Weekend update

Happy Easter! Both the House and the Senate have work periods in their home districts / states this week.

The Wall Street Journal today has an enlightening story about the Walmart-Humana merger currently under discussion.

“These vertical deals [e.g. CVS Health -Aetna, Cigna-Express Scripts] are super exciting, mostly for the potential to keep people out of the hospital,” said Zack Cooper, health economist at Yale University.
With a potential Walmart-Humana deal, “there is scope for this new entity to, in a sense, offer a product that has less bells and whistles and is more efficient and lower cost,” he said.
Outside its pharmacies—which operate across 4,700 U.S. Walmart stores—the retailer’s health-service offerings are currently limited. Walmart operates 19 clinics in Georgia, South Carolina and Texas and other providers operate about 50 additional clinics. But Walmart’s expansive retail footprint would make it a formidable competitor should it build out low-cost outpatient offerings, said industry executives and consultants.

In contrast, CVS Health has over 9,800 pharmacies in 49 states, DC, and Puerto Rico (The only state currently without a CVS pharmacy is Wyoming.)

At the OPM carrier conference last month, a speaker on the opioid panel observed, and they New York Times confirmed, that dentists are the leading prescribers of opioid based pain killers to children and young adults aged 10 to 19.  Last week, the American Dental Association announced a new policy supporting statutory opioid prescription limits and continuing education for the members.

Cigna announced “a 25 percent reduction in opioid use among its customers, reaching this key metric one year ahead of its ambitious initial goal” made in 2015.

Becker’s Hospital Review reports on a survey finding the phishing hackers are moving to new tactics:

1. Attacks that are “fileless,” leveraging exploits and scripts rather than installing malicious files. These fileless techniques attempt to bypass traditional security measures that focus on scanning files, such as antivirus solutions.

2. Attacks that are “clickless,” meaning they do not rely on tricking users into selecting a malicious application. Instead, these attacks take advantage of vulnerabilities to deploy remote execution exploits to infect computers.

3. Attacks that misuse legitimate system tools and processes already present on a computer, rather than deploying malicious files. Since these attacks take advantage of legitimate pathways, they are more difficult for many security measures to detect.

4. Attacks with built in “worm” capabilities. A worm, which is a type of contagious malware, will infect software and copy itself without the need for user action. Its goal is to spread malware infections quickly, and.

5. Attacks that leverage “cryptomining” to receive their payloads. In these attacks, a cyberattacker deploys cryptomining malware on a target’s computer to process cryptocurrency transactions without the user’s knowledge.