Weekend update

While the doctors received a Congressional reprieve last week, Business Insurance points out that “Senate Democratic leaders on Thursday failed once again to win enough support to stop debate and bring to a floor vote a tax extenders bill, delivering another blow to backers on extending federal COBRA[/TCC] premium subsidies.” As a result, federal and postal employees who have been involuntarily terminated from employment since May 31 are not eligible for the 65% government subsidy of the temporary continuation of coverage (TCC) premium under the FEHBP.

On June 21, 2010, U.S. District Judge Kollar-Kotelly granted summary judgment to the Goverment in the Coalition for Parity case challenging the Government’s decision to issue an interim final rule implementing the Wellstone-Domenici mental health parity act of 2008 rather than issue a proposed rule. A copy of the Judge’s memorandum opinion is available here.  Over 5000 public comments were submitted on the interim final order which was published in the February 2, 2010, Federal Register.  Many comments suggested that the regulator’s delay the compliance date for one year from plan years beginning on or after July 1, 2010, to plan years beginning on or after July 1, 201.. As far as I can tell from reginfo.gov, the final version of the rule has not yet been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for its review.

Health Leaders Media quoted a fellow member of the bar who is predicting that Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will release a set of important HIPAA regulations on July 8. The proposed rules which concern among other things the HITECH Act’s business associate provisions, currently are pending OMB approval according to reginfo.gov.

Speaking of regulations, the HHS, Labor Department, and the IRS interim final rule implementing several significant “immediate reforms” of the Affordable Care Act, which the FEHBlog mentioned on Wednesday, will be officially published in the Federal Register tomorrow. Here’s a link to that official regulation which already is available.

Modern Healthcare reports on a further Federal Trade Commission extension of the compliance date for its Red Flag rule which is intended to combat identity theft.  “On June 25, it was announced that the FTC had reached a joint legal stipulation with three medical societies that had filed a lawsuit against the agency stating that it would not pursue enforcement of the rule until after the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington reviews a trial court decision in which the American Bar Association successfully blocked implementation of the rule for legal offices.” The earliest compliance date is January 1, 2011.

Kaiser Health News featured an interesting article on how health care reform may prompt consolidation of health insurers and medical offices (currently doctors tend to practice in solo or small practices.)