Health Care Reform: Good For the Feds!

Wednesday - 2/4/2009, 4:00am EST

Health care reform is a top priority of the Obama administration. We all know that.

We also know that it's been proposed before.

The number of people in this country without any kind of health insurance is a matter of debate, but whatever it is, it's a lot.

We are told that national health programs in many other countries are better than ours. Yet a lot of the leaders of those countries seem to wind up here, at the Mayo Clinics, the Anderson Cancer Center, and the Cleveland Clinic when they get sick. We all know that.

Federal workers have, what many experts say, is the best health care coverage there is. People have a wide range of choices, can change plans once a year (or more often if they get married, divorced, have a baby or move), and the government pays around 72 percent of the total premium.

Congress keeps an eye on the federal health program (the FEHBP) because it covers them and their families. Nobody can be turned down because of age, lifestyle, or pre-existing medical conditions. And best of all, unlike some of the remaining private sector health plans, retirees continue coverage at the same premiums as younger, healthier workers.

During the Clinton administration there was consideration of setting up a health program similar to the FEHBP to cover nonfeds who don't have insurance or are uninsurable. There was also talk of opening up the FEHBP to uncovered non-feds. Many argued that while that would be nice, it could drive premiums up, bigtime.

So what's in it for you, as a civil servant, retiree and/or taxpayer, under health care reform?

At 10 a.m. EST today we'll get a sneak preview from Jill Crissman. She's the assistant legislative director of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association. Among NARFE's top legislative goals are protecting the cost of living adjustments retirees get each year and monitoring the federal health program

You can hear in the DC area on AM 1500 or, anywhere, on your computer at www.federalnewsradio.com.

We'll ask her about how health care reform might impact you and also the outlook for congressional action to modify or eliminate the Offset and Windfall rules that can reduce or eliminate the Social Security benefits of CSRS retirees, and what's happening to the proposal to give retirees the same health premium tax break they enjoyed while working, but lost when they retired.

FERS Sick Leave Credit

In the year before they retire many feds covered by the FERS retirement system take a lot of sick leave. I call it the FERS Flu. One reason: Unlike CSRS employees who get retirement credit for unused sick leave, FERS people are under a use-it-or-lose-it system. Today on our Your Turn radio show Bill Bransford from the Senior Executives Association will talk about pending legislation that could cure the FERS flu.

Listen if you can. Call in if you like. If you prefer you can e-mail me questions: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com

Our local call in number is 202-465-3080. Toll free you can call 1-877-936-9333.

Life Is Good Department

Doug in Denver explains why he's still on the the job. He speaks for a lot of us:

I thought all us baby boomers got the memo that said our retirement was during the 60's and it was now time to pay for our mistakes/sins?

Most of us didn't know it at the time, but life was good when we were young. Life is good now too. Something about too much smoke in the room or what? As for me, the Government gave me an all expense paid vacation to a very warm (sometimes wet) Southeast Asian country. I got regular free firework shows and they even gave me a small (as in very small) spending allowance (income tax free) for the year and half I vacationed in Vietnam with the Marines.

The memo I got also told me I hadn't sufficiently procreated to produce enough workers to fund the Social Security fun Fund and my offspring aren't good enough workers so all the U.S. companies had to ship their jobs overseas.

So here I am still in the harness and hoping to find someone(s) to mentor so when I die at my desk there will be a well qualified warm body to keep the seat warm. Besides, I really don't like shuffleboard all that well. D.D.

Nearly Useless Factoid

According to a recent study by the Canadian Stroke Network, The Canadian Obesity Network and the Advanced Foods and Material Network, "Pizzas are really loaded with sodium." Oh, and it's "World Salt Awareness Week". One look at my car should do it.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com