HARTFORD — A new law mandating electronic filing of state-required annual business reports will become effective January 1. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says eliminating the paper filing option will make business registration for entrepreneurs easier and result in “significant savings for taxpayer” by reducing the need for large amounts of paper. Additional reasons cited for the procedural change include shorter processing time and better customer service. The legislation passed both the state House of Representatives and Senate unanimously, and was signed into law by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in July.

 NEWINGTON — Commuters who get to work via state Department of Transportation-operated buses or trains won’t have to worry about cuts in service, which the department had considered. Workers will, however, be faced with what DOT calls “modest” fare increases come January 1, and with incremental increases occurring annually over several years. They’re needed to help address escalating operating costs, according to DOT. While fares have remained steady since 2005, operating expenses have grown by 12 percent because of inflation, says DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker. For specifics about the new fares visit  ct.gov/dot/cwp/view.asp?A=1373&Q=487680 and scroll down to and click “New Fares” on the left near the bottom of the page.

 WETHERSFIELD — Hurricane Irene might have thrashed parts of the state, but needed restoration work after the storm is responsible for at least part of October’s improved labor statistics, according to Andy Condon, director of the state Department of Labor’s Office of Research. And because the figures were distorted by the natural disaster, the month’s lower unemployment rate and job gains could be fleeting, Condon cautions. “[T]he employment sectors that appear most responsible for October’s job growth seem to be related to demand for repairs driven by Hurricane Irene,” said Condon. “The strongest increases came from construction, temporary employment services, and services to buildings & dwellings. We would expect this type of job growth to be temporary.” The professional and business services sector added 3,000 jobs in October, construction added 1,500, the education and health services sector was boosted by 900 positions, as was the government sector, and 400 “other services” jobs were added. Construction had the highest proportional increase, with 3.1 percent. The total number of added non-farm jobs in October was 6,500, or 0.4 percent. Unemployment dropped to 8.7 percent, compared with 8.9 percent the previous month. The figures reflect a positive direction for Connecticut employment statistics for the second consecutive month. 

 The announced merger of Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) and the Hospital of Saint Raphael (HSR) will have positive results for the local community, helping to lower costs and improve efficiency, according to one expert in the field.

“By forming a [consolidated] health-care system, you’re decreasing layers of bureaucracy, increasing economies of scale and decreasing administrative costs,” says Angela Mattie, associate professor of management at Quinnipiac University’s School of Business.

What’s more, such mergers are a trend that will likely continue, Mattie says.

“This type of corporate model you will see moving forward,” says Mattie, who specializes in health-care management. She cites recent legislative developments for helping to create a business climate that encourages the trend.

“The new health-care reform legislation calls for development of acceptable organizations,” she notes, “that evaluate and care for patients from start to finish.” At the same time, she says, facilities are experiencing increasing costs for technology and other care-delivery requirements.

The definitive agreement between the two hospitals delineates that YNHH will purchase HSR assets and address its liabilities, in addition to other stipulations, according to a YNHH release. The agreement also states that HSR will continue to provide health care in accordance with the religious and ethical directives under which the hospital was founded. The 966-bed YNHH and 511-bed HSR will operate under one umbrella, and YNHH will invest in structural and clinical improvements to the HSR campus of the integrated facility.

As for those who say the merger thwarts competition, Mattie dismisses that argument.

“Yale and Saint Raphael’s to some extent served different populations,” she says, adding, “This merger more than makes up for any competition that may have occurred in terms of delivering value to the community.”

A similar merger recently occurred in Waterbury, with Waterbury Hospital joining Plano, Texas-based LHP Hospital Group Inc., and Saint Mary’s Health System Inc. in a joint venture. Plans call for construction of a $400 million medical center that would replace both of the aging Brass City hospitals.

“The [merger] trend is not only a national trend, but now it’s endemic to Connecticut,” says Mattie, noting that YNHH’s reach already had expanded to locations such as Greenwich and Bridgeport after the Yale New Haven Health System acquired hospitals in those communities.

“I think in terms of value to the community,” Mattie emphasizes. “The merger between the Hospital of Saint Raphael and Yale-New Haven Hospital will provide more value. The less you add complexity and cost to the system, the more you can allocate to patient care.”

 BRIDGEPORT — An estimated 100 jobs will be created within the next five years as a result of Columbia Elevator’s relocation to Bridgeport, according to Mayor Bill Finch’s office. The mayor was joined by Gov. Dannel Malloy and other officials last month for a public celebration of the move to an expanded facility at 380 Horace Street. Columbia Elevator previously was located in Port Chester, N.Y. The company produces elevator doors, cabs and entrances. Federal, state and local financial assistance for environmental remediation at the site and property tax abatement helped spur the move.

 NEW HAVEN — Higher One continues to rack up accolades. Among the latest is being named one of the “Best Places To Work” in the nation by Entrepreneur.com. The online business publication placed Higher One No. 12 on its 2011 Best Medium Businesses to Work For list. An 11-year-old college student financial services company, Higher One was founded by Yale alumni and has grown into a bustling business with a staff of 408 full- and part-time employees and $145 million in revenue for 2010, according to Entrepreneur.com. The publication also cited Higher One’s 27 percent annual full-time job growth, 85-percent portion of company-paid employee health insurance premiums and a roster of employee perks among reasons it is considered a superior employer. Rankings were devised in conjunction with Great Place To Work research firm. 

 HARTFORD — While it is customary for medical practitioners to carry malpractice insurance, the Hartford Financial Services Group has introduced a new policy for professionals whose work centers on the administrative side of health-care delivery services. The insurance company’s Private Choice Encore policy covers management-based liabilities such as employment practices, crime, kidnap and ransom, alleged HIPAA violations and financial concerns.

“As health-care organizations navigate today’s rapidly evolving economic and regulatory landscape, their management teams face significant risk related to their operational oversight and employment practices,” says Michael Dandini, senior vice president of the Hartford’s management and professional liability underwriting unit. “This policy is designed to provide tailored liability coverage for directors and officers in the healthcare industry.” To learn more visit hfpinsurance.com/healthcare.