Midweek update

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee leadership released for public comment a bipartisan postal reform bill today according to Govexec.  Like the Senate bill championed by Sen. Tom Carper (D Del.),

The House bill would require postal retirees electing to receive federal health insurance to enroll in Medicare parts A and B as their primary care provider. The bill would phase out the Postal Service’s share of retirees’ Medicare premiums over four years. Most postal employees enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program would have to select a plan specific to USPS workers. 

The Medicare integration would largely solve the issue of prefunding future retirees’ health care, as required by a 2006 law. The issue has been a sticking point in previous attempts at postal reform, as the cash-strapped agency has struggled to make the payments and defaulted on them in recent years. USPS would make actuarial payments toward the remaining liabilities over the next 40 years.

The draft House bill is available on the Committee’s website.

Also today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously cleared for floor consideration a significant mental health care reform bill (HR 2646).  Morning Consult reports that

[Rep. Joe] Kennedy [(D. Mass.)]withdrew an amendment aimed at strengthening parity in mental health coverage after [Committee Chair Fred] Upton committed to further look into the issue. “No matter what improvements we make to our mental health system, no matter how many resources we commit, if we do not ensure that those suffering from mental illness are treated fairly by their insurance companies then we leave treatment and care out of reach for far too many patients in need,” he said in a statement. “I appreciate Chairman Upton’s promise to hold a hearing dedicated specifically to parity this fall and look forward to working across the aisle to address this significant gap in our efforts to date.”

The American Medical Association is holding its annual convention this week. Dr. Andrew Gurman is succeeding Dr. Steven Stack as the AMA’s president.  Modern Healthcare reports that the AMA at its conference called for a relaxation of pressure placed on doctors to prescribe opioids.  Health Data Management and Healthcare IT News report on the AMA’s conference’s embrace of telemedicine, which the FEHBlog finds interesting.

And last but not least,  Healthcare Dive tells us that “Aetna and Humana are experiencing smooth sailing as they work to incorporate Humana into buyer Aetna in anticipation of approval for their pending merger.” The parties expect to close the deal in the second half of this year.