Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mid-week update

The Office of Personnel Management announced today that the next federal benefits Open Season will be held from November 9 through December 14, 2009. The next step will be for OPM to announce 2010 FEHB plan premiums in mid-September. During the Open Season, federal and postal employees and annuitants can make enrollment changes in their FEHB plan coverage, FEDVIP coverage, and more. reports that the Office of Management and Budget gave contracting guidance to federal agencies. The changes do not appear to impact FEHBP contracting.

The Associated Press reports that the Blue Dog Democrats and the House leadership reached a compromise today that permits the Energy and Commerce Committee to continue its mark up of HR 3200, the House health care reform bill.>

The agreement would allow a committee vote, preserving momentum on President Barack Obama's top domestic priority.

The deal calls for exempting more small businesses from a requirement to offer coverage, trimming subsidies to help people buy health insurance, and making any government-sponsored insurance plan negotiate payment rates with medical providers — instead of dictating them.

The Politico reports that liberal Democrats are upset with the deal which is at odds with the version of the bill cleared by the House Education and Labor and Ways and Means Committees. The House Rules Committee is responsible for reconciling conflicting versions of bills approved by different standing committees. No floor vote would occur until September.

Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal reports that

In the Senate, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) said his effort to build a bipartisan bill is advancing. He cited an estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that the bill in the Senate Finance Committee would cost less than $900 billion over a decade -- less than other versions of the health legislation in the House and Senate -- and ensure insurance coverage for 95% of Americans.

Together, the developments suggested that Democrats are likely to avoid their worst-case scenario -- a breakdown of talks before the August recess. But they are still far from agreement on the final contours of the legislation.

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