Yesterday, OPM issued its final phased retirement rule. The OPM press release explains that

Employees who are eligible for Phased Retirement and want to continue working on a part-time basis may do so with the agreement of their agencies.  During Phased Retirement, an employee will receive a partial annuity and will keep accruing additional service credit toward their final annuity.  The employee will also spend 20 percent of his time in mentoring activities to facilitate the transfer of their knowledge and skills to other employees within the agency. Each agency will have the flexibility to implement the mentoring component in a way that is best for the agency and employees.

The final rule (5 C.F.R. § 831.1715(a)(1)) explains that employee whose applications for phased retirement are accepted will remain full time employees for FEHB purposes. That means that the FEHB plan remains primary to Medicare if the employee engaged in phased retirement is over 65.  OPM will begin to accept phased retirement applications on November 6, 2014.

Earlier this week, CMS released its final Medicare Part A Inpatient Payment Regulation for FY 2015 which begins on October 1, 2014. Of note, “the payment rate update to general acute care hospitals will be 1.4 percent in FY 2015,” and “[t]he maximum reduction in payments under the Hospital Readmissions Reduction program will increase from 2 to 3 percent as required by law.”

Thanks to Politico Pro, the FEHBlog stumbled across this Altarum Institute website that keep track of health care economic indicators.

Health care gained a modest 7,000 jobs in July, bringing the 2014 year-to-date monthly average down to 18,000, very close to the monthly average for all of 2013. Health care prices in June 2014 were 1.7% higher than in June 2013, but similar to the rates reported for April and May, and 0.6% higher than for the first quarter of 2014. Health spending in June 2014 grew 4.8% over June 2013, a significant increase over the 4.2% growth estimated for calendar year 2013.  

Very helpful

Finally, at the end of last month, the FEHBlog’s health plan clients dutifully paid the ACA required $2 per member bellybutton fee to support the ACA created Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute. The FEHBlog mused what’s happening with all that money. IHealthBeat reports that

According to Modern Healthcare, some critics have said pilot projects funded by PCORI over the last two years have not included rigorous enough trials to inform changes to the way care is delivered. For example, an opinion piece by Scott Gottlieb — a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute — published recently in Morning Consult noted that PCORI was supposed to help fill a “purported private void” of research that was not being done by the private sector to assess pressing questions about the comparative effectiveness of different treatments. However, he wrote that the $54.8 million in funding for 33 new research projects awarded last week by PCORI were “mostly trivial” and for “studies of how to do studies.”

Of course, PCORI disagrees.