KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Michigan Faces New Lawsuits, GOP In Florida Looks To Malpractice Reform To Help Draw Doctors To Medicaid Program

The Detroit Free Press: "Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is facing a wave of lawsuits across the state accusing the insurance giant of pocketing millions of dollars in hidden fees from local governments and others to administer their health care plans. The state court suits -- which already have cost the Blues several million dollars in verdicts and settlements -- are independent of an antitrust lawsuit filed last month in federal court by the U.S. Justice Department. Although the focus of the federal suit differs, the lawsuits all contend that Blue Cross' business practices resulted in unfair and higher costs to others" (Anstett, 11/23).

The Palm Beach Post: "One proposal by Republican lawmakers to help reduce the $20 billion that Florida expects to pay for health care for the poor in the coming year hinges on an age-old battle between doctors and lawyers: whether doctors should be protected from medical malpractice lawsuits. While the legislature's investigation into how to cut its Medicaid budget is still in preliminary stages, much of the discussion so far has included talk of limiting lawsuits against doctors to entice more of them into the program. Whether this would actually help lower costs or even lure more doctors into the program is unclear. Florida Medical Association director of governmental affairs Jeff Scott said Medicaid's low reimbursement rates to doctors 'would probably be the primary reason' many doctors now refuse to treat Medicaid patients" (Kam, 11/22).

The Naples (Fla.) Daily News: "Heath insurance costs for Florida companies rose 6.3 percent this year, slightly lower than the 6.9 percent cost increase that companies nationwide experienced but in both cases they made benefit changes to offset even bigger jumps, according to an annual survey by Mercer consulting. The average total health benefit cost that a company incurred for each employee was $9,562 nationwide but it was $8,918 in Florida for each worker, said Matthew Snook, a Mercer principal in Tampa with the global consulting firm. The figure does not include each worker's share of cost" (Freeman, 11/22).

The Wall Street Journal: "Colorado state regulators are putting the final touches on a fat stack of rules aimed at monitoring, recording and tracking every aspect of the booming medical-marijuana industry, from seed to sale. The regulatory system-more rigorous and comprehensive than in any other state-will likely require pot growers to place tags on every plant and train security cameras on their cultivation rooms around the clock. Cannabis dispensaries, meanwhile, will likely be required to record high-resolution video of every customer's face and photo identification and then link that footage to a computer record of each purchase" (Simon, 11/23). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.