Federal court rules in favor of health care price transparency

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration won a court ruling Tuesday upholding its plan to require hospitals and insurers to disclose the actual prices for common tests and procedures in a bid to promote competition and push down costs.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar called the decision in federal court in Washington, D.C., “a resounding victory” for President Donald Trump’s efforts to open up the convoluted world of health care pricing so patients and families can make better-informed decisions about their care.

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But the American Hospital Association, which sued to block the Trump administration regulation and was on the losing side, announced it would appeal. Industry officials argue that forcing the disclosure of prices negotiated between hospitals and insurers amounts to coercion.

IMF lowers forecast for global economic growth

WASHINGTON — The International Monetary Fund has sharply lowered its forecast for global growth this year because it envisions far more severe economic damage from the coronavirus than it did just two months ago.

The IMF predicts that the global economy will shrink 4.9% this year, significantly worse than the 3% drop it had estimated in its previous report in April. The IMF said that the global economic damage from the recession will be worse than from any other downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

For the United States, it predicts that the nation’s gross domestic product — the value of all goods and services produced in the United States — will plummet 8% this year, even more than its April estimate of a 5.9% drop. That would be the worst such annual decline since the U.S. economy demobilized in the aftermath of World War II.

Bayer to pay $10.9 billion in Roundup settlement

BERLIN — Bayer will pay up to $10.9 billion to settle litigation over the subsidiary Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup, which has faced thousands of lawsuits over claims it causes cancer, the German-based company said Wednesday.

Bayer said it was also paying up to $1.22 billion to settle two additional areas of intense litigation, one involving PCB in water, and one involving dicamba, another weedkiller.

The company said the Roundup settlement involves about 125,000 filed and unfiled claims..

U.S. gas consumption continues to rise

U.S. gasoline consumption is more than halfway back to pre-COVID-19 levels, according to the Oil Price Information Service, an IHS Markit company.

Fill-ups at the pump fell 49% from 2019 volumes during the second week of April. The most recent OPIS survey shows that demand was down 22% in the second week of June, compared with the year-ago period.

Gasoline sales have been climbing at an average of 6.4% per week since April, according to OPIS President Fred Rozell.

Health and wellness company GNC Holdings has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It is looking to close at least 800 to 1,200 stores.

The company said that it’s looking to restructure its balance sheet at the same time it explores finding a potential buyer, with a minimum purchase price of $760 million.

The company expects to confirm a standalone plan of reorganization or consummate a sale that will allow the business to exit from the bankruptcy process in the fall.

The Associated Press