Mergers

Legislative Priorities Clear Deadlines

As the April 22 policy deadline approached, all of Health Access’ priority bills made it over the finish line. Last week, the legislative committees voted on two important bills that will increase transparency in our health care system. Transparency for Prescription Drug Costs Prescription drugs are the health service most commonly used by consumers and contribute to soaring out-of-pocket costs. AB 2436 (Hernandez), heard in the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday, seeks to increase transparency in drug prices by giving consumers more information about the cost of their prescription drugs and how much they will have to pay. In committee, the bill was amended to remove a provision that would also require the drug company to disclose the cost of the […] Read More

Wonkery for Your Week

We wanted to spotlight two of the recent Health Wonk Reviews, a biweekly compendium of the best from the health policy blogosphere. Last week, Charles Gaba at ACAsignups.net (the best place to track Obamacare enrollment nationally) had a very California-heavy edition, with posts about Covered California’s quality initiatives, our death-with-dignity law, and our post about anti-tobacco activity. Also directly relevant to the current debate in the California legislature is a post from Louise Norris at Colorado Health Insurance Insider about the recent Florida legislation against surprise medical bills. The previous edition, David Williams at Health Business Blog featured our post on health plan mergers. Expect a new edition later this week by Jaan Sidorov at The Population Health Blog.

Anthem Blue Cross-Cigna’s Troubling Track Records Spotlighted at DMHC Public Meeting

On March, 4, 2016, the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) held a public meeting on the proposed takeover of Cigna by Anthem Blue Cross. The public meeting was requested by consumer groups including Health Access, Consumers Union, and others to raise questions about the structure of the deal, its potential impact on California’s patients and health care systems, and ensure proper oversight as insurance companies merge and become larger. The proposed Anthem Blue Cross-Cigna merger is one of three pending insurer mergers being reviewed by DMHC. Late last year, DMHC approved a merger between Blue Shield and Care1st, following Health Access’ and other consumer groups’ requests for strong conditions to address potential negative impacts. Health Access is also monitoring the proposed Centene-Health […] Read More

Centene/Health Net Executives Answer to Regulators, Consumer Advocates and the Public

Consumer advocates are still skeptical about the proposed merger between Centene and Health Net after a six-hour long hearing about the transaction, where insurance company executives provided vague explanations of how consumers would benefit for the merger, but were unwilling to make any specific commitments to protect consumers. On Friday, January 22, California Department of Insurance (CDI) heard over six hours of testimony from insurance executives, consumer advocates and the public during an official hearing held at the Capitol. This hearing took place a month after a public meeting held by the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) on December 7, 2015. During the hearing, California Department of Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, department officials, and the public heard from Centene […] Read More

Consumer Groups Question Aetna-Humana Proposed Merger at DMHC Public Meeting

On January 4, 2016, the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) held a public meeting on the proposed merger of Aetna and Humana. The public meeting was requested by consumer groups including Health Access, Consumers Union, and others to raise questions about the structure of the deal, its potential impact on California’s patients and health care systems, and ensure proper oversight as insurance companies merge and become larger. The proposed Aetna-Humana merger is one of three pending insurer mergers being reviewed by DMHC. Earlier this year, the DMHC approved a merger between Blue Shield and Care1st, following Health Access’s and other consumer groups’ request for strong conditions to address potential negative impacts. Health Access is also monitoring the proposed Anthem […] Read More

At DMHC Public Meeting, Consumer Groups Question Proposed Centene-Health Net Merger

On December 7, 2015, the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) held a public meeting on the proposed merger of Centene and Health Net. The public meeting was requested by consumer groups including Health Access, Consumers Union, and others, to raise questions about the structure of the deal, its potential impact on California’s patients and health care systems, and ensure proper oversight as insurance companies merge and become larger. (State of Reform wrote up the meeting as well.) The proposed Centene-Health Net merger is one of three pending insurer mergers being reviewed by DMHC. Earlier this year, the DMHC approved a merger between Blue Shield and Care1st, following Health Access’s and other consumer groups’ request for strong conditions to address […] Read More

Attorney General Approves Daughters of Charity Hospital Deal, with Key Conditions

Yesterday afternoon, California Attorney General Kamala Harris approved the restructuring and support agreement between six Daughters of Charity Health System hospitals and BlueMountain Capital Management. The Attorney General’s approval includes significant conditions that keep key services open for 10 years, ensuring charity care levels at historical levels, and $180 million in capital improvements. Health Access asked the Attorney General to include these conditions, which will help ensure that patients and communities served by these hospitals will continue to have access to critical services, for at least a decade if not more. The AG’s conditions are similar to the ones that she imposed on the previous proposal to sell to Prime Healthcare. Health Access California and other consumer, community, and health […] Read More

Blue Shield Tries To Back Out Of $140 Million Commitment to California Communities

When nonprofit insurer Blue Shield California made a $1.2 billion bid to acquire Care1st, a Medi-Cal managed care plan serving 500,000 Southern California patients, it agreed to conditions set forth by DMHC (Department of Managed Health Care), including a commitment to increase its investment in the state’s safety net by an additional $140 million over 10 years. But this week Blue Shield disavowed this commitment, stating that it sees the $14 million requirement as a “floor” for its annual giving to the safety net. Given the nonprofit insurer’s usual giving levels of about $35 million a year, Health Access California has raised concerns with DMHC that the insurer might actually do less for the safety net if its interpretation of the […] Read More

UCLA Forum tonight: Is Merger Mania Healthy?

“Is Merger Mania Healthy?” The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has inspired many providers to consolidate and major payers have now joined this trend. Anthem has announced that it is merging with Cigna, and Aetna announced it is merging with Humana. If these mega mergers are approved by the government, the health insurance industry will consolidate the top five payers into just three companies, each with annual revenue over $100 billion. Providers, regulators, and consumer advocates are concerned that the payer consolidation will limit the negotiating power of private and government health programs. In this Health Forum, our speakers will present the provider, consumer, and government perspective on whether merger mania is healthy. Our executive director Anthony Wright is one of […] Read More

DMHC Hearing on Blue Shield Acquisition of Care1st Gets at Larger Questions on Nonprofit Obligations

Yesterday’s hearing (covered today in the LA Times) on nonprofit Blue Shield of California and its bid to acquire for-profit Medicaid managed care plan Care1st provided better clarity on the issues at stake in the $1.25 billion transaction, and little reason to doubt whether the assets Blue Shield proposes to use should be subject to charitable trust obligations. The comment period is open through this Friday, June 12 (details below), for the public to raise their issues and concerns. Health Access submitted comments with Consumers Union and other consumer groups on the charitable trust issues, and also published a recent issue brief/discussion draft on the obligations of a non-profit insurer in a post-ACA world. Requested by Consumers Union, Western Center on Law and poverty, CALPIRG, and Health Access, […] Read More