Federal employees, retirees and annuitants will not experience disruptions of their health care and other benefit programs during future government shutdowns under newly released regulations.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) finalized new rules earlier this month which contain several provisions to protect federal employees during a lapse in appropriations.
The final rules activate sections of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, including:
– Designating certain Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program and Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) services as emergency services under the Antideficiency Act. Participants in these program will now be able to enroll or make enrollment changes even when there are lapses in federal government appropriations.
– Deeming federal employees furloughed — as a result of a lapse in appropriations — to be in pay status, for purposes of enrolling or changing enrollment in the FEHB Program. Prior to this new rule, federal employees on furlough were designated to be in non-pay status which prohibited them from making changes in their FEHB coverage.
– Ensuring continuation of coverage under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) and the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) for enrollees who are furloughed or excepted from furlough and working without pay due to a lapse in appropriations, and provides that coverage may not be cancelled as a result of nonpayment of premiums or other periodic charges due to such a lapse.
– Clarifying that 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 was published in the Federal Register and went into effect April 2, 2021.