Monday Roundup

Photo by Sven Read on Unsplash provides an update on COVID-19 vaccine administration by federal agencies to their employees. A friend of the FEHBlog asked him today whether he knew how long it took for a COVID-19 to provide protection following the injection. Good question. The New York Times reported last week that “The protective effects of vaccines are known to take at least a couple of weeks to kick in.” To wit,

Data from Pfizer’s clinical trials suggests the vaccine might start safeguarding its recipients from disease around one or two weeks after the first injection. A second jab of mRNA, delivered three weeks after the first, helps immune cells commit the virus’s most prominent features to memory, clinching the protective process.

Biopharma Dive reports that “AbbVie raised the list prices of many of its drugs on Jan. 1, while Biogen hiked the price tag of its old multiple sclerosis treatment Tysabri, part of broad, sector-wide increases typically taken at the start of a new year. The hikes could feature in calls for drug pricing legislation as a new Congress and new administration begin work.” Timing is everything.

Here a few loose ends that have been tied up.

  • According to Healthcare Dive, “Haven, the high-profile, secretive venture to lower healthcare costs backed by Amazon, J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway, is suspending operations in February after three years, the company announced Monday. Haven caused waves when launched in 2018, with a lineup of notable hires from within the healthcare industry. However, the nonprofit, independent company is now closing with little concrete to show, hinting at the difficulty of reforming the complex insurance system and curbing rising costs in the deeply entrenched healthcare industry. Haven said in a statement on its website that Amazon, J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway would use the information it gained moving forward and continue working to create programs addressing the health needs of their combined 1.2 million employees. Shares of major U.S. insurers got a bump in Monday trading following the news, with UnitedHealthcare and Humana each climbing more than 2% since noon.”
  • According to Fierce Healthcare, “New York Life completed its acquisition of Cigna’s group life, accident and disability insurance businesses in a deal valued at $6.3 billion.” Cigna like CVS Health / Aetna has decided to focus its attention on healthcare.
  • reported today that the Senate has returned to the President his nomination of Craig Leen to be OPM Inspector General because the Senate failed to act on the nomination during the 116th Congress. The President may renew the nomination for the 117th Congress.

Thinking about the OPM Inspector General caused the FEHBlog to check to see whether the latest OPM Inspector General semi-annual report to Congress (period ended September 30, 2020) is online and by golly it has been posted right here. The lead article in the report discusses the impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency on the FEHBP. The management response to the Inspector General’s report is available here.