Weekend update

Both Houses of Congress are back in town this week. The Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing on the Graham – Cassidy health care reform bill tomorrow. The Wall Street Journal accurately describes the bill as “on the ropes. “The major trade groups representing insurers, hospitals and physicians issued a joint statement Saturday opposing the bill, describing themselves as being in ‘total agreement’ over the Graham-Cassidy effort.” 

The Senate has to act on the bill this week in order to take advantage of the current fiscal year’s budget resolution which allows for a 50 vote reconciliation action in the Senate. Of course, Congress can pass a similar budget resolution for the new fiscal year which begins next Sunday. 
This week should feature OPM’s announcement of the 2018 government contribution change for the FEHBP. The government contribution for civil service employees and all annuitants is 72% of the enrollment weighted average premium capped at 75% of the selected plan’s premium. It’s hard to believe that this fair share formula has been in place for 20 years. 
The Baltimore Sun reports that “Chet Burrell will retire next year as president and CEO of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield after more than a decade heading the region’s largest insurer.” Carefirst is an FEHBP HMO carrier, participates in the Blue Cross FEP service benefit plan, and provides insurance coverage to the FEHBlog’s law firm. Good luck, Mr. Burrell. 
Finally, Healthcare Dive reports that CMS is interested in taking the well funded CMS Center for Innovation in a new direction.  The new direction will favor provider input over central control. That makes sense to the FEHBlog.