Tuesday Tidbits

The excitement about Thursday’s House FEHBP oversight hearing is becoming palpable The Federal Workforce subcommittee has posted an advisory and a witness list, and the Hill’s Healthwatch also weighed in with a report headlined “House hearing will scrutinize FEHBP.”  According to the advisory, 

The hearing will give Members an opportunity to learn more about the FEHPBP’s current benefits, categories of enrollment and premium fees, as well as proposed legislative changes designed to improve the program. The Obama Administration is expected to propose several changes to the program in the president’s FY2014 budget [to be released tomorrow], including granting OPM the authority to offer additional health plan types and contract with prescription drug providers directly.

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) chairs the subcommittee. The hearing begins at 10 am on Thursday in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s hearing room,  2154 Rayburn House Office Building.

In the final essential health benefits rule, HHS applied to all group health plans an annual dollar cap on out-of-pocket expenses for in-network care beginning in 2014.  The ACA regulators allowed a one year phase in period for separately administered benefits such as prescription drugs and dental benefits in FAQ XII, Q&A 2. The doctors and consumers groups now are screaming foul according to Kaiser Health News.  It’s no wonder that premiums are expected to skyrocket next year. 

OPM released the Fiscal Year 2012 Common Characteristics of the Government report today. This annual report “serves as an overview of the size and characteristics of the Federal civilian workforce. For example the average ave of full time permanent employees is 47.1 years, up .2 from the average age in 2008 and 2011 and the gender mix is 57.3% male and 42.7% female.  

When the merger of Medco Health and Express Scripts was announced, the FEHBlog (who since then generally has stopped making predictions) expected the federal government to block this merger of two of the three largest prescription benefit managers. In the end, the merger went through, and a recent Forbes article suggests why (extensive legwork).