Good morning ... Hey, remember for like 30 seconds there, when the health care news was slow?
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios
Let's all take a big, collective chill pill on this vague new health care venture from Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase. Could it revolutionize health care? Sure. Will it? Let my colleague Bob Herman walk you through the many reasons to take a deep breath.
We don't know what they're even trying to do. The companies said they will come up with "technology solutions that will provide U.S. employees and their families with simplified, high-quality and transparent health care at a reasonable cost." That's as much detail as they offered.
Other big companies have tried something similar.
Go deeper: We're barely scratching the surface of unanswered questions here. Bob has many more for you to ponder at Axios.com.
Side note: If Amazon is worried about the cost of health benefits, it could save itself some headaches by placing its coveted HQ2 in Toronto, CityLab notes. Canada has single-payer health care — which Buffett has endorsed.
Brenda Fitzgerald, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bought stock in tobacco companies after taking the helm of the CDC — the country’s leading public-health agency — according to a Politico report.
Why it matters: Fitzgerald’s financial conflicts have already prevented her from actually doing big parts of her job. Taking on new financial conflicts that directly contradict the public-health mission of her agency will only make things worse.
The gritty details, via Politico:
Why you'll hear about this again: Pre-CDC conflicts have stopped Fitzgerald from appearing on Capitol Hill, and her range of health care holdings have raised questions about potential conflicts of interest as she deals with issues like experimental Ebola treatments and the opioid crisis.
If you were busy watching the Kentucky-Vanderbilt game, or otherwise didn't catch the State of the Union address last night, President Trump did mention a couple things about health care (not much new).
Key SOTU quotes:
Yes, but: Standard caveats apply on drug prices — those other countries pay less, in many cases, because of government-imposed price controls that Republicans staunchly oppose implementing here.
Notable: There was no push, even rhetorically, to repeal the rest of the Affordable Care Act.
Trump didn’t have much to say about health policy during SOTU last night. But we’re definitely at a health care crossroads right now. So I asked a handful of the smartest policy experts for their assessments.
What they’re saying: The state of the health care system is...
The bottom line: We're in a period of intense change, both politically and practically.
Yesterday was a pretty important earnings day for some large health care companies. Bob points out some nuggets from the new tax law that have bigger tangible effects, at least in the short term, than whatever Amazon, Berkshire and JPMorgan are doing.
The Food and Drug Administration is asking the makers of Imodium — the anti-diarrhea medicine — to change the way they package their product, as part of the agency’s response to the opioid epidemic.
The request: The agency is asking manufacturers — including Johnson & Johnson which sells the drug under the Imodium brand name — to limit the number of pills in each package, a request Gottlieb called “fairly unprecedented.”
The response: J&J “was noncommittal” about the request, Bloomberg reports.