Weekly Policy Updates
Friday, July 31, 2020
TOP LINKS FOR THE WEEK
FEHB & OPM
Senior Exec Group Pushes OPM Reorg: The Senior Executive Association, in a recently released report, has recommended several changes to OPM. They suggest that the Director of the agency should serve for a term of 5-8 years to reduce political influence over the position and that the enrollment function for FEHB should be reengineered with the possibility of outsourcing.
Anthem Reports Second Quarter Results: Anthem reported an operating revenue increase of $4 billion in Q2 and attributed some of that increase to the decline in claims in their Federal Health Products.
Senate GOP Introduces COVID-19 Response Bill: On Monday evening, Senate Republicans unveiled their long-awaited coronavirus package entitled the HEALS Act. The package weighs in at a total of $1 trillion in funding—still nearly $2 trillion dollars short of the Democrat-approved HEROES Act introduced two months ago. Although the bill addresses hospital funding, it falls short of industry demands, and does not include new Medicaid funding. For these reasons, alongside a lack of food and housing security provisions, the bill has been panned by progressives. Senator majority leader Mitch McConnell faces a difficult path forward in his plan to pass relief before August recess as lawmakers to his right oppose new funding while Democrats believe the bill doesn’t do nearly enough.
Anthem Seeing Massive Spike in Use of Telemedicine for Behavioral Health: Anthem CEO Gail Boudreaux said on a call with investors earlier this week that the use of telemedicine for behavioral health has increased to a rate of 56 times that of pre-COVID.
Virtual Behavioral Health Could Expand Access to Care for 53M Americans, Report Finds: A new report from Accenture suggests that as many as 53 million Americans would gain access to mental health services if the telehealth expansion continues.
Telehealth Made up Almost Half of All Medicare Beneficiaries’ Primary Care Use in April: In a claims analysis of FFS Medicare from January to June, it was uncovered that 43.5% of primary care visits in April were conducted virtually.
Teledoc’s Virtual Visits Grow 200% in Q2, Revenue Reaches $241M as COVID-19 Surges: Teledoc announces high earnings in Q2 and an increase of 203% in total virtual visits provided.
Trump Executive Order Touts ‘Most Far-Reaching Prescription Drug Reforms Ever’: On Friday of last week, President Trump announced new prescription drug policies aimed at lowering prices in Medicare. Prices would be linked to rates paid in other countries and Americans would be allowed to buy medications imported from Canada.
Disagreement Persists on Surprise Billing Among House Dems: House Democrats appear no closer to arriving at a deal on a surprise billing fix after a closed-door meeting between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and both House Ways & Means committee chair Richard Neal (D-MA), Energy & Commerce committee chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Education and Labor committee chair Bobby Scott (D-VA). The chairs have long disagreed on their approach to addressing surprise billing, particularly whether to use a benchmarking approach—which caps “surprise” payments at a specific rate, favored by insurers—or an arbitration approach, favored by hospitals. Pelosi has so far not been willing to overrule either side to reach a deal, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not expressed any interest in dealing with the issue.
Humana Invests $100M in At-Home Primary Care Startup Heal: Humana and Heal will offer value-based primary care through doctor house calls and telemedicine in new markets, including Chicago; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Houston. Heal, which already operates in seven states and Washington, D.C., will also use the investment to explore new service lines and build out its technology infrastructure.
NAIC Announces Special Committee on Race and Insurance: NAIC announced a new committee on Race and Insurance that will be charged with conducting researching regarding the level of diversity and inclusion in the insurance industry, reviewing current practices in the insurance industry for disparate impact based on race, and making recommendation to the Executive Committee.