Mid week update

The Hill reports that the House of Representatives easily passed the fiscal year 2014 omnibus appropriations bill. The Senate is expected to pass the bill this evening.  Congress has extended the continuing resolution funding the federal government until Saturday January 18, just in case. The appropriations bill includes the traditional FEHBP related provisions – the exemption from burdensome full cost accounting standards coverage for FEHB plans (Section 611), the abortion coverage restriction (Sections 613 and 614),  and the contraception coverage mandate (Section 726).  The contraception mandate remains relevant post ACA because it includes exemptions for faith based FEHB plans.  Here’s a link to the bill.  Federal News Radio reports on other provisions that affect the federal workforce.   

Following up on the weekend update post on personalized medicine, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday on the useful expansion of personalized medicine from breast cancer to prostate cancer  .

Researchers say, for instance, that several new genomic prostate-cancer tests can help separate high-risk tumors from those at low or intermediate risk, offering information to doctors and patients to guide treatment choices.
About 240,000 men in the U.S. are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. Most cases are low-risk forms of the disease that will have little effect on their lives or longevity. In these cases, a big concern is that overtreating the cancer puts these men at unnecessary risk for impotence, incontinence and other complications.
About 20% of diagnosed men are considered at high risk for having their cancers spread beyond the prostate gland based on a measure called the Gleason score and other factors. For some men with an aggressive form of the disease, the 10-year-survival rate is well below 50%. “We may not be treating them aggressively enough,” says William Polkinghorn, a radiation oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, in New York.

Keep hope alive.

In another interesting development here’s a link to a press release about how a drug manufacturer Vivus is teaming up with Aetna to offer its new weight loss drug Qsymia as part of Aetna’s lifestyle coaching programs. “The Aetna pilot program is currently being offered to self-insured plan sponsors, and includes outreach to appropriate members and health care providers regarding covered options. Participants in the pilot will also receive free membership to Lose It!, a mobile app provided through Aetna Navigator® and CarePass®, to support weight loss and positive lifestyle changes.”

Finally, CIO magazine reports on how data analytics can help the accountable care organization model succeed in contrast to capitated rates lead to the failure of the gatekeeper HMO model in the 1990s and FierceHealthcare reports on the demonstrated benefits of the patient centered medical homes.

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