Midweek update

Govexec.com reports that on December 22, 2017, Sen. Ron Johnson (R. Wisc.) in his role as Chairman of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee issues a subpoena to OPM demanding the production documents, including email messages, concerning the development and promulgation of the OPM rule granting a FEHBP level government contribution to members of Congress and their staff who were shifted from the FEHBP to the DC SHOP marketplace. The return date on the subpoena is this coming Friday, January 5, 2018. Sen. Johnson also placed a hold on the President’s nominations to the OPM Director, Deputy Director and Inspector General posts to incent OPM cooperation with this long-standing document request.  Hopefully, the subpoena will speed matters along.

In other personnel news,

  • The Hill reports that the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on the President’s nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar next Tuesday, January 9.
  • Former OPM Director Kay Cole James has become president of the Heritage Foundation.  Ms. James was OPM Director during the President George W. Bush’s first term. 
  • Prof. Timothy Jost who wrote on the ACA for the Health Affairs blog is retiring
In healthcare cost news, 
  • Reuters reports that “Drugmakers opened the new year by raising U.S. prices on dozens of medicines, but early data showed the increases generally remained within a 10 percent self-imposed limit in response to a backlash from consumers and politicians.” That takes some kind of chutzpah considering the fact that the U.S inflation rate currently is 2.2%.
  • Becker’s Hospital Review informs us about the status of Anthem’s efforts to implement a  payment cuts to charges certain services performed on the same day as visits for separately charged visits for wellness services or other procedures. No good deed, etc.