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Sunday, July 22, 2018
HomeAlaska NewsSick: Dispatch health insurance hearing set for Thursday

Sick: Dispatch health insurance hearing set for Thursday

 

ROGOFF WANTS COURT TO OK INSURANCE PAYMENTS PRIOR TO FINAL DEAL

Hawkins

Alaska Dispatch News employees may be looking for individual health insurance policies in the Obamacare marketplace soon.

Either that or they should just plan to stay healthy during the newspaper’s bankruptcy proceedings, which may take a few weeks.

Rogoff, through the Alaska Dispatch News LLC, is asking U.S. Bankruptcy Court this Thursday to allow her to pay the past-due health insurance covering the newspaper’s 212 employees. The hearing is at 2 pm.

Premera Blue Cross is withholding payment on any claims until the Dispatch gets caught up, according to documents and at last count about $262,557 is owed by the newspaper to the insurance provider for both July and August. Right now, Premera is paying for pharmaceuticals only.

“Employee morale has suffered significantly due to Premera not processing medical claims other than pharmacy benefits,” Rogoff’s attorneys wrote to the court. The past due amount is part of a plan to sell the newspaper and declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a plan that Rogoff is seeking approval for from the court on Aug. 21.

But on Thursday she is simply asking for special dispensation to pay insurance payments with borrowed funds from the Binkley Company LLC.

Rogoff is also asking the court to approve her payment to Liberty Mutual, which carries her general liability insurance. The company is owed $10,227.75 for August. Without such payment, the ADN would need to close quickly.

The publisher also owes Berkshire Hathaway for July and August for workers compensation insurance; the July 26 payment of $26,733.68 is in arrears.

The court must decide if Rogoff can accept a bridge loan from the Binkley Company so it can pay these insurance bills, without which the newspaper will stop operating, or if the proceedings must wait for the full bankruptcy hearing later this month. The Binkley Company is attempting to buy the paper during the bankruptcy process.

Creditors are expected to crowd the courtroom on Thursday and plead their own case to the judge — that their workers, too, deserve to have their insurance paid, and that Rogoff’s workers should not take precedence over the needs of her other creditors.

They will also likely argue that she has enough personal wealth to pay the insurance, should she choose to sell some of her extensive art collection or liquidate her other properties. She still flies back and forth to Halibut Cove with the help of a private pilot, they’ll likely argue, so she has money somewhere.

[Read: Deathwatch for the Dispatch?]

The staff of the ADN losing its health insurance may not be everyone’s biggest concern right now — it appears that if the newspaper is to continue at all past the next payday, it will need to be smaller in size and operate with a far-leaner staff than today. That means layoffs are almost certain under the direction of the interim publisher, Jerry Grilly, who is leading the reorganization and stabilization of the newspaper.

[Read: Rogoff borrowed, but not enough to save paper.]

[Read: List of debt owed by Dispatch goes into millions]

 

 

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • If the health insurance company is paid it would be equivalent to putting it in a super secured position. When in reality the health ins bill is an unsecured debt. If I were other creditors who have not been paid for work done prior to the health care debt was incurred, I would be extremely upset if that bill was paid before mine. The more I look at this huge debacle the more I think there is little chance that ADN will not close its doors even with a million dollar loan. That is, unless the Bankruptcy Court can make Alice Rogoff personally liable for the debts which would then become a very valuable asset of the bankruptcy estate. All creditors than could potentially be paid. Let’s hope all these Alaskans who relied on Alice’s pumped up statements about how successful the paper was going to be, do not get stiffed in the end like she is attempting to now do.

  • It is quite rich that the writers of this newspaper who defended Obamacare and told us redneck Alaskans that we simply did not know what was good for us never purchased health insurance from Obamacare. Well, now that their sorry liberal newspaper is insolvent and cannot even pay for their health insurance any longer, these writers will be able to go online, purchase health insurance, and experience how wonderful it is to be a hard worker
    And pay $700 a month for $5000 deductible insurance. You deserve it guys!!!!!