Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

The antitrust questions behind the Centene-WellCare deal

Centene logo on the screen of a smartphone.
Centene has been on a buying spree. Photo: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Centene's pending acquisition of WellCare Health Plans, a deal valued at $17.3 billion including debt, would create a health insurance behemoth with almost $100 billion of revenue — nearly all of which comes from taxpayer-subsidized health care programs.

The big picture: The industry has never been more consolidated. And this deal, being reviewed by states and the Department of Justice, raises specific antitrust concerns in Medicaid, the main line of business for both companies.

Medicare drug plans can assume rebates for 2020

A CVS pharmacist stands behind the counter.
A pharmacist and technicians fill prescriptions. Photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Trump administration says it will try to soften the blow for industry as it prepares to overhaul part of the drug-pricing system — a potential acknowledgement that its plan may happen on time.

Driving the news: Trump has proposed eliminating drug-pricing rebates in Medicare Part D, beginning in 2020. But Medicare and Medicaid administrator Seema Verma said in a memo today that insurers and pharmacy benefit managers can assume rebates will still exist as they design their 2020 plans.