Weekend update

The House has left town until September 5th for its August recess. The Senate is scheduled to remain in town for the next two weeks. Avik Roy has a worthwhile post-mortem or as he puts it autopsy of the health care bill’s course, and the New York Times Upshot reflects on why healthcare policy is so hard. Here’s a link to the Week in Congress’s report on last week’s other action on Capitol Hill.

This week we move into August which is the month that FEHB plan carriers complete their 2018 contract negotiations with OPM.  In September OPM announces the 2018 premiums.  That can’t occur until Congress comes back to town so OPM can brief members of Congress. Historically that press release happened shortly after Labor Day in other words right after Congress returned from its August recess. Lately the press release has come out in late September almost October.

The timing of announcing 2018 rate is complicated by the fact that we don’t know whether Congress will further delay or repeal the onerous health insurer tax. Absent a change in the law, that tax revives for 2018 which will materially impact most FEHB plan premiums.