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Brainstorm Health: Brainstorm Health Conference, Clover Health Layoffs, Medicaid Work Requirements

Good afternoon, readers.

The fourth annual Fortune Brainstorm Health conference is just around the corner. As in, next week. As in, five days from now (April 2nd and 3rd at the beautiful Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego, CA).

Just how stacked is the event this year? Featured speakers include: Dr. Hal Barron, president of R&D and chief scientific officer at drug giant GlaxoSmithKline; Humana chief Bruce Broussard; Cleveland Clinic executive adviser Dr. Toby Cosgrove; Edie Falco, the Emmy award-winning actress best known for the HBO hit The Sopranos; IBM executive vice president Dr. John Kelly III; Venrock partner Camille Samuels; Shelly Ibach, president and CEO of Sleep Number and Sleep Editor-at-Large of Thrive Global; Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson; Verily chief medical officer Dr. Jessica Mega; the founders and CEOs of Not Impossible Labs, Mick Ebeling, and Unreasonable, Daniel Epstein; and, frankly, so many other titans across the health care business, policy, academic, and investment fields that it’ll be easier for you to just go through the list and the agenda for yourself. (Oh, our three amazing co-chairs, Clifton Leaf, Dr. David Agus, and Arianna Huffington will happen to be around, too.)

If you have yet to register or complete your registration process, make sure to do so as soon as possible! We hope to see you in sunny San Diego for what is going to be an engaging, interactive, and critical conversation on all of health care’s most significant challenges and promises.

In the meantime, read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


Clover Health laying off 25% of staff. Clover Health, a health insurance upstart that touts its tech-savvy approach to the insurance business (specifically in the Medicare Advantage market) is axing a quarter of its workforce, or about 140 employees, as it struggles to adapt to the complex insurance market. The company is essentially admitting that its tech-skewed staff needed to be shaken up in favor of those with more conventional experience in the industry—a challenge faced by many Silicon Valley startups that have little experience in the heavily regulated market. (CNBC)


Vertex says it destroyed a massive swath of its multiple sclerosis drug. Here’s an unfortunate fallout from a bare-knuckled fight over drug pricing: Rare drug maker Vertex Pharmaceuticals says that 8,000 packs of its best-selling cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi were destroyed because they had exceeded their expiration dates as the company locked horns with the U.K.’s National Health Service. Some critics wondered why Vertex didn’t make contingency plans for the medications as it tries to get Orkambi covered in the U.K., where about 40% of its nearly 10,000 CF patients could potentially benefit from the treatment. The NHS says the treatment’s price is simply too high. (The Guardian)


Judge blocks Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas, Kentucky. A federal judge has struck down recently imposed requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky that would require Medicaid beneficiaries to either work or volunteer to qualify for the health care program geared toward the poorest Americans. Judge James Boasberg pointed to the various unintended consequences of the Trump administration-backed effort to fundamentally reshape Medicaid, including some beneficiaries’ anecdotes about living in regions with few jobs and then becoming too sick to work at all once losing their Medicaid.


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Produced by Sy Mukherjee
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