Weekend Update

Both Houses of Congress will be in session on Capitol Hill this coming week. Friday is the deadline for Congress to pass an FY 2017 budget resolution. The Hill discusses the significance of the date here.

The Washington Post this morning featured a story on an unfortunate woman from rural Oklahoma who died at age 54 due to alchohol abuse.  The bright light in this sad story is a rural letter carrier.  The Post used the story as evidence to support its lead story asserting that

progress for middle-aged white Americans is lagging in many places — and has stopped entirely in smaller cities and towns and the vast open reaches of the country. The things that reduce the risk of death are now being overwhelmed by things that elevate it, including opioid abuse, heavy drinking, smoking and other self-destructive behaviors.
White men are also dying in midlife at unexpectedly high rates. But the most extreme changes in mortality have occurred among white women, who are far more likely than their grandmothers to be smokers, suffer from obesity or drink themselves to death.

The stories are worth reading.   Public health problems like these are very complicated and broadly based that can’t be solved with HEDIS scores.

As an aside, Kaiser Health News reports that majority of consumers according to a recent Health Affairs study don’t “associate price with quality” which in the FEHBlog’s view is an accurate perception that should help health plans.