Thursday Miscellany

Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash

Because OPM’s press release links to 2020 premiums, here are OPM’s charts for

OPM also distributed this interesting chart comparing nationwide fee for service plan and local HMO plan premium increases for 2021.

FEHB plans post benefit change information on their respective websites before OPM does next month. Blue Cross FEP and Kaiser, among others already have done so.

On the pharmacy / PBM front —

  • Fierce Healthcare reports on Cigna CEO David Cordani’s talk at the HLTH Conference yesterday and Drug Channels discusses the improving relationship between Prime Therapeutics and Cigna’s PBM Express Scripts.
  • Fierce Healthcare also reports on the HLTH Conference talk by Jim Peters, Rite Aid’s chief operating officer, speaking at the HTLH 2020 virtual conference. It appears that Rite Aid is looking to pull the Health Hub page out of CVS Health’s playbook.

Today, the American Hospital Association’s lawyers argued before a three judge panel that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit should reverse the District Court’s decision upholding an HHS rule requiring to post payer-negotiated rates for popular hospital services. The AHA’s lawyer wants to place this burden on the health plans. A friend of the FEHBlog told him that the oral argument was “wild.” Unfortunately, the FEHBlog’s MacBook Air could only get through five minutes of the online argument. In any event Fierce Healthcare reports that the oral argument did not go well for the AHA’s lawyers. “The judges, all of which were appointed by Democratic presidents, were skeptical of the AHA’s argument that HHS doesn’t have the authority to implement the rule.” The appellate court will release a decision in three months or so.

Federal News Network reports that OPM is creating a new federal pay locality for Des Moines Iowa and expanding the Los Angeles pay locality to include Long Beach California. The change affects 3,800 Iowa employees and 1860 California employees. However, “Trump’s federal pay plans for 2021 may also complicate matters. The president proposed a 1% across-the-board pay raise for federal employees next year. To date, he hasn’t proposed any locality pay adjustments, and Congress hasn’t suggested it will step in and pass its own raise for federal workers, meaning employees in Iowa and California may not see a change in 2021.”

The FEHBlog was wondering today whether any progress has been made in the COVID-19 relief bill negotiations. CNET has the answer. Not much. But you never know in an election year.

Finally Forbes reports

According to the results of the Envoy Return to Work Survey that was released today, 73% of Americans are afraid of putting their personal health and safety at risk by returning to the workplace, with 75% saying they would consider quitting their jobs if the Covid-19 prevention measures by employers were inadequate or inappropriate. Workers in the business or tech services are more likely to consider leaving their job than those in the construction, manufacturing, retail or service industries. * * *

Their concerns notwithstanding, 90 percent of workers miss their workplace. Most miss their friends and teammates (47%), perks such as lunch and snacks (36%), and small talk at the coffee machine or water cooler (31%). Slightly more workers — 94% of those polled — said they want to spend at least one day a week in the office.

The survey indicates that some employers need to do a better job ensuring that the workplace is safe to come back. Of those who returned to their place of employment, 42% said they experienced preventive measures that were either ineffective or not enforced, including six-foot distancing measures (25%), mask requirements (21%), and hand washing requirements (18%).

What a crazy year.

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