Federal News Network offers a useful report on the President’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget priorities for the federal workforce. Particularly in an election year, the President’s budget proposal is principally a political document. Now let Congress do its job.
Coordinating benefits when group health plan members have coverage under more than one plan is complicated. Nothing is more complicated than coordinating group health plan benefits with Medicare, and FEHB plans have to do a lot of this work due to the large number of Medicare eligible annuitant members, some of whom remain employed while most are retired. The FEHBlog could go on and on. See Section 9 of your plan brochure.
About ten years ago, Congress passed a law colloquially known as Section 111 which requires group health plans, among others, to report demographic information to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) in order to facilitate coordination of benefits. Now in its infinite wisdom CMS has decided to move forward with a proposed rule to impose civil monetary penalties on Section 111 reporting entities, including FEHB plans, for certain Section 111 errors. More details are available in this CMS fact sheet.
Bear in mind that larger FEHB plans in particular are under OPM Inspector General scrutiny for the accuracy of their Medicare coordination of benefits efforts. Moreover, the carriers, not the federal government, are on the risk for the FEHBP coverage. In short, Medicare coordination of benefits creates enough headaches for FEHBP carriers without the added risk of civil monetary penalties. How about a little comity between CMS and OPM? (E.g. Because OPM does not seek to penalize CMS for its COB goofs, CMS should not penalize FEHBP for their COB goofs.) The public comment deadline on the proposed CMS rule is April 20.
In a bit of hopeful news, Health Payer Intelligence discusses a successful Horizon New Jersey Blue Cross initiative to apply value based pricing to pediatricians. “If value-based care in pediatric healthcare truly is the future of value-based care, payers need to leverage strong provider relationships to establish effective pediatric quality measures in order to improve their pediatric value-based care performance, Horizon’s executive vice president for healthcare management and transformation Allen Karp illuminated.” Yes indeed.
Finally, on the disease front, HHS reports that
U.S. hospitals saw a 40 percent increase in the rate of Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized with sepsis [an extremely dangerous infection] over the past seven years, and in just 2018 had an estimated cost to Medicare of more than $41.5 billion according to an unprecedented study by researchers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Researchers determined that the increase in sepsis was not due to the growing number of American seniors enrolling in Medicare. From 2012 through 2018, the U.S. saw a 22 percent increase in the Medicare enrollment rates but a 40 percent increase in the rate of sepsis-related hospital admissions among beneficiaries.
Most patients with sepsis arrived at the hospital with the condition, rather than developing sepsis in the hospital, a possible indicator of success for CMS efforts to reduce hospital-based cases of sepsis. However, two-thirds of these sepsis patients had a medical encounter in the week prior to hospitalization. This finding represents an opportunity for improved education and awareness among patients and healthcare providers, as well as the need for diagnostics to detect sepsis early.
Let’s get going with those efforts.
Also the FEHBlog learned that the Centers for Disease Control has issued interim guidance on COVID-19 for businesses and employers which also is probably good advice for controlling the flu. The FEHBlog appreciates the CDC’s work as should we all.