OPM unveils proposed, final rules expanding benefits for same-sex partners

Friday - 7/20/2012, 5:24pm EDT

The Office of Personnel Management is planning changes to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, proposing to allow children up to age 26 to stay covered by their parents' FEHBP plans. The rule would also apply to children of same-sex domestic partners enrolled in the program.

The proposed changes would align the FEHBP with the 2010 health care law, which allowed children to continue being covered by parents' health insurance. Expanding coverage to children of same-sex partners builds on a June 2010 presidential memo which required federal agencies to extend the same benefits to same-sex domestic partners available to opposite-sex spouses.

OPM is also proposing regulations allowing children of same-sex partners to be covered under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).

OPM will take comments on the proposed rule through Sept. 18.

In a separate final rule published in the Federal Register, OPM announced child-care subsidies provided by agencies would also be expanded to include the children of same-sex domestic partners. That rule goes into effect Friday.

OPM also updated regulations for agency drug- and alcohol-abuse programs to clarify that an employee's domestic partner and, if applicable, their children, be considered part of the employee's "family" to qualify for counseling.

OPM called that last a "clarifying change" since, in practice, the programs are already open to any individual "whose personal relationship to the employee" including a domestic partner "is close enough to potentially affect the employee's performance on the job."

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