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In Brief


Hartford sells book of medical stop-loss

The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. has agreed to sell its medical stop-loss insurance business to National Benefit Resources Inc. The deal includes about $200 million in stop-loss premium volume that Hartford currently provides to more than 800 self-funded employers. NBR is a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc. and underwrites stop-loss coverage. Terms were not disclosed.

Express Scripts, CVS battle for Caremark

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking information from Express Scripts Inc. just as the pharmacy benefit manager is trying to outbid drugstore chain CVS Corp. to take over one of its competitors. The request from the federal agency that monitors antitrust issues comes just days after Express Scripts raised its offer for Caremark Rx Inc. to $26.3 billion. CVS matched the offer. CVS shareholders are to vote on the deal March 15, followed by Caremark shareholders March 16. In submitting its sweetened offer for Caremark, Express Scripts said that it expected to receive a "second request" from the FTC but that it should pass muster.

Premera scraps bid to become public

Premera Blue Cross said it will end its effort to become a publicly traded, for-profit corporation by withdrawing an appeal to Washington's Supreme Court. Premera said the move came largely in response to opposition from Washington's medical community. In 2002, nonprofit Premera sought to convert to a public company, but Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler denied the request. An appeals court ruled against the health plan last year, leading to the Supreme Court appeal.

House, Senate differ on mental health parity

Mental health care benefits parity legislation introduced in the House last week takes a different course than a bill approved last month by a Senate panel, potentially setting the stage for a future battle between the two congressional branches. Both bills would require group health care plans to provide the same cost-sharing requirements for mental health care services as they do for other medical conditions, and both would exempt some employers. But differences exist in proposed pre-emption of state laws, among other issues.

Insured cat losses total $16B in 2006

Developing countries with little insurance penetration bore the brunt of natural and man-made catastrophes in 2006, according to a study by Swiss Reinsurance Co. Of the $48 billion in economic losses caused by natural catastrophes last year, one-third—$15.9 billion—was covered by insurance, notes Swiss Re's latest sigma study.

Equity firm merges TPAs Gates, Attenta

Third-party claims management providers Frank Gates Cos. and Attenta have merged in a deal that gives a majority ownership stake to private equity firm KRG Capital Partners L.L.C. along with minority stakes to the combined company's senior management. In 2006, total revenues amounted to $88 million for Gates and $23 million for Attenta, according to a spokeswoman.

HCA expands sharing of cost information

Hospital chain HCA Inc. is sharing out-of-pocket cost information with patients prior to admission. Initially, HCA provided out-of-pocket cost ranges for 22 of the most common procedures administered at its 10 Dallas-area hospitals. HCA expanded the program last week to include 15 additional hospitals in San Antonio and Austin, Texas. The pricing program will be available at all 165 HCA hospitals in 20 states by the end of June, a company spokesman said.