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Health Coverage Not Universal For Federal Workforce

Health Coverage Not Universal For Federal Workforce

Joe Davidson | The Washington Post via YellowBrix

September 18, 2009

The OPM declined to respond directly to Simon’s comments or to questions about the number of federal workers without insurance. All the office would offer is this general statement from its director, John Berry: “There’s no question that increasing health care costs are squeezing Americans in every line of work. Health-insurance reform will offer more stability for those who have insurance and access to affordable coverage for those who don’t — and it will bring down costs for families, businesses, and governments.”

Affordable coverage also can be a problem for federal retirees and the survivors of federal workers. The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association says there are 338,720 federal retirees — 18 percent of that group — who receive a federal civil service annuity of less than $1,000 a month and 262,058 federal survivors, or 44 percent, who get an annuity of less than $1,000 a month. For those with no other income — and it’s not clear what percentage that is — buying health insurance would be very difficult, said Dan Adcock, NARFE’s legislative director.

Despite her criticisms of the insurance program for federal workers, Simon appreciates the administration’s attention to it. Just recently, she said, she met with OPM staffers studying health insurance for federal workers.

“All indications are they’re trying to take a serious look at the program’s strengths and weaknesses,” she said. “It’s been 20 years since anybody has taken any serious interest in acknowledging that FEHB has flaws, and it has serious flaws.”

Contractor Plan Is Off

On Tuesday, we wrote about an OPM solicitation for a contractor to help with personnel services. The OPM now is abandoning that plan.

“Our request for a proposal was for the equivalent of one person and for a limited amount of time. Soliciting for a contractor to fill this one temporary position was just one of several options we were exploring,” OPM Deputy Associate Director Mark Reinhold said in a statement. “We decided to go with another option to meet our need.”

A Personal Note

I’ll be on medical leave for a few weeks, but the Federal Diary will continue as colleagues carry on in my stead. While I’m away, keep sending those e-mails to

Staff researcher Eric Yoder contributed to this report.

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