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Enchanted Circle


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Enchanted Circle by Paula Gott
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Kacie Dugan was forced to grow up at a very early age. She was the older of two girls, children of alcoholic parents, young observers of regular Saturday night brawls. She assumed an adult role as peacemaker, protector, and problem-solver before she was eight years old. But this background serves her well decades later when as office manager for Custom Benefit Plans, a third party administrator for health insurance claims, she realizes she is dealing with more than just greed in the HMO industry. People were dying as Freedom HMO delayed approval of urgently needed health care treatment. Her boss, Caine Daniels, had entered into a joint venture agreement with Freedom, and what she discovers about their unwritten policies and procedures is abhorrent. She wastes no time pointing out the unethical if not illegal policies; she is met with brick walls and ugly words. But she knows how to overcome fear, and she knows how to dig for the truth; threats of violence are nothing new to her. When Caine receives a blackmail demand for $150,000, along with an embarrassing Polaroid taken during a drunken college frat party, Kacie offers to help. But finding the perpetrator is made more difficult by Caine's history. He has managed to make many enemies during his climb to financial success: his marketing manager, Ned Ash, resents his success and his belittling treatment; the local hospital administrator, Evan Sheridan, accused him of his own type of blackmail for using the hospital's offer to purchase Custom Benefit Plans in order to negotiate a sweeter deal with Freedom; and of course there are always the competitors, some victims of Caine's ruthlessness, others simply looking for a bigger piece of the pie. Ash and Sheridan join forces and approach Freedom with a sweet deal of their own. Ash wants exclusive marketing rights to Freedom's insurance plans; Sheridan wants an exclusive contract to provide hospital and physician services to Freedom's clients. Freedom sees a chance to downsize by closing Custom's claims office and moving administration to one of the other shops; shareholders just love downsizing. And they see a chance to gain greater control over Caine Daniels. His ability to generate business and revenues is remarkable. He runs with the big guys with the big bucks who make the decisions about where to go for insurance coverage for their employees. As a Freedom executive, he would have to modify his "shoot from the hip" style that irked both the bean counters and the shareholders. That would make him even more valuable to Freedom's plans to become the nation's largest HMO. But Caine finds evidence that Kacie is the blackmailer. He accuses her, then fires her and threatens to prosecute. The patient/victims of Freedom's policies of delay of medical treatment and claims payments are left with no one to fight for their rights and their lives. But Kacie devises a plan, and with the help of two insiders, women supervisors, she gets her job back. Not only that, but the circumstances make it possible for them, along with two other supervisors, to demand and get ten percent ownership of Custom Benefit Plans--ten percent EACH. Caine's plan to sell out to Freedom and become their Western Regional CEO are thwarted when Kacie discovers Freedom's plan to close the office and move all claims administration to Chicago. The women agree to vote against the sale, and with their combined fifty percent ownership, the deal is blocked. Suddenly all eyes are on the women and all anger is directed at them. The anger quickly becomes focused on Kacie Dugan, the "ringleader" of the employee revolution standing in the way of huge financial and power rewards for the dealmakers. It's clear to all concerned; Kacie Dugan has to be removed.
Release date Australia
December 19th, 2003
Booksurge Publishing
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