President Donald Trump said on Monday that China is ready to come back to the negotiating table and the two countries will start talking very seriously.Politicsread more
The escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing dominated discussions at the G-7 gathering in France.Politicsread more
The latest round of tariff announcements in the last few days means that by the end of the year, essentially all Chinese goods exported to the U.S. will be subject to duties.China Economyread more
Futures fell after Trump said the U.S. will raise tariffs on more than $500 billion worth of Chinese imports, increasing trade tensions.Marketsread more
As Washington and Beijing continue to up the ante in their protracted trade fight, the potential of a recession in the U.S. is now "the biggest concern," according to Standard...US Economyread more
Tensions stemming from the U.S.-China trade war escalated sharply over the last few days, with much happening as Asian markets were shut down for the weekend.China Economyread more
Clouding the G-7 gathering, which represents the world's major industrial economies, are the tit-for-tat tariffs between Washington and Beijing.Politicsread more
Neither the U.S. nor China wants to be seen as the party that derailed trade talks, says William Reinsch of Center for Strategic and International Studies.World Economyread more
China said Friday it will be resuming 25% duties on U.S. autos, and a further 5% on auto parts and components.Asia Marketsread more
World leaders, environmental groups and celebrities have publicly decried the vast swaths of forest being destroyed by the fires.World Newsread more
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung says the Singapore government has been preparing for the challenge of an aging workforce "for the past 20 years."Employmentread more
UnitedHealth Group has bought up thousands of medical practices all over the country through its Optum unit in deals that have helped its insurance networks hold down costs. Now, the health-care giant says it's setting its sights on small hospitals — not to buy them, but to help them stay independent.
United's Optum is launching a new partnership with John Muir Health aimed at helping the small Northern California hospital operator become more competitive with its larger rivals in the Bay Area.
"We don't really want to sell to a larger system or get acquired," said Chris Pass, John Muir's chief financial officer. "We know we need to get ourselves to a lower cost both for employers and employees. We think this is one of the best options we have to do that."
Optum will take over the hospital's billing and revenue functions and will hire more than 500 John Muir employees involved in that back-office work. Optum, which already provides smaller insurers with analytics and consulting, says the partnership presents an opportunity to grow its business with hospitals.
"Optum is not in the business of owning and operating health systems. … We see this kind of partnership as a model," said Nick Howell, Optum senior vice president. "A lot of health systems out there are facing similar cost pressures and … are trying to find ways to remain independent. We believe this is a new third option for them."
The expansion of Optum's health services, pharmacy benefits and analytics unit into new areas of health care has made it a major earnings driver for UnitedHealth Group. Optum accounted for more than 40% of net profits in the first quarter this year.
On Thursday, United is expected to report second-quarter profits of $3.45 per share, up nearly 10% year over year, on revenue of $60.58 billion, according to analyst consensus estimates from Refinitiv.
Last April, the company's shares fell following its earnings call, after CEO David Wichmann was critical of "Medicare for All" proposals by Democratic presidential hopefuls who want to eliminate private health insurers. But the political headwinds have now shifted. This week, Democratic contender Joe Biden, who leads in the polls, outlined his proposal to expand Obamacare rather than eliminating private insurance.
"Investors now seem to better appreciate the low odds of radical health reform (i.e., Medicare for All) and understand the broad support for managed care across all but the 'hard left' of the spectrum," analyst Matt Borsch of BMO Capital markets wrote in a research note to clients.
Investors will now watch Optum's new efforts with health systems, but hospitals may watch even more closely. Optum's acquisition of medical groups has made its Optum Care a formidable competitor to some health system provider groups. And some of the company's past alliances, such as its partnership with Surgical Care Associates, ultimately led to the Optum acquiring all of the outpatient surgical center business.
"In the Bay Area — knock on wood — Optum Care has not penetrated the market," said Pass. "We think this is something … that can really be great for both parties, if we execute."
Financial terms of the new partnership were not disclosed.