Although Congress is out of town, the legislative prognosticators remain on the loose. Bloomberg reports that large employers are cautiously optimistic about a successful repeal of the ACA’s 40% excise tax on high cost employer sponsored health coverage. As the FEHBlog has noted and Jonathan Gruber confirmed, the excise tax was created as an alternative to eliminating the tax exclusion for employer contributions to health benefits coverage. This tax exclusion is unavailable to people purchasing individual health insurance coverage and it is cut in half for small business owners in partnerships, S corps, etc. It strikes the FEHBlog that the 50% exclusion should apply to all higher income people which should serve as a pay go for repealing the excise tax. That tax will be a terrible burden on all employers, large and small.

A health care consultant reports in his blog that bipartisan bills are floating around on Capitol Hill that would relieve employers of the ACA’s onerous mandatory reporting on compliance with the employer shared responsibility mandate which takes effect this year.

As an aside, I have given up discussing efforts to delay the ICD-10 coding sustem as the compliance date is only six weeks away, and Congress will have to deal with appropriations when it returns from August recess.. If the ICD-10 coding mandate does create another train wreck, then Congress will step in.

The Altarum Institute reports that

National health spending in June 2015 was 5.7% higher than in June 2014, down from the 8-year high growth rate of 6.7% in the first quarter of 2015. The 5.7% growth rate is still, however, higher than the new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services 2014 estimate of 5.5%. The health spending share of gross domestic product was 18.1% in June, barely below the all-time high of 18.2% first recorded in March 2015.

Finally, this Wall Street Journal article caught this FEHBlog’s eye. Startups across the country are trying to replicate the success of Uber in the healthcare field.

Analysts say it’s unclear whether many of the new on-demand services [featuring home visits and tele health services] will reduce costs for those chronically ill patients—or mainly make it more convenient for the healthy and wealthy to get care they could have gone without.

These are not mutually exclusive outcomes.


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