Weekend update

The FEHBlog is back inside the Capital Beltway. The House of Representatives has left town but the Senate will remain in residence until Thursday. Here is a link to the Week in Congress’s review of last week’s action on Capitol Hill.  

It’s also worth noting that the U.S. Supreme Court wraps up its October 2015 term tomorrow.  The Hill provides a summary here.

Avik Roy offers his useful insights into the Republican’s alternative approach to health care reform that Speaker Paul Ryan released last week.

OPM provided details on the transition of the flexible spending account administrator role from ADP to WageWorks on September 1.

Healthcare IT News reports that according to a recent KMPG survey “nearly half of responding healthcare [system] executives expect that the [government mandated] move from volume to value will adversely impact revenue, which makes investing in technologies  [e.g., telemedicine] even more critical to competing in the market.”

Louisville Business First reports that Aetna and Humana have agreed to extend the deadline for completing their merger to December 31, 2016, which is consistent with previous management projections for a second half of 2016 close.

Kaiser Health News reports on the demise of the nasal flu vaccine — FluMist — that until recently had been favored for use by young children.

On Wednesday [June 22, 2016], an advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted that — though it continues to be important to be vaccinated against the flu — the spray version was so ineffective that it should not be used by anyone during the 2016-2017 flu season.
Just two years ago, that same Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended FluMist as the preferred alternative for most kids ages 2-8, after reviewing several studies from 2006-2007 that suggested the spray was more effective in kids than the injectable forms of the vaccine.
What changed to make the spray so much less effective than studies had shown it to be in the past? The bottom line is that right now “we don’t understand what it is,” said David Kimberlin, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who said academic researchers and those at MedImmune, a subsidiary of Astra Zeneca that makes the vaccine, are working to get answers. 

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