Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Sebelius Takes On Health Insurers
The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones: When health insurance executives meet with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at the White House Thursday to discuss premiums, they will "face a regulator who is well-versed in the complexities of the industry." Sebelius, whose resume includes a stretch as a state insurance commissioner, "is taking aim at rising premium rates as she joins President Barack Obama's push for an overhaul of the nation's health-coverage laws. Last month, Sebelius released a report on health insurers' 2009 proposals for higher premiums in several states, including a request for a 56% increase in individual plans in Michigan." Her focus so far has been WellPoint Inc. and its planned increase of as much as 39 percent for individual premiums in California for Anthem Blue Cross members. "The back and forth on California rates isn't the first encounter between Sebelius and WellPoint, the largest U.S. managed-care company by membership. ... In 2002, as the Kansas insurance commissioner, Sebelius blocked WellPoint predecessor Anthem Inc. from acquiring the state's dominant health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Inc., a mutual insurance company. ... The issues involved in that Kansas decision resonate in the national health-care debate today" (Brin, 3/3).
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