Payer Roundup–Elevance Health layoffs continue; Cigna buys back more stock

Below is a roundup of payer-centric news for the week of Feb. 12, 2024.

UPDATED: Friday, February 16 at 10:10 ET

Elevance Health lays off Michigan workers

Elevance Health is reducing its workforce in Michigan by laying off 90 employees starting March 29, according to a letter sent to the Department of Labor.

"Elevance Health is focused on delivering a healthcare experience that is more integrated, affordable, and personalized," a spokesperson shared with Fierce Healthcare. "We know the healthcare landscape is competitive, dynamic, and ever-changing, and it challenges us to drive solutions that will deliver transformational impact and value to those we are privileged to serve. As a result, we have made some adjustments to our resources to better position our company. However, these changes are limited in scope and will not impact our customers’ benefits, services or interrupt any continuity in their access to care."

The announced layoffs comply with Michigan WARN Act law. Nearly two-thirds of the affected employees are approvers. The news was first reported by Healthcare Dive.

An Elevance Health spokesperson shared a similar statement during a round of layoffs in October.

Earlier this week, the merger between Elevance Health and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana was put on hold again.

Cigna announce billions in stock buybacks

Cigna Group said it would repurchase $3.2 billion in stocks through agreements with Deutsche Bank and Bank of America, the insurer announced Thursday.

The company will receive around 7.6 million shares.

"This accelerated share repurchase represents a value-enhancing deployment of capital," said David Cordani, chairman and CEO of Cigna, in a news release. "This is a testament to the ongoing growth and strength of our businesses, and we remain committed to returning significant value to our shareholders and investing in our future. We are on track to repurchase $5 billion of common stock over the first half of 2024, inclusive of this accelerated share repurchase, and continue to expect the majority of discretionary cash flow to be used for share repurchase this year."

In December, Cigna said it would repurchase $10 billion in stocks after it ended merger talks with Humana.

Centene subsidiaries focus on food, maternal health partnerships

WellCare of North Carolina, a subsidiary of Centene Corporation, is partnering with nonprofit Reinvestment Partners by enrolling members in Eat Well.

Eat Well gives eligible Medicaid members with a credit card for $80 a month so individuals can purchase fruits and vegetables.

The organization wants to enroll more than 1,600 North Carolina residents, according to a press release. It expects approximately $700,000 of fruits and vegetables will be purchased through the partnership.

Cigna and HelloFresh announced its own food partnership earlier this week, where employees can receive discounts for its food offerings.

Meridian in Michigan, a managed care organization and another Centene subsidiary, is joining forces with Wayne Mobile Health Unit in Michigan through $1.1 million in funding from the Centene Foundation.

The partnership will attempt to reduce maternal health mortality rates by sending mobile vans to low and high-risk pregnant women in metro Detroit, connecting the individuals to OB/GYNs for preventative and follow-up care, a press release said Thursday.

Aetna partnering with Monogram Health

A value-based arrangement between CVS' Aetna and Monogram Health will provide at-home kidney care for Aetna Medicare Advantage members, the two companies announced in a LinkedIn post Tuesday.

In collaboration with nephrologists and other specialists, Monogram nurse practitioners will be able to lead home-based appointments. Patients will also get referrals for transplant evaluations.

Monogram Health is a provider of in-home care management for members with polychronic conditions like kidney and end-stage renal disease. The partnership is due to an investment by CVS Health Ventures last year.

Planned Parenthood can receive Medicaid funds, Missouri Supreme Court rules

Abortion providers and its affiliates are able to receive Medicaid reimbursements, the Missouri Supreme Court declared on Wednesday.

Almost all abortions are illegal in Missouri, but Planned Parenthood has received state funds for reproductive health services such as contraceptives and cancer screenings. That changed in 2022, as the organization hasn't received state funds since then.

The news was reported by The Missouri Independent.

Molina Healthcare adds Rush Uni to provider network

Molina Healthcare of Illinois will include Rush University System for Health as a provider for its Medicaid and general marketplace members in Chicago.

Members will have access to more than 2,300 physicians at four locations across the state.

“This new partnership will create greater access to the very best health care for more patients across the Chicago area and Northwest Indiana,” said Lisa Wagamon, president of Rush Health, in a news release. “We are pleased to be able to extend the reach of academic medicine to more patients and families, especially those who need care for serious and complex conditions.”