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What We're Reading: GOP Tax Bill Passes; Healthcare Deals; Discussing High Drug Prices


Republicans pass tax bill and repeal the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate; potential healthcare mergers and deals pick up in December; millions of dollars paid out to combat the national conversation around rising drug prices.

Republicans Pass Tax Bill With ACA Provision

Both the House and the Senate passed the Republican tax bill with 12 House Republicans voting against the bill and all Senate Republicans present voting in favor—no Democrats voted for the bill. According to The New York Times, the bill reaches far beyond taxes and will eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. Since the Senate had to slightly change the bill in order to pass it with just 50 votes, the House will have to vote on it again. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that repealing the individual mandate could result in 13 million fewer Americans having health insurance by 2027.

Potential Healthcare Mergers

As the end of the year grows closer, the number of business deals in healthcare is increasing. The cumulative revenue of companies involved in potential deals announced in December is more than $550 billion, reported The Wall Street Journal. Humana and 2 private-equity firms announced they will buy Kindred Healthcare for $810 million. Tenet Healthcare is considering selling Conifer Health Solutions. Plus, Ascension and Providence St. Joseph Health are in talks, as are Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives. The deals highlight the need among healthcare companies to drive down costs and change where care is delivered to patients.

Combating Discussions on High Drug Prices

Millions of dollars have been paid out to lobbyists, politicians, and patient groups to battle the national conversation around rising drug prices. Kaiser Health News reported that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, aka PhRMA, spent $7 million on a campaign to steer the conversation away from prices and remind people of the groundbreaking work being done to beat diseases. PhRMA also gave big checks to patient groups like the American Lung Association and the Lupus Foundation of America. Both the Republican Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association received more than $300,000.

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