Amerigroup Medicaid plan rebranding

Managed-care provider Amerigroup Louisiana has rebranded its Louisiana Medicaid plan to Healthy Blue under a partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana.

The name change takes effect on Sept. 1. Amerigroup is sending letters to its 235,000 Louisiana members about the name change. Members will receive Healthy Blue member ID cards. The name change will not affect Louisiana Blue Cross members or providers.

Amerigroup members will continue to receive the same health care benefits and have access to their established primary care providers, specialists and care centers. Health care providers who serve Amerigroup Louisiana members will not be required to make changes, and will continue to use the same provider IDs, contacts and claims filing processes.

When the name change takes effect on Sept. 1, Amerigroup Louisiana’s 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 Sept. 1, or those who have questions can contact member services at (800) 600-4441 (TTY: 711) or email MPSWeb@amerigroup.com.

Starmount debuts dental plans in 8 states

Baton Rouge-based Starmount Life Insurance Co., the dental and vision center for Unum, has launched four new individual dental PPO plans in Florida, Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.

"The four new PPO plans offer consumers more choices to meet their health and budget needs, and allow us to expand our individual dental and vision business into new markets," said Starmount President Deborah Sternberg.

Insurance giant Unum completed a $127 million purchase of Starmount Life Insurance Co. and AlwaysCare Benefits, a dental and vision benefits company based in Baton Rouge, in 2016.

The product expansion helps solidify Starmount and its growing Baton Rouge operations as Unum’s dental and vision center and demonstrates the added strength of Unum, said Starmount spokeswoman Andreá Randall.

Loyola targets adults with college degree  

Loyola University New Orleans will begin offering a bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary studies degree in the fall aimed at adults pursuing their higher education part time.

The program offers a mix of online, evening, on-campus and hybrid courses in a flexible curriculum to meet the needs of busy adults.

“As the United States continues building the knowledge economy, more and more new jobs are requiring a bachelor’s degree, and Loyola University New Orleans wants to help,” said interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs David B. Borofsky. “Loyola is excited about this new program and pleased to help adult students in the New Orleans area achieve their dreams of new careers, job advancement or personal fulfillment.”

The tuition is $975 per three-credit course.

In addition to the Loyola Core curriculum, students will take courses in two disciplines as well as a broad range of electives. The disciplines now offered include: business; criminology and justice; English; mass communication; music industry studies; philosophy; religious studies; sociology; translation and interpreting; theology and ministry and psychology. Additional disciplines will be added in the future.

Students in the program receive access to Loyola’s Career Development Center, where career counselors can assist with exploring career options.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 23 percent, or 72,381 adults, in the greater New Orleans area — consisting of New Orleans, Metairie and Kenner — have attained some college credit, but not a university degree. Census data also shows that 28.5 percent of adults ages 25 to 64, or 89,689 people from the metropolitan area, have attained a workplace certificate, some college credit or an associate degree, but not a bachelor’s degree.

Pennington, CPEX get innovation grants

LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the Center for Planning Excellence received $10,000 New Horizons innovation project grants from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation.

Pennington will study the effectiveness of playground stenciling and its impact on student health and children’s physical activity. Stencils are used with chalk or paint to mark playground games, such as a hopscotch court, as a low-cost way to promote exercise at schools and other institutions that don’t have the dollars to expand playgrounds or purchase equipment.

“One in two children in Louisiana is considered overweight or obese, creating the need for creative solutions to improve the health of our children — our state’s future workforce,” said Dr. Maura Kepper, a postdoctoral researcher at Pennington Biomedical who is overseeing the stenciling research.

CPEX will develop a pilot process and tool kit for implementing the Complete Streets policy in a target district within north Baton Rouge. Complete Streets policies promote street designs that accommodate all users, including motorists, bicycles and pedestrians.

St. Martin Hospital opens Medicaid clinic

St. Martin Hospital in Breaux Bridge has opened Medicaid clinic in the St. Martin Hospital Specialty Center.

The clinic is open 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Appointments are available, but not necessary. The clinic accepts AmeriHealth and LA Healthcare Connection, with other Medicaid providers coming soon.

Petco opens store in Hammond

Petco has opened a store at 2440 W. Thomas St., in Hammond.

The specialty retailer sells premium pet food, supplies, toys and apparel, and has a grooming salon, dog training area and in-store clinic.

The retailer operates more than 1,500 Petco and Unleashed by Petco locations across the U.S., Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Krewe Energy acquires Timbalier field 

Krewe Energy LLC, a privately owned exploration and production company based in Covington, has completed the acquisition of the Timbalier Bay Field in Lafourche Parish, a move that effectively doubles the company's size.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The Timbalier Bay Field was discovered in 1938 by Gulf Oil Corp. The acquisition adds 8,270 acres to Krewe Energy's holdings and boosts production to the equivalent of roughly 2,200 barrels of oil per day. The company owns more than 15,000 leased acres in south Louisiana.

Xavier spinout firm receives federal grant

Zenopharm, a startup spin-out company from Xavier University, has received a federal Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health for $298,000.

The grant from the National Cancer Institute will help fund preclinical studies for the firm's orally administered breast cancer drug. Early studies show it preventing recurrence more effectively and with fewer side effects than the injected treatment currently available.

Zenopharm, led by researcher Dr. Guangdi Wang, hopes to progress to clinical trials after completing the studies.