More Concern for FEHB Enrollees: Premium Hikes, End of Co-Pays and Flexible Spending Accounts - ATC - Aviation Information

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More Concern for FEHB Enrollees: Premium Hikes, End of Co-Pays and Flexible Spending Accounts

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While proponents to the health care reform bill in the House of Representatives (HR 3200) have often cited the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHB) as a model for success, others question how millions of federal employees and retirees covered under FEHB will ultimately be affected by the pending legislation.

Hearing on Affects of House Bill to FEHB Participants Denied

House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), stated last week she is determined to bring the health care reform bill to the floor for a vote before the August congressional recess despite critics who have asked for more time to examine the consequences of the complicated 1,018-page bill.

My Federal Retirement obtained an exchange of correspondence of concerns raised between the chair and ranking member of the House committee with FEHB oversight responsibility about the impact of HR 3200 on the FEHB.

The initial inquiry from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) on July 17 stated:

"As drafted, H.R. 3200 requires all individuals to have a government-determined minimum level of health insurance. To be in compliance, every individual must obtain coverage through enrollment in a 'qualified health benefits plan or other acceptable coverage,' or, if not enrolled in a 'qualified health benefits plan or other acceptable coverage,' through the Health Insurance Exchange. However, it is not clear from the legislation if FEHBP is a 'qualified health benefits plan,' or if federal employees and their dependants who are enrolled in FEHBP would be in compliance. Currently, over 8 million people are enrolled in FEHBP and any changes to the program or its operation by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) could have serious costs and consequences for the federal government and federal employees. This legislation should not move forward until we know its effect on our federal employees."

Issa's letter continued, asking the committee chair for a hearing on the issue:

"The Oversight and Government Reform Committee is uniquely positioned to examine this legislation to get a broad view of how it will affect federal employees. For this reason, I request that you not waive committee jurisdiction of this important legislation and that you hold a hearing on H.R. 3200 and its effect on federal employees."

The chair of the House committee, Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) denied the need for a hearing, stating on July 20, "I understand that some administrative and a small number of benefits-related adjustments would be necessary in 2018 in order for all of the individual plans offered under FEHBP to satisfy the applicable requirements of a "qualified health benefits plan."

But Experts Say House Bill May End Some FEHB Co-Pays and Increase Premiums

On July 27, reported the bill "would end co-payments for preventive care by 2018. Scrapping those co-payments would likely mean higher premiums for enrollees in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program."

Federal Employee Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) Could Also Be Affected by Health Care Reform

Mike Causey of wrote last week: "Flexible Spending Accounts, an increasingly popular benefit for millions of Americans, would be trimmed back, revamped or, in a worse case scenario, eliminated under proposals being considered on Capitol Hill. Both the Senate and House committees that handle tax legislation are looking at changes in FSA rules as part of an effort to boost revenue to pay for the administration's proposed health care reforms."

Others Say A Mandated "Public Option" Health Plan Could Drain Resources for Those Enrolled in Private Plans Like FEHB

The House bill mandates that all uninsured Americans have health insurance. If they aren't covered by a government-qualified, employer-sponsored plan, they will be required to enroll in a "public option" plan, or be fined when submitting their tax forms to the Internal Revenue Service (with scaling exemptions to the fine based on household income).

Opponents to the House bill have suggested a mandate to include approximately 47 million uninsured into the bill's public insurance plan will ultimately cause rationing of health care services for all Americans. They believe the mandated public plan would soon drain enrollment from those in private plans (like FEHB), and thus erode the limited health care resources available. This erosion, opponents argue, would result in inadequate levels of payments to doctors and hospitals to sustain services for everyone, ultimately creating health-care rationing for all patients regardless if they are covered under a public or private insurance plan.

Rationed Health Care "Affects All Patients"

The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, said in a memo on July 25 that "rationed care affects all patients."

NCPA, which has more than 840,000 petitioners against government-run public health care states, "the nationalized health care plan proposed by President Obama calls for rationed care. Rationed care requires that patients forego medical procedures which fail to meet federal approval. Under nationalized health care, a bureaucrat will have the power to delay or deny care to a patient without regard for the patient's medical needs or for the physician's advice."

To contact your congressional representative regarding this bill and how it affects you as a federal employee or retiree,
click here. Or call (202) 224-3121.

Download the entire proposed House bill here.

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More Concern for FEHB Enrollees: Premium Hikes, End of Co-Pays and Flexible Spending Accounts
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