Mid-week update

The Hill reports on a compromise reached today that will permit the Senate to vote on extending the continuing resolution funding the federal government until the end of this fiscal year, September 30, 2013. The House already has passed such a bill. Absent Congressional agreement on before next Wednesday, a government shutdown will occur. The FEHBlog is hopeful for a happy resolution.

The New York Times reports on ongoing efforts to repeal the ACA’s 2.3% excise tax on medical devices.

Lifehealthpro reports on an National Association of Insurance Commissioners draft flowchart of health insurance exchange eligibility options in 2014. (There are nine potential outcomes.) The FEHBP bounce of this ball is that federal employees will have the choice between (in all likelihood) unsubsidized exchange coverage and subsidized FEHBP coverage. There is a large cadre of federal employees who do take FEHBP coverage because they are covered under a spouse’s plan or choose not to purchase it. Federal employees would be nuts not to pick up FEHBP coverage during the five years preceding retirement because that is the prerequisite to post-retirement FEHBP coverage with the full government contribution. However, before then it will truly be their choice in 2014.

Kaiser Health News has two interesting reports today. One concerns consumer confusion over the multitude of reported hospital ratings. The FEHBlog would just stick with CMS’s Hospital Compare. The other concerns “a growing number of doctors have begun holding group appointments — seeing up to a dozen patients with similar medical concerns all at once.” The concerns that are the subject of these group appointments typically are chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart disease, not contagious illnesses.

For example, in a diabetes group visit, a doctor might ask everyone to remove their shoes so he can examine their feet for sores or signs of infection, among other things. A typical session lasts up to two hours. In addition to answering questions and examining patients, the doctor often leads a discussion, often assisted by a nurse. 

But does the provider charge the health plan a group discount?