Organizations representing federal employees and retirees are keeping a watchful eye on the Senate to see whether the FEHB program would be affected by any health insurance reform bill to emerge there. So far there has been no indication that it would.

Senate Republican leaders have been working to produce a measure that would repeal and in some ways replace the Affordable Care Act, following House passage of a bill that has essentially been shelved. The Senate leadership has been hoping to produce a bill and bring it to a vote there by the end of next week, ahead of a July 4 week recess for both chambers.


It’s questionable whether that timetable can be achieved with Democrats united against the effort, and chances for passage are also uncertain due to disagreements among Republicans over details.

The FEHB program operates under laws that long predate the 2010 ACA; the major impact on the FEHB of that “Obamacare” law was to raise the cutoff age for covering children from the old level of 22 to 26–a feature that the congressional proposals so far would keep, and which is now part of the separate FEHB policies in any event.

One idea raised as the ACA was being debated–and which has arisen again recently–is to allow those who purchase insurance through that law’s state-based exchange system to buy into FEHB coverage. Such persons would be put in the same risk pool as the current FEHB population–with an unknown impact on premiums and coverage terms–although an employer contribution toward premiums for them would not be guaranteed. However, there has been no indication that that idea–which itself long predates the ACA–is under active consideration.