Tuesday Tidbits

The Washington Post reports today that OPM Director John Berry is the leading candidate to be the U.S. Ambassador to Australia. Mr. Berry had been considered a candidate for Interior Secretary but he was not selected for that position.

The Hill’s Healthwatch reports on today’s House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Affordable Care Act taxes. Rep. Charles Boustany (R La.) explained his plan to include the repeal of the medical device tax and the health insurer fee as part of broader tax reform.   The article concludes that Repealing any of the healthcare law’s taxes would increase the deficit. The device tax is set to generate about $20 billion over the next decade, while the tax on insurance plans will raise roughly $100 billion.” Will someone pleae explain to the FEHBlog how imposing these onerous taxes — which will be passed onto consumers — can make healthcare more affordable?

The AMA News reports that the Department of Health and Human Services has informed the American Medical Association that there will be no more extensions of the ICD-10 coding initiative’s October 1, 2014, compliance date. The FEHBlog sympathsizes with the AMA because the ICD-10 coding initiative will do nothing to speed electronic claims transactions — the objective of HIPAA — but the AMA should have tried to block this change at the end of the last decade and not after the final rule came out. Health plans already have spent millions of dollars coming into compliance with this rule.

Finally, the Chicago Tribune reports on an AMA Journal study about a mortality index developed for people older than 50 (which cadre includes the FEHBlog). “The researchers created the index by analyzing data on almost 20,000 Americans over 50 who took part in a national health survey in 1998. They tracked the participants for 10 years. Nearly 6,000 participants died during that time.” The researchers expect that doctors will administer the index and use the results to advise patients on course of treatments for chronic illnesses.