Former Neomed leader hired
The former head of Northeast Ohio Medical University has been named president and chief executive of a not-for-profit group that oversees physician certification in the United States. The American Board of Medical Specialties announced Dr. Lois Margaret Nora’s appointment as its new leader, effective June 29. Nora, previously president and dean of medicine for Neomed, currently is interim president and dean of the Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton, Pa.
Inflation rises at U.S. groceries
Supermarket prices for 16 basic food items rose 6.9 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, the American Farm Bureau Federation said. The average cost of all the items advanced to $52.47 from $49.07 during the first quarter of 2011, the nation’s largest farm organization said.
Mortgage rates near record low
The average interest rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage dropped near its all-time low this week, making home buying and refinancing bargains for those who can qualify.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year loan fell to 3.88 percent from 3.98 percent. That’s just above the rate of 3.87 percent reached in February, the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.
The 15-year mortgage, a popular option for refinancing, plunged to a fresh low of 3.11 percent from 3.21 percent last week. The previous record of 3.13 percent was hit last month.
New rules for borrowers
The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau plans to outline rules it may consider in coming months to protect mortgage borrowers against surprises, or so-called runarounds by mortgage servicers. “For too long, mortgage servicers have not been held accountable to their customers, and the result has been profoundly punishing to homeowners in distress,” Director Richard Cordray said.
Mortgage servicers collect loan payments from borrowers and typically handle customer service, loan modifications and foreclosures, according to the consumer bureau. The agency, created by the Dodd-Frank Act, was given authority to bolster rules for servicers in the wake of record home seizures after the subprime mortgage market collapsed. The rules will call for clear monthly statements, warnings before interest-rate adjustments and early help for avoiding foreclosure, the consumer bureau said.
St. Jude defends products
As St. Jude Medical Inc. of St. Paul, Minn., defends itself against reports of deaths and injuries linked to problems with an implanted heart device, it finds itself in familiar territory. Since 2005, two competitors, Medtronic and Guidant, have faced similar scrutiny about critical flaws in their products.
But St. Jude is distinguishing itself with what doctors and others say is a rare response — a scorched-earth defense of its policies and products. The company’s chief executive, Daniel J. Starks, has led that charge, accusing Medtronic of trying to undercut St. Jude to gain business. He and other company executives have also gone after a prominent researcher, contending he made crucial errors and showed bias in a study critical of a St. Jude heart device component at the center of the safety issue.
Starks’ mode of attack, however, may be backfiring. The medical journal that published the report challenged by St. Jude said it rejected the company’s request to retract it. And interviews suggest that some of Starks’ comments are putting off some doctors essential to St. Jude’s success — specialists who implant heart devices.
Compiled from staff and wire reports