The audio tape of the Nevils oral argument held before the U.S. Supreme Court on March 1 is now available here.  Yesterday a Columbia law professor wrote the most heartwarming conclusion in his analysis of the argument:

Given the delicacy of pre-emption doctrine in general, I would not expect this to be one of the first cases to come down from the February calendar. But I would be surprised if the justices fail to coalesce with near unanimity around some straightforward basis for reversing the Missouri court’s judgment.

Having now listened to the oral argument, the FEHBlog agrees with the good professor’s conclusion.

The FEHBlog discovered in PACER that yesterday Cigna submitted a short brief in Anthem’s appeal of last month’s decision to block the Anthem/Cigna merger. The case is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The case is scheduled for oral argument on March 24 on an expedited basis (No. 17-5024). Cigna in its conclusion states that “Cigna defers to Anthem and to the conclusion in Anthem’s brief that this Court should reverse the district court’s February 8, 2017 Order in its entirety, vacate the injunction, and rule for Anthem and Cigna permitting the proposed merger of Anthem and Cigna to proceed.” So at this point Cigna is back to playing ball with Anthem following the Delaware Chancery Court’s decision blocking Cigna from terminating the merger agreement before April 30, 2017.

AHIP issued a report concluding that outpatient prescription drugs costs now take up the largest portion of the health benefits premium dollar, just eclipsing physicians services.

Finally, the FEHBlog is reading that the House of Representatives will begin committee consideration of a health care re-reform bill next week. The ACA can’t be replaced soon enough.  For example, Modern Healthcare reports that

The [ACA’s] 2.3% tax on medical device sales resulted in the loss of over 28,000 jobs among devicemakers and and related industries when it was in effect between 2013 and 2015, according to the American Action Forum, which describes itself as a “center-right policy institute.” Health economist Robert Book based his post on U.S. Census Data and tax data from the federal government.  

The tax, which is collected as a direct percentage of manufacturer sales, was suspended by Congress for 2016 and 2017. If Congress allows it to resume in 2018, AAF projects that an additional 25,000 additional jobs could be lost by 2021. AAF’s prediction is based on past job losses and lower-than-anticipated tax revenue, which would suggest a reduction in device sales.