It’s another jump into the unknown between bankruptcies, layoffs, and funding raises for the Lucky Few. Emblematic of this year as we prepare to wind up this Crazy Summer in the next few weeks.
Rwandan government scrambling to keep Babyl services going. According to a local website, The EastAfrican, on 7 August “Health Minister Sabin Nsanzimana convened a meeting with the head of Babyl’s operations in Rwanda, Shivon Byamukama, to formulate a contingency plan to mitigate the impact of the company’s bankruptcy.” The Rwanda Ministry of Health is trying to secure the Babyl Rwanda operation that serves 2.4 million Rwandans (not Babylon’s 2.8 million, but still close to 20% of population) and employs over 600 people–doctors, nurses, call center agents, and software developers, Babyl is maintaining normal daily operations for now while Babyl Rwanda’s managing director, Dr. Shivon Byamukama, told the publication that the Rwanda operation is in active discussions with potential investors and partners either as a standalone entity or in partnership with another body. One wonders where the $2.2 million in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation went.
CVS Health is starting to wield the knife on its promised (to investors) 5,000-person layoff, starting with at least 1,200 in October. The bulk of the layoffs will be in Connecticut and Rhode Island, both home to much of the Aetna operations. State labor departments in Rhode Island and Connecticut have already received WARN notices from CVS that over 1,200 employees in those states will be terminated effective 21 October. In other states, WARN notices have been filed for another 580 also effective 21 October.
- The Woonsocket, RI headquarters and a neighboring office in Cumberland will lose 770 workers. 198 live in RI, the others are remote workers reporting to RI-based supervisors.
- 306 employees are based at the insurer’s headquarters in Hartford, Connecticut. An additional 215 work remotely but are supervised out of the Connecticut offices, for a total of 521.
- Other employees will be terminated in New York (167), Plantation, Florida (288), and Arizona (134), according to notices filed in each state.
- Updated 24 Aug: another 825 across four additional states. In NJ, 207 employees at multiple locations starting 15 November. In Texas, 167 employees in Richardson and Irving; in Pennsylvania, 157 employees at an Aetna office in Blue Bell; in Illinois, 294 employees in Chicago, Buffalo Grove, and Northbrook starting 21 October. Becker’s
- CVS refused to disclose other layoffs to Healthcare Dive in other states where the number fell below WARN notice requirements
These positions include assistants, data engineers, customer care pharmacists, actuary executives, corporate vice presidents, project managers, program managers, and managers/directors of network development. While these constitute only 2% of CVS’ overall workforce of 300,000, it is cold comfort to those affected, many of whom have worked years for Aetna or CVS. Becker’s
The timing is revealed in the Becker’s Payer Issues article: When CVS acquired Aetna, “its agreement with state insurance regulators included a promise to keep employment levels at Aetna and its subsidiaries at 5,300 for at least four years after the closure of the deal. The employment levels reflected staffing as of Oct. 1, 2018, and the agreement expired in 2022.” Notice the similarities in the numbers.
In the interim, CVS went on an acquisition binge of $18.6 billion, buying Signify Health and Oak Street Health only months apart in strategic moves to buy up practices and network extenders such as ACOs in value-based care and home health.
- Oak Street Health and its 169 practices do not project profitability until 2025–maybe–and clocked an over $500 million loss last year [TTA 4 May]. In the views of many on the Street, Oak Street was a $10 billion waste.
- No one knows if Signify Health is profitable or not with practices and home health, but that company took a bath on Remedy Partners in Episodes of Care models and wound down that business right before the auction. CVS Health got caught up in a four-way bidding war only a year ago (in a universe that feels quite far away) that topped out at over $8 billion in cash. Ill-considered in retrospect?
CVS Health is already dealing with 2023 and 2024 projections that are downtrend: increased Medicare Advantage costs, higher drug utilization, and lower consumer spending expectations affecting retail operations. Mr. Market does not ignore Where The Money Comes From, and the piper that is paid comes from where it usually does–the people working for the company.
Optum not immune from layoffs either. Optum Health’s MedExpress Urgent Care clinics are eliminating registered nursing positions at nearly 150 facilities as part of a larger group of layoffs at Optum. MedExpress’ RNs are circulating an online petition protesting the change as ‘negligent’. Social media has also posted about gradual current layoffs at UnitedHealth Group and Optum building to major layoffs affecting worldwide operations. There are no WARN filings so these are suspected to be below the 50-100 WARN threshold (number and time period e.g. 6 months may vary by state) but cumulatively across UHG substantial. Becker’s Becker’s updated coverage today 23 August
Veradigm’s ‘problem’ with Nasdaq continues. The former Allscripts still has not filed an annual report for 2022, nor Q1 or Q2 financial reports, with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which are required for Nasdaq stock listing under Nasdaq Listing Rule 5250(c)(1). TTA previously reported in June that Veradigm is not reporting because they had a software flaw that affected its revenue reporting going back to 2021. This has been going on since March. Veradigm has requested multiple extensions from the exchange and are set to ask for another. Veradigm stock closed today at $12.89, which is well out of the usual trouble, but an accounting software problem this long unresolved from a software company specializing in practice EHRs and practice management software…does not compute. Healthcare Dive, Business Wire
AireHealth auctioning off assets. This respiratory health company based in Winter Park, FL founded in 2018 developed a FDA-cleared nebulizer with Bluetooth functionality plus AI and machine learning software to generate predictive data on patients’ clinical conditions. The online auction of patents, software, hardware, and intellectual property for the company’s remote patient respiratory care platform will be held by Florida-based Fisher Auction Company. Apparently, there was no bankruptcy filed but the early-stage company decided to shutter anyway and sell assets. Mobihealthnews
On the other hand, gut health is hot and Viome scored a Series C of $86.5 million for a total $175 million raise plus gut testing in 200 CVS locations. Lead investors are Khosla Ventures, Bold Capital, and WRG Ventures. With the raise, Viome announced the launch of its Gut Intelligence Test in 200 CVS locations. Online, the Gut Test retails for $149 on current sale. Viome also markets oral and throat tests plus a ‘full body’ test in the $200+ range. The gut test is not currently FDA-cleared, though its saliva-based oral and throat cancer test received FDA breakthrough device designation in 2021. They claim that its RNA sequencing technology that utilizes AI and advanced algorithms to analyze the world’s largest gene expression data from over 600,000 samples, was originally developed out of research from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, “is clinically validated, fully automated, exclusively licensed by Viome [to analyze] biological samples at least 1,000 times greater than other technologies.” Release, Mobihealthnews, TechCrunch