Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Domestic partners benefits

In 1996, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act which requires that spousal coverage under the FEHB Act be limited to married men and women. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I Conn.) has introduced a bill, S. 2521, that would modify this law to permit FEHB Program coverage of same sex domestic partners. Yesterday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on the bill. OPM testified against the bill for a variety of reasons, including cost. OPM estimated that "the FEHB Program (government) costs would be $41 million for 2010 and approximately $670 million for 2010 through 2019." OPM also raised specific concerns about the difficulties of administering this coverage. "The bill under consideration would provide benefits to those in domestic partnerships or relationships which are certified by affidavit. OPM believes this process could lead to fraud and abuse in the programs we administer." According to a article on the hearing, "[m]embers of the committee were skeptical that fraud would be widespread, pointing to the large number of private sector companies -- including more than half of Fortune 500 companies -- that have domestic partnership benefits."

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