Legislation would give federal employees same option as private-sector workers to cover young adults now
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) today introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure that the children of federal employees are able to remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26 this year. More than 2 million federal employees could benefit from this provision, saving money for the employees and their young adult dependents. Co-sponsors of the bill include Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Warner (D-VA), John Kerry (D-MA) Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
The recently-enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would allow families in to cover children up to age 26. This provision becomes effective at the beginning of the first plan year six months after enactment of the law, but many insurance companies have already decided to implement this provision earlier than required by law.
However, laws governing the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) prevent the director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) from increasing the eligibility age limit from 22 until 26 for federal employees until January 2011. The FEHBP Dependent Coverage Extension Act would give OPM the authority to extend coverage to age 26 this year. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has confirmed that this bill has no cost associated with it.
“This legislation would move up the timetable and allow federal employees to keep their children on their health insurance policies until age 26. With graduation season upon us and our economy still recovering from the recession, families should be able to help their children keep comprehensive health benefits past age 22. Many insurance companies have moved quickly to extend this important benefit and our bill will make it possible for OPM to do the same,” said Senator Cardin.
“This is the right thing to do for the federal employees who are on the front lines every day, working hard for America,” Senator Mikulski said. “If health care reform means that the kids of hedge fund managers can stay on their parents’ health care until they’re 26, kids of federal employees should be covered until age 26 too. I am honored to join Senator Cardin and my Senate colleagues in introducing this bill to fix health care reform for federal employees.”
U.S. Congressman Chris Van Hollen (MD-8) has introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation has been endorsed by the National Active and Retired Federal Employee Association (NARFE), the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), American Federation of Government Employees ((AFGE) and the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU).