Happy Pi Day

A client reminded the FEHBlog that today is National Pi Day. Best wishes to all.

Following up on the FEHBlog’s diatribe about the ACA regulator’s decision to consider whether PHCS § 2706(a), the ACA’s provider non-discrimation law, creates a federal any willing provider rule, the FEHBlog noticed in the Drug Channels blog that believe it or not the Federal Trade Commission recently sent a detailed letter to CMS expressing its opinion that any willing provider laws push the cost curve up!  This letter was written in response to CMS’s now withdrawn proposal to imposed an any willing pharmacy requirement on Medicare Part D.

And while on the topic of diatribes, the FEHBlog has not been happy with the federal Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Program’s (“OFCCP”) efforts to treat FEHBP participating health care providers as federal subcontractors for purposes of affirmative action program requirements in the face of OPM’s long standing rule that health care providers are not FEHB plan subcontractors.  Hospitals and other health care providers already are heavily regulated and an additional burden like this only will discourage hospitals from contracting with FEHB plan carriers in the FEHBlog’s view.

OFCCP also has taken enforcement actions against TRICARE (military dependent health program) providers. Congress passed a law to stop those efforts but OFCCP was not deterred. OFCCP has encouraged a crabbed interpretation of the law. Rep. Tim Walberg (R Mich) has introduced a short bill (HR 3633) that is intended to shut down these OFCCP enforcement efforts once and for all..

Yesterday, Rep. Walberg who chairs a House Education and the Workforce subcommittee held a hearing on his bill which is titled the “Protecting Health Care Providers from Increased Administrative Burdens Act.” At his hearing Rep Walberg announced that the Secretary of Labor has decided to impose a five year long moratorium on OFCCP enforcement actions against TRICARE, but not FEHBP, providers of cares. During that moratorium, OFCCP plans to acclimate providers to the new enforcement scheme. Rep. Walberg welcomed the OFFCP action but further encouraged Congress to adopt his bill as a long term solution. Here is part of his opening statement:

If the secretary [of labor who is responsible for OFCCP] has accomplished anything, he has signaled to our TRICARE providers the day of reckoning is only delayed. Any sensible provider will use these few years to decide whether it’s in their best interest to continue operating in a TRICARE network. Many may decide the administrative burden looming on the horizon is simply too much to bear. As a result, veterans, service members, and their families will lose access to care. Let me repeat that: As a result of the department’s policy, veterans, service members, and their families will lose access to care. Maybe not now, but soon.

As policymakers, we shouldn’t accept political half-measures that merely kick the can down the road. The American people expect better. I am disappointed my friend and colleague, Representative Courtney [a Connecticut Democrat on the Committee], is no longer a cosponsor of this important legislation. However, it is my hope we continue working together to provide a lasting solution to this problem, not just for our active and retired military service personnel, but also for our seniors, and the men and women who serve in the federal workforce. H.R. 3633 provides the long-term solution they and their families deserve. 

Amen to that.