Weekend update

This is the last full week for the Federal Benefits Open Season, which ends on December 12.

Congress continues at work on Capitol Hill this week. We can expect that Congress will extend the continuing resolution funding the federal government which expires this coming Friday.  The FEHBlog thinks it’s safe to say that there is no chance of a government shutdown due to a funding lapse. The question on the table is how long to extend the resolution. Here is a link to The Week in Congress’s report on last week’s actions.

Following up on the Congressional hearing on federal long term care insurance premiums discussed in last Thursday’s post, the FEHBlog is offering a link to the NARFE testimony which includes a laundry list of possible reforms.  The federal long term care insurance act was developed and enacted at the turn of the century as they say. The Wall Street Journal points out in this article that the long term care market launched in the 1990s based on key pricing errors and peaking right at the time that the law was passed, the year 2000.  Bad mojo.

The Hartford Courant brings us up to date on the trial over the federal government’s effort to block the Anthem-Cigna merger.  The trial over the government’s effort to block other big health insurer merger – Aetna and Humana — starts today also in the federal district court here in Washington, D.C. Both cases are tried to a federal district judge, not to a jury.

On the innovation front,

  • Medcity News discusses three telehealth approaches “which show how the sector is diversifying.” One of then is the American Well / Tyto Care approach that the FEHBlog noted on Friday. Check out the article to read about the other two.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday about Aspire Health, a start up company lead by former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who is an MD.  Aspire Health’s objective is to use claims data to identify plan members who are expect to die in the next year and “lower their medical costs by providing palliative care in their homes.”  “The Nashville-based company, which recently won $32 million in funding from GV (formerly called Google Ventures), has managed the care of more than 20,000 Medicare Advantage patients in 19 states in exchange for a monthly fee. It estimates that it can save health plans $8,000 to $12,000 per patient.” Interesting.