Attorney General Skrmetti’s Office Denounces Healthcare Fraud After Allegations that Tennessee Companies are Giving Bogus Diagnoses for Sex Change Surgeries

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti’s office responded Thursday to a report from conservative Daily Wire commentator and filmmaker Matt Walsh, saying that companies operating in Tennessee are allegedly writing bogus diagnoses of gender dysphoria in order to help people obtain sex change surgeries via insurance.

Walsh noted that these alleged scammers are operating in Tennessee, prompting The Tennessee Star to ask the Attorney General’s office for a comment.

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‘Sustainable’ Electric Cars Are Getting Junked Over Minor Damage

Insurers are being forced to write off many electric vehicles with only minor damage to battery packs, sending the batteries to scrap yards and hindering the climate benefits of going electric, Reuters reported.

Battery packs typically represent roughly half the cost of an electric vehicle, sometimes costing tens of thousands of dollars, often making it more economical for insurers to consider a car as totalled than replace a battery pack, according to Reuters. While many carmakers, including Ford and GM, told Reuters that their battery packs were repairable, many are unwilling to share key data with third-party insurers to help assess damage.

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Whitmer Signs Six Bills Changing Insurance, Snowmobile Rules

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed six bills into law ranging from boosting insurance transparency to letting shoe repair stores donate shoes left unclaimed for six months or more.

“Today, I will be signing six bipartisan bills, adding on to the over 800 bipartisan bills I have signed since taking office,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Today’s bills will make insurance benefit preauthorization more accessible, support winter recreation and shoe repair businesses, and amend the state bar admittance process. I am proud to sign these bills and will continue to work with anyone to get things done. Together, we can continue delivering on the kitchen-table issues that matter most to Michiganders, growing our economy, and creating good-paying jobs.” 

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Michigan’s Whitmer Signs Off on $409 Million Small-Business Relief Program

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signing legislation

The third time was a charm for a small-business relief provision of Senate Bill 85, which was signed Monday by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

A House version of the bill, House Bill 4047, was proposed by Rep. Timothy Beson, R-Bangor Twp., last March, and signed by the governor. However, Whitmer exercised a line-item veto of the afflicted business relief. Another version of a small-business relief subsequently was passed by the legislature with bipartisan support. Whitmer again exercised her veto authority to squelch it.

SB 85 was introduced by Sen. Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth.

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Biden Admin Now Says It Will Get Around to Flying Americans out of Afghanistan by the End of the Year

State Department evacuation flights out of Afghanistan will resume by the end of the year, a senior State Department official told The Wall Street Journal.

The operation to retrieve U.S. citizens and Afghan allies left behind will require coordination with the Taliban and other governments, the official told The Wall Street Journal. Kabul’s international airport remains closed to regular passenger travel since the U.S. ended its first evacuation attempt on Aug. 31.

U.S. citizens, U.S. legal permanent residents and immediate family members will receive priority treatment in securing seats on evacuation flights, the official said. The State Department is hoping to eventually have several aircraft leave the country each week.

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BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, a Near $1B Vendor to State Government and a TennCare Health Plan Contractor, Mandating Some Employees Get COVID-19 Vaccines and Not Allowing Religious Accommodation

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BCBST), which received nearly $1 billion in vendor payments from the State of Tennessee during fiscal year 2021 related to state employee healthcare benefits and is one of the Managed Care Organizations handling the state’s TennCare program is enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate and not allowing religious accommodations for some of its employees.
Information was provided to The Tennessee Star by a long-term employee of BCBST, the Tennessee-based independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their job.

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Florida No-Fault Repeal Advances with No Certainty it Will Lower Auto Insurance Rates

Erin Gall

For decades, Florida lawmakers have pondered bills seeking to repeal the state’s half-century-old no-fault auto insurance system.

They’ve perennially failed because there’s no certainty a repeal would lower Florida auto insurance rates.

There still isn’t, at least according to the insurance industry, but nevertheless, Florida’s 16 million drivers, who already pay the nation’s highest auto insurance premiums, may learn the answer to that long-debated question next year.

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Support Exists for Tennessee Special Session to Address Stalled COVID-19 Liability Protection

Gov. Bill Lee plans to call a special legislative session to take up COVID-19 liability protection that Tennessee lawmakers debated but did not pass last month.

While an executive order Lee signed Wednesday limits liability for licensed health care workers responding to the coronavirus, it leaves businesses, local governments and school districts across the state open to COVID-19-related lawsuits.

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Whitmer Joins Coalition of 12 Governors To Ask Trump to Open Insurance Enrollment

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has joined a coalition of 12 governors to ask President Trump to allow for a special enrollment period to allow for increased access to affordable health care.

Whitmer is joining the governors from Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The letter asks for a special enrollment period of at least 30 days on the federal health care exchange.

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Michigan Governor Signs Auto Insurance Reform That Will Lower Rates

by Tyler Arnold   Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed bipartisan auto insurance reform into law Thursday that will guarantee lower rates for all drivers in the state with the highest premiums in the country. “By signing this legislation, we are providing relief to millions of drivers across the state and guaranteeing a better auto insurance system for everyone,” Whitmer said in a news release. “This historic deal shows that, when we put party aside, we can find common ground on our state’s toughest issues to provide realistic and affordable coverage options for drivers across Michigan.” The legislation will eliminate a mandate that required every driver to purchase unlimited, lifetime personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. The PIP portion of a person’s auto insurance bill makes up about half the cost. The new legislation will allow drivers to choose from a series of options, all of which reduce their total bill. A driver that chooses to keep 100 percent PIP coverage will receive 10 percent off of the PIP portion of their bill. Drivers who choose $500,000 worth of coverage will receive a 20 percent reduction and drivers who choose $250,000 worth of coverage will receive a 25 percent reduction. Medicaid-eligible recipients can…

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Michigan House, Senate Pass Auto Insurance Reform, Governor Whitmer Expected to Sign

by Tyler Arnold   The Michigan House and Senate passed auto insurance reform Friday with substantial bipartisan support after the House Republicans, Senate Republicans and Democratic governor struck a deal. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign the bill into law. The legislation will eliminate a mandate that required all drivers to purchase unlimited, lifetime personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. The unlimited PIP coverage mandate is unique to Michigan and caused the state’s average rates to be nearly double the national average. Detroit drivers paid nearly four times the national average. The PIP coverage accounts for nearly half of a driver’s insurance bill. After Whitmer signs the legislation, drivers will be able to choose from five PIP rate options and insurance companies will be required to lower their rates accordingly. A driver could choose to get rid of all of their PIP coverage, but only if he or she has private health insurance that covers auto accident injuries for the entire family, or the driver is an older person on Medicaid. They would save 100 percent on their PIP rates. Drivers could also choose to opt into $50,000 worth of coverage, which will be accompanied by a 45 percent rate…

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Report: Ohioans Enrolled in Obamacare Had 20 Percent of Medical Claims Denied Despite Coverage

A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation has found that, from 2015-2017, 20% of all claims made by individuals covered under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, have been denied. This has led to thousands of patients going “out of pocket” to cover expensive procedures or putting themselves at risk by not getting the procedures performed at all. The report analyzed “transparency data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to examine claims denials and appeals among issuers offering individual market coverage on from 2015-2017.” In 2017, 19% of all health claims filed were rejected. When a claim is rejected, an individual has a right to appeal the decision. However, less than one half of a percent of individuals choose to do so. Of the few that do file an appeal, only 14% are overturned. Depending on the insurer, claim denial rates ranged from 1% to 45%. Due to transparency limitations by insurers, there is little data to suggest why the claims were denied: Issuers use standardized reason codes for claims adjustments and denials; without this information, one cannot distinguish claims denied for reasons of medical necessity, for example, from those denied due to an incorrect…

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Insurers Are Refusing to Do Business With Coal Companies

by Jason Hopkins   A growing number of insurance firms around the world are either divesting from coal companies or refusing to do business with them altogether. Generali — the third largest insurer in Europe and the largest in Italy — announced it will no longer insure the production of coal facilities or mines. Additionally, Generali will no longer accept new clients that acquire as much as 30 percent of their revenue or energy production from coal. The Italian company, however, will keep doing business with its existing clients. Generali’s moves are just the latest in a growing trend by major insurance companies who are refusing to work with coal interests. International insurance giants Allianz, Swiss Re, Murich Re, AXA and Zurich have all opted to limit their insurance dealings with coal. Their decisions mostly come, not only pressure from environmental organizations, but also from governments increasingly antagonistic against fossil fuels. Fifteen European countries have pledged to completely phase out coal by the year 2030. “Generali’s move shows that coal is increasingly becoming uninsurable. The majority of global insurance companies with the expertise to lead in assessing and underwriting new power plants have now committed to end or limit insurance…

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Wisconsin and New Jersey are Among the States Looking To Copy Minnesota Model Of Using Federal Funds To Lower Insurance Premiums

Minnesota capitol

by Evie Fordham   Several states including Wisconsin and New Jersey are seeking to copy Minnesota’s model of federal reinsurance program funding that contributed to a 13-percent drop in premium rates in the state from 2017 to 2018. The Minnesota legislature adopted the program, which uses mostly federal funds to help insurers cover people with medical bills typically between $50,000 and $250,000, in 2017, reported Kaiser Health News. The program enables insurers to lower premiums and is a policy encouraged by the Trump administration. Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker is focusing his campaign on his health care accomplishments, including support for his state’s reinsurance program, reported RealClear Politics. He says premiums will be 11 percent lower than they would have been without the program in 2019, reported HealthLeaders Media. Minnesota’s 2018 reinsurance program received $131 million from the federal government, and many other states have applied or are applying for reinsurance program funding. Alaska and Oregon have programs similar to Minnesota’s in place. The main difference between Alaska’s program, which started in 2016, and other states’ is that Alaska’s covers all costs for people with “highest-cost conditions.” Wisconsin and Maine were approved in July, while Idaho, Louisiana, Maryland and New Jersey are working toward having programs set up by…

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