Weekend Update

Looking forward, the Senate resumes its session tomorrow and the House on Tuesday following the a district work period that coincided with the Memorial Day holiday. The most pressing order of business for the Senate are the bills which the House passed just before the holiday that extend the COBRA/TCC subsidy program until the end of November and avoid a scheduled 21.3% cut in Medicare Part B payments to doctors. The Hill newspaper reports that the American Medical Association “is pressing seniors to call their senators and urge them to approve legislation preventing a 21.3 percent cut to Medicare payments. AMA on Thursday launched a multi-million dollar TV, radio and print ad campaign on the issue.” Medicare contractors are expected to implement the reduction next week if the Senate fails to act.

Speaking of Medicare, the Congressional Research Service published a report on the Affordable Care Act’s plethora of provisions affecting the Medicare program. Meanwhile, National Underwriter reports that “Congressional Democrats who voted for big cuts in Medicare Advantage spending now are asking regulators to keep the cuts from affecting MA rates and benefits.”  This reminds me of a family story. My Dad owned a small boiler cleaning business. He always owned old trucks. One day, he was driving through town one day and the transmission dropped out of his truck. A police officer drove up and told my Dad to move the truck. Dad replied “How?” Medicare Advantage plans must submit their 2011 benefit and rate proposals tomorrow. FEHB plan carriers submitted their 2011 proposals to the Office of Personnel Management on June 1.

Reginfo.gov alerts us that the Department of Health and Human Services has submitted for Office of Management and Budget final review it “Interim Final Rules for Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Coverage Relating to Status as a Grandfathered Health Plan under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” This is a major rule making as the grandfathering provision of the Affordable Care Act (Sec. 1251) is chock full of ambiguities.

NorthJersey.com reports that a New Jersey pharmacist plead guilty to bilking the FEHB Program out of $28,000 using fake prescriptions.