KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Sen. Grassley Pushes On In Medicare ‘Political Intel’ Probe

The Wall Street Journal writes that the Iowa Republican, who is looking into how investors got advance word of a Medicare financial policy decision, is also asking about comments by his Utah colleague's staffer.

The Wall Street Journal: Probe Into Medicare Tips Grows
Sen. Charles Grassley is expanding his investigation into how investors got advance word of a market-moving Medicare policy decision, a development that could shine a spotlight on the office of one of the senator's own colleagues. Mr. Grassley (R., Iowa) is seeking information about whether a top aide to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) divulged non-public information about the Medicare change during a conference call with investors two weeks before the government's decision was made public, according to people familiar with the matter (Mullins and McGinty, 5/2).

CQ Health Beat: Grassley Not Satisfied With Access on Medicare Advantage Probe
Grassley's staff has already twice interviewed Mark Hayes, a former Grassley staffer who now works for Greenberg Traurig, a lobby firm, about the April 1 announcement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that it would increase rates for Medicare Advantage plans. That decision was a reversal from an earlier suggestion by the agency that rates would be reduced. Before that announcement was made public after the markets closed, Height Securities, a Greenberg Traurig client that Hayes worked with, alerted its clients to the impending announcement and health insurance stocks soared. Greenberg Traurig and Hayes have since said they did not provide any advance information to Height (Bunis, 5/2).

The Washington Post: Intel For Investors: What's Going On Behind Closed Doors In Washington
The Washington-based firm Height Securities is a small player in a burgeoning financial field where companies seek to acquire valuable information about even the most minor of federal actions and provide it to investors. Yet a stock brokerage with only $7 million in reported annual revenue, a pittance by Wall Street standards, was apparently able to provoke a major surge in market trading. After Height Securities alerted clients to a pending government decision favoring health-care insurers, trading spiked in the shares of major health-care firms. With a federal investigation underway into these events, the activities have gained public attention (Markon and Yang, 5/2).

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