Two Republican Senate Finance Committee members have called on the White House to reject a proposal from state health officials that would expand the State Childrens Health Insurance Program in New York to cover families with annual incomes as high as $82,600 for a family of four. In a letter sent to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Pat Roberts of Kansas said that New Yorks proposal is in direct conflict with the legislative language and congressional intent of SCHIP. In May, New York health officials submitted a proposal to HHS that would effectively allow children in families that make up to four times the federal poverty level to be covered under its SCHIP plan. As is, the states Medicaid eligibility is currently 200% of the poverty level, or about $41,300.
Physician-ranking programs by Aetna and Cigna Healthcare may confuse or deceive consumers because of how they are designed, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has warned in letters to the two insurers. Cuomo requested full justification for the programs, which recommend certain primary-care physicians and specialists to consumers. His office wrote that Aetna Aexcel and the Cigna Care Network may be flawed because the insurers rely on claims data, which may exclude key information and have too small a sample size to yield useful data. Cynthia Michener, an Aetna spokeswoman, said in an e-mail that the company will cooperate with the requests and is fully committed to transparency, including publishing the criteria for the selection of specialty physicians on our member and provider Web sites. Wendell Potter, spokesman for Cigna, said that the company is still reviewing the letter but takes the concerns seriously.
Jay Grinney, chief executive officer of rehabilitation provider HealthSouth Corp., Birmingham, Ala., acquired nearly 115,000 shares in the companys stock, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. On Aug. 14, Grinney purchased 114,743 shares at an average share price of $17.45, for a total of about $2 million. Grinney was featured in Modern Healthcare magazines annual story on CEO compensation (July 30, p. 6). Although Grinney was the lowest-paid executive listed in the specialty-care category, he has been granted options on 480,000 shareswith exercise prices ranging from $26.05 per share to $26.85 per sharesince he became the companys CEO in 2004. Shares of HealthSouth closed at $17.90 per share on Aug. 17.
Forty-two hospitals have urged the Internal Revenue Service to delay by two years proposed rules that would expand public reporting of how not-for-profit hospitals subsidize medical care, research and other health services in exchange for federal tax breaks. Regulators released online comments received as of Aug. 12 on the agencys planned overhaul of the Form 990, a tax filing widely used by not-for-profits. A draft of the overhauled form, unveiled June 14, would set a uniform standard for how hospitals report community benefits, such as free and discounted care for low-income patients. The public comment period ends Sept. 14, and the agency said it may implement the new rules as early as 2008.
Boston Scientific Corp., Natick, Mass., is looking to unload its cardiac-surgery and vascular-surgery divisions as part of an ongoing plan to divest itself of nonstrategic assets, according to a news release issued by the company. The announcement comes on the heels of one made last month that the medical-device maker plans to sell its fluid-management business. Boston Scientific has seen a reduction in its profit margins over the past year in part because of a class-action lawsuit filed by patients who received defibrillators made by subsidiary company Guidant Corp. Boston Scientific acquired the cardiac-surgery unit that it is now looking to divest when it purchased Guidant in April 2006. The unit employs 450 workers and generated $189 million in revenue in 2006. The devicemaker acquired the vascular-surgery division in 1995 with the purchase of Meadox Medical.
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