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WellPoint to adhere to new rescission rules early

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WellPoint Inc., after being painted by the Obama administration as the bad boy of a bad industry, now is trying to win gold stars for good behavior.

The Indianapolis-based health insurer announced Tuesday afternoon it will be the first company to adopt stricter standards on canceling policies, as called for in the health reform bill passed in March.

The new law says health insurers can cancel a customer’s policy only in cases of fraud or intentional lying. Currently, health insurers sometimes cancel policies if a customer omits or misconstrues information, even unwittingly.

WellPoint will adopt the stricter standard on May 1—nearly five months ahead of schedule.

The move comes after Obama’s health secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, chastised WellPoint for doing targeted investigations and cancellations on breast cancer patients following such allegations in a Reuters story last week. WellPoint said the story was riddled with errors and was “grossly misleading.”

“There have been a lot of misrepresentations and inaccuracies in recent days that have caused confusion among our members and among the public generally about our policies in this area" WellPoint CEO Angela Braly said in Tuesday’s statement. "We think today’s announcement will go a long way toward bringing greater clarity.”

Last week, WellPoint and its rival UnitedHealthcare said they would immediately start covering children of policyholders until age 26. That provision was scheduled by the new law to take effect at the end of September.

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  • Senator Feinstein acuses Wellpoint's Braly of greed
    The only reason Wellpoint is making these concessions this afternoon is because this morning Congress demanded that Wellpoint cease and desist its recission practices. California Senator Dianne Feinstein expressed outrage. "If a CEO thinks it is okay to deprive women of their health coverage when they become seriously ill with breast cancer, we can't trust them to do the right thing, period. Left to their own devices, companies like WellPoint will throw paying customers to the sharks for the sake of profit." Feinstein called for strong enforcement of the new law so that companies won't find creative ways to continue this unconscionable practice. "We must clearly be vigilant in order to assure that the law has teeth and is heavily enforced," she said. "We can't turn our backs for one minute."WellPoint and two of the nation's other largest insurance companies -- UnitedHealth Group Inc and Assurant Health, part of Assurant Inc -- made at least $300 million by improperly rescinding more than 19,000 policyholders over one five-year period. WellPoint earned a $4.7 billion profit in 2009. Angela Braly, the CEO of WellPoint, received $13.1 million in total compensation in 2009. This was a 51-percent increase in her salary over the prior year.
    The California Senator also called for Congress to take urgent action to close the Rate Hike Loophole that will allow health insurance corporations to dramatically hike premium rates between now and 2014, when health insurance exchanges go online. Wellpoint has frozen rate increases in Indiana, but has jacked them up 39% in California and Colorado. "If there was any doubt about whether corporate greed has anything to do with WellPoint's plans to jack up premium rates on its customers, I think today's Reuters story answers the question definitively," said Feinstein. "It's time for Congress to step in and fix the rate hike loophole in the health insurance reform law. We must put patients before profits, and protect the American people from this kind of unchecked greed."
     

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  1. Those of you yelling to deport them all should at least understand that the law allows minors (if not from a bordering country) to argue for asylum. If you don't like the law, you can petition Congress to change it. But you can't blindly scream that they all need to be deported now, unless you want your government to just decide which laws to follow and which to ignore.

  2. 52,000 children in a country with a population of nearly 300 million is decimal dust or a nano-amount of people that can be easily absorbed. In addition, the flow of children from central American countries is decreasing. BL - the country can easily absorb these children while at the same time trying to discourage more children from coming. There is tension between economic concerns and the values of Judeo-Christian believers. But, I cannot see how the economic argument can stand up against the values of the believers, which most people in this country espouse (but perhaps don't practice). The Governor, who is an alleged religious man and a family man, seems to favor the economic argument; I do not see how his position is tenable under the circumstances. Yes, this is a complicated situation made worse by politics but....these are helpless children without parents and many want to simply "ship" them back to who knows where. Where are our Hoosier hearts? I thought the term Hoosier was synonymous with hospitable.

  3. Illegal aliens. Not undocumented workers (too young anyway). I note that this article never uses the word illegal and calls them immigrants. Being married to a naturalized citizen, these people are criminals and need to be deported as soon as humanly possible. The border needs to be closed NOW.

  4. Send them back NOW.

  5. deport now

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