Congress remains out of town until next week following Labor Day. The Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appears before the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s COVID-19 subcommittee at 1 pm on Tuesday. You can expect member questions about the Administration’s application of the President’s executive order on employment taxes to the federal workforce which take effect the same day.
Here are a few stories that recently caught the FEHBlog’s eye:
- Mhealth Intelligence reports that “The crowded, clamorous, stuffy, sniffly waiting room has long been the scourge of healthcare, a sign of both inconvenienced patients and overworked providers. It’s here that patients are asked to announce their presence, fill out forms and check their insurance, while staff sort through the data to match them to the right provider at the right time slot. Prodded by the pandemic, health systems are now using mHealth apps, online portals and telehealth platforms to handle those administrative tasks, so that a patient arriving at the hospital or doctor’s office is seen and treated as quickly as possible.” Hopefully that’s a trend that will continue and grow as it should tamp down contagious diseases.
- Health Payer Intelligence informs us about a UnitedHealthcare study on employee wellness programs during the COVID-19 emergency. Most notably,
More than three-quarters (77%) of survey respondents who are employed and have access to wellness programs said the initiatives have made a positive impact on their health. Nearly half (48%) said the programs motivated them to pay more attention to their health; 38% said they helped lower stress; 36% said they increased physical activity; and 33% reported improved sleep. According to the survey, wellness programs helped 17% of respondents manage a chronic condition such as diabetes, while 17% said the health initiatives helped detect a disease or medical issue.
As for job performance among those who said the wellness programs made a positive impact on their health, 54% of employees said the initiatives helped reduce stress; 51% said they improved productivity; and 31% said they took fewer sick days. Among employees without access to
wellness programs, 71% of respondents said they would be interested in such initiatives if offered.
- The University of Alabama at Birmingham announced that “Surgical patients are more likely to experience a postoperative infection if they have low health literacy, which is a limited capacity to understand and act on health information, according to results of a new study presented at the American College of Surgeons 2020 Quality and Safety Conference VIRTUAL.” Health plans should look into filling this literacy gap.
- The National Law Review reports that
PROGENITY, INC. (“PROGENITY”), a San Diego-based biotechnology company that provides molecular and diagnostic tests agreed to a $49 million settlement for fraudulent billing and kickback practices. The settlement resolves claims that the biotechnology company fraudulently billed federal healthcare programs for prenatal tests and provided kickbacks to physicians to persuade them to order PROGENITY tests for their patients. * * * PROGENITY has agreed to pay $16.4 million to resolve similar fraudulent billing claims related to TRICARE and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program through a separate civil settlement.