Weekend update

Congress remains at work on Capitol Hill this week. Here is a link to the Week in Congress’s report on last week’s activities on Capitol Hill. The FEHBlog did notice that the U.S. Senate has freshenened up its website.

Here are a few tidbits from last week’s OPM AHIP FEHBP carrier conference:

  • OPM’s medical director, Dr. Christine Hunter, received a prestigious Presidential Rank award from President Obama last December. What’s more, OPM’s FEHBP tribal coverage desk received a Presidential customer service award.  Mazaal tov! 21,000 Indian tribal employees who work for 100 tribes are covered under the FEHBP. 
  • A National Business Group on Health speaker called attention to his group’s issue brief on specialty pharmacy costs. In that regard, a CVS medical director predicted that the biosimilar market will “take off” in three to four year. The FEHBlog certainly hopes so. 
  • OPM’s unlocktalent.gov is a data visualization tool that’s
    available to the public.  The tool
    includes Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and the Enterprise Human Resources
    Integration database.  To see the publicly available information, you need to scroll down the home page.  There’s a United States map that shows where federal employees live, for example. Federal employees can register for a deeper dive. 
Modern Healthcare reported last week that two large prescription benefit managers, CVS and Express Scripts, are offering direct to consumer products for folks with high deductible plans, among others. 
A colleague pointed out to me that Govinfo Security reports that

The Trump administration has named Roger Severino as the new director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, which enforces HIPAA[‘s Privacy and Security rules] and protects patients rights.
An OCR spokesperson confirmed on March 24 that Severino had been named to the position, and his bio has been posted on the office’s website.
Meanwhile, former Rep. John Fleming, R-La., has reportedly been selected for the newly created position of deputy assistant secretary for health technology. It’s not yet clear whether Fleming would lead HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. ONC oversees standards and policies for the HITECH Act electronic health records “meaningful use” financial incentive program, and also carries out various health IT-related provisions in the 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law last year.

Finally, Fierce Healthcare reports that last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that the agency is delaying at least until October 1, 2017, the mandatory Medicare bundled payment programs that the Obama Administration rolled out last year.  “The latest delay came as welcome news to the Federation of American Hospitals and the American Hospital Association, which expressed concern last year that the accelerated pace of the program.”