Midweek update

Photo by Manasvita S on Unsplash

From the OPM front, Federal News Network reports on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs September 29, 2022, confirmation hearing for Robert Shriver, whom the President has nominated to serve as OPM Deputy Director.

From the Fourth Quarter 2022 front

  • STAT News provides “The Q4 health tech tracker: 17 key industry events and milestones to watch.”
  • The Society for Human Resource Management offers “4th Quarter 2022 ‘Quick Hits’ for Plan Sponsors.” This quick hit grabbed the FEHBlog’s attention:

Making a splash across the headlines was the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022(IRA), which President Biden signed on Aug. 16, 2022. The 273 pages of text make sweeping changes. However, few will affect employer-sponsored benefit plans, and most of those will have only indirect effects. 

One change that does directly affect a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) is the exception added to Section 223 of the Internal Revenue Code effective for plan years beginning after Dec. 31, 2022, to enable HDHPs to cover the cost of insulin without first meeting the deductible. This first dollar coverage for insulin will protect Health Savings Account (HSA) eligibility for those who require an insulin regimen. Employers should determine if their plan requires an amendment to implement this change.

On a related note, TRI-AD calls to our attention the “2022 FSA relief provisions will no longer apply in 2023.”

From the public health front —

  • The American Hospital Association informs us that “Increasing bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccinations this year to 2020-2021 flu vaccination rates could prevent an additional 75,000 deaths and 745,000 hospitalizations and avert $44 billion in medical costs over the next six months, researchers estimate in a Commonwealth Fund blog post. Increasing COVID-19 booster coverage to 80% of eligible Americans aged five and older this year could prevent about 90,000 deaths and over 936,000 hospitalizations and avert $56 billion in medical costs, they add.”
  • CNBC reports

* The CDC, in a report, said monkeypox could spread indefinitely at a low level in the U.S.

* Monkeypox is unlikely to be eliminated from the U.S. in the near future, according to the CDC. 

* The outbreak is slowing as the availability of vaccines have increased and people have become more aware of how to avoid infection.

  • The New York Times gives us a briefing and advice on the upcoming flu season.
  • Beckers Hospital Review discusses patient safety wins obtained this year by five health systems.

From the innovations front, the American Hospital Association tells us

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services seeks comments through Dec. 6 on creating a National Directory of Healthcare Providers and Services to help patients locate providers and compare health plan networks, and reduce directory maintenance burden on providers and payers.

CMS seeks feedback on the concept and potential benefits; provider types and data elements to include; the technical framework for a national directory; priorities for a possible phased implementation; and prerequisites and actions CMS should consider to address potential challenges and risks.