Weekend update

The Senate and House of Representatives return to work on Capitol Hill this week following a week-long state or district work period combined with the Independence Day holiday.

Federal News Radio reports that tomorrow, OPM will publish in the Federal Register a proposed rule

to establish Birmingham/Hoover/Talladega, Alabama; Burlington/South Burlington, Vermont; San Antonio/New Braunfels/Pearsall, Texas; and Virginia Beach/Norfolk, Virginia, as new locality pay areas. 

Once OPM completes the regulatory process, the president must set locality pay rates for the four new areas, which typically occurs at the very end of each calendar year. 

Federal employees in these four new areas would likely see the locality pay changes on or after Jan. 1, 2019 in their first paychecks of the new year.

The change favorably impacts 62,000 federal employees (out of 2 million) and brings the number of locality pay areas to 51. The FEHBlog had no idea that the number of locality pay areas is that high.

Yesterday, the Health and Human Services Department announced that it is suspending the Affordable Care Act’s risk adjustment program based on a New Mexico federal court decision. The details, including a timeline, are available on the CMS website.  Many are lashing out at HHS over this decision, but in the FEHBlog’s view the root problem is the overreaching and poorly drafted Affordable Care Act. Ironically, the New Mexico case challenging CMS’s method of calculating the risk adjustment was brought by the New Mexico health co-op unnecessarily created by the ACA.

The FEHBlog is a fan of Mondays because he enjoys his work and new episodes of the Econtalk podcast are released that day.  The FEHBlog ran across this academic assessment of the ACA, titled A Cure for our Healthcare Ills, via the Econtalk.org website.  Also check out this Econ Talk interview with Jerry Muller the author of one of the FEHBlog’s favorite books of 2018, The Tyranny of Metrics.

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