Happy October

The FEHBlog enjoyed his grandson’s first birthday party today. He wonders when OPM plans to announce the 2018 government contribution. The call letter was released early this year and the premium announcement is late. The wild card is the onerous ACA health insurer tax which falls on the Blue Cross FEP and the HMOs to one extent or another. The FEHBlog would have bet the ranch that Congress would have further suspended or repealed the tax by now as it raises premiums in the ACA marketplace as well as the FEHBP. But no dice.

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has resumed work on a bipartisan ACA fix bil; with Washington Senator Patty Murphy, the ranking minority member of that committee. We will have to see whether that bill or another one  at least continues to suspend the health insurer tax and the medical device tax for another year or two. It’s hard to believe the Cadillac tax is now scheduled to take effect in only two years, 2020. That crazy tax will really mess up the FEHBP.

Congress is in session this week on Capitol Hill. Here’s a link to Week in Congress’s report on last week’s activities. The U.S. Supreme Court starts a new term, the first Monday in October.

Of course, it’s worth noting that last Friday Tom Price resigned as Secretary of Health and Human Services. This position is top dog in the ACA bureaucracy. It will be interesting to see who President Trump nominates to succeed him. In the meantime, the President “designated Don Wright, MD, MPH, as Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services.”

The FEHBlog noted with interested that Aetna has formed a partnership with Meals on Wheels.

The objective of the collaboration is to create a best in class model for care coordination, integrating Meals on Wheels’ daily nutritious meals, social support and critical safety checks into a continuum of care required as people age. Meals on Wheels and Aetna will pilot this model in several markets, and identify best practices intended to improve vulnerable seniors’ health outcomes. Results from these pilots will help build a scalable operational model that will address the challenges seniors face in their daily living.

This collaboration is a perfect fit for the FEHBP which has a large cadre of elderly members.

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