Weekend Update

The Federal Benefits Open Season ends tomorrow. Also coming down to the wire is Congressional action on federal appropriations and tax extenders (as well as financial assistance for first responders to the September 11, 2001, tragedy).  Fox News offers a comprehensive overview of the upcoming busy week on Capitol Hill while the Week in Congress reviews the last week’s actions.  The FEHBlog will be keeping an eye out for the possible two year extension of the effective date for the 40% excise tax on high cost employer sponsored health benefits coverage (from 2018 to 2020).  Fox explains that the House version of the must pass bills will be posted tomorrow.

The FEHBlog noticed that the OPM Inspector General has posted his semi annual report to Congress for the period ended September 30, 2015 together with the agency’s management response. Always interesting reading.

In other OPM news, Kaiser Health News reports on the status of the multi-state program that OPM operates in the ACA healthcare exchanges and Federal News Radio reports that

A former federal counterintelligence official [Doug Thomas] says the White House is poised to stand up a new agency that will own the federal security clearance process. The formation of a new organization, the National Investigative Service Agency, would move ownership of the security clearance process away from the Office of Personnel Management, which assumed oversight of the program from the Defense Department in 2004.

Drug Channels provides five prescription drug benefit takeaways from the recently issued CMS report on U.S. healthcare spending for 2014.  The fifth takeaway surprised the FEHBlog because it contrasts with the report’s general view that prescription drug costs are rising sharply:

In 2014, consumers’ out-of-pocket expenses—cash-pay prescriptions plus copayments and coinsurance—grew by $1.2 billion, from $43.5 billion in 2013 to $44.7 billion in 2014. However, consumers’ share of outpatient prescription drug expenditures expenses shrank, from 16.4% in 2013 to a historically low 15.0% in 2014. The consumer’s share is predicted to keep dropping, as [Drug Channels] explain[s] in Here’s Who Will Pay For Prescription Drugs in 2024.


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