George Petersen Insurance Agency completed its move from one College Ave.  location in Santa Rosa to another, at 175 West College Ave. last week, which was the result of the company absorbing NorthWest Insurance in 2010.

The new location consolidates two Santa Rosa offices into one, just about doubling the size and bringing 73 employees  -- 41 employees from its previous location at 627 College Avenue, with 32 employees from the former NorthWest office at 418 B Street -- under one roof, according to Robb Daer, chief administrative officer of the Santa Rosa branch.

George Petersen will be the sole tenant of the two-story, approximately 19,000-square-foot building. 

[caption id="attachment_48410" align="alignright" width="372" caption="George Petersen Insurance Agency moved to this 19,000 sq. ft. building on West College Ave."][/caption]

“We had begun bursting at the seams of our two Santa Rosa offices, and it was time to get everyone under one roof,” Mr. Daer said. The new location is just down the road of the former 13,000-square-foot College Avenue location, which served as the agency’s Santa Rosa hub since 1993. Prior to that, the firm spent 10 years at yet another College Avenue location, just a few blocks east.

Dick Shultze from KOR Commercial Real Estate represented George Petersen in the new building purchase. The agency will soon be leasing its former location at 627 College to an undisclosed party. That building, on the corner of Humboldt Street near downtown Santa Rosa, is notable for its longtime previous owner prior to George Petersen, KSRO radio.

The building on West College had an asking price of $2.46 million, or $127.63 per square foot, as of June 2010, according to a listing from brokerage Keegan & Coppin.

George Petersen is the North Bay's second largest property-causal insurance agency, after Wells Fargo Insurance Services, with $88 million in premium volume in 2010, the latest year for available statistics. In 2011, it was the sixth largest employee benefits agency in the North Bay, with $32.5 million in premium volume, according the Business Journal's list of employee benefits agencies.

NorthWest was ranked fifth on the 2010 property-causalty list with $56 million in North Bay premiums underwritten.***

Novato-based Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company announced the appointment of two entertainment veterans with agency, risk management, and claims experience. The additions will expand Fireman’s Fund’s entertainment team.

[caption id="attachment_48411" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Terry Rybicki"][/caption]

Terry Rybicki has been named the new head of entertainment distribution and agency management. Mr. Rybicki, a Fireman's Fund veteran, will have overall responsibility for agent and broker relationships and will be solely dedicated to the entertainment business with national responsibilities. He brings over 15 years of P&C sales leadership experience.

Ian Galloway joined Fireman's Fund as the head of entertainment claims and risk services. Mr. Galloway has over 25 years of claims experience, focused on entertainment, sports and contingency coverages with both U.S. and global experience. He is also a founding member and past president of North American Contingency Association.***

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services said recently that it expects the Affordable Care Act, better known as health care reform, to save both states and taxpayers and estimated $17.7 billion over five years on prescription drugs bought through Medicaid.

The savings stem from implementation of the act's Medicaid prescription drug provision, which aims to increase transparency in drug pricing, ensuring citizens and states aren't overpaying for prescription drugs, according to CMS.

The proposed regulation will reduce costs through a number of improvements, among them aligning reimbursement rates to better reflect the actual price pharmacies pay for a drug; increasing rebates paid by drug manufacturers that participate in Medicaid, and providing rebates for for drugs dispensed to individuals enrolled in a Medicaid managed care organization.

In 2009, Medicaid spent $15.8 billion on prescription drugs, according to CMS.***

Also regarding health care reform, The Department of Health and Human Services recently released a series of  proposed policies that it says would give states more flexibility and freedom in implementing the Affordable Care Act.  

Health and human services is attempting to make good on its goal of permitting access to health insurance for millions of uninsured by issuing guidelines for "essential health benefits," which have the stated goal of offering "a comprehensive package of items and services" for  both the individual and small group markets -- inside and outside of insurance exchanges set to take effect in 2014.

The agency said it is issuing the guidelines now in order to give stakeholders ample time before the exchanges take shape ahead of 2014.

Under HHS’s approach, states would have the flexibility to select an existing health plan to set the “benchmark” for the items and services included in the essential health benefits package.  States would have to choose one of the following health insurance plans as a benchmark:  One of the three largest small group plans in the state; one of the three largest state employee health plans;  one of the three largest federal employee health plan options;  the largest HMO plan offered in the state’s commercial market.  

As long as plans don't reduce the value of coverage, such coverage can be modified.  States must ensure the essential health benefits package covers items and services in at least 1-categories of care, including preventive care, emergency services, maternity care, hospital and physician services, and prescription drugs....

Submit items for this column to Business Journal Staff Writer Dan Verel dverel@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4257.