The Senate voted down the skinny repeal approach early this morning 48-51 after House Speaker Paul Ryan had confirmed that the House would go to a conference committee over the limited bill, which really was  a weak cup of tea. The deciding vote was Sen. John McCain (R AZ).  Last week while on vacation, the FEHBlog read the Senator’s 1999 memoir Faith of My Fathers which is a very good book. It’s back to the drawing board for the Republican majority in Congress as Axios illustrates.  Congress needs to decide quickly whether or not to continue the current one year suspension of the health insurer tax which is a burden on the FEHBP.

On the M&A front,

  • Healthcare Dive tells us about PriceWaterhouseCoopers most recent report on health system mergers & acquisitions. 
  • Employee Benefit News muses about what Jeff Bezos may do with Whole Foods, e.g., add Amazon pharmacies to the 369 stores.
  • KKR & Company, private equity firm, announced the purchase of Web MD earlier this week according to Reuters
  • Drug Channels blog discusses the future of Rite Aid’s struggling prescription benefit manager, Envision Rx, after the major revisions to the Walgreen’s / Rite Aid deal. 
The FEHBlog likes to write about scientific advances in healthcare. So it’s only right that he link to this STAT article about a scientific setback in cancer immunotherapy. 

Cancer biology is a wily foe.
For all the recent treatment breakthroughs using drugs that leverage the immune system, tumors still find ways to avoid being killed. The failure Thursday of an AstraZeneca combination immunotherapy in lung cancer is a humbling setback for the field — and a reminder that many questions remain unanswered.
“Fundamentally, this is still imprecision medicine,” said Dr. George Demetri, an oncologist and professor at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, referring to cancer immunotherapy. “We have great targets, but we still don’t know how to identify the right patients.”