Friday Factoids

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From Washington, DC,

  • The Department of Health and Human Services discusses its efforts to support rural healthcare.
  • Today, the proposed No Surprises Act regulation that would change current Independent Dispute Resolution processes was published in the Federal Register. OPM’s proposed FEHB rules changes are described on page 75,808 and may be found on page 75,851.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service issued FAQs on its new final rule imposing civil monetary penalties on Section 111 reporting violations. The rule, which impacts FEHB carriers, becomes enforceable on October 11, 2024.
  • Congressman Gerry Connolly (D VA) released a “statement in support of the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) expansion of infertility coverage benefits for Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program enrollees.” The FEHBlog is pleased to read about Congressman Connolly’s support.
  • The Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology created a blog post titled “Coming in Hot! TEFCA Will Soon Be Live and Add Support for FHIR-Based Exchange.” The post indicates that this critically important electronic health record key to data sharing will be going live soon.
    • “Our TEFCA timelines will remain aggressive and ambitious as ONC and the RCE help support the industry to usher in a new era of data exchange for the United States.
    • “For more information on TEFCA in general, please check out the RCE resources and sign up for the RCE newsletter and monthly public calls.”
  • Govexec reports, “The Office of Personnel Management on Friday announced new plans aimed at helping the federal government’s HR agency better weather the annual surge of retirement applications from departing federal employees that occurs each winter.” Good luck.
  • HR Dive reports,
    • “The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission opened its 2022 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection Oct. 31. Reports must be submitted by Dec. 5, the agency said in a news release
    • “The EEO-1 Component 1 report is a mandatory demographic data report the EEOC requires from all private-sector employers with 100 or more employees, and from certain federal contractors.
    • “EEOC’s Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics released a booklet to help filers complete the process. It has also provided a Filer Support Team Message Center and other resources, the agency said.”

From the public health front,

  • The Centers for Disease Control posted its inaugural issue of FluSight for the current flu season. Here’s the kickoff forecast.
  • Health Payer Intelligence explains how public and private payers cover healthcare for the LGBTQ+ community.
  • The Institute for Clinical and Economic Research published
    • “its third annual “Barriers to Fair Access” assessment of prescription drug coverage policies (Report |Supplemental Materials) within US commercial insurance and the Veterans Health Administration. The analysis found that major payer coverage policies for 18 drugs often met fair access criteria for cost sharing, clinical eligibility, step therapy, and provider restrictions. However, the report’s findings suggest that major improvements are needed in the transparency of coverage policy information for consumers and in detailing out-of-pocket costs for patients.” 
  • Beckers Hospital Review shares CMS statistics on emergency department wait times across our country.
  • The Wall Street Journal gives advice on how to avoid the gloom associated with turning the clock to standard time this weekend.
    • “Daylight hours affect our brain chemistry. As days grow shorter, light receptors in the eyes receive less light and send a signal to the brain about what chemicals to produce, says Lina Begdache, associate professor of health and wellness studies at Binghamton University. 
    • “Our brains begin producing more melatonin—the sleep-related hormone—and less serotonin, which enhances mood and controls appetite. When the brain starts making more melatonin at 4 p.m. due to the earlier dusk, people can feel prematurely sluggish, which can affect mood, diet, exercise and sleep patterns.  
    • “Focusing on improving one area that is affected by the time change, such as exercise, can help the others and might be more doable than trying to improve everything at once, says Begdache, the associate health and wellness studies professor.  * * *
    • “If you improve your diet, you’re more likely to exercise more. And if you exercise more, you’re more likely to sleep better,” says Begdache, who led a 2021 study on mental well-being and seasonal changes. “
  • The FEHBlog personally likes having more sunlight in the morning.

From the U.S. healthcare business front,

  • Here’s a link to the American Medical Association’s reaction to the 2024 Medicare Part B pay cut announced this week. The pay cut is a wash for FEHB carriers because the cut applicable to Medicare prime annuitants will be offset by price increases for younger members. The big problem is that the cut will drive more doctors out of Medicare Part B. When the FEHBlog, who is on traditional Medicare, lived inside the Beltway, his primary care doctor joined the crowd of local PCPs who had dropped out of Medicare. When the FEHBlog moved to Texas last year, he had no problem finding a PCP who takes Medicare, and what’s more, his PCP participates in an accountable care organization. Access to affordable healthcare and dental care is better in central Texas than inside the Beltway, at least for now. The FEHBlog agrees with the AMA that Congress needs to step up.
  • BioPharma Dive informs us,
    • “Moderna on Thursday shifted its revenue forecast for the year to “at least” $6 billion from a previous range of between $6 billion to $8 billion, a change it said reflected COVID-19 vaccination trends in the U.S.
    • “The biotechnology company also disclosed third-quarter earnings showing a net loss of $3.6 billion, driven mainly by non-cash charges of $3.1 billion related to a “manufacturing resizing” and a tax charge. Shares slumped 6% Thursday on the news but traded up Friday morning.
    • “Moderna said it plans to break even in 2026 through “disciplined investment” and launches for new products like its mRNA flu and respiratory syncytial virus vaccines as well as a combination flu and COVID shot.”
  • MedTech Dive shares medtech executives’ views on the new GLP-1 obesity drugs.
    • “Strong patient interest in GLP-1 drugs to treat obesity has prompted medtech companies to take a hard look at the potential impact on demand for procedures like bariatric surgery and products such as glucose monitors and sleep apnea devices.
    • “The potential threat to medical device sales has spooked investors, who have sold shares in companies across the sector.
    • “Fears that medications such as Ozempic, Mounjaro and Wegovy, which are used for diabetes and weight loss, will eventually reshape treatment for a variety of diseases have driven the most severe correction in the medtech sector since the onset of COVID-19, wiping out about $370 billion in market capitalization, according to Mizuho analyst Anthony Petrone.”