Finally! Some Details About the Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and J.P. Morgan Chase Project

The main goal of Atul Gawande’s effort: Make health care intelligible.

Thanks to a judge’s order to unseal testimony, some information about what can reasonable be termed the “top-secret” Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and J.P. Morgan Chase project came to light yesterday. Not much, but something, which is better than the nothing we’ve gotten so far from the project headed by Atul Gawande.

And that information only came to light thanks to a lawsuit filed by Stat and the Wall Street Journal demanding that the testimony of company COO Jack Stoddard be made public. Stoddard gave testimony in a lawsuit filed by Optum, UnitedHealth Group’s PBM. Optum wants a court order blocking one of its former top executives, David Smith, from sharing confidential data he allegedly acquired just before jumping to ABC, which is how the project by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and J.P. Morgan Chase is referred to in Stoddard’s testimony.

That’s the first bit of info; the company still doesn’t have a formal name. It’s called ABC or (and how’s this for a tongue-twister?) TCORP062018, its incorporation number.

Judge Mark L. Wolf noted that the transcript didn’t include details that weren’t already known. But as Stat notes “Stoddard’s answers to questions the judge asked provide the most succinct, coherent, and comprehensive overview of what the company believes it will do.”

About making health care more intelligible, Stoddard said: “It’s very difficult for the employees when we talk to them to be able to understand what’s covered, to afford their coverage. These are fulfillment center workers. These are call center workers.”

But the most interesting exchange occurred between Stoddard and Stephen Riden, one of Optum’s lawyers because it underscores just how much ABC officials want to avoid the public eye.

Riden: “I’m not trying to get confidential information.”

Stoddard: “That’s all it feels like you’ve done.”

It was also revealed that finding sources for data will be Smith's main job of Smith.

Stoddard: “We’re setting up our company, so we have to figure out what data do we need. What data do we have, what insights can we glean from that data around cost and quality of care so that we can help then make that available as we think about helping patients choose doctors that are going to help them get better outcomes on the quality side at the best price.”