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Express Scripts is buying out a medical benefits firm for $3.6 billion. Photo: Jeff Roberson / AP

Express Scripts is acquiring EviCore Healthcare for $3.6 billion in yet another case of consolidation in the health care industry. EviCore is a medical benefits management company that attempts to reduce costs by routing patients to less expensive facilities.

Why it matters: Express Scripts is about to lose its lucrative pharmacy contract with Anthem, and pharmacy benefit managers in general have faced a lot of scrutiny over their role in the rising prices of prescriptions. This acquisition appears to try to offset those pressures, and it's also an attempt for Express Scripts to pair its pharmacy services with broader medical services.

Winners: EviCore's private-equity backers General Atlantic, TA Associates and Ridgemont Equity Partners, as well as six banks and law firms advising the two companies.

Go deeper

The modern way to hire a big-city police chief

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

When it comes to picking a city's top cop, closed-door selection processes have been replaced by highly public exercises where everyone gets to vet the candidates — who must have better community-relations skills than ever.

Why it matters: In the post-George-Floyd era, with policing under utmost scrutiny, the choosing of a police chief has become something akin to an election, with the need to build consensus around a candidate. And the candidate pool has gotten smaller.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
28 mins ago - Economy & Business

Speculative crypto art market takes off

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Move over, GameStop. The newest speculative game in town is NFTs — digital files that can be owned and traded on a plethora of new online platforms.

Why it matters: Most NFTs include some kind of still or moving image, which makes them similar to many physical art objects. Some of them, including a gif of Nyan Cat flying through the sky with a pop-tart body and rainbow trail, can be worth more than your house.

New coronavirus cases fall by 20%

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New coronavirus infections continued their sharp decline over the past week, and are now back down to pre-Thanksgiving levels.

The big picture: Given the U.S.’ experience over the past year, it can be hard to trust anything that looks like good news, without fearing that another shoe is about to drop. But the U.S. really is doing something right lately. Cases are way down, vaccinations are way up, and that’s going to save a lot of lives.