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July 1, 2013
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The federal government is set to decide this month whether the federal Medicare program should pay for a $3,000 test that for the first time accurately identifies the signature brain plaques of Alzheimer’s disease, according to Bloomberg News. The test, approved last year by U.S. regulators, uses Eli Lilly and Co.’s Amyvid imaging agent to trace the brain protein amyloid. Alzheimer’s disease affects 5 million Americans, a number that patient advocates say could double by 2050. But the test is controversial because there are no available treatments that even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. A final decision from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will come July 9. While a negative decision would limit use of the tests, approval would probably lead to coverage from private health insurers, too.

Nyhart Actuary & Employee Benefits plans to expand its Indianapolis headquarters and create as many as 25 jobs here by 2017. The firm will invest $840,000 to lease and equip an additional 8,000 square feet of office space, according to Nyhart CEO Thomas Toten. Nyhart currently is negotiating an expansion of the 20,000 square feet it leases at 8415 Allison Pointe Blvd. in the Castleton area. Nyhart currently has 68 full-time employees in Indianapolis and about another 30 across five other states. The firm already has started hiring additional actuaries, administrators and benefit consultants from college programs for its Indianapolis expansion. Founded in 1943, Nyhart provides consulting services to more than 1,000 public and private companies in 48 states on issues such as pensions, retirement benefits, compensation and other employee benefits. Nyhart has been in growth mode lately. In August, Nyhart acquired San Diego-based The Epler Co., a regional actuarial, employee benefits and compensation strategies firm.

Lilly Endowment Inc. will give $10 million to help start the Indiana Biosciences Institute. The institute is already due to receive $25 million in startup funds from the state. The institute aims to attract 100 new scientists to Indiana to conduct research and development work aimed at launching new therapies for metabolic diseases. The effort has been spearheaded by BioCrossroads, an Indianapolis-based life sciences organization, and has received significant support from Gov. Mike Pence and John Lechleiter, the CEO of Eli Lilly and Co. The institute needs to raise $15 million over the next year or so to fully fund its startup efforts. Beyond that, the institute hopes to raise an endowment of $310 million to help fund its operations. It also hopes its researchers attract steady grants from life sciences research companies, such as Indianapolis-based Lilly and Bloomington-based Cook Group Inc.

Eli Lilly and Co. won a United Kingdom patent lawsuit against a Johnson & Johnson unit over a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, according to Bloomberg News. A patent held by J&J’s Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy Research & Development unit isn’t valid, Judge Richard Arnold said in a ruling in London on June 25. Both companies are developing treatments targeting the buildup of plaque in patients’ brains that’s linked to the condition. Companies developing the first treatments for Alzheimer’s are competing for what might be a $20 billion market, according to a report last year by Deutsche Bank AG analysts.

The head of the state Family and Social Services Administration said the federal government is expected to approve an extension of the Healthy Indiana Plan, but a request to use the plan for an Indiana Medicaid expansion could take much longer. According to the Associated Press, FSSA Secretary Debra Minott said Gov. Mike Pence directed her and others to ensure those already enrolled in HIP are secure before negotiating an expansion through the program. Roughly 40,000 low-income residents are enrolled in the program, which operates under a federal waiver. But the waiver is set to expire at the end of the year, potentially leaving enrollees without coverage. Pence resubmitted an application with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in April seeking to use the state's hybrid health savings account plan as the vehicle for Medicaid expansion. CMS rejected an earlier request from former Gov. Mitch Daniels, citing concerns about the premium paid by members and a need for improved coverage. The expansion would cover residents earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, using new funds authorized by Obamacare.

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  1. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.

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