Mid-week update

Tomorrow, the seventh anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the American Health Care Act.  The legislative process is quite engaged this evening according to the press.

Today the House of Representatives passed two healthcare related bills — a Small Business Healthcare Fairness Act (HR 1101) and a Competitive Health Insurance Act (HR 372).  The first bill would permit small businesses to purchase health insurance coverage through association health plans.  The second would subject all health insurers to the full application of federal anti-trust laws.  Whether the first bill passes the Senate is anyone’s guess, but the second bill is a slam dunk to become law in view of the 416-8 vote for House passage. More details on the first bill can be found in Kaiser Health News, and more detail on the second bill can be found in Bloomberg BNA.

Let’s tie up a couple loose ends

  • As the OPM IG was walking out the door just about a year ago, he tossed a grenade into the acting Director’s office by asserting that Ms. Cobert should have stepped down when President Obama nominated her to serve as permanent OPM director. The OPM IG relied on a DC Circuit decision called NLRB v. SW General, 796 F.3d 67. As the FEHBlog noted at the time, the D.C. Circuit opened the Director’s actions to legal challenge but did not render all of her actions illegal per se.  In any event, on Monday, in a 6-2 decision written by the Chief Justice, the Supreme Court affirmed the D.C. Circuit decision. 
  • Five years ago, a major health care crisis erupted when the New England Compounding Center was accused of causing 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people and hurt more than 700.  The crisis was attributed to 14,000 contaminated vials of drugs that NCCC had prepared and distributed nationwide. Following the crisis, Congress passed a law cracking down on compounding pharmacies.  NPR reports that today a federal district court jury in Boston found one of the NECC owners guilty of racketeering but not murder.

Tomorrow also is the beginning of the annual AHIP-OPM FEHBP carrier conference.  The FEHBlog will be there.

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