TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-Florida's 11 regional "community health purchasing alliances" were expected to open bids last week from at least 57 companies that want to provide low-cost health benefit plans to small businesses. The companies, which are either insurers or health maintenance organizations, have been certified by the state as "accountable health partnerships" as part of the Florida's managed competition health plan. While insurers have indicated interest, few businesses have enrolled in the plans, known as "Chippas" for short, said a spokesman for the state Agency for Health Care Administration. "Once the bids are opened and we get a cost comparison of inside the Chippa vs. outside, we expect membership to grow," said Ed Towey, the AHCA spokesman. Mr. Towey said the state expects the Chippa-solicited health plans to cost at least 10% less than the commercial market. According to state law, the bids must include plans with a 50% employer contribution, but AHPs also can offer health plans with a 25% or zero employer contribution rate. Another requirement the state hopes is appealing to small businesses is that plans offered through the Chippas can't exclude employees with pre-existing conditions. In addition, rates can be based only on age, sex, county, family size and tobacco usage. For those businesses that join a Chippa, coverage would be effective for their employees on May 1. State officials said they plan to add the state's 1 million Medicaid patients and 100,000 state employees later this year.
ASHLAND, Ky.-The Kentucky health department has approved a certificate of need to King's Daughters' Medical Center in Ashland to develop and operate a neonatal ambulance service. The hospital said this service isn't available in eastern Kentucky. The service, which is expected to start by April 1, will operate in a 90-minute radius of the hospital. The state has approved $242,300 in expenditures for the new service, but a hospital spokeswoman said the final cost of the project should be less.