The Federal Times reports about three things that federal employees should watch ahead of the FEHB Open Season in November. The first item is the jump in Federal Long Term Care Insurance premiums that the FEHBlog has noted.  Joe Davidson from the Washington Post lets readers rant about the jump today. Tammy Flanagan from provides some sound advice in the FEHBlog’s view. The second item is the once in a blue moon Federal Employee Group Life Insurance Program open season which occurs in September, and the third concerns the FEHB Open Season.

The rest of today’s items also are follow-ups:

  • Anti-trust lawsuit update. Business Insurance reports that “Cigna CEO David Cordani told investment analysts {today] that the insurer had stepped back to evaluate its options, but remains “fully engaged” in the [Anthem] merger process and will support Anthem as it takes on the Justice Department’s lawsuit independently.  That publication also advises that the Justice Department is opposing the defendants’ motions to expedite the trials. The FEHBlog thinks that the defendants have the stronger argument on this issue.
  • Medicare Hospital Star Ratings. NPR reports that many well known hospitals received low star ratings from Medicare. 

In a statement, Rick Pollack, president of the American Hospital Association, called the new ratings confusing for patients and families. “Health care consumers making critical decisions about their care cannot be expected to rely on a rating system that raises far more questions than answers,” he said. “We are especially troubled that the current ratings scheme unfairly penalizes teaching hospitals and those serving higher numbers of the poor.”

This calls the credibility of the ratings into question, in the FEHBlog’s view. In the FEHBlog’s experience, your best bet is to ask a nurse about hospital quality.

  • Zika.   The Washington Post reports that “Florida and federal officials on Friday confirmed the first local spread of the Zika virus through infected mosquitoes in the continental United States.” The Boston Globe’s STAT helpfully offers a daily Zika update. On the bright side, STAT reports that

A group of researchers has identified two dozen Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs that have shown some ability to block Zika from infecting human cells in the lab, according to a paper published Thursday in the journal Cell Host & Microbe. Some of these drugs — which treat infections, cancers, and even depression— also showed potential to prevent infection in certain cells tied to fetal defects in pregnant women. The research is preliminary and does not have immediate implications for people wanting to protect themselves from a Zika infection. Instead, it provides a winnowed list of drugs to study further, said Dr. Mariano Garcia-Blanco, the paper’s senior author.


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