TGIF

The end of the current Federal Benefits Open Season is three days and change away, December 11.  OPM posted about its FEHB Quality Perspective on Wednesday.  Benefits expert Tammy Flanagan offers advice in Govexec.com on how to navigate Open Season when it’s crunch time.

As the FEHBlog anticipated, Congress did extend federal government funding for two additional weeks until December 22, 2017. The Wall Street Journal reports today that

Congressional leaders are working on a two-year budget agreement with President Donald Trump that would raise both military and nonmilitary spending above the levels, known as the sequester, established in a 2011 budget and debt limit fight. Those lower spending levels kicked in in 2013, but lawmakers have since then passed two budget deals bumping spending higher. The last budget deal ended in September, but lawmakers have kept the government running at that level, as of Thursday evening through Dec. 22.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) met with Mr. Ryan and Mr. Trump Thursday afternoon and spent most of the time working on where to set spending levels for the next two-year deal, an aide said. Republicans are pushing for $54 billion more in defense funding a year. Democrats want to ensure a comparable increase for nondefense spending, according to aides. 

“Nothing specific has been agreed to, but discussions continue,” Mr. Schumer and Mrs. Pelosi said in a joint statement after the meeting. 

Once that budget deal has been reached, lawmakers can write the detailed spending bill that would fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

It looks like any deal won’t be finalized until next month, but funding will continue through extensions of the continuing resolution.

In other Hill news, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that he tax-bill conference committee hasn’t formally met yet, but it could be done by the end of next week, said Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio). Mr. Portman, who is on the 29-member committee, spoke to reporters after leaving a meeting with some other Senate Republican committee members Thursday afternoon.

In other items that caught the FEHBlog’s fancy:

  • The Health Affairs blog offers includes an opinion piece on why we need a serious conversation about health care spending. Agreed. 
  • Forbes Magazine provides a link to Avik Roy’s recent interview with CMS Administrator Seema Verma at the annual Forbes Healthcare Summit.  It’s worth watching. The FEHBlog also watched on YouTube another summit session outlining “five fixes for healthcare.” 
  • The FEHBlog’s alma mater, UConn, has a non-technical reader-friendly post about the state of human genetics research. 

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