Midweek Update

Congress has left town to campaign for re-election. Before leaving, Congress passed a continuing resolution to fund federal government operations through December 3, 2010. The Federal Times provides a helpful rundown of the specific funding measures included in the resolution.

Congress will return for a lame duck session on November 15, 2010. The AMA already is beating the drum for a new Medicare fix. Absent Congressional action, “On December 1 of this year, Medicare payments for physician services are scheduled to be cut by 23%. A 6.5% reduction is intended to follow on January 1, 2011.”

Thanks to yesterday’s Politico Pulse, I ran across the American Hospital Association’s 46 page summary of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance reforms.  The consulting firm Towers Watson issued a report on its second survey of employer reactions to these reforms. According to that report,

Not surprisingly, most respondents indicate that their current focus is on compliance with the law rather than on how it might affect their longer-term health care benefit strategies. However, respondents said their focus will shift to rethinking strategies and developing multiyear approaches in 2011. What’s more, some employers are making significant changes to their health benefit plans now.

Also of interest, many respondents said they plan to increase their efforts to encourage employee participation in health-related programs such as wellness programs, behavioral outcomes (e.g., management of target body mass index, weight loss) and health risk assessments.

FEHB plans are engaged in the same processes — trying to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s mandates within a very short tight frame and to cooperate with OPM’s efforts to improve the health and well being of federal and postal employees and annuitants.