News Briefs

✦ Highmark Inc. and HealthNow New York Inc. on June 16 unveiled a new affiliation bringing together two major regional non-profit Blues insurers. As per the agreement, Highmark parent organization Highmark Health will become the primary licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association for HealthNow’s eight-county Western New York and 13-county Northeastern New York service areas, according to a press release from the companies. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions; the firms clarified that this is not an acquisition or a financial transaction. Combined, the companies would cover more than 4.4 million enrollees, including more than 292,000 Medicare Advantage beneficiaries and nearly 191,000 Medicaid and CHIP enrollees, according to AIS’s Directory of Health Plans. Contact Highmark Health spokesperson Aaron Billger at

✦ Even without the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, 3.9 million fewer people would have been uninsured this year if the 15 Medicaid expansion holdout states had extended eligibility for nonelderly people up to 138% of the federal poverty level, according to a new report from the Urban Institute. That report, The Implications of Medicaid Expansion in the Remaining States: 2020 Update, estimated that if those states had expanded Medicaid, federal spending on health care would have increased by $30.4 billion in 2020. Meanwhile, state spending on Medicaid would have risen by $4.7 billion but would have entirely or largely been offset by savings in other areas, suggested the report. Visit

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Lauren Flynn Kelly

Lauren Flynn Kelly Managing Editor, Radar on Medicare Advantage

Lauren has been covering health business issues since the early 2000s and specializes in in-depth reporting on Medicare Advantage, managed Medicaid and Medicare Part D. She also possesses a deep understanding of the complex world of pharmacy benefit management, having written AIS Health’s Radar on Drug Benefits from 2004 to 2005 and again from 2011 to 2016. In addition to her role as managing editor of Radar on Medicare Advantage, she oversees AIS Health’s publications and manages the health editorial staff. She graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English.

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