Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday's Tidbits

You know it's a slow news week when the Washington Post runs a story on the problems with the title of the healthcare reform law.  The FEHBlog started out calling the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act "Pea - Packa" but now the FEHBlog defers to the Government's preferred shorthand "Affordable Care Act" or ACA.  Shortening the name, however, does not reduce the length of the statute.

The ACA regulators issued in today's Federal Register a "request for information on how group health plans and health insurance issuers can employ value-based insurance design in the coverage of  recommended preventive services." The comment deadline is February 28, 2011. The Washington Post and Kaiser Health News published an article on value based insurance design "pros and cons" last month. OPM in the past has encouraged FEHB plans to adopt value based designs in its annual call letters for benefit and rate proposals.

The IRS on December 23 issued additional guidance on the new ACA restriction limiting health plan, health reimbursement account, health flexible savings account and health savings account reimbursement of over the counter drug costs to purchases supported by a doctor's prescription (except for insulin). The new guidance concerns the use of a health plan issued debit card. "The new guidance modifies previous guidance to permit taxpayers to continue using FSA and HRA debit cards to purchase over-the-counter medications for which the taxpayer has a prescription. Effective after Jan. 15, 2011, in accordance with the new guidance, this use of debit cards must comply with procedures reflecting those that pharmacies currently follow when selling prescribed medicines or drugs." This new requirement creates more work for doctors and pharmacists, but where's the offsetting benefit??

Another one of the ACA regulators, the Labor Department's Employee Benefits Security Administration is inviting folks to join them for a live web chat on January 4, 2011, at 2 pm. The topic of discussion will be EBSA's regulatory agenda.

Health Leaders Media reflects  on the impact of the HITECH Act -- enacted in February 2009 -- on enforcement of  the health information privacy and security rules issued under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 -- another mouthful of a title but folks quickly became accustomed to calling it HIPAA (hip - aah).

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