December 27, 2007

News Update from

Universal Health Care in Maryland in 2008 is working with our friends and allies--other organizations, elected officials, and concerned individuals--to bring high-quality universal health care to Maryland in 2008. We're planning town halls, summits, conferences, and organizing legislative efforts. We need your help!

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California court limits health insurers’ ability to cancel policies

By Bob Egelko | San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer

Health insurers can't wait until a policyholder is sick or injured to investigate the person's medical history and then abruptly cancel the policy on the grounds that important information was left out of the original application, a state appeals court has ruled.

On Monday, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana called a halt to a practice that lawyers for policyholders claim is widespread. Known as "post-claims underwriting," it has led to numerous lawsuits - mostly unsuccessful so far - and state enforcement actions against insurers.

Howard County Candidate Forum Jan. 12

Candidates ... have been invited to discuss ... health care
by Nate Sandstrom | At A Glance |

Maryland's primary elections are just around the corner, and a local advocacy group is hosting a public forum for candidates or their representatives next month.

African Americans in Howard County, a local nonprofit group that focuses on issues that affect minorities and the poor, will host the Jan. 12 forum for candidates who are running in Maryland's Feb. 12 primary.

Bill Would Allow U.S. Residents To Purchase Health Insurance In Any State

Recent Op-Ed Highlights Need To Pass Bill To Allow U.S. Residents To Purchase Health Insurance In Any State, Letter Says [See Original ]

A Dec. 12 Wall Street Journal opinion piece written by Merrill Matthews, executive director of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, highlights the "tragedy of state governments forbidding citizens from exercising the basic right to buy health insurance from other states," John Graham, director of health care studies at the Pacific Research Institute, writes in a Journal letter to the editor (Graham, Wall Street Journal, 12/20). In the opinion piece, Matthews recommends that Congress pass the Health Care Choice Act -- legislation sponsored by Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) that would allow U.S. residents to purchase health insurance in any state -- to help make the market more competitive and reduce costs (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 12/12).

largest malpractice insurer in Maryland to reduce premiums

Maryland: The Medical Mutual Liability Insurance Society of Maryland, the largest malpractice insurer in the state, last week announced plans to use an almost $100 million dividend to reduce malpractice insurance premiums for physicians by 8%, pay physicians $13.8 million in credits against premiums for 2008 and return $84 million to the state for emergency subsidies, the Baltimore Sun reports (Salganik, Baltimore Sun, 12/14).

State Insurance Commissioner Ralph Tyler last month ruled that Med Mutual, which had declared a $68.6 million dividend, should return the full amount to the state. However, Tyler allowed Med Mutual 30 days to develop an alternative plan. Med Mutual said that conditions in the malpractice insurance market have since improved and allowed them to declare a larger dividend (Dominguez, AP/Washington Times, 12/14).

States' Health Care Liability Totals $2.73T, Some Unfunded

the five largest states by population -- California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois -- have reserved no funds for retiree health care obligations

Nearly half of states have not adequately funded their pension and retiree health care obligations, which will total $2.7 trillion over the next 30 years, according to a study released on Wednesday by the Pew Center on the States, part of the Pew Charitable Trusts, the New York Times reports (Williams Walsh, New York Times, 12/19). States have reserved sufficient funds to cover 85% of the future pension and retiree health care obligations, according to the report.

The report found that states will owe $381 billion for retiree health care and other nonpension obligations over the next 30 years.

Teen dies after CIGNA HealthCare denies transplant funds

"She passed away, and the insurance (company) is responsible for this"

GLENDALE, Calif. -- A 17-year old died just hours after her health insurance company reversed its decision not to pay for a liver transplant that doctors said the girl needed.

Nataline Sarkisyan died Thursday night at about 6 p.m. at University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center. She had been in a vegetative state for weeks, said her mother, Hilda.

Physician shortage looms in Maryland

Rural areas expected to be hit hardest
by Steve Berberich | Staff Writer

Widespread shortages in many physician specialties can be expected by 2015 in Maryland, especially in rural counties, unless action is taken soon, said a committee of top medical experts in an unpublished report due to the state government next month.

‘‘I think this is just a small piece of a bigger problem,” Sen. Thomas M. Middleton (D-Dist. 28) of Waldorf said of the report. ‘‘My gut feeling is that we are approaching a crisis in primary care doctors.”

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