Anthem proposes double-digit rate increase in Conn.; Mass. bill would cut payments to high-cost providers

News outlets report on health insurance issues in the states.

The Connecticut Mirror:  Anthem Proposes 12.9 Percent Rate Increase
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, (Connecticut's) largest health insurer and a favorite target of advocates for more stringent regulation of rate increases, is seeking to raise premiums by 12.9 percent next year for more than 45,000 individual-market customers, including some whose plans were the subject of a controversial request that got denied last year (Levin Becker, 9/2).

Boston Globe: Legislator Seeks Cuts To Highest Health Payments
Ronald Mariano, the House majority leader, planned to file legislation today that would force insurers to cut payments to the most expensive hospitals and doctors, a bold proposal that is likely to meet opposition from many providers. The amount the insurers saved would be used to increase payments to the lowest-paid hospitals and doctors, and to reduce health insurance premiums for employers and consumers. Mariano, a Quincy Democrat, said his plan could shave roughly $267 million off premiums, based on a previous analysis by Governor Deval Patrick's staff (Kowalczyk, 9/6).

Baltimore Sun: Little-Known Health Education And Advocacy Unit Helps Marylanders Resolve Medical Bill And Insurance Disputes
The surgery on Don Hayden's son was successful. The only lingering complication: a bill for $23,000. The Gaithersburg family, surprised that insurance didn't cover the cost, spent about a year fighting the charge from the medical clinic -; even after it was reduced to $16,000. The clinic turned the bill over to a collection agency, and the Haydens prepared to hire a lawyer. That's when an administrative worker at the clinic advised the family in a whisper to contact Maryland's Health Education and Advocacy Unit, which mediates such disputes on behalf of consumers (Ambrose, 9/4).

The Seattle Times: Insurer's Cuts Leave Dentists Nursing $60 Million Toothache
Caring for your teeth costs more in Washington than just about anywhere else in the country, according to the state's largest dental insurer, which recently slashed payments to dentists for the first time in more than 50 years. Washington Dental Service (WDS), a nonprofit that insures about 1.5 million patients in Washington, says the $60 million it expects to save in cuts to dentists has allowed it to offer a more affordable plan to small businesses. Angry and dismayed dentists, hit with cuts of up to 15 percent or more, warn that the drastic reductions will hurt patients, who have grown accustomed to dentists who take time to focus on prevention and options, instead of just waiting until something hurts or breaks (Ostrom, 9/3).

HealthyCal: Plan To Expand Benefits Draws Opposition
A network of doctors, community hospitals and public health plans is proposing a new, low-cost health plan for some of California's low-income residents. But a state agency created to implement the federal health reform law is opposing the idea, saying the low-cost plan would undercut efforts to create a new insurance exchange from which millions of Californians will begin buying their coverage in 2014. Senate Bill 703 would establish a "Basic Health Program" aimed at serving over 720,000 working adults in California (Smith, 9/2).

HealthyCal: Finding Healthcare In An Alphabet Soup Of Acronyms
Californians who don't have health insurance through work and can't afford to buy it themselves can find themselves negotiating a maze of government-subsidized programs. They might qualify for Medi-Cal, the state's version of the federal Medicaid program. They might be classified as a Medically Indigent Adult, or MIA, depending on what county they live in and what the income requirements of that county are, and get limited health care services. ... And now a federally-funded state program will get hundreds of thousands of low income adults coverage earlier than that through a program called the California Bridge to Reform  (Moran, 9/5).


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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