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Mass. to receive $455,000 in ‘mobile cramming’ settlement

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STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

MASS. TO RECEIVE $455,000 IN “MOBILE CRAMMING” SETTLEMENT

Massachusetts will receive $455,000 in connection with a $158 million state and federal settlement with Sprint and Verizon over alleged unauthorized cell phone charges. Attorney General Maura Healey reported Tuesday that the payments resolve claims that consumers were “crammed” with unauthorized charges for “premium short messaging services” or text message subscription services such as horoscopes, trivia and sports scores. In December, T-Mobile agreed to pay more than $90 million over cramming allegations and AT&T in October 2014 agreed to pay $104 million, according to Healey’s office. Massachusetts will receive about $195,000 from Sprint and $260,000 from Verizon. – Michael Norton/SHNS

BAKER PLANS TO MEET WITH HHS CHIEF WEDNESDAY

Gov. Charlie Baker plans to travel to Washington D.C. Wednesday to meet with a top Obama administration health care official. According to an aide, Baker will sit down with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell. Baker has been critical of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) impact on the state, and recently requested that the federal government delay changes in the state’s small business health insurance market until the state can formally file for a waiver. Massachusetts has twice been denied ACA waivers, including former Gov. Deval Patrick’s requests that the state be allowed to retain the nine factors used to calculate risks and insurance premiums for individuals and small businesses. Baker has requested from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services a reprieve from the rating factor changes, which he says have led to “significant premium swings that have disproportionately impacted small businesses.” The Republican governor has also asked that Massachusetts be allowed to continue to limit the size of businesses that qualify for small group insurance to 50 employees rather than expand the definition to up to 100 employees, as required under the ACA starting Jan. 1, 2016. – Michael Norton/SHNS