Weekend Wrap-Up / Miscellany

  • Modern Healthcare.com reports that a RICO lawsuit has been filed against Ingenix and its parent United Healthcare in the federal district court in Hartford, Connecticut. The suit is based on the allegations of artificially low reimbursement rates for out of network provider first publicized by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. The suit is captioned Weintraub v. Ingenix Inc et al., Civil Action No. 3:08-cv-00654-CFD, and thanks to PACER, I have learned that Aetna, CIGNA, GHI, Empire Blue Cross, Humana, and Healthnet, among others, also are named defendants. The plaintiff is a New York resident who belongs to an Aetna plan. The suit is assigned to U.S. District Judge Christopher Droney.
  • AHIP announced this week that “More than 6.1 million Americans are covered by Health Savings Account (HSA)-eligible insurance plans, a 35 percent increase since last year.” The Government Accountability Office issued a report this week finding that while this number has increased since 2004, “in all years, many HSA-eligible plan enrollees did not open an HSA.” The Wall Street Journal has featured a report on this problem, which is not found in the FEHB Program where the carriers seed the HSA accounts for their members. In response to the GAO report, Representatives ” Waxman and Stark renewed calls for legislation that would require enrollees in health savings accounts to prove that withdrawals were for medical expenses” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • I attended a conference last Tuesday sponsored by the Galen Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute that featured a speech by Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt titled “Medicare Drifting Toward Disaster / Solutions for Sustainability.” A webcast of the 2 hour conference is available here. Secretary Leavitt intends to append his speech to the minutes of the March 26 Medicare Trustees meeting at which the Trustees released a report predicting that the Medicare Part A trust will be insolvent in 2019. Secretary Leavitt called for political courage to address the problem now. Sen. John Breaux (ret. D La) agreed but noted that political courage increases as the deadline approaches. He predicted that Congress will be addressing the issue in 2018.