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Cigna Settles In Physician Rankings Investigation October 30, 2007

Posted by Reginald Johnson in Healthcare, Legal.
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Reginald Johnson: Tuesday October 30, 3:08 pm

ET Health-insurer Cigna Healthcare has agreed with New York Attorney General Mario Cuomo to make changes regarding its physician ranking program as part of Cuomo’s ongoing investigation into such rankings.

Cuomo sent letters to Cigna (NYSE: CI – News), UnitedHealthcare and Aetna in August, saying that their physician rankings are likely to confuse or even deceive consumers. Aetna and UnitedHealthcare have not reached settlements with Cuomo’s office, a spokesman said Monday.

Among other things, the letters said insurers have a profit motive to recommend doctors who cost less, not necessarily those who are most qualified, and that the insurers did not disclose the accuracy rate of their rankings.

The Attorney General’s Office said Monday that Cigna will “ensure that rankings for doctors are not based solely on cost and clearly identify the degree to which any ranking is based on cost.”

The company also pledged to “use established national standards to measure quality” and to tell doctors and consumers how the ranking systems are designed.

In a statement provided by the Attorney General’s Office, Cigna’s chief medical officer, Jeffrey Kang, said the company will “contribute up to $100,000 to an independent organization to develop better means of communicating to consumers all aspects of the ranking program in a clear and straightforward manner.”

Cigna Healthcare is part of Cigna Corp. of Philadelphia.

Oprah Winfrey’s South African School Under Investigation October 30, 2007

Posted by Reginald Johnson in Africa, Legal.
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South African police have begun probing allegations that a dormitory matron abused pupils at an elite girl’s school funded by US talkshow queen Oprah Winfrey, police said Wednesday.

“I can only tell you we are investigating a case of abuse,” police spokesman Superintendent Lengelo Dlamini told AFP. “We received a request after the school investigated a case of misconduct.”

While police refused to give further details, a report in the weekly Rapport paper said the female matron is accused of fondling one pupil and physically assaulting another at the school on the southern outskirts of Johannesburg.

The multi-million-dollar Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls was opened earlier this year at a ceremony presided over by the talk show host and which included celebrities such as singer Mariah Carey and comedian Chris Rock.

Winfrey is reported to have flown to South Africa earlier this month at the start of the internal inquiry and attended an emergency meeting with parents.

The girls aged between 11 and 13 were chosen after an initial 3,500 applications, with Winfrey choosing the final 152 for their academic and leadership qualities as well as their disadvantaged background.

Since the school opened in January, complaints have surfaced in the press from parents saying that it was too strict while two Afrikaans-speaking girls left because of “cultural differences” and bullying.

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