Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mid week miscellany

  • Taking his cue from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the President extended certain non-statutory fringe benefits to same sex domestic partners, including voluntary long term care insurance and allowing employees to use sick leave to care for those domestic partners and their children. The President also reiterated his call for the repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act which prohibits the extension of FEHB Program coverage to same sex domestic partners. Senator Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Government Operations Committee, has reintroduced his Domestic Partnership and Obligations bill (S. 1102 / HR 2517) which would achieve the President's goal.

  • OPM posted on the web its FY 2010 budget justification / performance budget document which makes the following statement about the FEHB Program:

    The ever-increasing cost of health care is a national challenge. OPM, through
    tough contract negotiations and extensive program oversight, has had remarkable success. Annual average premium increases were only about 2 % in both 2007 and 2008 contracts but the 2009 contract increase was 7.0%.

    OPM is committed to expanding the use of health information technology (HIT) within the FEHBP. Included among these initiatives are electronic personnel health records, e-Prescriptions, and disease management programs. OPM believes that these and other HIT initiatives will improve the quality of care and reduce the cost of health care by eliminating manual tasks, improving the coordinated quality of care and reducing medical errors. OPM’s major challenges to expanding the use of HIT within the FEHBP will be managing considerable implementation costs and ensuring that participant data is secure and safe from unauthorized access.
  • Here's the AMA House of Delegate's approval resolution on health care reform --“Resolved, That our AMA support health system reform alternatives that are consistent with AMA principles of pluralism, freedom of choice, freedom of practice, and universal access for patient." According to Modern Healthcare, the AMA is keeping its options open.

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