Sunday, April 03, 2011

Weekend Update

The current continuing resolution funding the Federal government's operations expires on Friday April 8. The Washington Post accurately describes this week as crunch time.  On Friday, House Speaker John Boehner Let's keep our fingers crossed for a resolution.

On Friday, April 1. OPM Director John Berry testified about his agency's FY 2012 budget request before the financial services and general government subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. reports that
Berry drew praise from Republicans and Democrats for OPM's health and wellness initiatives for federal employees, the agency's efforts to increase diversity within the government workforce, effective administration of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and Berry's push to boost federal hiring of veterans, which resulted in an executive order.
The Affordable Care Act's ("ACA") regulators issued their sixth set of Frequently Asked Questions about ACA implementation. These FAQs focus on how to maintain grandfathered plan status. That train has basically left the station for the FEHBP.

OPM's recent FEHBP call letter asked plans to focus on patient safety.   Modern Healthcare reports that over the objection of the American Hospital Association, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have posted a spreadsheet captioned "Hospital Acquired Condition calculations for IQR 2011"
containing facility-specific information on eight hospital-acquired conditions [per 1,000 discharges], including blood incompatibility, air embolisms and two types of healthcare-associated infections. The agency declined to comment on the data, but a CMS spokesman said more clarification of the HAC data would be available soon. The file is also scheduled to be posted on Hospital Compare, the CMS' site for consumers, on April 21.
Speaking of HHS, I ran across a useful HHS website -- . " is the federal gateway to information on vaccines and immunization for infants, children, teenagers, adults, and seniors. provides resources from federal agencies for the general public and their communities about vaccines across the lifespan. Plans may find it useful to link this site to their websites.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced last week that "due to the overwhelming response, the [Affordable Care Act's Early Retiree Reinsurance] program will no longer be accepting applications after May 5, 2011, consistent with the law’s guidance based on the availability of funding. CMS also released a report on the program which is rapidly running through its $5 billion appropriation.  As many expect, 10% of the $1.8 billion was distributed to the UAW VEBA and a much larger chunk was distributed to state and local governments according to a Business Insurance report. This won't impact the FEHBP which is ineligible to participate in the program.

In the truth can be stranger than fiction department, the AMA News bemoans the fact that
Patients taking advantage of $4 generic prescription drug programs may be helping their pocketbooks, but they're unwittingly hurting the cause of electronic prescribing and electronic medical records [because they pay in cash rather than use their health plan coverage.]

No comments: