrada – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Hangzhou, China (4E) – Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. announced that its two wholly owned subsidiaries in the U.S. are looking into launching a new e-commerce site in the country as part of its recent steps to expand into the world’s second biggest economy.

The company, which is set for an initial public offering that made analysts value it at over $100bn, said on Tuesday that it will kick off its initial majority-owned American e-commerce operations.

Two subsidiaries of the company’s Alibaba.com business — Vendio and Auctiva — would soon launch the new site “11 Main” that offers products from select merchants in industries such as fashion and jewelry, according to an Alibaba spokeswoman on Tuesday.

In 2010, Alibaba acquired Vendio and Auctiva.

The latest move by Alibaba signals that the company is seeking other sources of growth. Alibaba’s websites account for 80 percent of China’s e-commerce market, and those sites saw their revenue rise by more than half to $1.78bn in the last quarter, but the pace of growth has slowed since 2013.

The decision by Alibaba is line with its longer-term goal of expanding into the U.S. The company now markets in the country through Aliexpress, an English language site that connects American businesses with Chinese wholesalers.

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