In Setback To Insurers, Judge Sets Aetna-Humana Trial For December
The later trial date means a ruling isn't likely to come down until January. The companies have an agreement that if the merger isn't approved by Dec. 31, Humana has the option to walk away from the deal.
The Wall Street Journal:
Judge To Start Aetna-Humana Merger Trial Dec. 5
A federal judge said Wednesday that he would begin trial proceedings on Dec. 5 in the Justice Department’s antitrust challenge to the proposed merger of Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc. The start date is a compromise between the proposals of the two sides, but it also amounted to a setback for the insurance companies. When he opened a scheduling hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Judge John Bates said he was leaning toward an early November trial, which would have allowed him to decide the case before the end of the year. (Kendall, 8/10)
In other national health care news —
The Wall Street Journal:
Valeant Under Criminal Investigation
Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. defrauded insurers by shrouding its ties to a mail-order pharmacy that boosted sales of its drugs, people familiar with the matter said. The lawyers, in the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, are pursuing an unusual legal theory, previously unreported, that Valeant and a closely linked mail-order-pharmacy, Philidor Rx Services LLC, allegedly defrauded insurers by hiding their close relationship, the people familiar with the matter said. (McNish and Matthews, 8/10)
Next President Faces Possible ObamaCare Meltdown
The next president could be dealing with an ObamaCare insurer meltdown in their very first month. The incoming administration will take office just as the latest ObamaCare enrollment tally comes in, delivering a potentially crucial verdict about the still-shaky healthcare marketplaces. (Ferris, 8/11)
Marilyn Tavenner On Implementing Obamacare — And Then Lobbying To Change It
At the start of 2015, Marilyn Tavenner held one of the most important jobs in health care: Implementing Obamacare, as the head of CMS. Six months later, she'd swapped it for a completely different major role: Lobbying to change Obamacare, as the head of America's Health Insurance Plans. It's an unusual career shift, and it's given Tavenner — a long-time government official turned top lobbyist — a rare perspective on the changes unfolding in the industry. (Diamond, 8/10)
Alive But Ruled Dead By Social Security 'Data Entry Error'
A few months ago, when Dr. Thomas Lee logged in to his patients' electronic medical records to renew a prescription, something unexpected popped up. It was a notice that one of them had died. Lee, a primary care doctor at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, was scheduled to see the patient in three days."I was horrified," he says. ... He wanted to know what had happened, but he couldn't find anything in the medical records or in a Web search. "I just felt really guilty that I had not pushed harder to get him in sooner," says Lee. When he couldn't find out anything, he decided to phone the man's house to offer condolences — maybe even to apologize. "So I called, and to my shock he answered," says Lee. (Bichell, 8/10)