Federal employees will have more benefits protections in the event of future government shutdowns thanks to a final rule just issued by the Office of Personnel Management.
Under the final rule published in the Federal Register, OPM says that it is finalizing four provisions to help federal employees in the event of future shutdowns:
- Certain Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program and Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) services will be designated as emergency services under the Antideficiency Act. OPM said that this designation will help ensure the safety of federal employees during a shutdown and provide a sense of stability when federal employees are furloughed.
- Federal employees who are furloughed as a result of a lapse in appropriations will be designated to be in pay status for purposes of enrolling or changing enrollment in the FEHB Program. This represents a change from current regulations under which federal employees who are furloughed normally cannot make enrollment changes to their FEHB options.
- Coverage for federal employees under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) and the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) will continue for enrollees who are furloughed or excepted from furlough and working without pay due to a lapse in appropriations. Coverage also may not be cancelled as a result of nonpayment of premiums or other periodic charges due to such a lapse.
- Upon the end of a lapse in appropriations, FEDVIP and FLTCIP premiums will be paid from back pay or may be paid back from a source other than backpay for FLTCIP enrollees who elected to make payments directly to the Carrier.
The rule is effective April 2, 2021.
OPM said that it expects the new rule will have a positive impact on federal employees enrolled in these programs who are impacted by a partial government shutdown.
OPM stated in the final rule:
The updated FEHB regulations will allow Government agencies to continue to employ Federal officers and employees to perform services such as enrolling an individual in an FEHB plan or changing the enrollment of an individual enrolled in FEHB during a lapse in appropriations. The amended FEGLI regulations will assist FEGLI enrollees since it allows agencies to employ officers or employees to perform FEGLI services during a lapse in appropriations. These services include activities related to enrollment, changing enrollment, temporary extension of coverage and conversion, eligibility, certification of coverage, and matters relating to reemployed annuitants and survivor annuitants.