Let’s start out with a little appointment news. The Federal Times reports that yesterday the Senate confirmed former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to be the new Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Mr.Donovan replaces Sylvia Mathews Burwell who is not HHS Secretary.  OMB basically runs the federal bureaucracy. Federal News Radio reports that the President has nominated OMB Senior Advisor Anna Rung to be the next Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy within OMB. OFFP is in charge of federal contracting which impacts the FEHBP because all FEHB plans are created by federal contracts. Finally, HHS Secretary Burwell has appointed Jocelyn Samuels to be head of the HHS Office for Civil Rights. Ms. Samuels replaces Leon Rodriguez. Both Ms. Samuels and Mr. Rodriguez came to OCR from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. OCR is responsible for enforcing the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules.

The Wall Street Journal’s Pharmalot blog reports that the European Union and two U.S. Senators are putting new pressure on Gilead to lower the astronomical price of its Hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi.  As the FEHBlog has noted, Gildead’s brazen pricing policy has emboldened other drug manufacturers to raise prices, even in relatively sleepy markets like vaccines and generic drugs that have been on the generic market for many years.

Finally, Forbes lists the ten most expensive cities for healthcare in the U.S.  The Forbe report is based on a Castlight Health study of most and least expensive U.S. cities for common healthcare procedures. Here’s a link the Castlight’s interactive map.