Mid-week update

Acting OPM Director Beth Cobert appeared before a House Appropriations subcommittee on Monday afternoon to discuss her agency’s FY 2017 proposed budget.  The hearing, which lasted about 70 minutes, focused on the Obama adminstration’s new approach to conducting background investigations and OPM’s efforts to remediate the massive data breach. Here’s a link to an FCW article on the latter topic.

Last month, CVS Health issued a 2015 prescription drug trends report. Yesterday the other major prescription benefits manager Express Scripts issued its 2015 trend report:

Working collaboratively with our clients, we kept the increase in drug spending to just 5.2% in 2015, roughly half the increase seen in 2014. More importantly, at a time when many plans around the country have been shifting more costs to patients via higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, Express Scripts members’ average copayment decreased 3.2% last year. 

Here’s a link to an Employee Benefits News interview with Express Scripts’ Chief Medical Officer Steve Miller about the report.

Kudos to the Drug Channels blog for expand sharing and expanding on the FEHBlog’s reservations about the Obama Administration’s proposal to control Medicare Part B drug spending.

And here are a few more quick hits:

  • HHS’s Office for Civil Rights smacked a Minnesota healthcare provider with a $1.55 million fine for failing to comply the business associate agreement and risk assessment provisions of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules.
  • Health Data Management reports that CMS plans to roll out thousands of new ICD-10 codes effective October 1, 2016. Oh joy. Most of them are new hospital procedure codes. 
  • Modern Healthcare reports that electronic medical record systems begin to bury doctors in electronic messages as interoperability grows. Get used to it, doc.
  • Employee Benefits News also interviewed the new CEO of the National Business Coalition on Health (not to be confused with the National Business Group on Health).
  • The Minnesota Star Tribune reports about a small United Healthcare subsidiary Harken Health based in Chicago that sells health coverage in competition with its big sister. 

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