Payer Roundup—Catholic Health Initiatives to sell Arkansas insurance plan to Centene

Handshake business deal executives
Catholic Health Initiatives is selling an Arkansas insurance plan to Centene. (Pixabay)

Catholic Health Initiatives to sell Arkansas insurance plan to Centene

St. Louis-based Centene has agreed to buy QualChoice Health Insurance, an insurance plan owned by Catholic Health Initiatives, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported.

QualChoice Chief Executive Randall Crow and a Centene spokesman confirmed a "definitive agreement," the news organization reported. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

CMS hires new medical adviser

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will be bringing on Marion Couch, M.D., Ph.D., as its new senior medical adviser to "better engage the medical community on CMS initiatives," the agency announced on Monday. 


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Couch will also work with the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to do specialty models and the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality on the Meaningful Measures initiative. Couch was previously the chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Indiana University.

The hire is part of a slew of additions and staff changes at the agency, including:

  • Anand Shah, M.D., will move to the Office of the Administrator as senior medical adviser for innovation, where he will lead efforts across CMS to advance medical innovation. Previously, he served as the Chief Medical Officer at CMMI.
  • Chris Traylor was announced as the new acting director of the Center for Medicaid & CHIP Services. Traylor previously served as deputy administrator for strategic initiatives in the Office of the Administrator.
  • Alec Aramanda was officially appointed to serve in the Office of the Administrator as director of stakeholder engagement. He was previously on detail and will continue to be responsible for directing the administrator’s stakeholder outreach activities across CMS.
  • Karen Aldana joins the Office of Communications as deputy director for communications from the Department of Transportation.
  • Meredith Good-Cohn has joined the Office of the Administrator as special assistant to the administrator. Previously, she served as the health research assistant for the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Nationwide: Pet obesity is getting costly

A new report from Nationwide, which claims to be the largest provider of pet health insurance in the U.S., says pet obesity rose for the eighth straight year.

Nearly 20% of Nationwide members’ pet insurance claims in 2017 were for conditions and diseases related to pet obesity, the company said. That added up to more than $69 million in veterinary expenses, the company said. Total obesity-related claims increased 24% over the last eight years. (Release)

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