Saturday Stats and More

Based on the CDC’s Cases in the U.S. website, here is the FEHBlog’s chart of new weekly COVID-19 cases and deaths over the 14th through 52nd weeks of this year (beginning April 2 and ending December 30; using Thursday as the first day of the week in order to facilitate this weekly update):

and here is the CDC’s latest overall weekly hospitalization rate chart for COVID-19:

The FEHBlog has noted that the new cases and deaths chart shows a flat line for new weekly deaths  because new cases greatly exceed new deaths. Accordingly here is a chart of new COVID-19 deaths over the period (April 2 through December 30):

The CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccine tracker has not been updated since last Wednesday morning At that time roughly 2.8 million initial doses had been administered. The American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association have posted helpful information about the currently available COVID-19 vaccines. The Food and Drug Administration offers a comprehensive year end report.

The CDC’s FluView continues to report that “Seasonal influenza activity in the United States remains lower than usual for this time of year.”

The FEHBlog took a look at a couple of the hospital chain websites and could not find the price information required by the HHS hospital price transparency rule. However, FEP Blue, the largest FEHB plan, announced the availability of their FEP Cost Advisor Tool.

Today is the last day of the 116th Congress. The Wall Street Journal informs us that among the provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, is the following

Flexible spending accounts. Many workers with FSAs that allow them to use pretax dollars to pay for unreimbursed health expenses (like glasses) or dependent-care expenses (like summer camp) didn’t use all the money in their 2020 accounts because of the pandemic. The IRS had limited ability to ease FSA rules, but Congress has now done so. 

Participants in such plans can carry over unused funds from 2020 to 2021 and 2021 to 2022, or for up to 12 months for companies with fiscal years. For dependent-care accounts, the law extends the age limit from 12 to 13 for some carried-over funds. For workers to take advantage of these changes, company plans must often opt into the new rules.

OPM typically does adopt such changes for FSAFeds.

Federal News Network reports that yesterday the Senate joined the House of Representatives in overriding the President’s veto of the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate did not join the House in approving a $2000 direct stipend COVID relief proposal.

Federal News Network also reports that

With hours to spare before the new year, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday night implementing a federal pay raise for civilian employees and military members in 2021. Civilian employees will receive a 1% across-the-board federal pay raise in 2021. There are no additional locality pay adjustments this year.