This week we are reading about CVS’s buying of Centene’s divested Illinois Medicare Advantage plan and the low amount of Medicare beneficiaries that switch plans during the open enrollment period.

CVS To Buy Centene’s Divested Illinois Medicare Advantage Plan | Forbes | December 2, 2019

CVS Health will buy Medicaid and Medicare Advantage lines of business owned by Centene in Illinois as part of a divestiture needed by Centene to win approval of its WellCare Health Plans acquisition.

The divestiture by Centene of its IlliniCare Health Plan subsidiary is the latest effort by the health insurance companies to win over regulators to their merger. The merger has already “received approvals from insurance and health care departments from 26 states,” Centene said Monday.

“The transaction entails the sale of Centene’s Medicaid and Medicare Advantage lines of business in Illinois,” Centene said Monday in a statement announcing the divestiture. “Centene will retain IlliniCare’s Medicare-Medicaid Alignment Initiative (“MMAI”) business and IlliniCare’s statewide YouthCare foster care contract, set to commence in February 2020. Centene’s Ambetter business in Illinois is not affected.”

Financial terms of the IlliniCare transaction weren’t disclosed Monday.

Read the brief on here.

No Itch to Switch: Few Medicare Beneficiaries Switch Plans During the Open Enrollment Period | KFF | December 2, 2019

Each year, Medicare beneficiaries in private Medicare Advantage plans and Part D stand-alone prescription drug plans (PDPs) have the opportunity to change plans during the annual open enrollment period (October 15 to December 7). Medicare’s private plans vary significantly from each other and can change from one year to the next, which can have a significant impact on enrollees’ coverage and costs. The Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) encourages beneficiaries to shop for Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans to potentially save money on prescriptions or get new benefits.

Understanding how Medicare private plan markets are working is increasingly important for both beneficiaries and the Medicare program overall. Many presidential candidates and policymakers have proposed establishing a public program, modeled on Medicare, to expand coverage, while others want to expand the role of private plans within Medicare itself. To inform these discussions, this analysis examines the share of people enrolled in Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans (MA-PDs) and PDPs who switched plans for the following year during the open enrollment periods between 2007 and 2016, the most current year available for analysis of Medicare private plan switching rates. This analysis excludes enrollees with low-income subsidies; more detailed methods are described below.

Read the full press release on here.