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WellCare of Nebraska Will Rebrand as Healthy Blue in January, Reflecting a New Alliance With Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska

Members’ health plan benefits and services will remain the same.

Community Care Health Plan of Nebraska, Inc. (dba WellCare of Nebraska), which is an Anthem Inc. company and leading managed care provider of health benefits for Nebraska’s Heritage Health Medicaid program, along with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE), the largest health insurer in Nebraska, have received approval to enter into an alliance to collaboratively serve Medicaid beneficiaries across the state.

In support of this venture, the Nebraska health plan known as WellCare will be rebranded as Healthy Blue to reflect the strength of its new alliance with BCBSNE, as well as to extend brand stability and recognition of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield name to its Heritage Health Medicaid members. This name change will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

“Through this joint venture, we are bringing together proficiency in building best-in-class Medicaid programs with expertise that comes from being the state’s oldest and largest health insurer,” said Tim Meyers, health plan president. “We both have a shared interest in addressing the unique needs of Nebraska’s Medicaid beneficiaries and alleviating Nebraska’s most pressing health issues. Through our shared mission, we are confident that we will succeed in building healthier, stronger communities across our state.”

Approximately 83,000 health plan members, who participate in the state’s Heritage Health Medicaid program, will be notified through the mail to inform them of the change to their health plan’s name. Members should expect to receive new Healthy Blue member ID cards with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield logo before January 1, 2021. Existing WellCare of Nebraska member ID cards should be used through the end of 2020.

Members will also continue to receive the same healthcare benefits and have access to their established primary care providers, specialists and care centers. This rebrand will not have any impact on BCBSNE health plan members or providers.

“We have been here for millions of Nebraskans throughout their health journeys and believe that ensuring care access and equity is fundamental to the health and well-being of our communities,” said Steve Grandfield, president and chief executive officer of BCBSNE. “In collaboration with a fellow industry leader, we look forward to equipping more people across our state with the power and peace of mind a Blue card provides.”

When the name change takes effect on Jan. 1, 2021, the current member website will be redirected to a new Healthy Blue website, and members should begin using the new customer service phone numbers printed on their Healthy Blue ID cards. Current members who do not receive their new Healthy Blue ID cards by Jan. 1, or those who have questions may contact member services at 855-599-3811 (TTY 877-247-6272), Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. CST, or visit myhealthybluene.com.

About Community Health Plan of Nebraska, Inc.

Community Care Health Plan of Nebraska, Inc. (“CCHPN”), an Anthem Inc. company that is formally known as WellCare of Nebraska, Inc., is a managed healthcare provider committed to

Editorial: Nebraska Medicine must inform patients about the hacker attack details | Editorial

Our wired world unavoidably puts our personal information at potential risk. The points of vulnerability are many: Our home computers. Banks and credit unions. Online retailers. Government agencies.

Indeed, the health care sector has been regularly a target of hackers across the country. Nebraska has had several examples. Malware, brought in by a third-party vendor’s device, struck a CHI Health location in 2019. The year before, a hacker accessed patient information at Boys Town National Research Hospital.

Last week, Nebraska Medicine became the latest health care facility targeted in our state for cyberattack. The assault — described as a “significant information technology system downtime event” — led the hospital to postpone patient appointments, with staff resorting to old-style charting of medical information.

Nebraska Medicine has since regained its footing in terms of service delivery.

“People have done a yeoman’s job in making sure we deliver good patient care,” the hospital’s CEO, Dr. James Linder, told The World-Herald. Nebraska Medicine kept its emergency rooms open and didn’t need to divert patients to other hospitals.

The hospital’s information system retains patients’ electronic medical records.

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Expanded Medicaid begins in Nebraska after years of dispute

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska will officially offer expanded Medicaid coverage to low-income people starting Thursday after years of wrangling over it in the Legislature, a statewide ballot campaign that led voters to approve it and a nearly two-year rollout that left some people in health care limbo.

The state will provide coverage to 10,288 residents who have signed up so far, a number roughly in line with the state’s projections. State officials expect expanded enrollment to rise to about 90,000 within a few years.

“This expansion is an excellent opportunity” for people who are now eligible, said Dannette Smith, executive director of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.


Nebraska was among several conservative states where state lawmakers and governors declined to expand Medicaid, only to see the issue go to voters. Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts and his GOP predecessor, Dave Heineman, both argued that expansion would be too costly for the state, and lawmakers rejected six attempts in as many years to adopt it as an optional part of President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law.

The expansion became law in 2018 when voters approved citizen-led measures in Nebraska, Utah and Idaho. Utah and Idaho officials later attached work requirements to their programs.

In Nebraska, the Ricketts administration implemented two tiers of coverage: a “basic” plan available to all newly qualified recipients and a “prime” plan available to people who are working, in school, volunteering or caring for a relative. The prime plan includes coverage for dental and vision care and over-the-counter drugs.

State health officials have defended the expansion’s slower-than-typical launch and their two-tiered approach, calling it a massive undertaking that required numerous layers of federal approval.

Even so, the delays caused a good deal of uncertainty and stress for people who were waiting to enroll, said Molly McCleery, health care access program director for the group Nebraska Appleseed.

“It was extremely difficult for the folks we worked with,” said McCleery, whose group played a major role in bringing the issue to voters. “A lot of people we worked with had long-standing health needs that they needed to get addressed.”

McCleery said that based on the experience of other states that expanded Medicaid, Nebraska is now likely to see a reduction in personal bankruptcies caused by large medical debts. People who aren’t saddled with huge debts are also able to spend more on other goods and services that help the economy, she said.

State officials said they faced several other challenges in expanding Medicaid, including computer system upgrades for processing applicants; hiring more workers; and negotiating new contracts with the private, managed-care companies that will serve Medicaid recipients. The contractors will administer the program, dubbed Heritage Health, with a financial incentive to provide health care services while keeping costs low.

“There was a lot of work that had to go into this,” said Ricketts, who opposed the expansion but promised to follow the will of voters.

Jeremy Brunssen, the state’s interim Medicaid and Long-Term Care director,

Nebraska Medicine to resume appointments, procedures after battling cyberattack | Live Well

That incident, too, began on a weekend. It, too, left doctors and nurses to rely on paper backup systems.

Nebraska Medicine officials said last week that the health system’s emergency rooms have remained open since the outage began early Sept. 20, a Sunday, and no patients had been diverted to other hospitals.

No patients’ electronic medical records were deleted or destroyed, the health system said at the time, thanks to the system’s “back-up and recovery processes.”

But when asked whether patients’ medical or financial information had been exposed, a Nebraska Medicine spokesman said the statement the health system provided contained all the information officials could provide.

Nebraska Medicine’s outage also affected hospitals in North Platte, Norfolk, Hastings and Beatrice for which the health system hosts electronic health records systems.

Electronic records at Great Plains Health in North Platte came back over the weekend and were up and running Tuesday with a few small exceptions, said Megan McGown, a health system spokeswoman.

“It’s a great system,” she said. “We missed it while it was down, and we are very glad it’s back up.”

During the outage, staff with Great Plains, like those within Nebraska Medicine, had to record patient information on paper. Patient care was not impacted, she said, and to her knowledge, the hospital did not have to delay any procedures. No patient information was accessed or stolen.

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