Weekend update

Congress remains in session this coming week while the Supreme Court keeps churning out opinions.

The Hill reports that the House of Representatives is poised to pass a passel of bills directed at the opioid epidemic. The Senate also is working on its related bills. Bear in mind that that the fuse was lit on this crisis in 1996 when the Food and Drug Administration approved Oxycontin. Congress and the executive branch should have taken more action in the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. At this point, the problem is with curbing illegal opioids and treating the many people who became addicted to opioids. So better late than never. There’s plenty of blame to spread around on this issue.

Last week the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee approved its FY 2019 financial services and general government appropriations bill.  The bill contains the usual FEHBP related provisions (abortion coverage restriction, contraceptive coverage mandate, and ban on full cost accounting standards coverage), but none of OPM’s proposed FY 2019 suggestions, such as the cut to the civil service government contribution toward FEHBP coverage (although it offers a small increase to certain “high quality” plans.)

The relevant Senate appropriations subcommittee is holding a hearing on its version of the House bill on Tuesday morning at 11 am.

Also Health IT Security tells us that last week the HHS Office for Civil Rights which is responsible for the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules “issued new guidance on the HIPAA Privacy Rule that explains certain requirements for an authorization to use or disclose PHI for research and clarifies aspects of the individual’s right to revoke an authorization.”