Pay & Benefits Watch Pay & Benefits WatchPay & Benefits Watch
Key developments in the world of federal employee benefits: health, pay, and much more.

Health and Wealth

ARCHIVES

With the health care debate reaching a crescendo this week, lawmakers again are talking about the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program as a vehicle for providing health care coverage to uninsured Americans.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., used the House floor on Tuesday to promote his bill, Access to Insurance for All Americans Act (H.R. 3438). The legislation would require the Office of Personnel Management to create a health insurance program, through one or more carriers, to cover all Americans except those already covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

Issa claimed the bill, which he introduced in July, helps provide the same level of coverage to all Americans that elected officials enjoy -- a principle espoused by President Obama and other Democrats in their health care proposal. Issa's office created a YouTube video to compile statements from Obama supporting FEHBP-like exchanges for uninsured Americans.

"As one big group, these customers will have greater leverage to bargain with the insurance companies for better prices and quality coverage," Obama said during a September 2009 speech to a joint session of Congress. "This is how large companies and government employees get affordable insurance. It's how everyone in this Congress gets affordable insurance. And it's time to give every American the same opportunity that we give ourselves."

Issa said the current health care reform bill doesn't achieve that result, but his seven-page proposal would do so.

What Obama and his supporters have been defending are the state-based exchanges the Senate-passed health care bill would create, which in some respects are similar to the FEHBP exchanges available to federal employees. In both cases, the goal is to lower health care costs by requiring insurance companies to compete for a large pool of customers. Aside from state-based exchanges, the current health care bill also would require OPM to contract with private carriers to create national, nonprofit health care plans for uninsured Americans.

Issa's bill doesn't say how administrative costs would be paid, only that the government would not contribute to nonfederal employees in the plan, leaving the total cost up to enrollees. It also would keep segregated risk pools for federal employees and annuitants, and privately enrolled citizens. Employee groups have said if FEHBP is used for health care reform, then separate risk pools for the two groups is essential to preserving federal benefits.

Speaking of FEHBP…

The Federal Managers Association plans to push a Self Plus One option to FEHBP as part of its legislative agenda this year. Designed as a middle ground between single and family coverage, the option would allow enrollees to include one eligible family member to their health coverage.

"Many federal employees face substantial and unnecessary health care costs because they require insurance coverage for only themselves plus their spouse or an unmarried dependent child under the age of 22, yet are forced to purchase FEHBP Self Plus Family coverage, where they experience the same health care premiums as large families," FMA wrote in newsletters to members distributed during its recent annual national conference.

Crunching Numbers

OPM announced on Monday potential changes in the calculation of benefits allocated to certain federal employees, including firefighters and air traffic controllers, who receive enhanced disability and survivor annuities. The agency plans to recalculate the annuities of affected employees because of modifications in the applicable statutes. If the new math yields a higher annuity payment, then those employees will see an increase to their benefits. If the recalculation doesn't result in more earnings, then the government won't make any changes to those payments.

Click here for a list of affected federal jobs.

 
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

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

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

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