KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Aetna-Humana Deal Could Cause Medicare Advantage Costs To Increase: Report

The Center for American Progress found the proposed purchase of Humana by Aetna could lead to increased premium costs for seniors with these private Medicare plans. Meanwhile, California's four largest health plans may owe the state an estimated $10 billion in back taxes -- depending on the outcome of a pending legal case.

Reuters: Aetna's Deal For Humana Will Push Up Costs For Seniors: Think Tank
Aetna Inc's plan to buy smaller insurer Humana Inc for $31 billion will mean seniors will pay higher Medicare Advantage premiums, according to a new report by the think tank Center for American Progress (CAP). Aetna's proposed deal for Humana would combine Aetna's 7 percent of the Medicare Advantage market with Humana's 19 percent, and make it the largest provider, according to CAP, which was founded by John Podesta who worked in the White House under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. (Humer, 1/21)

The San Jose Mercury News: California's Four Largest Health Plans Could Owe State $10 Billion In Back Taxes
California's four largest health plans may be on the hook for $10 billion in state back taxes -- and at least $1 billion every year going forward -- if a closely watched legal case does not break their way. Should that happen, insurance industry critics say, it would end one of the biggest tax code abuses in state history -- one that for decades has allowed Kaiser Permanente, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California and Health Net to avoid paying a state tax on health insurance premiums. The health plans, however, say they aren't insurers and thus shouldn't be subject to the tax. (Seipel, 1/21)

Also, the California Department of Insurance will hold a public hearing regarding the proposed merger between Centene and HealthNet —

California Healthline: Hearing On Mergers May Get Testy
A proposed merger of the Centene and HealthNet health insurers in California is expected to get tight scrutiny on Friday when the California Department of Insurance holds a public hearing on whether or not that merger should be approved. Three hearings already have been held by a different state regulatory agency on health insurance company mergers, but this one will have a more open format. (Gorn, 1/21)

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