News Briefs

✦ In addition to offering premium discounts and/or rebates to commercial enrollees as a result of higher earnings during the COVID-19 pandemic, several Blues plans at press time unveiled premium-relief actions for Medicare Advantage enrollees. BlueCross BlueShield of Massachusetts, for one, said it would give MA members a one-month “premium holiday” before the end of 2020. As part of a plan to provide $70 million in premium rebates and discounts, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota said it would extend about $38 million in premium relief to Medicare members, people who purchase individual health plans and certain business customers through one-time credits of 10% to 25%, according to the Star Tribune. And Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan last month issued about $15 million in refunds to Medicare Supplement and individual MA customers in the form of premium credits for March and April that were applied to their July premium bill, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). Visit AHIP’s ongoing summary page of insurers’ COVID-19 response actions at

✦ Norfolk, Va.-based Sentara Healthcare and Greensboro, N.C.-based Cone Health have signed a letter of intent to combine their regional, community-based health systems. Sentara, an integrated, not-for-profit system comprising 12 hospitals in Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, operates the Optima Health and Virginia Premier health plans, which have about 700,000 Medicaid members combined. Cone Health, a not-for-profit integrated health care network consisting of five hospitals in North Carolina, has a Medicare Advantage plan, HealthTeam Advantage, that serves 15,000 members. The combination is anticipated to close in mid-2021. 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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