Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Tuesday's Tidbits

A few years ago a group of federal retirees who were becoming for Social Security eligible sued for the right to opt out of Medicare Part A in order to remain eligible to contribute to a health savings account in their FEHB plan. Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, affirming the lower court, held that people must accept Medicare Part A as a condition to receiving Social Security benefits, which was the federal government's position. While this decision is a bit of a head scratcher (the FEHBlog has not read it yet), but the FEHB Program has dodged a bullet because Medicare Part A covers the hospital bills of most FEHBP annuitants over age 65.

Here's a true tidbit for you -- a Washington Post blogger put up a NARFE pie chart that breaks down the agencies where federal employees work. Over 50% of feds work at Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security/

Here's another tidbit. We all know that the "cloud" is a popular technology buzzword. Government Computer News tells us that a trending technology phrase is "Big Data."  There are technies who now specialize in Big Data. GCN provided the following examples of Big Data--
Already, a variety of federal agencies are using big data applications. The Office of Personnel Management is using a SAS analytic suite to scan data records from more than 400 health insurance companies participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program for fraudulent claims and other irregularities. The SAS software is also being used to analyze the millions of records in the CMS Chronic Condition Data Warehouse, a repository for Medicare and Medicaid research data.
GCE Federal is currently working on a project that will combine and make searchable procurement data across the entire federal government.  "Imagine if you could combine procurement data from every agency in the government in one big database and have tools on top of it that would allow stakeholders — from public users to government organizations — to be able to go in there and slice and dice through procurement data in a highly intuitive fashion," said GCE Federal CEO Ray Muslimani.
From the sublime to the .....  The New York Times reports that the Congressional parties are battling over how to pay for an extension of the Medicare Part B patch or a replacement to the sustainable rate of growth formula. The current deadline is February 29. On March 1, a 27.4% cut in Medicare Part B payments to doctors occurs absent legislation. That's a big hit to the doctors and the FEHB Program which would be subjected to a large cost shift due to the sizable cadre of annuitant enrollees with Medicare Part B coverage. Stay tuned.

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