Updated May 8, 2018

The slumping stock prices of pharmacy benefit managers

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Data: Money.net; Chart: Axios Visuals

The stock prices of the three large pharmacy benefit managers — Express Scripts, CVS Health (which owns Caremark) and UnitedHealth Group (which owns OptumRx) — aren't doing so hot in the past week.

Driving the news: Two of Trump's top health care officials, Scott Gottlieb and Seema Verma, recently made comments that criticized the practices of pharmacy benefit managers.

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U.S. alleges CVS illegally dispensed invalid prescriptions

CVS Health is under heat for "rolling over" prescriptions. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Federal prosecutors are suing CVS Health and one of its subsidiaries, alleging the companies dispensed drugs to seniors and disabled people in long-term care facilities even though the prescriptions had expired or "were otherwise invalid" — and then fraudulently billed federal health care programs for the tab.

The bottom line: A CVS spokesperson said the lawsuit was meritless, and the company intends to "vigorously defend the matter in court." But this is not the first time CVS has been enmeshed in federal allegations over shady prescription billing practices.

Keep ReadingArrowDec 17, 2019

Inside the bitter feud at Trump's health agencies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When Alex Azar took over as Health and Human Services secretary, he was advised not to meet one-on-one with Seema Verma, one of his most important deputies. HHS staff said Verma was difficult to work with and quick to level accusations of sex discrimination — exactly where Azar finds himself now.

The big picture: Verma's claims that she's being discriminated against because of her gender extend throughout her tenure in the Trump administration, but her own behavior makes it difficult to tell whether the problem is her mismanagement or a male-dominated culture that makes it hard for a woman to hold her rightful sway, according to interviews with more than a dozen sources who know the situation well.

Go deeperArrowDec 18, 2019

The health care debate we ought to be having

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Scott Eisen/Getty Images and Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Americans worry a lot about how to get and pay for good health care, but the 2020 presidential candidates are barely talking about what's at the root of these problems: Almost every incentive in the U.S. health care system is broken.

Why it matters: President Trump and most of the Democratic field are minimizing the hard conversations with voters about why health care eats up so much of each paycheck and what it would really take to change things.