Congress returns to work on Tuesday following the MLK holiday tomorrow. On Thursday, the Senate also approved the FY 2014 omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 3547). The President has said that he will sign the bill into law. Federal News Radio offers a helpful chart showing how the bill impacts various federal departments and agencies.
The next checkpoint is the debt ceiling increase that will have to occur late next month according to the Treasury Department. The current debt ceiling suspension expires on February 7. Politico reports however that the Senate Majority Leader thinks that a debt ceiling increase will not be needed until the Spring. In any event, all signs point to peace on the Potomac. No government shutdowns this year.
The lead article in the New York Times concerns how medical specialists are soaking the populace. The article focuses on the pecuniary benefits of dermatology.
[M]inor procedures typically offer the best return on investment: A cardiac surgeon can perform only a couple of bypass operations a day, but other specialists can perform a dozen procedures in that time span. That math explains why the incomes of dermatologists, gastroenterologists and oncologists rose 50 percent or more between 1995 and 2012, even when adjusted for inflation, while those for primary care physicians rose only 10 percent and lag far behind, since insurers pay far less for traditional doctoring tasks like listening for a heart murmur or prescribing the right antibiotic.
Of course, it’s the insurers’ fault.
Finally, one of the more onerous Affordable Care Act provisions is the complicated IRC 6055/6056 reporting that caused the IRS to delay the employer shared responsibility mandate for one year. The 6055 reports must be submitted by health plans, including FEHB plans, to document enrollee and dependent compliance with the individual shared responsibility mandate. The 6056 must be submitted by large employers to document their compliance with the employer shared responsibility mandate. This helpful report from Buck Consultants discusses the public hearing that the IRS held on these new reporting requirements in November 2013.