This week we are reading about controlling Medicare Part B drug prices, the roles in CVS-Aetna merger and Minnesotans forced from Medicare Cost health plans.

Medicare advisors eye binding arbitration to control drug prices | Modern Healthcare | March 7, 2019

A key panel of advisers is considering recommending that Congress adopt binding arbitration for Medicare Part B drugs that have extremely high launch prices.

Several members of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) on Thursday favored suggesting a system where a neutral agent would decide on a price for drugs purchased under Medicare Part B if they meet certain criteria.

“We have to do something to slow these launch prices, so I think binding arbitration is a way to get that done so I want to push forward,” said Warner Thomas, president and CEO of Ochsner Health System, a not-for-profit academic healthcare system in Louisiana.

Read the full article on Modern Healthcare here.

The CIO’s role in M&A: CVS, Aetna undergo integration | Healthcare Dive | March 7, 2019

When retail pharmacy CVS Health and health insurer Aetna came together last year in a $78 billion deal, the acquisition created what Healthcare Dive refers to as a “mammoth healthcare entity,” which will earn $245 billion in revenue annually.

While Aetna will continue to operate as a standalone company under CVS Health, the deal requires integration.

Running separate companies is expensive and CVS expects to save $300 to $350 million this year by eliminating duplicate corporate and operational functions, purchasing efficiencies and medical cost savings, according to the company’s Q4 2018 earnings report released last month. CVS says it is “on track” to exceed its goal of $750 million in 2020.

Read the full article on here.

Deadline arrives Monday for 300,000 Minnesotans forced from Medicare Costs | Star Tribune | March 1, 2019

For the 300,000 Minnesotans who lost their Medicare Cost health plans this year, these are the final days to exercise a special option to buy a Medicare Supplement policy without answering health history questions that might otherwise deny them access to the coverage.

Called a “guaranteed issue” right, the one-time chance ends after Monday and is an important option for consumers who prefer the certainty of paying a higher monthly premium for coverage, rather than worrying about co-payments and out-of-pocket costs should they need care.

Read the full article on Star Tribune here.