Mergers & Acquisitions

2022 Outlook: MAOs Face Payment Unknowns, Increased Competition This Year

For the Medicare Advantage industry, change wasn’t a major outcome of the Biden administration’s first year in office. But for 2022, MA organizations face a host of unknowns — such as potential risk adjustment and star ratings changes that could impact plan revenue — and challenges that include staying competitive in an increasingly rich benefits landscape. For AIS Health’s annual roundup of perspectives on the year ahead, industry experts weigh in on how doing business in 2022 might differ from previous years.

AIS Health: What do you view as some of the biggest challenges or uncertainties facing MAOs in 2022?

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News Briefs: Humana Lowers MA Growth Estimate | Jan. 7, 2022

Humana Inc. said it is decreasing its net membership growth estimate for its individual Medicare Advantage products, sending the insurer’s stock tumbling. In a Jan. 6 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Humana said it now expects to add 150,000 to 200,000 members to its individual MA plans in 2022, down from a range of 325,000 to 375,000 members. The company said its revised estimate “is primarily attributable to higher than anticipated terminations during the AEP [annual election period], combined with the expectation of higher than originally projected terminations for the remainder of 2022.”

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Looking Forward to 2022, COVID-19 Will Continue to Impact Pharma in Myriad Ways

As 2021 began, the pharmaceutical topic arguably drawing the most attention was COVID-19 and the rollout of vaccines against it. Moving into 2022, the COVID pandemic unfortunately continues to dominate headlines, as the U.S. marked 1 million new cases of COVID on Jan. 3, a single-day record for any country. However, it’s not all bad news, as the pandemic is continuing its impact across various services. For example, drugmakers are applying knowledge gained in their innovative efforts to develop vaccines and treatments to other areas of drug development, and a shift to virtual operations and health care is expected to continue.

AIS Health spoke with a variety of industry experts about their 2022 projections for pharma.

2022 Outlook: MAOs Face Payment-Related Unknowns, Increased Competition

For the Medicare Advantage industry, change wasn’t a major outcome of the Biden administration’s first year in office. But for 2022, MA organizations face a host of unknowns — such as potential risk adjustment and star ratings changes that could impact plan revenue — and challenges that include staying competitive in an increasingly rich benefits landscape. For AIS Health’s annual roundup of perspectives on the year ahead, industry experts weigh in on how doing business in 2022 might differ from previous years.

AIS Health: What do you view as some of the biggest challenges or uncertainties facing MAOs in 2022?

News Briefs: Centene Completes Acquisition of Magellan Health | Jan. 6, 2022

Centene Corp. completed its $2.2 billion acquisition of Magellan Health, Inc. The previously announced deal will allow Centene to expand its behavioral health platform, increase its specialty health and pharmacy capabilities, and enhance its ability to address members’ whole health. Magellan Health will operate independently under Centene’s Health Care Enterprises umbrella, with CEO Ken Fasola and other members of Magellan Health’s leadership team continuing to lead the organization, Centene said on Jan. 4.

2021 in Review: Top 25 Medicare Advantage Insurers Enroll Nearly 90% of Market

The top 25 Medicare Advantage insurers enroll a combined 24.3 million lives, or 87.8% of the national market, according to the December 2021 update to AIS’s Directory of Health Plans. That’s up from 21.4 million lives at year-end 2020. Among the large national insurers, Centene Corp. saw staggering growth of nearly 40%, fueled by the insurer’s significant 2021 market expansion, followed by Anthem, Inc. at 30.7%. Anthem completed its acquisition of InnovaCare Health’s MMM Holdings, the largest MA organization in Puerto Rico, in July 2021. Highmark Health and Molina Healthcare also completed deals that boosted their MA presence this year. Just one insurer in the top 25, Triple-S Management Corp., saw an enrollment loss, though it was less than 1%. See the complete list in the table below.

Payers, Plan Sponsors Hope for 2022 Telehealth, Drug Price Laws

Carriers and plan sponsors are taking stock of what federal policies deserve a fresh look as they work though tumultuous events like the pandemic and the telehealth boom. In the next year, major industry trade groups plan to push for policies including drug price reform and comprehensive telehealth regulation.

For the Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP), a trade group of nonprofit carriers, top priorities include changing Medicare Advantage risk adjustment rules to account for audio telehealth encounters, making some pandemic-era rules for telehealth permanent and passing drug price reforms. (ACHP also laid out more priorities in a Dec. 9 blog post.)

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CVS Health Will Spend Up to $25 Billion on Provider M&A

At the firm’s annual investor conference, CVS Health Corp. executives promoted closer vertical integration and promised to move even further into care provision. CVS, which acquired Aetna in 2018, emphasized virtual care and its retail HealthHUB clinics in recent months, and it has indicated it has a strong interest in acquiring providers, particularly in primary care.

Other large carriers have made similar moves in recent years. UnitedHealth Group owns both the U.S.’s largest health insurer, UnitedHealthcare, and a growing provider arm, OptumCare. Humana Inc. has moved to acquire in-home and primary care providers. Meanwhile, CVS’s largest retail pharmacy competitor, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., is purchasing clinics with the goal of becoming a major primary and urgent care provider. According to CVS Health CEO Karen Lynch, the firm’s position astride all three businesses — retail, care delivery and benefits management — is why it will perform better than its rivals.

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News Briefs: Becerra Defends No Surprises Act Regulation | Nov. 24, 2021

HHS Sec. Xavier Becerra is defending No Surprises Act-related regulations from growing criticism by providers and members of Congress, citing an HHS report on the cost and prevalence of surprise bills. Becerra said on Nov. 22 that providers who overcharge for services will simply have to change: “I don’t think when someone is overcharging, that it’s going to hurt the overcharger to now have to [accept] a fair price,” he told Kaiser Health News. “Those who are overcharging either have to tighten their belt and do it better, or they don’t last in the business. It’s not fair to say that we have to let someone gouge us in order for them to be in business.” The HHS report found that “surprise medical bills are relatively common among privately insured patients and can average more than $1,200 for services provided by anesthesiologists, $2,600 for surgical assistants, and $750 for childbirth-related care.” More than 150 members of Congress from both parties, many of them physicians, sent a letter to Becerra earlier this month protesting the latest rulemaking on the No Surprises Act. In addition, Texas’ largest provider organization filed suit to block the latest interim final rule.

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