Fed says Harvey and Irma will have no lasting economic impact

As yet another hurricane rips through the Caribbean, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday said two of its nastiest predecessors, Harvey and Irma, will have little long-lasting economic effects.

The central bank, after a two-day policymaking meeting, noted the harm Harvey and Irma caused but said it’s unlikely to be long-lasting. In fact, the Fed actually raised its projection for economic growth and lowered its outlook for the unemployment rate.


HUD Secretary Ben Carson: Recovery from hurricanes Harvey and Irma is ‘going to take years’

WASHINGTON — Billions in federal aid to rebuild communities ravaged by hurricanes Harvey and Irma is weeks, perhaps months, away from starting to flow as the painstaking process of assessing damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure is far from finished, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said Wednesday.

USA Today

After Irma, Can Private Utilities Be Trusted to Rebuild?

In the coming days, millions of Floridians will return home to rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Also now tasked with rebuilding are Florida’s major utilities—companies like NextEra Energy, Inc., Duke Energy and Emera Inc.

These companies face a choice: To double down on a utility model that’s vulnerable to storms and fueling more brutal ones, or start transitioning to a grid better equipped to handle hurricanes—and help keep them from getting worse. The question is whether they can be trusted to choose well.


Insurers Come Out Swinging Against New Republican Health Care Bill

WASHINGTON — The health insurance industry, after cautiously watching Republican health care efforts for months, came out forcefully on Wednesday against the Senate’s latest bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, suggesting that its state-by-state block grants could create health care chaos in the short term and a Balkanized, uncertain insurance market.

In the face of the industry opposition, Senate Republican leaders nevertheless said they would push for a showdown vote next week on the legislation, drafted by Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

New York Times

NC attorney general investigating role opioid manufacturers, distributors play in epidemic

WILMINGTON, NC —Attorney General Josh Stein discussed new developments in the multi-state investigation into opioid manufacturers and distributors Wednesday.

The attorney general’s office is working to determine what role opioid manufacturers and distributors may have played in creating or prolonging the opioid epidemic.

“A group of 40 other attorneys general and me have come together to investigate the role of the drug companies,” Stein said. “If we determine that the drug manufacturers and drug wholesalers unlawfully created and fueled this crisis, I’ll hold them accountable, and that’s what we’re going to look into.”


Drug abuse at work: Opioid epidemic causing big problems for American businesses

Drug abuse in the workforce is a growing challenge for American business. While economists have paid more attention to the opioid epidemic’s role in keeping people out of work, about two-thirds of those who report misusing pain-relievers are on the payroll. In the factory or office, such employees can be a drag on productivity, one of the US economy’s sore spots.In the worst case, they can endanger themselves and their colleagues.

That’s why Tulkoff practices zero-tolerance. One randomly chosen employee gets tested every month, “and we’re gonna move it to two.” The costs mount up: He has to hire a third-party company to select the worker, and pay the clinic to conduct tests. Money is wasted training workers who subsequently drop out when they fail the screening.

Then there are the added care costs. Castlight Health, a benefits platform, estimates that opioid abusers cost employers nearly twice as much in health-care expenses as their clean co-workers — an extra $8,600 a year.


America’s opioid epidemic is so bad it’s causing average life expectancy to drop

The typical American was expected to die a little earlier in 2015 than 2014 — and a dramatic rise in drug overdose deaths is largely to blame, according to a new study in JAMA.

The study examined changes in life expectancy between 2000 and 2015. It found that, overall, life expectancy at birth increased by about two years in that time span.

But drug overdose deaths made that number significantly lower than it would have been otherwise — by more than three months. And opioid overdoses in particular shaved about two and a half months from life expectancy at birth.