Tuesday’s Tidbits

The House of Representatives returned from vacation today for the purpose of passing a bill that will continue increased federal spending on State Medicaid programs. Modern Healthcare reports that the House took the anticipated action and the President signed the bill into law. The House is in adjournment until September 14.

The Office of Personnel Management released the results of its annual employee survey. This survey looks at job satisfaction, not employee benefits.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that health insurers, including Aetna, Humana, and United Healthcare, are jumping into the “feeding frenzy” to provide healthcare providers with meaningful electronic healthcare record technology.  “It is an opportunity for insurers to diversify their operations as the federal health overhaul presents new challenges to their core business of collecting premiums and paying claims. In some cases, it is also an opportunity to link doctors more closely to systems to aid in reimbursement or disease management.”

Business Insurance reports on the results of a Hewitt Associates study that

Fifty-one percent of employers with self-funded plans expect their plans to lose grandfathered status in 2011, and 21% expect that to happen in 2012. Forty-six percent of employers with fully insured plans expect to lose grandfathered status in 2011, and 18% expect that in 2012. 

Interestingly the Hewitt press release notes that employers are opting to give up grandfathering in order to have more control over benefit design. That’s not what I expected when the law passed but it’s understandable given the strict regulatory interpretation of grandfathered plan status. The FEHB Program will likely reflect this pattern.