Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS -

A new health in­surance ex­change an­nounced last week by a large re­tailer is bet­ting that an­a­lysts who pre­dict that roughly 40 mil­lion peo­ple will buy their health plans through a pri­vate on­line mar­ket­place by 2018 are right.

Sam’s Club, a mem­ber­ship shop­ping di­vi­sion of Wal-Mart Stores, said it is part­ner­ing with Aetna to build a health­care ex­change ex­clu­sively for its shop­pers who are small-business own­ers. Sam’s Club says about 600,000 small-business own­ers, most of whom have fewer than seven em­ploy­ees, pur­chase items at its stores ev­ery day. Most pri­vate ex­changes are geared to­ward an em­ployer’s work­ers, but Sam’s Club’s ex­change is dif­fer­ent, tar­get­ing a spe­cific sub­set of its cus­tomers.

A group of hos­pi­tals that par­tic­i­pate in the fed­eral 340B drug-dis­count pro­gram have joined the de­bate about Ge­nen­tech’s decision to dis­trib­ute three of its most ex­pen­sive and com­monly used can­cer drugs through spe­cialty dis­trib­u­tors rather than stan­dard whole­salers.

In an Oct. 16 let­ter to Ge­nen­tech’s CEO, the Safety Net Hos­pi­tals for Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Ac­cess said the change in dis­tri­bu­tion meth­ods will in­crease costs for safety net health­care providers. “When safety net providers buy med­i­ca­tions from whole­salers, they re­ceive re­bates based on pur­chase vol­ume,” wrote SNHPA’s gen­eral coun­sel. “They do not get th­ese re­bates when they buy drugs from whole­salers’ spe­cialty di­vi­sions, how­ever.”

Keck Medicine of the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, an aca­demic med­i­cal cen­ter based in Los An­ge­les, has agreed to de­velop a net­work of am­bu­la­tory surgery cen­ters through­out the area with Sur­gi­cal Care Af­fil­i­ates, a pub­licly traded op­er­a­tor of sur­gi­cal cen­ters.

In­dus­try ob­servers, in­clud­ing Moody’s In­vestors Ser­vice, view am­bu­la­tory surgery cen­ters as a grow­ing business line. How­ever, surgery cen­ter safety was thrown into the na­tional spot­light last month after co­me­dian Joan Rivers died fol­low­ing an en­doscopy per­formed at an out­pa­tient cen­ter.

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