Jan 9, 2017

UnitedHealth makes a move into big-money surgical centers

UnitedHealth Group announced this morning that its Optum unit is buying Surgical Care Affiliates for $2.3 billion. Forbes reports that Surgical Care, based in Illinois, has ambulatory surgical centers and surgical hospitals in more than 30 states.

Why it matters: Our Bob Herman says it's a big move that probably will make UnitedHealth a lot of money — because ambulatory surgery centers, which focus on outpatient procedures like elbow surgeries, are immensely profitable. It's also a sign that insurance companies no longer can, or want to, rely on their legacy business of handling only medical claims.

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In photos: Trump visits Taj Mahal after massive rally in India

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at the Taj Mahal. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump visited India's Taj Mahal on Monday, hours after telling a massive crowd at a rally in Ahmedabad that he hopes to reach a trade deal with his "true friend" Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his two-day visit to the country.

Why it matters: The countries are forging deeper ties as India’s location, size and economic growth make it the "obvious counterweight to China" for American policymakers.

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Coronavirus stress tests drug industry's dependence on China

A Hong Kong commuter wears a face mask. Photo: Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

It's unclear whether the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus will actually result in prescription drug shortages, but it has undoubtedly highlighted the potential vulnerabilities of having the supply chain for American drugs so dependent on China.

Driving the news: About 150 prescription drugs — including antibiotics, generics and some branded drugs without alternatives — are at risk of shortage if the coronavirus outbreak in China worsens, per two sources familiar with a list of at-risk drugs compiled by the Food and Drug Administration.

Bernie's path to the presidency

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks yesterday during a rally at Houston University. Photo: Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

Lots of Democrats are in full panic that Bernie Sanders will win the nomination and get clobbered in the general election — and bring the party down, too. But the evidence, particularly the polling, doesn't back those doomsday warnings.

Why it matters: Virtually every national and swing state poll shows Sanders tied with or beating President Trump.  And, unlike every rival, he has a huge base of fervent, unshakable supporters he can only grow.