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What do regulation changes mean for BCBS NC?
Plus: Three scientists in Wuhan had COVID-19 symptoms before pandemic and Friday Health Plan lays off remaining employees
Good morning and happy Friday. This is the Friday Pulse Check from Fulcrum Strategies and FLATLINING.net.
In the news:
BCBS NC to act more like a for-profit health plan
Nearly two weeks ago, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) signed a bill passed by the Republican legislature to allow BlueCross BlueShield North Carolina to pass money into a parent holding company. State Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey warned that this would allow BCBS NC to have little oversight when it moves money around. On a practical level, this will allow BCBS NC to act similar to UnitedHealthcare (UNH 0.00%↑) , whose Optum company is now the largest employer of physicians in America. Soon, BCBS NC will begin to own small provider groups across the state. Read more in US News.
Three researchers fell ill in early days of COVID-19 at Wuhan lab
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that three scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, one of whom was a US-funded researcher, had symptoms consistent with COVID-19, though the nature of their disease had not been fully established. The report is fueling renewed speculation that the virus that shut down most of the world’s economy in 2020 was leaked from the Chinese lab. In March, President Joe Biden signed a bill that directed the federal government to declassify as much information as possible about the origins of the virus, but much of it has yet to be released. Various federal agencies have come to conflicting conclusions about the origins of the virus. Read more in the Wall Street Journal. 🔒
Friday Health Plan laying off remaining 300+ employees
As another private equity-backed health plan bites the dust, many of its employees will soon be needing another job. Friday Health Plans announced on June 1 that it would be shuttering its business and has told its members in Georgia and North Carolina that their benefits would end on July 31 and August 31 respectively. Patients losing benefits will be allowed to enroll in a new health plan during a special enrollment period. Read more in Becker’s Payer Issues.
Other articles of interest:
The FLATLINING Podcast
This week on the podcast, Ron and I began a two part discussion about his new book: CLEAR!: Reforming Healthcare to Save the US Economy.
In this book, Ron breaks down:
What the COVID-19 pandemic taught us about the U.S. healthcare system
What worked, what didn't, and how to use this knowledge to improve
Either side of the healthcare debate could work, but only if each addresses the fundamental issues causing the problem
The key factors contributing to the rising cost of healthcare, and how they can be addressed
What goals can be set to reduce the cost of healthcare and provide the level of care expected from the wealthiest nation in the world?
If you want to know more, check out this week's and next week’s podcast as Ron Howrigon and I discuss it.
As Ukraine plans on how to rebuild following its ongoing war with Russia, it will need a plan and will need to look at existing models, particularly for its healthcare delivery system. One model officials are taking a look at is the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center. This week, several Ukrainian officials visited the hospital to learn how the delivery system works and, in particular, how to care for patients dealing with mental trauma. Read more in the Philadelphia Inquirer via Microsoft Start.
As you may be aware by this point, I enjoy sharing Dr. Glaucomflecken videos, particularly the ones where he is poking fun at insurance companies. This week, he published a new video reenacting how UnitedHealthcare picks its medical directors. As we’ve talked about on the FLATLINING Podcast several times, and at length with Dr. Dan Hurley in May, there is real regulation and reform needed in this area of the payor world so that patients get the treatment they are entitled to and need.
Have a good weekend,