One noteworthy point is that the FEHBlog has been on the web for ten years this month. The FEHBlog writes the blog to stay up to date for the FEHB plan trade association that he represents. When the FEHBlog began, the FEHB Act, 5 U.S.C. Ch. 89, governed the FEHB Program. The FEHB Act is a 55 year old of legislative simplicity. Contract for plans, allow for annual open seasons without pre-existing condition restictions, and let market forces and consumer choice do their work. The Program was working well. Four years later, the Affordable Care Act was enacted. The ACA largely trumps market forces with loads of statutory provisions and regulations. The regulatory maze continues to require the FEHBlog’s attention. He’s not going anywhere.
Congress will be in session this coming week. Congress did not meet its April 15 deadline for enacting a budget resolution. Space Policy Online reassures us that “Congress has ways around the Budget Resolution process (this wouldn’t be the first year that Congress could not pass one) and since the budget deal worked out last fall between Congress and the White House covers FY2017, the total spending figures exist already.” Here’s a link to the Week in Congress’s account of last week’s activities on the Hill.
On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s health subcommittee will hold a hearing on Obama Administration initiative to implement new value based Medicare payment methods. Here’s a link to a majority memorandum on the hearing. The Administration is moving fast with these initiatives. The committee will hear from the medical community.
The FEHBlog noted a few Sundays ago that he had signed AHIMA’s White House petition to remove a long time budget restriction on development of a voluntary patient identifier. (Actually HIPAA calls for a mandatory patient ID – that’s the development initiative that Congress blocked.) AHIMA needs over 91,000 signatures by Tuesday if it wants a White House response. AHIMA should develop its own voluntary patient ID. That may get Congress’s attention. After all Congress plopped up a good deal of CAQH CORE’s work on HIPAA operating rules right into the ACA.