Happy Memorial Day!

The FEHBlog trusts that all of his readers have enjoyed the long weekend. The Hill’s Floor Action blog reports that while the Senate is out this week, the House will be in session for one day —  Wednesday — to consider appropriations bill, among other measures. The Hill also suggests five reasons why OMB Director Sylvia Burwell is sailing through the confirmation process which should wrap up on the Senate floor next week.

CNBC reports that the major prescription benefits manager Express Scripts is pulling together a coalition to spur competition against hideously expensive drugs like Sovaldi. Express Scripts’ “strategy is to leverage [the coalition’s] buying power to push Gilead to lower the price by letting the drugmaker know they’re prepared to drop Sovaldi when rival drugs come onto the market over the next year.” Good luck.

Finally, on a topic of general interest, the ACA’s employer shared responsibility mandate, the New York Times reports on new IRS guidance explaining that if employers with 50 or more full time employees contribute toward individual health insurance coverage for their employees (inside or outside the exchange) – a common practice that the IRS had condoned as lawful and tax exempt for over fifty years — the employer would be liable for a $36,000 annual penalty for each employee who buys employer subsidized individual coverage. In the IRS’s view the subsidy constitutes unlawful group coverage which is subject to a $100 per employee per day of violation penalty under the ACA.  

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