Sunday, May 27, 2012

Weekend update

The House returns to work this week after tomorrow's holiday while the Senate takes this week off. According to the Hill's Floor Watch blog, the House will consider the FDA user fee legislation on Wednesday.

Also following up on Friday's TGIF post, the FEHBlog teceived a timely Google Alert with an announcement that the Blue Cross Federal Employees Plan now has its own Apple Ipod or Iphone / Android application.

The Office of Personnel Management on Friday posted its 2012 customer service plan on  The plan announces that OPM plans to refresh the website this summer.

The FEHBlog ran across a couple of interesting articles about the Express Scripts - Medco merger and the Express Scripts - Walgreeens rift.  The first is a Reuters article about the unanticipated benefits of the merger for Express Scripts.

One important hoped-for benefit that has materialized, [Express Scripts Chief Medical Officer Steven] Miller said, is that Medco has lower-priced deals from manufacturers on certain medicines that Express Scripts lacked.
"That means we have better purchasing," Miller said. "We knew we would have more scale for sure. We thought these opportunities were there but you couldn't confirm it until the deal closed."
Miller also pointed to Medco's methods for encouraging increased use of mail order by doctors through electronic prescribing as another surprising benefit.
The benefits, large and small, could help Express Scripts reach its target of $1 billion in cost savings and other synergies from the deal.
The other article is an El Paso Times piece about how Walgreen;s vows to rebound the termination of the Express Scripts contract at the end of last year. However, Walgreens does more business with Medco than it did with Express Scripts.
Walgreens CEO Wasson told analysts the company has a good relationship with Medco and a contract in place "that we intend to honor." However, Walgreens reported in its second-quarter financial report that the Medco contract can be ended by either side on "relatively short notice."
Henry, the Express Scripts spokesman, said the company is reviewing Medco's contracts. After those reviews are done, decisions about the next moves will be made, he said.
Matthew Coffina, an analyst for Morningstar, a Chicago-based investment research company, said in an email that the companies aren't disclosing when the Medco-Walgreens contract will expire.

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