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Top News Links: Wednesday, June 10

Five state hospitals accused of price gouging

Five hospitals in Alabama stand accused of price gouging, or charging patients more than 10 times the cost of care allowed by Medicare providers. Gadsden Regional Medical Center, Riverview Regional Medical Center, Brookwood Medical Center, Decatur Morgan Hospital and Stringfellow Memorial Hospital were all listed in the report first published by the Washington Post, citing a Health Affairs study. Gadsden Regional Medical Center ranked highest among Alabama’s four hospitals with an average markup of 1,190 percent. – Yellowhammer

Touchstone Precision Inc. expands in Auburn

Another automotive supplier is expanding in Alabama. Touchstone Precision Inc. held a grand opening celebration Tuesday for its expanded operation in Auburn. TPI is an injection molding and stamping company that specializes in small precision parts. The new production facility at Auburn Technology Park South represents a $9 million investment in the economy and will create 27 new jobs over the next two years. TPI currently employs about 90 people. – WSFA

NASA’s unmanned flying saucer has 2nd test flight

Engineers are poring over data following the second experimental landing technology test of NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator project. The saucer-shaped LDSD craft splashed down at 4:49 p.m. CDT Monday in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of the Hawaiian island of Kauai. During this flight, the project team tested two decelerator technologies that could enable larger payloads to land safely on the surface of Mars, and allow access to more of the planet's surface. – NASA.gov

Air Force scrambles to replace Russian engines

Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corporation’s joint venture United Launch Alliance has been the prime U.S. Air Force contractor for supplying satellite launch services for over a decade. However, as United Launch Alliance used engines manufactured by Russian companies, the Air Force has been looking to end dependence on these engines. The Air Force is also looking at acquiring data rights of United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket, after which it can have other companies build the rocket engine. – BidnessEtc

DOD civilian worker from Alabama killed at Bagram

A U.S. Department of Defense civilian employee has been killed in Afghanistan in a rocket attack on the sprawling Bagram military base, a U.S. military spokesman said today. The U.S. air base, north of the capital, Kabul, is often targeted by insurgents firing rockets from outside its perimeter but casualties are rare. The civilian, Krissie K. Davis, 54, from Alabama, was killed on Monday. – Business Insider

Can Trustmark surprise investors again?

Earnings surprises occur when a company’s actual reported earnings differ from the consensus analyst estimates. In the most recent quarter, Trustmark Corp. reported an earnings surprise of 10.26% when the firm last announced their results for the period ending on 2015-06-30. The actual earnings per share number of $0.43 was $0.04 away from the consensus analyst number. Trustmark’s next quarterly earnings announcement is July 28. – Investor NewsWire

GulfQuest Museum gearing up for fall opening

Local officials are expected to announce the fall opening date for the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico at a press conference early Thursday, marking the clearest sign that the attraction will finally open to the public. The project has been in the works for more than five years, but has been dogged by construction delays and funding shortages. The museum only recently began hiring administrators and seeking volunteers. – AL.com

New effort aims to lower painkiller usage

Alabama, which has one of the country's highest rates of prescription painkiller usage, on Monday launched a website and education effort to combat prescription drug abuse. The Alabama Drug Abuse Task Force debuted the "Zero Addiction" campaign of radio and television ads and a website to direct people to treatment options. – Montgomery Advertiser

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