Tuesday’s Tidbits

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved the nomination of Jacob “Jack” Lew to be Office of Management and Budget Director by a 9-0 vote today. The Washington Post reports that the Senate Budget Committee also must vote on the nomination before the full Senate can consider confirmation.

The agencies responsible for implementing the Affordable Care Act — Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Internal Revenue Service — have issued a set of frequently asked questions that address a variety of compliance issues. Business Insurance reports on the new guidance.

The Federal Times reports on a proposed Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rule to aggressively combat Medicare fraud and abuse by health care providers. Among other initiatives, the proposed rule would cause CMS to “rate all types of medical providers by their risk for engaging in fraud. Those at highest risk would undergo fingerprinting and criminal background checks. New home-health agencies and suppliers of home-health equipment that are not publicly traded companies would initially get this increased screening.”

A FEHBlog reader recently commented on rising FEHB plan premiums for former spouses. There’s no doubt that FEHB plan premiums have been rising — in my view due principally to the group’s demographics and rising medical costs. Before Congress approved self-pay COBRA continuation coverage for private sector health plans in 1986, Congress provided self-pay FEHB continuation coverage for certain former spouses. In contrast to COBRA continuation coverage which lasts 36 months for former dependents, FEHB former spouse coverage can last for the individual’s lifetime. Former spouse coverage is explained at this OPM website. Congress later extended self-pay continuation coverage rights to former employees and former dependents, including ex-spouses who are ineligible for former spouse coverage. This is known as temporary continuation coverage or TCC and it’s very similar to COBRA. Both former spouse and TCC enrollees have Open Season rights like federal and postal employees and annuitants. They can elect lower cost plans during the Open Season if desired.