We did get clarity this week on the House of Representative's approach to funding the federal government beyond September 30 -- it involves defunding the Affordable Care Act. Govexec.com explains that the House vote should come tomorrow. Another govexec.com article explains why defunding a mandatory, multi-year program like the ACA via appropriations is easier said than done. A related Congressional Budget Office Director's blog article discusses the various categories of government spending. A Hill.com article -- "a way forward '' -- explains the Senate leadership's strategy. The end of the current federal fiscal year is a week from Monday.
In contrast, to the near shutdowns that occurred in 2011 OPM has maintained its shutdown furlough website. Because the FEHBP is separately funded (see the CBO Director blog article), the FEHBlog expects that the FEHBP will continue operating even Congress can't agree on a continuing resolution before October. The OPM website explains that shutdown furloughs will be treated as leave without pay and that federal employees will be able to reimburse the federal government for advance FEHBP enrollee contributions when they return to work:
Q. Will an employee continue to be covered under the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program during a shutdown furlough if the agency is unable to make its premium payments on time?
A. Yes, the employee’s FEHB coverage will continue even if an agency does not make the premium payments on time. Since the employee will be in a non-pay status, the enrollee share of the FEHB premium will accumulate and be withheld from pay upon return to pay status.
Q. What happens if an employee wants to terminate Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) coverage while in a nonpay status in order to avoid the expense?
A. Unlike other types of non-pay status, employees in a non-pay status due to a lapse of appropriations (shutdown furlough) will not have the opportunity to terminate or cancel FEHB coverage. The employee will remain covered; the enrollee share of the FEHB premium will accumulate and be withheld from pay upon return to pay status.