Midweek update

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee yesterday approved without opposition its bipartisan postal reform bill (HR 5714).  This bill would create a new Postal Service Health Benefits Program within the FEHBP.  Unlike the FEHBP, the PSHBP would be fully integrated with Medicare for annuitants over age 65.

The bill now can be scored by the Congressional Budget Office. The House Ways and Means Committee also must give its blessing to the Medicare integration feature.  The entire Committee is pushing to get a bill enacted this year.  Here is a link to the govexec.com article.

The President wrote an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggesting improvements to his signature healthcare law.  Those improvements such as adding public option in the ACA marketplaces and  prescription drug control would further strengthen government control over the health care sector.  That’s not a sensible approach in the FEHBlog’s view.

For example, Medicare always has had a public option (traditional Medicare) which has shifted overall costs to the private sector plans including the FEHBP.  If a public option is added to the ACA marketplaces there are fewer places left for those costs to shift.  A large cost shifting target would be the FEHBP.  Kaiser Health News offers readers an assortment of news articles about the piece.

In other news,

  • The HHS Office for Civil Rights has offered ransomware guidance to HIPAA covered entities, including FEHB plans, and their business associates.  Here is Health Data Management’s take on that guidance. 
  • CCIIO has issued FAQs on the proper timing for implementing the recently revised ACA summary of benefits and coverage.  
  • The American Health Policy Institute has released a study examining different approaches to high cost health plan members.