Weekend update

Congress is back at it this week on Capitol Hill. (Actually the Senate snuck in a few votes early last week when it was supposed to be on a break.)

We are entering the second week of the Federal Benefits Open Season. A reader submitted a FEHBlog comment  late last week asking about a particular plan’s prescription drug coverage. Because the FEHBlog represents FEHB plans, he will not post comments about plans, either positive or negative.  However, if readers want to email the FEHBlog with questions, he will try to help out.

Also this week, the federal agencies are issuing their financial statements for the fiscal year  that ended September 30, 2015.  Here is a Federal News Radio article on the Postal Service’s financial report which indicates that the Postal Service is banking, in part, on Sen. Carper’s postal service health program measure.  That measure would fully integrate Postal Service annuitant coverage with Medicare while preserving the existing risk pool structure — employees and annuitants in the same risk pool per plan option.

Finally, the FEHBlog’s attention was drawn to the Boston Globe article on health insurer efforts to tackle our country’s opioid abuse crisis with supported for those afflicted by it.

The growing costs — in the billions of dollars nationally — have spurred insurers to tackle the opioid problem through a variety of new measures, including imposing restrictions on prescriptions for painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin, because addiction often starts with such drugs, lifting restrictions for addiction treatment, and deploying case managers and coaches to guide patients through treatment.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, which first put limits on opioid prescriptions three years ago, is now contacting its members who are in detox programs to help coordinate their care and prevent relapses. Boston Medical Center HealthNet Plan, a subsidiary of Boston Medical Center, has assigned staff to call and visit members with addiction to help them find and stick with treatments.
Neighborhood Health Plan, the insurance arm of Partners HealthCare, where nearly 9 percent of members were diagnosed with substance abuse in the last year, recently partnered with Massachusetts General Hospital to hire a recovery coach to help members stay sober.

Well done.