Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mid-week update

The Washington Post reports on the activities of the Super Committee's work to craft a package of budget cuts totalling $1.5 trillion before Thanksgiving.. The Federal Times reports that the Federal Workers Alliance, which is composed of 22 labor unions, has prepared a white paper for the Super Committee opposing the Deficit Commission's proposal to shift the FEHBP to a premium support or voucher program.

The Healthcare Leadership Council is recommending Medicare changes to the Super Committee that include creating a Medicare exchange, gradually raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, means testing Medicare's beneficiary cost sharing structure, and legislating medical malpractice reforms -- as opposed to taking the traditional approach of cutting provider reimbursements.  The Washington Post observes that
There’s a pretty simple explanation for why hospitals and some insurers would favor raising the eligibility age: Hospitals receive higher payments from private insurance than they do from Medicare. The payments that hospitals receive from private insurers are 28 percent above the break-even point for providing treatment, according to a recent report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Medicare pays only 91 percent of what it costs a hospital to provide care.
As discussed here, the Medicare Part B reimbursement patch expires at the end of this year, threatening doctors with a 29% pay cut from Medicare. The Ways and Means Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing about this big dollar issue next Wednesday at 2 pm. Medicare reimbursement policy and Medicare eligibility issue directly impact the FEHBP because of the large cadre of Medicare eligible folks participating in the FEHBP.

Kaiser Health News reports that Medicare Advantage premiums will fall by 4% on average for 2012. FEHB premiums for 2012 and the government contribution change likely will be announced next week.

This means that the Federal Employee Open Season is right around the corner. Yesterday, it was announced that ADP has acquired Asparity Decision Solutions which offers federal and postal employees and annuitants an online tool to compare FEHB plans during Open Season.

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