It’s been quite a year for healthcare in the news. From Washington’s epic healthcare reform battle to the mega merger of CVS and Aetna. Here’s a look back at the top five healthcare stories that made headlines in 2017:

The fate of the Affordable Care Act

Of course we should start with the failed Trump administration efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The fate of Obamacare is still up for debate as the repeal wasn’t the only threat to the ACA. Recently, Trump moved forward an executive order to end key ACA subsidies and has the potential to severely impact the law’s marketplaces moving forward. Vox’s Sarah Kliff has done a fantastic job of covering the incredible saga of the ACA in 2017 if you need to catch up on all the gory details.

The opioid crisis

As more and more people were impacted by the crisis, it continued to dominate headlines. In April, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price announced that HHS would provide $485 million in grants to help states combat opioid addiction as part of the 21st Century Cures Act. For a better understanding of the potential impact of the crisis, see STAT’s sobering special report suggesting that opioids may kill as many as half a million Americans over the next decade.

Continued sky rocketing drug costs

The issue of grossly inflated drug prices remained a hot topic of debate and scrutiny in Washington and beyond. In September, The New York Times teamed up with ProPublica for an incredible investigative piece that tried to get to the heart of why the cost of drugs remains so high in this country.

When and how will Amazon enter the healthcare industry?

This fall, speculation around the online retail giant’s potential entrance into prescription drug distribution, a $450 billion industry, began to swirl, especially after it was reported that Amazon was approved for wholesale pharmacy licenses for at least 12 states. CNBC’s Christina Farr has been tracking Amazon’s moves as they seem to inch closer to the drug distribution business.


Mergers and acquisitions are always a hot topic in the healthcare stories we saw this year. Back in January, a federal judge ruled against Humana’s proposed acquisition by its larger rival, Aetna. And now the year is coming to a close with Aetna in the headlines again. This time, retail chain CVS Health plans to purchase Aetna for $69 billion in a deal that is the largest that insurance industry has ever seen. Speculation remains rampant as to what the merger may mean for primary care, drug costs and the future of the healthcare industry.

As we close the books on 2017, we can only guess at what lies ahead, but my bet is that trends like AI and VR, more mega-mergers, major changes in healthcare policy will dominate headlines in 2018. I think we will also continue to see retail and tech giants like Amazon, Google and Apple dipping their toes in the healthcare industry.

What healthcare stories do you think we have in store for 2018?

Jen Toole
Account Director, Healthcare


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