Draft GOP Healthcare Plan Emerges

A draft bill detailing Republican plans to begin repealing and replacing many facets of the Affordable Care Act would provide expanded tax credits and health savings accounts for individuals while reducing federal spending on tax subsidies and Medicaid, and practically eliminating both the current employer and individual mandate to provide and carry health insurance.

The 105-page draft legislation, obtained by NBC News, repeals much of the current law, also known as Obamacare, within the next few years and sets in place a Republican vision of healthcare. The article is here.

Trump Meets With Health Insurance Executives
President Donald Trump met with the leaders of the nation’s largest health insurance companies regarding the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Joe Swedish of Anthem thanked him for his immediate intervention in halting the hardships of Obamacare. “We had to step in,” Trump responded. The goal of reform, Trump said, was to increase competition and bring down costs. He pledged that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was all about patients, and noted that reform would help the companies see that everyone gets proper care.

“The market is disastrous,” Trump said. “It’s going to absolutely implode.That’s why we’re meeting today.  And I think we’re going to come up with something where not only will the market be great, but the people are going to be taken care of. So we will work that out I think quite easily, actually.”

The transcript of the public part of the Feb. 27 meeting is here:

CALIFORNIA NEWS

Cigna Forms Team With HealthCare Partners for L.A. Plans
HealthCare Partners and Cigna have formed a partnership to offer employers in and around Los Angeles health care options designed to improve access, quality, affordability and ease of use.

The companies will offer HMO health plans, with care coordinated through a primary care physician, to employers with at least 100 employees. Those employers can choose a fully insured plan or they can opt for other arrangements. Branded as HealthCare Partners Select HMO, the plans will be offered beginning April 1.

The partnership was designed to reward providers who help their patients achieve improved health at an affordable cost. The goal is to improve quality of care for individuals while sustaining affordability and value for both the employee and employer.

The press release is here.

L.A. County Health Chief Plans Coverage for Obamacare Repeal
Los Angeles County arguably has more to lose than any other California county if the Affordable Care Act is repealed or dramatically scaled back.

With more than 10 million residents, it is the state’s most populous county by far ― a distinction reflected in the number of Angelenos who obtained health coverage under Obamacare.

About 1.2 million L.A. county residents have signed up for Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, under its expansion, which is a central pillar of the Affordable Care Act. They account for roughly a third of all Medicaid expansion enrollees statewide, according to county statistics.

In fiscal year 2015-2016, the county received about $900 million in federal money to serve that population, said Mitch Katz, director of the Los Angeles County Health Agency.

More than 300,000 county residents also have purchased subsidized health plans through the state’s health insurance exchange, Covered California, another key element of Obamacare.

Katz is a practicing physician who ran San Francisco’s public health department before coming to Los Angeles. He believes state and local leaders must find ways to cover some or all of the L.A. County residents ― and Californians ― who might lose coverage if the health law is repealed.

The article is here.

California Broker Magazine Adds Daily Updates
California Broker, a magazine that covers agents, brokers and financial planners who sell life, health, disability and other insurance products in the state, has added daily updates to the “Opinion” and “In the News” sections on its web page. Previously, the updates were made occasionally.

The increased coverage comes amid uncertainty over the political landscape in regard to the fate of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

“It’s important to stay up to date,” said Steve Silkin, managing editor of California Broker. “We’re adding these updates to help keep our readers informed.”

In addition to checking the site for the updates, readers can follow the magazine on Twitter, @cal_broker_mag, or sign up for this weekly newsletter, Insurance Insider News, here.

NATIONAL NEWS

MetLife Teams With U.S. Chamber to Honor Small Businesses
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife announced a collaboration to elevate the voice of America’s small business owners and highlight the important role they play in the nation’s economy.

The initiative will produce a quarterly small business research index; a series of local market events that will present information that help businesses save money, save time, and foster growth; and the annual Dream Big Small Business Awards program, which celebrates some of the country’s top entrepreneurs.

“There’s nothing small about small business,” said Suzanne Clark, senior executive vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Today, 28 million small businesses account for 67 percent of new jobs in America and more than half of the nation’s economic output, with an impact that goes far beyond their front doors.”

The U.S. Chamber, founded in 1912, has 105 years of experience standing up for American business, the lifeblood of the country’s economy. MetLife, headquartered in New York, has more than 60 years of experience serving these small businesses, helping them take care of their firms, their employees, their families, and their communities. Today, the company serves nearly 40,000 small employers across the country.

“MetLife is committed to better understanding the barriers and challenges facing this critical sector of the economy,” said James W. Reid, executive vice president for regional and small business solutions at MetLife.

The press release is here.

OneDigital Buys Benefit Planning Group
OneDigital Health and Benefits in Atlanta, an employee benefits-only company, has acquired Benefit Planning Group in Marietta, Ga. Managing Partner David Pittard, his team of six advisers and additional support staff will continue serving the firm’s clients, providing them with expanded capabilities, expertise and enhanced benefits solutions. Benefit Planning specializes in developing benefit strategies for both for-profit and non-profit employers in different industries, including manufacturing and healthcare.

NEW PRODUCTS

Meet the BioBall!
Health service company Cigna in Bloomfield, Connecticut, became the first company to use Microsoft HoloLens technology for health screenings in the form of BioBall, a fast-paced interactive game that helps players learn their blood pressure and body mass index.

“The evolution of personal health and technology is something that has tremendous impact on everyone. We’re the first to harness the new HoloLens technology for health screenings, and we believe BioBall can revolutionize how people view the process,” said Stephen Cassell, Cigna’s chief brand officer.

Cigna sees BioBall as an innovative way to encourage people to take control of their health information. “Research shows that four health numbers – blood pressure, BMI, blood sugar and cholesterol – are responsible for the majority of preventable chronic disease and health care costs. Knowing this, Cigna’s goal is to help people learn their four health numbers, and we’re doing all we can to make this process easy, quick and painless,” Cassell said. “We want people to know about their health risks, and we believe BioBall and its interactivity get people excited about learning their numbers.”

BioBall will be available at Cigna-sponsored public events throughout the country. A portable, pop-up version of BioBall also is rolling out for use at Cigna’s client locations for those employers who request BioBall for their onsite clinics or other employee events.

The press release is here.

PEOPLE

Gallagher Brokers Honored
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., a brokerage company in Itasca, Illinois, announced that 31 of its retail insurance brokers and benefits consultants have been recognized as Power Brokers by Risk & Insurance magazine.

California brokers honored were: Cathy Borowski, Glendale; Brandon Cole, Irvine; Tim DePriest, Glendale; Alexandra Glickman, Glendale; Mike Gong, Fresno; and Daniel R’bibo, Glendale. A finalist was John Chino, Costa Mesa.

Power Brokers are selected annually from among thousands of nominees, based upon client recommendations, depth of industry knowledge, and their success in delivering superior service and innovative solutions to their clients’ risk management and employee benefits challenges within the preceding 12 months.

“We are proud to see the difference these honorees have made in helping our clients overcome their unique insurance, risk management, and employee benefits challenges,” said J. Patrick Gallagher, Jr., chief executive of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

Kaiser Executive Named ‘Woman to Watch’
Kathy Lancaster, Kaiser Permanente’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, has been named to Modern Healthcare’s “Women to Watch” list. This is the first time the list has been published. Starting this year, it will appear annually with the publication’s existing “Top Women in Healthcare” feature.

Lancaster has held the role of CFO of Kaiser in Oakland since 2005, and in that time has seen annual operating revenue climb to $65 billion, and seen membership grow to more than 11 million people.

“She is a fierce and passionate advocate for putting our members first,” said Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson. “I’m pleased her leadership and contributions are being recognized.”

Lancaster leads a staff of nearly 25,000 and oversees the Kaiser Permanente controller’s office, treasury, capital planning, and enterprise shared services, including national facilities services and pharmacy operations. She joined Kaiser Permanente in 1998 as director of finance and later held the role of vice president, strategic planning and analysis before being elevated to the CFO role 12 years ago.

Willis Towers Watson Names Imran Qureshi to Head Midwest Region
Willis Towers Watson, an advisory company with U.S. headquarters in Arlington, Va., announced the appointment of Imran Qureshi to head the company’s U.S. Midwest region. In his new role, Qureshi will be responsible for managing and growing the company’s business and client relationships across the Midwest. In addition, he will join the North America Leadership team.

Qureshi joined Willis Towers Watson in 1999 and has held several leadership positions, most recently having served as market leader for Greater Chicago and Wisconsin, where he led the growth of those markets. Prior to joining the company, Qureshi worked at consulting and brokerage firms in the United Kingdom and the United States.

“We’re excited that Imran has assumed the Midwest region leadership role,” said Joe Gunn, head of North America, Willis Towers Watson. “Imran is a proven leader with a wealth of management consulting experience across a range of industries and multinational organizations. We’re confident Imran will drive sustainable growth for Willis Towers Watson across this important region, and help deliver human capital and risk management solutions to our clients.”

The company has 40,000 employees serving more than 140 countries.

Do you have a News or People item for California Broker Magazine’s Insurance Insider Newsletter? Email to editor@calbrokermag.com with “Attn: Newsletter” in the subject line. Insurance Insider Newsletter is compiled from news articles and press releases by Steve Silkin, managing editor, California Broker.