Company news

February 18, 2013

Former Amerigroup Corp. CEO Jim Carlson will leave WellPoint Inc., the company told Bloomberg News—three days after he lost a bid for the top job at the Indianapolis-based health insurer. Carlson will leave WellPoint on Feb. 28, according to a statement e-mailed by company spokeswoman Kristin Binns. He had joined the nation's second-largest health insurer in December, after WellPoint closed its $4.9 billion acquisition of Amerigroup. WellPoint named Joe Swedish, CEO of the not-for-profit hospital system Trinity Health Corp., to be its next leader, ending a six-month search. Carlson, 60, was among the other candidates under consideration. “After helping close the Amerigroup transaction and assisting over the past six weeks with the integration of the two companies, Jim Carlson will be leaving WellPoint effective Feb. 28,” WellPoint said in the statement. While Carlson had signed a contract to remain with WellPoint for two years, the pact allowed the two sides to part under “changed circumstances,” said Carl McDonald, a Citigroup analyst, in a Feb. 13 note to clients. The WellPoint statement didn’t mention Carlson’s contract. Binns declined to comment when asked how Carlson’s contract would be handled. WellPoint said last month that Richard Zoretic, Amerigroup’s former chief operating officer, would run its Medicaid business.

In a combative Feb. 13 letter to the Obama administration, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence asked the federal government to approve a three-year extension of the Healthy Indiana Plan health savings accounts in lieu of an expansion of a federal Medicaid system. "Medicaid is broken. It has a well-documented history of substantial waste, fraud and abuse. It has failed to keep pace with private market innovations that have created efficiencies, controlled costs and improved quality," he wrote to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. According to the Associated Press, the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration requested a waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, seeking to enroll residents who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line in the HIP program — a move that would effectively cover roughly 400,000 residents through health savings accounts instead of traditional Medicaid. The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act had called for all states to expand eligibility to the traditional Medicaid program for all residents making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty limit. House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said Pence's move puts thousands of jobs at risks by playing politics with the expansion. It's unclear whether the federal agency in charge of Medicaid will sign off on a longer extension and expansion of the Indiana program. The agency approved a one-year extension last month but ruled out minimum payments. Former Gov. Mitch Daniels sought a three-year extension of the program in 2011, but was rejected.

Bioanalytical Systems Inc. swung to a profit in the quarter ended Dec. 31, the West Lafayatte-based company announced Feb. 14. The company, which conducts preclinical testing for pharmaceutical companies, earned $139,000 during the quarter, or 2 cents per share, compared with a loss in the same quarter a year ago of $1.5 million, or 21 cents per share. But revenue in the quarter fell 23 percent, compared with a year ago, to $5.8 million. Jacqueline Lemke, who was recently named CEO after serving in the role on an interim basis, said in a prepared statement: "With the notable exception of revenue, all of our operating metrics moved decisively in the right direction in the first quarter compared to the prior year. We believe these improvements are sustainable.”

A federal audit recommended that the Indiana Medicaid program refund more than $5.8 million because it failed to ensure that Logansport State Hospital had complied with special conditions for psychiatric hospitals. The audit, released Friday by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said the hospital failed to demonstrate it met staffing and medical-record requirements from the start of 2008 through the end of 2010. So the inspector general thinks the state of Indiana should refund all federal funds used to pay that hospital during that time period—about $5.84 million—as well as any federal funds paid after 2010 if the hospital continued to be out of compliance.  It's unclear whether Indiana will need to refund all the recommended amounts or when that would happen. Audits usually begin a period of negotiations between the two sides. The agency that administers the Indiana Medicaid program, the Family and Social Services Administration, issued a brief statement Friday saying the agency disagrees with the audit findings and plans to work with the federal government to reach "a reasonable resolution."

Dutch diagnostics maker Qiagen NV will work with Eli Lilly and Co. to develop companion tests that could identify patients who could be helped by Lilly's drugs. According to the Associated Press, the companies did not disclose terms of the new collaboration, but described it as a "broad" partnership that will cover "all therapeutic areas." In September 2011, Qiagen started working with Indianapolis-based Lilly on a test designed to identify patients who might be helped by an experimental blood cancer drug. In July 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a genetic test Qiagen developed that is designed to help doctors more quickly determine which late-stage colon cancer patients will respond to the drug Erbitux and which won't benefit from the treatment. Erbitux is marketed by Lilly and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. In January, Lilly partnered with a unit of Agilent Technologies Inc. to develop a test that can identify cancer patients who could benefit from an experimental cancer drug Lilly is developing.