Quicker coverage sought for federal workers' adult children

By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lawmakers introduced a measure Tuesday that would allow the Office of Personnel Management to extend health-care coverage to the adult children of federal workers before the new federal health-care law takes effect next year.

Several health insurance companies plan to extend health-care coverage to adult children up to age 26 starting in June, but current federal law prohibits OPM from doing the same for workers in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

The new bill -- co-sponsored by local Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) -- was introduced as federal workers unions push for a revision of the health-care law.

"OPM needs the authority to implement this very important provision sooner and this legislation is designed to do just that," Van Hollen said in a statement.

Margaret L. Baptiste, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, said the coverage "would be particularly helpful to dependent children about to graduate from trade school, college or university who could have difficulty finding employment with health benefits in the present unfavorable job market."

If the law does not pass by June, federal workers with adult children can apply for a temporary continuation of coverage or convert them to an individual policy, according to OPM.

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