Federal News Radio reports that as anticipated “The House Republican Steering Committee on Thursday recommended [South Carolina Rep. Trey] Gowdy for the chairmanship [of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee which has FEHBP oversight responsibility], replacing Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who is leaving Congress at the end of the month. Gowdy beat out Oklahoma Rep. Steve Russell. The full House Republican conference is expected to confirm the choice next week.”  

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee yesterday held a hearing to examine HHS’s role in healthcare cybersecurity. It’s clear that the subcommittee wants HHS to take the lead government role in this effort. HHS’s testimony discusses its accelerated efforts to accept this responsibility. Inside Cybersecurity points out that during the hearing

The Department of Health and Human Services announced that it has formed a cybersecurity communications center that is focused on helping the healthcare industry respond to cyber attacks and restructuring department operations to assist those cyber-defensive measures in the wake of the WannaCry ransomware attacks last month.
The Healthcare Cybersecurity Communications Integration Center, or HCCIC, will have “initial operational capabilities” by the end of the month, HHS officials told the House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee today.
The new HCCIC — which is modeled on a similar center at the Department of Homeland Security for sharing cyber-threat intelligence across industry sectors — was established in response to the WannaCry attack that affected healthcare providers throughout Europe and the United States, and HHS is in the process of getting internal buy-off on the system before its established as a long-term response to evolving cyber threats.
HHS is working with its “legal teams” to ensure the liability protections offered under Cybersecurity Act of 2015 are applied to the sharing of information under the HCCIC, said Leo Scanlon, deputy chief information security officer at HHS, in informing lawmakers of the new HCCIC.

AHIP held its annual institute in Austin, Texas this week. Health Care Finance fills us in on an interesting panel of payer and pharma representatives discussing “the balance between innovation, the affordability of prescription drugs and how both organizations can work together.”

On a related note, the Washington Post reports that “A group of prominent cancer doctors is planning a novel assault on high drug costs, using clinical trials to show that many oncology medications could be taken at lower doses or for shorter periods without hurting their effectiveness.”  They formed a nonprofit called the Value in Cancer Care Consortium for this purpose. Bravo.

The FEHBlog’s curiosity was piqued by this BNA article about a putative class action lawsuit contending large prescription benefit managers are responsible for high Epipen pricing. By downloading the complaint, the FEHBlog learned that the complaint alleges that the PBM defendants violated the federal law governing private sector benefit plans known as ERISA by negotiating higher rebates with drug manufacturers instead of lower prices. The FEHBlog will keep an eye on this case.

Fierce Healthcare tells us about a Robert Wood Johnson survey which finds that healthcare provider sponsored health insurers, another progeny of the ACA, are finding the row tough to hoe.

[O]f the 42 insurance companies created or acquired by provider systems since 2010, only four had reached profitability by 2015. Two more of the plans are currently up for sale, and five have gone out of business entirely, suggesting the current insurance environment “is not conducive to profitability for new provider-sponsored plans,” according to the report’s author, Allan Baumgarten. 

It’s further evidence, assuming further evidence is necessary, that the ACA overreached in meddling with the U.S economy.

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