Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Highlights

The Federal Times reports that the President has signed into law a minibus appropriations bill that funds several departments and extends funding for other government agencies and programs, including the FEHBP, until December 16. Congress actually is hopeful that all appropriations matters will be wrapped up by that date. The law also further "defers a legally required $5.5 billion "prepayment" by the U.S. Postal Service for retiree health care, this time until Dec. 16. That payment was originally due Sept. 30; USPS officials said they don't have the money to cover it."

Also the Labor Department, one of the Affordable Care Act regulators, published a new FAQ advising health plans that the obligation to issue four double sided page long summaries of benefits and coverage will be deferred until the final rule's effective date. Obviously that will occur after the statutory effective date of March 23, 2012. According to a Business Insurance report, “This is great news for employers since the initial guidance left much of how the (summary of benefits and coverage) would apply to large employer plans unaddressed,” said Rich Stover, a principal with Buck Consultants L.L.C. in Secaucus. N.J. The FEHBlog agrees.

The publication also includes FAQs about Mental Health Parity Act rule's restrictions on so-called non-quantitative benefit limitations.

Also following up on this week's posts, the FEHBlog thought that he had missed the publication of the annual FEHBP information technology report. But actually OPM announced the report the day after the FEHBlog mentioned it.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have given health care providers an additional three months -- until March 31, 2012, to start using the new HIPAA electronic transaction standards known as ANSI X 5010.  Health care providers generally are required to submit claims electronically to Medicare and Medicaid so this is a big deal.

Ihealthbeat provides several reactions to the American Medical Association's stand against the ongoing ICD 10 conversion discussed in Wednesday's FEHBlog post.

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