Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Mid-week update

This is the 2001st post in the over 10 year history of the FEHBlog. helpfully has provided links to Federal Benefits Open Season materials that OPM circulated to other government agencies last week. The FAQs are particularly worth a gander.

FYI, the Labor Department's Employee Benefits Security Administration, which enforces ERISA, has refreshed its website. Another ERISA website worth monitoring is the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' ERISA Working Group which recently posted ERISA Handbook revisions.

Health IT reports that HHS's Office for Civil Rights, which enforces HIPAA's Privacy and Security Rules, is implementing this month "an initiative to better investigate smaller data breaches. The data breach investigation process will look further into the root causes of incidents affecting fewer than 500 individuals, according to OCR."  The national data breach rule requires annual reporting of these "smaller" breaches (within 60 days following the end of the year in which the breach occurred). Larger "incidents" must be reported within 60 days following discovery.

In an encouraging development related to the opioid abuse epidemic in the U.S. the Food and Drug Administration last week approved an innovative opioid:
Pfizer's (NYSE:PFE) abuse-deterrent TROXYCA ER (oxycodone hydrochloride and naltrexone hydrochloride) are extended-release capsules for the management of pain severe enough to require around-the-clock long-term opioid treatment and for which alternative treatment options are inadequate.The product is formulated in pellets with a core of sequestered naltrexone hydrochloride, an opioid antagonist, surrounded by the pain medication oxycodone hydrochloride. When taken as directed, the naltrexone remains sequestered while the patient receives extended-release oxycodone. When the pellets are crushed, naltrexone is released which counteracts the effects of the opioid.
Finally, Prof. Timothy Jost from the Health Affairs blog reports on a lawsuit that a group of States and private organizations filed in a Texas federal court today in an effort to block the onerous HHS non-discrimination in HHS funded health programs rule implementing Public Health Service Act Section 1557.   The FEHBlog will be keeping an eye on this lawsuit.

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