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News Briefs I

Aetna to Buy U.S. Healthcare For $8.9 Billion

The Washington Post

Aetna Life and Casualty Co. said Monday it would pay $8.9 billion to acquire U.S. Healthcare Inc., one of the country's fastest-growing and most profitable health maintenance organizations.

The merger will create a new institution managing the health care of 15 million Americans, a symbol of the profound changes that have transformed the nation's health care in recent years. Aetna's willingness to pay a 24 percent premium over the stock market's valuation of U.S. Healthcare indicates the appetite that major actors in the industry have to strengthen their competitive positions.

Since President Clinton's effort to restructure the health care industry collapsed in Congress in 1994, major insurance companies have been moving to use managed care to hold down the rising cost of health insurance and to capture larger shares of the market. In 1995, about 71 percent of Americans with employer-sponsored health coverage were in managed care programs, compared with just 10 percent a decade earlier, according to health care researchers.

U.S. Healthcare has few physical assets to speak of, but its 2.8 million subscribers provide huge cash flow, and its marketing and management expertise are valuable to Aetna, industry analysts said. U.S. Healthcare is considered the most efficient major company in the managed care field.

Reception Mixed for German Newcomers from Russia

The Washington Post

While hostility to ethnic Germans resettling from Russia is not unknown - signs proclaiming "No Russians" have been spotted in shops and taverns near halfway houses for immigrants - the native farmers who live around Pahlsdorf have welcomed their cousins from the east, according to Monika Klaehr, director of the resettlement camp.

"They've been well accepted here," Klaehr said. "They aren't asylum-seekers, but rather ethnic Germans - real Germans - and so they're treated like that. They fit in well."

Hubert Schade, who teaches German here, said the immigrants tend to be more Russian than German in their language and culture, but they like to think of themselves in terms of traditional German virtues - hard-working, focused, reliable - distinguished from what they see as less attractive Russian virtues.

"Most of them arrive here knowing very little German; they might be able to say guten Tag or danke (hello or thank you) but not much more," Schade said. "Our goal is really to just give them a grounding in the German language, partly so they can take care of personal problems like filling out job application forms or searching for an apartment."

Dallas Cowboys Receiver Irvin Indicted on Drug Charges

The Washington Post

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin was indicted by a Dallas County grand jury Monday on two charges of possession of cocaine and marijuana in connection with a drug bust at a motel last month, according to the Dallas prosecutor's office.

Irvin, 30, was charged with possession of at least four grams of cocaine, which is a felony, officials said.

If convicted on the cocaine charge, Irvin could face up to 20 years in jail and/or a $10,000 fine. The marijuana charge is a misdemeanor and could result in 180 days in jail and/or a $2,000 fine if he is convicted, officials said.

Along with quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and cornerback Deion Sanders, Irvin is one of the most recognized stars on a team that won its fifth Super Bowl nine weeks ago. Known for dramatic, leaping touchdown catches, Irvin was the fifth-leading receiver in the league last year. He is a celebrity off the field as well, a habitue of Dallas clubs and the star of a local Dallas television show.