Thursday, September 01, 2011

Important hearing scheduled on Tuesday

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will be holding a hearing on the U.S. Postal Service in Crisis - Proposals to Prevent a Government Shutdown at 2 pm next Tuesday September 6. The first panel will include the Postmaster General and OPM's Director of Planning and Policy Analysis. The second panel includes the President of the American Postal Workers Union who according to the Postal Reporter will speak on behalf of all four Postal Unions. This hearing will give us an idea about Congressional receptiveness to the Postal Service's proposal to withdraw from the FEHB Program. Live video of the hearing will be available on the Committee's website.

One of OPM's recent call letter initiatives was to ask FEHB plans to offer programs to combat the problem of childhood obesity. The National Business Group on Health recently announced that "it has updated its employer toolkit, Childhood Obesity: It's Everyone's Business, to include examples of family-focused wellness programs that four forward-thinking companies are doing to fight childhood obesity. The toolkit also includes a new section on how employers can design their benefit programs to ensure that they are in accordance with new screening guidelines required by PPACA and support obesity treatment options for children."

Another focus of OPM concern has been patient safety. AHIP announced this week the release of a white paper called "Innovations in Patient Safety" This white paper "highlights 16 health plans’ efforts to prevent healthcare-acquired conditions, help patients transition smoothly from hospital to home, and manage chronic conditions effectively to avoid complications and preventable readmissions. In some cases, these innovations involve funding for hospital-based patient safety initiatives; in others, plans’ transitional care programs work directly with patients and their families to help reduce complications and hospital readmissions."  Virtually all of those 16 health plans participate in the FEHB Program.

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