Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Tuesday Tidbits

AHIP President Karen Ignani came to the defense of the health care industry today. In pertinent part she said

The country is at a critical juncture. August will be the month when the country decides whether it supports reform and what shape it should take. It is crucial that the American people understand the broad consensus that exists on the essential building blocks for bipartisan reform.

“With that in mind, there are five facts we believe all Americans should know:

  • Health plans have proposed comprehensive health care reform to cover all Americans, make care more affordable, and improve quality.

  • Health plans proposed health insurance reform last year.

  • Health plans have proposed far-reaching initiatives to bend the health cost curve and make care more affordable for individuals, families, and employers.

  • Health plans are advocating and advertising in support of bipartisan reform.

  • Out of every dollar the nation spends on health care, one penny goes to health plan profits.

“Our community includes thousands of dedicated, conscientious Americans who are working hard across the country to try and improve health care. They are ordinary Americans from all walks of life who are raising their families and contributing to their communities. They do not deserve to be demonized or vilified as part of a campaign to distract attention away from the sinking support for a government-run program.”

My sentiments exactly.

Preferred provider network vendor Multiplan announced today that it is acquiring Viant which owns the Beech Street preferred provider network. "The transaction is expected to close before the end of the year, subject to satisfaction of closing conditions including customary regulatory approvals. Financial terms were not disclosed."

CMS Caremark reported better than expected 2nd quarter earnings. According to the AP report, "The Caremark pharmacy benefits business continued to gain a boost from its Maintenance Choice program, which allows health plan members to pick up 90-day orders at drugstores while paying lower mail-order prices. The company has 270 Maintenance Choice clients, up from 200 after the first quarter."

Merck announced that it is paying $80 million to settle "190 outstanding private third-party payer claims [arising out of the Vioxx fiasco], including all actions pending in New Jersey and in the multidistrict litigation that was consolidated in Louisiana." according to a Business Insurance report.

Finally, Consumer Reports is rolling out updated ratings for hospitals and health plans. According to a Los Angeles Times report, "the [hospital] ratings already reveal some troubling issues. The staff at 92% of the hospitals were given the lowest possible rating out of five points for communicating about new medications, while 82% were slammed for the way they gave out discharge instructions. Nearly 30% scored just as poorly in the staff attentiveness category."

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