Tuesday Tidbits

Politico reports that Alex Azar’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee today went well today for the HHS Secretary nominee.

Here’s a link to journalist/author Sam Quinones’ testimony before the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee today. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of his points, the statement provides a valuable perspective on our opioid crisis. The FEHBlog is enjoying his book, Dreamland.

On the cybersecurity front —

  • Health IT Security reports on two cyber problems that can afflict CPUs, like Intel chips, which are known as Meltdown and Spectre. The report illustrates the importance of patching software. Here are two threats with no easy fix. Prevention is the key. 
  • Health Data Management considers a recent healthcare provider settlement of a HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules violation with the HHS Office for Civil Rights in the context of cybersecurity insurance. 
On the healthcare front —
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that drug researchers and manufacturer continue to search for an Alzheimer’s Disease cure notwithstanding recent setbacks. 
  • Axios reports on a setback for the Crispr precision gene editing therapy that may be correctable.  
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced today a voluntary Medicare bundled payments program known as the “Bundled Payments for Care Improvement Advanced (BPCI Advanced).”  CMS explains that “Under traditional fee-for-service payment, Medicare pays providers for each individual service they perform. Under this bundled payment model, participants can earn additional payment if all expenditures for a beneficiary’s episode of care are under a spending target that factors in quality.
  • Fingers crossed for all three initiatives.
Business Insurance (which is back by the way) reports that federal False Claims Act enforcement continues apace under the Trump Administration. 
Let’s end this post with a FEHBlog observation. Back in the day, health plan coverage mandates were disfavored. Congress passed an amendment to the FEHB Act in 1997 to preempt the application of state mandates on FEHB plans. You don’t hear about mandates anymore. Mandates have morphed into consumer protections, which was a good PR move but the consumer protections are just as costly as mandates.