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More medical malpractice cases could be filed directly in state trial courts without first having to go through the mandatory medical review process, under legislation pending in the Indiana Senate. Senate Bill 55, which cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee Jan. 21, raises the dollar amount of malpractice claims exempt from the medical review panel process from the longtime threshold of $15,000 to $50,000. That’s even reduced from what committee Chairman Sen. Brent Steele initially proposed. The Bedford Republican wrote the bill to allow claims of up to $187,500 to skip the medical review panel process enacted in 1975. Several senators were discouraged with the drastically reduced limit, but nonetheless, Steele and others voted to move the amended bill out of committee and will try to raise the limit on the Senate floor. Trial lawyers say the costs incurred and time required to bring a claim before a review panel makes the current limit a bar to smaller claims. For many lawyers, bumping that limit to $50,000 won’t change their minds. The current exemption level was enacted in 1985, but hasn’t been increased since. Opponents of SB 55 say they won’t support any legislation that they contend would undermine the medical review panel process they say has proven successful over decades.

Hopsitals, doctors, nurses and consumer advocates all cheered last week after the Obama administration approved Gov. Mike Pence’s Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 proposal, which will extend health insurance coverage to an estimated 350,000 low-income Hoosiers using a mix of state and federal tax revenue. The main coverage offered via HIP 2.0 will require monthly contributions that cannot exceed 2 percent of income for participants. After that, the only payments they will face will be co-payments, ranging from $8 to $25, for non-emergency use of hospital ERs. The immediate challenge for the Pence administration is to help get an estimated 40,000 Hoosiers who have already signed up for coverage on the Obamacare health insurance exchanges to switch over to coverage under the HIP program. Now that coverage is available via HIP for Hoosiers with incomes from 100 percent to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, they will no longer be eligible for the tax credits that have helped make the Obamacare policies affordable. The Pence administration last week sent out a notice to numerous community groups that have been helping Hoosiers sign up for Obamacare coverage and also sent letters directly to the 40,000 Hoosiers they think will be affected, to tell them they need to sign up for HIP and then end their Obamacare coverage. If they don’t, they could be on the hook to pay back the Obamacare tax credits at the end of the year.

Indiana University Health will lay off 96 workers in Martinsville as its hospital there stops admitting patients for overnight stays April 1, but some of the workers could find jobs at other IU Health facilities. One third of the displaced workers at IU Health Morgan Hospital will be nurses, with the rest made up of respiratory therapists, pharmacists, food workers and support staff, according to a notice IU Health filed Tuesday with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. IU Health Morgan Hospital first announced its change in strategy in August. It will still see patients on an outpatient basis. But if patients need to stay overnight, they will be transferred to other facilities. The transformed facility will still offer a 24-hour emergency room, outpatient procedures, cardiac rehab and other therapy services, cancer care, diagnostic imaging, lab testing and physician consultations.

Eli Lilly and Co. met the profit forecasts of Wall Street analysts, but continued to disappoint them with its revenue. The Indianapolis-based drugmaker predicted in an announcement Friday morning that its 2015 sales would come in $800 million less than it previously forecast. Due to the strength of the U.S. dollar against foreign currencies, Lilly said its revenue this year would fall $19.5 billion to $20 billion, down from an earlier forecast that ranged from $20.3 billion to $20.8 billion. Lilly’s fourth-quarter sales also disappointed, coming in at $5.12 billion versus analysts’ expectations of $5.20 billion. Lilly’s fourth-quarter sales were down 12 percent from the same period a year ago due to patent expirations on two blockbuster drugs—Cymbalta and Evista. Their sales have now been sapped by cheaper generic copies. Lilly’s profit took a corresponding hit, falling 41 percent in the fourth quarter, to $428.5 million. Earnings per share came in at 40 cents, down from 67 cents a year ago. But excluding $190 million Lilly spent on severance costs in the quarter, as well as other one-time charges and gains, Lilly’s profit held steady in the fourth quarter. Earnings per share were 75 cents, beating by one penny both Lilly’s results from a year ago and the forecasts of Wall Street analysts.

Indianapolis-based Anthem Inc.’s fourth-quarter profit  more than tripled, to $506.7 million, or $1.80 per share, compared to the previous year, according to Bloomberg News. Adjusted earnings totaled $1.73 per share, which beat average analyst expectations by a penny, according to the data firm FactSet. Anthem predicted a bright 2015, with adjusted net income topping $9.70 a share. The company had 2014 adjusted earnings per share of $8.85. Revenue will probably be $78 billion to $78.5 billion, the company said, missing the average analyst estimate of $79.2 billion. U.S. health insurers are adding customers as people buy insurance with tax credits authorized by Obamacare. Anthem forecast that medical enrollment will climb to as many as 38.2 million customers this year, from 37.5 million in 2014.

Zimmer Holdings Inc. reported fourth-quarter profit of $156.6 million, or 91 cents per share, according to the Associated Press. Excluding one-time gains and costs, the Warsaw-based maker of orthopedic implants earned $1.71 per share—an increase of 2.4 percent over the fourth quarter a year ago and one penny more than Wall Street analysts were expecting. However, the stronger U.S. dollar caused Zimmer’s fourth-quarter revenue to slip 1.4 percent, to $1.22 billion, falling slightly below analysts’ expectations.

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