Plan Sponsor reports on a package of healthcare related bills that the full House Ways and Means Committee approved at a mark up meeting held yesterday, including:

H.R. 6301, which provides that a plan shall not be fail to be treated as a high deductible health plan (HDHP) by reason of failing to have a deductible for not more than $250 of specified services (twice such amount in the case of family coverage) during a plan year, was ordered favorably reported to the House of Representatives. The term ‘specified services’ means, with respect to a plan, services other than preventive care.

Another bill would let Medicare Part A beneficiaries currently prohibited from contributing to their existing HSAs once they turn 65 to continue to contribute.
Other bills would qualify significantly more health treatments, services and over-the-counter drugs for HSA spending and expand the definition of HDHPs to include Affordable Care Act (ACA) bronze plans and catastrophic plans.

The House also approved H.R. 6317, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide that direct primary care service arrangements do not disqualify deductible health savings account contributions, and for other purposes.

After a two-day markup session, the committee also moved to the House legislation providing retroactive relief from the ACA’s employer mandate from 2015 through 2018 and delay for one additional year (until 2023) the 40% Cadillac Tax.

In troubling news, Medpage today tells us that “The number of opioid overdose deaths in which fentanyl was detected in 10 states doubled during the first half of 2017 compared with the second half of 2016, according to the CDC’s Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report.”  The reports concludes chillingly that “the potency of many fentanyl analogs, especially carfentanil, ‘might warrant multiple administrations of the effective opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone.'”

The Health Affairs Blog reports on a recent academic conference on health care cost control. Nothing definitive.

Finally, notwithstanding the FEHBlog’s unwillingness to predict whether the Justice Department will approve the CVS / Aetna merger, CNBC reports the stocks for those companies rose yesterday on “market rumors” that the Justice Department approval will happen soon.