Leslie V. Norwalk, Strategic Counsel at Epstein Becker Green and EBG Advisors, Inc., in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was quoted in the Hartford Courant, in “Health Mergers, Alliances Pushed by Pressure to Cut Costs Are Just Beginning,” by Kenneth R. Gosselin.

Following is an excerpt:

Hartford HealthCare’s announcement last week that the hospital giant will form a joint venture with a health plan is not as much of a surprise as it may have seemed in an industry under pressure to control crippling costs.

The joint venture with Tufts Health Plan is the latest in a growing number of health care combinations — one of the largest being CVS Health Corp’s proposed $69 billion acquisition of Hartford-based Aetna, Inc. — that are being framed as an attempt to deliver better, more efficient care at a lower cost. …

“Whether it’s those three entities or any number of other employers, it’s a cry from large employers about rising health care costs,” said Leslie V. Norwalk, the former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid and an attorney at a Washington, D.C., firm specializing in health care. “They want something different and they are thinking about how to get better control of our health care costs, which is to say, ‘How can we disrupt the status quo?’” …

The health care mergers and partnerships are expected to take advantage of the ability to combine claims and clinical data. In the case of CVS and Aetna, prescription data trends for an individual or for a population can be a powerful predictor of future health care costs, Norwalk said.

“There is so much use for big data, and I just imagine that’s going to play a big role,” said Norwalk, a strategic counsel to Epstein Becker Green in Washington, D.C. “The future could be a lot sooner, hopefully, than I would have predicted even three or four years ago.” …

“It’s clear, as a country, we are going to need to figure out how to reduce per capita increases in the spending trajectory if we are going to want to spend money in this country on things other than health care,” Norwalk said. “It will be a constant challenge.”

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