Happy Friday the 13th

Sen. David Vitter (R Louisiana) continues to maintain a hold on Beth Cobert’s nomination to serve as permanent OPM Director according to this Federal News Radio report.  The Senator “isn’t satisfied with OPM’s response to his questions about a final rule that lets members of Congress and their staff buy health insurance on the Small Business Health Options Plan (SHOP) exchange. And he’s blaming OPM — as well as members of Congress — for being complicit to an exemption in the Affordable Care Act that members shouldn’t have.”  This ball properly should be in Congress’s court not OPM’s.

Speaking of OPM’s Nextgov.com offers an interview with OPM’s senior cybersecurity advisor Clifton Triplett. Mr. Triplett “used OPM’s upcoming “unfortunate [data breach announcement] anniversary” to discuss [in the article] the agency’s security posture in the year since the big breach was announced.”

HHS issued its final non-discrimination in health programs rule today. The rule applies Public Health Service Act Section 1557 added by the ACA to HHS funded and administered programs. While PHSA Sec. 1557 applies to the FEHBP, it’s not clear to what extent this HHS rule applies to the FEHBP. But in any event the rule deserves attention.

The HHS rule takes effect on July 18, 2016. HHS is allowing health plans to make benefit changes required by the rule in time for the next plan year beginning on or after January 1, 2017. The rule unquestionably applies to all ACA marketplace plans which like FEHB plans, are immersed in 2017 benefit design development now (and in some states the horse has left the barn). Here is a link to HHS’s related facts heets and the final rule itself.