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Brainstorm Health: Fortune Honorees, Allergan Patent ‘Sham’, Idaho Obamacare Smackdown

Happy Friday. Yesterday, the Society of American Business Editors and Writers announced that FORTUNE journalists had won five of its 2017 “Best in Business” reporting awards and were honorable mentions in two more—a tally far more than any other magazine’s.

As the many thousands of you who read this newsletter know, I’ve written a few times recently about our FORTUNE Brainstorm Health conference, which kicks off in Laguna Niguel, California, in just 10 days. And I’ve discussed many of our other conferences as well, from our Global Forum to our CEO Initiative to our annual Most Powerful Women Summit. We’re (justifiably, I think) proud of their individual missions, and of the deep, hands-on engagement to problem solving that each of them brings.

Over the past year, of course, I’ve highlighted a number of breaking stories on our robust website,, where our well-sourced digital reporting team never stops reporting—and where our superstar digital editor, Andrew Nusca, never stops working. Ever. (Someone really should talk to him about that.)

But as critical as such platforms are, we’ve also been reporting stories in an old-fashioned medium—and in an old-fashioned way—for the past 88 years. That medium, of course, is our print magazine. And the latest honors from SABEW—which is to say, from our peers in business journalism across the realms of newspapers, magazines, and the web—are testament to how vital this flagship is.

And so, if you’re not already a subscriber, please take a moment to become one—to join us in our reporting mission. Here’s a link. You can get a year of FORTUNE delivered to your doorstep for less than a week’s worth of cappuccinos. If you are a subscriber, then please consider giving a gift subscription to someone who ought to be. They’ll thank you for it. (And so will I.)

Below are seven reasons—laid out by my tireless colleague Andrew Nusca yesterday on—why you should. (I’m repeating his summaries, for the most part, here.)

1) “Whatever It Takes to Win,” by Jen Wieczner—a 2017 SABEW winner for markets coverage, which digs into the sophisticated and sometimes controversial tactics used by Paul Singer’s wildly successful hedge fund, Elliott Management.

2) “Welcome to Tomorrow Land,” by Vivienne Walt—a 2017 SABEW winner in International Reporting: a dispatch from Estonia, the tiny cutting-edge European country that has become a 21st century model for technology.

3) “The Last Railroad Tycoon,” by Shawn Tully—a 2017 SABEW winner in the Travel/Transportation beat. Shawn’s profile of Hunter Harrison, the late, mysterious railroad tycoon and turnaround artist, is a tale for the ages.

4) “The Billion-Dollar Loophole,” by Peter Elkind and in collaboration with ProPublica (edited by ProPublica’s legendary Nick Varchaver)—a 2017 SABEW winner in the Banking/Finance category. This investigation into the Republican tax plan reveals that many of the biggest tax-avoidance schemes have been left untouched—and how a cottage industry has sprung up to cash in on one of them.

5) “Can AT&T Retrain 100,000 People?” by Aaron Pressman—a 2017 SABEW in the Management/Career category—takes us inside the enormous telecommunications company as it tries to chase the future—and yet, somehow, not leave its employees behind.

6) “Blockchain Mania!” by Robert Hackett and Jeff John Roberts— which received an honorable mention in the Technology category: an explanation (one that you actually understand) for why businesses everywhere are so captivated by blockchain technology.

7) “A Boom with a View,” Erin Griffith’s wonderful, sharp-eyed column on the Silicon Valley worldview and on tech’s impact on society, received an honorable mention in the Commentary/Opinion category.

Again, please take a moment to keep this kind of thoughtful, probing journalism going: Become part of FORTUNE’s subscriber family. Thanks.

The news is below.

Clifton Leaf, Editor in Chief, FORTUNE


A major motive for the Cigna-Express Scripts deal? Data. Dr. David Friend, chief transformation officer of The BDO Center for Healthcare Excellence & Innovation, offers up a succinct take to my colleague Erika Fry on why the blockbuster Cigna-Express Scripts deal announced yesterday is all about data. “This is another example of how the battle for data is driving disruption in healthcare,” said Friend. “One of the main reasons Cigna is making this move is because it needs the pharmacy data. For example, if Cigna or another insurer knows a patient is on a more expensive drug and can switch that patient to a cheaper version, the insurer can save a lot of money—and the consumer could too.”


Allergan patent gambit slammed as a “sham” by lawmakers. A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced legislation that squarely takes aim at Botox maker Allergan’s gambit to protect patents on a best-selling drug by selling them to a Native American tribe and the licensing them from said tribe. “Sham transactions involving the transfer of patent ownership from a pharmaceutical company to a tribe for the sole purpose of shielding the patent from challenges are a clear abuse of our patent system and set a dangerous precedent for other consumer products,” said Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. (Endpoints)


Trump administration defends… Obamacare? Quick, who said this: Obamacare “remains the law, and we have a duty to enforce and uphold the law.” No, it’s not an Obama administration vet—that’s current CMS administrator Seema Verma, smacking down an attempt by Idaho to largely bypass Affordable Care Act requirements (Idaho’s proposal would have allowed insurers to charge people different rates based on their health status, for instance.) (New York Times)


Twitter Wants to Verify All Users as a Way to Prove Identityby Laignee Barron

Elon Musk Uses Twitter to Talk Tariffs, Cars, and China With Donald Trumpby Kirsten Korosec

Why Workday Will Cut Loose a Top Performerby Adam Lashinsky

How the World Celebrated International Women’s Day 2018by Alex Scimecca

Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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