Spending deal would delay Cadillac Tax

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Earlier this month, the Senate approved a bill to repeal many core elements of Obamacare, including the “Cadillac tax” on high cost health plans. At the time the vote was seen as a symbolic act because the bill’s supporters lacked the votes necessary to overcome President Obama’s veto. Although Senate Democrats are opposed to repealing the President’s health reform law, there is bi-partisan support for modifying, delaying, or eliminating the Cadillac tax. Under a Continue Reading →

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PACE Act Passage Elicits Praise and Frustration

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Earlier this month, President Obama signed the bipartisan PACE Act to stop the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from changing rules that apply to employers with between 51 and 99 employees. This is important both as a rare example of bipartisan cooperation to reform Obamacare, as well as a preservation of the status quo for employers in this mid-market segment. The Act has been praised by insurance brokers and business groups, but has ...

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Focus on Specialty Drug Costs

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The price of prescription drugs has been a well-known issue for decades. In recent months, however, the price of specialty drugs in particular has received increased attention on social media and from the mainstream media and candidates for President. Much of this attention focused on Turing Pharmaceuticals’ 5,000% price increase for Daraprim last month, but the cost of specialty drugs has been trending upwards for years.

According to Business Insurance magazine, group health plans’ specialty drug costs ...

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ACA Reporting Forms Released

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Last week the IRS published the final versions of the forms and instructions that applicable large employers (ALEs) will need to use to report on employees’ 2015 health coverage. Draft versions of the forms were released in June and the final versions do not include any major changes. With the final versions now available, ALEs can begin working to complete the forms in advance of their February 2016 deadline.

Reporting under ACA Sections 6055 and 6056 was originally scheduled ...

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Big Changes at Assurant

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Last week, Assurant, Inc. announced an agreement to sell its employee benefits business to Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, a subsidiary of Sun Life Financial, Inc., for $940 million. This transaction comes just three months after Assurant shut down operations at Milwaukee-based Assurant Health. It also coincides with the announcement of increased dividends to shareholders and a rise in the company’s stock price.

The employee benefits business purchased by Sun Life includes Assurant’s voluntary and employer paid dental, ...

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Republicans Unveil ACA Alternatives

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As the Republican presidential primary race is heating up, the candidates’ plans to repeal and replace Obamacare are receiving increased attention.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, “The Day One Patient Freedom Plan,” at a factory in Minnesota on Tuesday. His plan includes a number of policy proposals that have long been popular among conservatives, including tort reform, selling health insurance across state lines, and Medicaid block grants for the states. One of ...

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National Uninsured Rate Falls Below 10%

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Two national surveys show that the percentage of people without health insurance has dropped steadily since the Affordable Care Act’s public insurance exchanges launched in 2013. A separate analysis focused on Wisconsin concluded that while the state now has fewer uninsured than it did in 2014 and a lower uninsured rate than the national average, progress has not been as great as hoped. These findings come at a time when all viable legal challenges to the law have been resolved ...

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“Top Cancer Doctors 2015” Includes 31 in Wisconsin

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The publisher of “America’s Top Doctors,” Castle Connolly Medical, Ltd. recently released its 2015 list of the top cancer doctors in the U.S. The list is available in a 63 page supplement to the special health issue of Newsweek magazine published for the week of July 31 – August 7 and on the magazine’s website. Thirty-one Wisconsin-based physicians made the list, including specialists at UW Hospital, Froedtert Hospital, and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Castle Connolly compiled the ...

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GAO Probe Focuses on Healthcare.gov Fraud

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The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported to Congress last Thursday that it has concluded an undercover investigation into the fraud detection capabilities of the federal health exchange website, www.healthcare.gov.

The GAO’s Director of Forensic Audits, Seto Bagdoyan, told the Senate Finance Committee that his investigators submitted applications for eighteen fictitious individuals last year. Of those eighteen, eleven successfully enrolled in a subsidized health insurance plan. And of those eleven, six were flagged as suspicious and terminated ...

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Willis Looks to Lift Consulting Business With Acquisitions

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Large insurance companies like Aetna and Humana are not the only goliaths that are joining forces these days. A number of insurance brokers and consulting firms have been actively pursuing mergers and acquisitions to create synergies and growth opportunities. Willis Group Holdings plc, the London-based parent of Willis North America, has been particularly active this year.

Willis announced plans in January to combine its wholesale insurance brokerage units with Miller Insurance Services LLP. At the time, Willis CEO Dominic Casserly said ...

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