Bank of America says that U.S. borrowers are compiling more debt while simultaneously keeping their credit profiles healthy for now, according to an article by Will Mathis and Jennifer Surane for Bloomberg.
Larry Thomas, the longtime communications professional for numerous politicians and the Irvine Co., has died. He was 70.
Thomas, a Newport Beach resident, was diagnosed with cancer shortly after he retired from the Irvine Co. a decade ago. Initially, Thomas beat the disease, but it recently returned and led to his death.
Larry ThomasThe career of the man who many called “LT” included a stint as a reporter for United Press International; press secretary for George H.W. Bush (when he was vice president), George Deukmejian (when he was California’s governor) and Pete Wilson (as San Diego’s mayor). Thomas also was campaign manager for governorship runs for Deukmejian and Wilson.
In Orange County, Thomas may be best known, though, as the longtime spokesman for the land giant Irvine Co., where he worked for 20 years.
Company Chairman Donald Bren said in a statement: “We will miss Larry and his precision in words and life. I had the privilege of calling him a colleague and friend for more than three decades. Larry’s outstanding talents and wonderful sense of humor left an indelible mark. He will be greatly missed.”
When Thomas retired in 2007, he wrote to co-workers he hoped for a laid-back retirement: “Something deep inside of me says it’s time to trade in my suits and ties (and sell my pocket squares) for some board shorts, T-shirts and Rainbow sandals – and join the old guys on beach cruisers who seem to be living a relaxed, rich life in retirement.”
Artificial intelligence has pushed technological advancements to a whole new level, and increasingly can do just as many things as humans. But how far out is the mortgage industry really from using the kind of technology available to consumers in other industries? It may already be here.
It’s one thing to know how to put a diaper on a baby, but how about building a house out of diapers?
Even if disposable diapers make both jobs easier these days, there’s still much to admire in the skills that will be on display Friday, June 8, during the Builders for Babies drive to collect diapers and other items for the HomeAid Essentials outreach to homeless families.
Last year, the crew from CalAtlantic Homes created a cozy-looking beach cottage complete with a flower garden and picket fence.
The charitable goal is equally ambitious: collect 1 million diapers in one day.
HomeAid Orange County, the charitable arm of the local chapter of the Building Industry Association of Southern California, is holding the event in partnership with the county’s Children and Families Commission. Donations of diapers, baby food, wipes and other hygiene products can be dropped off from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. by the Big A at Angel Stadium, 2000 E. Gene Autry Way, Anaheim.
Items will be distributed to shelters and agencies that serve families experiencing homelessness.
An award ceremony for the building competition takes place at 1 p.m. Teams from eight companies are participating: Bank of America; Brookfield Residential; HomeAid Inland Empire with BIA Leaders Of Tomorrow & HMC Architects; Lennar Homes; National Core; The New Home Company; Toll Brothers; and William Lyon Homes.
Diaper drives on behalf of HomeAid’s Essentials program have been taking place at sites around the county since May 13 and will continue until Friday. For more information on HomeAid Essentials, go to homeaidOC.org/essentials.
HUD announced it approved a new agreement between two Nevada real estate companies to resolve claims of disability discrimination. The claim was filed by a Nevada resident after a request for her service animal was denied, and now both companies will undergo fair housing training.
NEWPORT BEACH — A Laguna Hills plastering company and two of its supervisors pleaded no contest Tuesday to a pair of misdemeanors stemming from the death of a 23-year-old worker who was electrocuted while erecting scaffolding at a Mission Viejo High School athletic field.
Thomas Aaron Blythe, 46, of Rancho Santa Margarita, and Timothy Scott Gordon, 52, of Lake Elsinore, each pleaded no contest to misdemeanor counts of willful violation causing death and willful violation causing injury.
They both worked for Five Star Plastering, which also entered pleas to the same counts.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Blythe was the president and owner of the company and Gordon was the safety coordinator in July 2014, when employee Daniel Pohl of Apple Valley was electrocuted.
Daniel Pohl, of Apple Valley, died at the age of 23. File photo.Prosecutors said Pohl and another worker, also 23 years old, were erecting scaffolding that was going to be used for a banner supporting the Mission Viejo High School football team. Prosecutors contend that Pohl and the other worker were not properly trained and had limited experience when they were assigned the job.
Blythe — who was the vice president of the high school’s booster club — was at the school when the work began and Gordon failed to inspect the site for safety.
Instead, Pohl wound up coming in contact with a high-voltage power line, which was about two feet above the scaffolding — well below the six feet of clearance required by the state, prosecutors said. The other worker came to Pohl’s aid and also wound up touching the line, suffering burn injuries and falling about 25 feet to the ground.
According to prosecutors, the second worker suffered “serious and permanent injuries.”
As a result of their pleas, Blythe and Gordon were both ordered to perform community service and attend a workplace safety training program. Blythe and the company were ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution to the victims, along with the previously ordered $164,270 fine to Cal/OSHA.
Another company official, John Lawrence Alberts, 57, of Apple Valley, pleaded no contest to the same misdemeanors in September of last year and was also sentenced to community service and the workplace safety program. He was the crew supervisor at the time of Pohl’s death.
Access to credit remains tight not only compared to the housing boom years but also compared to historical levels. At the Mortgage Bankers Association Secondary conference in New York City, panelists at the Access to Credit session discussed how to safely open the credit box, and what some of the current hindrances are.
Homebuying in Anaheim, Orange and Villa Park cooled 4.6 percent in 2018’s first three months vs. 2017’s first quarter.
Real estate tracker CoreLogic found these 16 trends in 13 ZIP codes covered by the Orange County Register’s Anaheim Bulletin weekly …
1. Purchases: Home sales in this period totaled 847 vs. 888 a year earlier, a decline of 4.6 percent in a year.
2. Who’s up: Prices increased in 10 of the 13 ZIPs as sales rose in 5 ZIPs.
3. Countywide: $710,000 median selling price, up 6.4 percent in a year. Orange County sales totaled 7,800 residences, existing and new, vs. 8,041 a year earlier, a decline of 3.0 percent in a year. Prices rose in 67 out of 83 Orange County ZIPs and sales were up in 33 out of 83 ZIPs.
Here is how prices and sales moved at the community level …
4. Anaheim 92801: $535,000 median, up 2.4 percent in a year. Price rank? 72nd of 83. Sales of 69 vs. 67 a year earlier, a gain of 3.0 percent in a year.
5. Anaheim 92802: $549,000 median, up 10.1 percent in a year. Price rank? 68th of 83. Sales of 60 vs. 47 a year earlier, a gain of 27.7 percent in a year.
6. Anaheim 92804: $545,000 median, up 11.2 percent in a year. Price rank? 70th of 83. Sales of 119 vs. 122 a year earlier, a decline of 2.5 percent in a year.
7. Anaheim 92805: $535,000 median, flat vs. a year earlier. Price rank? 72nd of 83. Sales of 77 vs. 101 a year earlier, a decline of 23.8 percent in a year.
8. Anaheim 92806: $608,000 median, down 6.5 percent in a year. Price rank? 59th of 83. Sales of 34 vs. 47 a year earlier, a decline of 27.7 percent in a year.
9. Anaheim 92807: $698,500 median, up 14.5 percent in a year. Price rank? 42nd of 83. Sales of 122 vs. 99 a year earlier, a gain of 23.2 percent in a year.
10. Anaheim 92808: $680,000 median, up 0.7 percent in a year. Price rank? 47th of 83. Sales of 76 vs. 66 a year earlier, a gain of 15.2 percent in a year.
11. Orange 92865: $650,000 median, up 9.7 percent in a year. Price rank? 52nd of 83. Sales of 63 vs. 51 a year earlier, a gain of 23.5 percent in a year.
12. Orange 92866: $682,750 median, up 9.2 percent in a year. Price rank? 46th of 83. Sales of 26 vs. 27 a year earlier, a decline of 3.7 percent in a year.
13. Orange 92867: $711,000 median, up 3.8 percent in a year. Price rank? 39th of 83. Sales of 73 vs. 89 a year earlier, a decline of 18 percent in a year.
14. Orange 92868: $440,000 median, down 2.2 percent in a year. Price rank? 79th of 83. Sales of 25 vs. 39 a year earlier, a decline of 36 percent in a year.
15. Orange 92869: $688,000 median, up 25.2 percent in a year. Price rank? 45th of 83. Sales of 89 vs. 115 a year earlier, a decline of 22.6 percent in a year.
16. Villa Park 92861: $1,190,000 median, up 8.2 percent in a year. Price rank? 9th of 83. Sales of 14 vs. 18 a year earlier, a decline of 22.2 percent in a year.
Let’s toss in three more countywide trends …
17. Single-family homes resales: 4,614 Orange County sales vs. 4,762 a year earlier, a decline of 3.1 percent in a year. Median: $760,000 — a rise of 5.6 percent in a year.
18. Condo resales: 2,097 sales vs. 2,343 a year earlier, a decline of 10.5 percent in a year. Median: $495,000 — a rise of 4.2 percent in a year.
19. New homes: 1,089 sales vs. 934 a year earlier, a gain of 16.6 percent in a year. Median: $873,000 — a rise of 0.6 percent in a year.
DID YOU SEE?
California ranked as nation’s 5th fastest-growing economy
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Many younger Millennials and older members of Generation Z who are establishing financial independence have many options to choose from when it comes to banking. Here are 5 tips that could make finding the right bank easier.
By Liz Szabo, California Healthline
Sherry Young just wanted to be able to walk without pain.
About three years ago, she began to experience sharp pain in her left foot. Her big toe had become crooked and constantly rubbed up against the adjacent toe, making it painful to run, walk or even stand. “I could not walk without intense pain unless I had a pad underneath my toes for cushioning,” Young said.
An orthopedic surgeon told her that he could fix her problem for good. “He thought my foot was hitting the ground too hard and causing pain,” said Young. “That’s what he was trying to correct.”
Though Young had had several orthopedic surgeries, she had always had good insurance and never scrutinized her bills.
At the time of her foot surgery, Young of course knew nothing about hospital charges for surgical screws, medical saws and other hardware used in the operating room.
Then the bill came.
Patient: Sherry Young, 57, a retired librarian on disability and mother of two in Lawton, Okla.
Total Bill: $115,527 for a three-day hospital stay, including $15,076 for four tiny screws — measuring 2.8 millimeters wide and no more than 14 millimeters long — placed in the two middle toes of her left foot.
Service Provider: OU Medical Center, located at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center in Oklahoma City
Medical Treatment: Young underwent two operations on the same day in June 2017. One surgeon addressed an injury in Young’s shoulder, caused by arthritis and overuse. A second surgeon performed several procedures on her foot, including removing a bone spur. To better align Young’s middle toes, the doctor removed a slice of bone from the center of each toe, and then reconnected the two ends with surgical screws made by Arthrex, a medical device manufacturer based in Naples, Fla.
What Gives: Two weeks after surgery, Young received a letter from her insurance plan, BlueCross BlueShield of Oklahoma, stating that it had not approved her hospital stay. Staying overnight was not “medically necessary,” according to the letter, because foot and shoulder surgery are typically performed as outpatient procedures.
The letter “put me in a panic,” said Young, who was suddenly worried that she would have to pay the entire $115,000 bill herself. That’s about how much her home is worth, and five times her annual income.
Faced with the astronomical cost, Young asked for an itemized copy of her bill and began checking every charge.
She was floored by the price of the screws, each of which cost more than a high-end computer.
“Unless the metal [was] mined on an asteroid, I do not know why it should cost that amount,” Young said.
She repeatedly asked officials at OU Medical Center for part numbers for the screws, so she could find out how much they cost the hospital. Hospital officials never provided the information, Young said.
John Schmieding, senior vice president and general counsel for Arthrex, declined to tell Kaiser Health News exactly how much his company charges hospitals for the type of screws implanted in Young’s foot. But he did offer ballpark figures: “Our sale price for screws used in foot and ankle procedures would be below $300 per screw, with the most expensive around $1,000.”
As for what the hospital charges, Schmieding said, “We do not direct or control how a facility bills for their procedure.” Based on the numbers Schmieding provided, the hospital markup on Young’s screws could range from roughly 275 percent to upward of 1,150 percent.
“It’s mind-boggling,” said Dr. James Rickert, an orthopedic surgeon in Bedford, Ind., and president for the Society for Patient Centered Orthopedics, which advocates for affordable health care. “We are talking about little pieces of metal.”
Yet such steep markups are common at hospitals, said Rickert, who was not involved in Young’s care.
Clearly, the screws used in Young’s surgery are more sophisticated than those sold at the local hardware store. Many of the screws in Arthrex’s online catalog are made of titanium, which is popular for surgery because it’s strong and durable. The screws are also hollow, designed to fit over a guidewire so that doctors can place them in precisely the right place.
Surgical device manufacturers also must comply with strict regulations, said Steve Lichtenthal, vice president of business development at the Orthopaedic Implant Co., based in Reno, Nev., which makes surgical supplies.
But even the fanciest screw is still pretty simple, Lichtenthal said. Tiny screws cost only about $30 to manufacture, and the technology hasn’t changed much in decades, he said. About half the cost of a surgical implant goes toward paying sales and marketing staff, who develop close relationships with doctors and sometimes even attend surgery, Lichtenthal said.
Screws weren’t the only expensive devices figuring into Young’s bill. A drill bit, used for making holes in bone, carried a charge of $4,265; a tool for removing and cauterizing tissue was $5,047; a saw blade, $619.
While screws can be used only once, there’s no reason that other surgical equipment, such as saw blades, should be disposable, Rickert said. Hospitals routinely sterilize tools such as scalpels and scissors, then use them again.
A hospital spokesman declined to comment on the specifics of Young’s bill, as did the surgeon who operated on her foot.
OU Medical Center issued a statement that said: “OU Medical Center provides the highest-quality patient care. We are focused on acquiring the latest tools, treatments and technology, while diligently making sure we have the resources to maintain this commitment our patients deserve. We strive to keep costs down and focus investment on where it really matters — our patients.”
In the statement, OU Medical Center said few patients pay the full price. Instead, insurance companies typically negotiate discounts with hospitals, allowing them to pay less than the amount on the list of charges.
Yet, as Young learned, people who are uninsured — or whose insurance plan refuses to pay — get no discount.
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Resolution: Young is now off the hook. In a statement in response to a reporter’s questions, BlueCross BlueShield of Oklahoma said it never actually denied Young’s insurance claim, but simply needed “additional information from the provider in order to process it correctly.”
According to Young’s most recent billing statement from OU Medical Center, she does not owe anything for her hospital stay. However, her latest statement from the hospital includes a $413 charge for an “appeal denied.”
Surgery relieved the chronic pain in her shoulder and alleviated some but not all of the pain in her foot, Young said.
The Takeaway: Companies can charge big prices for small surgical supplies and hospitals can mark them up at will.
If you want to know exactly why your bill is so high, ask for an itemized list of charges. Since patients have no ability to shop around for different screws before the surgery, it’s important to complain loudly to the hospital, your insurer and your employer if you see charges that seem outrageous.
This is a monthly feature from Kaiser Health News and NPR that dissects and explains real medical bills in order to shed light on U.S. health care prices and to help patients learn how to be more active in managing costs. Do you have a medical bill that you’d like us to see and scrutinize? Submit it here and tell us the story behind it.