Friday Factoids

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From Washington, DC

  • Roll Call reports,
    • “Efforts to pass a stopgap funding measure before Saturday night’s deadline were sputtering in both chambers Friday, with lawmakers openly predicting a partial government shutdown was inevitable. The only question appeared to be how long the funding lapse would last.”Efforts to pass a stopgap funding measure before Saturday night’s deadline were sputtering in both chambers Friday, with lawmakers openly predicting a partial government shutdown was inevitable. The only question appeared to be how long the funding lapse would last.
    • “Border security talks in the Senate stalled Friday ahead of a key procedural vote Saturday, casting doubt on whether there would be the required 60 votes to end debate on a seven-week stopgap bill.
    • “Meanwhile, House Republicans huddled to discuss remaining options after their last shot at a 31-day continuing resolution chock full of spending cuts and restrictive border policies fell flat on the floor earlier Friday.
    • “None of the options — taking up a Senate bill that hasn’t even passed yet, or a “clean” CR extending current funding levels for a week or two, appeared to be gaining much steam, at least yet.”
  • The Washington Post adds
    • “After a two-hour meeting with the Republican caucus, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he would support a clean continuing resolution without major funding cuts if it did not include either the $12 billion in Ukraine and disaster relief funding that has bipartisan Senate support or the border security legislation that House Republicans have demanded.”
  • Today, OPM issued a press release about 2024 FEHB premiums and a white paper with 2024 Open Season highlights. The highlights include a list of the plans terminating their participation in the FEHB for 2024. The Compass Rose Benefits Group added a standard option. The FEHBlog noticed that Blue Cross FEP and Kaiser Permanente have unveiled their 2024 FEHB benefits on their websites.
  • FedWeek informs us
    • “OPM has said it will soon administer its Federal Employee Benefits Survey to some 100,000 federal employees who will be notified by email and will have up to six weeks to respond.
    • “The purpose of the FEBS is to measure the importance, adequacy and value of employee benefits to assess if employees believe the available benefits meet their needs. The FEBS will also help us to evaluate whether federal employees understand the flexibilities and benefits available to them,” OPM said in a memo to agencies on”
  • Per MedTech Dive,
    • “A proposed rule issued on Friday by the Food and Drug Administration would bring laboratory-developed tests under the agency’s purview, closing a regulatory loophole.
    • “Laboratory-developed tests are designed, manufactured and used within a single clinical laboratory. The FDA has exempted these tests from some regulatory requirements, such as premarket review, but it now seeks to bring all tests under one regulatory framework.
    • “The agency said the changes should better protect public health by ensuring the safety and effectiveness of tests. But it is “unclear if and when the FDA will finalize the rule as it will likely face opposition,” analysts with TD Cowen wrote in a research note on Friday.”
  • Healthcare Dive tells us
    • “The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, which aims to reduce spending or improve quality of care, increased net federal spending during its first 10 years of operation, and it will likely continue to boost spending over its next decade, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office. 
    • “The CBO estimated that CMMI’s activities increased direct spending by $5.4 billion, or about 0.1% of the net spending on Medicare, between 2011 and 2020. 
    • “CMMI’s work is projected to increase net federal spending by $1.3 billion, or 0.01% of net spending on Medicare from 2021 to 2030, according to the report.” 
  • The IRS posted draft instructions and forms of 1095-B and 1095-C forms for 2023
  • HHS requests comments on mandating health plan coverage with no-cost sharing and no prescription requirements for low-cost preventive supplies, most of which OPM already mandates for FEHBP. The public comment period will likely expand the list.  The public comment deadline will be in early December. 

From the public health and medical research fronts,

  • The Food and Drug Administration announced,
    • “granting de novo marketing authorization for the Invitae Common Hereditary Cancers Panel, an in vitro diagnostic test that can help detect hundreds of genetic variants associated with an elevated risk of developing certain cancers. The test can also help identify potentially cancer-associated hereditary variants in individuals with already-diagnosed cancer. The test, which is the first of its kind to be granted FDA marketing authorization, evaluates DNA extracted from a blood sample to identify variants in 47 genes known to be associated with an elevated risk of developing certain types of cancer.”  
  • Biopharma Dive lets us know
    • “Shares in Structure Therapeutics jumped Friday after the San Francisco-based biotechnology company released results from a small study of an experimental weight loss drug that appear competitive to rival programs from Eli Lilly and Pfizer.
    • “Over the 28-day Phase 1 trial, people taking the highest doses of Structure’s drug lost about 5% of their weight compared to the study’s start, up to around 10 pounds. There were side effects, most commonly mild nausea and vomiting, but no participants stopped treatment as a result, the company said.
    • “Dubbed GSBR-1290, Structure’s drug is a GLP-1 agonist, similar to the much in-demand diabetes and obesity medicines Ozempic and Wegovy. Unlike those, however, GSBR-1290 is taken orally rather than by injection, potentially meaning greater convenience.”
  • and
    • “A cancer drug combination developed by Johnson & Johnson succeeded in an important late-stage trial testing the new regimen against a widely used medicine from AstraZeneca.
    • “According to J&J, treatment with its approved drug Rybrevant and an experimental therapy called lazertinib kept a common type of metastatic lung tumor at bay for longer than AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso alone. The results were from an interim analysis of the study, which is continuing to study patient survival.
    • “J&J’s trial, called Mariposa, has been followed closely by analysts as it could offer J&J a chance to compete with AstraZeneca in a large cancer drug market. J&J didn’t share any specific data in its statement Thursday, but said it plans to submit the study results for presentation at an upcoming medical conference.”
  • Beckers Clinical Leadership points out,
    • “Transport accidents are the leading cause of death for most children while opioids and major cardiovascular disease are the most common leading cause of death for adults, according to a report from USA Facts, a nonprofit organization that conducts data analysis.
    • “The “America in Facts 2023″ report, published in September, used CDC data to calculate the leading causes of death by age for the time periods 2001 to 2002 and 2020 to 2021.”
  • From the Econtalk Podcast
    • “We spend too much of our health care focus on lifespan and not enough on healthspan–the quality of our life as we get older. So argues Dr. Peter Attia, author of Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity. Attia speaks with EconTalk’s Russ Roberts about what kills us, what slows us down as we age, and the weapons we have to allow us to live better and longer.”
    • Check it out at this link.

In judicial news,

  • Politico reports
    • “A federal judge on Friday denied business groups’ move to halt Medicare’s new drug price negotiation program while multiple lawsuits challenging its constitutionality wind through the courts.
    • “The decision by Judge Michael J. Newman, a Trump appointee, in Ohio’s Southern District preserves the Biden administration’s power to begin haggling with drug companies over the prices of 10 medications. Manufacturers of products that CMS chose for the first tranche of negotiations have until Oct. 1 to agree to the talks.
    • “The Court is not convinced that granting Plaintiffs preliminary injunctive relief will protect them from imminent and irreparable harm,” Newman wrote in his opinion. “Any economic harm — which, on its own, is insufficient to satisfy this prong of a preliminary injunction analysis — will not occur for years in the future.” * * *
    • “Newman denied DOJ’s motion to dismiss to give the chambers the chance to address his concerns, though the government can refile.”