A friend called my attention to the fact that next Wednesday August 31 is the deadline for submitting comments to the Labor Department’s mental health parity task force.  The FEHBlog will provide his comments to you.  The national mental health parity law requires health plans to separate our mental health and substance abuse benefits so that they can be compared to medical and surgical benefits. The FEHBlog’s suggestion is to end the benefits siloing (simply cover hospitalizations and office visits for all diagnoses just the way that prescription drugs are covered now) and focus instead on network adequacy for all providers, including mental health providers.

Here’s a link to a Blue Cross report on caesarian deliveries which happily finds that

While geographic disparities exist, the data found a consistent decline in the national rate of cesarean births reversing a 20-year trend of increasing rates. During a five-year period between July 2010 and June 2015, the cesarean rate decreased slightly each year within the Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) member population, to 33.7 percent from 35.2 percent. The 1.5 percentage point decrease in cesarean deliveries represents approximately 36,000 more vaginal births than expected during the five-year study period. 

The FEHBlog also was happy to read that the Surgeon General has “sent a letter to 2.3 million American health professionals, asking them
to lead a national movement to turn the tide on the nation’s
prescription opioid epidemic.”   The letter also included a copy of the CDC’s pocket guide on prescribing opioids.

On the not so bright side, the Federal Times reports on the growing prospect for a jump in 2017 Medicare Part B premiums for CSRS annuitants (absent Congressional action).