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CVS Acquires Aetna in a Potentially Game-Changing Move plus Rating Oncologists, New Studies and More

IP Blog | Innovation Partners | December 10, 2017

This week, the top news story is CVS’ proposed merger with health insurer Aetna. The deal, which will cost the pharmacy chain $69B, puts it on a competitive playing field with United Healthcare and Optum, a pharmacy benefits management company, and sets up the chessboard against giant Amazon’s potential forays into healthcare. In addition to this news, new studies show how oncologists determine breast cancer screening recommendations, updates on the 340B lawsuits, and more. Enjoy this week’s Innovation Partners BioBlog.

The CVS-Aetna Gamble: A Health-Care Giant Not Built Around Doctors

The potential merger of health insurance giant Aetna with CVS, the national chain of pharmacies, puts CVS in a stronger position to compete with insurance giant United Healthcare and pharmacy benefits manager Optum. The new model of a healthcare organization built around benefits, rather than around doctors.

CVS-Aetna Deal Could Start a Health Takeover Run

The CVS/Aetna deal is huge – almost a quarter of a trillion dollars. Combined with the United Healthcare deal, some pundits are asking whether or not the two behemoths will have too much say in the cost of healthcare. Another look at the ramifications of the CVS/Aetna merger. Could this be the start of a trend and if so, what are the impacts on healthcare?

5 things to know about the CVS-Aetna deal

Key points related to the pending CVS/Aetna merger are outlined in this article. Included are facts about the deal such as the fact that Aetna will continue acting as a standalone subsidiary; CVS stores are likely to undergo a transformation; and more. Healthcare IT, data and analytics will also play a major role in the newly merged companies. Read on for more about this next step in the evolution of healthcare.

CVS to acquire Aetna in $69B deal

CVS’ purchase of health insurer Aetna for $69B is the talk of the healthcare industry this week, and for good reason. The move signals a fundamental shift in the market that may have ramifications for years to come. The merger allows Aetna to compete against other insurers, such as United Healthcare, which have already acquired pharmacy benefits management companies.

Tackling the High Cost of Prescription Drugs

Stanford Law Professor Michelle Mello, along with former Senator Jeff Bingaman, JD ’68, who co-chaired the committee, released a new study aimed at examining the high cost of prescription drugs. The new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicines, “Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative” recommends better government negotiated prices, quicker turnaround for generic drugs, and increased financial transparency for biopharmaceutical companies. Mello discusses the report with reporter Sharon Driscoll.

Does the 2017 Republican Tax Bill Cut Cancer Treatments for Medicare Patients?

Snopes investigates claims that the Republican tax bill cut will hurt Medicare patients. The results: neither Medicare nor Medicaid recipients are likely to be hurt by the bill, but confusion lingers. A look at the latest on this controversial bill and its impact on patients, especially cancer patients.

27 Top Breast Cancer Oncologists, Picked By Big Data

How do you pick a good doctor? A company which promises to help you pick the right doctor for your needs now hopes to offer services to help patients pick a good doctor, too. Grand Rounds uses both public and proprietary data to score doctors on quantitative measurements of care to help patients choose doctors with the best track record for their medical needs. In this article, the company uses their software to provide a list of the top 27 breast cancer oncologists.

Study Suggests That Where Guidelines Disagree, Physicians’ Experiences With Their Patients, Family and Friends Shape Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations

Guidelines are what their name suggests; guidance but not rigid rules and recommendations. When guideline conflict or uncertainty exists in the best course of action, friends and family may shape experience. A study of 800 physicians suggests that their experience with patients, family members, and friends with breast cancer informs their mammogram recommendations. Physicians who know someone with a poor breast cancer prognosis who did not receive screening are more likely to recommend routine screening for both younger and older patients than the guidelines currently recommend.

Groups Sue CMS Over $1.6B Cut To 340B Payment

The American Hospital Association (AHA), America’s Essential Hospitals and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) sued the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) over a new rule released Nov. 2 that dramatically cuts outpatient drug payments under the federal 340B Drug Pricing Program. The changes will cost hospitals $1.6 billion in Medicare payments. Opponents to the changes say it will also threaten access to care.

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