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About 50 of the largest U.S. employers plan to form a health insurance pool for about 4 million part-time, temporary, and contract employees who lack coverage. The pool will also cover early retirees and former employees who have exhausted their COBRA coverage, as well as children of employees who are students but no longer qualify for coverage. Aetna, Cigna, and UnitedHealth Group are vying to administer the plan.... Managed Medicare plans will receive at least a 6.6 percent increase in payment rates in 2005. That, added to the 10.3 percent increase this year, means that an additional $1.3 billion over two years will be pumped into the system. Federal officials hope that the increased funding will help plans to expand their Medicare Advantage coverage.... The biotechnology industry, which, thanks to heavy spending on research and development each year, has never seen an overall profit, may get there by 2008, according to Ernst & Young. The financial analyst says that publicly listed biotech companies in the U.S. should produce an aggregate net income of about $400 million in 2008, on revenues of about $91 billion.

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