Happy Groundhog Day

Six more weeks of winter and continuing resolutions! Roll Call reports that the Republican Congressional leadership is confident that Congress will timely extend the current continuing resolution funding the federal government beyond next Thursday, February 8. The FEHBlog have seen other articles suggesting an extension through March 22.

Forbes reports that the Justice Department’s anti-trust review of the CVS / Aetna merger is proceeding smoothly. “The companies * * * said they have shareholder meetings scheduled for March 20 for their respective stockholders to approve the merger agreement. “CVS Health continues to expect that the transaction will be completed in the second half of 2018,” CVS said in its SEC filing.” 

Health Payer Intelligence has an interesting story about a New Hampshire health plan that saved claims dollars by using a service called Vitals Smartshopper ,  “a tool that allows members to identify and accrue financial incentives for choosing cost-effective care sites for common services.”

Healthcare Dive tells us about a recent study finding greater prescription refill adherence by Medicare beneficiaries who receive text reminders.  

“The program results far exceeded our expectations,” the study said. “Throughout the 3-month program, the response rate was around 37%, and the 3-month average refill request rate was 18%. We had also expected that since this was an older patient population the response time span might be stretched out a little longer, but this was not the case with over 80% of refill requests received within 8 hours of the initial reminder.”

HHS’s Office for Civil Rights took another HIPAA covered entity scalp yesterday. The FEHBlog found it interesting that the data breaches occurred in 2012 and were reported five years ago. The long arm of the law at work.