Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weekend Update

Both Houses of COngress are in session this coming week. The FEHBlog has noticed several interesting business developments.

Thomson Reuters announced last week that it will be selling off its healthcare business. That business "provides data, analytics and performance benchmarking solutions and services to companies, government agencies and healthcare professionals." United Healthcare has its Ingenix division which provides similar services. Will a major health insurer (as opposed to IBM or GE) snap up this opportunity?

Wellpoint,  a major health insurer, announced last week its purchase of Caremore, "a senior focused health care delivery program that includes Medicare Advantage plans and 26 clinics designed to deliver [managed] health care [to 54,000 Medicare Advantage plan members] in select California, Arizona, and Nevada markets. Wellpoint plans to expand the Caremore model inside and outside this region.

The New York TImes reflects that "The transaction should turn heads in the deal world because health care mergers and acquisitions have slowed as a result of the uncertainty surrounding President Obama’s health care overhaul and its effect on the managed care sector, especially Medicare organizations The FEHBlog reflect that this is a smart business move because the Affordable Care Act imposes profit limits on health insurers but not on health care providers or health care information services.

Last week was the deadline for comments on the HHS rules implementing accountable care organizations. AHIP, the health insurers' trade association, submitted thoughtful comments - suggested that the government should build on private sector initiatives, avoid Medicare's fee for service platform and take steps to control provider consolidation.

Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery. The FEHBlog is visiting East Haven, CT, the town where he grew up this weekend, and he noticed that Yale New Haven Hospital has built an urgent care center to compete with the MinuteClinics as discussed in this New London Day article. But does Yale charge MinuteClinic prices or ER prices?

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