Midweek Update

Photo by Manasvita S on Unsplash

The FEHBlog noticed today that OPM has posted the agenda for its annual FEHB Carrier Conference which AHIP co-hosts. While the agenda includes many hot topics, the FEHBlog is surprised that new FEHB Act Section 8902(p) / the No Surprises Act is not highlighted on the agenda.

From the COVID-19 front —

  • The Centers for Disease Control’s daily report on COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S. reports that that over 150 million doses have been delivered.
  • Pfizer and BioNTech announced that “in [study] participants aged 12-15 years old, [their two dose COVID-19 vaccine] BNT162b2 demonstrated 100% efficacy and robust antibody responses, exceeding those reported in trial of vaccinated 16-25 year old participants in an earlier analysis, and was well tolerated. The companies plan to submit these data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as soon as possible to request expansion of the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and EU Conditional Marketing Authorization for BNT162b2.” This is good news for the next school year. Testing on younger children continues.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that “Pregnant women who get the coronavirus vaccine pass their antibodies on to their newborns, recent studies suggest, a promising sign that babies can acquire from their mothers some protection against Covid-19. At least three studies have found that women who received either the Pfizer Inc. –BioNTech SE vaccine or the Moderna Inc. shots during pregnancy had coronavirus antibodies in their umbilical-cord blood. That indicates the women’s babies got the antibodies, too. * * * Pregnant women are at higher risk of a severe case of Covid-19 and of preterm delivery if they are infected. The studies’ findings, though preliminary, suggest women could safely protect themselves and their newborns by getting vaccinated.
  • Health Payer Intelligence explains “How Payers Are Involved in Boosting COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence — Payers are targeting coronavirus vaccine confidence through collaborations, marketing tools, and incentive programs.”
  • The National Institutes of Health announced that “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with NIH, has launched an innovative community health initiative called “Say Yes! COVID Test” starting in Pitt County, North Carolina, and coming soon to Chattanooga/Hamilton County, Tennessee. As many as 160,000 residents across the two communities will have access to free, rapid antigen tests that they can administer themselves to use three times a week for one month. NIH will provide the tests (also called a home-test or at-home test) and evaluate the effectiveness of the initiative, which aims to determine if frequent self-administered COVID-19 testing helps residents reduce community transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.”

And from the survey front —

  • The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans released its “2020 Employee Benefits Survey [which] provides benchmarking data on their health care offerings, covered dependents, plan funding, dental and orthodontia benefits, prescription drug offerings and other benefits.”
  • Becker’s Hospital Review identifies two dozen health care facilities that offer care to long haul COVID-19 patients.