Mar 30, 2018

The focus of a Walmart/Humana deal

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

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.

  • Except Walmart and Humana would be geared heavily toward seniors and those living on more fixed incomes — the very same Medicare and Medicaid populations that have been growing like gangbusters as more baby boomers age and more states expand Medicaid to the poor.

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.

  • This would also provide some protection against Amazon's possible move into the pharmacy business — the kind of safety that pretty much the whole health care industry wants.

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Some Trump aides eye May 1 start to reopening

President Trump was flanked at yesterday's briefing by HHS Secretary Alex Azar (far left), Vice President Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump's aides, encouraged by virus data showing fewer deaths than once projected, are working behind the scenes to deliver on his vow to reopen America "sooner rather than later."

  • "We are looking at when the data will allow the opportunity to reopen," said a senior White House official.

What to watch for: The official said there’s a lot of internal energy pushing for May 1, because that's the end of the White House's "30 days to slow the spread."

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 14,800

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 2,000 people for the second day in a row, and it's infected over 432,000 others, per Johns Hopkins data.

Where it stands: More than 14,800 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. — including over 4,500 in New York. The state's death toll surged to its highest one-day total on Wednesday — beating the previous day's record. 779 people died in New York in 24 hours. N.Y. has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

World coronavirus updates: U.K. PM "stable, improving" in intensive care

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is "stable, improving, sat up and engaged with medical staff" in the intensive care unit of London's St. Thomas' Hospital, where he is being treated for the coronavirus, Culture Minister Oliver Dowden told the BBC Thursday.

Zoom in: The update comes as ministers meet to discuss whether to extend the United Kingdom's lockdown and after the country's health officials reported Wednesday the highest daily rise in COVID-19 deaths — 938, taking the total to over 7,300. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Wednesday the U.K. is "nowhere near lifting the lockdown," with the virus not expected to peak there until next week.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health