From The New York Times

For First Time, Pharmaceutical Distributor Faces Federal Criminal Charges Over Opioid Crisis

April 23, 2019

Law enforcement officials have long tried to stem the opioid crisis in America with criminal charges for street dealers and cartel kingpins who traffic in drugs like fentanyl and oxycodone.

Now, for the first time, federal authorities are bringing the same kind of felony drug-trafficking charges against a major pharmaceutical distributor and two of its former executives for their role in fanning the crisis.

Law enforcement officials have long tried to stem the opioid crisis in America with criminal charges for street dealers and cartel kingpins who traffic in drugs like fentanyl and oxycodone.

Now, for the first time, federal authorities are bringing the same kind of felony drug-trafficking charges against a major pharmaceutical distributor and two of its former executives for their role in fanning the crisis.

Prosecutors said the former executives at the company, Rochester Drug Cooperative, ignored red flags and shipped tens of millions of oxycodone pills and fentanyl products to pharmacies they knew were distributing drugs illegally. Their sales soared, as did the compensation of the chief executive.

“Why did they do it?” asked Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney in Manhattan, who announced the charges at a news conference. “Greed….”

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Employee Wellness Programs Yield Little Benefit, Study Shows

April 16, 2019

Companies have long embraced workplace wellness programs as a way to improve workers’ health and reduce overall medical spending, but a new study may prompt employers to rethink those efforts.

The study, published on Tuesday in JAMA, a medical journal, looked at the experience of 33,000 workers at BJ’s Wholesale Club, a retailer, over a year and a half.

Companies have long embraced workplace wellness programs as a way to improve workers’ health and reduce overall medical spending, but a new study may prompt employers to rethink those efforts.

The study, published on Tuesday in JAMA, a medical journal, looked at the experience of 33,000 workers at BJ’s Wholesale Club, a retailer, over a year and a half.

While workers who enrolled in the wellness program reported that they learned to exercise more and watch their weight, the research found no significant differences in outcomes like lower blood pressure or sugar levels and other health measures. And it found no significant reduction in workers’ health care costs….

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Trump Retreats on Health Care After McConnell Warns It Won’t Happen

April 2, 2019

President Trump backed off plans to introduce a Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act after Senator Mitch McConnell privately warned him that the Senate would not revisit health care in a comprehensive way before the November 2020 elections.

President Trump backed off plans to introduce a Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act after Senator Mitch McConnell privately warned him that the Senate would not revisit health care in a comprehensive way before the November 2020 elections.

Reversing himself in the face of Republican consternation, Mr. Trump said his party would not produce a health care plan of its own, as he had promised, until after the elections, meaning he will only try to fulfill his first-term promise to repeal and replace his predecessor’s signature program if he wins a second term.

The president’s abrupt about-face, announced on Twitter on Monday night after talking with Mr. McConnell, all but ensured that health care will take a central place in next year’s campaign, elevating an issue Democrats consider one of their strengths. But it may take the legislative heat off Republicans exasperated by Mr. Trump’s unexpected push to devise a wholesale replacement for President Barack Obama’s health law in the coming months.

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Centene to Buy WellCare for $15.3 Billion, Creating Health Care Giant

March 27, 2019

Centene, a major insurer that has significantly expanded under the Affordable Care Act, is making a bold bet as the Trump administration renews its attacks on the federal health law.

The company announced on Wednesday that it had agreed to buy WellCare, a smaller publicly held insurer based in Florida, for about $15.3 billion.

Centene, a major insurer that has significantly expanded under the Affordable Care Act, is making a bold bet as the Trump administration renews its attacks on the federal health law.

The company announced on Wednesday that it had agreed to buy WellCare, a smaller publicly held insurer based in Florida, for about $15.3 billion.

The deal would create a health care giant that specialized in offering private health plans under the enormous government programs Medicare and Medicaid. The combined company, with revenues expected to approach $100 billion in 2019, would cover 22 million people in all 50 states.

If the deal goes through, the acquisition of WellCare will cement Centene’s dominance in Medicaid coverage, the state-federal program for the poor, as well as in the Obamacare market, where it is the largest player….

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UnitedHealthcare Will Expand a Drug Discount Program Aimed at Lowering Consumer Costs

March 12, 2019

The insurance giant UnitedHealthcare said Tuesday that it will expand a program that passes drug discounts directly to consumers, a move that could lower costs for many who have struggled with high deductible payments and other out-of-pocket expenses.

United said the plan would take effect next year and would be required for all new employer clients, although existing clients would be permitted to continue under the older system. Those clients will be “encouraged” to adopt the new plan when their contracts expire, but will not be required to do so, according to Matthew Stearns, a spokesman for OptumRx, the pharmacy benefit manager that is owned by United.

The insurance giant UnitedHealthcare said Tuesday that it will expand a program that passes drug discounts directly to consumers, a move that could lower costs for many who have struggled with high deductible payments and other out-of-pocket expenses.

United said the plan would take effect next year and would be required for all new employer clients, although existing clients would be permitted to continue under the older system. Those clients will be “encouraged” to adopt the new plan when their contracts expire, but will not be required to do so, according to Matthew Stearns, a spokesman for OptumRx, the pharmacy benefit manager that is owned by United.

Other insurers have offered employers the option to apply the after-the-fact discounts, called rebates, to consumers’ out-of-pocket expenses, but United appears to be the first major insurer to require it of new clients.

“This expanded point-of-sale discount program demonstrates our commitment to delivering better prices for consumers,” John Prince, the chief executive of OptumRx, said in a statement….

Read the full The New York Times article