Tuesday’s Tidbits

Govexec.com is reporting that the National Community Pharmacists Association is seeking to revive H.R. 4489, a bill to more strictly regulate prescription benefit managers and prescription drug pricing in the FEHB Program.  The Association sent a letter to OPM endorsing the bill.  According to Govexec.com, “OPM spokesman Edmund Byrnes said the agency is in the process of putting together a formal response to NCPA’s recommendations.” The FEHBlog thinks that OPM’s February 2010 carrier letter on PBM arrangements effectively trumped the bill.

The Senate passed a bill today extending unemployment benefits but not extending the COBRA/TCC subsidy program beyond May 31, according to the Washington Post. That subsidy program does appear to be phasing out.

The AMA News features an interesting article on the coming struggle on Capitol Hill to fix the formula for reimbursing doctors under Medicare Part B.  Without a legislative fix, the formula will drop the reimbursement level by 23% on December 1, 2010. In mid-June, CMS implemented a similar drop for a few days when Congress dawdled with extending the fix past May 31. In the end, Congress increased the reimbursement formula by 2.2% through November 30, 2010. But Congress is finding it necessary to appropriate an additional $95 million to CMS to pay for reprocessing these claims.

On the Affordable Care Act front, reginfo.gov informs us that the Labor Department rule implementing the Act’s disputed claim process provision (PHSA Section 2719) has been pending final Office of Management and Budget review since July 16. The interim final rule implementing the Act’s preventive care mandate was published in yesterday’s Federal Register. The comment deadline is September 17, 2010.

Finally, the FEHBlog got a kick out of this Wall Street Journal article about doctor’s notes.  It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode in which Elaine is concerned about what her doctor is writing about her on his chart and she arranges for Kramer to try to steal the chart. Of course, one of the HIPAA Privacy Rule’s individual rights is the ability to review and even propose amendments to a doctor’s notes on you, but the Privacy Rule was not on the books in the 1990s.