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Insurance firms to pay back excess surcharges to state

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York officials say four insurance groups have agreed to pay a total of about $120 million in excess workers' compensation surcharges to the state.

The State Attorney General's Office said the companies collected too much in surcharges on premiums from policyholders after the state Workers' Compensation Board in 2000 changed the way it calculates the annual fees it charges workers' comp insurers, charges the insurers pass along to policyholders.

The four insurance groups are ACE, Zurich, Pennsylvania Manufacturers, and CNA, each a parent to a number of insurers operating in the state.

The ACE companies will pay $70 million, Zurich $37.5 million, Pennsylvania Manufacturer $5.9 million and CNA $5.75 million.

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CVS makes purchase

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (AP) -- CVS Caremark Corp. said Friday it will pay $1.25 billion to buy Universal American Corp.'s Medicare prescription drug services unit.

CVS said it pursued the deal because with the country's population aging, a growing percentage of Americans will get their prescription drug coverage from Medicare.

Shares of Universal American jumped 40 percent on Friday, rising $5.84 to $20.45. The company said shareholders would get $2.80 to $13 per share in cash and would own a new company operating Universal American's other businesses. CVS shares fell 23 cents, to $34.77.

CVS said the deal will more than double the size of its Medicare drug business. Universal American serves about 1.9 million people in the Medicare Part D federally subsidized prescription benefit program for Medicare recipients, while CVS serves 1.2 million.

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App expands video calls

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A new version of the free iPhone app for Skype SA will let users make and receive video calls.

Users of the Internet calling and messaging service will be able to use both Wi-Fi and AT&T Inc.'s 3G cellular network. FaceTime software, which comes with iPhones, works only with Wi-Fi.

The app, which was released Thursday through Apple Inc.'s iTunes Store, will let iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS users make free video calls to other Skype users who are using the app or have access to the feature using Skype on their computer or other video phone.

Those with the latest iPod Touch will be able to make video calls over Wi-Fi. The app allows the iPad and previous-generation iPod Touch to receive video calls, too, Skype said.

Skype's software offers free services such as voice or video calls to other Skype users. Users pay to do things such as make calls from a PC to a landline or cell phone.

In the first half of 2010, video calls made up 40 percent of all minutes spent using Skype's free calling services, the company said.

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Tobacco pouches touted

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. is targeting people who resolve to quit smoking in the new year with advertisements suggesting they switch to its smokeless tobacco pouches, a move critics say is an attempt to keep people from quitting nicotine.

The ads mark the Winston-Salem-based company's first campaign aimed at getting smokers to switch to snus, which Reynolds introduced in early 2009, spokesman David Howard said.

The ads suggest that the pouches are a way to help kick the smoking habit. Under federal law, companies cannot claim that tobacco products work as smoking cessation products. But tobacco companies would love for smokers to think of them that way as cigarette sales fall because of higher taxes, smoking bans and falling social acceptability.

The No. 2 U.S. cigarette maker is advertising in major magazines this month its suggestion for a "2011 Smoke-Free Resolution" in ads that show the tobacco-filled white pouches dropping from the sky like confetti. The ads promote the company's Camel snus -- small pouches filled with tobacco that users stick between the cheek and gum.

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