Monday, November 5, 2007

No Second Annual Open Enrollment

Chief Judge Ralph Tyson of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana has declared a new state law unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction that prohibits the Office of Group Benefits from implementing it.

The ruling bars OGB from awarding additional contracts to Louisiana-based health maintenance organizations and ends preparations for a second annual enrollment period originally set to begin September 17, as mandated by Act 479.

The law was passed by the Louisiana Legislature and took effect July 19 when Gov. Kathleen Blanco signed it. Its constitutionality was subsequently challenged by UnitedHealthcare and Humana. The companies currently have contracts with OGB to administer health plans in all nine regions of the state for the 2007-08 plan year, which began July 1.

“As always, OGB will continue to operate in compliance with court mandates and state and federal laws, as we did this summer by preparing to implement Act 479,” noted Tommy D. Teague, OGB chief executive officer. “The judge’s decision means the month-long annual enrollment period for Medicare Advantage plans will take place as scheduled in November for plan members who have Medicare Part A and Part B. Any plan changes they choose to make will take effect January 1 on schedule. There will be no additional annual enrollment period for all OGB plan members.”

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