What We're Reading: WellCare–Meridian Deal; Virginia Set to Expand Medicaid; High Court Rebuffs Planned Parenthood

WellCare Health Plans will expand its government-sponsored health plans by purchasing Meridian; the Virginia Senate appears to have enough votes Wednesday to expand Medicaid to 400,000 low-income residents; Planned Parenthood will stop providing medication abortions in Arkansas after the Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to a state law.

WellCare Buying Meridian for $2.5 Billion in Move to Expand Medicaid Footprint

Virginia Poised to Expand Medicaid

WellCare Health Plans, a managed care company, will expand its government-sponsored health plans with its announcement to buy Meridian, a pharmacy benefit manager and health plan in Illinois and Michigan, for $2.5 billion in cash. Meridian is the leading Medicaid insurer in Michigan, The Wall Street Journal reported. The newly combined company would serve about 5.4 million members.The Virginia Senate appears to have enough votes Wednesday to expand Medicaid to 400,000 low-income residents as part of a budget vote, The Washington Post reported. The votes comes after an unsuccessful last-ditch effort Tuesday to block the expansion from Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr, a Republican opposed to the expansion. The state’s House of Delegates did a turn around on the Medicaid issue, which it refused for years, after the GOP nearly lost control of the chamber last November in an election where healthcare became a top priority for voters.

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Case on Medication Abortions in Arkansas

Planned Parenthood said it would stop providing medication abortions in Arkansas after the Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to a state law that could force 2 of the state’s 3 abortion clinics to close. The case involving medication abortions, which are considered safe, will continue to be litigated in the lower courts, The New York Times reported. The 2015 law requires providers to have contracts with doctors who have hospital admitting privileges. Abortion clinics in Arkansas said they were unable to find any doctors willing to sign such contracts.