As expected, Congress did extend the continuing resolution for another week. The Washington Post reports on this action here. House and Senate negotiators are expected to work through the weekend on a funding deal for last five months of the federal government’s fiscal year.  The article adds that “On Friday morning, House GOP leaders were closing in on the votes needed to pass a health overhaul, but no vote is expected in the coming days, according to a senior House GOP aide who was not authorized to speak publicly about ongoing discussions.”

Also as expected (the act of the deciding, not the outcome), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued its decision in the Anthem / Cigna merger case. By a 2-1 vote, the panel upheld the lower court decision to block the merger on anti-trust grounds as the Justice Department has sought.  The fate of the merger agreement now lies in the hands of the Delaware chancery court, which will hear Anthem’s motion to block Cigna from terminating the merger agreement on May 8.

Yesterday, the Senate confirmed the President’s nomination of Alexander Acosta to be Secretary of Labor by a 60-38 vote. President Trump’s cabinet finally has been filled. Before long we should have an OPM Director nominee.

The Pharmacy Times reports that Prime Therapeutics, a Blue Cross related prescription benefits manager, and Walgreens recently closed on the formation of “a combined central specialty pharmacy and mail services company, as part of a strategic alliance first announced by the companies last August. The company, AllianceRx Walgreens Prime, is headquartered in Orlando, Fla.”

AllianceRx Walgreens Prime will manage several consolidated mail service and central specialty pharmacy operations. Its workforce of approximately 3,000 employees nationally will be comprised of current Walgreens and Prime employees, including those currently working at the existing Prime location in Orlando. The AllianceRx Walgreens Prime brand will be rolled out in the marketplace over the coming months.
While Prime’s pharmacies will now be part of the combined company, Prime will continue its core function of providing pharmacy benefit management services from its locations in Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas. Similarly, Walgreens will continue to operate its more than 230 specialty pharmacies throughout the U.S., in addition to its retail pharmacies.

Also this week the FEHBlog ran across the website of Amino, Inc.   The company was co-founded by David Vivero, a former executive of Zillow, the online real estate company.  The company’s objective is to provide health care consumers with insights on healthcare pricing and quality at no charge.  The company relies on a database of de-identified medical bills. Interesting.