Friday, August 02, 2019


The Hill reports that earlier today the President did sign a two year federal budget deal that "suspends the debt ceiling through July 2021, removing the threat of a default during the 2020 elections, and raises domestic and military spending by more than $320 billion compared to existing law over the next two fiscal years." Congress now has the foundation to finalize Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bills in September.

Upon further examination of the Senate record, the Senate yesterday did begin consideration of  Dale Cabaniss's nomination to be OPM Director. This suggests that Ms. Cabaniss's nomination may be confirmed before long.

Today, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services finalized the Medicare Part inpatient prospective payment system rule for the 2020 government fiscal year.
The increase in operating payment rates for general acute care hospitals paid under the IPPS that successfully participate in the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) Program and are meaningful electronic health record (EHR) users is approximately 3.1 percent. This reflects the projected hospital market basket update of 3.0 percent reduced by a 0.4 percentage point productivity adjustment. This also reflects a +0.5 percentage point adjustment required by legislation.
The final rule also throws a bone to rural hospitals.

Employee Benefits News reports that Health Care Services Corp, a large Blue Cross licensee, is finding success with its telehealth program.  The report includes an interview with HCSC's VP for market solutions, Tom Meier.

EBN also reports on a recent Center for Disease Control study on diabetes rates in the United States.
Large employers may be excited about recent research which looked at National Health Interview Survey data and found a near-term decline in new cases of diabetes as well as a plateau in existing U.S. cases. While the news that new cases of diabetes may be declining does sound promising, benefit managers should resist the urge to break out the champagne. 
Although, it’s understandable why they would want to celebrate. More than half of Americans under age 65 — roughly 158 million people — have health insurance through an employer, and chronic conditions like diabetes are major drivers in the year-over-year increases in employee health benefit costs. 
Two key points in the study stand out. First, researchers suggested education and prevention programs may have played a role in the decline and urged “continued emphasis on multilevel, multidisciplinary prevention to reduce both Type 2 diabetes and diabetes complications.” In other words, stakeholders must double-down, rather than let up, on interventions to prevent diabetes. Second, because the NHIS data includes only diagnosed cases of diabetes, researchers didn’t explore the rate of prediabetes. 
The article seeks to focus health plan attention on people with pre-diabetes. Interestingly,
A recent Quest Diagnostics study, found that individuals at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes who take part in an employer-sponsored wellness program that couples laboratory screening with digital interventions reduced their risk of developing the chronic disease for up to eight years. Levels for all biometric markers in the risk model, including fasting glucose, improved across all study cohorts and 62% of participants lost weight after the program, with 31% losing 5% or more body weight.

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