Weekend update

The FEHBlog is back from NYC and woo boy is it icy here in Washington DC.  Congress remains in session this week, and Homeland Security appropriations remains at the top of its agenda. Here is a link to the Week in Congress’s look at last week.  The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the King v. Burwell case on Wednesday morning.  This case involves the  legality (not the Constitutionality) of providing ACA subsidies in the federally managed marketplaces.

The Wall Street Journal reports that a higher percentage of ACA marketplace enrollees changed plans in the last Open Season than typically occurs in an FEHBP open season. The FEHBlog hardly finds that surprising with an immature program, but it’s worth noting.

The Washington Post reports that the battle over providing subsidized marketplace coverage to members of Congress and their official staffs continues apace.  Back in the day, the FEHBlog thought that this problem could be solved by a Congressional appropriation. However, the IRS then overruled years of precedent by holding that employers can’t reimburse their employees’ health insurance premiums on a pre-tax bas.  Even then Congress could have provided the subsidy on an after tax basis which is probably where we all will wind up in a few years, e.g, no more employer exclusion for health care coverage with tax credits toward health insurance coverage for lower income folks.

Finally, last week the nation’s fourth largest PBM Catamaran (after CVS, Express Scripts, and Optum Rx) announced the acquisition of Health Solutions Inc. for 4405 million. Here are Chicago Crain’s articles about Catamaran’s “comeback story” and this deal.