News Briefs

✦ The Pennsylvania Dept. of Human Services (DHS) on July 8 named the successful respondents to its latest request for applications to serve some 2.6 million HealthChoices enrollees, but the agency said it is unable to move forward with the selections due to pending protests. Geisinger Health Plan, Health Partners Plans, UPMC for You and Vista Health Plan (AmeriHealth Caritas) were selected for statewide contracts, while UnitedHealthcare was chosen to serve the Southeast region only. At press time, two applicants that were not selected filed protests, noted DHS. Those are likely to be Centene Corp. and CVS Health Corp.-owned Aetna, since both companies bid and did not win any regions, observed securities analyst Steve Valiquette in a note from Barclays Research. This is the third time DHS has tried to reprocure the contracts, which are worth an estimated $13 billion, according to Barclays. Visit

✦ Walmart Inc. has established a new insurance division that will initially focus on selling Medicare Advantage plans in Texas, although details of the new venture are scant, according to multiple news reports. The insurance agency has been actively recruiting for positions that will allow employees to work from home and/or at a Dallas-based call center beginning in August, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. In a July 7 research note, SVB Leerink securities analyst Stephen Tanal called the move “an incremental, long-term positive” for the publicly traded managed care organizations. He noted that Walmart has a major presence in Texas, and that the MA market share there is “very concentrated in the hands of” UnitedHealthcare and Humana Inc., which has a longstanding Part D partnership with Walmart. Contact Tanal at

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Lauren Flynn Kelly

Lauren Flynn Kelly Managing Editor, Radar on Medicare Advantage

Lauren has been covering health business issues since the early 2000s and specializes in in-depth reporting on Medicare Advantage, managed Medicaid and Medicare Part D. She also possesses a deep understanding of the complex world of pharmacy benefit management, having written AIS Health’s Radar on Drug Benefits from 2004 to 2005 and again from 2011 to 2016. In addition to her role as managing editor of Radar on Medicare Advantage, she oversees AIS Health’s publications and manages the health editorial staff. She graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English.

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