New Health Insurance Grant For Kentucky

Earlier today, the office of Health and Human Services announced that Kentucky will receive a million dollar grant to crack down on unreasonable health insurance premium hikes.

“The Affordable Care Act puts in place critical market reforms to improve quality and reduce the cost of health care for employers and individuals. Increased competition, lower insurance overhead, and better risk pooling in health insurance Exchanges in 2014 are expected to reduce premiums in the individual market by anywhere from 14-20 percent according to the Congressional Budget Office,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Between now and then, we will continue to work with States to ensure consumers are receiving value for their premium dollars and to avoid the kind of double digit premium increases seen recently. The State proposals approved today demonstrate the need and desire for new resources and tools to help them protect against unjustifiable premium increases.”

The grant, announced in a 12:30 press release, is set to be used:

  • Pursue Additional Legislative Authority: Kentucky will propose legislation to expand the health insurance premium review process to the large group market. In addition, actuarial consultants will evaluate whether revision or extension of laws are needed to enhance the review process.
  • Expand the Scope of the Review Process: Currently large groups (more than 50 members) are only required to file their health insurance premium methodologies with the State. Kentucky will increase the number of categories required to file and will expand its review of large group health insurance premium filings to include analysis of rate factors.
  • Improve the Review Process: Kentucky can currently collect and report on only a small portion of the health insurance premium filings. The State will increase the amount of data to be provided in filings and will modify the review process to include consideration of plan years, underwriting issues and policy forms.
  • Increase Transparency and Accessibility: Currently, information about health insurance premiums is not readily available to the public. Kentucky will develop a publication to explain the review process, including the information submitted by insurers and reviewed by the Department of Insurance. The Department will make information available to the public, in plain language, to give notice of specific health insurance premiums increases and decreases. In addition, the State will conduct surveys and hold open meetings for consumers in order to determine what information would be useful for them to make well-informed health insurance decisions.
  • Develop and Upgrade Technology: Kentucky will collect and analyze data to help with the rate review process.

Click here for more information on the grant.


GSkyTeach Program At WKU Benefits JCPS

There’s a new program at Western Kentucky University that directly benefits Jefferson County Public Schools and it’s called GSkyTeach.

Rather than flood you with information, feel free to click here to get the details.

But here’s the gist:

Thanks to a recent $5.4 million grant over five years, the program will prepare physics, chemistry and math teachers for JCPS high schools. GSky recruits graduating seniors and recent graduates with majors in those three disciplines without teacher preparation. Trainees will be paid $30,000 plus benefits during the year of prep and all tuition costs will be paid as they earn a Masters of Arts in Teaching. At the end of the program, grads will be employed by JCPS with a starting salary of $42,000.

I’m pretty sure this is a big deal.

More to Life Than Basketball Edition

Time to quit filling out those brackets and get to work…

Forde Takes the Cards: If you really want to be in-the-know about all this NCAA Tournament buzz – read Pat Forde’s column at ESPN. If you can’t wait until the end of the piece to know who he picks — we just told you. They play Friday at 7:10 in Dayton, and could face Morehead State. Western takes on Illinois in Portland, Ore. in a late game Thursday.

It is All About the Money: Remember last year when Louisville, Indiana and Kentucky were all in the NCAA and playing all over the map. Local TV stations scrambled to send crews to every locale featuring a local team. No one’s happier than the GMs that the only team they have to follow is U of L, and they’re not likely to travel far.  Oh, the Cats do have a home game Tuesday against UNLV.

Seven Weeks: Actually, less than 7 weeks til Derby Day. The new favorite is Friesan Fire, winner of Saturday’s Louisiana Derby.

Gannett Closes a Paper: After 138 years in business, the Tucson Citizen is no more. Gannett will shut down the afternoon paper on Saturday. [Death of Newspapers]

Weeding Out Realtors: The big Sunday story in the C-J was about how 500 realtors have given up the business because of the economic downturn, i.e. nobody’s buying houses. Semonin’s Brad DeVries said some firms will likely go out of business this year. [Courier]

National Attention for Radio Want Ads: Producers at CNN heard about this Radio Want Ads business that Francene cooked up at WHAS, and sent a reporter to do a story on it. [CNN]

The End May Not Be Near, But It’s Coming: That interview with Fed chairman Ben Bernanke on 60 Minutes last night was good TV. It was also funny that during  a new break in the show there was an item about AIG paying bonuses to employees. [CBS]

Mum on Humana: No one in the big structure on Main Street is talking, but rumors about a possible takeover of Humana boosted the stock price Friday.  Industry analysts are all over the rumor. [Bloomberg]

Stimulating News: This morning, Jerry Abramson will announce that money for new walking paths, bike lanes and sidewalks is in the federal stimulus plan.  He’s making the announcement at California Park on W. St. Catherine. [Press Release]

Homeless Agencies Heaping Blame on Administration

Imagine that.

The organizations most directly affected by the city’s inability to efficiently handle grant monies are having a press conference to release some pent-up anger they’ve been harboring about the city’s system for years.

One insider told me that the agencies involved have been fearful of criticizing the Administration about the way grants are handled by the city. Criticizing the Mayor, they reasoned, was a good way to make a bad situation worse. But with the release of the State Auditor’s report, the cat’s figuratively out of the bag. So make way for the truth.

Now the agencies want to make it clear that delays in awarding grants have been caused by the administration, not by the agencies. Some grants have been in the process of being paid since last July, and as time goes by, the agencies must come up with ways to survive financially.

As a press conference today, Marlene Gordon, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless, says she’s concerned about the money from the federal stimulus package coming through the city. As for the problems encountered in the last year, she said:

“Now is not the time to turn back unspent housing dollars.   Through the Freedom of Information Act, The Coalition has learned that $88,000 of Shelter Plus Care funding which could have easily been spent was returned by the city in 2008–enough funding to house 15, disabled adults in one bedroom apartments for an entire year. “