Earlier this year, OPM announced a proposed rule advancing the Federal Benefits Open Season time frame from from (a) the Monday of the second full workweek in November through the Monday of the second full workweek in December to (b) November 1st through November 30th of each year. Today, after considering public comments, OPM revealed its decision not to change the Open Season time frame which ends this year next Monday December 13.
In today's announcement, OPM also finalized a rule change permitting FEHB plans, with the exception of the government wide service benefit plan (Blue Cross FEP), to offer three options beginning in 2012. Currently, FEHB plans may offer a third option only if the third option is a high deductible health plan with a health savings account. That limitation will be removed for 2012, except for the government wide service benefit plan.
The American Medical News reports that Congress today passed a law extending the Medicare Part B physician reimbursement patch through the end of 2011. The new law keeps Medicare physician pay at its present level, including the 2.2% increase that physicians received when Congress overrode an SGR-mandated pay cut in June 2010. Absent this change, doctors would have seen a 25% cut on January 1, 2011. Congress will have to revisit this issue next year.
iHealthBeat features an article by Center for Democracy and Technology policy counsel Harley Geiger comparing and contrasting OPM's plan for a centralized FEHB Program claims data warehouse with the distributed approach to data analysis that the Food and Drug Administation uses to monitor the safety of FDA approved drugs and medical devices.