States plan to use $46 million to curb health insurance rates hikes; Insurers in Mass. expect to lose $100 million;

> States plan to use $46 million in grants under the nation's new health law to help curb health insurance rate hikes for consumers by seeking new regulatory powers, hiring rate experts and posting insurance company financial documents on the Web, USA Today reports. Article

> Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick took another swing at health plans this week, signing a bill that instructs them to create new plan designs for small businesses that will be cheaper than those currently available, but which does nothing to regulate the costs hospitals and doctors charge insurers for their services, Boston Business Journal reports. Insurers say they expect to lose $100 million. Article

> North Carolina's largest health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, will lay off 90 people in data entry between January and May in order to cut its $1 billion budget by 20 percent by 2014, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. Some of the work will be outsourced to the Philippines. Article

> Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts posted a net loss of $14.3 million in the April-to-June period, an improvement over last year's $33.6 million loss, the Boston Herald reports. Article

> Health insurance executives say that, despite political backlash toward their profits and pricing, they will continue to push medical spending lower and keep premiums at the greatest possible margin above costs, American Medical News reports. Article

And finally... Maybe there was a discount for senior citizens. Article

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