Mid week update

OPM updated its healthcare reform web page today, reiterating its assurance that the agency is working to implement the new law (and I know that to be true.)  Sen. Ben Cardin (D MD) has introduced a Senate companion to the House bill (HR 5200) which would conform the FEHB Act’s dependent eligibility provisions to the health care reform law effective January 1, 2011 (increasing the dependent child age ceiling from 22 to 26 and removing the marriage cut off).  The bill also would authorize the OPM Director to accelerate the change into this year.

I was surprised by the statement in Sen. Cardin’s press release that “The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has confirmed that this bill has no cost associated with it.” This conflicts with HHS’s projection that the dependent child expansion will increase premiums by seven tenths of a percent on average as discussed in a previous entry.There is no such thing as a free lunch.

The Washington Post reports on the Justice Department’s first opportunity to file a brief opposing one of the lawsuits challenging the Constitutionality of the health care reform law. This brief was filed in an action brought by a advocacy group in Michigan, not one of the lawsuits brought by the States.  On a related note, the Post also reports that

President Obama‘s new health-care law could potentially add at least $115 billion more to government health care spending over the next 10 years, if Congress approves all the additional spending called for in the legislation, congressional budget referees said Tuesday.

That would push the 10-year cost of the overhaul above $1 trillion — an unofficial limit the Obama administration set early on.

As OPM’s call letter for 2011 benefit and rate proposals calls for FEHB plan assistance with the First Lady’s initiative to control childhood obesity, it’s worth pointing out the Task Force’s first report.