State nixes health insurance rate hikes plus reform in review


The Globe reports that the state is rejecting health insurance rate hikes for the first time.

Making good on Governor Deval Patrick’s promise to reject health insurance rate hikes deemed excessive, the state Division of Insurance this morning turned down 235 of 274 increases proposed by Massachusetts health insurers for small businesses and individuals.

The ruling, stemming from emergency regulations the governor unveiled in February, marks the first time state government in Massachusetts has used its authority to deny health premium increases

More from the Boston Business Journal


 Catch up here on the Caritas sale and conversion to a for-profit company.


Cerberus, known for its $7.4 billion buyout of Chrysler LLC in 2007, is acquiring a hospital chain that has struggled in a medical marketplace dominated by large teaching hospitals such as Massachusetts General Hospital, which has links to Harvard Medical School. Turning the system around and making a profit for investors will be a challenge, said Stuart Altman, professor of national health policy at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

“The buyout firm isn’t walking into an easy situation,” said Altman. Massachusetts is also contemplating tighter financial regulation of hospitals, which could be a “wild card” for a new buyer, Altman said.

And catch up on the arrival of health reform with  Health Wonk Review, hosted this week by Health Technology News.

 His compilation of the latest from the policy blogs features an array of  flying pigs.

 Health care has never been so center stage and so enmeshed with policy and politics.  It took 100 years, starting with Teddy Roosevelt’s 1912 presidential campaign. Seven presidents tried including two Republicans and five Democrats. 
Who won? Patients won’t be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions (eventually) and are no longer subject to lifetime caps.  Physicians will benefit from the coverage expansion and increasing fees for Medicare primary care. Government trims the rate of growth of the deficit. Small business gets a tax break. Students can stay on their parent’s plans until age 26. Seniors see the close of the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole.  And hospitals receive payments for more of the care delivered. 

Not all of the “winners” improve access/health/costs:  Pharma doesn’t have to negotiate for drug prices. Payers will still find reasons to deny care and are permitted medical loss ratios of 80-85%.  


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