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Federal Health Insurance Program to Restrict Opioids, Potential Social Security Changes for Some Feds, and More

A weekly roundup of pay and benefits news.

The Trump administration reportedly announced Monday that it will restrict federal employees’ access to prescription opioids through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

The Associated Press reports that during a drug policy briefing, White House officials said that beginning this fall, federal employees can be prescribed only an initial 7-day supply of prescription painkillers following surgery. Currently, feds insured through FEHBP can receive up to a 30-day prescription after a surgical procedure.

Under the new rules, patients would be able to get up to three 7-day refills, if needed. And any further prescriptions would require “consulting a clinical professional” every 28 days, the AP reported.

The new rules would mirror recent action by state governments to restrict the length of opioid prescriptions for public servants through their insurance programs.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, introduced a bill last week that would eliminate a controversial element of how Social Security benefits are calculated for retired public servants, including some federal employees.

The Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act (H.R. 3934) would replace Social Security’s Windfall Elimination Provision with a new formula that more accurately calculates benefits for workers who spend a portion of their career paying into non-Social Security pensions.

Currently, people who spent a portion of their careers paying into a defined-benefit pension, like Civil Service Retirement System employees and retirees, are subject to the windfall elimination provision, which drastically reduces the calculation of their Social Security benefits to account for the additional pension. But critics of the provision say it reduces those benefits too much, and puts former public servants particularly at a disadvantage as they enter retirement.

The bill also would offer a monthly rebate for retirees already impacted by the windfall elimination provision of $100 for a retiree, and $50 for those receiving spousal benefits. These rebates would increase with inflation.

Brady has introduced similar legislation in each of the last two sessions of Congress. Last year, he said in a statement that his bill will make Social Security dole out benefits more fairly for all who contribute to it.

“It guarantees that public servants receive Social Security benefits that reflect their actual work history,” Brady said. “We are grateful for those who devote their careers to our classrooms and communities in Texas and across the country, and we are proud to support our hard-working teachers, first responders law enforcement and all other public servants.”

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