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Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Saturday, April 3, 2004


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Kaiser lowers rate increase

Kaiser Permanente agreed to scale back its requested rate hike to 11.7 percent following the state Insurance Commission's denial of the original request for a 14.5 percent increase.

Kaiser said it decided not to appeal last month's ruling by state Insurance Commissioner J.P. Schmidt because the uncertainty resulting from a drawn-out appeals process would cause financial disruption for the company and increase the administrative burden on health plan purchasers.

Kaiser plans to use the rate increase to help pay to modernize its medical records system, but Schmidt expressed concern that patients would not see immediate benefits from the upgrade.

Kaiser said the more modest increase might force it to make some cuts in its patient care operations and administrative areas but it will try to avoid layoffs.

REIT buys Grand Wailea Resort

An Orlando-based real estate investment trust has acquired the 780-room Grand Wailea Resort & Spa on Maui in a $2.2 billion deal to buy the resort's previous owner, KSL Recreation Corp.

CNL Hospitality Properties Inc. picked up the upscale Wailea resort along with five other U.S. resorts by paying $1.4 billion cash for KSL's stock and assuming $794 million in long-term debt.

KSL will continue to manage the resorts until a permanent manager is found, according to a press release.

Now the second-largest hotel real estate investment trust, CNL owns interests in 136 hotels with more than 32,500 rooms in 37 states and Canada.

Gas purchase includes Hawaii

Airgas Inc., the largest U.S. distributor of industrial and medical gases, has agreed to buy most of the U.S. packaged gas business of BOC Group Plc, including operations in Hawaii.

The $200 million transaction, which includes about 120 stores, warehouses and other operations in 21 states, is expect to close by July 31, Pennsylvania-based Airgas said in a statement.

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