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Health care companies are big fans of the GOP tax reform. Photo: Bryan R. Smith / AFP via Getty

Health care companies at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco are drooling over the financial windfalls they expect to reap from the Republican tax overhaul signed into law before Christmas.

Between the lines: Health care firms — many of which have a vast majority of their business in the U.S., if not all of it — expect to see billions of dollars in corporate tax savings. Companies plan on using that money to pay down debt, buy back stock or acquire competitors — not to funnel higher wages back to workers.

What we're hearing: Tax reform was the topic on the top of most analysts' and investors' minds on the first day of the conference. Here's what a handful of health care executives said.

  • Cardinal Health: The tax changes are "important and positive for us," said Jorge Gomez, the chief financial officer of the drug and device distributor. The elimination of the manufacturing deduction offsets some of the benefit of the lower corporate tax rate, but Cardinal Health is "really excited" about the long-term effects, Gomez said.
  • Express Scripts: The pharmacy benefit manager expects $850 million in corporate tax savings. "We will not be sitting on that cash, I can promise you that," CEO Tim Wentworth said. (Translation: mergers and acquisitions, with no mention of higher worker wages.)
  • Abbott Laboratories: Even though Abbott already has an effective tax rate of 16.5%, lower than the new rate of 21%, the company still likes the new floor and expects to pay down more debt immediately. "What we like about tax reform is the flexibility it is going to provide to us," CFO Brian Yoor said. "It's not unfavorable to Abbott."
  • Pharmaceutical companies large and small view the tax overhaul as a major win for their industry.

Go deeper

Harry and Meghan accuse British royal family of racism

Photo: Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via Reuters

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle delivered a devastating indictment of the U.K. royal family in their conservation with Oprah Winfrey: Both said unnamed relatives had expressed concern about what the skin tone of their baby would be. And they accused "the firm" of character assassination and "perpetuating falsehoods."

Why it matters: An institution that thrives on myth now faces harsh reality. The explosive two-hour interview gave an unprecedented, unsparing window into the monarchy: Harry said his father and brother "are trapped," and Markle revealed that the the misery of being a working royal drove her to thoughts of suicide.

Updated 3 hours ago - Axios Twin Cities

In photos: Thousands rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Demonstrators on March 7 outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with murdering George Floyd, will begin in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of protesters marched through Minneapolis' streets Sunday, urging justice for George Floyd on the eve of the start of former police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death, per AFP.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start Monday, with jury selection procedures.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
6 hours ago - Health

Pfizer CEO feels "liberated" after taking COVID vaccine

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla tells "Axios on HBO" that he recently received his first of two doses of the company's coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: Bourla told CNBC in December that company polling found that one of the most effective ways to increase confidence in the vaccine was to have the CEO take it.