J.P. Morgan will kick off its 38th annual healthcare conference in San Francisco on Monday, attracting some of the biggest names in healthcare across payers, providers, tech and biopharma.
It's one of the most influential conferences of the year, bringing together a who's who of healthcare executives, investors and regulators for three days. As many as 9,000 attendees across 450 public and private companies are expected to make an appearance, according to the investment bank.
This year is poised to bring its own set of political and legal risks as the country creeps closer to the presidential election and the legal threat to kill the ACA looms, potentially by the Supreme Court. Democratic challengers to President Donald Trump have made promises to overhaul the healthcare system to varying degrees, many of which would represent substantial upheaval for the industry.
Here are Healthcare Dive's top companies to watch at #JPM20.
CVS Health: CVS has made big waves over the past year as the retail behemoth worked to integrate new payer asset Aetna, brought its wellness-focused HealthHUB locations into a handful of new markets and expanded its focus in prescription drug delivery and chronic care management.
The conglomerate continues to look for ways to capitalize on the overlap between Aetna and CVS' retail hubs, which could guide it toward providing primary care. CEO Larry Marlo has said the company prefers to act as a "complement" to physicians. But analysts warn not to rule out such a move amid potential disruption from the likes of Amazon. And with CVS' heft, raking in $63 billion in revenue in the third quarter of last year alone, there are few arenas out of its reach.
Intermountain Healthcare: Last year, the Utah-based health system made good on its promise to deliver generic drugs in low supply to hospitals through the country through its Civica Rx venture. Fed up with the high cost of drugs, Intermountain joined forces with other health systems to provide more predictable pricing and access to drugs for its member hospitals.
Civica Rx says 18 medications are now in production. With a willingness to disrupt the status quo, the question now becomes, what's next for the venture and Intermountain?
Tenet Healthcare: The for-profit hospital operator has continued to trim its hospital portfolio and make key investments in specific service lines and outpatient services. Despite industry headwinds, Tenet reported admission gains for three consecutive quarters (a feat other for-profit operators logged, too).
During a call with investors in November, CEO Ron Rittenmeyer hinted the next move on strategy would likely be discussed at the JPM conference, noting his board had just finished a two-day strategy session.
Advocate Aurora Health and Bon Secours Mercy Health: The two nonprofit systems are on the heels of closing megamergers that created super regional systems. The deals come as evidence that mergers don't increase quality or lower costs continues to mount. It will be interesting to hear whether these two talk about how they have benefited from the mergers and what's next for them in terms of strategy and possible further consolidation.
Humana: Its rivals have gotten bigger through blockbuster mergers, raising questions about whether Humana may be ripe for acquisition, especially given its large footprint in the lucrative Medicare Advantage market. Humana commands the second largest market share of MA members, according to data compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation. MA enrollment, now at more than 20 million seniors, is expected to continue to grow as the population skews older. More than 34% of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in MA plans, according to KFF.
CMS: At Wednesday's keynote, Administrator Seema Verma is likely to speak on one of her favorite topics by blasting "Medicare for All" proposals put forward by Democratic presidential contenders.
Another key topic for her agency right now is Medicaid expansion. More than three dozen states have now agreed to some manner of expanding their rolls for the safety net program, but controversial work requirements are still being challenged in the courts. Verma has teased more deregulation for Medicaid, which could include a long-held conservative hope of making it into a block grant system.
She could also make the case behind the administration's push for more price transparency. Providers and payers have heavily protested new regulations requiring negotiated rates to be made public, but CMS hasn't backed down.
Mayo Clinic: Mayo, named the top hospital for the fourth time in a row by U.S. News and World Report, is continuing to expand geographically and its finances have shown healthy growth as well. For the first three quarters of 2019, medical service revenue climbed 8.9% and total revenue grew 8.1% compared to the year prior while net income more than doubled.
The nonprofit system could give an update on services abroad. It opened a clinic in London in September and has announced an affiliation with the Saudi German Hospital in Cairo. The organization has also formed a joint venture to launch 741-bed Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City, a hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for patients with serious or complex medical conditions.