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December 17, 2012
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State officials are expected to sign off on a one-year extension of the Healthy Indiana Plan started by Gov. Mitch Daniels, sparing the program’s roughly 40,000 enrollees a lapse in coverage, according to the Associated Press. Family and Social Services Administration spokeswoman Marni Lemons said the state received the needed paperwork from the federal government on Dec. 13. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services agreed to a waiver that would allow the state to continue the program unchanged for a year, Lemons said. The HIP program offers health savings accounts to the working poor, requiring them in most cases to pay a monthly contribution to their savings accounts. The Daniels administration had sought a three-year extension of the program via the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' waiver process, but the federal government replied in July with an offer of one year and a request that the state end mandatory contributions from enrollees. Lemons said the new offer allows Indiana to continue collecting a monthly contribution, but did not say why CMS reversed its position.

Milliman Inc., an actuarial and consulting firm, announced Friday morning that it plans to add 26 jobs in Indianapolis by 2017 as part of a $2 million expansion. The Seattle-based company, which has 54 offices worldwide, said the investment will go toward installing additional technology at its 25,000-square-foot office in downtown’s Chase Tower. Milliman already had 55 employees at the location and has begun hiring additional actuarial consultants. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. said it will provide Milliman up to $400,000 in performance-based tax credits and up to $97,000 in training grants based on the company's job-creation plans. Milliman has had a presence in Indianapolis since 1965.

A south-side entrepreneur unveiled plans Thursday to convert the old St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove into a $20 million mixed-use senior-living development. Joe Wolfla, who helped lead the reintroduction last year of the chocolate beverage Choc-ola, announced the project at a Beech Grove Chamber of Commerce event. Dubbed Franciscan Place, the development will feature 150-plus apartments, shops and a restaurant in the old hospital. Wolfla purchased the 14-acre site from Franciscan St. Francis for $10. The property became available in March after the Catholic hospital system ended all inpatient operations at the facility. Franciscan announced five years ago that it would consolidate its Beech Grove operations into an expanded facility seven miles south, near Interstate 65 and Emerson Avenue. The Beech Grove hospital was founded in 1914 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, an order of nuns based in Mishawaka. But it fell victim to the need for hospitals to attract patients using private health insurance, which pays generous prices compared to government-sponsored health plans such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Eli Lilly and Co. last week halted one clinical trial for a rheumatoid arthritis drug and announced a new trial for an Alzheimer’s drug. Both moves are potential setbacks for the Indianapolis-based drugmaker's product pipeline. Lilly stopped one of three Phase 3 trials it was conducting on the drug tabalumab, because it failed to show efficacy against rheumatoid arthritis. The other two trials are proceeding, but Lilly is holding off on enrolling new patients until more analyses are finished early next year. Lilly is still evaluating tabalumab in systemic lupus erythematosus. The company said it expects to take a pretax charge of $20 million to $35 million in the fourth quarter, or about 2 cents a share after tax. Lilly also announced that it needs to run another Phase 3 trial of its experimental Alzheimer's treatment solanezumab. That means it will likely take another five years before Lilly can launch solanezumab—assuming the new trial confirms and strengthens the signs that the drug helps slow the progression of Alzheimer’s in patients with mild forms of the disease. Lilly said the study will begin no later than the third quarter of 2013. With many other companies also testing Alzheimer’s drugs in Phase 3 trials, the delay means another company could beat Lilly in its quest to launch the first drug to successfully reverse the course of the memory-sapping disease.

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