Well, we really are hurtling toward the holidays now. Congress has completed its work for this year, according to the Hill’s Floor Action blog. The Hill also reports that yesterday the Treasury Secretary sent a letter to Congress warning that extraordinary measures to extend the debt ceiling will be exhausted only a month or so after the current suspension of the debt ceiling ends on February 7, 2014.

Speaking of finances, OPM has posted its audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2013.  This report also includes OPM’s discussion of its strategic goals. its annual improper payments report, and the Inspector General’s recommendations to management. In a spot of good news, the Inspector General notes in his portion of the report (p. 106) that  “The rate of improper payments in the FEHBP [which the FEHBlog notes already was low] trended down in FY 2013.”

Federal News Radio reports that the new OPM Director Katherine Archuleta has been making appointments at her agency.  Of interest from an FEHBP perspective,

Chuck Grimes, the former COO, will shift to the Healthcare and Insurance
operation, where he’ll serve as deputy director, a role that was previously
vacant. In addition, OPM has hired Donna Seymour, former deputy chief human capital officer for the Defense Department, to serve as the agency’s chief information officer.  Kamala Vasagam, who previously served as special assistant to the president for
presidential personnel, takes over as OPM’s general counsel. The Senate confirmed
Elaine Kaplan, the agency’s former chief lawyer, to a spot on the U.S .Court of
Federal Claims last month. 

The Government Accountability Office released a report on OPM’s oversight of FEHBP plan carrier anti-fraud and abuse programs. Carriers have plenty of incentive to maintain sound programs because they hold the insurance risk. In any event, GAO had no recommendations on how to improve OPM’s processes which are described in the report.

The Drug Channels blog  pointed the FEHBlog to the Pharmacy Benefit Management Institutes’s 2013-14 Prescription Drug Cosr and Plan Design Report, which is available here by registering for access.  Dug Channels explains that

the PBMI report offers the only public benchmarking data on manufacturer rebates to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). A few highlights:
    Employers use a wide variety of rebate structures, including per-prescription guarantees and percentage shares. Nearly one-third of smaller employers get no rebates.
    Rebates average $17 per 30-day brand-name retail prescriptions. Surprisingly, rebates were comparable for both large and small employers.

OPM requires that PBMs credit all such manufacturers rebates to experienced rated FEHB plans.