Health Insurance Companies Raise Rates In Colorado And Michigan; Minn.'s GMAC Program Takes 'Full Form' In The State's Hospitals

The Denver Post: "Health-insurance companies are raising rates in Colorado, ending sales of child-only policies and blaming their actions in part on the federal health reform law, moves that regulators call 'bizarre' and consumer advocates are vowing to watch. The election-season changes by insurers come as Democrats and Republicans escalate harsh rhetoric on the reforms passed in March. The White House has already warned companies against unjustified rate hikes. At least six major companies ... — have said they will stop writing new policies for individual children not covered by their parents' or other plans, insurance officials said. ... Some of the same insurers, meanwhile, have filed proposed rate increases with Colorado for individual policies, hiking premiums by up to 27 percent, regulators said" (Booth, 9/20).

Crain's Detroit Business: "Some health insurers in Southeast Michigan are beginning to charge higher premiums to employers who offer high-deductible employee health plans and then 'wrap' the plans by buying gap insurance or giving workers subsidies to cover the deductibles. The reason? Insurers say usage of health care services is going up because employees bear little or no responsibility for health care costs. … But employers and their insurance agents are crying foul. They say the insurers ... are taking away an important cost-containment option that can save them $500 to $1,000 per employee" (Greene, 9/19).

The Roanoke Times: As Virginia confronts "an estimated shortage of 2,700 physicians by 2030, only 35 percent of graduates from Virginia's medical schools remain in Virginia to practice medicine, according to a new report issued by the Virginia Department of Health Professions." Most other states have higher retention rates, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges. "Virginia ranks 31st for retaining its medical school graduates" and "[f]ewer than one in four Virginia doctors has graduated from a Virginia school" (Jones, 9/19).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: The state's revamped health care program for the poorest adults, the General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) program, which experienced a "fierce tug-of-war between legislators and Gov. Tim Pawlenty last spring ... is just now taking full form in Minnesota hospitals. … For thousands of the poorest and sickest Minnesotans in GAMC, the type of health care they get depends more on geography and choice than on how sick they are. Under major changes made to the program on June 1, the best care typically goes to those in or near the Twin Cities — now the only source of coordinated care in GAMC — and to patients who choose one of four hospitals that elected to participate in a new version of the program" (Wolfe, 9/19).

CBS 4: Six hospitals in South Florida and another dozen across the state "are being investigated by the state's attorney general's office for overbilling Medicaid for emergency room services. The AG's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit launched their investigation in October 2008. At issue is whether the hospitals used the correct billing code for emergency room services when they filed for reimbursement" (9/19).

Detroit Free Press: "With thousands of Michiganders lacking dental care, an Oakland County dentist and a Macomb and Oakland county human services agency are renewing efforts to find more dentists willing to provide free dental care to people with developmental disabilities. A new media campaign by the group aims to enhance ongoing efforts by the Michigan Dental Association to recruit dentists to care for poor people. … The center's Adopt A Smile Dental Program was begun in 2003, when Michigan cut dental care to Medicaid recipients. The cuts deepened in 2009, limiting dentistry services to emergency extraction and care for abscessed teeth" (Anstett, 9/20).

The New York Times: "[D]escribing Medicaid as a 'massive program' whose growth threatens the state's finances, [Democratic] Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch is calling for significant changes in New York's health care benefits for the poor and disabled, lobbing a volatile issue in the midst of the campaign for a new governor. In a report to be released on Monday, Mr. Ravitch says the state should remove control of the rate-setting process for Medicaid, the joint state and federal health insurance program for the poor, from the Legislature to reduce the influence of politics. He also calls for limits on medical malpractice awards and for the re-examination of rules that allow middle-class families to shelter assets so they can qualify for coverage" (Hartocollis, 9/19).

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