Company news

January 30, 2012

After 15 years of increasing yelps from primary care doctors, WellPoint Inc. is finally launching a plan to pay more for the family doctor’s time. The Indianapolis-based health insurer said Jan. 27 that it will increase the fees it pays to primary care specialists and even start paying for such services as crafting care plans for patients with complex medical problems. It also will offer doctors an opportunity to share in some savings when better patient care leads to a reduction in costs. An example of what WellPoint has is mind is paying doctors to take the time to coach overweight patients who have diabetes to develop an exercise plan and then making sure they stay on it. "It makes the physician the kind of physician their patient wants them to be," Jill Hummel, WellPoint's vice president of payment innovation, told the Associated Press. WellPoint reasons that by spending more at the primary care level, it can cut down on emergency room visits and hospital admissions—which are the most expensive types of care. Primary care doctors say low reimbursement rates force them to cram as many patient visits as possible into a typical day in order to make enough money to stay afloat. That keeps them from spending more than a few minutes with each patient. For a time, physicians made extra money by starting their own imaging and diagnostic centers. But health plans—both governmental and private—sharply curtailed payments to physician-owned facilities, sharply curtailing that source of revenue.

The third time’s a charm. California-based Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Massachuetts-based Alkermes Inc. succeeded in their third attempt to gain U.S. clearance for Bydureon, a once-weekly version of Amylin’s Byetta diabetes shot. The companies had been developing Bydureon with Eli Lilly and Co. until November. But Indianapolis-based Lilly broke off its partnership with Amylin after the two companies feuded over Lilly’s agreement to sell a competing diabetes medicine with Germany-baseed Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH. Amylin also agreed to make a one-time payment of $250 million to Lilly and to pay as much as $1.2 billion in royalties based on future sales of Bydureon and Byetta. In the meantime, Lilly is working to develop its own version of Bydureon, which is called dulaglutide. In 2010, Byetta produced revenue of about $700 million for the two companies, but its market share had been dented significantly by a once-daily version of the medicine, called Victoza, which was launched in 2010 by Denmark-based Novo Nordisk A/S.

Actress Florence Henderson—better known as Carol Brady from “The Brady Bunch”—will star in a series of advertisements for American Senior Communities LLC, an Indianapolis-based chain of nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The campaign will debut statewide this week in television, radio and print. Henderson, a native of Dale, currently hosts “The Florence Henderson Show” on Retirement Living Television and recently released her autobiography, “Life is Not a Stage.” Henderson previously served as a spokeswoman for Oldsmobile, Polident, Tang, Rain Soft, Pepsi and Wesson Oil. The advertising campaign was created and produced by Indianapolis-based marketing firm Bohlsen Group.