Archive | Health

Aetna-Humana antitrust Trial to Have a Different Twist


WASHINGTON —  As the first part of the antitrust trial on a proposed merger of health insurers Anthem and Cigna is wrapping up, a similar challenge to Aetna’s plan to merge with Humana is about to begin.

While both are the result of lawsuits to block the mergers filed by the U.S. Justice Department on the same day in July, the trials will be much different.

The first phase of the Anthem-Cigna trial, expected to wrap up Friday, centers on whether the $54 billion merger of those two insurers would dramatically decrease competition for “national accounts,” or plans for large, multi-state corporations.

The Justice Department also argues the merger would fail because there is friction between the companies’ CEOs and because Cigna in July stopped cooperating with Anthem on various deal-related issues.

“How do you work on integration without talking to the person you’re integrating with?” asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over the trial.

If Jackson does not rule in favor of the Justice Department, the second phase of the Anthem-Cigna trial is scheduled for Dec. 12 and will focus on whether the merger will decrease competition in dozens of local markets.

In another room in the same federal courthouse, the $37 billion Aetna-Humana merger trial is set to begin on Monday.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates will preside over that trial. The Justice Department will argue that Aetna’s merger with Humana will dry up competition across the nation in the Medicare Advantage market.

The Justice Department says the combined companies would cover 980,000 of the 1.6 million seniors in the nation covered under Medicare Advantage plans. Aetna and Humana will argue that traditional Medicare will provide plenty of competition to their policies.

“The two cases are very different,“ said Deep Banerjee, an insurance analyst with Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings.

Banerjee said Aetna and Humana may have an edge over the other insurers. He agrees with Aetna and Humana that “the Medicare market should be looked at as a whole,” and traditional Medicare considered as competition to Medicare Advantage.

The insurers also have another card they can play, one that Anthem and Cigna do not: They have offered to divest themselves of Medicare Advantage plans in areas of high concentration.

“The divestiture may be a valuable and attractive issue for the judge to use to rule for the insurers,” said Professor Tim Greaney, co-director of the Center for Health Law Studies at Saint Louis University School of Law.

Cigna headquarters in Bloomfield

Cigna Corp.

Cigna headquarters in Bloomfield

Aetna said it has an agreement to sell Medicare Advantage business covering 290,000 people to rival insurer Molina if its planned merger is allowed to be completed.

But Molina specializes in Medicaid, the government insurance for the poor, instead of Medicare Advantage, a type of health plan offered by private companies that contract with Medicare to provide coverage for the elderly.

The Justice Department is expected to argue that it would be difficult for Aetna and Humana to divest themselves of enough Medicare Advantage customers to keep that market competitive, especially in 364 counties across the nation where a merger would result in what it says is an acute lack of competition.

Aetna, meanwhile, is expected to try to knock down another Justice Department complaint – that a merger would hurt competition in Affordable Care Act exchanges – by saying it is quitting most exchanges and leaving many counties in states where it still has a presence in the exchanges.

Failed remedies

The Justice Department argued in the Anthem-Cigna case that a merger would result in higher prices, lower quality, reduced consumer choice and less innovation. It’s expected to make a similar argument in the Aetna-Humana case next week.

“Because of the offer of divestiture, the Aetna-Humana merger may have a better chance,” Greaney said. “But I think the Justice Department has a very strong argument on the merits in both cases.”

Meanwhile, David Balto, a former attorney with the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division who opposes both mergers, said the Aetna-Humana tie-up will result in more concentration than an Anthem-Cigna marriage.

“I think the competitive concerns are even greater,” Balto said. “I think the Justice Department has an even stronger case against Aetna and Humana.”

The reason, Balto said, is that the Justice Department can point to previous cases where insurers made divestitures but premiums rose sharply anyway.

He said divestitures were made in  1999 when Aetna and Prudential merged and in 2008 when United and Sierra merged and prices increased by 7 percent and 13.7 percent, respectively.

Balto said the biggest failure was the 2012 Humana-Arcadian merger, where one of the three companies that acquired business divested as part of the merger “exited the market, another company partially exited the market, and premiums increased by 44 percent.”

First reported in CTMirror, our media partner.

Posted in Featured, Health, Nation/WorldComments (0)

First Choice Health Offers Classes for Diabetes Month


HARTFORD — November is National Diabetes Awareness Month.

This month, First Choice Health Centers will be hosting a number of events to help educate our community on how healthy lifestyle choices can benefit those with   or without this chronic medical condition.

In addition to our events listed below, First Choice Health Centers is proud to offer Care Coordination services to our patients.  The goal of our Care Coordinators is to help our patients navigate the health care system which can often be overwhelming for someone with a chronic disease like Diabetes.  Our Care Coordinators help diabetic patients manage appointments with our Primary Care, Podiatry, Eye Care & Nutrition teams; connect them with outreach services such as SNAP, Medicaid/Medicare enrollment if needed.

They will also communicate with hospital or rehabilitation facilities if the occasion arises.

For more information about our Care Coordinators, please contact Dr. Colleen Rankine, PhD at 860-610-6142 ext. 142

Nov 23rd
Prenatal Yoga @ 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Relieve some of prenatal stress with our experienced yoga instructor with specific stretches to help you and your baby. Call 860-528-1359 ext. 168 to RSVP!

Nov 16th
Diabetes Open House: Learn important information from our guest speaker Anne Lanza a community dietitian with Nova Nordisk about diabetes. Open to public, refreshments will be provided.

Nov 28th
Spanish Speaking Nutrition Class @ 3:00-4:00 p.m.
Basic nutrition class for Spanish-speakers. Topics discussed will be Nutrition labels, basic nutrients, portion sizes, diabetes, and tips for eating healthy on the go.  Got questions about eating healthy?? Bring them to us and we’ll give you answers!

Location for all events:
First Choice Health Centers
110 Connecticut Boulevard, East Hartford CT 06108
2nd floor Conference Room

Posted in Business, HealthComments (0)

Tags:

Mayor Ganim Swears In New Health Director


BRIDGEPORT —  Mayor Joe Ganim on Tuesday swore in a new Director of Health for the city of Bridgeport.

Maritza Bond brings extensive experience in health administration including nearly a decade with the Eastern Area Health Education Center covering Eastern Connecticut from a base in New London, serving as the organization’s executive director for the last four years.  Bond also has experience managing immunization, medical interpretation  and other programs for diverse populations in the Bridgeport area and the Naugatuck Valley.

Bond’s first official day as Bridgeport Director of Health was on Nov. 1  and according to Connecticut state law, she is now sworn in for a term of four years, to conclude on October 31, 2020.

She is a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University and holds a Master of Public Health Degree from the University of Connecticut Medical School in Farmington.

Bond was nominated for the position by Mayor Ganim after a thorough search and was overwhelmingly approved by the Bridgeport city council on Oct. 17, 2016.

“I am very happy to have Maritza Bond as part of our administration, I am sure she will serve the residents of Bridgeport extremely well,” said Mayor Ganim.  “She clearly has passion and energy for this work and we look forward to years of accomplishments in improving public health in our city that Maritza will lead.”

Posted in Business, Health, Neighborhood, PoliticsComments (0)

CT Resident Diagnosed with Legionnaires Disease


Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

MIDDLETOWN  — First, there’s the Zika virus. Now comes Legionnaires disease to Connecticut.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a Connecticut resident was recently diagnosed with Legionnaires disease.

The resident, a psychiatric patient at Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown, was infected with the Legionella bacterium, which is found in soil and in fresh water.

The disease is spread by inhaling a mist or vapor infected with the bacteria. It does not spread from person to person, according to the CDC. When bacteria cause pneumonia, it is called Legionnaires’ disease.

Crews with the health department and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services were still investigating the source of the contamination Tuesday evening. The building was not evacuated.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said his office is monitoring the cases.

Malloy said residents should not be alarmed.

State officials said that “the bacteria cannot be transmitted from person to person.”

Federal officials said that 8,000 to 18,000 people require hospital care as a result of Legionnaires’ disease. In Connecticut, about 80 cases are diagnosed each year.

Last summer, there was an outbreak of the Legionnaires disease in the South Bronx, which New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio said is the largest outbreak in history. In that outbreak, at least 128 people were sick and 12 died.

Posted in HealthComments (0)

CT Receives More Grant Money to Study Mosquito Virus


EAST HARTFORD — More grant money is coming to Connecticut to fight the onslaught of the Zika virus.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said more grant money will be available “virtually immediately.” That’s because there’s a need for a national research effort to create a Zika vaccine and for public education.

The Centers for Disease Control will give Connecticut $120,000 in federal funding from the Centers for Disease Control to track Zika virus cases in the state and monitor the mosquitoes known to transmit the disease, state health officials said Monday.

So far the state has received $579,055 in grant money, including $479,000 that was awarded.

“What we have here is a potential epidemic,” Blumenthal said. Blumenthal called on GOP leaders to call the Republican-controlled U.S. House and Senate back into session to take action.

He also said that congressional  approval of $1.1 billion is needed to combat the mosquito-transmitted disease.

Posted in Business, HealthComments (0)

Gov. Malloy, Health Chief Announce Zika Detection Protocol


NEW HAVEN — Gov. Dannel Malloy joined the state’s public health chief and a local scientist Thursday in announcing the state will launch a system that will potentially detect new Zika cases as part of its prevention efforts.

State Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino said Thursday the state has tested 472 people for Zika, confirming 31 cases, three of whom are pregnant women. The disease is especially concerning to pregnant women, as infection during pregnancy could lead to birth defects. Results are pending for several other female patients, Pino said. No child in Connecticut has been born with a birth defect related to a possible infection, Pino added.

“The Department of Public Health has decided to establish a sentinel system in the southern part of the state,” Pino said. “We are basically coordinating with community health centers, hospitals and emergency rooms.”

Read More

Posted in Featured, Health, Nation/WorldComments (0)

DOJ Blocks Merger with Anthem and Aetna


WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Justice blocked another mega merger in the health industry with a new lawsuit against two healthcare giants.

The DOJ on Thursday announced it will file lawsuits to block the Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana health-insurer mergers, which largely represents anti-competitive behavior.

These Wall Street driven deals would have had on our health care system, health advocates said.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have also joined the U.S. action against the Anthem-Cigna deal, including Connecticut, New York and California.

Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, Connecticut Citizen Action Group, and the Connecticut Medical Society, a coalition opposing the mergers, applaud the DOJ for putting the interest of the consumer first and for acknowledging the harm these mega-mergers will cause the public.

“The people of Connecticut and the nation now have a major ally in the fight against these mergers,” said Frances Padilla, president of Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut. “While these mega-mergers once seemed inevitable, when the facts surfaced, it became very clear to the Department of Justice just how harmful these deals will be to everyday people.”

The insurance companies can now choose to go to court and fight the federal government’s lawsuit, or they can decide to settle with the DOJ outside of court or terminate the deals all together.

These mergers would transform the health insurance market by turning its five biggest companies into three.

The Anthem-Cigna merger, in particular, would be the largest health insurance merger in U.S. history and impact 1.5 million Connecticut residents.

“This is an important first step in highlighting the significant deficiencies in these proposed mergers, and their negative impact on patient access to care in Connecticut and throughout the county,” said Matthew Katz, chief executive officer at the Connecticut Medical Society. “CSMS has expressed major concerns with giant health insurers becoming goliaths with exclusive or near-exclusive power to dictate price and care delivery to the detriment of patient medical care.”

Posted in HealthComments (0)

HIV Testing Day Slated for June in CT Cities


NEW HAVEN — Planned Parenthood of Southern New England will offer free rapid HIV testing services at select health centers in Connecticut this June.

National HIV Testing Day is June 27.

In the United States, more than 1.2 million people are living with HIV. In Connecticut, there are more than 10,200 people living with HIV. Almost one in seven do not know they are infected.

“You cannot tell by looking at someone if they have HIV – the only way to know is to get tested. We invite all people who do not know their status to come for a free test,” said Judy Tabar President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. “National HIV Testing Day is a reminder that getting tested for HIV is an important step in stopping the spread of HIV and taking care of ourselves.”

In an effort to promote early detection and a healthy community, PPSNE will be offering free rapid HIV tests at select health centers during normal business hours on Monday, June 27.

Appointments are not necessary, but encouraged. Everyone who gets tested on June 27 will receive a free information bag that includes fun giveaways, educational brochures and safe sex supplies. The following health centers in Connecticut will be providing free rapid tests:

Bridgeport Health Center

211 State Street

Bridgeport, CT 06604

8 AM – 3:30 PM

Hartford Health Center

1229 Albany Avenue

Hartford, CT 06112

11 AM – 6:45 PM

New Haven Health Center

345 Whitney Avenue

New Haven, CT 06511

9 AM – 6:30 PM

“Our health centers are open to everyone and we are here to answer any questions or concerns anyone may have. Once you know your status, there is a lot you can do to protect your health, including practicing safer sex,” said Tabar. “The sooner you know your status, the sooner you can get any treatment and information you might need. Early treatment can help prevent serious health problems in the future.”

To make an appointment or for more information, call 1 (800) 230-PLAN (7526) or visit ppsne.org.

Posted in Business, Health, New Haven, YouthComments (0)

Foodshare Summer Meals Begin This June


HARTFORD —  This summer Foodshare is partnering with several organizations to present Summer Meals Madness, a series of basketball events that will inform, engage and excite kids—and everyone 18 and under will receive a free meal.

Summer Meals Madness will run June through August at locations across the region, including Hartford, New Britain and Windsor. The program will offer
  • Free meals for all kids 18 & under, with information on free meals locations near you this summer. Mini skills clinics, with support from local athletes
  • A basketball competition for kids of all ages—winners will be invited to compete in our championship event in early August!
  • Special guest appearances by Fox 61 or iHeart Media
  • Prizes & Giveaways
For a complete list of participating sites, visit us online or call (860) 286-9999.

Posted in Business, Hartford, Health, New BritainComments (0)

Huntington to Hold Annual “Hope Walk”


KILLINGWORTH — The Connecticut Affiliate of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America is holding their 10th annual Team Hope Walk at Chatfield Hollow State Park in Killingworth.

The Team Hope Walk program is HDSA’s largest grassroots event set for May 15, and will be held on over 100 cities across the country.

All proceeds support HDSA’s fight to improve the lives of people affected by HD and their families. We thank National sponsors Lundbeck and Teva Pharmaceuticals and local sponsors, Oak & Velvet, Backus Hospital, Suzio York-Hill, Tatas Family Restaurant, HDHat, The Mark, Devine Brothers, Kindred Healthcare at Laurel Lakes, The Lloyd Family and the Nixon Family. We also thank Kohl’s Cares Associates in Action for volunteering to help the day of the walk.

Registration will begin at 9 a.m. and the walk kicks off at 10 a.m.

The Connecticut Affiliate is asking for support of the community to become a sponsor, form a team, walk as an individual, donate products or volunteer to help with the event activities. This 1 1/2 mile scenic walk is a fun, family-friendly event that includes food, music, raffle/auction items and children’s activities, including face painting, balloon animals and magic. Dogs are welcome and children can ride their bikes. There is also trout fishing if you have your license.

The walk is handicap accessible. Sonar, the Hartford Wolfpack mascot will be there. You only need $25 sponsorship per person to participate.

Huntington’s disease (HD) is a devastating, hereditary, degenerative brain disorder that results in a loss of cognitive, behavioral and physical control, and for which, presently, there is no cure and only one FDA-approved treatment for one of the symptoms. HD slowly diminishes the affected individual’s ability to walk, think, talk and reason. Symptoms usually appear in an individual between 30 and 50 years of age and progress over a 10 to 25 year period.  Cases of Juvenile HD have been diagnosed in children as young as two years of age. More than 30,000 people in the United States are currently diagnosed.  Each of their siblings and children has a 50 percent risk of developing the disease, therefore 250,000 are at risk.  There are thousands of people in CT affected by this fatal disease.

Although medications can relieve some symptoms in certain individuals, research has yet to find a means of conquering or even slowing the deadly progression. However, recent research has found a way to silence the defective gene. There is hope for the future but we need our support.

To volunteer or support the Team Hope Walk, please contact Susan McGann at 860-558-8847 or cthdsa@gmail.com or go to www.hdsa.org/thwct to register and for more information.


 
					

Posted in Hartford, HealthComments (0)

Advertise Here