OPM Director Hearing / End of the Carrier Conference / Thursday Miscellany

The virtual OPM AHIP FEHB Carrier Conference ended today. For a good chunk of the conference, Kiran Ahuja, the President’s nominee for OPM Director contemporaneously had her confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland and Government Security Committee. Here are the Federal Times, Govexec , and Federal News Network articles on that hearing which reportedly went smoothly for the nominee.

At the carrier conference today, the FEHBlog learned about the many things including the following:

  • The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has released a strategy to help bring about healthcare equity. “The strategy is centered around improving racial health disparities in maternal health, behavioral health, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions [by] “measuring racial health disparities, forming community and clinical partnerships, scaling effective programs, and influencing local and federal policy decisions.”
  • The American Pharmacists Association has produced a report on promising practices for pharmacist engagement in tobacco cessation interventions. 
  • OPM now has a list of documentation that enrollees must furnish to the employing office or the FEHB carrier to verify family member eligibility in FEHB.

Thanks OPM and AHIP for a great conference.

In Thursday Miscellany —

  • As promised here is a link to the Internal Revenue Service guidance making “tax credits [available to certain employers] for providing paid leave to employees who take time off related to COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • The AP reports on encouraging “new data reassuring for COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy.”
  • The Secretary of Health and Human Services has extended the COVID-19 public health emergency for another 90 days from yesterday.
  • The American Hospital Association is touting Hospital-at-Home Innovation During COVID-19 and Beyond. “What was once a small but mighty contingent of health care systems providing “hospital-at-home” care before the pandemic has grown into a larger movement. With this model, hospitals across the country are “admitting” patients to their own homes for acute care with excellent results. As highlighted in AHA’s recent issue brief on hospital-at-home, patients receiving this care have a 20% reduction in mortality, were three times less likely to be admitted to an emergency department than usual care patients and have higher satisfaction with their care. And these results are achieved at a 25% lower cost of care.”
  • Fierce Healthcare reports that [Blue Cross licensee] Highmark Health and ChristianaCare are launching a new joint venture that aims to harness data to accelerate value-based, equitable care. The joint company, which has yet to be named, will take advantage of the strengths of both companies to drive toward more accessible and affordable care. Karen Hanlon, chief operating officer at Highmark Health, said on a call with reporters Wednesday that the venture aims to disrupt the traditional dynamic between payers and providers for greater collaboration.” Here’s hoping.
  • AHIMA reports that the ICD-10 coding authorities are considering releasing new codes for October 1, 2021 (as usual) and April 1, 2022 (special supplement.)