Midweek update

Today FEHBP carriers can breathe a sigh of relief as the 2018 benefit and rate proposal submission deadline now has passed.

Drug manufacturers can’t as NPR reports the Ohio Attorney General has filed a lawsuit seeking to hold five prescription drug manufacturers financially liable for the opioid crisis in that State.  The Wall Street Journal understandably sees parallels to, and distinctions with, the State Attorneys General lawsuit against the tobacco companies which was settled in 1998.  This no doubt will be an   intensively litigated lawsuit that will prompt more.  Medicaid has spend a ton of money on this problem which still exists.

Speaking of prescription drugs, Healthcare Dive discusses new value based reimbursement models used in a recent contract between Optum and Merck.

Closing the loop, Healthcare Dive reports that the Texas Governor has signed into law the State legislatures bill that allows telehealth vendors to operate in that large, populous State.  “The relaxed restrictions allow direct-to-consumer telehealth vendors like Teladoc, American Well and Doctor On Demand to establish videoconferencing operations nationwide.”

Fierce Healthcare reports on a study showing that every reason still exists for health plans to use benefit designs that avoid unnecessary emergency room utilization.

Finally, CMS introduced on Tuesday a new Medicare enrollment card that uses “a unique, randomly-assigned number called a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), to replace the Social Security-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) currently used on the Medicare card. CMS will begin mailing new cards in April 2018 and will meet the congressional deadline for replacing all Medicare cards by April 2019.”

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