Weekend update

Congress is session this week, but the House of Representatives will not be holding votes tomorrow due to Hurricane Irma. Here’s a link to OPM’s FEHBP hurricane-related guidance. 

The FEHBlog read three eye-opening stories in the Wall Street Journal this weekend:

  • The Journal credibly reports that the Joint Commission which accredits hospitals is not forthcoming about hospital safety violations. “This certifier of hospital quality, however, typically takes no action to revoke or modify accreditation when state inspectors find serious safety violations, according to a Wall Street Journal database analysis of hundreds of inspection reports from 2014 through 2016.”  In the words of Curb Your Enthusiasm, is a big bowl of wrong. 
  • The Journal further reports in an article about the major prescription drug manufacturer Eli Lilly that

The pharmaceutical sector still enjoys some of the biggest profit margins of any industry, and continues to charge high prices for many brands. At the same time, a conflux of issues presents challenges: health insurers and politicians have stepped up pressure on prices; R&D is often expensive and unsuccessful; and competition from low-cost generics remains a threat. That has left companies leaning on cost cuts and efficiency improvements to drive profit growth. The result is a dramatically shrinking workforce.
Drug companies have cut more than 269,000 U.S. workers since the beginning of 2007, according to job-outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., though the annual number of industry job losses has declined over the past five years. “When the pressure gets heavy, the scrutiny turns to the size of a company’s payroll,” Challenger, Gray CEO John Challenger said in an interview.

  • Finally, the Journal reports in an article about large health insurer Cigna that

health insurance has been a magnificent investment in recent years. The five largest publicly traded health insurers by market value— Aetna , Anthem, Cigna, Humana , and UnitedHealth Group —have all performed exceptionally. The share prices have nearly quintupled on average since the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010. The S&P 500 is up just 116% over that period. 

The FEHBlog should add that he is pro-profit-making.