OPM has proposed rules to carry out several benefits-related provisions enacted into law last year in reaction to the partial government shutdown over December 2018-January 2019.
The rules would designate many features of federal employee insurance programs as “emergency services” that can continue in a partial shutdown regardless of the Anti-Deficiency Act, which in general bars agencies from operating without appropriated funds.
Under the rules, during a funding lapse, employees could continue enrolling, changing enrollment or making certain other changes in the FEHB health insurance and FEGLI life insurance programs. Also, enrollment in the FEDVIP vision-dental insurance program and the FLTCIP long-term care insurance program would not be canceled for nonpayment of premiums; when employees were put back in pay status those premiums would be paid from back pay–or, for FLTCIP enrollees paying directly, from another source.
Under current law, FEHB coverage continues during a funding lapse and employees in non-pay status make up the difference after funding is restored, but in the FLTCIP and FEDVIP programs, coverage can be lost if the enrollee misses several premium payments—a concern that arose for some employees as the shutdown dragged on. FEGLI insurance continues without cost to the employee.
Report: Shutdowns & Furloughs – What You Need to Know
Shutdown threats have seemingly become the norm with Congress and the White House unable to complete the process of enacting regular appropriations bills on time. When – not if – the next one hits it could impact your pay and benefits.