Tuesday Tidbits

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

The FEHBlog did catch part of the LAN Summit today. The FEHBlog understands that recordings of the sessions will be available at no cost in the near future.

  • The LAN released a Healthcare Resiliency Framework which is particularly appropriate 2020.
  • The FEHBlog was impressed by a talk given by Alan Levine, the CEO of Ballad Health which was created by the 2018 merger of two rural health systems in southwestern Virginia and eastern Tennessee. This program caught the FEHBlog’s attention:

Ballad Health is implementing the Strong Starts/Strong Pregnancies Program to connect with the 300-member STRONG Accountable Care Community (ACC) it facilitated, which consists of churches, schools, employers, healthcare providers and social services agencies in the Appalachian Highlands. More than 6,000 babies are delivered each year in Ballad Health facilities, and beginning in 2021, Ballad Health and participating independent obstetricians in the region will provide assessments and screenings to help connect families with a community navigator who will work to make sure each child receives the strong start they deserve. This includes connecting families with the supports and services provided by the members of STRONG and other community partners.

Here are a couple of tidbits from the virtual HLTH Conference:

  • Fierce Healthcare reports that “In the months after Walgreens announced a $1 billion partnership with VillageMD to build hundreds of primary care clinics next to its retail pharmacy stores, there are still only a few locations in Houston. “But that will be changing quickly, said Walgreens’ co-Chief Operating Officer Alex Gourlay. “Within the next fiscal year, the company plans to have at least 40 locations open, Gourlay said, speaking at the HLTH 2020 virtual conference Monday. The company has previously said it expects to have at least 500 locations open within the next five years.”
  • Healthcare Dive reports that “Integrated health giant Kaiser Permanente said it intends to put a stronger focus on equity and inclusion in one of Greg Adams’ first major moves as CEO. The Oakland, California-based nonprofit plans to bring ethnicity and race factors into how it evaluates quality and care across the organization, Adams said Monday at the HLTH virtual conference. Kaiser’s board, which finished strategic planning in the middle of the pandemic, is still figuring out what that means in practice.” As a board we made the decision that we would own healthcare disparities for all care that we provide,” Adams said. “We haven’t quite figured out how we’re going to do that… [but] the point the board made is, owning it for a few conditions is not sufficient.”

On the COVID-19 front

  • The NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins has an encouraging post today about COVID-19 vaccine development.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that Johnson & Johnson put a pause on their Phase III vaccine trial in order to investigate an unexpected illness in a participant. The FEHBlog is pleased to read about occasional pauses like this because it shows that the trial system is working.
  • CNN Health reports that “there were 20% more deaths than would normally be expected from March 1 through August 1 in the United States — with Covid-19 officially accounting for about two-thirds of them, according to new research published Monday in the medical journal JAMA.” COVID-19 is one bad disease.
  • A friend of the FEHBlog called to his attention the fact that on October 8, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services renewed the nationwide public health emergency for the opioid crisis. It is surprising to the FEHBlog that the first such declaration was made only three years ago.
  • This lead the FEHBlog to discover that on October 2, 2020, HHS also renewed the nationwide COVID-19 public health emergency through January 21, 2021. This act extends the CARES Act COVID-19 testing mandate on health plans at least through that date.

Finally Federal News Network reports that “Social Security recipients will get a modest 1.3% cost-of living-increase in 2021, but that might be small comfort amid worries about the coronavirus and its consequences for older people. The increase amounts to $20 a month for the average retired worker, according to estimates released Tuesday by the Social Security Administration. That’s a little less than this year’s 1.6% cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA. The COLA affects the personal finances of about 1 in 5 Americans, including Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees, some 70 million people in all.”

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