Sunday, October 02, 2011

Weekend Update

Happy FY 2012 which began yesterday. Congress returns from a brief recess tomorrow. The House actually approved a continuing resolution funding the federal government through Tuesday October 4. The Federal Times explains that the House of Representatives "will take up a longer-term continuing resolution running through Nov. 18 and also containing the 1.5 percent cut, in accordance with spending limits in the debt ceiling deal enacted in August.The longer-term CR has already passed the Senate. It would also extend the Postal Service deadline to Nov. 18."

The Hill reports on the end of the public comment period on the interim final Affordable Care Act regulation that would make contraceptives available to women without any cost sharing when obtained in-network.   According to, 1100 public comments were filed. This rule unless modified will take effect January 1, 2013, in the FEHBP.

According to this announcement, on Friday October 7, the national Institute of Medicine whose recommendations gave rise to the contraception mandate will make its recommendations to the HHS Secretary on the essential health benefits package which qualified health plans in the health insurance exchanges must offer beginning in 2014. Group health plans operating outside the exchanges like FEHB will not be permitted to impose lifetime or annual dollar limits on the essential health benefits defined by the HHS Secretary (but would not be required to offer those benefits).

AIS Health Plan News offered an interesting report on the recent Congressional hearing on the consolidation within the health care industry in the wake of the Affordable Care Act.
During a Sept. 9 hearing before the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seemed to agree that consolidation — either of insurers, hospitals or both — is to blame for higher health care costs. Paul Ginsburg, Ph.D., president of the Center for Studying Health System Change, tells HPW that the hearing was significant because it indicates Congress is concerned about the impact consolidation is having on prices to private insurers and consumers.
On a related note, AHIP posted last week a comprehensive list of resources and studies concerning the rising cost of health care.

Finally the new U.S. Supreme Court term begins tomorrow. Business Insurance reviews the federal preemption cases on the Court's docket. We should know later this year whether the Supreme Court will add the issue of the Affordable Care Act's Constitutionality to its docket for the current term.

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