Weekend Wrap-Up / Miscellany

  • The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced this week that it is expanding the Open Season guide, which traditionally has focused on the FEHB Program, to include the federal supplemental dental and vision program (FEDVIP) and federal flexible spending account (FEDFSA) offerings. OPM’s benefits administration letter explained that

    You can find more information about these programs at www.opm.gov/insure. OPM will post FEDVIP and FEHB premiums for 2008 in mid-September. You will be able to find specific Federal Benefits Open Season information on our web site during the first week of November. The 2007 Federal Benefits Open Season will be held from Monday, November 12, 2007, through Monday, December 10, 2007.

  • On a weekly basis, I scout around the HHS website for interesting Medicare and health information technology information. The week, I discovered that HHS Secretary Leavitt has his own blog where he currently is reporting on his trip to Africa. On the more mundane front, CMS completed the third phase of its regulation project to implement the Stark Act’s prohibition against physician self-referral of Medicare business. The press release notes that “the Phase III final rule eliminates the requirement that entities providing professional courtesy provide written notice to an insurer of a reduction of any coinsurance obligation.”
  • The New York Times reports that the American Cancer will devote its entire $15 million advertising budget to the issue of covering the uninsured.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released child and adolescent vaccination rates on Thursday. The CDC voiced concern over lagging vaccination rates for older children:

    The percentage of adolescents who had received recommended vaccines varied widely by both vaccine and age, with the nation′s Healthy People 2010 goals for adolescents ages 13-15 years not being met for any of the vaccines.
    The lowest estimates were associated with the most recently recommended vaccines. About 60 percent of 13-to-17 year olds received a tetanus-diphtheria or tetanus, reduced diphtheria and acellular pertussis vaccination since age 10, but only 10.8 percent for tetanus, reduced diphtheria and acellular pertussis alone, and 11.7 percent had received a meningococcal conjugate vaccine vaccination. “The new survey information shows we have more work to do to protect older children from vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Dr. Melinda Wharton, deputy director of CDC′s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “We need to continue to build awareness of these recommendations among parents and health care providers, and we need to continue our efforts to educate everyone about the health benefits of these vaccines.” Wharton encouraged parents of all 11- and 12-year-olds to have their child get a routine checkup as a way to ensure the children receive recommended vaccinations.