A consumer advocacy group says Louisiana will be among nine states where federal review of health insurance rates will improve upon the current system, where rates are not regulated.

Beginning Thursday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will review health insurance rates in Louisiana, Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wyoming. Health insurers must publicly justify the reasons for any rate increase of 10 percent or more.

The idea is that insurers who must explain their rates will be shamed into ending unreasonable rate increases. Consumers in those states should see significant improvement, according to Consumer Watchdog.

Convergys seeks 150 for call center staff

Convergys Corp. said Thursday it is trying to fill 150 customer service and sales support positions at its call center in Baton Rouge.

The call center at the Bon Carre Business Center on Florida Boulevard has around 400 workers, spokeswoman Amy Williams said. The additional workers are needed for a Convergys client in the telecommunications industry.

Sazerac will buy White Rock brands

Sazerac Co. Inc., of New Orleans, has reached an agreement to acquire 32 brands from White Rock Distilleries in Lewiston, Maine.

The purchase price was not disclosed and will take place effective Oct 1.

Among the brands are Tortilla, Desert Island, Kapali, Ryans, Fire Water, Ice 101, Barbarossa, Ice Box and Mt. Royal.

White Rock CEO Paul Coulombe said his company will focus its resources on its larger, national brands, citing “explosive growth” in its Pinnacle Vodka and Calico Jack Rums.

“Our national brands are growing at over 150,000 cases per month and we need to prepare our facilities and resources to handle this growth,” Coulombe said. “Sazerac is acquiring some very good brands and we wish them great success with the products in the future.”

“These brands fit well with our vision and they will further strengthen both our Sazerac and Gemini portfolios,” Mark Brown, president and CEO of Sazerac, said in a news release.

Sazerac is a family-owned, privately held company with operations in New Orleans; Frankfort, Bardstown, Louisville and Owensboro, Ky.; Fredericksburg, Va.; Carson, Calif.; and Baltimore.

Entergy makes list of top utility firms

Entergy Corp., of New Orleans, made Site Selection magazine’s annual list of “Top Utilities in Economic Development.

The list is based on analysis of corporate project activity; surveys of corporate end users and site consultants; website tools and data; innovative programs and incentives for business, including energy efficiency and renewable energy programs; and the utility’s own job-creating infrastructure and facility investment trends.