Midweek update

The Washington Post reports that the Obama Administration does not plan to publicly blame, or retaliate, against China for the OPM breaches.

“We have chosen not to make any official assertions about attribution at this point,” said a senior administration official, despite the widely held conviction that Beijing was responsible. The official cited factors including concern that making a public case against China could require exposing details of the United States’ own espionage and cyberspace capabilities.

The government evidently is more willing to sanction economic cyberespionage. Given our country’s history, this seems odd to the FEHBlog. So let’s turn to a few health benefits items.

According to Modern Healthcare, Medicare has decided to test allowing hospices to provide both curative and palliative care to terminally ill patients.

The Medicare Care Choices Model, established by the Affordable Care Act, waives the requirement that terminally ill patients must end curative treatment such as chemotherapy to qualify for Medicare hospice coverage. The model, which will run [at 140 facilities] through 2020, will test [beginning in January 2016] whether the expanded benefits will convince more patients to enter hospice and whether it improves care, enhances patient satisfaction, and reduces costs.

Christmas came early for hospices this year.

Modern Healthcare also reports that

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review will begin releasing reports that will compare clinical effectiveness of [emerging] drugs, compare prices and their potential impact on the U.S. healthcare system and economy. The agency will then set a value-based benchmark for pricing.  * * *

The first ICER evaluations- which will focus on [pricey] PCSK9 inhibitors for cholesterol and a new Novartis heart failure drug called Entresto – are expected the first week of September. Pearson says future evaluations will be closely timed with new therapies that are in the pipeline for approval for by the Food and Drug Administration, as insurers and others must make decisions about clinical use and coverage relatively soon after approval.

This sounds helpful.

And speaking of helpful ongoing projects, Science Daily reminds us that the Choosing Wisely campaign is continuing its good work of identifying medical procedures that evidently have passed their sell by date.  The latest batch of procedures were identified by neonatologists.

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