The Washington Post reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D Nev) will be bringing several pending nominations to the floor later this week, including Katherine Archuleta’s nomination as OPM Director. Bloomberg reports that Senator Lindsay Graham (R SC) plans an effort to block these nominations until lawmakers hear from survivors of the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Ms. Archuleta’s nomination cleared the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee in late July 2013. Sen. Tom Coburn (R Okla) put a hold on floor consideration of her nomination because of the Congressional coverage kerfuffle. He removed that hold in early August after OPM issued its proposed rule. Under OPM’s rule (now finalized) members of Congress and their official staffs will receive coverage via the DC SHOP exchange next year. Politico reports that OPM has allowed members of Congress until this Thursday to designate their official staffs who will be booted out of the FEHBP (until retirement). Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R Ky) and Minority Whip John Cornyn (R Tex), among others, have designated all of their staff members as official staff.
Federal News Radio offered a couple of additional viewpoints on House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa’s bill to extend the FEHBP to non-federal employees.
In recent carriers letters OPM has encouraged FEHBP carriers to adopt the Blue Button program and the Choosing Wisely campaign.
- The Blue Button program is a Veterans Affairs initiative to create a downloadable personal health records from electronic medical and/or claim records. Government Health IT reports that “The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) announced
on Monday that it will embark on a campaign to encourage its Component
State Associations and members to actively support the Blue Button
Initiative to promote access to personal health records (PHRs).” Here’s a link to the Blue Button pledge page. Here’s the healthit.gov page on the Blue Button movement. If you are an FEHBP enrollee, check your plan’s website for the Blue Button.
- Choosing Wisely is a campaign “focused on encouraging physicians, patients and other health care stakeholders to think and talk about medical tests and procedures that may be unnecessary, and in some instances can cause harm.” The campaign arranges for medical societies to create and update lists of Things Physicians and Patients Should Question.” Here is the list of dates when medical socities will be releasing their recommendations. Most recently, the American Academy of Dermatology, the American College of Chest Physicians and American Thoracic Society (Pulmonary), and the American College of Rheumatology (Pediatric Rheumatology) released their recommendations which are available on the campaign’s website.