Fedblog FedblogFedblog
Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Should Federal Employees Be Forced to Switch Health Plans?


As the House prepared for the 40th time to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Republicans and Democrats talked past each other Thursday at a contentious Ways and Means Committee oversight hearing on implementation of the law. Amid the fireworks over whether Obamacare should be “destroyed,” the two federal officials present as witnesses had to beg off on opining about political and policy conundrums that are literally above their pay grades.

But then Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, as part of a series of questions based on the premise that the health care law is forcing Americans to sign up for insurance exchanges against their will, asked acting Internal Revenue Service chief Danny Werfel why his employees who belong to the National Treasury Employees Union have declined to switch from their current federal insurance to the coming new marketplaces.

“I’m not speaking for NTEU, but will tell you how I feel,” Werfel replied. As federal employees, “we have affordable health coverage now. The Affordable Care Act was designed as an option for those who do not. So if you’re satisfied with your coverage, you’re in a position to stick with that coverage rather than make the change. But if others are unhappy, the exchanges offer an alternative. The NTEU prefers to stay.”

The person who does speak for the NTEU is its president, Colleen Kelley. Late last month, she offered a statement opposing H.R. 1780, introduced in April by Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich. The bill would provide that the only health plans that the federal government may make available to the president, vice president, members of Congress and federal employees are those created under the Affordable Care Act or offered through a health insurance exchange.

This bill “would single out federal employees by denying them the right to continue to be covered by their existing employer-provided health care plan,” Kelley said. “The main point of the Affordable Care Act is to encourage more employers to provide coverage to their employees. It makes no sense for Congress to mandate the end of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, a longstanding, successful employer plan. That would be a result diametrically opposed to the intent of ACA—which is to provide a marketplace for the sale and purchase of health insurance for those who do not have such coverage, not to take coverage away from employees who already receive it through their employers.”

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.