Weekend Update / Miscellany

  • President Bush signed a joint resolution (H.R. Jt. Res. 52)yesterday funding the federal government, including the FEHB Program, through November 16, 2007. Of course, a new federal fiscal year starts tomorrow, October 1.
  • On September 25, the President signed into law the Food and Drug Administration user fee reauthorization law (H.R. 3580). The law expands the FDA’s authority over prescription drug safety after initial marketing approval has been given in order to avoid the repeat of Vioxx type problems. The FDA currently is evaluating the impact of the new law.
  • The State Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization battle should come to a head this week when President Bush is expected to receive and veto the compromise bill that Congress is in the process of adopting ($35 billion increase in SCHIP funding for Congress vs. $5 billion increase for the President.) The compromise bill is based on the Senate bill which, unlike the House bill, does not include major revisions to the Medicare program. Consequently, the SCHIP reauthorization battle, while interesting from a political perspective, does not affect the FEHB Program.
  • Wal-Mart expanded its $4 generic drug program to seven new compounds. Also Wal-Mart announced that it will sell two popular female contraceptive bills for $9 for a month’s supply, which is a significant savings for a woman who does not have insurance coverage according to the New York Times. Obviously attracting young women customers is a plus for Wal-Mart.
  • The full House Ways and Means Committee approved on September 27 the House version of the mental health parity bill (HR 1424). Like the SCHIP reauthorization, the likely outcome will be that Congress adopts the Senate version of this bill, which has bipartisan and industry support.