Happy Labor Day!

Congress returns from its August recess tomorrow, and according to the Hill, its agenda is overflowing with pressing issues this month which, of course, is the month in which the current federal fiscal year ends. The FEHBlog will keep tracking activities on the Hill.

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about using negotiation strategies in doctor-patient discussions.  In 2013, a Harvard Business School professor and an emergency room physician, who happen to be brothers, wrote an article on this topic. The article is worth reading because applying negotiating approaches to difficult discussions obviously is templatable to many professional situations.  The article explains that the approach has been successfully used with prostate cancer patients.

The Harvard Business School pointers have brought “more clarity and definition and concise thinking” to how doctors discuss these risks with patients, Dr. Scardino said.
In a report published in June in the journal European Urology, the Sloan Kettering team, along with Professor Malhotra, analyzed the decisions of 1,003 prostate-cancer patients eligible for active surveillance. When they compared 761 patients in a two-year period before the doctors were taught the Harvard methods, with 242 patients who were counseled with the business-school pointers, they found the percentage that chose active surveillance rose to 81% from 69%. In other words, there was a decrease of 30% in “the risk of unnecessary curative treatment.” Even a “minimal intervention can decrease overtreatment,” the paper concluded. 

Bravo.

Here’s an update on a couple of major data breach lawsuits that the FEHBlog has been following:

  • Bank Info Security reports that  “A federal judge [sitting in the Northern District of California] has granted preliminary approval for an amended $115 million settlement in the consolidated class action lawsuit against health insurer Anthem over a 2015 cyberattack that impacted nearly 79 million individuals. The case is now slated to be wrapped up next February.”
  • Law360 reports that a federal judge sitting the the District Court for the District of Columbia has reactivated the multi-district class action against OPM stemming from the 2015 cyberattack against the agency. Late last year, the Court heard oral argument on the government’s motion to dismiss the case for lack of standing. Federal courts will not hear a case unless plaintiff presents a justiciable dispute. For the past decade, federal courts have been reluctant to recognize standing in data breach cases because they considered the damages to be ephemeral. On August 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an opinion in Attias v. Carefirst which bucks this trend. This was not the first court to do so but it is the appellate court that governs the OPM case. The federal district judge immediately asked the parties to brief the  application of the Attias decision to the OPM case. In the FEHBlog’s opinion, OPM has the tougher row to how here. Attias was a game changer in the D.C. Circuit.

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