Weekend Update

Following up on Friday’s post about the new executive order, here are links to that order and a related Wall Street Journal article attempting to read the tea leaves.  Also on Friday, the President’s chief of staff issued a regulatory freeze memorandum.  The Washington Post explains that

The memo states that federal agencies cannot send new regulations to the Office of the Federal Register — a key step in the finalization of new rules — until Trump’s administration has leaders in place to approve what these agencies are doing. Moreover, it also states that regulations that have been sent to the office but have not yet made it into the published register need to be withdrawn. The Obama administration issued a similar memorandum right after the president took office in 2009.

There are no FEHBP related rules that fall into this category.

Congress continues in session this week on Capitol Hill.  Both Houses are getting organized.  The Senate is busy with Presidential nominations and several pieces of legislation that the House already has sent over for consideration.

Several press organizations including Fierce Healthcare report that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson is expected to issue her final ruling in the government’s anti-trust case to block the Anthem-Cigna merger.  The prognosticators predict a government victory.  Anthem is already engaged in contingency planning for an appeal.  U.S. District Judge John Bates also is expected to rule this month in the government’s anti-trust case to block the Aetna-Humana merger.

Last week, HHS’s Office for Civil Rights announced its last HIPAA compliance scalp for the Obama Administration era.  The change in administration’s is not expected to affect this agency’s HIPAA enforcement approach.

Finally here are some innovation tidbits:

  • TechCrunch reports on a high tech approach to concierge medicine recently opened in San Francisco under the trade name Forward.   According to the article, 

One might be tempted to compare Forward to something like One Medical, a startup with a series of well-branded medical offices popular in the Bay Area. But Forward goes far and above with a state-of-the-art 3,500 square foot office equipped with six exam rooms, the latest medical instruments and an onsite lab for testing within minutes.

    • Health Payer Intelligence reports about “UnitedHealthcare’s bundled payment model for hip, knee and back surgery [which] is called The Spine and Joint Solution. The health plan under this bundled payment model is now available to employers around the country. UnitedHealthcare has partnered with hospitals and post-acute care facilities that have experience with spine and joint replacement surgeries and show few complications.
    • Finally, Minnesota Public Radio News reports that 

    A big Minnesota hospital system is joining forces with a major health insurance company — Allina Health on Wednesday announced a joint venture with Aetna.

    CEO Penny Wheeler said the partnership with Aetna is meant to reduce the financial burden on patients, mainly by keeping them from getting sick in the first place. She said coordinating patient data with the insurer is the key.

    “For example, you have a frail elderly patient with diabetes who’s unable to get a prescription filled. And by combining information with our side of the organization — the clinical information — with the claims information from the insurance side, we can intervene and help support them in getting the medication they have so they avoid trouble,” she said.

    Wheeler said Allina will remain a nonprofit system, and the combined venture is not a merger, but rather a separate for-profit company.

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