Weekend update

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

The Federal Benefits Open Season for 2021 ends tomorrow. OPM explains on its website that

The Federal Benefits Open Season ends at 11:59pm Eastern Time on Monday December 14, 2020 for the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) and the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS). Open Season for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB) ends at 11:59pm, in the location of your electronic enrollment system, on Monday December 14, 2020.

Both Houses of Congress have scheduled Committee hearings / meetings and floor voting for this week. The Hill reports that

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is splitting its $908 billion coronavirus relief proposal into two packages as it prepares to release text on Monday. 

The plan, confirmed by a source familiar with the talks, will include a $160 billion proposal that ties together the two most controversial elements: more money for state and local governments and protections against coronavirus-related lawsuits. 

The second proposal will total $748 billion and include ideas that garner broader support, including another round of Paycheck Protection Program funding for small businesses, unemployment benefits, and more money for vaccine distribution, testing and schools. 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a member of the group, announced earlier Sunday that it would release text on Monday. “The plan is alive and well, and there is no way we’re going to leave Washington without taking care of the emergency needs of our people,” Manchin said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’ll have a bill produced for the American people tomorrow, $908 billion.”

Congress is quickly running out of time to cut a big deal on coronavirus relief, with lawmakers having until Friday to pass a government funding bill that will act as the vehicle for any agreement. But the bipartisan group has been negotiating for weeks, including over the weekend, to try to finalize its bill after announcing a framework earlier this month. 

A friend of the FEHBlog called to his attention this bipartisan, bicameral surprise billing relief proposal. The House Ways and Means Committee released the bill and the President expressed his support for it on Thursday December 11. It’s certainly not clear to the FEHBlog whether this bill will be dropped into the must pass spending bill later this week as the President suggests.

Healthcare Dive reports that

  • Amazon has rolled out a new data aggregation and standardization service for healthcare and life sciences organizations, the tech giant announced Tuesday.
  • The goal of the HIPAA-eligible tool, called Amazon HealthLake, is to make it simpler for healthcare organizations to manipulate, structure and search their data.
  • In other Amazon news, the e-commerce behemoth has expanded its network of health clinics for employees with four additional locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the company said last week.