United & Centene? | Pharma unites | Lisa Brown, WSU

Big moves could be afoot both on the regulatory side and in the market. We’ll see as time moves forward, but the intensity of activity in select sectors is noteworthy. Not everyone is moving quickly, but those that are, those on the front end of the bell curve, hold our attention in this issue.

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1. Pharma unites Dems, Reps

There is apparently no greater force in the universe that can bring together Democrats and Republicans, cautious politicians and the bombastic, than pharmaceutical companies. And this past week, I think we’ve seen a fundamental shift in how pharmaceutical companies are being perceived. Pharma costs are no longer a topic of health plan CFOs only. Rather, the topic has spilled into the public domain in a way that hasn’t happened in at least a decade.

In this piece, I lay out why I think things have changed for pharma in the public’s awareness, and how the stage is set for a major regulatory push to address pharmaceutical pricing, regardless of who wins the next presidential election.


2. Molina moves; Centene & United talks?

Molina recently acquired Providence Behavioral and Mental Health Services (meaning NASDAQ: PRSC, not the Catholic hospital system on the move). This should bring significant behavioral health talent to Molina as it gears up for integration of behavioral health in Medicaid. It should also buttress its ability to take on the national plans, which are getting increasingly active in the western managed Medicaid markets.

Speaking of which, California consultant Grant Cattaneo is reporting the “new rumor” that United Healthcare and Centene are in M&A talks. His comments came during a presentation on the effects of carrier consolidation to the California Department of Managed Health Care, drawing on analysis he completed in August. We haven’t heard anything about this in Washington State. However, when Cattaneo – a well respected voice in CA health care – highlights it, and does so before the CA Financial Solvency Standards Board, it’s worth noting.

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3. DaVita & The Everett Clinic

“Everybody is talking to everybody.” It’s a refrain we’ve been hearing for the last few years, often in connection with some of the biggest organizational names in Washington State health care. Last week, one of those names came into the public discussion with the announcement that DaVita HealthCare Partners will acquire The Everett Clinic.

It’s likely there will be more such announcements in a market which has largely sidestepped the consolidation happening nationally. In fact, one is probably safe assuming that every big name in Washington State health care is a potential M&A headline in the making over the next 18 months. And, like DaVita, the range and number of new market entrants could be significant.


4. What They’re Watching: Chancellor Lisa Brown, WSU Spokane

We’ve been tracking the UW, WSU medical school rift closely since last year. Now that it looks like WSU will be opening the doors to its brand new medical school, the question is what the program will be look like and how it will address the well-publicized primary care shortage in the region.

Chancellor Lisa Brown sat down with us after her keynote address to talk about her vision for the new medical school. She talks about a community-based approach that she believes will not only educate but retain the health care workforce Washington needs.


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5. Looking back on Spokane

If you didn’t make it out to Spokane for the 2015 Inland NW State of Reform Health Policy Conference, you missed some great discussions some among key players in Washington health care. We have posted each of the PowerPoint presentations from our speakers, and have our Keynote speakers online as well.

As an aside, January 7th marks our sixth SeaTac conference. And with a bit of time left to access the Early Bird rate, you might plan ahead by signing up here.