A national health care reform bill pending in the Senate–leaders had hoped to hold a vote this week but delayed it until after the July 4 recess week–like the version passed earlier by the House, would not directly affect the FEHB program.

The effort is aimed at provisions of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, whose main impact on the FEHB was to raise the cutoff age for continuing coverage on children from 22 to 26. Both versions of the bill in Congress would leave that in place.

Also unchanged would be a ban against denials of coverage based on pre-existing conditions, a provision that already was part of the FEHB, which operates under a separate set of laws dating to the 1950s. Certain tax provisions in the ACA that face repeal may affect some federal employees as individuals but they do not directly affect the structure of the FEHB itself.

A proposal to allow members of the public to buy into FEHB plans available in their area is not part of the current Senate bill, although numerous amendments to that bill are planned. The outcome in the Senate is far from certain even though Republican leaders have invoked special rules that require only a simple majority rather than the 60 votes commonly needed for controversial legislation there.