The Weekly Roundup

August 19, 2016 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

This week, Aetna announced its refusal to participate in the ACA marketplace, reducing its coverage from fifteen states to  just four. “We’re losing money,” the insurance giant says. But some are calling the timing a bit dodgy, since the company is readying its legal team to fight a Justice Department block of its proposed merger with Humana. Oh, and there’s this not subtle reason for the withdrawal: CEO Mark Bertolini wrote in a July letter to the DOJ antitrust team: "[I]f the deal were challenged and/or blocked, we would need to take immediate actions to mitigate public exchange and ACA small group losses. Specifically, if the DOJ sues to enjoin the transaction, we will immediately take action to reduce our 2017 exchange footprint.”

Kevin Counihan, head of the exchange fired back: “It’s no surprise that companies are adapting at different rates to a market where they compete for business on cost and quality, rather than by denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.” Do I detect a little snark in that remark? UnitedHealth made a similar announcement in spring 2016 citing the devastating financial impact of participation in the exchange. Financial columnist Brett Arends calls bull. Thousand-dollar-idea-alert: someone needs to invent a new version of Monopoly for the US healthcare system.

Here are few stories we came across this week that you might find interesting:

  • On a more inspiring note: there’s new hope for the blind with gene replacement.
  • What do you think: wasted effort or laudable stop-gap?
  • Do you have a protocol for handling requests for drug information? Here are some ideas from Pharmacy Times.
  • Need to give your employees a little shot in the arm? Check out these tips for providing feedback to your team.
  • Pot, meet kettle. Even Shkreli chimed in on Mylan’s EpiPen pricing PR nightmare.
  • Did you make it to ThoughtSpot? If not, here’s a recap from Drug Store News. Or you can read more about some of the new product launches here.

[Editor’s note:] Our inboxes are stuffed with newsletters and our coffee tables stacked with magazines and industry digests. I’m sure yours are, too. So we’ve decided to run a weekly sampling of interesting stories, issues coverage, and business ideas we come across this week. We hope you’ll share some of your favorites, too. Keep us in the loop and note “Weekly Roundup” in the comment box, or reply here.

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Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Before she came to Smart-Fill, Pamela developed marketing strategy and content for a range of technology start-ups and large-cap enterprises. Outside the office, she's into gardening, renaissance history, the Big Ten, and exploring the great outdoors.