Friday, March 09, 2012


The Wall Street Journal is reporting this afternoon that the Federal Trade Commission appears increasingly unlikely to block the Express Scripts - Medco merger "though the FTC may still seek to impose conditions on the deal, according to person familiar with the matter." As the FEHBlog noted last year, the merger agreement includes certain business divestment provision intended to ease anti-trust concerns. The FTC is asking other vocal opponents of the deal, such as the National Association of Chain Drug Pharmacies and the National Community Pharmacist Association, "how else their objections could be addressed without blocking the deal." While the deadline for an FTC decision is next week, "the companies have agreed to give the agency more time while the two sides work toward a possible settlement, people familiar with the matter said." But of course, it's not over until it's over.

In 2009 then New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo reached a settlement with Ingenix to spinoff its schedule for pricing out of network doctor services to an as yet unformed non-profit group which is now FAIR Health. This week now Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration issued a report titled an "Unwelcome Surprise -- How New Yorkers are getting stuck with unexpected medical bills from out-of-network providers. The report chastises both insurers and health care providers. In the FEHBlog's opinion, the best way to avoid a surprise without increasing healthcare costs is better communication with members / patients.

Kaiser Health News reports about a book titled "The Patient's Checklist" by Elizabeth Bailey. The book provides 10 checklists that "many essentials of a hospital stay, including sections on what to bring with you, medication management, how to make your hospital safer and more comfortable, and planning for your discharge."  This is the kind of helpful information that empowers patients and their families to coordinate their own care.

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