Company news

May 5, 2010

No can do. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was one of 15 who told the federal government they don't want to help create a temporary high-risk insurance pool. The pools, which would end when the new federal health law creates insurance exchanges in 2014, would be funded with $5 billion. But Daniels, in a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said he fears that money will run out before 2014 and Indiana will have to pick up the bill. Daniels noted that Indiana already operates its own high-risk insurance pool, in which about 7,000 Hoosiers participate. "In the end this was not a close call for Indiana," Daniels wrote to the feds. "The risks Indiana is being asked to take are well beyond any range of acceptability." A report by the Web site Politico.com noted that most Republican governors, like Daniels, have told the feds to create the exchange on their own while most Democratic governors have said they would help.

Oops. Shares of Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc. have tumbled 8.4 percent since math errors and other mistakes forced the company to withdraw its requested rate hake for individual policies in California. That’s the infamous 39-percent hike (25 percent on average) that President Obama seized on to reignite his push for health reform, which became law on March 23. California insurance regulators, after investigating WellPoint’s rate-hike application, said it was based on flawed data, according to the Associated Press. WellPoint withdrew the application and said it would try again, perhaps within a month. But investors didn’t wait. They launched a selloff that dumped WellPoint shares to their lowest level since November.

SonarMed, based in West Lafayette, will receive about $450,000 over two years from the National Institutes of Health to adapt its airway monitoring system to neonatal patients. SonarMed’s product uses acoustic technology to catch and prevent movement or obstruction of the tube, both of which can harm patients. Neonatal patients are especially vulnerable, according to SonarMed, because slight movements of the breathing tube in their small, short tracheas can lead to serious complications. The technology was developed at Purdue University and licensed to SonarMed by Purdue Research Foundation's Office of Technology Commercialization.

Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have identified a mechanism that causes inflammation in asthma, excema, and other allergic diseases, which could help drugmakers develop new medicines to control those conditions. In research reported in the June 2010 issue of the journal Nature Immunology, the IU research team found that a regulatory factor called PU.1 activates a newly discovered type of T-cell, which appears in higher concentrations in patients with allergic disease. “Effectively targeting PU.1 to prevent its activation could lead to improved treatments for patients who must deal with the inflammation caused by these allergic diseases,” said Mark H. Kaplan, professor of pediatrics and of microbiology and immunology at the IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis. Kaplan recently received a $1.9M grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue research on this factor.