Mid-week update

The federal debt ceiling will be reimposed on Friday and the Treasury Secretary has advised that extraordinary measures to avoid a default will not last beyond late February due to the need to make tax refund payments. The Hill and Politico are reporting that the House leadership is not planning on a fight with the President over a debt ceiling increase. The Politico suggests that House leadership may try to attach an extension of the Medicare Part B payment fix from March 31 to December 31, 2014.

Progress is being made on a bill to repeal and replace the statutory sustainable growth rate formula that is the cause of the Medicare Part B payment fix. The fly in the ointment (besides finding the funding) is the fact that the legislator who is leading these negotiations, Sen. Max Baucus (D Mont), is expected to be confirmed as the next U.S. Ambassador to China tomorrow. Therefore he will be leaving the Senate and the country soon. Bloomberg reports that Sen. Ron Wyden (D Ore.) will replace Sen. Baucus as the chair of the Senate Finance Committee. In any event, the FEHBlog expects peaceful resolutions of these issues as we head toward the November elections.

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