- In November, OPM disagreed with the Inspector General's proposal that Congress delegate prescription benefit contracting to the agency. Throughout this decade, the Inspector General has been pushing this idea which aligns with TRICARE's set-up. Meanwhile, Congress and expert panels from time to time have been encouraging the Defense Department to use an FEHB model for TRICARE. OPM's decision was a pleasant surprise for the FEHBlog who favors the continued use of integrated benefits to control costs.
- In March, the House of Representatives' Oversight and Government Reform Committee unanimously approved a postal reform bill (H.R. 756) which would have impacted the FEHBP. The bill had the support of the Postal Service, its labor union, and its customers. The FEHBlog expected the bill to fly through Congress too, but it went no further than the Committee approval.
- The FEHBlog expected new political leadership to be in place at OPM by now. The Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Sen. Ron Johnson (R WI) is refusing to move forward with a necessary Committee vote on President's current nominees for OPM Director, Deputy Director, and Inspector General. Hopefully, this contretemps stemming from actions taken by the past Administration will be resolved soon.
- The FEHBlog is astonished that the Affordable Care Act's onerous medical device and health insurer taxes are going back into effect on Monday after being suspended for 2017 (2016 and 2017 for the medical device tax.) The current suspension occurred as part of an omnibus appropriations bill in 2015. Congress must pass another omnibus appropriations bill for the current federal fiscal year. We will have to wait and see if history repeats or improves upon itself.
Stay tuned and warm.