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Federal Employees News Digest : May 13, 2013
Phil Piemonte, Managing Editor E-mail: email@example.com What's Inside44 May 13, 2013 • Vol. 62, No. 41 Does the FEHB really need 'modernizing'? This week, FEND's Nathan Abse talks to Walton Francis---a policy analyst, health insurance expert, author of "Putting Medicare Consumers in Charge: Lessons from the FEHBP," and editor of the Consumers' Checkbook Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees---to gain insight on the Obama administration's recently proposed changes to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and the rising debate surrounding them. The proposals---put forward by the Office of Personnel Management, which man- ages FEHB---include some aimed at greater equality (extending benefits to domestic part- ners of federal employees), flexibility (a self- plus-one option), and cost savings (charging higher premiums for smokers and overweight enrollees). So far, some federal employee orga- nizations have criticized parts of the plan--- while others appear to be waiting on further information and legislative activity before taking a position. For example, at an April 11 House oversight hearing, the American Federation of Government Employees singled out the proposals affecting smokers and other segments, saying these "would shift costs for the program onto federal employees to the tune of $8.4 billion over 10 years." FEND spoke with Francis to examine some of the implications of these complex proposals. Q&A with Economist and FEHB Policy Analyst Walton Francis What's your opinion of OPM's call for expanding FEHB beyond heterosexual, married spouses to include domestic part- ners, and OPM's proposal to add a range of plans beyond just full family or self coverage, creating a new middle category called "self-plus-one"? Francis: On [domestic partner] coverage, I support covering domestic partners---I'm all for it. But it seems like [doing this cor- rectly] hinges on the Defense of Marriage Act. It would appear you really need to get rid of DOMA [which currently forbids federal recognition of same-sex marriage] to optimize this. So, whether or not the current OPM proposal is the best way, for now, I have no view. Now, on self-plus-one, on its face that doesn't make sense, actuari- ally speaking. That's because self-plus-one would consist mostly of older couples. And that would mean higher costs [within that pool], of course. But I don't yet know what OPM is getting at here---I haven't seen exact language on this. Beyond coverage for same-sex part- ners and self-plus-one, OPM proposes "modernizing" FEHB through a range of changes. Employee unions support the domestic partner coverage proposal, but some unions are already criticizing other parts of the plan. For example, AFGE sees a lot of the proposals pushing billions of dollars of added expense onto employ- ees' shoulders---and other unions are con- cerned about other pieces. Francis: There are a lot of different pro- posals here. One which gets a lot of atten- Life in the fast lane What follows is an ode to those who provide law enforcement, be they federal, state or local. Back in the day (I forget which decade) we had these people called hippies. They were mostly young, or passing for being young. They did, like generations before them, things designed to infuriate and confuse anyone who belonged to an older generation. The hippies dressed oddly, tended to have long hair and beards (at least the guys), and smoked a lot of dope. They hated cops, whom they called "pigs." And they hated war (hence the "Make Love Not War" T-shirts) and, in many cases, they appeared to hate work, too. You either were a hippie or you weren't. You either liked them because of what they did and didn't do, or you disliked them because of what they did and didn't do. Pockets of hippies remain in the San Francisco area, on a couple of islands near Seattle, and in my neigh- borhood, in one large house with a lot of cats. Most hippies are in their 50s or 60s. Those who looked good at the INSIGHT BY MIKE CAUSEY continued on page 2 For more news...see Federal Daily at www.FederalDaily.com • Retirement claims drop 5 • In Brief 6 • Informed Investor 7 • Federal Benefits Q&A 8 continued on page 3
May 6, 2013
May 20, 2013