Belated Weekend Update

I was out of town over the weekend so I am doing the weekend update this evening.  Hey, it’s the summertime.

The House of Representatives has begun its August recess while the Senate remains in session. It takes up Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination tomorrow.

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced a new prospective payment system for end stage renal disease facilities. Medicare provides coverage to people with end stage renal (kidney) disease without regard to the patient’s age. In the early 1970’s Congress decided to test expansion of Medicare coverage to catastrophic illnesses. End stage renal disease was the first and last test case because the expansion caused costs to explode as discussed in this American Society of Nephrologists journal article from 2009.  When Medicare squeezes on doctors and health care facilities, the providers shift costs to the private sector, including the FEHB Program.

Following up on last week’s Wall Street Journal article about shrinking health care expenses discussed in Thursday’s FEHBlog, Kaiser Health News reports on the growing practice of consumers to ask providers for discounts.

Healthcare IT News predicts that HHS’s withdrawal of its final rule on the HITECH Act’s nationwide requirement to provide notice of breach of unsecured protected health information (also discussed in last  Thursday’s FEHBlog) may mean the end of the current interim rule’s sensible harm standard. The harm standard means that a plan or provider does not have to alarm a person with a breach notice unless there’s a risk of financial or reputational harm to that person.

Today, a federal judge denied the federal government’s motion to dismiss the Commonwealth of Virginia’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s individual coverage mandate according to Business Insurance. A copy of the opinion is available here.