Midweek update

A common thread running through the recent mass murder tragedies in our country is severe mental illness.  As the Senate prepares to close up for the August recess, Modern Healthcare reports that a bipartisan mental health reform bill is emerging from that body. The FEHBlog will keep an eye on that proposed legislation that “has yet to provoke early criticism.”

Over the past ten days, the “Big 5” publicly traded health insurance companies have been reporting second quarter 2015 earnings. Fierce Healthcare tells us that those reports have been better than expected due to, among other factors, a lower benefits utilization trend.

Kaiser Health News reports that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services again will be penalizing half of U.S. hospitals due to bad hospital readmission scores. “Since the fines began [in 2011], national readmission rates have dropped, but roughly one of every five Medicare patients sent to the hospital ends up returning within a month.”  The FEHBlog can’t blame this one on the hospitals because having strong caregiver / family support outside the hospital is key to avoiding re-admissions and that’s not a given.

Drug Channels gives us a preview of 2016 Rx formulary changes at Express Scripts and CVS Caremark, the two biggest prescription benefit managers. OPM has been encouraging carriers to adopt such formularies.

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