OPM held its annual FEHB Program conference today. (I attended and it was an excellent program.) In recognition of this event, OPM released its "call letter" for 2008 benefit and rate proposals. I cannot recall an earlier date of call letter issuance.
This call letter kicks off the carriers' process of preparing benefit and rate proposals that are due on May 31. OPM expects to complete negotiations by August 15, and then the Open Season will be held from early November to early December.
OPM announced in the call letter that for 2008 it will allow community rated HMO's participating in the FEHBP to offer alternate benefit benefit packages subject to OPM approval. Currently those plans are restricted to offering the same community benefits package that the greatest number of non-Federal subscribers purchased in the prior year.
OPM also is encouraging hearing benefits for newborns and children, and the agency is prohibiting enhanced FEHBP dental benefits due to the new FEDVIP program.
Otherwise the call letter endorses the Administration's health care initiatives, such as the Executive Order on HIT and health savings accounts.