A pair of bills have been introduced in both the House and the Senate to protect the health insurance benefits of federal employees in the event of future government shutdowns.
The Ensuring FEHBP Coverage During Shutdowns Act (H.R. 2003, S. 971) was introduced in the House by Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and in the Senate by Senator Tina Smith (D-MN). It would ensure that employees who experience a qualifying life event—such as the birth or adoption of a child—could immediately enroll their dependents into a Federal Employee Health Benefits Program plan even if the government is shut down.
The Ensuring FEDVIP and FLTCIP Coverage During Shutdowns Act (H.R. 2004, S. 973), also introduced by Cummings and Smith, respectively, would ensure that employees’ dental and vision benefits and their long-term care insurance coverage would continue during any period the government is shut down.
The language in the bill stipulates that any federal employee furloughed or excepted from furlough and working without pay during a partial government shutdown would have his or her health, dental, vision, and/or long-term care insurance premiums paid to the applicable insurance carrier from back pay made available to the employee “as soon as practicable upon the end of such lapse.”
The lawmakers said in a statement:
Government shutdowns place thousands of federal employees and their families in very difficult positions. While we truly hope to avoid shutdowns in the future, the measures we are introducing today would ensure that federal employees could enroll their newborn babies in their health insurance plans and that they would not lose their dental, vision, or long-term care insurance if another funding lapse occurs. We owe it to our civil servants to mitigate the impact of funding lapses over which they have no control.