The Health News USA December 18 2017

  • A survey by benefits consultant Aon Plc has found that CVS Corporation’s proposed purchase of Aetna Incorporated will affect decision-making by a majority of large and mid-size U.S. corporations on employee health benefits. CVS, the 2nd-largest U.S. pharmacy benefit manager, on December 3 said it agreed to buy Number 3 health insurer Aetna for $69 billion. CVS and Aetna argue they can offer bigger savings to customers by better managing prescription drug use and expanding lower-cost medical services offered at thousands of CVS pharmacies.
  • A federal judge in Philadelphia on Friday ordered the Trump administration not to enforce new rules that could significantly reduce women’s access to free birth control. Judge Wendy Beetlestone issued the injunction, temporarily stopping the government from enforcing the policy change to former President Barack Obama’s health care law. The law required most companies to cover birth control at no additional cost, though it included exemptions for religious organizations. The new policy would allow more categories of employers, including publicly traded companies, to opt out of providing free contraception to women by claiming religious or moral objections.
  • California has begun licensing recreational marijuana businesses in anticipation of retail weed sales beginning January 1. The California Bureau of Cannabis Control issued twenty one licenses Thursday for medical and recreational or “adult-use” marijuana businesses, giving them the go-ahead to take part in what’s expected to become the nation’s largest legal commercial marijuana marketplace once it gets off the ground next month.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 18th of December 2017. Read by Tabetha Moreto.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-aetna-m-a-cvs-employers/u-s-employers-say-cvs-aetna-deal-would-affect-health-benefits-decisions-survey-idUSKBN1EB0GY

A survey by benefits consultant Aon Public Limited Company has found that CVS Corporation’s proposed purchase of Aetna Incorporated will affect decision-making by a majority of large and mid-size U.S. corporations on employee health benefits. CVS, the second-largest U.S. pharmacy benefit manager, on December three said it agreed to buy Number three health insurer Aetna for sixty nine billion dollars. Reuters reported earlier this month that the deal would change the way top U.S. employers contract health benefits, based on early feedback from benefits consultants.

The new Aon survey, which included responses from decision makers at four hundred fifty medium and large-size corporations, provided additional insight into how CVS and Aetna customers may view the deal. Sixty-one percent of survey respondents, including ones that are not customers of CVS or Aetna, said the deal would affect their decision-making process on health benefits, with twenty three percent saying it would accelerate a reassessment of healthcare strategy and thirty eight percent saying it would delay any such moves until the transaction’s impact could be understood. Thirty-nine percent expected no change to their overall healthcare strategy. The survey did not determine whether major employers expect the deal to change the cost of their health benefits, which could affect how antitrust regulators view it.

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CVS and Aetna argue they can offer bigger savings to customers by better managing prescription drug use and expanding lower-cost medical services offered at thousands of CVS pharmacies. Jim Winkler, Aon senior vice president for health, said he was surprised that as many companies thought they might make a change in their overall healthcare strategy, whether immediately or down the road.

The Aon survey was conducted during an online seminar with corporate decision makers on Thursday. According to the survey, seventy one percent of respondents expect moderate changes in where their employees access care, while fourteen percent said they foresee significant changes.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/judge-temporarily-blocks-new-trump-rules-birth-control-n830236

A federal judge in Philadelphia on Friday ordered the Trump administration not to enforce new

rules that could significantly reduce women’s access to free birth control. Judge Wendy Beetlestone issued the injunction, temporarily stopping the government from enforcing the policy change to former President Barack Obama’s health care law. The law required most companies to cover birth control at no additional cost, though it included exemptions for religious organizations. The new policy would allow more categories of employers, including publicly traded companies, to opt out of providing free contraception to women by claiming religious or moral objections.
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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the new policy in October. It marked another step in the Trump administration’s rollback of the Affordable Care Act, and supporters say it promotes religious freedom.
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California, Washington and Massachusetts have also sued the Trump administration over the rules. Delaware, Maryland, New York and Virginia joined California in its effort. Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center, praised the decision and said the group will continue to fight against the rules.

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/dec/15/california-issues-first-recreational-marijuana/

California has begun to licensed recreational marijuana businesses in anticipation of retail weed sales beginning January one. The California Bureau of Cannabis Control issued twenty one licenses Thursday for medical and recreational or “adult-use” marijuana businesses, giving them the go-ahead to take part in what’s expected to become the nation’s largest legal commercial marijuana marketplace once it gets off the ground next month.
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Californians voted in November two thousand sixteen to legalize recreational marijuana, but regulations governing the state’s commercial cannabis industry don’t take effect until two thousand eighteen. Weeks away from legal weed sales beginning, the round of temporary licenses issued Thursday effectively give recipients approval to partake in the state’s commercial cannabis industry as soon as those rules set in.

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The temporary licenses are good for one hundred twenty one days and may be extended if applicants are awarded annual licenses once they’re available. More than one thousand nine hundred businesses have registered on the cannabis bureau’s licensing site, and more than two hundred have submitted applications for licenses. California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in nineteen ninety six, paving the way for the twenty eight others and counting that have followed suit in the decades since.
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Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but the Trump administration has refrained thus far from intervening in any of the states that have legalized the plant.

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