Monday Update

The Weekend Update has become the Monday Update this week because yesterday the FEHBlog had the privilege of watching Stephen Strasburg, one of the Washington National’s outstanding pitchers, toss his first complete game shutdown. The game started at 5:05 pm. It was a thrill,

Congress is out until after Labor Day. Before heading out of town, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved 51-0 a legislative fix to the broken sustainable rate of growth formula that sets Medicare Part B reimbursements. The AMA News features a full report.

The AMA News also offers a tool to allow doctors and health plans know which screenings should be offered with no-cost sharing in 2014. The list can be broken down by gender and age group. (Technically the ACA only applies this requirement to non-grandfathered plans but OPM has directed all FEHB plans to comply with the requirement.)

AHIP issued a report on health plan efforts to improve health literacy. Illustrating the great ying and yang of life, Kaiser Health News reports on health insurer use of Twitter to improve customer service.

“Social media gives us a tremendous opportunity to learn what the community needs,” said Carissa O’Brien, social media director at Aetna.

She works with six people to address the approximately 250 people who seek help through social media with claims or other services each month. O’Brien said the team tries to respond within an hour to users, who tend to be between 35 and 54 years old.

The FEHBlog particularly enjoys following Twitter while watching sporting events on television.

Finally, in a bit of good litigation news, the American Lawyer reports that  a federal district court in Maryland ruled against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a case challenging Freeman Inc’s use of credit history and criminal background checks.

In his opinion Friday, Judge Roger Titus wrote that while “some specific uses of criminal and credit background checks may be discriminatory and violate the provision of Title VII, the EEOC bears the burden of applying reliable expert testimony and statistical analysis that demonstrates disparate impact stemming from a specific employment practice before such a violation can be found.”

The judge was derisive of the EEOC’s evidence. This is an important decision because the HIPAA Security Rule encourages, if not requires, the use of such background checks on health plan employees who have access to protected health information.

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