TGIF

The FEHBlog did read through the Better Care Reconciliation Act. He was pleased to read Avik Roy’s assessment of the bill. As the FEHBlog has noted neither the House bill nor the Senate bill would adversely impact the FEHBP or its enrollees. Both bills would repeal the ACA taxes, like the health insurer fee and the medical device tax, that have helped raise premiums.  Employee Benefit News points out that there’s good news for FEHBP consumer driven plans:

The bill keeps all the provisions from the House of Representatives’ healthcare bill that increases the benefits of health savings accounts, which is good news for employers and employees. Under the plan, individuals can put $6,550, up from $3,400, and families can put $13,100, up from $6,550, into a tax-free HSA.
It also makes the accounts more flexible by: allowing both spouses to make catch-up contributions to one HSA beginning in 2018, letting people use their HSAs to pay for over-the-counter medications, which was restricted under the ACA and lowering the tax penalty if you use an HSA to pay for unqualified medical expenses to 10%, from 20%.

We may have reached the beginning of the end of this legislative process. (The FEHBlog is not betting the ranch on this statement though.)

Govexec.com reports that the President has nominated Michael Rigas to be deputy director at OPM. That’s currently a vacant position.

Rigas is chief of staff at the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services. Before joining that agency, he worked in Republican politics and advocacy, at the Massachusetts Republican Party and conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation.
During the George W. Bush administration, he was associate administrator of the General Services Administration, where he worked on efforts to increase the amount of government contracting to woman- and veteran-owned businesses.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has not yet scheduled a confirmation hearing for George Nesterczuk, the President’s nominee for OPM Director.

Healthcare Dive provides its perspective on Cigna, which is a network provider in the FEHBP.

The Washington Post reports that Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sent a letter to OPM  inquiring about the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program which experienced premium spikes last year. “An agency spokesperson declined to say what, if anything, has been done to stabilize the program since the November hearing [before that Committee]. Even basic questions related to the number of people in the program were deferred.”

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