Friday, September 18, 2015


Here's a link to the Week in Congress's description of recent activities on Capitol Hill.  In two interesting developments, a bipartisan pair of Senators have introduced a bill to repeal the ACA's 40% excise tax on high cost coverage according to Bloomberg and Sen. Tom Carper (D Del.) has introduced a new version of his Postal Reform bill according to Federal News Radio.

Modern Healthcare reports that NCQA is replacing its health plan rating system with a five step ranking system similar to Medicare Advantage's star rating system. The article concludes
Quality ratings have proliferated throughout healthcare as a means to direct patients toward the hospitals, doctors and health plans that have the best clinical outcomes and the lowest costs. Healthcare researchers wrote this week in JAMA that most quality metrics rely on “professional standards,” but those metrics sometimes “can fail to capture what matters most to each individual.” “Patients, family members and friends should be able to report whether the patient received what he or she most needed and wanted,” the researchers wrote in the medical journal.
The Hartford Courant reports on discussions that top Aetna and Cigna managers held with analysts at a health care conference this week.  The analysts were interested in their respective merger plans.

Employee Benefit News offers a perspective on the new fact of health assessments, a start part of wellness programs.
Thanks to the proliferation of apps and monitoring devices, it is becoming much easier to engage people in such teachable moments beyond receiving annual health assessment results and beyond the workplace. Technology has created a world where people can continually connect to resources supporting their personal health whenever they are open to it. The ability to provide wellness tools that are with people throughout the day opens exciting possibilities to the developer that “gets it right” in triggering and sustaining true engagement over time.
In that vein,  this article links to another report that the FitBit wellness program is now HIPAA compliant. What's more, according to this Phoenix TV news station report, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now has an app that doctors and patients can download from the Apple and Google app stores. The FEHBlog downloaded the app ePSS -- it appears to be handy.

Finally, if you need a little healthcare related humor check out this Healthcare Dive article on the 16 most absurd ICD-10 codes.  It's no wonder the AMA fought this zany change.

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