Midweek update

Modern Healthcare has a timely article about the future of HIPAA as it approaches its 20th anniversary of enactment next month.  The law was updated in 2009.  Congress should take another look at it. In the FEHBlog’s view the major problem with the law is that it embeds technology in law and technology changes occur much more rapidly than changes in the law. 

Another Congressional initiative was to create a phased retirement option in the federal government.  Federal News Radio reports that less than 100 federal employees have applied for the option so far.

Retirement eligible federal employees who sign up for the program
agree to work part-time in their positions while collecting half their
salary and half their accumulated retirement annuity. Once approved,
phased retirees must dedicate part of their working hours — 20 percent
in some cases — to mentoring other employees who plan to take over their
job responsibilities once they leave.

Congress passed a law in 2012 authorizing the phased retirement program for federal employees. But final regulations
didn’t come from OPM until 2014. Agencies got the green light in
November 2014 that they could begin accepting applications for the
program from their employees.

Individual agencies are responsible for issuing and implementing
their own specific guidelines on phased retirement. But many agencies
have been slow to unveil them, and some, like the Social Security Administration, have opted not offer the phased retirement to their employees.

The Defense Department is the latest agency to offer more details
about its phased retirement program. DoD components are opting to
introduce phased retirement based on their own terms and mission needs.

Continuing on the topic of legislative initiatives, Health Affairs discusses federal and state efforts to enact “telehealth parity laws” which require the insurers to pay equivalent amounts for brick and mortar vs. telehealth visits. Supporters believe that parity will encourage the expansion of telehealth and while parity would improve the profitability of telehealth, would it lower the cost curve?