Good morning ... Situational awareness: HHS secretary Alex Azar formalized two important advisers yesterday. Former CVS executive Daniel Best will spearhead efforts on drug pricing, while Brett Giroir, already an assistant secretary, will coordinate HHS' response to the opioid epidemic.
The future of work is moving further away from employers — in the “gig economy,” almost everyone is a self-employed independent contractor.
The problem: If you’re no one’s employee, you’re not eligible for employer-based health benefits. Yet Washington continues to neglect the individual insurance market, even as more and more people enter it.
The big picture: As my colleague Caitlin Owens reports this morning, the data clearly shows a shift toward self-employment. But that hasn’t translated into much serious concern for the market where those people will get their health insurance.
The catch: This is one area where the Trump administration’s health care changes might do some good — particularly the expansion of association health plans, which allow similarly situated individuals to band together and buy what is basically an employer plan.
Go deeper: Read Caitlin’s story on Axios.com.
Walmart is in early discussions about buying health insurer Humana, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Between the lines: A combined Walmart and Humana would control pharmacies, health insurance and a pharmacy benefit manager. Sound familiar? It’s almost identical to the CVS-Aetna deal.
The big question: One of the concerns surrounding the CVS-Aetna deal is whether it would consolidate too much market power and stack the deck against potential competitors. Expect to hear very similar questions about this deal, if it proceeds.
Almost everyone agrees that doctors and hospitals should be able to more easily share electronic copies of patients’ health records.
But federal law prohibits them from sharing records about substance-abuse treatment without written consent — and that’s creating some hurdles amid the biggest addiction crisis the country has ever seen.
Driving the debate: There’s a push in Congress to relax those restrictions, Bloomberg BNA explains, though lawmakers don’t quite agree about how far to go.
Yes, but: Some addiction-treatment providers worry that opening up these records too widely would discourage people from getting help, due to fears about the security of such sensitive health records.
A new analysis from Avalere, a consulting firm, sheds more light on the disappointing performance of accountable care organizations — a new model created by the Affordable Care Act with the goal of lowering overall costs through better care coordination.
Yes, but: There are still a few glimmers of hope in these findings.
For our Ohio readers: Join Axios' Mike Allen at The Ohio State University Monday for a discussion on the Future of Work with entrepreneur Mark Cuban, Governor John Kasich, and our own Jim VandeHei. To RSVP click here.
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