Lawmakers Propose Self Plus One Option for Federal Health Program

None

This December 2, 2013 photo shows a woman reading the HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace internet site in Washington, D.C.
National Journal
Kellie Lunney, Government Executive
Kellie Lunney, Government Executive
Dec. 11, 2013, 10:50 a.m.

The bi­par­tis­an budget pro­pos­al an­nounced Tues­day would pave the way for a “self plus one” cov­er­age op­tion un­der the fed­er­al em­ploy­ee health in­sur­ance pro­gram.

A pro­vi­sion in the $85 bil­lion deal un­veiled by Rep. Paul Ry­an, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Mur­ray, D-Wash., would al­low the Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment to “mod­ern­ize” the Fed­er­al Em­ploy­ees Health Be­ne­fits Pro­gram by ex­pand­ing the menu of en­roll­ment op­tions. FE­HBP cur­rently of­fers self-only and fam­ily cov­er­age; en­rollees with spouses and no de­pend­ents must choose the fam­ily plan to re­ceive cov­er­age for their spouse. The Fed­er­al Em­ploy­ees Dent­al and Vis­ion In­sur­ance Pro­gram, or FED­VIP, has had a self plus one op­tion since 2004.

The ad­di­tion of self plus one cov­er­age “would align the FE­HB pro­gram with the com­mer­cial mar­ket and serve to spread costs across dif­fer­ent en­roll­ment types,” a sec­tion-by-sec­tion ana­lys­is of the budget pro­pos­al stated. FE­HBP provides health care be­ne­fits to 8.2 mil­lion fed­er­al em­ploy­ees, re­tir­ees and their de­pend­ents.

The House could vote on the le­gis­la­tion, which par­tially re­peals the se­quester for two years, be­fore it ad­journs on Dec. 13. The bill also would re­quire new ci­vil­ian fed­er­al work­ers and work­ing-age mil­it­ary re­tir­ees to con­trib­ute more to their pen­sions.

Fed­er­al em­ploy­ees and their ad­voc­ates long have com­plained about the lack of a self plus one op­tion in FE­HBP. Em­ploy­ees with spouses and no de­pend­ents have balked at hav­ing to pay more for a fam­ily plan when they don’t have any chil­dren. But it’s not clear a self plus one op­tion would be any cheap­er for en­rollees since that demo­graph­ic — em­ploy­ees with a spouse and no de­pend­ents — tends to be older and more ex­pens­ive to in­sure than a young couple with chil­dren, ac­cord­ing to OPM’s ana­lys­is. The agency has long stud­ied the costs and be­ne­fits of of­fer­ing self plus one.

“The self plus one premi­um would be based on the health cost of this group,” states OPM in its on­line Fre­quently Asked Ques­tions sec­tion. “For this reas­on, it is not clear that adding ad­di­tion­al en­roll­ment op­tions to the FE­HB Pro­gram would res­ult in any sig­ni­fic­ant be­ne­fit to those who ask for the change. In fact, they might be worse off.” The budget le­gis­la­tion would re­quire OPM to do an ac­tu­ar­ial ana­lys­is of the cost to self plus one be­ne­fi­ciar­ies for the first year of en­roll­ment.

Ex­pand­ing the health cov­er­age op­tions for fed­er­al work­ers has many sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing some em­ploy­ee and re­tir­ee ad­voc­ates and White House of­fi­cials. Pres­id­ent Obama in­cluded a pro­vi­sion to of­fer self plus one in FE­HBP in his fisc­al 2014 budget pro­pos­al. The Na­tion­al Act­ive and Re­tired Fed­er­al Em­ploy­ees As­so­ci­ation and the Fed­er­al Man­agers As­so­ci­ation praised the self plus one pro­vi­sion in the Ry­an-Mur­ray budget pro­pos­al.

“We be­lieve firmly in the prin­ciple of of­fer­ing an equit­able and af­ford­able fed­er­al be­ne­fits pack­age that will best meet the needs of all fed­er­al em­ploy­ees,” said Greg Stan­ford, dir­ect­or of gov­ern­ment and pub­lic af­fairs at the Fed­er­al Man­agers As­so­ci­ation. “Es­tab­lish­ing a self plus one op­tion with­in FE­HBP has been on FMA’s le­gis­lat­ive agenda for sev­er­al years, so we are ap­pre­ci­at­ive that it is in­cluded as part of the budget deal.”

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
7 REPUBLICANS ON STAGE
Carly Fiorina Will Not Be Allowed to Debate on Saturday
1 days ago
THE LATEST

ABC News has announced the criteria for Saturday’s Republican debate, and that means Carly Fiorina won’t be a part of it. The network is demanding candidates have “a top-three finish in Iowa, a top-six standing in an average of recent New Hampshire polls or a top-six placement in national polls in order for candidates to qualify.” And there will be no “happy hour” undercard debate this time. “So that means no Fiorina vs. Jim Gilmore showdown earlier in the evening for the most ardent of campaign 2016 junkies.

Source:
×