Tuesday Tidbits

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s website is no longer listing a confirmation hearing for OPM Inspector General nominee John DuPuy on Thursday. The Committee continues to plan to hold a hearing for an Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director nominee on Thursday at 10 am. The FEHBlog plans to check in on the hearing Thursday to find out if Chairman Ron Johnson (R Wisc.) explains when Mr. DuPuy’s confirmation hearing will be held.  The FEHBlog is on record here that he would prefer that Sen. Johnson permit his Committee and the Senate to vote on the OPM Director and Deputy Director nominations soon.

The House Ways and Means Committee announced today that several of its Republican members have introduced a series of bills concerning ACA taxes.

The following bills were introduced today:
H.R. 4617, introduced by Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN), provides relief from the job and innovation-killing Medical Device Tax for 5 years.
H.R. 4618, introduced by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), provides relief for two years from the tax on over-the-counter medications, expanding access and reducing health are costs by once again allowing for reimbursement under consumer-directed accounts.
H.R. 4620, introduced by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD), provides relief in 2018 from the Health Insurance Tax that drives up health care costs, if the insurer provides the plan holder with a premium rebate and delays the tax in 2019 for all insurers.
H.R. 4619, introduced by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), provides needed relief from the Health Insurance Tax, for 2 years for health care plans regulated by Puerto Rico.
H.R. 4616, introduced by Reps. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Mike Kelly (R-PA), delivers three years of retroactive relief and one year of prospective relief from the harmful employer mandate paired with a one-year delay of the Cadillac Tax [from 2020 to 2021].

H.R. 4620 puzzles the FEHBlog because if Congress repeals the health insurer tax for 2018 and the taxes were built into the rate, the ACA’s medical loss ratio requirements should create a refund. If the plans set rates in the reasonable expectation that Congress would further suspend or delay the tax, those insurers would take in the chops. This tax, which adversely impacts the FEHBP, should be repealed now.