Payer Roundup—Judge to allow hearings on CVS-Aetna deal

CVS Pharmacy
A federal judge will allow witnesses who oppose the CVS-Aetna merger to testify at a series of hearings, plus more payer headlines. (Getty/Serenethos)

Judge to hold hearings on CVS-Aetna merger 

A federal judge reviewing the completed merger between CVS Health and Aetna said he will allow witnesses who oppose the deal to testify at a series of hearings on the matter. 

District Judge Robert Leon of Washington, D.C., is taking a second look at the Department of Justice’s approval of the mega-merger. The two companies have been allowed to move forward with integration as Leon reviews the deal. 

Hearings would allow industry groups that opposed the deal—notably the American Medical Association—to weigh in. 

“This is a matter of great consequence to a lot of people,” Leon said. (The Wall Street Journal

OIG to investigate Verma's spending on outside public relations agencies 

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma has come under fire for hiring outside communications agencies to manage her public image. 

Democrats have called for the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General to investigate the matter, and the agency has agreed to an inquiry. OIG will investigate whether Verma’s use of outside public relations broke ethics rules. 

A CMS spokesperson said that it requested OIG look into the matter and that the agency has stopped working with the external communications agencies. (The Associated Press

Senate Republicans tasked with healthcare overhaul unenthusiastic 

President Donald Trump has said that a group of Senate Republicans is working on a policy plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. 

But these senators—including Bill Cassidy, Rick Scott, Mitt Romney and John Barrasso—are less than enthusiastic about that prospect. Scott, for instance, said that any healthcare plan would need to come from the White House, while Romney said he and his colleagues are “working on healthcare thoughts.” 

Barrasso is in conversations with the Trump administration, but no formal plans have come from those discussions. Barrasso, the third-highest ranking Republican in the Senate, said any GOP plan would allow people to “buy insurance that works for them and their families and is affordable.” (Politico