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February 13, 2008
Better Get Your Tetanus Shot
Brad Cain, Senior Editor-Managed Care

The latest news out of Missouri is that another state-led initiative to expand coverage for uninsured residents is about to fall by the wayside--an increasingly common trend on the healthcare reform front. The program known as Insure Missouri was pushed through last year by Gov. Matt Blunt as a way to cover 200,000 Missourians, but is now facing stiff opposition because it goes too far, does too little, would cost too much or some combination of the three (depending on who you ask). [Read More]

Editor's Picks
Blue Cross of California halts letters amid furor
Blue Cross of California has halted its practice of asking physicians in a letter to look for medical conditions that could be used to cancel patients' insurance coverage. The insurer had sent physicians copies of insurance applications filled out by new patients, along with the letter advising them the company had a right to drop members who failed to disclose "material medical history." Physicians, patients, privacy experts and officials criticized the move, and urged Blue Cross to stop the practice. [Read More]
Workers, employers clashing over tough wellness programs
Frustrated by rising benefit costs, executives at an Indianapolis healthcare system proposed a new program to get employees fired up about staying healthy. The proposal, however, generated so much resentment that the system never rolled out the program. The clash between Clarian Health Partners and its 13,000 employees is an example of the skirmishes that loom as employers experiment with tough get-healthy regimes. [Read More]
Healthcare risks grow as retirees face limits
Along with rising healthcare costs, workers need to plan for higher risks associated with financing their care in retirement, experts say. U.S. automakers have already offloaded their retiree healthcare liability by funding special trusts managed by the United Auto Workers union. Investment gains and workers' own cost containment will determine whether money will be there to meet retirees' needs. Telephone and utility workers could be the next wave of these arrangements. [Read More]
Maryland County's health plan would require legislation
A plan to provide access to healthcare for an estimated 20,000 uninsured residents in Howard County, MD, requires state legislation because of its unusual structure. If the legislation is approved by the Maryland General Assembly, the program will not begin until Oct. 1, to give state officials time to write regulations governing the "Healthy Howard" program. [Read More]
Blue Cross of Tennessee to share doctor ratings
Starting in April, Blue Cross of Tennessee plans to give members with private insurance secured online access to data showing how much individual doctors charge for various procedures. Doctors will also be rated based on whether patients got the right treatments or tests required for certain conditions. Ratings such as these have become popular, but skeptics say the ratings could be used to steer patients to cheaper doctors who aren't necessarily the most qualified, and some doctors question the accuracy or completeness of the information culled from insurance claims. [Read More]
Managed Care Headlines
Study: More uninsured kids in Florida
South Florida Business Journal, February 13, 2008
Missouri governor's insurance plan draws fire from lawmakers
Kansas City Star, February 13, 2008
Indiana plan draws 21,101 applications; lawmakers say more needed
AP/Examiner.com, February 13, 2008
Illinois-based Health Care Service's new chief to retain private focus
Chicago Tribune, February 13, 2008
Universal health backer in Maryland awarded $750,000 grant
Baltimore Sun, February 13, 2008
New Mexico passes healthcare reform legislation
San Jose Mercury News, February 13, 2008
New health package would cover all Iowa children
AP/Chicago Tribune, February 13, 2008
Mass. legislators mull cigarette tax increase to help healthcare
Boston Globe, February 13, 2008
Pennsylvania governor to push on insurance
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 13, 2008
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From Healthleaders Media

Which Came First, the MRI or the Inflation? Like the chicken-and-egg conundrum, healthcare has its own longstanding riddle: Does technology lower costs or raise them? In search of an answer, Healthleaders technology editor Gary Baldwin spent an afternoon last week poring through an exhaustive report from the Congressional Budget Office. [Read More]
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In the next month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is expected to finalize its proposal to expand coverage for continuous positive airway pressure devices, which treat obstructive sleep apnea. As a commercial plan, how will you respond to this change in policy? Please take a moment to answer our survey on this issue by clicking here. [Read More]
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