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In Brief


BCBS settles with doctors in class action suit

The Blue Cross & Blue Shield Assn. and 23 of its licensed health plans have settled a class action lawsuit with 900,000 physicians and medical societies alleging that the plans defrauded doctors. The settlement includes a guaranteed cash payment of more than $128 million and legal fees not to exceed approximately $49 million. The Blues plans have agreed to make several business practice changes, including implementing a definition of medical necessity and ensuring payment of clean claims within 30 days.

New reinsurer formed in Bermuda

White Mountains Insurance Group has joined with Paris-based banking firm NATIXIS to create Pentelia Capital Management, an asset management company with an inaugural fund to invest in an array of insurance risk securitization markets. The Bermuda-based fund, Pentelia Ltd., which has closed with capital commitments of about $600 million, has created a new Bermuda reinsurer, Pentelia Re.

PCI urges comp reform in South Carolina

The Property Casualty Insurers Assn. of America has called for reforms to South Carolina's workers compensation system following the National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc.'s recommendation for a 23.7% loss cost increase, following an 18.4% increase last year. PCI said that the need for continued rate increases are evidence that South Carolina lawmakers need to repeal the state's Second Injury Fund, reduce litigation, combat fraud and make benefit award amounts more consistent in the state.

Washington passes paid family leave bill

Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire is expected to sign legislation requiring employers to offer employees up to five weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. Effective Oct. 1, 2009, employees becoming new parents would be entitled to receive up to $250 a week for up to five weeks. The bill does not specify benefit funding.

Former HIH head to stand trial

The former chairman of HIH Insurance Ltd. was committed to stand trial on criminal charges for his role in the collapse of the company. Geoffrey Cohen faces charges of giving misleading information in his address to shareholders at the HIH annual general meeting on Dec. 15, 2000. HIH became Australia's largest ever corporate collapse when it failed in 2001. Several other officers have been jailed for their role in the collapse.

Genetic bias bill passed by House

The House of Representatives approved legislation that would make it illegal for employers and health insurers to deny coverage or charge enrollees higher premiums based solely on a genetic predisposition to a specific disease. The Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act--H.R. 493--also would bar employers from using individuals' genetic information in hiring, firing, job placement or promotion decisions.

Cat losses drop in 2007 first quarter

Catastrophes caused an estimated $1.22 billion in insured property damage in the United States during 2007's first quarter, the Insurance Services Office Inc.'s Property Claim Services unit said, down from $1.48 billion registered in the same period in 2006. PCS estimated that winter storms and other severe weather generated nearly 204,000 claims in 18 states during the period.