TGIF reports on a recent OPM Benefits Administration Letter containing initial tidbits of information about the 2018 Federal Benefits Open Season which will run from November 13 through December 11, 2017.

The Senate went home yesterday after working a week longer than the House of Representatives. The Washington Post reports that that Senate by unanimous consent approved 65 Presidential nominees yesterday.  A list of the approved nominees can be found under Executive Business heading on this Senate webpage.

The Senate also passed along to the President a necessary Food and Drug Administration users fee renewal bill (H.R. 2430) as the Hill reports. The Washington Post informs us that

The legislation directs the FDA to accelerate generic drug applications for products that have little or no competition. It also includes a provision designed to sharply increase the number of approved cancer treatments for children by giving the agency authority to direct drugmakers working on oncology therapies for adults to test them in children, as well.

The Post article also report that the Senate also passed a federal “right to try” bill (S. 204).

The “right-to-try” legislation has been championed by the libertarian Goldwater Institute, which has worked to pass similar legislation in 37 states. The federal version, now headed to the House, would bar the government from blocking patients from getting access to medications that have undergone only preliminary testing in humans. Patients first would have to try all other available treatments and be ineligible for clinical trials.  The bill would provide drug companies some legal protection if a treatment results in harm.

This bill now head over to House of Representatives.

The FEHBlog ran across an excellent Blue Cross report on opioid use in our  country and a Health Affairs blog article suggesting that the opioid crisis will not end until the U.S. medical community changes the way it treats pain. The article discusses how health professionals in the U.S. military are addressing this issue.

In the same vein, Health Payer Intelligence reports on how health insurers are collaborating with social service organizations and local community leaders to address the social determinants of sucessful health care.  The article draws from a new AHIP report on this topic.  Bravo.