Sunday, December 26, 2010

Weekend Update

The FEHBlog hopes that all of our readers are enjoying the holidays. The FEHBlog certainly enjoyed the Redskins win today.

In contrast, AHIP President Karen Ignagni was not pleased with HHS's proposed rule implementing the Affordable Care Act's "unreasonable" premium rate review process, and the FEHBlog can't blame her notwithstanding the FEHBlog's holiday giddiness over the regulation's exemption for FEHB plans and other large group insured plans. As Ms. Ignagni points out,
"The public policy discussion on health care costs has focused on health insurance premiums, while ignoring the root causes that are driving up the cost of coverage, including soaring medical prices, new benefit mandates and changes to health plans’ risk pools. At a time when health care costs are a crushing burden on families and employers, the American people deserve to know the facts.
"For example, data from the state of Oregon show that prices of many medical services have increased at an average annual rate exceeding 10 percent. California data show that prices for a hospital stay increased by more than 150 percent between 2000 and 2009—an average annual growth rate of 11 percent. Trends likes these are being seen across the country.
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"It is also important to remember that the new federal law already caps health plans' administrative costs and profits."
Well put.

Last week, URAC released new pharmacy management accreditation standards. According to URAC's press release,
In addition to revisions to several key standards, URAC has introduced new performance measures including dispensing accuracy, medication adherence, generic dispensing rates, prescription turnaround time, and overall consumer satisfaction.  The revisions are specifically designed to collect data on Mail Service and Specialty Pharmacy processes and outcomes considered critical for the evolution of professional practices in these areas.
OPM encourages FEHB plans to use processes and vendors, including prescription benefit managers, that are accredited by national accrediting services such as URAC and NCQA.

Finally, the Federal Times reports that "President Obama signed an executive order Wednesday December 22 implementing a two-year pay scale freeze in 2011 and 2012 for executive branch employees."

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