Friday, May 23, 2014


Here we are at the Friday which ends the great annual holiday drought! (There are no Monday holidays from President's Day until Memorial Day -- no offense to Easter, Passover, etc.).

On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved the President's nomination of current Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services as reported in the Federal Times.  Federal News Radio reports this morning that the President plans to nominate the current Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to replace Ms. Burwell as OMB Director. Here's a link to Mr. Donovan's bio from the HUD website.

America's Health Insurance Plans Karen Ignagni was in the news this week. According to the Hill, she warned at a roundtable with her counterparts from the prescription drug manufacturing and the PBM industries that the private sector needs to control skyrocketing specialty drug prices before the federal government steps in. Here's a link to her comments from the AHIP website captioned No Blank Check for Drug Manufacturers.

Ms. Ignagni makes a valid point but as the FEHBlog has pointed out there already is a crazy quilt of federal price controls on drug manufacturers. That's why, for example (Wall Street Journal report), federal prisons get a big price break on the wildly expensive Hepatitis C drugs, but most state prisons don't. The federal price controls that understandably benefit the Defense Department, the Veterans Administration (but not the FEHBP) incent drug manufacturers to stick it to the private sector. Now that the customer is screaming, the drug manufacturers have to dial back their prices. Otherwise they will wind up recognizing that they have choked the last golden egg out of the goose.

The Unitedhealth Foundation funded America's Health Rankings just issued their 2014 health rankings reports on American seniors. A link to the report is here. You can download the full report or create a custom report. Enjoy the long weekend.

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