Regence defends rate hike; HHS 'on track' to set up exchanges;

> Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield is raising rates 9.6 percent on average for individual policies to offset rising medical and prescription drug costs, The Oregonian reported. We are simply putting our finger in the dam and hoping that the water stops flowing," Regence's Oregon President Don Antonucci told state insurance regulators Monday. He also said the insurer is trying to limit increases by spending down its reserves. Article

> The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is "on track" to create and set up federal health insurance exchanges by 2014 in any states that don't establish their own marketplace, Reuters reported. Article

> Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans are the most difficult insurers for providers to work with, according to a national survey of hospital leaders. The survey, which was conducted by research organization ReviveHealth, suggests that the payer-provider relationship between Blues plans and many providers is strained, causing problems that even affect patients, reported Live Insurance News. Article

> And Finally… Sneeze with a purpose. Article