Tuesday’s Tidbits

Federal News Radio reports that

In a wide-ranging conversation with reporters Monday morning [April 30],  [OPM Director Dr. Jeff] Pon outlined his vision for OPM and its role in modernizing 40-year-old statutes that govern how agencies recruit, retain, compensate and manage federal employees. 

“We’ve been nibbling around the edges of civil service reform in the [19]90s and also in the 2000s,” Pon said. “We’ve looked at pay systems, but I’m really looking at wholesale change. We’re looking to make sure that the fabric of the civil service is ready for the next 40 years.” 

OPM can push change with four main mechanisms: legislation, executive order, agency-specific authority and OPM authorities. “I’m going to be pushing on all four,” Pon said. “We are going to ask our legislators on ambitious things. We are going to ask for greater authorities for the OPM director to make sure that this position can manage agency-wide HR policies.” 

The ACA regulators, the Health and Human Services Department, the Labor Department, and the Treasury Department, have issued a new Affordable Care Act rule.  Last year, a federal judge here in the District of Columbia ordered the ACA regulators to reconsider an aspect rule that has been standing since 2010. The American College of Emergency Physicians had challenged the way in which the ACA regulators had created a basis for paying out of network emergency care. The ACA regulators stuck with their original and relatively practical approach. The regulators rejected further complications proposed by ACEP which is fine with the FEHBlog. The matter now goes back to federal court.

Health IT Analytics is telling us that

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s network of value-based care programs, including accountable care organizations (ACOs) and patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs), is outperforming other initiatives in 96 percent of care and cost quality metrics.

The Blue Distinction Total Care Program is the healthcare industry’s largest national network of value-based care programs. Overall, Total Care doctors, hospitals, and clinical care teams are outperforming other healthcare providers in 22 of 23 nationally-recognized industry quality measures.

Members of the program have produced a 10 percent reduction in emergency room visits and a 15 percent decrease in hospitalizations year-over-year.

Impressive.  The FEHBlog appreciates provider-payer cooperation.

Speaking of healthcare metrics, Healthcare Dive reports that “Hospital re-admissions that occur in the first week after a patient is discharged are more likely to be preventable than those occurring later, according to a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine that suggests it may be time to rethink the association between hospital quality and 30-day readmission rates.” Amen to that. NCQA take note.

The large telehealth provider American Well announced this week that it is acquiring another telehealth company Avizia which focus on providing telehealth services to hospitals and health systems. “Today, Avizia powers over 1,300 hospital deployments and is a leader in comprehensive acute care telemedicine implementation for large health systems. The company has a significant global presence in over 38 countries, with strong clinical use cases across behavioral health, chronic care, stroke, pediatrics and urgent care at over 70 health systems.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that “CareMore, a California-based subsidiary of Anthem that provides health care to 150,000 Medicare and Medicaid patients across the country, is screening its elderly patients for loneliness.”  Evidently, loneliness can adversely affect health, particularly in the elderly. Another social determinant of health. Good luck with that.

Good luck also to the National Institutes of Health which according to Fierce Healthcare “has set [May 6 as the] start date for the full launch of its All of Us precision medicine research project.}

NIH announced that nationwide enrollment in All of Us will begin on May 6 with launch events to be hosted in seven cities: New York City, Chicago, Birmingham, Alabama, Detroit, Kansas City, Kansas, Nashville and Pasco, Washington.  

All of Us seeks to enroll more than 1 million volunteers over the next 5 to 6 years as one of the “most ambitious” research efforts in the country, said Francis Collins, M.D., director of NIH, at a press briefing Tuesday. “Imagine the research we could enable,” he said, with access to “one of the largest and most diverse cohorts” ever made available. 

People who are interested in participating in the study can visit this website.  The FEHBlog enrolled.

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