Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday's News Round-up

And here we go, folks. Republican investigators are taking aim at health reform. You ready for an endless stream of Congressional hearings? This, while the CDC says nearly 59 million Americans lack health insurance.

Senator Mitch McConnell is joining the law suit against health reform as a "friend of the court." Oh, boy. Because the whole legal battle wasn't political enough?

Former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson says there are parts of reform that are important to people that shouldn't be repealed, but he has several ideas about how costs can be contained.

However, in an effort to maintain the status quo where needed, HHS is providing waivers to insurers, employers whose plans are very limited so they will keep providing even that limited care for employees. These so-called minimed plans are thought to be better than nothing. Employers and insurers have to clearly inform employees about the plans' limitations. I'm not sure how I feel about this one; is something, however flawed, always better than nothing?

Some employers are instituting a tiered system whereby the more highly compensated employees pay more for their health care.

Health insurance profits continue to soar. They say it's because people are using less health care (because they can't afford deductibles, copays and coinsurance). However, in their rate filings, they are saying they have to raise rates NOT because of health reform -- they only say that to consumers, but when addressing regulators, they can't lie -- but because utilization is increasing! No joke. There's a rate review hearing in Hartford next week involving Anthem, and we will be raising this issue to see if they can explain the discrepancy.

And here's another kind of claim against Blue Cross of Michigan, which is accused of anti-competitive behavior, requiring providers who sign up with Blue Cross to charge other insurers a much higher reimbursement rate. This is known as "most favored nation" status. We'll see what the courts make of it.

Meanwhile, GE moves into health care.

And why patients are unhappy with their relationships with their doctors.

That's it for the early round up. Have a good one. Jennifer

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