Monday Roundup

Photo by Sven Read on Unsplash

Federal News Network reports that its popular journalist on federal employment matters, Mike Causey, passed away at age 82 shortly after completing a broadcast.

Causey was a popular figure in the newsroom, who loved to share a funny story or joke, often approaching with a mischievous gleam in his eye. Colleagues appreciated his soft-spokenness and gentle demeanor. “Mike was someone who offered kindness and a warm smile to everyone he encountered,” said federal workforce reporter Drew Friedman.

A peerless reporter, Causey cultivated a large and devoted readership that followed him from medium to medium. He knew nuances of topics such as the best day to retire or the shrewdest Thrift Savings Plan strategy better than anyone. His writing was marked by an easy, accessible, occasionally humorous style undergirded by thorough, factual reporting. Causey is widely acknowledged as having coined the term, “inside the beltway.”

Now there’s a phrase that the FEHBlog frequently used without knowing its connection to Mike Causey. RIP.

Fierce Healthcare released its list of the most influential minority executives in healthcare for 2022. Congratulations to the winners.

From the healthcare cost front —

  • The Segal Company released its 2023 Health Care Costs Survey. “Health care spending in 2021 spiked an average of 14% per covered participant, the highest increase in a decade. The surge was primarily driven by the return of previously deferred medical care and the uptick of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, according to data released” by Segal in this survey.
  • RevCycle Intelligence informs us “Inflation and rising labor costs will increase US national healthcare spending by $370 billion in the next five years, according to a McKinsey report. Consumer prices are rising faster than healthcare inflation, but general inflation has recently driven up healthcare supply input costs.”

Whoa, Nelly, the FEHBlog sees a common theme here. The cost curve is up.

From the Omicron and siblings front, WebMD tells us

Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, the two biggest COVID vaccine makers for the United States, are both seeking emergency authorization from the FDA for bivalent vaccine boosters for children.

Pfizer’s booster would be for children 5 to 11 who have completed a primary vaccination series, the company said in a Monday news release. Moderna’s updated boosters would be for children ages 6 to 17 who have completed a primary vaccination series, the company tweeted on Friday. 

For the Moderna booster, children 12 to 17 would receive the same dose as older people, while children 6 to 11 would get a half dose from the same vial, the CDC said in a Sept. 20 update to its fall vaccination planning guide.

“If authorized by FDA, CDC anticipates a recommendation for bivalent COVID-19 vaccine as a booster for pediatric age groups in early to mid-October,” the CDC document said.

From the substance use disorder front, the Hill reports

President Biden on Friday announced that his administration would distribute $1.5 billion to states and territories, including tribal lands, to fund responses to opioid overdoses and support recovery.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will disseminate the funding through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) State Opioid Response and Tribal Opioid Response grant programs as part of National Recovery Month. * * *

Along with the new funding, the Biden administration published new guidance to facilitate greater access to FDA-approved naloxone products, which treat opioid overdoses in emergency situations, and guidance for employers to create “Recovery-Ready Workplaces.”