Thursday Miscellany

Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash

Well, this year’s FEHBP / FEDVIP Open Season announcement will be the latest in recorded history as the FEHBlog found on opm.gov that the past champion turtle was the Open Season announcement issued on October 7. OPM did send out its second Benefit Administration Letter on the Open Season today but that’s not the same thing as announcing 2021 premium changes. What’s particularly odd is that OPM usually settles all of the FEHBP premium negotiations by mid-August. What possibly could be the reason for this hold up? The FEHBlog hopes that this is not the new normal as the ongoing delay impairs FEHBP competition.

In an example of good corporate citizenship, Forbes reports today that

The large hospital operator HCA Healthcare Thursday said it will “return, or repay early” about $6 billion in federal stimulus money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, known as CARES. HCA, one of the nation’s biggest hospital operators, has been performing well financially and earlier this year reported a profit of more than $800 million in its second quarter thanks to CARES Act funds.

In other business news, Fierce Healthcare reports that

[Telehealth vendor] Amwell’s stock climbed 38% Wednesday just three weeks after raising an outsized initial public offering of $742 million. Investor interest in Amwell was fueled by speculation that insurer UnitedHealth may buy the telehealth giant, according to healthcare analysts, Business Insider reporter Blake Dodge reported.

The article adds that “UnitedHealth Group also is reportedly in talks to buy online pharmacy DivvyDose that would put the insurer in direct competition with Amazon’s PillPack.” Interesting moves.

On the COVID-19 front today, the Wall Street Journal confirmed by its investigational reporting, at least to the FEHBlog’s satisfaction, that the COVID-19 virus was spreading across our country months before the mid-March commencement of the great hunkering down. “While the country was still looking outward [in January and February 2020, researchers now believe the earliest infections in many states came mostly from travel within the U.S.” This reminds me of the course of the Great Influenza in 1918 according to J.M. Barry’s Great Influenza book. Again, the difference between then and now is 100 years of medical advances. The FEHBlog continues to have faith in the U.S. healthcare system as well as the common sense of the American people.

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