Weekend update

Happy Cyber Monday. This weekend update is a little late because I attended the Redskins game against the Giants last night. I think that I may have enjoyed staying home and typing up the FEHBlog more but here we are/

This is the last full week of the Federal Benefits Open Season which ends on December 9.  The House of Representatives is in session this week but the Senate remains out until next Monday. The House is scheduled to adjourn for the holidays on December 13 and the Senate will hold sessions in the following week before wrapping things up for 2013. The Hill’s Floor Blog has more details.

The FEHBlog took sometime over the weekend to read the lengthy final rule on the health insurer fee. This onerous fee allocates an $8 billion assessment on health, dental, and vision insurer premiums in 2014 (ramping up to $14.3 billion in 2018).  The 2014 fee has been estimated by an actuarial consulting firm (retained by AHIP) to add 2% to health insurer premiums in that year. The assessment principally impacts insured FEHB and FEDVIP plans, plans in the health insurance exchanges, insured plans offered to small businesses, Medicare Advantage plans, and private Medicaid plans.   Modern Healthcare has an article about this rule here. The article indicates that non-profit HMOs, which already get a statutory break on the assessment, may litigate over whether or not they are subject to the assessment at all.

The federal government has released its 2013 unified regulatory agenda. This is an inside the Beltway site that gives readers a semi-annual heads up on the federal government’s plans for regulatory activity. For example, in the Spring 2013 unified agenda, the IRS announced that the final health insurer fee rule would be published in December 2013. The IRS actually beat that projection. Here is a OPM’s overview of its regulatory priorities which does not mention the FEHBP, but if you dig deeper into the details there are several FEHBP regulations underway. And of course there are HHS and IRS and other agency regulations underway that impact the FEHBP. There’s lots for the FEHBlog to do.

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