Weekend update

The House of Representatives and the Senate will be in session on Capitol Hill this coming week. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a business meeting afternoon to consider the nomination of Emily Murphy to be General Services Administrator.  The Committee initially intended to consider Ms. Murphy’s nomination along with the OPM Director and Deputy Director nominations. However, the Committee Chair Sen. Ron Johnson (R Wisc.) severed Ms. Murphy from the OPM nominees in order to maintain pressure on the agency to comply with his records request as discussed in the FEHBlog last week. Here’s a link to the Week in Congress’s report on last week’s activities on Capitol Hill.

The Department of Health and Human Services is proposing the 2019 Benefits and Payment Parameters Notice as required by the ACA. The notice principally pertains to the individual and small business plans operating in the ACA marketplaces. The one provision of the notice that applies to the FEHBP is its announcement of the maximum annual limitation on cost sharing [e.g. deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance]: 

[W]e propose [based on statutory requirements] that the 2019 maximum annual limitation on cost sharing would be $7,900 for self-only coverage and $15,800 for other than self-only coverage. This represents an approximately 7 percent increase above the 2018 parameters of $7,350 for self only coverage and $14,700 for other than self-only coverage.

As usual, Prof. Timothy Jost and a colleague offer comprehensive coverage of the Notice here.

On Saturdays, the FEHBlog enjoys watching the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board program on television. The panel this week turned to the President’s declaration that the opioid crisis is a national public health emergency.  The panel referred to Sally Satel, MD, as a helpful take on the crisis. 

The FEHBlog had not heard of Dr. Satel who turns out to be a psychiatrist and professor at Yale University, a prolific author, and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.  The FEHBlog thanks to You Tube watched a panel on the opioid crisis that Dr. Satel chaired. One of the panels was Christopher Caldwell who authored an April 2017 article titled “American Carnage: The New Landscape of Opioid Addiction.” The FEHBlog encourages you to read the article which provides a history of the our country’s problems with opioids which dates back to the Civil War and an overview of the current problems. 

The Wall Street Journal also reported over the weekend that CVS Health has been on a big hunt for a health insurer partner

CVS Health Corp.’s bid for Aetna Inc. is the culmination of a wide-ranging hunt by the drugstore giant for a deal partner, highlighting a broader effort among health-care companies to find new avenues of growth by combining diverse businesses under one roof. 

The Woonsocket, R.I., company has been examining different deal possibilities for about six months, according to people familiar with the matter. CVS approached Anthem Inc. ANTM 2.14% about potentially buying the health insurer, and discussed a combination with UnitedHealth Group Inc., the people said. In both cases, the talks were preliminary and informal.