Tuesday Tidbits

  • Cigna reached a settlement with New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo as a result of his Ingenix UCR database probe, according to a Business Insurance report. Without admitting liability, Cigna agreed to contribute $10 million toward the development of an independent UCR database. Mr. Cuomo has now raised around $90 million for this database to be developed by a qualified university appointed by him. When will he reach his fundraising goal?
  • I found it interesting a couple of years ago when the Business Roundtable teamed up with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the AARP to create a healthcare reform advocacy group called Divided We Fail. The Boston Globe reports cracks in the coalition as the SEIU pushes for the Medicare for All approach while the Business Roundtable seeks a private sector oriented solution.
  • President Obama signed the economic stimulus today which includes $19 billion of health information technology funding, complicated HIPAA privacy and security changes, and a new COBRA temporary continuation of coverage subsidy for the recently unemployed. Business Insurance reports that

    The federal government will pay 65% of COBRA premiums for employees who are laid off from Sept. 1, 2008, through Dec. 31, 2009. The subsidy will extend for nine months. However, individuals with an annual adjusted gross income of more than $125,000 and couples with an adjusted gross income of more than $250,000 will not be eligible for the subsidy. Employers will face a significant communications and administrative challenge to comply with the COBRA provisions, which go into effect March 1. Employees who were laid off since Sept. 1, 2008, and declined to opt for COBRA coverage will have a new right to enroll in COBRA, and employers are required to inform those individuals of that right. In addition, laid-off employees now receiving COBRA will have to be informed of the new subsidy and their premium contributions will have to be adjusted—as of March 1—to reflect the new subsidy.

    This subsidy also applies to the FEHB Program’s temporary continuation of coverage program (5 U.S.C. § 8905a). The stimulus bill probably should not be called a tidbit.