Attorney Says BlueCross Focusing On Meeting Mandates Of New Affordable Health Care Law

Monday, February 04, 2013
Tony Hullender
Tony Hullender

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee legal counsel Tony Hullender told members of the Pachyderm Club on Monday that the Chattanooga-based insurance giant has been working its way through the complicated mandates of the new Affordable Health Care Law. "We've got our heads to the grindstones working on it," he said.

He said it appears the law is here to stay after clearing a U.S. Supreme Court hurdle in a 5-4 vote. Some legal challenges remain, he said, but it appears that much of the law may remain intact.

He said BlueCross is watching how the market will react to the various facets of the new law. "It's so different than what we had before," he noted.

The speaker said the effect of the law may be to raise premium costs for young and healthy individuals, while modifying them for the sicker elderly.

He noted that there can be no more than a 3:1 cost differential between age groups.

He speculated that the result may be that some healthy young individuals may opt to pay a tax that is as low as $95 and forego getting insurance.

Attorney Hullender pointed out that the majority on the Supreme Court upheld the law on the basis of the government's broad right of taxation. He was present for one of three days of oral arguments on the issue at the Supreme Court. He headed a BlueCross panel focusing on the new law prior to being elevated to chief counsel for the company.

The speaker said one part of the law that was overturned was a section mandating that states had to expand Medicaid coverage or lose existing Medicaid benefits. States now have a choice, and Tennessee is still weighing the decision.

Tennessee did make a choice on the issue of health care exchanges - choosing not to take part. Attorney Hullender said the federal government will operate an exchange within the state.

He said due to the new exchanges that some small businesses may opt to no longer provide health benefits for employees. "They may point them to the exchange for coverage," he said.

The BlueCross official said aspects of the law including allowing dependents to stay on a policy until age 26, no annual or lifetime coverage limits, and a mandate to cover those with pre-existing medical conditions has not caused insurance company costs to go up significantly. In cases of individuals with pre-existing conditions, he said premiums "are still very high."

He said what the law does not directly do is to slow down the ever-rising cost of health care, though he said there are a few sections of the law aimed at doing so.

One strategy, he said, is to pay a "global amount" to a physician or hospital for a certain procedure, such as a colonoscopy, and say, "Do it as efficiently as you can" for the amount provided.

Asked if the law is "good or bad," he said something had to be done to reform the system. On whether this law was the best avenue, he said, "I will take the Fifth on that." 

 

 


Early Voting Numbers In Tennessee Up Over 19,000 For 4 Days

Early voting numbers in Tennessee are up over 19,000 after four days. Hamilton County up 1,974 -helped with the increase. There were 3,949 after four days in August 2010, and 5,923 currently. Bradley County is down 690 and Rhea down 197. Marion County is up by 74. Kerry Steelman, administrator of elections, said, "It's exciting to see these numbers. This is the kind ... (click for more)

Latest Jail Booking Report From Hamilton County - And Mug Shots

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ADAMS, JOSEPH LEBRON 1209 INDIAN AVE APT A ROSSVILLE, 30741 28 Chattanooga VIOLATION OF PROBATION (DOMESTIC ASSAULT) ALLEN, TONEY TYRONE 1011 E 8TH STREET CHATTANOOGA, 37403 25 Chattanooga POSS.A FIREARM DURING COMMISSIION OR ATTEMPT TO CO DRUGS GENERAL CATEGORY FOR RESALE TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICE VIOLATION ... (click for more)

Pickle Ball? - And Response

Collegedale has done some wonderful things for its residents.  The Greenway is a perfect example of money well spent on helping to give her residents the opportunity to improve their lives, at least from a health standpoint. Having taught at Wolftever Creek for a decade plus, I was fortunate to have opportunity to take my classes on walks from time to time.  It provided ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Say It Ain't So, Larry Joe!

Larry Joe Wheelon, the tainted horse trainer who was charged with 18 counts of aggravated animal cruelty when his barn was raided in April of 2013 and some animals were sored so badly that they could barely walk, finally went to a court hearing in Blount County on Wednesday and his steps toward Judge Tammy Harrington’s bench were decidedly heavy. My goodness, yours would have been ... (click for more)

Stone Leaves South Pitt For Coaching Positions At Boyd-Buchanan

The possibility of a career move was definitely in Wes Stone’s future. The one he took wasn’t necessarily on his radar screen just a few weeks ago. Stone, assistant football and head baseball coach at South Pittsburg, has left the Pirates for teaching/coaching positions at Boyd-Buchanan. The 38-year-old Stone, who already is working with the Bucs’ football team as a defensive ... (click for more)

Soddy-Daisy's Wright Commits To MTSU Baseball

Soddy-Daisy’s Andy Wright, a rising senior and dual-threat player, has made a non-binding verbal commitment to play baseball at Middle Tennessee State University. Wright, a pitcher/third baseman, chose the Conference USA Blue Raiders over Belmont, Air Force, Navy, UT-Martin and Carson-Newman. “I’m glad to get this (decision) off my back so I can enjoy my senior year,” Wright ... (click for more)