Here's a roundup of our most popular finance stories of the year.
This year was marked by changing dynamics relating to healthcare finance, most notably from outside corporate disruptors like Amazon eyeing entry into the industry and widespread M&A activity across most sectors.
HealthLeaders has been on the front line covering the news and policy changes coming out of Washington, D.C., Wall Street, Nashville, and how it is going impact healthcare organizations as they shape their business strategies.
Below are the top 10 healthcare finance stories of 2018:
"Months of public negotiations and tribulations have resulted in a $5.7 billion acquisition of athenahealth set to close in Q1 2019, but it's not a done deal yet."
"A plan to simplify the way physicians bill Medicare for evaluation and management (E/M) visits has been finalized and will begin to take effect next year, but the controversial payment component of the plan will be delayed until 2021, giving stakeholders more time to influence policymaking, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced."
"The sale of the nonprofit health plan came after months of review from state regulators and final approval from interim Attorney General Barbara Underwood. 'We are pleased to have completed our transaction with Fidelis Care on schedule and to enter the New York market by joining with a company with which we are closely aligned on many levels,' Michael F. Neidorff, CEO of Centene, said in a statement."
"Since joining Memorial Hermann Health System in 2013, Brian Dean served as both CFO and CEO of Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, before his promotion last month to CFO of the entire system effective this August. Dean spoke to HealthLeaders about ascending to the new role, the lessons he's learned in his years at the system, and the strategies he's pursuing to further strengthen the organization's finances."
"Healthcare organizations are feeling the effects of the national shortfall of $645 billion in pension liabilities and are pursuing the 'least bad option' for handling the problem. The nationwide pension crisis has organizations scrambling to properly fund employee' retirement packages and represents a self-inflicted dilemma that will have a dramatic impact on the healthcare industry without a clear solution."
"One observer praised CMS for 'picking a fight with powerful hospitals' in the agency's annual update to payment proposals for outpatient services. Under OPPS 2019, reimbursement for clinic visits in outpatient hospital settings would be capped at the rate paid for clinic visits in physician offices."
"Through a vertical integration without significant precedence in healthcare, CVS and Aetna have the opportunity to use their increased scale to pursue several innovative business strategies going forward. Many industry players are interested in what the newly merged company could accomplish to further assist consumers at multiple points along the healthcare experience."
"PBMs, retailers, and providers are getting together to integrate health plans, with Walmart-Humana taking mergers to another level of complexity and transformation, says one healthcare consultant. The Walmart merger with Humana is another strong sign that the healthcare industry is rapidly merging with disparate parts of the retail world, intermingling so much and so quickly that some traditional parts of healthcare may be absorbed and cease to exist as we now know them."
"Health systems are recouping lost patient revenues by removing barriers to access treatment, and reducing operational costs by coordinating with ridesharing services.Nearly 4 million patients per year miss out on care due to lack of available transportation options related to cost or geographic barriers, according to the 2017 American Hospital Association study, 'Transportation and the Role of Hospitals.'"
"After attempts to repeal the Obama administration's signature healthcare law faltered, the Trump administration set an agenda for the Affordable Care Act's implementation next year.In signing a major tax reform bill into law late last year, President Donald Trump claimed to have "essentially repealed Obamacare" by neutralizing the legislation's individual mandate penalty."
Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders.
M&A activity among health systems and payers were a dominant narrative throughout 2018.
Policy changes affecting payment models also drew widespread attention from health leaders across the country.
The entrance of corporate disruptors stirred discussion and speculation among traditional healthcare industry players.