Company news

August 11, 2010

WellPoint Inc.’s now infamous decision to raise rates on individual customers in California as much as 39 percent was apparently made over objections by the company’s California president. Those increases by the Indianapolis-based health insurer were widely blamed for reigniting a dying health reform bill that WellPoint opposed. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Leslie Margolin said she worked internally to prevent WellPoint from raising rates so high and, once they did, to scale them back. The newspaper reported that Margolin and others voicing concerns about the size and timing of the hikes were overruled by WellPoint corporate executives. Margolin did not voice concerns about the increases when she was called before the California legislature to explain them, but the Times said she did apologize in a speech at Pepperdine University. WellPoint replaced Margolin last month and she told the Times she was escorted from her office by security guards, without a chance to say farewell to her employees. WellPoint said Margolin’s departure had nothing to with the rate hikes.

Officials in Gov. Mitch Daniels’ administration want to use the Healthy Indiana Plan as the vehicle to expand Medicaid coverage under the new federal health reform law—in spite of Daniels’ earlier comments that the new law would kill the three-year-old plan. According to the Associated Press, Indiana human services chief Anne Murphy sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services saying the Healthy Indiana Plan is "the natural vehicle" for expanding Medicaid coverage to Indiana residents in 2014. But when the new health law passed, Daniels described the Healthy Indiana Plan as a "program whose days are numbered" and asked Murphy to begin planning its phaseout.

Northwest Radiology Network PC recently expanded into Anderson by acquiring Madison County Imaging at St. John’s Medical Center and affiliating with Central Indiana Orthopedics of Anderson. Northwest Radiology is now providing its services to St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana. Both St. John’s and the Heart Center are owned by the St. Vincent Health hospital system, based in Indianapolis.

The complex regulatory process for winning approval of combo medical products is the topic of next week’s Life Sciences Lunch at the Barnes & Thornburg law firm downtown. Gretchen Bowker, an Eli Lilly and Co. alumna and now chief operating officer of Pearl IRB Inc. in Indianapolis, will present, as will Julie Dykstra, a Barnes & Thornburg attorney. The Aug. 17 event, organized by the Indiana Health Industry Forum, costs $10 and starts at 11:30 a.m.