KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Coalition Pushes To Replace Conn. Insurance Commissioner; Ind. Lawmakers Raise Questions About Medicaid Program

The Hartford Courant Blog: "State Sen. Edith Prague and a coalition of labor unions and citizen groups are asking Gov. M. Jodi Rell to replace Insurance Commissioner Thomas Sullivan. The group Citizens for Economic Opportunity sent a letter Monday to Rell asking for a replacement who is a 'more consumer-oriented individual who will protect Connecticut residents from unwarranted health insurance increases.' The group represents, among others, the Connecticut AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, Connecticut Citizen Action Group and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. ... The Connecticut Insurance Department last month approved a set of rate hikes without change, allowing Anthem increases of as much as 47 percent. Those increase affect new customers who shop for health plans individually" (Sturdevant, 10/25).

Waterbury (Conn.) Republican American: Sullivan was appointed by Rell in 2007. "In addition to the claim the insurance department is rubber-stamping rate increase requests, the letter also claims Sullivan is 'opposed to holding public hearings and conducting a thorough rate review' and demands that the department 'halt the argument that they have to pass along higher rates to consumers because of the federal reform law'" (Krechevsky, 10/26).

WRTV Indianapolis: "Some lawmakers are questioning why [Indiana] is still spending time and tax money accepting and processing applications for a health care program with a waiting list of 52,000 people. All eight lawmakers on the Medicaid Oversight Committee on Monday expressed their support for legislation that addresses concerns about the Healthy Indiana Plan, or HIP, which is paid for with cigarette tax money, 6News' Kara Kenney reported. In March, Gov. Mitch Daniels announced suspension of enrollments for childless adults in light of national health care reform. But since then, some lawmakers claim the state has been running the program inefficiently and misleading taxpayers, including transferring $5 million intended for health insurance for needy families into the general fund to help balance the budget" (10/25).

San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News: "The elimination of a $133 million state mental health program violates the federal rights of more than 20,000 special education students across California, a class-action lawsuit filed Friday against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and governmental agencies said. The lawsuit alleges the state violated the Individuals with Disabilities Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by cutting off the program known as 'AB 3632 services.' … The funding was slashed earlier this month when Schwarzenegger used a line-item veto to eliminate it from the state budget" (Hoag, 10/23).

San Francisco Chronicle: "California's new federally backed health plan for the medically uninsurable -- the first consumer program offered under the federal health law -- began operating Monday after weeks of delays waiting for contracts to be finalized. The high-risk pool, known as the Pre-Existing Condition Plan, is available to legal residents who've been uninsured for six months prior to applying for the federal program and have a medical condition that has put private coverage out of reach. The delays have made California perhaps the last state to get its pool up and running. Even though California already operates a state high-risk plan, the federal plan was postponed because the insurers that offer coverage in the state pool chose not to participate in it. The state then had to negotiate contracts with third-party companies to administer the program" (Colliver, 10/26).

San Jose Mercury News/Santa Cruz Sentinel: "A program launched by California Monday aims to insure 23,000 people with pre-existing conditions but it won't help Soquel resident Michael Rosenberg … [who] has a chronic nonlife-threatening condition that he says is under control with inexpensive drugs. In 2001, he was paying $570 a month for health insurance for himself, his wife and his two daughters. He knew he would pay more when he turned 55 in September, but he didn't expect the PacifiCare premium to go up to $2,391 a month for himself and his wife." He tried several options for private insurance and then checked out the "state's pre-existing condition insurance plan, known as PCIP." But it is open only to "people who have been without health coverage for at least six months. So Rosenberg doesn't qualify." The pre-existing plan is designed "to bridge the gap between now and 2014, when federal health care reform will not allow insurers to decline to cover people with pre-existing conditions or charge them higher premiums" (Gumz, 10/25).

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