By Alan Murray and Geoffrey Smith
May 4, 2017

Good morning.

I interviewed Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini at Fortune Brainstorm Health yesterday, where he said the Affordable Care Act needs to be fixed, not repealed. “This nation has never passed a major piece of social legislation without bipartisan support” prior to the ACA, he said, “and every other major piece of social legislation has been changed every year.” Unless both parties figure out how to work together on health care, and fix the problems of the ACA, health care policy will remain in flux—a political football.

Nevertheless, the news this morning is that the House has lined up the Republican votes it needs to pass a health care bill. A breakthrough came late yesterday when two moderate Republicans, Reps. Fred Upton and Billy Long, met with President Trump at the White House and flipped their votes from “no” to “yes” after he committed to backing an amendment spending $8 billion over five years to fund high-risk pools. It’s still not clear that that bill can pass the Senate.

Bertolini also told the group yesterday that medical care and genetic makeup are less important in determining health care outcomes than behavior and geography. “Your zip code is more than your genetic code,” he said.

You can see an excerpt from the Bertolini interview here, and more coverage of the conference here.

Incidentally, Bertolini is one of the growing group of CEOs who believe that business leaders have an urgent imperative to demonstrate a commitment to social goals and restore their reputation with the public. In 2015, he raised the company’s minimum wage to $16, and also provided generous health and wellness benefits to all his employees. I’m hoping he’ll join The CEO Initiative announced earlier this week, which is designed to encourage and support corporate leaders who recognize the need to focus on purpose beyond profits. Bertolini says, by the way, that his efforts to improve the lot of Aetna’s lowest-paid workers also have boosted his bottom line.

More news below.

Alan Murray


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