Midweek update

The FEHBlog is ecstatic about the President’s January 30 executive order requiring a significant reduction on the burden that federal regulations impose on the private sector, particularly small business.  In the FEHBlog’s view, which he believe that he has document in this blog, the healthcare sector among others has been strangled by regulations in the wake of the Affordable Care Act.  Those regulations tended to drive up benefits and administrative costs.  Here’s the nub of the January 30 order:

(b)  For fiscal year 2017, which is in progress, the heads of all agencies are directed that the total incremental cost of all new regulations, including repealed regulations, to be finalized this year shall be no greater than zero, unless otherwise required by law or consistent with advice provided in writing by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (Director).
(c)  In furtherance of the requirement of subsection (a) of this section, any new incremental costs associated with new regulations shall, to the extent permitted by law, be offset by the elimination of existing costs associated with at least two prior regulations.  Any agency eliminating existing costs associated with prior regulations under this subsection shall do so in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act and other applicable law.

The salutary effect of the order will be felt once the Senate confirms the President’s domestic appointees, such as Rep. Tom Price for HHS Secretary.

In this regard, take a look at this Congressional Research Service legal side bar report on the President’s January 20 executive order encouraging the administrative reduction of Affordable Care Act administrative burdens. Senate approval of Rep. Price’s nomination will lead to actions taken under the January 20 executive order because the HHS Secretary has so much authority over the ACA.

Tomorrow the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing to review the state of IT security at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and receive updates on reforms and challenges with the security clearance process.

Yesterday the Chair and ranking minority member of that Committee introduced a 2017 postal reform bill (HR 756).  Here’s a link to a Committee memorandum identifying the differences between the 2016 and 2017 bills.  The FEHBlog recalls a Govexec interview with the Committee’s chair Jason Chaffetz (R UT) suggesting that Medicare integration had become a fly in the ointment of this bipartisan bill. But to the contrary the 2017 bill continues to call for a separate Postal Service Health Benefits Program within the  FEHBP.  Postal Service annuitants over age 65 who enroll in PSHBP plans will be subject to full Medicare integration, e.g, auto enrollment in Part B and participation in prescription benefit plans coordinated with Medicare Part D known as EGWPs.  The Postal Service has been demanding this outcome because the law requires the Postal Service to prefund its retiree health care costs. The Postal Service wants to receive the full value of the Medicare taxes which the Service has paid.

PhRMA, the lobbying organization for prescription drug manufacturers, has posted a report on yesterday’s meeting with the President.  The report is encouraging.