Sunday, November 09, 2008

What's Next for Federal employees?

  • The Federal Times reports that
    President-elect Barack Obama said he will expand family leave, flexible work schedule and teleworking benefits to federal employees; roll back controversial pay-for-performance systems; review current outsourcing policies; and give collective-bargaining rights to Transportation Security Administration employees.

    In a series of late-October letters to John Gage, the national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, Obama sounded off on numerous issues and policies. The union released the letters today {November 5].
    Copies of the letters accompany the online article.

  • reports that "Federal employee advocates are optimistic that Democrats' gains in Tuesday's election will give them a wide opening to repeal Defense Department pay reforms and advance benefits legislation." On the FEHBP front, says that

    Employee groups plan to lobby for legislation that would increase the government's share of health insurance premiums and for a federal contribution to dental and vision plans.

    A bill introduced in early 2007 by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., would have increased the portion of premiums covered by the government from 72 percent to 80 percent, thus reducing the burden on Federal Employees Health Benefits Program enrollees, whose premiums will rise an average of 7 percent in 2009.

    Beth Moten, legislative director for AFGE, said on Thursday that unions also would push for an overhaul of FEHBP, a program she argues has been run poorly by the Office of Personnel Management. Allowing 9 million current and retired federal employees to enroll in any of 250 plans dilutes their bargaining power with insurance companies, she said.

    "The national health insurance issue will take priority, so we're trying to figure out how to dovetail with that," Moten said. One proposal advanced during the campaign was to set up a program similar to FEHBP for the uninsured. "If they use FEHBP as a parallel program or model, we need to make sure our people are being treated right," Moten said.

    The FEHB Program was founded almost fifty years ago on the principle of competition among health plans. It has operated successfully ever since. Ms. Moten's suggestion for "overhauling the FEHB Program" in my view is bad policy.

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