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Company news

December 22, 2010

Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. has given $35 million to Manchester College to help launch a new school of pharmacy in Fort Wayne. Manchester, a 1,300-student liberal arts college west of Fort Wayne, plans to open the school in 2012 with a class of 70 students. The school, which would be Indiana’s third doctoral pharmacy program, would ramp up to 265 total students. Average pharmacist salaries nationwide top $115,000, according to the industry trade journal Drug Topics. There are 115 schools of pharmacy nationally, with 20 more preparing to launch, according to the American Pharmacists Association. There are nearly 175,000 pharmacists nationwide. Most dispense prescription medicines in community drug stores, though a growing number work at hospitals or as consultants and health care managers.

WellPoint Inc.’s request to raise rates on small-business health plans in New York by as much as 28 percent will face increased scrutiny because of new U.S. regulations, the state’s top health insurance official told Bloomberg News. Federal rules released Tuesday tell state regulators to view rate-increase proposals of more than 10 percent as “initially unreasonable,” said Louis Felice, head of New York’s Insurance Department’s health bureau. Indianapolis-based WellPoint asked for a premium hike of 20 percent to 28 percent for 216,000 people in health plans at businesses with 50 or fewer employees. State officials can choose to bar insurers with a pattern of rate increases that the new health law labels as “unreasonable” from new insurance exchanges that will be set up in 2014 as part of funding coverage for 24 million individuals. The 10-percent threshold will change after 2011 to a state-by-state measurement based on the history of health costs in each state.

Indiana Medicaid services likely will be cut in order to head off a projected 25-percent spike in spending over the next two years, according to the Associates Press. The actuary hired by Medicaid to make budget projections, Milliman Inc.’s Robert Damler, said the program’s spending is set to grow by $3.3 billion over the next two years, and more after that, unless some services are cut. Those figures rendered the State Budget Committee “speechless,” said committee Chairman Luke Kenley, a Republican state senator from Noblesville. Damler suggested cutting spending for chiropractors, podiatrists and adult dental services to reduce the Medicaid bill. But Medicaid is likely here to stay, after Kenley backed away from an earlier suggestion that Indiana follow Texas' lead in exploring alternatives to Medicaid. Kenley said there was no enthusiasm for such an option from Gov. Mitch Daniels' administration. Damler said Indiana's Medicaid population of about 1.11 million—mostly single moms and kids—will grow to 1.25 million in 2013, and then add another 400,000 the following year when key provisions of the health care overhaul kick in.

Anderson-based Saint John’s Health System plans to spend $24 million to build a surgical services center, with construction beginning this fall. The subsidiary of Indianapolis-based St. Vincent Health currently performs 11,000 surgeries a year in three facilities, one of which is 42 years old.

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