Sunday, November 27, 2011

Weekend Update

The FEHBlog hopes that everyone has an enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend. Congress returns to work this week as we begin the third week of the annual Federal Benefits Open Season which ends on December 12. What a relief that the Redskins finally won a fourth game today.

CBS News reminds us that the best selling prescription drug Lipitor will be available in generic form beginning this coming Wednesday November 30.  This will be a big savings for consumers and health plans. "Based on Lipitor's sales of $7.2 billion last year, this one generic drug should save the overall U.S. system $6.5 billion." Of course, nothing is simple and Lipitor's manufacturer Pfizer is trying to hang onto some of its Lipitor profits, but the savings will be huge. Medco offers a long list of blockbuster drugs that will be going generic over the next 15 months.

Business Week reports that a cloud continues to hang over Walgreen's due to its ongoing contract dispute with the prescription benefits manager Express Scripts. If the NBA and the NFL can reach settlements with their players so should these companies. takes a look at the various "reforms" recently proposed for the FEHBP. It simply is odd that the FEHBP -- the largest consumer choice program in this country and the model for Medicare Part D and the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges -- has come under such scrutiny at a time when it is purring along so well -- a 3.5% average premium increase for 2012 which well below the private sector estimate of 5.4% and just above 3.0% increase for Medicare Part B which relies on statutory pricing.

Speaking of Medicare, the President nominated Marilyn Tavenner to succeed Donald Berwick as Administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services according to this Kaiser Health News report.

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