Weekend update

Congress is back in town this coming week follow district/state work sessions last week.

This is Public Service Recognition Week. This celebration “is organized annually by the Public Employees Roundtable (PER) and its member organizations to honor the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county and local government employees.” Maazal tov to all.

In this regard, Federal News Radio provides a set of slides with demographic background on the federal workforce. Here’s the one that grabs the FEHBlog’s attention. “45% of the federal workforce is over the age of 50.” Bear in mind that the enrollment of the FEHBP is roughly split between employees and annuitants. Consequently, FEHBP carriers face a demographic challenge. The saving grace is the FEHBP’s use of a single risk pool per plan option that includes all age groups paying the same premium.

Warren Buffett chaired the annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting on Saturday. Reuters reports on what Mr. Buffett and his vice chairman said about the “healthcare company being set up by Berkshire Hathaway Inc, Amazon.com Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to lower patient costs” for their employees and eligible family members. Mr. Buffett expects the company’s CEO to be named “within a couple of months.”

Forbes columnist Avik Roy discusses the country’s drug pricing woes in advance of the President’s anticipated speech on that topic which may occur on Tuesday May 6.

The conventional wisdom in Washington is that the only way to reduce drug prices is through price controls. But that’s not true. Competition—especially from unbranded generic drugs—has dramatically reduced prices of most major drugs whose patents have expired. But Congress and the FDA have erected barriers to further competition that deserve to be torn down. 

He presents reform ideas, some of which the FDA has undertake and others of which require Congressional action.

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