Happy New Year!

Happy New Year 2022 from unsplash.com.

Welcome 2022!!

  • Federal Benefits Open Season changes took effect yesterday for annuitants and today for employees.
  • The Senate reconvenes for the second session of the 117th Congress tomorrow. The Wall Street Journal reminds us that “The Senate returns for a new session on Monday with Democrats focused on trying to change the chamber’s rules to muscle through elections legislation over Republican opposition, as lawmakers also hope to revive President Biden’s stalled economic and climate agenda.” The Senate also will hold some Committee business this week.
  • The House of Representatives reconvenes on January 10, a week from tomorrow.
  • The Supreme Court will hear oral argument on Friday January 7 about whether or not to stay the OSHA ETS creating a COVID vaccination or testing program for business with 100 or more employees and the CMS vaccination mandate for most healthcare workers.
  • From the Omicron front, David Leonhardt writing in the New York Times illustrates with charts why we have reason to hope that the pandemic will become endemic / a part of life rather than gripping our lives in 2022.

[W]hen the current surge begins receding, it will likely have left a couple of silver linings: Omicron is so contagious that it will have infected a meaningful share of the population, increasing the amount of Covid immunity and helping defang the virus. Omicron has also helped focus Americans on the importance of booster shots, further increasing immunity.

As important, the world has more powerful weapons to fight Covid than it did only a few weeks ago: two new post-infection treatments, one from Merck and a more powerful one from Pfizer, that lower the risk of hospitalization and death. With Pfizer’s treatment, the reduction is by almost 90 percent, according to early research trials.

All of which suggests that the U.S. could emerge from the Omicron wave significantly closer to the only plausible long-term future for Covid — one in which it becomes an endemic disease and a more normal part of daily life. It will still cause illness and death; a typical flu season kills more than 30,000 Americans, most of them elderly. For the foreseeable future, battling Covid — through vaccination, treatment and research — will remain important.

The FEHBlog heartily agrees with these sentiments.

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