Federal Employees Health Insurance Program Under Review
The Bush administration has asked the Office of Management and Budget to review the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan to look for ways to save money, the Washington Post reports. A spokesperson for the White House called the review "a routine exercise for the new administration," but other "officials" familiar with the request said they "fear that [the review] could be the first step toward removing or reducing benefits." One possible proposal would be to index employee premiums to the general inflation rate instead of to increases in health premiums. Another option would base retiree health benefits on length of service, reducing the government's premium contribution by "a few" percentage points for every year of service less than 30. Some Republicans have also advocated a more "private-sector" benefit structure, where employees could choose the coverage that "best fit[s] their needs" from a "cafeteria-style" list. Any change to the FEHBP would require congressional approval, which the Post reports would "almost certainly ignite controversy" (Barr, Washington Post, 1/25).