April 16: You know the saying, the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. Well, National Healthcare Decision Day comes on the heels of tax day. Organized by the Conversation Project, an offshoot of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, it’s a day designed to highlight the importance of advance planning and to “encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers and facilities to respect those wishes, whatever they may be.” According to a 2017 study in Health Affairs, only 36.7% of Americans have an advance directive.
April 16: UnitedHealth Group is set to release its Q1 financials and Wall Street watchers are banking on solid growth. Zacks Investment Research predicts higher membership and revenue. Strong performance by Optum is predicted to be among the company’s biggest contributors. That would certainly build off of the trend from 2018 when Optum showed no signs of weakness and cracked the $100 billion annual revenue mark for the first time. UnitedHealthcare picked up 2.4 million more members in 2018, bringing its total membership as of Dec. 31 to 49.1 million, an increase of 5.1% from 2017. Johnson & Johnson is also expected to deliver its latest earnings. Thus far, Big Pharma appears to be unscathed from a series of congressional inquiries into drug prices. J&J officials are expected to talk about the $3.4 billion acquisition that subsidiary Ethicon made of surgical robotics developer Auris Health.
April 16 & 20: This week marks the anniversaries of two of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. April 16 is the 12th anniversary of the shooting at Virginia Tech where a gunman killed 32 people. And April 20 is the 20th anniversary of the shooting that left 13 dead at Columbine High School. Reporter Steven Ross Johnson’s story examines how a dearth of funding to study the public health implications of gun violence stymies efforts to find viable solutions.