Weekly Policy Updates
Friday, January 8, 2021
TOP LINKS FOR THE WEEK
FEHB & OPM
An Assessment of Illness in U.S. Government Employees and Their Families at Overseas Embassies: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine review mysterious symptoms experienced by embassy employees in Cuba and China.
Capitol Riots: Congress Certifies Joe Biden’s Victory After Violent Disruption: The US Congress certified Joe Biden’s victory as the next President, hours after Trump supporters violently breached the Capitol building. Four people are dead.
Ossoff Defeats Perdue in Georgia, Handing Control of Senate to Democrats: Democrats gained both Senate seats in Georgia’s runoff election, securing their control of both houses of Congress. Democrat Jon Ossoff defeated Republican David Perdue and Democrat Raphael Warnock became the first Black Senator from Georgia by beating Republican Kelly Loeffler.
Biden is Said to Pick Merrick Garland as Attorney General: Merrick Garland, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by former President Barack Obama but ultimately blocked by the Senate, is said to be Biden’s top choice for Attorney General. The choice of a judge is unusual and seen as a sign that Biden wants an apolitical figure in that role.
Not Enough Time, Not Enough Clarity: Payers Push Back on CMS Prior Authorization Rule: Payers have raised concerns about a CMS prior authorization rule published in early December, arguing that the 17-day comment period might violate the law. The rule attempts to streamline the process in which a physician gets pre-approval from a patient’s insurer for medication or treatment.
Hospital Prices Just Got a Lot More Transparent. What Does This Mean for You?: As of January 1, hospitals must publicly post prices for every service, drug and supply that they provide. Next year, insurers will by required to take similar action. Experts aren’t sure that consumers will use the information to shop for services; but the new transparency could help to drive down prices.
Kaiser Permanente Ranked No. 1 in Consumer Satisfaction: A recent Insure.com survey found that the majority of current commercial health insurance customers are happy with their current coverage. Kaiser Permanente was ranked the best health insurance for 2021, followed by Blue Shield of California, Humana, Florida Blue, and United Healthcare.
Centene’s $2.2B Deal for Magellan Adds Focus on Behavioral Health: Centene will acquire Magellan Health for $2.2 billion. The merger will result in one of the nation’s largest behavioral health platforms, providing BH services to about 41 million members in the U.S.
The U.S. Reports Highest Single-Day Death Toll as CDC Offers Grim Forecast For the End of the Month: On Wednesday, 3,865 people died from coronavirus, the single most deadly day reported since the beginning of the pandemic. The CDC warns that the death toll could exceed 430,000 by the end of the month.
More Than 15.9 Million Shots Given: COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker: Across the globe over 15 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administers, approximately 5.5 million of those in the U.S. Bloomberg provides a tracker to see vaccine rollout progress.