Weekend Update

A belated Happy Valentine’s Day to our beloved FEHB Program!

Congress is out of session this week for the Presidents’ Day holiday. Here is a recap on last week’s activities on the Hill from This Week in Congress.  When Congress returns, its members will need to immediately resolve Department of Homeland Security funding (or kick the can down the road a little farther). In one month, the federal debt ceiling which has been suspended for about the last year will be reinstated. MarketWatch reports that the Treasury Department will be able to work its magic to avoid a default for several months thereafter. Also by the end of March Congress will need to either repeal and replace or further extend the current patch on the Medicare Part B sustainable rate of growth formula. This formula is used to calculate Part B payments to doctors. Absent some sort of fix, Medicare Part B payments to doctors will drop by 18% on April1 and that’s no April Fools Day prank.

Speaking of repeal and replace, I heard Avik Roy on the radio over the weekend speaking about the Republican alternative to the ACA. Here is a link to his Forbe’s article discussing the PATIENT Care bill. He explains that

The first version of the Patient CARE Act was co-authored [last year] by Senators Tom Coburn (Okla.), Richard Burr (N.C.), and Orrin Hatch (Utah). Coburn retired in December, and so Burr and Hatch added Rep. Fred Upton (R., Mich.), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  [Sen. Hatch is now Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.]

Hacking remains in the news. Today the New York Times reports that a cybercriminal gang infiltrated the computer networks of a bunch of banks to the tune of about $1 billion in stolen cash.  According to this report both this computer crime and the computer crime perpetrated against Sony late last year kicked off with a phishing attack by which an unsuspecting employee clicked on an virus packed attachment to an email.

Herbert Lin, a cybersecurity researcher at Stanford, wrote an op-ed piece in Friday’s Wall Street Journal. He illustrated the importance of cyberliability insurance with this analogy.

Buildings today, for example, are much more resistant to fire damage because of changes driven by careful underwriting.

Health Data Management reports on the Obama Administration’s efforts to create a joint public-private defense against this scourge.

Meanwhile, Anthem announced on Friday that it is using All Clear ID as the credit monitoring and repair service for its members affected by another major computer crime.  The FEHBlog is a fan of All Clear ID‘s service. While an affected member can sign up for credit monitoring services, if an affected member decides or forgets to do so and later discovers a credit problem, he or she can call All Clear ID and the company will work to fix the problem.  More information is on the anthemfacts.com website.