The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post report this afternoon that Congressional budget negotiators are working to wrap up a two fiscal year (2014 and 2015) deal that would avoid a government shutdown in January and give us a federal budget for this first time since 2009. The deal would preserve the peace beyond the 2014 mid-term elections next November.

The Washington Post is reporting the Congress is reminding its membership and official staffers that they will retain their FEHBP coverage until January 31, 2013, if they are unable to sign up for DC SHOP program this month. The FEHBlog did not realize that the DC SHOP program’s website (which is separate from also has been encountering glitches. Under the ACA, these folks will need to sign up for DC SHOP coverage no later than January 15, 2014, if they want to avoid a break in coverage. Anyone who signs up from January 16 though February 15, 2014, we become eligible for DC SHOP coverage on March 1, 2014. offered an article about the ACA’s impact on the FEHBP which feature the FEHBlog’s insights. The Federal Times offered an article on the same topic which did not.  

Deloitte consulting issued its 2013 survey of employer attitudes toward the healthcare system. “When asked what is likely to improve the system, the leading response was “increased transparency around the prices of specific medical products, services and procedures (52 percent)” followed by “clear, accessible information about the performance of care provided by doctors (46 percent).” Shocker.

Speaking of price transparency, the New York Times wrote earlier this week about soaring and inscrutable hospital care prices.

In a medical system notorious for opaque finances and inflated bills, nothing is more convoluted than hospital pricing, economists say. Hospital charges represent about a third of the $2.7 trillion annual United States health care bill, the biggest single segment, according to government statistics, and are the largest driver of medical inflation, a new study in The Journal of the American Medical Association found. * * * The main reason for high hospital costs in the United States, economists say, is fiscal, not medical: Hospitals are the most powerful players in a health care system that has little or no price regulation in the private market.

Bear in mind that Medicare pricing on hospital care is set by law which pushes air in the cost balloon over to the private sector (e.g., employer sponsored coverage, FEHBP) side