Happy Lincoln’s Birthday

America’s greatest President Abraham Lincoln was born today in 1809. Next year will be the 200th anniversary of his birth but a winter storm in Hodgenville, Kentucky, caused the cancellation of the birthday party. I traveled north by car today to visit a client, and it was likely the same storm that doubled the time it took me to travel home. But at least I made it.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued a proposed regulation today that would allow for the creation of patient safety organizations as authorized by the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005. Modern Healthcare.com explains that “Under the rule, public and private for-profit and not-for-profit organizations could become certified through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality as PSOs. The organizations will consult providers on patient-safety events and quality-improvement initiatives in confidential and privileged settings. “

Speaking of regulations, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management finalized last week a regulation concerning allotments from federal employee salaries. OPM’s press release explains that

“These final regulations involve the use of OPM’s allotment authority to allow for pretax salary reductions as part of OPM’s flexible benefits plan. Using an allotment from an employee’s pay to the employing agency allows certain payments (e.g., employee health insurance premiums, contributions to a flexible spending arrangement, and contributions to a health savings account) to be paid with pretax dollars, as provided under section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code.”

For example, this regulation will help those employees who have enrolled in high deductible FEHB plans with health savings accounts because effective March 10, 2008, they can contribute to their HSAs with pre-tax dollars. An employee making those contributions with after tax dollars receives the same tax savings via an income tax refund after filing his form 1040. So it’s a cash management thing.

The Senate Budget Committee will be holding a hearing on February 14, 2008 at 10:00 AM: Health Care and the Budget: Information Technology and Health Care Reform with the following witnesses (and a third to be name later)

  • Valerie C. Melvin — Director, Human Capital and Management Information Systems Issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office
  • Laura Adams — President and CEO, Rhode Island Quality Institute