Busy day

The Senate and the House are working to avoid a government shutdown next Tuesday. A Wall Street Journal headline says it all – “No clear path to avoid shutdown as House GOP stands firm.”  

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held another postal reform hearing today. The National Association of Letter Carriers and Mail Handlers Union Presidents presented constructive testimony. The star of the show in the FEHBlog’s view was OPM Planning and Policy Analysis Director Jonathan Foley who testified in relevant part that

OPM has long believed and has previously testified before this Committee that the Postal Service and its employees and retirees are well-served by the FEHB Program.

If postal employees and retirees are removed from the FEHB Program risk pool under both Sections 104 and 105, costs under the original FEHB Program risk pool would increase by about two percent per enrollee.

Director Foley was referring to Sections 104 and 105 of the Senate Postal Reform bill (S. 1486) — Section 104 would permit the Postal Service to create a separate Postal Service Health Plan subject to union approval and Section 105 would create Medicare wrap plans within the FEHBP for Postal annuitants. Two Government Accountability Office representatives and the Postmaster General, among others, also testified.  Govexec.com and Federal News Radio both reported on the hearing.

Politico Pulse reported this morning that OPM has sent the Office of Management and Budget a final version of the proposed rule allowing members of Congress and their official staffs a government contribution toward exchange coverage in 2014. Reginfo.gov does advise that OMB received the submission on September 19. OMB typically reviews ACA rules quickly. As noted in the FEHBlog. Sen. David Vitter (R La) and others (including the Senate Minority Leader according to Politco) are working to undo this fix.

Finally, Reuters reports that U.S. “House of Representatives and Senate committees have agreed on legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration greater authority to regulate companies that compound sterile drugs and ship them across state lines” roughly one year after the Massachusetts compounding phamacy catastrophe. .