Late week update

The Senate approved a bill (H.R. 4851) by a 59 to 38 vote today that would extend from April 1 through May 31 the COBRA / TCC subsidy program and the moratorium on the 21.2% cut in Medicare Part B payments to physicians. The bill now goes back to the House of Representatives for final approval.

The Senate Commerce Committee continued its assault on health insurers with an investigatory report alleging that health insurers are engaging in creative accounting to limit the impact of the minimum loss ratio provisions of PPACA that take effect next year.  Business Insurance reports that the Department of Health and Human Services has asked the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for assistance in developing implementing regulations. This new law which requires group health plan insurers to have a minimum loss ratio of 85% may impact community rated HMO plans participating in the FEHB Program but will not impact the FEHB Program’s experienced rated PPO plans which have loss ratios well over 90%.

Kaiser Health News reports that the House Commerce Committee has backed off of its plan to interrogate executives of certain large public companies over their decision to take charges against earnings based on certain PPACA provisions. The hearing had been scheduled for April 21.