Tuesday Tidbits

My heavens it’s raining hard here in Bethesda Maryland.

Last week the House Appropriations Committee cleared the FY 2021 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill by a vote of 30-22. This is the bill that funds the OPM and the FEHBP. FedWeek calls attention to the fact that the Committee’s report on the bill makes the following FEHBP recommendation:

The Committee recognizes the importance of medical foods, as defined in the Orphan Drug Act (21 U.S.C. 360ee(b)(3)), which often serve as firstline therapies to treat a number of conditions. The Committee is concerned about the lack of coverage of medical foods in FEHBP insurance plans. The Committee encourages OPM to encourage FEHBP plans to explore options for including coverage of medical foods within their plans.

Here’s a link to a Food and Drug Administration set of frequently asked questions about medical foods.

The House Appropriations Committee announced today the Financial Services Appropriations bill is one of seven such bills to be packaged as a minibus (H.R. 7617) and submitted to the House of Representatives for a vote next week.

Last week, the FEHBlog noted a Centers for Disease Control report noting an uptick in drug overdose death last year. Today the American Medical Association released a 2020 progress report from its opioid task force. Fierce Healthcare explains that report finds “a nearly 40% decline in opioid prescriptions in the last five years, but overdose deaths have continued to increase thanks to spiraling use of illicit drugs such as synthetic fentanyl.” Moreover, “[i]n the report, the AMA pressed for changes to remove barriers, such as prior authorization, to addicts gaining access to medical treatments.”

On the Affordable Care Act front —

  • Georgetown Law Professor Katie Keith provides a lengthy and informative update on ACA related litigation if this is your cup of tea. The FEHBlog cannot remember another federal statute that has lead to so much litigation over the validity of government actions thereunder.
  • The Internal Revenue Service released Rev. Proc. 2020-36. To comply with the ACA’s employer mandate, a large employer must offer its employees at least one coverage option that has at least 60% actuarial value and has an employee contribution that does not exceed a certain percentage of salary / wages. Every year the IRS announces the new percentage and the applicable percentage is 9.83% for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2021.

Finally, FedSmith offers guidance to federal employees who are starting to consider civil service retirement. Of note, “you have to be enrolled in FEHB and FEGLI for at least five years before retiring to be eligible to continue these programs after you retire. Having access to FEHB in retirement can save you thousands and thousands of dollars and should not be taken lightly.” How true that is.

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