Jingle Bells

Congress has headed home for the holidays. The federal legislature will return to the Nation’s Capital to resume its session on January 11, 2016. Here is a link to the Week in Congress’s report on last week’s actions on Capitol Hill.

The President before leaving for Hawaii signed the tax extenders and omnibus appropriations bills into law.  The AP provides an interesting report on the politics of the helpful Affordable Care Act changes wrought by this law.

The President also signed an executive order giving federal employees a 1.3% raise for 2016 per Federal News Radio. “Specifically, I have determined that for 2016, across-the-board pay increases will be 1.0 percent,” [the President] wrote [to Congress]. “Also, I will make a decision by November 30, 2015, regarding an alternative plan for locality payments under 5 U.S.C. 5304a. The alternative plan for locality payments will be limited so that the total combined cost of the 1.0 percent across-the-board base pay increase and the varying locality pay increases will be 1.3 percent of basic payroll, consistent with the assumption in my 2016 Budget.”

Modern Healthcare reports not suprisingly that “Commercial health plans that cover workplace benefits for millions of Americans pay higher prices to hospitals that have little or no competition, according to a new study that raises questions about how to slow U.S. health spending amid a wave of consolidation.”  The hospitals argue that the ACA incents the health system integration.

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