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Almost 22.4 million seniors and people with disabilities are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans for 2019 — up 6.8% from the same point last year, Axios' Bob Herman reports, based on preliminary federal data.
Why it matters: The growing enrollment total is in line with what the Trump administration expected and continues a decade-long trend of moving more of the traditional Medicare program into a privatized version run by health insurers.
Winners: Most insurers are winners to some degree, considering MA is "a friendly environment" right now for the industry. And the biggest companies are getting even bigger.
By the numbers: Together, 3 companies control more than half of the MA market.
The big picture: The federal government is expected to pay MA insurers $250 billion this year. With profit margins hovering around 4% or higher for many companies, that equals billions of dollars of profit.
What's next: February's enrollment data will provide an even clearer picture of how much the Medicare Advantage program grew for this year.
The manufacturers of OxyContin not only engaged in a high-pressure, no-holds-barred marketing barrage, but also sought to shift the blame to the people who became addicted to their highly addictive drug, according to a new filing from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
Driving the news: The document adds new details to the emerging public image of Purdue Pharma and its former president, Richard Sackler.
Among the most damning accusations in the Massachusetts filing: Accusations that the Sackler family, faced with evidence of how powerfully addictive their product was, shifted the burden back to patients — reinforcing a stigma that public health officials are still trying to combat.
The other side: Purdue, in a statement to Boston's WBUR, accused Healey of trying to "vilify a single manufacturer whose medicines represent less than 2 percent of opioid pain prescriptions rather than doing the hard work of trying to solve a complex public health crisis."
Kentucky’s plan to impose Medicaid work requirements is being re-challenged in court, after it was re-approved by the Trump administration this past November.
Flashback: Kentucky was the first state to win approval for Medicaid work requirements last year.
A new class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of 16 Kentuckians says the re-approval is still illegal.
The big picture: Medicaid work requirements are arguably the most substantively significant piece of health policy the Trump administration has implemented.
Go deeper: Kentucky's health care microcosm
Democratic governors and state legislatures are pushing forward on a range of plans to expand public health care coverage, especially for the uninsured — a cause the industry can get behind.
What they’re saying: “I’d expect substantial health industry pushback to the idea of expanding publicly-sponsored insurance. The industry will see it as threatening, and the camel’s nose under the tent,” the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Larry Levitt said.
Why it matters: There’s a lot of energy on the left right now around health care, and these plans are all a reflection of that fact. But polls also show that cost control is voters’ biggest concern; it ranks above coverage expansion even among Democrats.
UnitedHealth Group recorded $17.3 billion in operating profit in 2018, which does not include interest expenses or taxes, the conglomerate said Tuesday.
Between the lines: Health insurance still makes up a majority of UnitedHealth’s bottom line. But the company’s Optum businesses, and its pharmacy benefit manager in particular, have silently driven more of UnitedHealth’s profitability over the past few years.
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