Monday Roundup

Photo by Sven Read on Unsplash

Healthcare Dive reports that Utah-based “Intermountain Healthcare and South Dakota-based Sanford Health announced Monday that the two had signed a letter of intent to merge. Together the two will operate 70 hospitals — many of which will be located in rural communities across the country — and 435 clinics and insure 1.1 million people.” Intermountain participates in the FEHB under the name of its affiliate SelectHealth.

The Labor Department’s Employee Benefit Security Administration (“EBSA”) released its 2020 edition of its federal mental health and substance use disorder parity self compliance tool for health plans. The first edition was released in April 2018. What’s more on Thursday October 29 at 2 pm ET EBSA will hold a free compliance assistance webcast on this complicated law.

Here’s a link to OPM’s third quarter 2020 report on the development of its Master Enrollment Index for the FEHBP.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services posted information today about the ACA federal marketplace open enrollment period which begins on Saturday November 1 and ends on December 15, 2020.

Over the weekend, the FEHBlog read in the Wall Street Journal’s Numbers column about COVID-19 mortality predictions. The author explains that

Now, as many as 50 different research groups make predictions, but one of the most accurate assembles all of the individual models, calculates the median value and looks no more than four weeks into the future.

The ensemble forecast was founded by the Reich Lab at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is based in part on models previously developed to forecast influenza and other infectious diseases.

In the next four weeks, it predicts the total number of deaths attributed to the new coronavirus will surpass 240,000—adding roughly 17,000 deaths to the current tally.

Such projections help policy makers and health-care officials decide how to manage resources and implement or relax interventions intended to curb the spread of the disease.

On the brighter side —

  • The Wall Street Journal reports that

A Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca AZN 2.06% PLC showed a promising immune response and low levels of adverse reactions in the elderly and older adults, according to an interim analysis that the drugmaker said was encouraging.

The vaccine, now in late-stage human trials aimed at showing its efficacy and safety, is a front-runner in the global sprint for a shot to protect lives and jump-start economies hobbled by the pandemic. Trials in the U.K. could produce results before year-end, fueling hopes among scientists and government leaders that a vaccine might be available for high-risk groups here by early 2021.

  • Fierce Healthcare informs us that “CVS views its pharmacists as playing a key role in assuaging fears, CEO Larry Merlo said Friday. Merlo, speaking at an event hosted by The Washington Post, said that pharmacists “are among the most trusted professionals” in the industry and as such will be able to educate patients about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.”
  • Fierce Healthcare also recognizes “ten women who have risen to the challenges posed by COVID, as well as played a role in positioning their respective companies to be where they are today.” For example, Anthem Blue Cross’ Liz Kwo M.D. is scaling digital products to improve outcomes. Bravo to all of the winners.