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Employee benefits provider Apex Benefits Group Inc. said Monday that it plans to expand in Indianapolis, creating up to 25 jobs by 2016. The company, now based at Keystone in the Crossing, plans to invest $1 million to lease and equip a new facility for its headquarters at 3755 E. 82nd St. As part of the project, the company will purchase new furniture, computer hardware and software for the 7,329-square-foot office building. The company plans to begin hiring additional sales and professional workers in Indianapolis this September. The jobs will earn an average wage of $44 an hour. Apex is one of a handful of central Indiana benefits brokers that has grown rapidly in recent years without acquiring other firms. Founded in 2003, Apex has 27 employees and operates satellite offices in Tippecanoe and Owen counties. Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Apex up to $400,000 in tax credits and up to $45,000 in training grants based on the company's job-creation plans. The city of Indianapolis plans additional incentives.

Cook Medical Inc. had been planning to open five new manufacturing plants over five years in small communities around the Midwest, including Indiana, but shelved those plans because of the hit it will take from a new U.S. tax on medical devices. The Bloomington-based medical device maker estimates it will pay between $20 million and $30 million once the tax takes effect in January, said Pete Yonkman, executive vice president of strategic business units at Cook Medical. The 2.3-percent tax on sales of all medical devices was created as part of President Obama’s 2010 health reform law to help pay for its expansion of health insurance coverage to as many as 30 million more Americans. The tax is projected to raise about $2.9 billion per year. Yonkman referred to a plant Cook opened last year in Canton, Ill., renovating a plant abandoned by International Harvester Corp. Cook has invested $30 million in the plant, which eventually will employ 300 or more people, Yonkman said. Canton is the hometown of the late Bill Cook, who founded Cook Medical. Yonkman said Cook had planned to open a similar facility each year for the next five years. The Center for Budget Policies and Priorities, a liberal think tank in Washington, D.C., said in a March report that medical device makers are blowing the tax’s impact out of proportion. It noted that the new tax does not apply to medical devices made in the United States but then exported for sale overseas.

The Indiana Medicaid program will receive $3.3 million from a multi-state settlement with a drug wholesaler that was accused of inflating prices, according to the Associated Press. San Francisco-based McKesson Corp. agreed to a $151 million settlement with 29 states last week, just three months after it agreed to a similar $187 million settlement with the federal government. McKesson, one of the nation’s largest drug wholesalers, was accused by a whistleblower lawsuit of deliberately inflating price information it reported to First Data Bank, which many state Medicaid programs use to set payment rates for pharmaceutical reimbursement. Prices for such drugs as Allegra, Ambien, Lipitor, Prozac and Ritalin were inflated as much as 25 percent, according to the attorneys general that struck the settlement. McKesson admitted no guilt in the settlement and a company spokesman said the whistleblower lawsuit’s claims were without merit.

Shares of WellPoint Inc. shed 10 percent of their value last week after the Indianapolis-based health insurer’s second-quarter profit missed analyst estimates and the company trimmed its full-year forecast. Earnings excluding one-time items were $2.04 a share in the quarter, compared with the $2.08 average profit expected by analysts, according to Bloomberg News. Overall, net income fell 8.3 percent to $643.6 million, or $1.94 a share, from $701.6 million, or $1.89, a year earlier. Revenue increased to $15.4 billion from $15.1 billion. WellPoint, along with its competitors, benefitted from lower medical costs last year, as Americans stayed away from the doctor amid unemployment rates that topped 9 percent. Those costs have stabilized this year, making it harder to increase profit, said Ana Gupte, a Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst in New York. Membership in WellPoint medical plans fell 2.3 percent, to 33.5 million. The declines came in the insurer’s commercial accounts, where WellPoint raised fees for some policies. That eclipsed gains among government-backed Medicare and Medicaid plans. Full-year profit is expected to be $7.30 to $7.40 a share, the company said.Just two weeks earlier, it had predicted full-year profit of $7.57 per share.

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