Midweek update supplement

Whoops, I realized today that the Senate is in session this week. The Hill reports that the Senate is tearing apart the House’s mental health reform bill, which is a shame in the FEHBlog’s view. The House is out of town.

Stat reports on an HHS report on prescription drug spending which accompanied the Medicare Part B drug spending control initiative announcement yesterday. Needless to say cost curve up.  In this regard, Drug Channels discusses the top 15 speciality pharmacies here.

In a Benefits listserv message on Monday, OPM announced  at least to the FEHBlog’s surprise that

This Listserv is a follow up to BAL 14-205 dated April 14, 2014 and BAL 15-206 dated September 28, 2015, concerning the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program Family Member Audit).  BAL 15-206, advised that OPM contracted with HMS Federal Solutions to perform the audit.  The purpose of this ListServ is to inform you that the audit is postponed indefinitely.   OPM will notify the agencies when we are prepared to move forward.

Also on Monday, OPM awarded the FSA Feds administration contract to WageWorks. Presumably the change from ADP to WageWorks will take effect on 1-1-2017. Here is a link to the WageWorks press release.  

In other government contracting news, HHS gave a two year contract to Accenture for the purpose of establishing “a framework of best practices for the effective use of patient-generated health data (PGHD) [e.g. Fitbit results] in research and care delivery.” MobiHealth’s report on the contract adds that

The preference for remote doctor visits is increasing too: 29 percent said they prefer virtual visits to in-person ones with their doctors. That’s up from 24 percent in 2014. The benefits of remote visits are apparent to both consumers and doctors. Lower costs are one such benefit, according to 58 percent of consumers and 62 percent of doctors, while convenience is a benefit, according to 52 percent of consumers and 80 percent of docs. Timely access to care was cited as a benefit of virtual care by 42 percent of consumers and 49 percent of physicians.